Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Infernal Mechanical Secrets of Original Dungeons & Dragons's Eldritch Wizardry by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume.

Back in the mists of time in the early 90's the Satanic Panic was still in full swing in certain back water areas of the United States. This included the born again Christian high school I went to, a 'friend of mine' had borrowed my copy of original Dungeons & Dragons  Eldritch Wizardry by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume. He turned it into one of the teachers working in the high school & I was expelled for two weeks. At the time I was working two jobs one I was working as a waiter at local Friendlies resturant & on the weekends I'd help a friend who was running a local comic shop selling Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books. Before the end of the term I stole my book back from the high school but this wasn't the end of that part of my high school/college daze.  Everyone talks about sci fi & science fantasy technologies coming into Dungeons & Dragons in S3 Gary Gygax's Expediation to Barrier Peaks. My experiences are a lot different & they stretch back all the way back to the 70's  original Dungeons & Dragons  Eldritch Wizardry by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume. For this I'm pulling out my notes for DM Steve's Godbound rpg  campaign & all of the stops are coming off.

Now let's get a bit of history & perspective for a moment on this ancient tome;
"Eldritch Wizardry is a supplementary rulebook by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume, written for the original edition of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game, which included a number of significant additions to the core game. Its product designation is TSR 2005. is a supplementary rulebook by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume, written for the original edition of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game, which included a number of significant additions to the core game. Its product designation is TSR 2005."

Diving right into the Summmer of '79 & our little group of players under my uncle is exploring a particularly heinous dungeon on Greyhawk & level after level of golems, weird mechanisms, etc. I've got that we made it through five levels of dungeons until we get right to the heart of the dungeon & that's where we saw it; "THE MACHINE OF LUM THE MAD This gigantic piece of intricate machinery is far too heavy and bulky to move by hand. It may be teleported or dimension doored, but other means of transportation will probably result in the destruction of the machine's delicate workings. If the machine is dropped after a teleport, etc., it will lose at least one function and. if it falls far enough, be destroyed. It is far too complex to be repaired. The machine has 70 levers and 30 dials. It also has a type of booth large enough for four people to stand inside. If a person or item is inside the booth, and a lever is pulled or a dial turned there may be an effect on the person or object inside. Of the 70 levers and 30 dials, 20 are no longer functioning due to the extreme age of the machine. The other items should have effects drawn from the tables in this back of the section and from the creative mind of the DM. Suggested powers: TABLE I: 25 of the powers. TABLE II: 25 of the powers. TABLE III: 10 of the powers. TABLE IV: 10 of the powers. TABLE V: 10 of the powers"

The best representation of this piece of hellish occult technology is a piece of artwork by  Infernal Machine of Lum the Mad Concept art by Conceptopolis/Jetpack7 - #concept_art #dungeons_and dragons #forgotten_realms

This artwork will confur the sheer scale of power & insanity that this mechanism brings to the table top. The original artwork was found right over here 

Here's the colorized version of the artwork & even more it brings home that wickness just waiting to envelop your PC. Infernal Machine of Lum the Mad Concept art by Conceptopolis/Jetpack7 - #concept_art #dungeons_and_dragons #forgotten_realms

Some of our group of players in my uncle's game pulled levers & punched buttons, we died rather badly that day. But the mechanism is still in that dungeon waiting. Waiting for my current plaers to stumble upon it at some point.
But where the Hell did my uncle come across it? My notes indicate that he was 'inspired' by 
American writer Abraham Merritt's The Metal Monster & especially Dr. Goodwin who first appeared in The Moon Pool who inspired the mad mage who sent us on our epic journey into that Hell dungeon.

The plot of 'The Metal Monster' by A. Merrrit is one part 'lost world' & one part encounter cosmic horror  with truly alien mechanisms & technologies;"Dr. Goodwin is on a botanical expedition in the Himalayas. There he meets Dick Drake, the son of one of his old science acquaintances. They are witnesses of a strange aurora-like effect, but seemingly a deliberate one. As they go out to investigate, they meet Goodwin's old friends Martin and Ruth Ventnor, brother and sister scientists. The two are besieged by Persians as Darius III led when Alexander of Macedon conquered them more than two thousand years ago.

The group is saved by a magnificent woman they get to know as Norhala. She commands the power of lightning and controls strange metal animate Things, living, metallic, geometric forms; an entire city of sentient cubes, globes and tetrahedrons, capable of joining together and forming colossal shapes, and wielding death rays and other armaments of destruction.
They are led to a hidden valley occupied by what they name "The Metal Monster", a strange metal city occupied by the metal animate Things Norhala commands. This city is governed by what they call the Metal Emperor, assisted by the Keeper of the Cones.
Ruth is slowly being converted by Norhala to become like her; her little sister. Martin, her brother, tries shooting the Metal Emperor, who retaliates with a ray blast, putting Martin in a comatose state.
Closed in between the Metal Monster and the Persians, it falls to Goodwin and Drake to find a way to escape their predicament."

Yeah that dungeon has/had elements of A.Merrit written all over it but the real inspiration from my perspective was Robert Kuntz Machine level from the original campaign. Mr. Kuntz has been a heavy influence on me over the years. The man doesn't get half of the credit he's due for his years with orginal Dungeons & Dragons but that's another blog entry for another time.
Here's the thing that dungeon is still out there with the mechanism of Lum the mad working & talking to itself. But what about the Metal Monster itself? The book 'The Metal Monster' is in the public domain in the United States & you can down load it right here. But the technologies of the book are way ahead of anything we've got right at the moment. There are lost places & strange osisis of the nanite like technologies of the 'Metal Monster' just waiting for adventurers to stumble upon them. And author Mike Stewart alright wrote them up in Victorious's Hunter & Hunter calalog put out by Troll Lord Games. May I also strongly suggest downloading Jason Vey's Conan books for original Dungeons & Dragons.  They have just the right tone of creeping corruption for such a campaign.

Could the 'Metal Monster' & its kind be quietly spreading their own cults across the cosmos? Are they insidiously infiltrating various planes after the fall of Heaven? Are occultists & wizards just noticing now the dread influence of these ancient & highly alien A.I. entities?
Could any hero or party of adventurers really stand up to such an onslaught?

Well back in Kuntz & Ward's Dieties, Demigods, & Heroes we've got the Dragon Ship another 
sorcerous mechanism that seems straight out of a high occult or techno machincal Atlantis or Lumeria. The craft is capable of incredible feats;

A sailing ship in the form of a winged dragon. The wings of the ship are the sails, the front talons are used in grappling, the nostrils of the dragon shoot a type of greek fire, and the long neck and head serve as a boarding platform. In all things pertaining to sailing treat this vessel as a large galley with twice the speed."

Are there eras of time when technologies & ideologies clashed that the PC's haven't a clue about? Well isn't that part of the point? The hidden histories & occult conspiracies that even the gods fear? For now keep em rolling.

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