Friday, October 30, 2020

Free Old School Halloween One Page Dungeon - Dungeon From A Distant Star From Robertson Games- For Your Old School Space Opera & D&D Campaigns

"Buried underground for hundreds of years lies a spaceship from the 3rd planet in the Altair system. While heavily damaged, the ship still has power for many of its systems and doors and lights are still fully operational in most sections. Will you be the first to explore The Dungeon From A Distant Star and uncover it's otherworldly secrets?
An old school one-page dungeon including dungeon map, legend, wandering monsters, random tables and descriptions for 23 separate rooms."

This is a an old fashioned OSR downed space craft dungeon with some cool features
available right HERE

This is a an old fashioned  space craft dungeon with some cool features & really nice encounters .And man its a blast! 

Using Dungeon From A Distant Star From Robertson Games

Last night I got the chance to run my players through this dungeon. I've used it numerous times and every time I've prided myself on doing this one a bit different. There enough to get it started but you've got to do a bit of work to fill in the blanks on the map. The essence of old school DYI ethos really. 
The PC's set about exploring the dungeon after a local farmer turned artifacts from this thing in his field. The world is a failed colony a bit off the beaten path of most of the major trade lanes. 
Given the bare bones of the description I made the artifact(dungeon) one of the possessions of the Krell. That most dangerous of races and one of the most extinct out in the planes. That famous quote from Forbidden Planet;

"Ethically, as well as technologically,
   they were a million years ahead of humankind.
For, in unlocking the mysteries of nature,
  they had conquered even their baser-selves.

And, when in the course of eons,
  they had abolished sickness and insanity
  and crime and all injustice,
  they turned, still with high benevolence,
  outward toward space.

Long before the dawn of man's history,
  they had walked our Earth,
  and brought back many biological specimens.

The heights they had reached!

But then--- seemingly on the threshold
  of some supreme accomplishment
  which was to have crowned their entire history--
  this all-but-divine race perished,
  in a single night.

In the two thousand centuries
  since that unexplained catastrophe,
  even their cloud-piercing towers
 of glass and porcelain and adamantine steel
 have crumbled back into the soil of Altair IV,
 and nothing, absolutely nothing,
 remains above ground."

There could have been anything in that ship last night and there was! Couple of biological specimens had escaped and the PCs dealt with those. The other was another very dangerous alien that had been collected by the aliens. In the end the PC's were able to recover quite a nice little haul of alien do dads before the ship self repaired and took off for parts unknown! Actually what the players wanted was a 'plastic educator' but they never got the chance!  There was quite a bit of blaster fire but very little was damaged! 

 Dungeon From A Distant Star From Robertson Games used correctly can be quite the tool for a dungeon master looking to take a game to the next level. Used in a pulp game it can literally change a world and add spice to 'Weird Wars' style 30's or 40's game.  Which always has reminded me of this movie. The  Zone Troopers movies had a very similar vibe to the dungeon/spacecraft deposited in WWII feel. 

 This dungeon could potentially appear anywhere or time at all. The dungeon might easily be slipped into Mutant Future as a sort of mid level bonus level allowing players to have a romp in it without impacting the rest of the campaign. 
It might appear in Carcosa as yet  another dungeon location created by aliens and causing havoc among the various tribes. The dungeon could be a bridge gap bringing PCs from one world to another vie the planes as the whole thing deals the players a weird trip one way! 
The dungeon might be simply used as a road sight of sorts for shadowing an invasion to come! Dungeon From A Distant Star is very flexible and like all of  the other one page, one shot that have appeared in this blog it requires a bit of work on the DM's part. Its one of many such dungeons that offers an evenings entertainment for players or a gate way drug into a full blown space opera or science fiction campaign. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Lovecraftian Thoughts on Thouls,the Throghrin,& Old School Monster Ecology For Your Campaigns

 I've been thumbing through the B/X Dungeons & Dragons rule book today on my lunch break; we've been incredibly busy at work today. Hence the late posting on my blog but whist zipping around the monster section I noticed the Thoul. They've been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.

I love using Thouls because their Sword & Sorcery weird feel I began to want to use them for my next up coming Adventurer,Conqueror, King, & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition hybrid adventure. They weren't listed under their usual monster label in either rule book so I went back to Goblinoid games Labyrinth Lord retro clone rule book which is the basis for ACK & on the web. In Goblinoid Games forums I came across the following;
"LL has something eerily similar in the form of the Throghrin, which you'll find on page 98 of the core rules" I looked in the ACK's core book & sure enough there's the Throghrin in all its glory.

