Friday, January 31, 2020

The Razor's Edge of the Wasteland - Cha'alt/Godbound Campaign Session Report

The player's party went through the wastes of California on their way trekking the two hundred & seventy seven miles to the Grand Canyon in my  Cha'alt/Godbound game. They dealt with a flock of  desert harpies! And it took them a good amount of time to deal with the flock while their hover skifts caravan side tracked. The party is on its way back to the city state of  Rex Harenae Crawler In Toxix (King Sand Crawler The Toxic) from Fort Hope.

As the party came across a minor aspect of the Cha'alt rift they managed to acquire two starving hireling mercenaries on hover bikes. I've got to use the Cha'alt rule book to roll em up but I've got their basic stats down & made em up on the fly using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide. I'll finish them up for next week's game. These guys were made up on the fly during a random  encounter roll.

The dragon born nobles had the party camp in the ruins of another town along the way & found the place completely empty. The whole place was abandoned but it wasn't clear why?! The party quickly moved on but were a bit paranoid after dealing with the location. The next town wasn't quite as empty as the last one. There was fighting & a giant horde of zombies (the sorry remains of the town's former inhabitants ) animated by some strange occult power.  At the center of the horde there are was a rival faction of adventurers fighting for their lives.

The player's party saved the rival adventurers from the horde of undead but it soon became evident things are not as they appear. The town's bank suffered from a magical implosion. The adventurers investigated the ruin within their was a huge platinum cylinder cracked! There was strange metal with lots of people trapped within it but still living. They were caught in the magical implosion.
The metal cylinder was part of cache that was captured by the rivals when the adventurers were summoned to Earth. They captured a cargo of Azoth from Cha'alt and hid it within an abandoned mine near the town. The 'treasure' was found by some of the towns folk & the cylinder was cracked to gain access to the 'riches' within causing an occult implosion.

The cylinders were created using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master Guide first edition. These cylinders count as artifacts & the rules from the DMG are perfect are generating these dangerous artifacts.

The material from the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg Heroic Fantasy Handbook added to this enabled the final pieces of the Swords & Sorcery formula.So now the PCs are on their way to deal with the dragon but also now the adventurers have noted the cache of Azoth. But the rival adventurers were banished by the dragon royals.

The Azoth is produced when the Cha'alt warp interacts with the Earth. On Cha'alt the Azoth is used to refine & process 
Now next week the PC's will be taking a trip into  the dragon's den & learn the true extent of the darkness of Cha'alt!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Rumbles from B2 The Keep on The Borderlands By Gary Gygax - Cha'alt/Godbound Campaign Commentary

I've been going over my Cha'alt/Godbound notes & on the side reading through Gary Gygax's B2 Keep on the Borderlands module again. I've played through, been killed in, dungeon mastered, this module over & over again. I'm convinced that B2 Keep on the Borderlands is a military module in the sense that the PC's are called into a backwater village, area, & former battle ground between the forces of Law & Chaos.
Yeah this is a beginning & introductory module for B/X Dungeons & Dragons but this is one of its strengths. This is the module where so many players PC's died & they cut their teeth in the plains & woods of the Borderlands.

When you go looking at two great internet resources for B2 there are two that come to mind one is Zenopus Archives B2 Keep on the Borderlands section & the second is of course Dragon Foot's B2 Keep on the Borderlands Index . We of course used an unholy combination of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons mixed with B/X Dungeons & Dragons. But here's the part that did in mine & my uncle's head; "The following text appears in the 1st print that was removed for the 2nd print:

While originally designed to be played with BASIC D&D, the situations and places used in KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS may also be used by players of ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS.

To use with AD&D, the DM will find no difficulty in using the maps or room descriptions of the Keep and the Caves of Chaos. He or she may wish to expand or ignore the wilderness map and perhaps substitute personalized ideas for those listed. It will be necessary to alter some of the information on the characters found in the Keep to be consistent with AD&D. Likewise, the monsters found in the Caves of Chaos should be converted to AD&D (hit dice, alignment, damage, etc.). For experienced players it may be useful to include some more challenging monsters and more tricks and traps.

As the party increases in level, care should be taken to see that they do not rule or take over the Keep. This may be done by having the main characters of the Keep increase in level and magic items to remain above the average of the party. If the party is 6th level on average, the Castellan should be 9th or 10th level. Alternately, if the DM wishes to use this area for future low-level play, he or she may encourage the players to travel elsewhere in search of adventure."

Our party came back into the Caves of Chaos & cleaned the place out with an army of hirelings & mercenaries hired with the treasure from the caves. But little did we know what trouble we were headed into! In fact my uncle didn't take that advice & our party after dying in the moat house of  T1 Village of Hommlet  numerous times! Came back to take over the keep. His version of the keep resembled the famous painting 'Windsor Castle From The South'. But make no mistake at this was a Sword & Sorcery version of Greyhawk. Our PC's didn't murder the royals already in the keep. No instead they were called in on a battle that was brewing in the south. 
We moved in & they died in the battle that was played out as a war game. And this is where the trouble began. We had to keep up with numerous adventures to keep the treasure & economy of the local region running. 

