In the meantime I've been rereading & going over my copies of Castles & Crusades books & materials for my on going weekly game. I already talked about doubling down on the OSR resources the other day.
One of the books that I really like is the Castles & Crusades Arms & Armors book, this is a solid resource with some great weapons of the ancients in it. I started thinking about Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique. So I started looking into expanding the free D20 Zothique booklet into a fully functioning campaign world. This was a process that I started about six or so months ago. There are a few isolated towns & villages that have had some contact with other worlders. Various legends within the Zothique Pulp setting that hint at this. And in fact when Clark Ashton Smith describes his world setting its interesting from the Wiki entry; "Clark Ashton Smith himself described the Zothique cycle in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp, dated November 3, 1953:
Darrell Schweitzer suggests the idea of writing about a far future land may have come from William Hope Hodgson's novel The Night Land, noting that Smith was an admirer of Hodgson's work. However, this theory was conclusively disproven by Scott Conner’s "Dust and Atoms: The Influence of William Hope Hodgson on Clark Ashton Smith" in Sargasso#2 (2016), the scholarly journal devoted to Hodgson."
Take a look at this map of Zothique by its his own work, based on a map by Crates it gives an idea of the scale & just how far into Earth's future we're talking.
Map of Zothique by its his own work, based on a map by Crates
Now Africa, all of Eurasia, have come to form the backbone of this world. Its old, fickle, demonic, & very dangerous. The type of place that will devour adventurers & its just the sort of a place that one might find explorers of the Unconquered Sun's Albion trying to stake a claim to the deserts of Zothique.
When the start of the Rose War begins it throws empire of Albion into full chaos. This is going to leave any explorers isolated & perhaps vulnerable. I've already written about the wizard-noble Stephen Amber (Etienne d'Amberville)'s interests on Zothique. But things get much more harry then that X2 Castle Amber places several Mystara resources at the feet of the Amber family. Their roots run very deep indeed into the sands of Zothique as they do on Mystara.
The Castles & Crusades Keeper's Guide has several magical options built into it. Allowing the dungeon master to potray on the whole spectrum of wild & woolly Zothique magicks. This is especially true if the DM marries it with the Dungeon Crawl Classics rpg.
But why would the wizard-noble Stephen Amber (Etienne d'Amberville) be so interested in Zothique? Two things immortality & possibly averting his on coming death curse that he can't seem to escape. He's angry, desperate, but not stupid or reckless. But where does all of this lead? We'll get into that next time.