But there was something else about the Thoul & its ACK's Throghrin counterpart I noticed today. These monsters are artificially created, a mix of troll, hobgoblin, & ghoul plus their not undead. These are an elite & specialized monster to say the least. But whose creating these hobgoblin hybrid horrors? Its gotta be a wizard or some NPC class far more specialized in the creation of hybrid or chimera species of monsters.

This sort of a chimera monster makes me think of the wizards of both Jack Vance & Clark Ashton Smith. CAS's  all powerful sorcerer Maal Dweb is exactly the sort of wizard who could & would have created  the Throghrin species most likely from Atlantean Pict survivors mixed with a generous helping of troll virus & ghoul DNA. There's probably a demonic pact in the mix someplace but these things breed true with hobgoblins. I started thinking again about the post apocalyptic fantasy wastelands of B/X Dungeons & Dragons when we mixed B/X Dungeons & Dragons with a generous helping of Gamma World back in middle school. Over the last couple of years I've thrown in the Fiend Folio into the mix of Gamma World to pad out some of the edges of the adventure map.

So I'm thinking about many of the humanoid species in the Fiend Folio as being possible chimera or slave race prototypes of humanoids on many of the worlds of the solar system. I can see the Elder Things from HP Lovecraft's 'At The Mountains of Madness' creating five pointed artificial  bio-environments or deep space bio ships with a wide variety of these species on board. Possibly these ships might be guarded by shoggoths or worse.

Elder Thing artwork created by Віщун -

So what does this mean? Perhaps the Elder Things who were masters of biology, magick, and bio technologies far beyond our own created hobgoblins from a mix of an unknown demonic humanoid species plus, Atlantean or Lemurian survivors after the shoggoth rebellion.
This was a disposable race of humanoid servants & perhaps food species with a finite life span & a built in willingness to serve.
These shock troops might have been very susceptible to the Elder Thing telepathic commands. A race with a built in passion for violence & military like tribal structure that might have filled the gap in while the Elder Things fled the surface world. Could they have followed their masters into the inner world of the Earth? With slow wars of creatures such as the Yithians, the spawn of Cthulhu, and others the Elder Things are a race that counts in eons not centuries. Hobgoblins would be a fast breeding, pliable, & yet hardy race in some ways ideally suited for their environment. Thouls would be a subspecies created by latter day wizards or others. 

Could the hobgoblins then be one of the species that exits the inner Earth World when the Hyperboreans returned to the surface world of Old Earth sometime in the future? They might have become servants or shock troops for the Hyperboreans longing for another powerful race to serve. There is some evidence that Clark Ashton Smith implied such a race might exist within his Zothique cycle. Unfortunately evidence for this conclusion is scant at best. Hobgoblins within my 'Old Earth' campaign definitely have an Elder Thing origin point. For Dungeons & Dragons & its various retroclones there is very little explanation on the origin or even event for many of the various humanoid races. This suit an innovative & creative dungeon master just fine; old school monster books didn't do all of the heavy lifting for you. You & your players created the world, shaped it through play, and harvested the result as another product of your imagination.

Free OSR Resource Dragon's Foot - Magical Weapons Generator For Labyrinth Lord & Your Old School Campaigns


Grab it Right Over

This is a five page magical items and weapons generator as a free download from Dragon's foot, it can act as fill in stop gap for your old school games for hoards, lair loot, and all kinds of monster lairs. The author did a damn good job with the random factor, now as an old fashioned sort of guy this sort of a pdf is really very nice. Yes, I know that there a ton of apps and whatnot that do the job of this generator but this one is specifically keyed for retroclone and Labyrinth Lord especially the Advanced Companion.
   This generator will work very well for a wide variety of retroclone systems and yes it can be easily reduced for your system in question. For example with little hassle the same generator could work with Lamentations or OSRIC. The work and system here is tight, the material free and its application is a snap. So yes its easy to create your favorite magic item in seconds but do I think that you should? Well, actually Tony Reeves has a really solid little article on the placement of monsters and magic items in AD&D that works really nicely with this generator right over HERE .

Do I think that the generator is worth having? In word yes because it hits several sweet spots for OSR games. Generating random treasures on the fly can actually create games based around legendary treasures an adventure location. This is something that appears in real life  mythology, legends, science fantasy,sword & sorcery and fantasy literature many, many, times. So its really down to the dungeon master for the placement of treasures and monsters as it has always been. This generator can actually help to stir the imagination with a few dice tosses to get some of the blockages that sometime happen when starting off on a new campaign or convention adventure.

