But what it got me really thinking about were villains & specifically adventurers ala the 'murder hobo' trope that back about 2013 through 2016 seemed to be everywhere in OSR & D&D circles. The fact is what if those murder hobos actually were the villains of an adventure. Let's take it step further & go back to those evil parties that you & your friends always played in middle school & high school. But there's no examples for those in current OSR circles!? Really?! Because if you look at your average Dungeon Crawl Classic rpg party their exactly the sort of mercenary scum you'd see in a 70's Marvel comic book. In point of fact it states it right in the introduction;
"You’re no hero.
Adventurers are dangerous, desperate, & very unpredictable making them perfect villain foils especially when they don't see themselves that way. Evil is after all all a matter of perspective to a dungeon master. If you've been following what's been happening in The Thulean - Japanese War then you already know that the PC's have encountered many other adventurers from Sword & Sorcery & even high fantasy worlds. These raiders & murderers are already on the side of greed & pure profit. You have only to pit them against the player's PC's.
But surely gangs of D&D style adventurers don't have any place within an alternative pre WWI campaign world?! Well what you may not know is that pirates & privateers were operating all throughout the war timeline & with a world of adventurers & cutthroats its not a far throw to introduce individuals of superior talents & powers from other worlds. Especially in light of such real world characters such as the "Felix Nikolaus Alexander Georg Graf von Luckner (9 June 1881 – 13 April 1966), sometimes called Count Luckner in English"
"Felix Nikolaus Alexander Georg Graf von Luckner (9 June 1881 – 13 April 1966), sometimes called Count Luckner in English, was a German nobleman, naval officer, author, and sailor who earned the epithet Der Seeteufel (the Sea Devil), and his crew that of Die Piraten des Kaisers (the Emperor's Pirates), for his exploits in command of the sailing commerce raider SMS Seeadler (Sea Eagle) between 1916 and 1917."
SMS Seeadler, the three-masted windjammer that raided the Atlantic
and Pacific in an age of dreadnoughts (painting by Christopher Rave)
Count Luckner exploits make many of the Hollywood blockbusters of today pale by comparison & let's not even get into China's important role in WWI. So there is a precedence of desperate & very dangerous adventurers taking on the roles of raiders & marauders in the waters of the Orient. The idea of adventurers from other worlds being on the main NPC villains & factions that are acting as dimensional marauders isn't so far fetched at all.
In fact high level wizards using adventuring parties as scouts to assess & gauge the strength of a world has precedence in Appendix N fantasy. Imagine if you would if a character like John Dee who not only was an occult adviser to Queen Elizabeth but also her spy master. He might set up a series of scouts & spies to gauge the enemy's strength. Now imagine that some of the NPC adventurers that my player's have already encountered are not at all what they appear to be. The players might be in far more trouble then they realize! There are several reasons for this:
- Adventurers are far from home & might not come back if they don't perform to their patron's satisfaction.
- Wizard's families are a great bargaining chip.
- This is the perfect opportunity to slip a demon or other supernatural shape shifter into the mix to really twist the player's minds.
- 'Wolves in sheep's' clothing often move among pirates & marauders. Could this be a prime opportunity for a bit of NPC turn coat action?
- Necromancers often make excellent & unexpected additions to pirate or raider bands.
- Spies & assassins often lurk among pirates & in unexpected places.
- Brigands & bandit gangs also make excellent 'other worldly' spies.
- The line between mercenary & brigand is often a pay check away.
- Treasure & sacred relic is often relative to adventurers as the bad guys.
- The hand of adventurers is often very bloody indeed & their are often relatives & families that will want revenge of the murder or destruction of some fallen royal.