Saturday, August 31, 2019

Free OSR Module & Review DF5 The Horror of Spider Point AD&D first edition, OSRIC & Your Old School Campaigns

"Being dropped into the middle of a strange and eerie island, your adventurers have to fight for their lives to escape the evil that inhabits this weird island. Full adventure time plan, guides for the use of music,maps, hand outs and detailed information for the DM are included in this special adventure. A perfect introduction into the Ravenloft world or just to add some darkness into your current campaign world."

Sometimes you've got to go where the horror takes you & +

is one download over at the Dragon's foot site that I've been curious about. This is one of those modules that has a life of its own. Its a sort of 'Night of the Living Dead' meets Ravenloft in a dark alley & this is the black sheep of a baby. This is a stop watch adventure meaning that the adventure has a timeline as the PC's are transported to the island shortly before dawn & the beach is a blood bath of gore,bodies, & carnage.  Zombies come outta of the sea to attack the party & then retreat shortly before the sun comes up. So begins the countdown. Its a race of an adventure & the complication is that the PC's are trapped in Ravenloft to boot.

This wonderful piece of , Howard Johnson Pyle artwork isn't in the module seems oddly appropriate 

There Cap'n Goldsack goes, creeping, creeping, creeping, Looking for his reasure down below!: illustration of a pirate ghost. This was originally published in 
Sharp, William (July 1902). "Cap'n Goldsack". Harper's Magazine.

So the race is on & there's a definite survival horror aspect to this module & its surely inspired by John Carpenter's The Fog an old family favorite of ours. The zombie pirates with their nasty hooks are especially effective when they pull a PC into the depths with them. In fact do yourselves a favor & rewatch The Fog before running this adventure. But for the love of God grab the free Mappack for The Horror At Spider Point.

My only complaint about  Horror of Spider Point by Mark O'Reilly is that there needs to be more treasure in this adventure. Treasure is extremely important for PC's to go up levels with experience in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition & OSRIC as well as the various clones. The zombie pirates here are very well done & I can see expanding upon this module's premise to get the maximum dungeon master value from this adventure.

I can totally see running Horror of Spider Point by Mark O'Reilly with Lamentations of the Flame Princess with absolutely no modification. But can see running this as a pulp adventure with a Castles & Crusades rpg group or as a castaway module with pulp undertones with Amazing Adventures!.  But for a Sword & Sorcery game such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Horror of Spider Point by Mark O'Reilly has some very different connotations. The ghost pirates & the vile villain behind the action are the perfect boss monster to throw in an AS&SH sea borne campaign. Zombie pirates, mysterious islands, possible lost treasure this is a perfect module for AS&SH. All in all I really enjoyed Horror of Spider Point by Mark O'Reilly  because its nice change up from the usual D&D fare of adventures. 

1d6 Random Gifts From The Space Gods Table For Your Old School Campaigns

The wastelands are thick with the remains & wreckage of human civilization. The perfect breeding ground for the space gods to experiment with & monkey with mankind. They love to tinker with the DNA & RNA of human & near human kind. Their gifts are often seen as a boon to many wasteland tribes but they come with the price of shortening the lives of PC's by 1d10 years. Some see these gifts as blessings, while others see them as cosmic jokes at the expense of those who receive them. Many times those who undergo these changes become outsiders and are considered madmen or worse by their tribes. 

1d6 Random Gifts From The Space Gods Table

  1. The brain chemistry of the victim is altered and several ancient pathways are opened up, the victim gains +4 strength and +2 to his combat rolls. The fool is subject to berserk rages  now during combat.
  2. The victim's psychic awareness is increase for an obscene amount, their wisdom score gains a +3 and the vale cosmic is lifted. The victim can see the invisible and is very sensitive to the infra red spectrum. 
  3. The victim gains +1 claws and their damage for hand to hand attacks increase. They also have the strength to tear apart light metal and some soft woods. 
  4. The victim's brain is super charged and they are able to receive 1d4 minor prophetic dreams per night but the information is broken and fragmentary at best. They're wisdom score gains +2 because of the intense senses and super charging of the mind. 
  5. The victim has his skin and body structure altered as incredible energies are bathed on his body. The victim gains a +2 to his constitution scores, the victim is has their bodies primed for battle. Their armor class goes down by two points. 
  6. The victim gains sight beyond and is able to track the movements of the Outer Ones and the things beyond the vale. They may also struggle with the fact that they can see into the souls of many normal folks and pierce the motives behind the lies of their neighbors. They can strike what can't be with the energies of the 'power' and demons can be taken down as a normal monster .

Using Classic TSR Era Tournament Modules To Build Old School Campaigns With Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition's I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City By Dave Cook

"Somewhere in the heart of the steaming jungle lies the answer to the whispered tales - rumors of a magnificent city and foul, horrid rituals! Here a brave party might find riches and wonders - or death! Is your party brave enough to face the terrors of the unknown and find the Forbidden City!?"

First appearing in  1980 at Origins Game Fair I1 Dwellers in The Forbidden City By Dave Cook and was later published by TSR in 1981 for use with the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules. Its a classic tournament level adventure meant to showcase the advantages of AD&D play while it kills your PC with a bunch of your friends. Its also a good module to use to build a mini campaign to take your PC's up the ladder from levels four to seven.

