Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Dark Roads To DA 3 City of the Gods Dave L. Arneson & David J Richie - Cha'alt/Godbound Campaign Commentary

"Set amidst the blistered salt flats of the Valley of the Ancients, the City of the Gods is a strange and deadly metal metropolis whose powerful guardians do not welcome intruders. Yet it is to this place of deadly menace that Blackmoor's leaders now send a daring expedition - to bargain for aid in the coming wars - or to steal the magic of the gods."

I finally rolled in about five A.M. this morning after last night's game after watching a ton of anime & discussing the Cha'alt/Godbound campaign systems  with my friends. One of the things that came up was DA3 City of the Gods. Just in case your not familiar with DA3 the low down goes something like this; "DA3: "City of the Gods" (1987), by Dave Arneson & David J. Ritchie, is the third of the four Blackmoor adventure. It was published in March 1987."  DA3 sets up another of my favorite mixes science fantasy, super science technology, & high level B/X Dungeons & Dragons. This is a module for PC's levels 10 to 14 or beyond. This isn't a light weight module at all but with the level 10 - 14 it makes it perfectly suited for the Godbound rpg system. Module wise the plot is one of those David J Richie  twists on the Arneson D series  Blackmoor stuff;

"In this scenario, the player characters (PCs) are sent to the City of the Gods by the leaders of Blackmoor to acquire divine magic, either by bargaining or by stealing.[3] The PCs journey 4,000 years into the past to the land of Blackmoor. There, they are hired by The Fetch, previously seen in the adventure Temple of the Frog, because the Froggies, a cult introduced in the same adventure, have become active once more.[1] The cult is using the futuristic technology of the City of the Gods to achieve their ends, and the player characters must attempt to contact the inhabitants of the city to turn them against the Froggies, and possibly form an alliance with the Kingdom of Blackmoor."

But what if things had gone really wrong in the lands of Blackmoor? 
 Blackmoor always seemed like a lived in universe where adventure was  always in the offering. But what would happen if the Froggies got the upper hand & the Egg of Coot took over?! What happens if the DA series happened?! But events went very wrong for the world setting of Dave Arneson's Blackmoor adventure modules & to twist it further let's look into the wiki entry on the TSR publication history of the DA series of modules ; "Adventures in Blackmoor (module DA1) is a 64-page[1] adventure with cover art by Jeff Easley and interior artwork by Jim Holloway.[2] It features some locations and characters from Dave Arneson's original Blackmoor campaign.
Temple of the Frog (module DA2, ISBN 0-88038-317-8) is a 48-page adventure published in 1986 with TSR product code "TSR 9175".[3][4] This was a reworking of the original version, released in 1975 as part of the Blackmoor supplement.[5][6] It features cover art by Dennis Beauvais and interior art by Mark Nelson.[3]
City of the Gods (module DA3, ISBN 0-88038-389-5) is a 1987 adventure with TSR product code "TSR 9191".[7] It was edited by Deborah Campbell Ritchie, with cover art by Doug Chaffee, interior art by Jim Holloway, cartography by Dennis Kauth and David C. Sutherland III, and typesetting by Kim N. Lindau.
The Duchy of Ten (module DA4) was written by David J. Ritchie, with cover art by Clyde Caldwell and interior art by David Dorman. It was published in 1987." 

If your looking for the more 'authentic' version of City of the Gods then try to find 
 City of the Gods (2008), by Harold Stroh from Zeitgeist Games which are based not only on Dave Arneson campaign notes but also Robert Kuntz  campaign notes from Mr .Arneson original Dungeons & Dragons city of the Gods adventure. Good luck finding any of Zeitgeist Games 3.5 titles but its a really expanded upon version of TSR D3 City of the Gods based on the original material. Here's a real project worth of Goodman Games guys. 

The Egg of Coot has access to dark reflects of Blackmoor & beyond in alternative negative planar versions or simply sinks of evil or chaos planes in Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg system terms. These reflections of Chaos realms  are part of the Night Road from the Godbound rpg system. 

This is the also the case in Gary Gygax's Greyhawk as well where a reflection of the Egg's power can be seen in the Arch Barony of Greyhawk which is tied to Greyhawk's version of the City of the Gods according to the Great Libarary of Greyhawk site; "Ages ago (certainly before the Twin Cataclysms), the City of the Gods was the heart of a technocracy in what is now Blackmoor. The lords and ladies of the City used a combination of elemental magic and clockwork science to create automatons to perform all menial labor for them. Meanwhile, they devoted their time to art, philosophy, and war.
The end of the age came when the city's automatons were struck down by a plague called "gear madness," or when the city's humanoid inhabitants transformed themselves into constructs themselves. Over the centuries, most of what remained of their civilization was covered by the encroaching Black Ice."

All of this makes sense given Harvard Blackmoor's thoughts in his Vault of Pandius article "
The Egg of Coot as a Relic"; "The Origins of the Egg of Coot are a mystery. Some scholars believe that it is one of the remaining servitors of the Outer Beings. In the Age of Blackmoor, these servitors are referred to as Elder Demons, and once dominated the entire continent. The Egg appears as a huge globe of mossy grey flesh and eyeballs and mouths randomly scattered across the slimy surface. The Egg is buried deep under ground and almost never moves. There are however tunnels leading to it which are used by its Keepers to contact and preserve the Egg. Its Spawn is of similar appearance. The Spawn of Coot has a relationship to the Egg as between Trees of Life and their Mother Trees. The Egg is the definition of Evil. It is highly intelligent and communicates with its fanatical followers through Telepathy"

In other words we're only seeing a small cross section of the Egg which extends into higher dimensional realities across a multiplicity of planes & even time streams. The Egg is, was, & will be. Each branch or part of the hideous thing has a certain amount of independence from the other 'eggs' as it were.

There are also a multiplicity of City of the Gods stretched across multiple planes Prime. The reason for this is simply that the hyper spacal drive systems of the FSS Beagle cracked the planes. The reality of the FSS Beagle's time presence & events has been leaking all over the planes for thousands of years.
But what does this have to do with my version Cha'alt?! Everything! The Cha'alt wave activated the presence of the night road doorways & locations within my campaign's Earth! The Black Pyramid of Cha'alt bothers the Egg of Coot & horrifies it!

This comes back to ideas that I saw laid down by Wolfgang Baur in Dungeon #126 (September 2005) which had Greyhawk's City of the Gods Turned into 'the Clock Work Fortress' but I think that there's another version or reflection of it. Each & every time the Egg of Coot is aware of the City of the Gods & can pull a little bit of power & occult influence it grows stronger in another world or setting. The Black Pryamid causes the mad god thing to ripple across time space because of its otherworldly Lovecraftian entities. The Cha'alt wave has awakened feelings of fear that it hasn't felt in centuries! 

The take away is that The City of the Gods while eternal is caught possibly within an Eisensteinian  time loop of causality of its own birth, life, & destruction across a mulplitity of time & space in different locations. Different outcomes, different dark or light events, & even different incarnations! 

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