Windsor Castle from the South artist unknown made about 1685 

In order to get the locals back on their feet & Hommlet into shape we had to use numerous dungeon treasures to fund our operations. And we ended up in the deep end of the pool especially in Blackmoor. Especially messing around the time & space gate deep below 
the Caverns of Quasqueton. That time space gate enabled us to adventure on Gamma Terra, & into the time slips of Dave Arneson's  Blackmoor. And found ourselves in the dungeons of 'Empire of the Petal Throne' rpg . Note that we almost died horribly in the dungeons of Petal Throne.
For some reason that time gate resembled the one from the original Star Trek's episode 'City on the Edge of Forever'. So we were no strangers to gonzo fantasy & science fantasy adventures.

The problem is that the high level  PC's of my uncle's game are still sitting on the thrones of  the Borderlands & Hommlet!? My uncle ended up dying in the 90's but I've kept his notes through many explayers, ex girl friends, an apartment fire, & seven moves. That note book isn't far from me. And over the years I've used this version of Greyhawk being in the shadow of Hyperborea. Lit by the same weird red giant sun as the one in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg system.
Like Homer's Illiad & the Odyssey the gods themselves could die on the battle fields of Greyhawk. The fact is that no one was safe from when war shook Greyhawk. Even a few of Arthur's minor knights bit the dust that day.

"Eric Pape's illustration for Lyrics and Old World Idylls
 by Madison J. Cawein (1907). " King Arthur shook And headlong flung Sir Accolon. Then took, Tearing away, that scabbard from his side And hurled it through the lists, that far and wide Gulped in the battle breathless. Then, still wroth, He seized Excalibur; and grasped of both Wild hands, swung trenchant, and brought glittering down On rising Accolon. Steel, bone and Brawn That blow hewed through. Unsettled every sense. Bathed in a world of blood, his limbs lay tense A moment, then grew limp, relaxed in death." (Cawein's "Accolon of Gaul" (1889), p. 285)"

What does any of this have to do with Cha'alt?  Quite a bit as the Cha'alt wave activate below 
the time & space gate deep below the Caverns of Quasqueton. This is going to alert the royals of Greyhawk. And several NPC's are going to venturing to see what the problem is. 

These NPC's are champions of Law in the Moorcock sense of it. My uncle was a great fan of Gary Gygax's Greyhawk novels  & his character Gord The Rogue. Our characters followed the dangerous path of eternal champions & it was a very painful one indeed.

These NPC royals are going to bringing in their own armies to see what's happening on this Earth. Note that the time space gates can cause time slips & jumps causing all kinds of havoc with past & future.
Note the following changes from standard Greyhawk: 
  1. This is a Sword & Sorcery version of Greyhawk & much closer to AS&SH in scope & tone. 
  2. The gods of Law & Chaos are much more active & hands on here. 
  3. Death is very real & dangerous. 
  4. There are numerous gates between Blackmoor, Mystara, & Greyhawk. 
  5. The division of Elves, their gods, & the evil god Elves is very real here. 
  6. Fey & Fairyland have much more sway here & are straight out of mythology. 
  7. This is a Greyhawk that has charted a path similar to the Greyhawk out of Gary Gygax's Greyhawk novels  & his character Gord The Rogue. But Gord was ousted in a take over & became an agent of the gods of neutrality. 
  8. Luz & his ilk are extremely active! 
  9. The powers of Mystara interfere in Greyhawk & vice versa. The Tienne d'Ambreville, the most powerful wizard in all Glantri has been a pain in the arse numerous times. 
  10. The forces of Chaos include those of Lawful Evil on their flip side  version of Evil Law in other words Hell & the Inferno. Both of which are connected to the Abyss but the whole thing is murky at best & the affairs of evil & black wizards. 
Cha'alt's Lovecraftian forces are looking at this tasty morsel called Greyhawk now?! And there are already adventurers within California working for the royals of Hommlet. Can the halls of the Black Pyramid cope with the forces of Law?! What about the samples of 
 xanthium-183 that have made their way to the laboratories & alchemy labs of Greyhawk?! 

Note that my player's PC's can & will throw all of this into utter chaos. I'll have to roll with the punches & move on in the campaign. This is too be expected & welcomed! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Deeper Into Appendix N - A Different Version of B1 In Search of the Unknown by Mike Carr For my Cha'alt/Godbound Campaign Update

To really dive into the back end of Appendix N fantasy there are two writers that I've constantly used  besides Clark Ashton Smith. I'm speaking of  Anglo-Irish fantasy writer Lord Dunsany, & English civil servant and author, writing epic fantasy author Eric Rücker EddisonToday I want to quickly concentrate on Lord Dunsany, today & use his book 'The Gods of Pegāna' as a bit of a campaign setting basis & sort of update.

