Wednesday, September 11, 2019

OSR Commentary - HP Lovecraft's Polaris & the Peoples of Lomar For Your Old School Campaigns

So I'm pulling out all of the stops now in my plane traveling  Tegel Manor game. I was informed last night that more players might be joining our game. DM Steve suggested that I follow the 'Disney Avengers formula' in other words the small fish monsters get replaced by bigger fish monsters. I've got just the Lovecraftian  replacements for them thanks to Jim Garrison's Heretic Works blog. That's right its time to unleash the Tcho-Tchoids upon the party!  Right now a Lomarian war party is on its way to ambush the adventurers. But it looks like I'm gonna have to redesign my version of Lomar from HP Lovecraft's story Polaris.

Artwork used without permission ... I can't find the artist but love the artwork. Latter it would find its way into a published book (I think). But then I happened upon The Dark Heritage blog break down on Lomar;
"Anyway, without further ado: here are some details about Lomar.  All of the known details, as it happens.

capital city is Olathoë
which is located on the plateau of Sarkis
betwixt the peaks of Noton and Kadiphonek
there is a vaporous distant valley called Banof that can be seen from the towers of Olathoë
Olathoë is "ghastly" and built of towers, domes, pavements and pillars of marble
Olathoë is "many-templed" but only the worship of Tsathoggua is specifically mentioned
the upper part of the city has carved images of grave, bearded men
the Lomarians are tall and gray-eyed
Daikos is another city of Lomar
Lomar was at war with the Inutos and they were eventually over-run
the Inutos could come upon Olathoë via a narrow pass behind Noton
the watchtower of Thapnen guarded the pass
Alos is a politician-general of Olathoë
the Lomarians moved to Lomar from Zobna in the north due to advancing ice
Lomar is located near the north pole
the air of Olathoë was warm, despite it's northern latitude
Olathoë contains a square with many statues from which its leaders speak
besides the Inutos, they Lomarians also contended with "hairy, long-armed cannibal Gnophkehs"
the Inutos are "squat, hellish yellow fiends" come from the west, who are mighty in the arts of war and fight without scruples of honor
the men of Lomar wear strange robes and are noble and wise
the men of Olathoë were the bravest of Lomar
the men of Lomar brought with them from Zobna the Pnakotic manuscripts as well as the "wisdom of [their] Zobnarian Fathers"
the Pole Star shines balefully above Olathoë and seems to be possessed of a malignant antipathy towards Lomar

Now, granted, we can presume, I think, that some of the above is nativist propaganda since it comes from a patriotic denizen of Olathoë itself.  But that's a sufficient capsule view of Lomar to make it usable, I think, to potential gamers."
Men & woman of Lomar gain a +1 intelligence & wisdom, -1 on Charisma because of the 'thousand yard' stare of theirs, +1 on strength & constitution living in the harsh climates & conditions of the volcanic lands surrounding Lomar.

But what really got my attention was this bit; "It is worth noting that there are Gnophkehs and Gnoph-kehs, which are not the same.  The former, referred to here, are in the words of Clark Ashton Smith, "detested," "repulsively hirsute cannibals" from his Hyperborean chronicles, who worshiped the cosmic obscenity Rhan-Tegoth.  They were driven from Hyperborea by the Voormis to Lomar (the Voormis themselves supposedly the ancestors of the sasquatch and yeti.)  After being driven from Lomar by the men from Zobna (and there's a minor discrepancy between Smith and Lovecraft's narrative, since Zobna was north of Lomar, and the Lomarians drove the Gnophkehs to the north of Lomar also) they started worshiping instead Ithaqua."

There's a lot to unpack here so let's start with the fact that all of this ties directly into Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean cycle; 

The  Tcho-Tchoids  are working for the cult of Rhan-Tegoth & they're after  the Eternity Crystal that is in the possession of the wise men of  Lomar.  They've fled into the colony on Mars  but the adventurers have crossed paths with the Lomarian war party.