This module introduced the players to one of the major dwelling places of the Lovecraftian Aboleth and the yuan ti which fit in so well to the Red Nails like atmosphere of I1. This is the perfect module to create an isolated plateau of lost world goodness in the middle of the jungle. For my own campaigns I've used the this adventure to be joined in with plot of  The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.  This can take PC's up the long ladder for advancement & exploitation. We'll get to that in a minute. 

Because I1 is faction heavy its the perfect module to build up the pulpy atmosphere of an Asian heavy element campaign complete with competing factions within the lost city's environs. There are also some major pieces of Greyhawk's history within this module so a clever DM could back lace some of those elements into their own campaign world & setting. This includes taking the settings of Dwellers of the Forbidden City & peppering it throughout with mini dungeons then taking the whole adventure to setting it on one of the nearby islands from the Island of Dread. Yes I completely stole this from Dragon foot member and its easy enough to combine them by placing the city on one of the other islands near the Isle of Dread." Its this lost world hot house melting pot aspect of I1 that really clicks with me.

There's so much potential to use this module to build PC's from one encounter to the other as things move along. The campaign moves along at a damn fast rate. The basic plot could actually start with the classic Isle of Dread adventure ;"In the adventure, the characters are hired to find an object taken to a lost oriental-style city, which has been taken over by a cult of snake-worshipers, the yuan-ti, and their servants, the mongrelmen and tasloi"  
The Gygaxian dungeon ecology is hard at work in this style of island hopping and dungeon crawling. Take your party into the environs of the Forbidden City followed closely
WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun  which can be used to piggy back and expand the whole thing into, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. finally hitting its conclusion in the  AS&SH's Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess  that connects into one of the tunnels in I1.

From there you get into a sword & black powder or a sword & sorcery campaign or both that creates an entire lost world country of pulpy monsters, horrid cults, Lovecraftian plots, and lots of ruins to be explored, exploited, and expanded upon. Bad Mike from the Dragon's foot site Dragon's foot has incredibly great expansions that he's written that expand upon I1 here;"
As Grodog says I wrote up a big conclusion a few years ago, I sold/gave away copies several years ago. It's based on the Yuan-Ti dungeon in WGR2 Treasures of Greyhawk. I'll summarize it here. Basically there is an over-arching plot in the city that may or may not even be discovered by the adventurers; this final encounter ties into that. Here is the intro to the encounter, this can give you an idea of how to place the final encounter, and perhaps some ideas for staging a finale.

Mike B.

The Yuan ti themselves have lately been raiding more frequently for two reasons: One, they have begun buying many slaves from the Taranthians, Tzula tribesmen and orc pirates through pureblood intermediaries to use as sacrifices, and need the treasure to use as payment. Two, they have captured the humans in the caravans to use as sacrifices. All these humanoids have been killed for a purpose, to open a gate that will lead to a hidden location atop Firestorm Mountain where many artifacts of the serpent men have been secreted for centuries. A few years ago while exploring the ruins of the Forbidden City the yuan ti found a chamber that contained a long ago constructed gate. Through research gleaned from the dusty libraries of the Forbidden City, the yuan-ti elders learned that when the City was originally inhabited thousands of years ago (before the Cataclysm) the yuan ti had infiltrated all aspects of life in the city. However, they were discovered by a great warrior Zull and his mage companion Aidar, who methodically located and killed every serpent man in the city. Before the last cell was discovered, they managed to create a gate to a hidden cave atop Firestorm Mountain and secret all their most powerful artifacts there. After the Cataclysm, the location was forgotten and then buried under tons of lava when Mount Firestorm erupted centuries later.
The location, although buried, still exists and divinations have shown the artifacts are still there awaiting discovery. With these treasures perhaps the yuan-ti could reverse the centuries of stagnation and once again become a mighty race. Unfortunately the only way to reactivate the gate is through blood sacrifice...10,000 humans (or thereabouts) must die at the altar before the gate once again functions. The yuan ti have managed to sacrifice over 9000 natives and explorers during the last few years, and are close to reaching their goal of opening the gate. Any sane human, evil or good, should stop at nothing to prevent the re-emergence and use of these ancient and powerful reptilian treasures! In general, any allies of the serpent men except for Horan will know absolutely nothing useful for the characters if they are captured and made to talk (only the serpent men directly involved in the sacrifices, plus the high priests, known the true extent of the scaly god’s plans). Powerful lone Abominations might know the complete reason for the caravan attacks, but they would rather die than let the player characters discover any useful information. Thus, it is left for the DM to slowly let information useful to the characters come to them in bits and pieces until they begin to see the scope of the serpentmen’s horrible schemes...a discovered ancient text in an abandoned library with cryptic information, an overheard conversation among snakemen referring to "regaining our lost glory", a chance find of a dropped set of instructions from Sathar to one of his followers concerning where to take the sacrifices "so that the Gate may finally open" will all begin to add up just before the DM springs the final encounter in Sathar’s lair on the now-enlightened party.