Over the last couple of days I've been going over "
The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' by Jeffrey P. Talanian  & going over my monochrome copies of  various Dungeons & Dragons & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons module titles if you've been following my Twitter account. But what you might not know is the fact that I've been thinking about revisiting B1 In Search of the Unknown by Mike Carr.  Also I'm not planning on using it as its written either.

"At the edge of the world of Hyperborea while the Boreas winds blow by there stands the ruins of a castle that might have belonged to the mighty Hyperborean adventurers 
Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown. But who knows?! Deep with the wilderness of Hyperborea another version of this ancient castle also sits now in ruins. "

So basically I'm taking B1 In Search of the Unknown by Mike Carr classic  maps, adventure locations, etc. & adapting it to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg world edge as a sort of negative Lovecraftian version of itself. This adventure  location is going have me taking full advantage of the resources that are being offered at the Dragon's foot site here.  Dunsany's gods are intimately tied into the fates of  the Hyperborean  versions of adventurers Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown. The 
 Caverns of Quasqueton in my campaign are infected with a hive of Nightgaunts & a very hideous cult of the god Nodens. I'm still working on this angle of the campaign but needless to say I'll be using Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos. 

Nightgaunt by King of Rats from Deviant Art. 
Ultimately this is going to tie back to the black pryamid of Cha'alt that's wrecking havoc in California within my campaign. But The Caverns of Quasqueton are also going to be directly tied into the dungeons of  the ACK's version of Dwimmermount . I got the idea of this while reading through Tom Moldvay's X2 Castle Amber which might also be connected to the The Caverns of Quasqueton.

I'm going back over old notes from my Castles & Crusades game & another OSR resource is The Codex Celtarum by Brian Young for some of the Celtic weirdness that I want to bring to bear on this part of the campaign. 

This all ties back into my use of ACK's Barbarians of Kanau by Omer JoelAlexander Macris. Now I don't really care if these folks get along or like each other politically. This is my personal campaign & I'll use what I want, which systems & authors,etc. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Delving Deeper With Chainsaw - The 'Lost Treasures of Atlantis' For The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg line Interview

"In the far reaches of Hyperborea’s Crab Archipelago lies a small, mountainous island known as Crystal Point. Passing sailors recently have witnessed a crimson glow in Crystal Point’s waters and beams of russet light shining up from its steep cliffs. Too, unusually frequent lightning storms in the area have torn the sky in blinding flashes, shattering the air with their awesome sound. The seedy wharf taverns of Khromarium and elsewhere buzz with these strange tales—some even speculate that Crystal Point may hold the lost treasure of Atlantis!
'Lost Treasures of Atlantis'
The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg
 is available right here. 

Recently Swords & Stitchery did a mail call & review of  'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' By Chainsaw   for The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg. But for our readers that's not enough to satisfy us at Swords & Stitchery. We wanted to go beyond the module & get to know the author & designer Chainsaw. So we delve deeper into the author & designer today. 
Q: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with Swords & Stitchery.
A: Sure, happy to chat.

Q: How did you start with Dungeons & Dragons & how long have you been professionally writing as well as designing under the Chainsaw nom de plume?
A: First played in the early 90s, when my super-cool grandmother bought me a Basic set. Loved it and quickly moved to AD&D and ran games for my friends for years. We couldn't make heads or tails of the TSR modules of the time, so we always used homebrew materials. I took a break during college and in my 20s, then picked up again when my good friend capitalbill started running an OD&D game with S&W. Eventually I started up an AD&D game and then began running AD&D/AS&SH events at NTRPG Con and Gary Con.

Atlantis was my first effort at a published dungeon, though it released after my other credit, Brazen Bull (in Rats in the Walls and Other Perils). I decided to write under Chainsaw because that's how I'm known on the forums and at the conventions. 

Q: The obvious question to begin. How did you develop 'Lost Treasure of Atlantis' for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea?
A: I had an idea in early 2015 for a complex dungeon on an island, effectively a "mini mega-dungeon," then spent most of 2015 bouncing between mapping, keying and writing. Lots of times I'd end up revising earlier decisions, especially as I playtested (2016-2018) and saw what worked and what didn't.

Q: You've run  'Lost Treasure of Atlantis' well over a hundred times now. How does your module differ from some of the other OSR Sword & Sorcery modules on the market? 
A: Well, not quite *that* many times, but I have run it 16 times for 100+ people, which still gave me tons of great insight into
how to make improvements.

