Friday, April 26, 2019

'The Three Impostors of Greyhawk' An Amazing World of Greyhawk Campaign Connection & Commentary

...A world where bandit kings raid from their remote stronghold;
...A world where noble elves fight savage invaders and where bold knights wage war on the terror of Iuz;
...A world scarred by a vast Sea of Dust, across which drift lost memories from the awful forgotten past.
Enter a World of Wonder & Intrigue...
Fantasy Game Setting for a panoramic view of this fantastic place.

More than a collection of maps and names, it is an active world filled with decaying empires and dark forests. Game elements include the gods of Greyhawk, the clash of political factions, and encounters in this wild land."

If you've been following events on the Danube parts I & II  then you know that the Astro Hungarian Empire  had  a joint operation between  the German  Intelligence Bureau & the German Foreign Office, have uncovered ancient documents relating to the two wealthy adventurers, Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown while working with officers & soldiers of The Astro Hungarian Empire. But  operations down in the lower levels of the dungeon went very wrong.  Yesterday I mentioned that there was a gateway that opened to an AD&D style fantasy world. But what I didn't mention is that fact that I think that Gary Gygax's Greyhawk  setting could seamlessly slide into this Pulp & Supers  alternative WW1. How?!
Lets talk about two facts about Arthur Machen & the Greyhawk setting. Greyhawk is both a fantasy world & a post apocalyptic world with its twin events  'rain of colourless fire'  & 'the invoked devastation'. Both events dramatically changed the face of the Greyhawk  setting & brought the 
Suloise peoples across the world of  the Flanaess;

In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, the Suloise, also known as the "Suel," are one of the major races of humans inhabiting the Flanaess.
The Suel began migrating to the Flanaess in large numbers c. -447 CY, from the Suel Imperium. The numbers of the Suloise Migration increased dramatically after the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire in -422 CY. The Suel settled in many regions of the Flanaess, often competing with the native Flan and migrant Oeridians, as well as non-human inhabitants such as the elves and dwarves.
Though people of Suel descent can be found nearly anywhere in the Flanaess, notable lands that contain a significant number of Suel include the Thillonrian Peninsula, the Scarlet Brotherhood, the Lordship of the Isles, the Sea Barons, the Sheldomar Valley, and the Urnst States. The Lendore Isles was once home to a large contingent of Suel, but most humans have been expelled from that land since the cult of Sehanine Moonbow gained control after the Greyhawk Wars." 

What if these humans & near human peoples had migrated to Greyhawk in the ancient mythological days & this was only one more migration for a world's peoples that was a part of a greater cycle?! What if these movements & migration were a part & parcel of the mythology of the Earth as well?!  I'm I speaking of the Elemental Evil religion here?! No & this isn't normal Greyhawk at all. This Greyhawk is tightly woven to a secret occult society which at its highest levels has infiltrated pre WWI society across Europe & the world as a whole! What does this have to do with Arthur Machen? Well back in 1895 Machen wrote 'The Three Impostors'
The book's plot goes something like this; "
The novel comprises several weird tales and culminates in a final denouement of deadly horror, connected with a secret society devoted to debauched pagan rites. The three impostors of the title are members of this society who weave a web of deception in the streets of London—relating the aforementioned weird tales in the process—as they search for a missing Roman coin commemorating an infamous orgy by the Emperor Tiberius and close in on their prey: "the young man with spectacles" " This occult conspiracy & society rears its head across Europe as deadly as any terrorist bombing or other military action. Heroes are needed! Arthur Machen's Three Impostors is available here for free. 

What happens if part of the inner circle of occult secret societies 'the true Biblical & mythological'  history of the Earth is revealed & part of these reveals is the fact that 'lost fairy worlds or lands' like Greyhawk exist? Would this spark off occult & supernatural wars? Possibly sparking off events that happened within Machen's own life time & because of publication of the 'The Three Impostors' 
; "Partly in response to criticism of the Stevensonian style of the book, Machen altered his approach in writing his next book, The Hill of Dreams. Following the death of his first wife in 1899, Machen developed a greater interest in the occult, joining the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He noted that a number of events in his life seemed to mirror events in The Three Impostors, most notably a conflict in the order between William Butler Yeats (a "young man with spectacles") and Aleister Crowley, which reached its height around this time. (These experiences are reflected on in Alan Moore's Snakes and Ladders.)
In Things Near and Far (1923) Machen wrote:
It was in the early spring of 1894 that I set about the writing of the said "Three Impostors," a book which testifies to the vast respect I entertained for the fantastic, "New Arabian Nights" manner of R. L. Stevenson, to those curious researches in the byways of London which I have described already, and also, I hope, to a certain originality of experiment in the tale of terror."
If I was to run Greyhawk in this style I'd use an unholy mix of Castles & Crusades with Rpg Pundit's Lion & Dragon rpg  Make no mistake that the occult forces we're talking about here are evil & chaotically deadly. The stratification of Greyhawk social norms & the human dominated areas of the setting make this perfect. Yeah,yeah, Lion & Dragon is a historic  medieval  rpg & shouldn't have anything to do with Pulp or Supers. No it should all the more because it reflects history in a better way. 

But what the Hell does this have to do with World War I & Pulp heroes? Well just about everything really. 'Post Gilded Age' society is an upheaval at all levels & change is in the air. The death of the 
monarchy is at hand & crown heads of  society as they knew it were going to change completely. The Gilded Age to  World War I marked an incredibly progressive death kneel for Europe. This is a time when heroes are needed! 
But who is this occult conspiracy & society?! Well if I was too guess? I'd say it would be one of the new witch queens of the Le Fey
Morgause's  great grand daughters lines respectively. Machen gives us a really clear view of the occult forces behind the curtain & their very alien & very dangerous. The Arthurian legends connect up very nicely with Greyhawk because Arthur has his swords deep within Greyhawk's history. 

The Castle & Crusades's Castle Keeper's Guide is going come in real handy here to help keep track of several key points of monsters, magical events, & managing some of the campaign elements not to mention possibly the pre or post WWI technologies. All together though this is going to be an uneasy mix & the dungeon master is going to have to make their own decisions. Tomorrow we get into the deeper campaign aspects of Amazing Adventures! rpg & how Victorious affects all of this. 

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