This area should be discovered whenever the DM thinks it’s appropriate; it is the climax of the adventures in the Forgotten City. The party should be approximately 7th-9th level at this point, and capable of foiling the plans of the snakemen to open the gate to their hidden temple and rescue the ancient serpentmen treasures hidden within. The battles will be deadly, and the party should have access to many anti-poison spells and devices, as well as one or two items vs reptilian beings. Ideally the assault should be quick and stealthy, and the main objective should be the slaughtering of the high priest...without him, the other serpentmen have no knowledge of how to open the gate.
If the party takes several days to penetrate the inner rooms of the undercity, reinforcements should arrive in the form of returning snakemen explorers and merchants. Each day there is a cumulative 20% chance that a party of purebloods, halfbreeds or abominations arrive to swell the numbers in the undercity (use the random tables above for statistics). They will have between 10-20 slaves with them, as well as the appropriate number of ophidian or histachii servants (tasloi are never allowed in the undercity). Even if the entire lair is cleaned out and destroyed, merchant bands of snakemen will continue to arrive each week for five weeks until word leaks out among followers of Set that the lair has been compromised. It will take several decades for another Serpent Man priest of high enough level to rediscover the ancient knowledge allowing him to open the gate, so the rise of the Yuan-Ti will be successfully thwarted although the undercity may continue to be used as a base for serpentmen and their allies.
Generally, almost all the snakemen encountered in the complex will be purebloods...Sathar requires his servants to be more than just brutes, and enjoys intelligent conversation and discussing the eventual rise of the Scaly Nations once again (with himself the main reason for this, of course). In truth, along with being supremely evil and intelligent, egotistical and a narcissist, Sathar is a bit of a racist in regards to his own race.... he believes Purebloods (and to a lesser extent competing Abominations) are the true rulers of the Yuan Ti race, Halfbreeds being no more than servants, bodyguards or cannon fodder for battles.
The entrance to the tunnels should be relatively unguarded...Sathar does not want to draw attention to this location by having a visible show of force. A ’40 wide opening that is shielded by hanging vines is the entrance, and utter blackness leads downward through a magnificently decorated hallway (40x20). The 2000 year old architecture is awe inspiring, but upon closer inspection several sinister motifs can be seen in the bas-reliefs...snake headed creatures with crowns leading seas of massive, wiggling snake things in a feast of screaming, bleeding humans dominate the proceedings. The area seems to have been excavated in the last few years, in several spots the marks of shovels and picks, along with mounds of dirt show evidence of this. The tunnel travels for 500 feet, eventually narrowing to 20 foot wide, all the time going downwards in complete and soundless darkness. At the end of the tunnel lies the Undercity of the Snakemen...
Typically, a caravan of slaves or goods continues down the tunnels to Location 1, where they are met by the guard on duty. He sends the caravan on ahead with half the ophidian guards to check in at area 1a, then drop off their cargo at area 6. After a day or so of rest and debriefing by the commander, the specially selected purebloods (specially selected for their ability to pass almost completely for human) leave the complex by the back exit (East door of Area 1d) and rendezvous with another slave coffle or plan another merchant or tribal ambush.

Once inside the complex, due to the circular nature of the rooms, any combat can quickly become deadly due to the amount of openings into each area and the ability of the serpentmen to pour into any room by at least three entrances per room. The Yuan Ti are of genius intelligence, yet their fury at their ultimate lair being penetrated will turn most into sword swinging psychopaths wanting only to hack the characters to pieces, forgetting or not using their spell abilities to their best advantage. Only the commander, sub commander, and priest will keep their heads clear enough to use their spells. They are apt to cast Suggestion "Surrender and you won’t be harmed!" or Cause Fear, using Darkness ’15 radius to obscure escape and Sticks to Snakes to buy time for the same, should it be needed. At no time will any of these three attempt to retreat to warn Sathar; this would be viewed as weakness and Sathar would have them executed if the invaders were defeated or driven off. It is far more likely a Pureblood will break away from combat at some time and attempt to summon Sathar’s bodyguards in the area below the ramp in Room 1D.
Unless the characters are good enough or smart enough to pick off the serpentmen room by room without giving warning, at some point a large battle will take place and all the serpentmen on the first level will rush to the area, through as many different entrances as they can, and try to crush the adventurers with sheer numbers. Generally Sathar’s bodyguards and the ophidian jailers on the lower level will stay there awaiting the arrival of the adventurers; Sathar will react as indicated in his description.

1. Access tunnels
Any access tunnel through which the party comes will be guarded by a single yuan-ti pureblood, armed with a scimitar and longbow, about hundred feet from room 1. He will be accompanied by 10 ophidian servants, one of which he will command to summon help upon sighting invaders, and two pet flying fangs. If the party is careful, they can disguise themselves as a pureblood slaver or merchant party, but it would require someone speaking snakeman (perhaps by magical means) and appropriate props (humans in chains w/o weapons or armor, for example) as well as some knowledge of the procedures used to get past the guard.
Yuan-ti pureblood: (Int Genius; AL CE; AC 4; MV 120; HD 6; hp 36; #AT 2; THACO 15; Dmg 1-8 scimitar and longbow; SA Spell ability; MR 20%; SZ M; ML 14; XP 1,400. This pureblood speaks serpentman and Delosian. Once per day he can use cause fear, darkness 15’rad., snake charm, sticks to snakes, neutralize poison, suggestion, and polymorph self (human form only).

10 Ophidian guards: (Ophidian (Int. 8-10 Average (human) intelligence; AL CN; AC 5; MV 9, Sw 18; HD 3; hp 14; THAC0 17; #AT 2; Dmg 1d3 and spear or short sword (1d6) SA see below; SD camouflage; SZ M; ML Unsteady (5-7); XP 175)

Snake, Flying Fang (Int. 5-7 Low intelligence; AL N; AC 5; MV 9, Fl 21(B); HD 1+4; hp 9, 11; THAC0 19; #AT 1 + Special; Dmg 1-3 (bite); SA Acid Spray 10 ft 1d4 dmg, Encoil small foes; Flying snakes bite and slash with their needle-sharp fangs, or spit acid at opponents up to ten feet away. An acid spit does 1d4 damage to tissue, hide or cloth, but does not affect metal or stone. SD Nil; SZ S; ML Steady (12); XP 120)
Room 1A:
This is the entrance that is used by the caravans and will be the entrance the player characters enter the Undercity through.