As for how it differs from other modules, I really can't say. I generally don't read a module unless I'm running it and what I have run has been designed by well-regarded names, so I'm hoping their strengths have rubbed off on me! 

Q: How did you find running 'Lost Treasure of Atlantis?' & what were some of the pit falls?
A: I enjoyed it because the dungeon's non-linearity, distinct-feeling levels and high interactivity kept it interesting - every party brought new situations for me. Of course, the price of admission there is that you have to prepare really well. You can't assume the party enters a certain way and then proceeds a certain way when there are multiple entrances to the levels and connections between the levels. It puts many, many rooms within striking distance. You never know how it'll go down!

As for the pitfalls of running it, apart from the design requiring a good command of the material, it was also much too large for a single four- or six-hour convention session. I addressed this problem by creating some mini-quests tied to certain areas. This gave the groups some direction and a sense of accomplishment despite not being able to explore the location fully. My play testers loved it - some even signed up for a second game so they could see what they'd missed. Even that failed to cover all of the material though. It's a big place.

Q: You've been highly active in the AS&SH rpg community & one of the most vocal fans of the AS&SH  game over the years how did this help you at conventions to run the module?
A: Tremendously! There's a great group of friends at the Hyperborea and Knights and Knaves Alehouse forums that regularly attend NTRPG Con and Gary Con. It's easy to coordinate on- and off-grid games with people who appreciate what you're doing.

Q: This module seems to be a cut above some other OSR modules that I've seen over the years how long was 'Lost Treasure of Atlantis' in development & how did this change the direction of the adventure when it first started?
A: I had the idea in early 2015, spent most of that year mapping, keying and writing, then play tested from 2016-2018, always being sure to revise it based on what worked. These changes were usually smaller things that made a room or situation clearer, more interactive or more interesting. The main concepts and maps didn't change too much. I finally turned in my word doc draft in late 2018 and then NWA began their additions, editing, layout and certain other aspects of production.

Q: How is the 'lethality factor' of 'Lost Treasure of Atlantis' in your opinion compared with other OSR modules?
A: The groups that relied on brute force (e.g., kicking down doors) usually fared the worst, which was my goal. I think higher-level modules should challenge players to rely on more than their battle skills - to interact cleverly with intelligent creatures, exploit utility spells wisely, gather information, have good plans, etc. Anyway, I think we only had two or three TPKs, but there were a lot of one-off deaths. Someone probably died at least every session! We're also talking con games though, where people sometimes throw caution to the wind, especially toward the end of a session. Hard to say how it compares with other modules because I don't read many modules.

Q: 'Lost Treasure of Atlantis' adds even more to the world of Hyperborea setting  & really cranks up the 'alieness' & otherworldly aspect. How does your home campaign of Hyperborea differ from the 'official' AS&SH Hyperborea?
A: I don't have a home campaign at the moment, though I've run a couple of good, but relatively short, AS&SH Roll20 campaigns (10-15 sessions) over past few years. I would say that those two campaigns were pretty well grounded in Hyperborea. Remember though, one of the setting's strengths is that it hints at things and lets you fill in the blanks.

Q: Do you see yourself returning to the world setting of Hyperborea in the future for other projects?
A: Maybe! It's a great setting for me because it's rooted in pulp, which tends to be pretty varied and flexible.

Q: How did you find working with the North Wind Adventure crew? 
A: Consummate professionals. 

Q: On average what's your favorite amount of players for a module like 'Lost Treasure of Atlantis' and how long should in your opinion this adventure take to go through? 
A: I prefer games of 4-6 players, regardless of module. At the cons, I'll sometimes run tables of 8-10 so that I can accommodate friends, but these games usually wind up a bit too slow for my tastes. As for how long it might take, hard to say. Groups vary greatly. There's at least a session of material in the town and at least three sessions on the island, so maybe four for a really efficient group.

Q: Do you have a love of Swords & Sorcery or High Fantasy literature or Appendix N material? If so do you feel that this helped you to achieve a greater scope for 'Lost Treasure of Atlantis?' 
A: Hmmm... Frank Frazetta, Karl E. Wagner (Kane), Clark Ashton Smith (Hyperborea), Vance (Eyes of the Overworld), Burroughs (Barsoom) and Tolkien... but I also love He-Man, Thundarr, Scooby-Doo, Alien(s), Apocalypse Now, Clash of the Titans, Conan, Goonies, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, The Road Warrior, Star Wars (IV-VI) and lots of metal music, 8-bit NES games and other horror, post-apoc, sci-fi and western movies. I kitchen sink it, man. No inspiration off limits.

Q: Overall are you pleased with the final  'Lost Treasure of Atlantis' module or do you find yourself looking over your play & campaign notes thinking that there's even more adventures within the 'Crystal point' area of Hyperborea?
A: There's always more to be had, right? I could see adventures liberating slaves from crab-man copper mines, assassinating crab-man leaders at an undersea military complex or even chasing them off-world to Poseidenos, for example. There are also springboards to Underborea, of course. So, lots of potential!