The sculptor George Rogers stands before the Great Old One Rhan-Tegoth sleeping on its throne in Alaska. Borja Pindado's artwork based on H. P. Lovecraft's short story "The Horror in the Museum".
I was also doing some research on H.P. Lovecraft's short story Memory & ran across a reference to Edgar Allen Poe's short poem called the Valley of Nis; 

"Far away — far away —

Far away — as far at least
Lies that valley as the day
Down within the golden east —
All things lovely — are not they
Far away — far away ?

It is called the valley Nis.
And a Syriac tale there is
Thereabout which Time hath said
Shall not be interpreted.
Something about Satan's dart —
Something about angel wings —
Much about a broken heart —
All about unhappy things:
But "the valley Nis" at best
Means "the valley of unrest."

Once it smil'd a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell,
Having gone unto the wars —
And the sly, mysterious stars,
With a visage full of meaning,
O'er the unguarded flowers were leaning:
Or the sun ray dripp'd all red
Thro' the tulips overhead,
Then grew paler as it fell
On the quiet Asphodel.

Now the unhappy shall confess
Nothing there is motionless:
Helen, like thy human eye
There th' uneasy violets lie —
There the reedy grass doth wave
Over the old forgotten grave —
One by one from the tree top
There the eternal dews do drop —
There the vague and dreamy trees
Do roll like seas in northern breeze
Around the stormy Hebrides —
There the gorgeous clouds do fly,
Rustling everlastingly,
Through the terror-stricken sky,
Rolling like a waterfall
O'er th' horizon's fiery wall —
There the moon doth shine by night
With a most unsteady light —
There the sun doth reel by day
"Over the hills and far away."

And Helen, like thy human eye,
Low crouched on Earth, some violets lie,
And, nearer Heaven, some lilies wave
All banner-like, above a grave.
And one by one, from out their tops
Eternal dews come down in drops,
Ah, one by one, from off their stems
Eternal dews come down in gems!"

The valley of Nis in Lovecraft's story "Memory"  is a place of danger, mystery, & would make an excellent adventure location; "
n the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a path for its light with feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a great upas-tree. And within the depths of the valley, where the light reaches not, move forms not meant to be beheld. Rank is the herbage on each slope, where evil vines and creeping plants crawl amidst the stones of ruined palaces, twining tightly about broken columns and strange monoliths, and heaving up marble pavements laid by forgotten hands. And in trees that grow gigantic in crumbling courtyards leap little apes, while in and out of deep treasure-vaults writhe poison serpents and scaly things without a name. Vast are the stones which sleep beneath coverlets of dank moss, and mighty were the walls from which they fell. For all time did their builders erect them, and in sooth they yet serve nobly, for beneath them the grey toad makes his habitation.
At the very bottom of the valley lies the river Than, whose waters are slimy and filled with weeds. From hidden springs it rises, and to subterranean grottoes it flows, so that the Daemon of the Valley knows not why its waters are red, nor whither they are bound.
The Genie that haunts the moonbeams spake to the Daemon of the Valley, saying, “I am old, and forget much. Tell me the deeds and aspect and name of them who built these things of Stone.” And the Daemon replied, “I am Memory, and am wise in lore of the past, but I too am old. These beings were like the waters of the river Than, not to be understood. Their deeds I recall not, for they were but of the moment. Their aspect I recall dimly, it was like to that of the little apes in the trees. Their name I recall clearly, for it rhymed with that of the river. These beings of yesterday were called Man.”
So the Genie flew back to the thin horned moon, and the Daemon looked intently at a little ape in a tree that grew in a crumbling courtyard." 

I was thinking of using the Valley of Nis an adventure location within Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique setting. Coming across the Tor commentary for Polar & Memory  from  and . I'm thinking that the valley's monkey's are infected with a zombie plague.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention 

The Anthropophagi of Xambaala by Corey R. Walden for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea which has some of the most vicious examples of  the Inutos around in any OSR adventure.

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