Room1B: This is the storage area for all common goods that are taken from the caravans upon arrival, waited to be sorted and assigned a delivery location. The northern exit is trapped with Glyphs of Warding (Poison, Fire and Lightning) and runs for several hundred yards to an undisclosed location within the City (DM’s choice).
Room 1C: This southern room is used for storage of all weapons taken from the caravans (except magical weapons which are given to the commander for his decision on who should wield it). There is a secret entrance to the south that leads to the long abandoned sewer system below the city. This should only benefit the party if they are cut off from all retreat and must escape somewhere, as the serpentmen have left it unused for quite a long time and barely even remember where it is.
Room 1D:
If the party is approaching from west (only), an arch provides the entrance to the room. The east room has a ramp down to the second level (the main floor). It is otherwise identical to the other entryways. If the party approaches from the north or south, they will find a closed door (unlocked) that opens into that room 1. All entry rooms have three interior doors. Each room has a rack for two scimitars (of which one is missing), a statuette of a snake, and two pallets for sleeping.
The locked and trapped (Glyphs of Warding for Electricity, Fire and Poison) eastern exit leads to an heretofore undiscovered exit/entrance to the Undercity, the DM can have the tunnels wind for miles (with appropriate underdark encounters) until it exits far from the valley of the Forbidden City in a 20x20 cave hidden by an overhang and waterfall alongside a river. A small narrow path slick with spray and water exits behind the waterfall and circles around a freshwater pool that empties into the river; the path continues into the jungle (and hopefully for the party, civilization). Inside the cavern is a cache of supplies for serpentmen consisting of 12 weeks of iron rations; several empty waterskins (can be filled by the waterfall), a crate full of fresh clothing, a small pouch with 20 gold pieces, 25 silver pieces and a 100 gp gem; a crate full of tinder, flint and torches; several (1-4 each) normal knives, spears, short swords, long swords, quarterstaffs, long and short bows, and a small crate of 100 arrows; two special seals to the Forbidden City that allow entry past the guards at the Main Entrance, and a padded leather case with 2 healing potions inside. At the DM’s option, there can also be found inside the pouch the names of several serpentmen agents in nearby villages and Port Maugre, which could lead to further adventures as these groups are rooted out and destroyed.
The chamber is not unguarded; the pool (a small but 20 ft deep freshwater basin 30x30 in diameter) the waterfall feeds into contains a Water Naga that has been raised and trained by the serpent men, leaving it corrupted and evil in temperament. It will recognize snakemen and their reptilian allies, and they are the only ones who are allowed to pass into or out of the waterfall without being attacked. Two to five rounds after voices are heard within the chamber, the naga will rise out of the pool and stick its head through the waterfall to observe who has entered; the naga will be surprised for one round as it sees unfamiliar faces and instinctively knows these are not scaly folk; it then withdraws to the bottom of it’s pool to cast spells on itself (Detect Invisible and Blur) and attacks whoever exits, striking from the safety of the pool at anyone walking the path or foolish enough to jump into the pool or stick their head through the waterfall, first with ranged spells and then by biting. If the adventurers instead hunker down inside the chamber, the Naga will simply wait them out, never leaving the water for combat; she is patient and will concede that she must outwit the party rather than foolishly attack. The Naga has no treasure except 2-20 pieces of each type of currency used on Delos, and the skeletons of past victims, all which lie at the bottom of its pool.

Water Naga (AC5, Mv’9/SW18, HD7, HP40, 0=13, Dmg 1-4 poisonous bite, ’10 long)
1st: Charm Person, Magic Missile (4), Shocking Grasp (on 1st bite)
2nd: Blur, Detect Invisibility
3rd: Slow"
All credit to Bad Mike for some great ideas on expansion  & conclusions of the events of  Dwellers In The Forbidden City.

No I'm stealing them but these are incredibly influential because they can be used as an outline to create & expand the Forbidden City into its own South Asian or China style lost world country. This is something that I'm considering doing within my own Ancient & Accursed Terra setting.  So why I'm bringing all of this up right now & what does this have to do old school/OSR play? Well when your PC's go from 1st to the upper levels of play there is a good chance that might take on the role of rulers of a small jungle or lost world kingdom. This is something that I've been speaking with friends about last night and the suggestions that we came up with for a kick ass lost world take on.

Sure this is the promise of Adventurer,Conqueror, King, and even Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea but by using this old school classic formula the PC's will be carving out their own petty kingdoms in the lost world jungles ala 'Apocalypse Now' in no time. That is if they survive the experience! My advise is to bring plenty of extra character sheets.

Friday, August 30, 2019

1d20 Lovecraftian Yog- Sothoth Aspects Random Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Adventurers from time to time may run across the cosmic horror and majestic insanity of Yog-Sothoth in one of its various incarnations of godhood and high strangeness. Here are a few of the forms of monstrous weirdness that your PC's might encounter. 

Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth's fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.
—H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror"

File:Yog-Sothoth couleur.jpg 
Artwork by Dominique Signoret

Adventurers from time to time may run across the cosmic horror and majestic insanity of Yog-Sothoth in one of its various incarnations of godhood and high strangeness. Here are a few of the forms of monstrous  horror  that your PC's might encounter. Yog-Sothoth is a manifestation of insanity itself  masquerading as  globes of lights   massing toward the opening of the protomatter main body.  And these manifestations of the Outer God's body are not alone  but they constantly break apart and merge with the nearest globes, and the protoplasmic flesh that flow blackly outward to join together and form that eldritch, hideous horror from the  outer darkness & planes.  Adventurers can encounter Yog-Sothoth at any point in time, space, & across the planes. Wizard's towers are often built to forbidden specifications from tomes of black magick made under the influences of this one of the most powerful Outer God's influence. 

1d20 Lovecraftian Yog- Sothoth Random Encounters Table
  1. 1d8 strange glowing man sized globes of god essence whose very presence sets combustible materials on fire. The air is filled with unearthly chants of a million insane and alien worshipers. Save vs death or have your eye balls erupt in a fleshless wax of matter and horror. These beings give grave insights into the nature of time space. 
  2. The air is filled with weird alien machine like entities and the very air buzzes with activity as they fly around and move across alien space times slipping between the cracks of reality itself. They whisper bits and pieces of forbidden knowledge and for a price they will tell you all they know. But can you handle the knowledge that the buzzing ones share for they are both key and gate. 
  3. The air itself is actually the god things and each particle whispers and invades your being as you breath it. The gates of perception shatter under the weight of its presence. Gain 1d8 random spells of incredible potential. 
  4. There are 1d6 giant spheres of plasma and liquid material that move and flow in obscene ways. The material will turn to liquid and pour itself down the throats of its victim granting them horrid visions of beyond reality. Prepare yourself for they're coming. 
  5. The Antherous sun thing comes, a living embodiment of the living energies of Yog Sothoth which will cause 1d10 mutations in those who see its forbidden light and bath in its presence. 
  6. The star spawn of Yog-Sothoth, a pitch black amoeba like thing floats and flows through the air made from the stars themselves and it gives visions of those places forbidden in time and space that were and are. Do not look lest ye become lost in its depths. 
  7. The Twisting Crystal entity, made of millions of crystal shards of dead and ancient alien civilizations this thing carries with it the messages of  billions gone and projects them out into the ether in a psychic shout of release and doom. Do not listen to its ancient and horrid song. 
  8. The Other Thing is made from the blood and bile of twelve ancient demon lords who were slain by this horror as it created itself from their flesh. It watches and whispers the ancient gossips and secrets of old nameless hells. It will swallow the souls of any who witness its birth and rebirth as it creates itself. 
  9. The Abnormal & Twisted things made from the ancient flesh of alien and long forgotten sacrifices. This entity remakes and flows the flesh of itself within and without. This old horror tells the tails and stories of ancient pathways of time and space. It also marks the ways of reincarnations between lives. 
  10. The Gateway of Lost Lives, this is a gateway in time and space of what could have been. It eats the possibilities left behind as we move across our lives. Sorcerers and ancient alien scribes sometimes summon it to witness the 'could have been past' to divine the future. It will eat 1d30 years for such bargains. 
  11. The Green Gates, this entity will for the price of one soul allow it to be reborn from within its green and pleasant space as ancient alien plant thing bound to this god thing. It will also transform and terraform a barren world to one teeming with life within 1d30 days. But some of its life forms are bizarre and very dangerous.  
  12. The Dust of Old Stories this black cloud thing travels the universe and moving across the face of the dimensions collects the stories and tales of extinct peoples and stories of ancient genocides. The thing will descend and sing its songs into worthy and insane ears. This god monster will on occasion wipe away a world to preserve its stories so that they might live on within itself. 
  13. The Dealer In Broken Pieces - This entity is a cloaked humanoid figure that moves from world to world collecting the insane thoughts of ancient black magicians and sorcerers to sell them. These pieces of magical souls will allow a mage to level up but he must pledge himself to this entity and upon his death this thing will come to collect his soul. The cycle is unending with the dealer. 
  14. The Shatter of Visions made from a billion pieces of cosmic mirrors this entity projects a million dreams of death and disappointment. Dreams of ancient and horrid aspect are psychically projected it from this thing. Many come to worship it and bask in its insanity for insights of a most horrid type. 
  15. The Tendrils of KU - This god thing is all that remains of the flesh and form of the KU who pledged themselves to the last alien to Yog Sothoth so that they might live for eternity. This thing dreams 1d30 visions per hour and will warp physically and mentally anything that endures the unending cycle of power and sound that comes from it. The thing worships itself as it consumes and births itself over and over again. Come hear its messages and visions. 
  16. It Opens Doors is a minor god thing that will create and change the laws of reality around it. The thing opens forbidden dimensional doorways with its command of magic and mystery but stare at it for too long and you will become a part of its weave and pattern of mystery. Gain 1d6 spells staring at it but you have a 30% chance of becoming a part of it as each hour passes. 
  17. The Floating Hands is a cloud and flesh thing made from over a million alien hands, claws, and appendages from across time and space. This is a god thing of violence and horror. It is called to end cities and communities. It will descend when called upon and destroy the summoner's enemies but it will also demand the soul of the summoner whose hands must join with it. The thing will write with its iron claws tales and stories of those who are a part of it. But these stories are destroyed after it is done. Those watch it must be quick or be driven mad by its revelations of horror and depravity. 
  18. That Which Abides is a collection of ancient flesh and decaying horror, this god thing is made from the flesh of dead and ancient Old Ones. It exists because it must and collects the old magicks of wizards long past. The thing will grant 1d6 spells of horrid aspect but it must be paid in blood and deeds. Those who can not are destroyed by magic and curses uttered by the thing's multiple mouth parts. 
  19. The Ringed Gate Thing, this ring shaped horror of flesh and alien organs sings of old and forbidden secrets. It must be paid in organs and blood sacrifice and it will grant valuable insights into ancient artifacts and relics. Very violent and dangerous entity though with a very short temper and dangerous 
  20. Yog Sothoth itself and all the horror that goes with it. It will be angry and very hungry for the souls of the innocent. 