Q: And what are your future OSR endeavors coming up? You've got the floor so plug away! 
A: Ha! Thanks. I'm working on a new volcano dungeon (for OSRIC), similar in scope to Atlantis (maybe a little bigger). Planning to play test it this summer at NTRPG Con. Speaking of which, I should probably go work on it now!

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us at Swords & Stitchery & yeah you'd better get back to work now..
AS&SH art by Mick Fernette

Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Dragon in the Ointment - Godbound/Cha'alt Play Session Recap Part II

Things got a little weirder in my on going  Cha'alt/Godbound Rpg game!
Well, sometimes players love to throw a spanner into the works using one of  my wife's idioms! The players seized on one small aspect of our play sessions from about a month ago. This bloomed into an entire night of campaign catch up & play! So the wizard & his war machine ala Thundar The Barbarian is now going to attack the city state of the dragon! The players took one small adventure  thread & completely ran with it! And we played it out!

My players instead spent the night gathering information on the supply trains coming into Fort Hope from Rex Harenae Crawler In Toxix (King Sand Crawler The Toxic). They had encounters with the refugee train & found out about the Dryadale raiders who attacked & completely decimated the train! Rex Harenae's son Count Eul' Zu is a dragon born straight outta of  Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu by  Omer Joel, & Alexander Macris.

Now the party is on a supply train running straight into the den of the dragon. The party is gonna be riding shot gun & watching for raiders who are gonna be coming straight from the random tables of Cha'alt itself. But I've got a few tricks up my sleeves these days thanks to Venger Satanis & Jeff Talanian. There are several Hyperborean mercenary factions already operating inside the city state of Rex Harenae Crawler In Toxix .

But its gonna be the a bit of a sort of megadungeon when I begin to design out the mega dungeon city of the serpent men that the dragon king has settled into. For this I was reading through A Paladin in Citadel's blog post on Dungeon Module D1: Descent Into the Depths of the Earth By Gary Gygax. I pulled out my copy of the classic module & began to thumb through & he's right! Let me summerize;"This post really needs to be subtitled "A Megadungeon Template."  I say that because the Drow module series is the best example I can find of a TSR-published adventure that provides the sort of megadungeon I would want to run."  I read through D1 & he's utterly right but this quick reread got me thinking about one of my all time favorite ACK's modules the ACK's version of  

I've decided to locate my campaign's version of 
Dwimmermount down in South America specifically in Argentina. The German like town of Muntburg situated itself right into the mountain plateau towns. As the megadungeon wound its reality into the surrounding underground & underworld. The whole of the country is experiencing a bit of a gold rush with its appearance. Powerful factions within the dungeon have been out maneuvering the Hyperborean influence within South America & Mexico. These are not simply mega dungeons but fully functioning power houses unto themselves! 

They know about the dark influence of Zoth &  xanthium-183. These dark beings are playing a very dangerous game as Cha'alt wave pulses & circles the Earth. Its EMP effects continue to play havoc with the Earth's technologies sending the Earth's technologies into the early Nineteenth century. Another mega dungeon that I'm thinking of pulling out is  ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment By Patrick Wetmore . This mega dungeon could easily be somehow attached to Dwimmermount via teleportation pods or the like. I've had a ton of experience running   ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment By Patrick Wetmore  & it seems perfectly suited for this campaign! 

All of this is gonna tie back into me using the ACK's  Heroic Fantasy  Handbook for many of the monster templates to give the level of violence & OSR weirdness that's been happening in this campaign! I personally blame Venger Satanis for this!

More coming up soon & I'm gonna go into how Cha'alt & ACK's play with one another! 

Review & Commentary On AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity by Newton Grant & Alexander Macris For The Adventurer,Conqueror, King Rpg & Your OSR Campaigns

"Cyfaraun is a city of ancient lineage. The name itself is an Auran corruption of its original elven name, Cyfarawn. Evidence of elven construction is still visible in the city’s oldest district, today called Old Cyfaraun. Many city residents know that Old Cyfaraun was founded atop an earlier settlement – Ancient Cyfaraun, buried by cataclysmic ashes over 500 years ago.
Only the most illustrious sages are aware that the Ancient City was itself built over an even deeper ruin, a Forgotten Cyfaraun, a city brought low by an earthquake almost 2,000 years ago. Forgotten Cyfaraun was reduced to rubble but its lasting legacy is a hidden Nethercity, a treacherous place of twisting tunnels, dusty catacombs, and black, volcanic caves that waits, forgotten and unplumbed - until now…"

