Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Some Thoughts on Appendix Arabian Nights - AL-QADIM Zothique OSR - Planar Matters

"In a lost land, that only dreams have known,
Where flaming suns walk naked and alone;
Among horizons bright as molten brass,
And glowing heavens like furnaces of glass,
It rears with dome and tower manifold,
Rich as a dawn of amarant and gold,
Or gorgeous as the Phoenix, born of fire,
And soaring from an opalescent pyre
Sheer to the zenith. Like some anademe
Of Titan jewels turned to flame and dream
The city crowns the far horizon-light
Over the flowered meads of damassin ....
A desert isle of madreperl ! wherein
The thurifer and opal-fruited palm
And heaven-thronging minarets becalm
The seas of azure wind....
(Note: These lines were remembered out of a dream, and are given verbatim.)"
The City in the Desert  (1922) 

So the more I go through  the Al- Qadim the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons second edition   Arabian Nights box set focused setting for Forgotten Realms. The more I'm convinced that it would make an excellent stand in for Clark Ashton Smith's  Zothique. The Earth of Zothique is a world that has seen the weight of a very occult & empire laden history. While its similar to '1001 Nights' in tone there is an occult  degeneracy about the tales. "Campaign Journal: Scimitars Against the Dark" (by Wolfgang BaurDragon magazine 198)  goes through some of the pit falls & campaign avenues to use to bring a dark version of Al-Qadim to life for old school play. But Zothique is a different matter & world whole cloth. This is a world that hasn't just experienced demons its a world that has endured them for eons & eons. The genie of Al Qadim transported over to the Zothique setting might be the most human of the elemental entities that wizards know.

Secrets of the Lamp by Wolfgang Baur makes a good starting place for such an argument that elemental or genie powered OSR warlock PC's  might best be confined to the outer fringes of Zothique. This is where the DM could & should grab his copy of the Fiend Folio & Monster Manual II. The weird elemental alien monsters hinted at in the Zothique stories are easily pulled from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons excellent weird old school monster sources.

Reading through CAS's Zothique cycle the setting's planar material must be made of Cheese Cloth. The planar veil is a forgotten & distant memory as the beleaguered churches of Law try to repair the leaking sieve of this far future Earth. Demons & worse from the Fiend Folio must regularly answer the calls & summons of necromancers on Zothique. 

Magic & occult rituals are going to be full on deadly. The sorcerers and occult masters are almost perfectly aligned with some of the degenerate wizards that we see in Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos which might actually make a perfect add on to this mix. The spells & rituals must be more balanced again with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition but the systems are too far apart mathematically. 

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