Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Veneer of Dungeons & Dragons In Old School & OSR Campaigns

Michael Weaver's cover for Dragon magazine #162 screams to Ravenloft second edition setting to me. 

So the character workshop went alright folks but I've down with the Autumn sickness that seems to go around here in my neck of Connecticut. Its a very gloomy Sunday which is in keeping with the Halloween season. One of the things I want to talk about is using the veneer of Dungeons & Dragons while using OSR systems. This is an issue I think that's very important for maintaining a consistent campaign feel. It really doesn't get discussed all that much. Dungeons, characters, etc. should feel as if they stepped right out of the original Dungeons & Dragons set of books or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. 

Of course this isn't always the case if your running say other campaign settings with other table top rpg systems. But the best way of using the varnish of original Dungeons & Dragons or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Using the Godbound rpg I've come to the startling conclusion that Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Deities & Demigods is a solid resource for this campaign. But there's a lot of conversion work needed to  bring the mythology of the book to life within  the bounds of the setting for play. 

 The plane Prime is the chess board of the gods why? Because humanity is the resource of the gods & monsters across the multiverse. This is the 'bread & butter' of the prey vs hunter dynamic behind many of the monsters of Dungeons & Dragons. A game of divine heroes the perfect vehicle to bring the characters into the fray. 

The incomplete pantheons of both books point up to the fact that there have been battles of cosmic importance in the past this is one of the central axis of both Kuntz & Ward's Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Deities & Demigods. This can & should be used to the dungeon master's advantage when prepping & constructing adventures. We find a solid old school resource in The Dragon issue #57 'Modern Adventuring' by Ed Greenwood.

This brings me to Venger Satanis's Cha'alt & the war of HP Lovecraft  Great Old Ones. The war cycle is simply another part of the ever continuing alien weirdness of the Great Old Ones but what about the vaulted Elder Gods? These are some of the more wholly  alien aspects of conventional gods that were introduced by August Derleth & his ilk. More information right over here. 

Cha'alt itself permeating modern culture would be extremely dangerous as the influence of the Old Ones weaves itself into the modern landscape. The whole affair smacks of Clark Ashton Smith's far future Zothique cycle. The Old Ones are still active on Zothique but to far greater extent then say Cha'alt. 

The influence of CAS's Zothique just feels like Appendix N's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide but the whole cycle feels like a solid old school Dungeons & Dragons campaign to me: 
  • Black Abbot of Puthuum, The (1936)
  • Charnel God, The (1934)
  • Dark Eidolon, The (1935)
  • Dead will Cuckold You, The (1950)
  • Death of Ilalotha, The (1937)
  • Empire of the Necromancers, The (1932)
  • Garden of Adompha, The (1938)
  • In the Book of Vergama (1934)
  • Isle of the Torturers, The (1933)
  • Last Hieroglyph, The (1935)
  • Mandor's Enemy (1989)
  • Master of the Crabs, The (1948)
  • Morthylla (1953)
  • Necromancy in Naat (1937)
  • Shapes of Adamant (1935)
  • Tomb-Spawn, The (1934)
  • Voyage of King Euvoran, The (1931) [Illustration "Quest of the Gazolba" By Boris Dolgov]
  • Weaver in the Vault, The (1934)[CAS Illustration]
  • Witchcraft of Ulua, The (1934)
  • Xeethra (1934 [CAS Illustration]
  • <Zothique (1951)

  • Any of these settings really need parties of adventurers, heroes, & nay demi gods are needed to combat the darkness that seems to push the edges of existence. Dungeons & Dragons vineer is both pervasive & very compelling to pull players into the game. 
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