There are times when you look at your pile of books & one slips through the cracks. That's happened with 
AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity by Newton Grant & Alexander Macris. And yet this is in my opinion one of the most vital adventurer,Conqueror,King rpg books to come out. Why?! Because this book fills in many of the cracks & take downs I've heard from gamers regarding the ACK's official campaign setting found in the Auran Empire Primer. Namely that there's not enough adventure opportunities & dungeon fodder in the book. This is complete nonsense of course. AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity by Newton Grant & Alexander Macris fills in many of the campaign gaps in the official setting with a kilo dungeon & lots of nasty history hinted at in  the Auran Empire Primer.  This is not a nice place for adventurers to go! Given the history & adventure material found within AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity. Its little wonder that the book was meant to bring  characters from 3rd to 8th level of experience. This is one nasty book filled with twenty interlocking adventure locations that make up the AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity.  The cartography by Dyson Logos and Simon Forster are on point along with the  layout are top notch

AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity has a ton of PC options for ACK's & adds a layer of optional add on's to the world history of  the Auran Empire Primer. The  PC's can add  the Elven Cultist, Elven Hierophant, Elven Warlord, and Elven Wizard to an adventurer party. This fits right in with the history of  the Auran Empire . The monsters in AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity by Newton Grant & Alexander Macris  are really nasty & written for the level of  ACK's The Heroic Fantasy Handbook. The  Faewyrd, Incarnation of Terror, and chaos backed horrors  are primed for cross breeding. This ties right into the ACK's adventure AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir. 

This world campaign commitment echoes itself in 
the city of Cyfaraun which is perfect  for use by your adventurers in between dungeon delves. This ties in with B2 Keep of the Borderland By Gary Gygax & many other classic B/X Dungeons & Dragons adventures. What separates AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity from other OSR resources is that its a dungeon book with player  possibilities for domain play & the sheer volume of OSR play weirdness that's in the book. 

If your an ACK's dungeon master 
AX2: Secrets of the Nethercity by Newton Grant & Alexander Macris is in my opinion this is an essential & absolute solid adventure resource. Here we have absolutely solid adventure resource book which will keep the players on their toes for years to come or destroy the PC's utterly. 

X2: Secrets of the Nethercity by
 Newton Grant & Alexander Macris
Is Available
Right Here  

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Mail Call & Review & Commentary On 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' By Chainsaw For Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

"In the far reaches of Hyperborea’s Crab Archipelago lies a small, mountainous island known as Crystal Point. Passing sailors recently have witnessed a crimson glow in Crystal Point’s waters and beams of russet light shining up from its steep cliffs. Too, unusually frequent lightning storms in the area have torn the sky in blinding flashes, shattering the air with their awesome sound. The seedy wharf taverns of Khromarium and elsewhere buzz with these strange tales—some even speculate that Crystal Point may hold the lost treasure of Atlantis! "

I count myself very lucky indeed because I maintain fantastic friendships with some incredible authors of the OSR & old school gaming. Today's Sword & Sorcery mail call comes in from Chainsaw himself the author of Lost Treasures of Atlantis  for the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg. 

Now 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' by Chainsaw  is one of those AS&SH adventures that has many of the hall marks of AS&SH quality adventures. Solid writing & design by the module's author, really nice layout, cartography by Glynn Seal Monkey Blood Design  clocking in at sixty four pages of Sword & Sorcery Hyperborean OSR weirdness. This is a solid module done with care & eye towards really pulling the PC's into the adventure's heart & action.

Check out the quality of the binding & the paper for 'Lost Treasures of Atlantis'.

The module places the PC's within the fully fleshed out  VILLAGE of KREN-FAK & its Esquimaux crab-kin which  indicates that your party of adventurers isn't in Kansas anymore especially the village descriptions;
 "The Esquimaux crab-kin of this village, located a few days from Crystal Point, dye their skin red to resemble their crab-man masters. They also adorn themselves in chitinous titivations. When not raiding Pictish crab-kin villages toward the base of the Crab Archipelago, the locals fish, whale, and oversee slaves in copper mines on the nearby islands. The villagers view travellers suspiciously, but they will tolerate visitors so long as the strangers bring goods to trade, tributes for the crab-men, or important news."
This village is an important start point where the party is going to pick up supplies, rumors, hireling, and perhaps even replacement party members! 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis'  is a fully fleshed out adventure & geared for the far reaches of Hyperborea’s Crab Archipelago.  The whole adventure is for   four to six characters of 6th through 8th level. I want to stress that this is the case! PC's are gonna half to watch their step in  KREN-FAK  with its Esquimaux crab-kin inhabitants.
The ocean voyage to Crystal point is dangerous as it gets;"The voyage to Crystal Point is fraught with peril, island hopping the ocean reaches of the Crab Archipelago. Following the ancient Esquimaux bearing, worthy sea vessels at length will enter the tempestuous zone known as River Okeanos, located betwixt the 18th and 36th parallels. Here the winds flow in opposing belts, looping and crisscrossing at different junctures depending on seasons and other conditions. In Tempest (Year 4, Hare), River Okeanos is plagued by deadly whirlpools. Sea ice forms from Coda (Year 12, Fox) to Genesis (Year 1, Bear), and icebergs are a constant threat7 . Veteran mariners (viz. Amazons, Ixians, Vikings, and Zangeriosans) understand the River Okeanos and use its wuthering airstreams to their advantage. Less realized is the capability of Esquimaux seamen who ply this deadly zone in their umiaks, outfitted with outboard runners"
If your running the  'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis'  don't take the oceans of Hyperborea lightly they can be deadly. The random encounters add an extra element of action & complete danger to the affair.
The colours on the module covers is eye popping & vibrant! The artwork & the  paper of solid quality!

