Wednesday, April 17, 2019

'The One That Gotta Way' Beer, Necromancy, B/W Comic books, & Dragon Magazine

Getting together over  beer sometimes recalls that NPC villain that caused a group of players havoc. Today I'm going to relate the tale of Airell the Death Master who was as  vile creature who ever lived & how he crossed over into a world of capes & Pulp heroes way back in '88 or so.

So I got together tonight with a buddy over in New Hartford to talk about Castles & Crusades, comic books, over beer. The subject of Necromancy came up especially Advanced Dungeons & Dragons NPC only class the Death Master from way back in Dragon issue #76. Our collective(myself & DM Steve)  experiences with the Death Master were a bit different then most. We spoke about the 'the one that gotta way'. Flashback to the middle 80's when the 'Black & White' comic book boom was going on about '87 or '88. Dragon magazine issue #79 with the article about Len Lakofka's death master class (August 1983) comes out. Leomund's Tiny Hut: For NPCs Only: The Death Master article on page ten of Dragon magazine  appears.

Then something very curious happens a low impact & limited run black & white Sword & Sorcery  comic book gets published out in the mid West. The main villain of this comic  is a death master type of character & my uncle gets a hold of that book. Suddenly our group of adventurers is facing down an NPC whose origin mirrors that character. It was funny because that vile villain would later on transition over into a modern world setting. The funny part? He lost absolutely none of his evil, cruelty, & viciousness in the modern world. He was a pseudo Celtic Death Master who was completely obsessed with using the souls of the living so he could resurrect his god of death & the unliving  
Vellaunus (the demon lord Orcus who  using the identity of this god as a disguise ).Airell  was a combination of 'Jack The Ripper', HP Lovecraft 'Herbert West Reanimator', & a bits of Hitler. From what our party was able to piece together he was a failed bard. Airell  had come into possession  of a necromancer sometime during his youth & learned his craft from a local cult which then slaughtered. After this we lose him into the shards of history but a trail of undead. A path of  bodies lead us to believe was literally wrenching the secrets of dead for his craft.

We caught up with him during a debacle at a high level wizard's tower.He had feasted on the soul & mind of said wizard. Then he used the wizard's inter dimensional gate known as the 'goblin glass' to cross over into 'The Unreal World'.'The Unreal World' was/is a sinister version of our world except with superheroes, Pulp adventurers,etc on the Prime Material plane. Our DM had built the 'The Unreal World' using various articles in Dragon magazine, classic 2nd edition  Gamma World, & Boot Hill. Airell exited into our world someplace in New York State on Earth via a portal in 1986 or so. We were two or three weeks behind him as we exited. He had his favorite target already picked out a nice isolated town & was long gone.. We had clean up duty as there were about seven or eight zombies waiting for our party. 

We dispatched the zombies but Airell  wasn't gone far from it. During the next day at this little remote town near the Adirondack mountains our paladin 'Michael The Brave' was murdered in cold blood. We burnt the corpse with hero's quick funeral  & then began the search for Airell. And then it was zombie time again as a group of cops came to check on the town. We kept pace with Airell for ten sessions as he had escaped us using the guise of the mayor of the town along with his memories. We played cat & mouse with Airell for two months as WWIII threatened any moment & the signs of Ragnarok were in the air.
The game campaign was like a combination of Dark Shadows, an Xmen comic book, & bits of Wagner's Ring Cycle.  We left this world to pursue the trail of a relic meaning to get back to it.

The kick in the teeth is that we never caught up with 
Airell at all. He disappeared as I went off to another school. He's still out there waiting & killing even now. How I would bring  Airell into our current game of Amazing Adventures! rpg Airell was a crafty showman who was as much about the presentation as he was about his obsession with resurrecting his 'god'. I'd most likely do an NPC build from the ground up using Amazing Adventures! Rpg Book of Power.  

There were several of 
Airell's rituals & spells that didn't confirm to Leomund's Tiny Hut: For NPCs Only: The Death Master article. I know for a fact that my uncle loved to mix & match various curious sources together. Airell's rituals & spells sound like he was using a wide variety of old school sources perhaps even Mayfair Games Role Aids: Undead adventure/source book.

Going over my old school necromancy material I get the distinct feeling that my uncle in point of fact cheated for the sake of the campaign. This isn't unusual at all into & unto itself. But the fact Death Masters today are more monster then NPC at all. But still I'm not above revisiting the ancient horrors of games past on the poor player character fools of day.
Airell will rise again to be sure to plague a new group of fools! The good villains never say die. 

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