Thursday, April 9, 2020

'Call of Cthulhu' - A 'What If' Overview & Review Of A Greyhawk Source book & Lovecraftian Campaign Setting Set Up For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition Or OSRIC

"The other week James Ward made a pretty interesting and fiery post on his Facebook page (2/20/15). He said:
Deities & Demigods
Let me set the record straight on this again. I wrote the book Deities & Demigods with some slight help from others. In doing this work I included myths from H.P. Lovecraft's works and Elric of M. Moorcock works. Gary Gygax gave me M. Moorcock's address and I wrote him for permission and got it because I said it would renew peoples interests in his books. I wrote to Arkham House which was in my state of Wisconsin and also got the rights to Lovecraft's material. Going forward both groups sold their rights to Chaosium in California. Lawyers from Chaosium then sent a cease and desist letter to TSR. TSR had the permissions I gave them, but they had no money for lawyers at that time. So Brian Blume decided to take out those two sections. I went crazy. I had done my homework, I had gotten ironclad permission, and TSR wasn't going to fight it. I offered to replace the two sections with new ones and was told no. There was no copyright infringement. That was 30+ years ago. Every five years or so some idiot brings up the fact that TSR was in infringement on this book. Let me tell the people of the world who bring this up that they don't have their facts straight and it irritates the hell out of me." 


James Ward on Deities & Demigods 

Delta's D&D Hot Spot Blog 

Welcome to another round of an alternative Earth Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition source book overview & review based on the artwork done by my friend 
James Panarella's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons source book  titles that we wish were real 
This one hits right in my Lovecraftian backyard. 

Everything here begins in an alternative Nineteen Eighty one when Gary Gygax in the middle of the Satanic panic publishes the definitive Cthulhu mythos Advanced Dungeons & Dragons source book. This is of course based on the fact the TSR is trying to beat Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu rpg to market. The artwork of James Panarella's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons titles that we wish were real continues to haunt me. But this latest one hits very close to the Lovecraftian home fires. So let's begin with facts. Fact number one this book even from an alternative universe Earth this book would not exist without a revision of Holmes & Kuntz's earlier article in Dragon #12, was written by Holmes. All of this can be found in This Zenopus Archives article here. The Satanic Panic has done nothing but maintained an extensive advertising campaign that's allowed TSR to continue the spread of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons to players new & old across the world. The  dream writing & design  team of Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grub, James Ward,Ed Sullivan, Frank Mentzer,  & a bunch of the TSR illumine tackle making Greyhawk the front & center campaign world. Robert Kuntz is brought to the fore here & as one of Gary's co dungeon masters has some killer ideas for Greyhawk.

The threat of the giants acting as the minions for the Elder Gods is only one part & the other greater behind the scenes threat is of course the threat of the Elder Priests. The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition 'Call of Cthulhu' source book not only updates & gives newer stats for the Cthulhu mythos gods, minor races, monsters, etc. from Kuntz & Ward's Deities & Demigods. But it also ties & plugs the mythos directly into Greyhawk through  Dalt, “The forgotten lesser god of portals and enclosures”. Much of this is taken from this Greyhawk Grognard blog post here. 
 Here's where Robert Kuntz, James Ward, & the others have us all taken into the inner workings of Greyhawk's Lovecraftian deity cults. These are the true threat to Greyhawk. Of course this book would be completely over shadowed with Erol Otis,, Russ Nicholson, Jeff Easily, Jeff Dee, & many other TSR classic artists. 

Erol Otis artwork from the classic Deities & Demigods

The true threat of  WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun comes off as the cult priests try to raise R'lyeh & the Deep Ones begin to assault the local ports of Greyhawk. The gloves are off in the epic 'Call of Cthlhu' sourcebook for the PC's. This book contains the forgotten but slightly altered Gary Gygax dungeons & ruins.The unexpected corners of Castle Greyhawk. And the tie ins to T1 The Village of Hommlet & B2 Keep on the Borderlands both of course by Gary Gygax.
 So what I'm I basing all of this one for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Call of Cthlhu book?! A post in the original Dungeons & Dragons forums by Grodog here from 2018 ;
"- RJK on HPL @
- RJK on Tharizdun's origins @ which is reprinted in whole in the Chaotic Henchmen reprint of Dark Druids @
- RJK on the Cthulhu Mythos in "Advent of the Elder Ones: Mythos vs. Man in the Lake Geneva Original Campaign, 1973-1976" in AFS#2 (OOP for the moment) @

Rob alludes to further HPL-inspired gods in Bottle City (from Black Blade), as well as in the Maure Castle adventures (in Dragons 112, 124, and 139; see also the Paizo boards @ and for some teasers/hints from Rob), and the El Raja Key Archive @ offers more Lovecraftian lore research options, too.

All of the in-print products I mention above will be available from Black Blade in our booth if you're attending GaryCon or NTX this year, too: Rob's follow-up is at
Yes, the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition 'Call of Cthulhu' book would be an epic & deadly campaign. Frank Mentzer & Robert Kuntz would follow these up with five modules edited by James Ward & given final approval by Gary Gygax. Ernie Gygax would head up play testing. These include CC1 Against The Cult of Cthulhu, CC2 Maelstrom of Cthulhu, CC3 Fortress of The Cult of Cthulhu, CC4 Arie of the Deep Ones, & the incredible deadly CC5 Assault on R'lyeh.
Nothing like a Jeff Dee Deep One for that old school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons feel.

In the end this is another Advanced Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook that I wished existed. There are any number of OSR & even some old school sources that could easily do the job of this source book. But nothing could come close to a Gary Gygax & TSR classic era staff Lovecraftian source book like the 'Call of Cthulhu'. I'd probably give it a five out outta five because I'm wishing so hard it was real. 
Ten Ways To Use The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first Edition 'The Call of Cthulhu' source book in Your Home Game
  1. A war between the cults of Elemental Evil & the Elder Gods boils over into the underworld of Greyhawk threatening the Flanaess.
  2. The Elves of The Duchy of Ulek warn that conjuncture of evil stars will soon occur allowing R'lyeh to rise again & threaten all of Greyhawk. 
  3. The ports of several Greyhawk nations are cut off as the Deep Ones begin to cement their holds on Greyhawk. Entire fishing villages vanish & others are not heard from as the threat of Cthulhu comes true. 
  4. The events of WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun kick off the release of certain entities not seen on Greyhawk for centuries such as the Mi Go. This ties into Gary Gygax's 'Journey to the Stars'
  5. Long forgotten cults of horrific gods begin to appear in the wilds of Greyhawk. This ties in with the ascendance of R'lyeh in Greyhawk's waters. 
  6. A spawn of Hastur appears in some of the most areas of Greyhawk prompting the appearance of I7: Baltron's Beacon alight again after the events of the adventure. 
  7. The spawn of Shub Niggurath lead a crazed mob of dark druids in one of the sacred groves of Greyhawk. The player's PC's must destroy them or this will be one of the wheels to the appearance of Cthulhu. 
  8. The gods call upon their paladins to investigate the appearance of the cults of the elder gods in the Greyhawk countryside. This leads to the events of the 'Call of Cthulhu' sourcebook. 
  9. The cults of the elder gods are looking to cement their holds on the kingdoms of Greyhawk & only the PC's can prevent a 'war of assassins' among the royals. 
  10. The Dwarves of Greyhawk have found an artifact & only the PC's have the keys to it. This is one of the 'wheels of Tharizdun' leading to the events of 'the Call of Cthulhu' source book. 

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