Note that this will be happening to your PC's & don't screw with the crabmen!

Crystal Point itself is a study in Hyperborean dungeon design & deadliness with the PC's coming into the action like something out of a Ray Harryhausen movie. 
'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' switches up the Lovecraftian action on 'eleven' & then breaks off the knob with the PC's encountering ruined temples, random NPC's with ties to other dangerous factions of Crystal Point, and adventure elements surrounding the mystery of the isolated & insane location. I mean this in a good way.

Yes my copy of the 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' 
came with the awesome book marks!

'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis'  is both a sandbox, & location based adventure with lots of weird & some tragic NPC's who are going to cross the PC's path. The adventure material here is solidly strange with PC's running across a temple of  Shub Niggurath & throughout module we see the strange influence & domination  of the AS&SH Crabmen. These beings are strange, alien, unsettling, & very dangerous to the PC's life!

AS&SH art by Mick Fernette
'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis'  is a nasty little dungeon delve & Hyperborean hoe down as Chain Saw amps up the weird to Lovecraftian levels again & again. The adventure  environs here are going to be very memorable & highly dangerous to the party! Around every corner is another shock & surprise I'm not kidding.
I don't wanna spoil the surprises but 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis'  is gonna take a lot of thinking on the player's end & its gonna take whole lot guts, guile, intelligence, & roll playing to get past some of this adventure's obstacles! I mean this in a good way! The PC's are gonna be in way,way, over their heads very quickly. 

The room descriptions, the magic item artwork, the twists & Lovcraftian turns, all added to by the editing of  David Prata with Chainsaws writing as well as his design make  'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' . All of this module is brought to life with the artistry of  Johnathan Bingham, Mick Fernette, David Hoskins, Diogo Nogueira, Glynn Seal, Del Teigeler, & Mike Tenebrae. Take into all of this & this is another five outta five in my estimation. 

I want to thank Jeffrey Talanian & the whole North Wind Adventures crew for bringing to life  'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' . But I wanna thank Chainsaw himself for sending these modules my way! I've got more to say about Otherworldly Tales adventures coming up so stay tuned!

'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' By
 Chainsaw Module
 Is Available Right Here 

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Continuing Outer Realm War - Godbound/Cha'alt Play Session Recap

I'm picking up my first Godbound/Cha'alt  play session tonight & here's what's going on. I've got little time but the United States Military is fighting back with groups of salvaged Cha'alt robots & droids. The Cha'alt wave & planar pulses have caused an EMP. Only the alien equipment,guns, & swords are working. The world has been knocked back to the Nineteenth Century!
What the PC's don't know is the fact that a wizard is gonna bring in a war machine ala Thundarr The Barbarian down on the player's heads tonight! Fort Hope has been the site for the military's rebellion &  PC's having a dry dock for their equipment. But now a wizard is starting to move in & crush this pimple of resistence & the best way to do that is with a massive flying fortress!

The forces of the black pyramid have taken enough of these upstart humans! The gods of  Earth & their Hyperborean allies are tied up with evil  Elven forces from the Outer Realms! Causilties are high!


Meanwhile the players are dealing with trying to deal with the sporadic attacks of mutants & the occasional horde of zombies animated by the occult power of Cha'alt buffering against the Earth.

Can the player's PC's continue to save the humans against the trepidations of the slavers, raiders, & scavenger scum that shows up all of the time to feed on their own! Any fallen warriors that stumble by are soon stripped of all gear & weapons as the cycle continues.

Originally the party of adventurers were summoned to this Earth to be the heroes that were needed to turn the tide of the Cha'alt warp's incursion or is it invasion of California,Nevada, & Arizonia. But they've gotten bogged down with many of the monsters that have come through the warp unchecked. There were many other adventurers who were summoned to boaster the ranks of the gods! But many of these have taken to fighting among themselves!

