Wednesday, March 13, 2019

OSR Commentary On The Lovecraftian Aspects Of B1 In Search of The Unknown By Mike Carr For Your Old School Campaigns

" In Search of the Unknown is a module for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, designed for use with the Basic Set of rules. It was written by game designer Mike Carr and was first published in 1979 by TSR, Inc. The module details a hidden complex known as the Caverns of Quasqueton. Reviewers considered it a good quality introduction to the game that was written in the so-called dungeon crawl style, where the primary goal of the players is the exploration of a dangerous labyrinth to battle monsters and obtain treasure."

Mike Carr rolled out a classic module in the form of B1 In Search of the Unknown, there are flawed classics and this is one em.

"Many years ago two wealthy adventurers, Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown, built a hidden complex known as the Caverns of Quasqueton. From this base, they conducted their affairs away from the prying eyes of civilization. While of questionable ethical standing, the two drove back a barbarian invasion and gained the support of locals. Eventually, they gathered their own army and went on an expedition against said enemies, where they met their demise."

I have run 'B1 In Search of  The Unknown'  way too many times to count. I dusted it off because of looking into the Sword & Sorcery rough & ready aspect of B1. I've talked about B1 many times & run it way back in January of this past year.
So when you begin to look at Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown, then you begin to see the tale of two adventurers who were resisting the Hyperboreans in the 'Old Solar system' setting. Then the Green Death came along & killed off the adventurers and their crew. Now the reason why I chose the old version of B1 to look into is because of the conversion guidelines that were included to convert from Basic D&D to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition. 

"When B1 was released, Basic D&D was not yet its own rule system, but rather an introductory set of rules that was intended to lead players on to the original D&D game or the AD&D game. The closeness of the Basic and Advanced lines in those days is revealed in B1's earliest printings, by the inclusion of a short section that explains how to convert the adventure to AD&D. That section was removed by the time the third printing appeared in 1979, and was the last attempt to overlap the two lines."Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown must have been generals & local powers in their own right. The Caverns of Quasqueton lay completely unfinished at the time that the Green Death struck Hyperobrea. What were they searching for? My guess is that they were specifically searching for weaponry  or artifacts left behind by one of the numerous prehuman races. Down in the lower unfinished levels are some of the pre-filled rooms which include a museum, an arena, and grand cavern all of which points to incredible construction possibly started by others before our two adventurers moved in and took over. Many of the monsters & other residents that moved in speak of laboratories & other underground facilities. Lizardmen, troglodytes, fishmen all point to some very high level Lovecraftian race connections in the Caverns of  Quasqueton.

Fishman Jason Sholtis

So what's really going on here at the Caverns of  Quasqueton? I believe that during the Hyperborean occupation & height of their power came across an outpost in Underborea belonging to the Great Race of Yith. "Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown" came across this knowledge during their exploration of the region & began to exploit it to gain power towards the end of their adventuring career. That is until the Green Death turned their plans to death. Where exactly does the Green Death come from? Well,"The Isle of the Torturers" appeared in Weird Tales, March 1933  & it was not a part of the Hyperborean cycle but Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique tales.  The tale speaks of a cosmic cycle of the 'Silver Death' visiting the inhabitants of Zothique from a comet. 

Could the Great Race of Yith have been experimenting to avoid dying by the strange plague of the Green Death in the Caverns of  Quasqueton? I think so. Given their precognition abilities and time travel connections from HP Lovecraft's 'The Shadow Out of Time' its easy to see them doing everything in their power to avoid being killed by the strange powder from the sky. "Dire was the Silver Death; and none knew the secret of its contagion or the cure. Swift as the desert wind, it came into Yoros from the devastated realm of Tasuun, overtaking the very messengers who ran by night to give warning of its nearness. Those who were smitten felt an icy, freezing cold, an instant rigor, as if the outermost gulf had breathed upon them. Their faces and bodies whitened strangely, gleaming with a wan luster, and became stiff as long-dead corpses, all in an interim of minutes.

In the streets of Silpon and Siloar, and in Faraad, the capital of Yoros, the plague passed like an eery, glittering light from countenance to countenance under the golden lamps; and the victims fell where they were stricken; and the deathly brightness remained upon them."
Isle of the Torturers Clark Ashton Smith. 
It all fits, the laboratories, the isolated adventure location, a vast array of experimental subjects/slaves, the lonely quasi mining operation, & more. All of it points to a vast machine of an operation going on within  the Caverns of  Quasqueton. Because of the DYI Dungeons & Dragons aspect of B1 In Search of the Unknown its very easy to slip it into a campaign even under the radar of experienced players. B1 still makes an excellent choice for a campaign stepping stone even today. Even though its flawed B1 has many excellent resources.
Keep em rolling. 

Ten Reasons Why The Lovecraftian Aspect Of 
B1 In Search of The Unknown By Mike Carr Can Add Depth To A Campaign
  1. If The Fortress has been banished to the realms of the Dreamland what else has come back with it?! 
  2. Could the Caverns of  Quasqueton be harboring a prison for the Flying Polyps if the Yithians had a base there. 
  3. Do local cults of Cthulhu or the like know about  the Caverns of  Quasqueton?! And could they be planning on taking over. 
  4. Are the Caverns of  Quasqueton attracting the attention of orcs & other humanoids because it's strange energies. 
  5. Is there a spawning pit of Ubbo-Sathla ("The Unbegotten Source", "The Demiurge") down below the cavern that promoted it to be build in the first place? 
  6. Do the Mi Go know about the caverns & is there a gate way down below in the place. 
  7. If there is a gateway could there be a Star Spawn of Chthlu waiting to wreck havoc across the land??! 
  8. Could the the Caverns of  Quasqueton hold techologies & occult artifacts of the serpent men?! Could said artifacts be far more dangerous then the NPC builders released?! 
  9. Is there a sleeping god held within the prison of the Caverns of  Quasqueton
  10. Are there clues to what's going on within the fortress above!? 

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