Free OSR Adventure - The Tavern Of Daednu By The Oliver Brothers For Your Old School Campaigns

Grab It Right Over

Everything about the Tavern of Daednu is well done and very interesting. This is a small twenty page module that is big on encounters and if done well could well be a first rate horror style introduction adventure. The module paces itself well and solid.
With a bit of work this module could be adapted into a solid location adventure into your old school campaigns. Everything about this module screams add me into your game. Since this is an AD&D 1st edition module, you can easily add it right in. The plot and NPC's here are very generic but with a few clever twists this module can be a party's introduction into the darkness that lays at the heart of your horror or weird sword and sorcery campaign.

According to the Dragon's foot intro: 
The Tavern of Daednu seems a pleasant place for adventurers to spend the night, but all is not as it seems. A short adventure for character levels 1-3.
According to the adventure the structure for the module is laid right out in the open from the  introduction:  
"The Tavern of Daednu is a short

adventure for 3-8 characters of 1st-3rd level. The scenario works best with
characters of low level who are veteran players. They will of course be suspicious." Don't let this fool you as a DM, with a bit of work this module could make a fine introduction adventure for a Lamentations of The Flame Princess game or a even a game of Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The weird adventure elements here are compelling enough to keep PC's interested and busy from the ground up.
The adventure reminds me of Solomon Kane and some of the older Weird Tale influences here and I like the feel that I got from this one reading through it a few times. 

There are two levels to the inn and with a bit of clever slight of hand this adventure location can be used over and over. The writing here is interesting, the plot can be reused a couple of times, and personally I think that  the PC's should escape with their lives with this one. Only to have the place show up again later on in their adventuring careers. This is the sort of adventure location where adventurers should cut their teeth and be thrust into the darkness only to escape knowing that its waiting for them.
Grab this adventure, twist it around, and drop it into your campaign for a sword and sorcery twist on the usual basic AD&D game module.

1d10 Random Treasures from Beyond HP Lovecraft's DreamLands Table For Your Old School Campaigns

From the time haunted shores of the Dreamlands there have always been treasures pulled by men of renowned and ancient aspects from the minds of dreamers. But many of these weird and ancient relics and things are relics from nightmare haunted bygone ages.
What weird or strange treasures will your adventurers pull from the stuff of dreams in time haunted lands? Here are are some tables to fill your adventurers coffers with treasures from the edge of sanity and the deepest gates of nightmare itself.
Filigrana de chiapa de corzo.JPG
“By noon Carter reached the jasper terraces of Kiran which slope down to the river's edge and bear that temple of loveliness wherein the King of Ilek-Vad comes from his far realm on the twilight sea once a year in a golden palanquin to pray to the god of Oukranos, who sang to him in youth when he dwelt in a cottage by its banks. All of jasper is that temple, and covering an acre of ground with its walls and courts, its seven pinnacled towers, and its inner shrine where the river enters through hidden channels and the god sings softly in the night. Many times the moon hears strange music as it shines on those courts and terraces and pinnacles, but whether that music be the song of the god or the chant of the cryptical priests, none but the King of Ilek-Vad may say; for only he had entered the temple or seen the priests. Now, in the drowsiness of day, that carven and delicate fane was silent, and Carter heard only the murmur of the great stream and the hum of the birds and bees as he walked onward under the enchanted sun.” 
― H.P. LovecraftThe Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