Now all of this actually takes place with the fact that this Earth might be the 'Old Earth' of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea! The coming of the black pyramid & Cha'alt has awakened Lovecraftian forces of darkness who have slept deep in the hollows of the Earth since the sinking of R'lyeh.
Hyperborean forces have come rushing out of the edges of the Earth to retake what was originally theirs! But there are others who are opposed to their their breathen because the stars are not right!

Now add to all of this the fact that there are the slaver's forces  from the classic 
Against the Slave Lords  who are taking full advantage of the chaos to take slaves, make deals, & have been taking samples of xanthium-183 which has been showing up across the underworld of  United States & well California as we know it is a warzone of epic fantasy proporations! 

Note that my version of the classic Greyhawk is actually Sword & Sorcery Greyhawk with twists & turns within its history. With this campaign world setting I've used a good deal of AS&SH along with Adventurer, Conqueror, King's product line to build this & expand it out. Will the PC's survive?!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Review & Commentary On 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' By Jeffrey P. Talanian For The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

"Your party finds itself in the employ of Ragnarr the Sea-Wolf, a jarl of New Vinland and a reaver of old. His daughter, a shield-maiden named Gunnhildr, has been abducted by a brute called Björn Blackbeard. During a desperate search, the Sea-Wolf crossed sails with a former rival, and from the blood-flecked lips of a dying foe, he learnt the location of Blackbeard’s stronghold. Now, deep in the misty fjords of Brigand’s Bay, where cutthroats, pirates, and freebooters thrive, you have been charged with liberating the Sea-Wolf’s daughter."

So I approached the author & designer of The Sea-Wolf's Daughter by Jeffrey P. Talanian who also happens to be the designer & writer of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg system for a pdf copy of the adventure.  After a bit of poking & prodding & a few crossed wires the adventure arrived in my email box.

'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' by Jeffrey P. Talanian  puts the PC's into the Viking & mercenary underbelly of Hyperborea. Take one part Pulp Viking adventure romp add in lots of other worldly weirdness & you've got the makings of a higher end AS&SH module designed for PC's  from four to six characters of 7th through 9th level. This is a lethal party wipe of an adventure if the players are not careful. This is an upper level AS&SH module with all that that entails.
The encounters are harder, the enenmies nastier, & the setting is pure Robert E. Howard with a Lovecraftian Jack Kirby mix of high adventure. But the first part is pure AS&SH Viking & barbarian goodness with the PC's in the 
employ of Ragnarr the Sea-Wolf, a jarl of New Vinland. But its the adventure material around the events of 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter'  that really sets this adventure off. What I mean is that which each & every module that comes out for AS&SH, the campaign as well as the game setting of Hyperborea is expanded upon a little more. In this adventure some of the NPC's that the party is gonna run across are just as dangerous if not more so then the monsters. Not that these are not deadly.
The layout, cartograhpy by Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design is on point, but some of the artwork is down right cool with talent the likes of 
Daisey BinghamJohnathan BinghamAndreas ClarenMick FernetteDavid HoskinsDiogo NoguieraGlynn SealVal SemeiksDel Teigeler, &  Mike Tenebrae.

AS&SH art by Diogo Nogueira

Its in the second half of the adventure where events turn into a 
Lovecraftian Jack Kirby adventure experience. The PC's come into conflict with some truly dire & utterly dangerous alien powers endemic to Hyperborea.  'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' takes on a life of its own as an adventure drawing the party into high level NPC situations that the players are not going to be expecting. Not only does this adventure draw the party of adventurers in with material, puzzles, & Hyperborean weirdness but like many other AS&SH modules  there's lots of adventure tidbits the DM can fold back in for other campaign adventures. Within  'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' there are  the hordes of NPC's, locations, personalities, monsters,etc. can be used in other Astonishing Swordmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea adventures when the events of the module conclude. So there's a ton of utility within the module I feel.

If you were to place 
'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' in an OSR AS&SH that was using classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons modules which series of classic modules might you as a dungeon master pair it with? Personally I'd use 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' with the classic A1-4 The Scourage of the Slave Lords.

 One of the main NPC's within the module would make a formiable addition to the ranks of the Slavers allowing 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter'  to be used as a side adventure. This would take years of play to come to pass but with a bit of Viking spit & Pulp barbarian  polish A1-4 The Scourage of the Slave Lords could take on an even harder Sword & Sorcery edge to complement  'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter'
Jeffrey P. Talanian brings his usual level of quality writing & clever design that we've seen in other adventures & modules within the AS&SH line. All in all I felt very excited to have my copy of the  'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter'  & I feel that it is not only a worth addition to the AS&SH fine family of products but one that I think you'll be glad to own. I think its worth a five out of five in my opinion because it maintains the level of quality & solid design that we've come to expect outta of North Wind Adventures.

You Can Purchase 
'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' Right