1d10  Random Treasures from Beyond HP Lovecraft's DreamLands Table

  1. A broach formed from the blackest nightmare whose surface shines and shimmers with the souls of those who have parished insearch of the original hoard from which it came. The working was from the dreams of a jeweler and wizard from Asia Minor during the Roman Empire. It grants visions of myriad Heavens or Hells every New Moon. Worth 600 gold pieces 
  2. A wizard's stick pin formed from twin demons intertwined in damnation or sexual union. The pin allows one to peer into the sleep of the waking world once per week and pull a memory or dream from one sleeper. Worth 760 gold pieces. The pin is +1 vs creatures of dream. 
  3. A golden carved box containing one perfect dream of a child, this piece bursts with the energies of its creator and sleeping with this box under a bed will allow one to help from the insanities and terrors of the Underworld. The thing has a gug's tooth locking mechanism. Worth 800 gold pieces to the right collector. 
  4. A jeweled memory piece of glass spun from the memories of a lost lover. This piece allows one to pull the dream memories of the dearly departed and interact with the illusion as if they were real. The piece is worth quite a bit at 1000 gold pieces to a necrotic collector of such curiosities. 
  5. The jeweled eyes of a Cat From Saturn taken at great expense. These eyes allow one to peer into the underverse of the Outer Darkness and view sights beyond. They are worth 750 gold pieces to a collector or wizard and are quite striking. 
  6. A jeweled ruby box containing sand from the pouch of the Sandmen who guard the far shores of sleep. Able to instantly put anyone into a deep sleeping trance but these sands are also an addictive drug of the most dangerous type. Worth 5000 gold pieces to jaded and degenerate royalty and personages. 
  7. A single cut diamond container holding the ever frozen snows of distant icy dreams of loss and heart break. These snows will instantly freeze a dream in place and allow one to delicately collect the reality from the very air around a dreamer. Worth 5000 gold pieces to a dangerous wizard of icy and weird aspect. 
  8. An iron wrought bracelet of hellish aspect enclosing a piece of solidified jeweled nightmare. This cut and sharp shard of a child's terror gleams with the inner fears of its former creator. The thing will allow its owner to detect the nearest door into deeper realms of nightmare and shadow itself. A very valuable tool in the right hands or a weapon of very dangerous aspect. Worth 1000 gold pieces because few would valuable such a collector's piece. 6000 to a wizard of nightmares but be warned of such insane and dangerous individuals. 
  9. A cut piece of ancient and ground demon gold bathed in the waters of Order and polished by the tears of angels. This golden bracelet allows one to gather the dreams of hope and bravery against the most dangerous of dark dreams. It will heal the mind of its owner's target once every month and allow the energies of order to rebind the victim's mind and heal all of the insanity and depravity of recent experiences. Worth 10000 gold pieces to a temple of Order, a very rare find. 
  10. An emerald of clarity and illusion, this jewel has been formed from the dreams of ancient and lost angels during a world's creation by the dreams of its god. This emerald gives one the ability to construct realistic dreams for others to inhabit. Worth 700 gold to the right healer. It has very dangerous and addictive qualities though. 


Moves in Amber - Flying Buffalo's City Book Series, The Mark of Amber, & Beyond - Campaign Commentary

With the passing of Rick Loomis this past month my mind wavered on my current campaign. Rick's passing sort of threw me for a loop. But I did manage to look through my Flying Buffalo books & one of my all time favorites The City Book series.  Citybook I: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker is expansive; "25 City-based establishments with over 75 fully-described non-player characters, and scenario suggestions for use with any role-playing system. This book established that you COULD have a GM book that is genuinely for ANY Fantasy Role Playing System, and not just thinly disguised for one particular system. All the descriptions and mechanics are in generic terms so it will fit in with whatever campaign system you are using." They really do mean this & this book has earned its five star review on Drivethrurpg. 

The City Books are set within a late fantasy D&D style  Roman Empire to Renaissance Europe setting for their urban environments. And adding them to a world setting such as the classic Greyhawk box set isn't a problem at all. They slide into the back ground along with their races, artifacts, adventure hooks, & background  elements quite nicely.

But the place where the  The City Book series fits is into Mystara. The races, the expansiveness, the implied  shared setting of the books fits quite nicely into the world B/X  Dungeons & Dragons Cyclopedia campaign very seamlessly. In fact they also fit really nicely into the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg  without a hassle at all. They work quite well right into the loveliness of Castles & Crusades as well.

But then I run smack into my old nemesis of how the Hell does a dungeon master move from high fantasy to the straight up Sword & Sorcery of let's say an Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  Fortunately I've got a way out down the thirty nine steps of deeper slumber. HP Lovecraft's Dreamlands is the middle ground between high fantasy & Sword & Sorcery. This is one of the places that Tom Moldvay D&D module X2 Castle Amber crosses into in many respects.

So could the The City Book series cross over into this realm of dreams as well?! I think that the answer to this is yes it could. The death of Tienne d'Ambreville foreshadows this and yes I quoting from the "Mark of Amber" (1995), by Aaron Allston, Jeff Grubb, and John D. Rateliff, which I think is one of the best products to come out of the TSR second edition era. Again the focus shifts to Mystara. There has always been this hazy Dreamlands/dimension of nightmares connection with these materials in my mind.

There are several different power & faction connections that can be exploited within the 
The City Book series  & Mark of Amber once the events & death of Tienne d'Ambreville comes to pass. The death of a powerful wizard is going to send shock waves across space, the planes, & time itself. 
With the death of 
Tienne d'Ambreville  various families of wizards & witches are going to be thrown into chaos. The power vacuum left in the wake of his death really throws a number of witch covens & families into complete chaos.  On a lone tree a barbarian thief hangs as a witch queen takes the throne of her sister in the D20 Conan adventure A Witch Shall Be Born: Written and edited by Wesley Connally.

Meanwhile someplace in Albion in  the Averoigne  region of France a member of the Le Fey family moves a chess piece on a very archaic board. A piece across three Prime planes away on the board of an immortal moves with the same pieces. He does not look happy at all & contemplates his next move unaware of a similar board being observed by a Magistar three planes away as well. 

In another place & time a man contemplates a chess board as it moves on its own within a discrete mages & wizard's club. A woman in an evening dress suddenly looks very concerned & the world of Amazing Adventures! rpg just got a bit more complicated.  

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Castles & Crusades, Ancient Kingdoms D20 Mesopotamia, & The Sands of Zothique

I'm dusting off another old treasure tonight & I've got some OSR back up too boot. So let's talk about a very mixed bag of a book. I'm speaking about Ancient Kingdoms  D20 Mesopotamia. 

Dead Cities in the Desert
"A city of unspeakable antiquity, buried for centuries beneath the desert sands, stands revealed deep in the accursed desert known as the Red Waste. Dare you enter The City That Worshipped a Thousand Gods, seeking the treasures and relics of its Hierophants?
Beware the lurking terrors of a bygone age!"
This is a book that when it came out was trying to blend the worlds & works of H.P. Lovecraft & Robert Howard with a dark fantasy version of Conan's Mesopotamia according to the blurb;"Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia is a large setting source book packed with numerous new classes, deities, monsters and magic items, including a series of short adventures. Explore ancient ruins, temples and dungeons of the lost city of Ibnath, and the perilous wilderness areas that surround it. The Ziggurat of the Ghoul-Queen awaits!" But what does this have to do with Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique? Well a bit of everything. But as I said this is a book with more then its share of lovers & detractors Jeff Black on Amazon from 2006 says this; "
This book is a bit of an oddball. While it at first blush seems like a campaign setting sourcebook for d20, it's primarily a collection of adventures with a good dollop of background material. It shouldn't be mistaken for a book along the lines of Green Ronin's outstanding Mythic Vistas line, which included a number of fairly historically accurate settings like ancient Rome or medieval Europe.

Rather, this is a book that takes the bare bones of Mesopotamian history and mythology, and uses them as a framework on which to construct a set of adventures that evoke the mood and feel of some of the great pulp writers, specifically Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. In addition, this book provides material that would fit comfortably into the Wilderlands, a classic campaign setting originally published Judges Guild in the 1970s and 80s, and now published by Necromancer Games.

I found this book to be a unique addition to my RPG library, one that draws upon a background not often explored in RPGs." But contrast this with 

Francesc Montserrat Sanahuja from 2006 as well; If I had to be honest in my own words would be "it's crap. period."

But I suppose you'd like to read a bit more about it. In fact I study History at the university and my specialty is Sumer so Mesopotamia sounded interesting for me at the time I decided to purchase the book. When I finally received it at home I didn't even finish it cause it was just a regular collection of monsters dungeons traps and spells with changed names and trying to look hip. Not worked on me. You don't need this, just purchase a copy of the epic of Gilgamesh an use names and stories from there to flavour your gaming." The reviews on Drivethrurpg don't get much better.  Personally I'd put Ancient Kingdoms  D20 Mesopotamia.  on the high end of three & a half stars. The book is a mixed bag but for designing the weird wastelands of CAS's Zothique this is an excellent resource. Now one of the resources that has is Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia - Conversion Notes for the Conan RPG. "Written for standard d20/3.5E rules, this adventure by can easily be adapted to the Hyborian Age and the rules of the Mongoose Conan RPG. Here are some notes to assist in such a conversion." Now if we squint really hard I can really see CAS's Zothique. Especially if we look on the horizon & see Rodney Mathew's The Twilight Tower in the distance.

Twilight Tower artwork used without permission but sets the harsh alien wastes of millions of years in Zothique's future.

The plot of the D20 Mesopotamia's D20 Conan  focuses on "The module as written is very open to random wandering and exploration, and the over-arching plot hardly needs modification to be used in a Hyborian campaign. Refer to the Module Background and Current Situation in the book (Chapter 4) for details. Powerful magic prevents the banished kingpriest Arukurshu from entering the ruins of Ibnath, and similar magic imprisons his mate, the Ghoul-Queen Nikhartha. The Hierophants of Ibnath lie asleep in their stasis tombs, unable to awaken by their own volition. The key to dispelling the magic placed on either faction can be found somewhere in the desert. At the same time, the Brotherhood of Kalab and the Cult of the Pit-Worm have their own agendas, and the nomadic Sons of Saram, unless befriended, pose a threat to anyone travelling through the wastes they inhabit."
But this means that with little effort we can pull this adventure & its conversion over into Castles & Crusades or Dungeon Crawl Classics. Chris Rutkowsky  did the conversion of the Mysterious Tower from d20 to Castles and Crusades,& over on the DCC forums from 2006 he's got an entire thread of DCC to Castles & Crusades conversion guidelines. 

So what does Ancient Kingdoms  D20 Mesopotamia  have to do with portraying the ancient god haunted wastes of Zothique besides the perfect sourcebook for wandering caravans, cannibal tribes, desert wanderers,etc.? Well there are also several forbidden demons, lots of Lovecraftian style gods, etc. all of these are very chaotic & dangerous. Now if only I had an OSR resource that was perfect for modeling those adventure elements  that in the campaign setting? Oh that's right I do!  Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos by RPGPundit and Dominique Crouzet is a great book to generate cults with and some of the ones from Ancient Kingdoms  D20 Mesopotamia are perfect fodder for the campaign setting I'm working on.

Not only is CAS's Zothique a low technology, high Sword & Sorcery setting but many of the deities are the ancient remains & hold over of old gods. Some of their rites & rituals are not only chaotic but inimical to humanity. In the sands of Zothique there is a fine line between demonic Hell thing & god.
All of this in my campaign ties back into one of the most powerful & deadly wizards in Basic Dungeons & Dragons. I'm talking about the wizard-noble Stephen Amber (Etienne d'Amberville) from Tom Moldvay's X2 Castle Amber. Stephen Amber has designs on the far future landscape of Zothique. From his the wilderness back water  of the world of Averoigne, there is little that Stephen Amber misses but next time we'll get into his agenda. 

The sands of Zothique touch many planes & planes Prime, many adventurers from Amazing Adventures! rpg have made the crossing. But few of them have ever come back to tell the tale. Zothique is a time haunted setting indeed that few could survive under the glare of its harsh oversized  bloated  ancient red sun. But still indeed many try. Its sinister relics & treasures dot many worlds indeed.