Something that I've recently noticed is that some DM that I know have used the sudden appearance of a magic relic or artifacts can generate a sort of boom town or over night sensation in campaigns. Also they can be used as motives for murder and mayhem for wizards as well. The debris left behind by the gods and much more. So do I think that this free download is worth the hassle? Yes but use it sparing as needed!

OSR Commentary On Chaosium's 'Terror From The Stars' Early '86 Call of Cthlhu adventure by Scott Aniolowski (Author)

"The Pits of Bendal-Dolum: The investigators travel to tiny British Honduras in search of a lost archaeological expedition, but find evil beyond their worst nightmares."

"The Temple of the Moon: adventure and intrigue in Peru. An investigator receives a gold artifact through the mails from Peru, pitting him and his friends against a ring of international art thieves and perhaps against more sinister foes."

When it comes to adapting older modules there's nothing like the early Call of Cthulhu rpg. Thumbing through White Dwarf (Issue 79 - Jul 1986) we came across an early review of Terror From The Stars. Terror From The Stars is one of the  Scott Aniolowski (Author) efforts. And its a great module to adapt to an OSR Modern  or Sword & Sorcery campaign. Especially "The Field Manual of the Theron Marks Society: the Theron Marks Sociaty is an underground group of organized Cthulhu investigators. This manual explains all the investigative techniques and tricks theu have learned. The Theron Marks Manual is designed to be fit into any campaign" 

The early scenarios could easily be adapted into a modern OSR campaign using two different sources. Realms of Crawling Chaos has all of the stats for these monsters already within them or if you really want to go old school then Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first editons  Dieties & Demigods manual. 

'Terror From The Stars' is really a polarizing module because its more like a CoC  module kit then an actual module unto itself. Phil Frances in   White Dwarf (Issue 79 - Jul 1986) pretty much nails it; "Phil Frances reviewed Terror from the Stars for White Dwarf #79, and stated that "Terror From The Stars stands up well against other releases of its type (The Asylum, or Curse of the Chthonians for example), and the added advantage of a lower price means you can't really go wrong with this one.""

But some of the interesting bits of Lisa Cohen's review from  Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer No. 77. give away a major adventure plot point;"
Cohen commented that "The whole package is ideal, expecially with the manual it makes it well worth the price. I would recommend this module to avid Cthulhu players. Remember, when playing the scenarios, have a happy voyage and don't drink the water!"" Thanks very much Lisa. But the real gem for me as a dungeon master is the inclusion of 
The Field Manual of the Theron Marks Society. The idea of a group of investigators or adventurers who are 'fighting' the mythos isn't new but one with a very detailed background & history is in '86. 

This is very much in keeping with some of the themes that have recently cropped up in Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos. The society with a detailed build up,history, background, & shared universe of historical  fictional detail. 

'Terror From The Stars' is a relic of its times & one that fits within the early patheon of Chaosium adventures. The mythos elements make it easily reverse dungeon engineered into even modorn OSR game. 
What really makes this adventure stick is the thread of mysterious temples in South America & its lead in across the adventures. All in all its a good adventure book but it could have used a bit more Lovecraftian padding. But Terror from the Stars is a good example of the tool box approach of early  Call of Cthulhu  adventueres for now keep em rolling. 

1d10 Random Ancient Lovecraftian Undead Encounter Tables For Your Old School Campaigns

 There are many ancient and highly dangerous monstrous undead horrors lurking in the wastelands of Accursed Atlantis. Adventurers are likely to encounter these dangerous horrors in the midst of searching for tombs and looking for the relics and rewards of  crypts that guard the remains of ancient royalty. Often these horrors are far more intelligent then the usual ancient scrolls and text would suggest. Some of these free will and intelligent horrors can use ancient Atlantian technologies and relic technologies to cause murderous havoc to  those that they meet.  Below is a list of 1d10 undead horrors simply waiting to encounter your adventurers. 

File:Anatomical figure; skeleton, 17th century. Wellcome M0000422.jpg

1d10 Random Ancient Undead Encounter Tables
  1. Ancient skeleton warrior armed with decaying armor from Atlantis, and a +1 sword, he guards his long dead master's grave from outlaws and adventurers. He has small laser gun that does 3d6 points of damage and a range of thirty yards. 
  2. A pack of 1d8 undead horrors and ghouls rise up from the wasteland soil and come to find on the living. They are armed with short swords, and one has a laser sword. These horrors fight at 2nd level fighters and they are dangerously cunning as well. 
  3. A band of 1d4 powerful vampiric warriors move across the night and move about freely during the day wrapped in robes and sun blocking tribal masks. They are 3rd level wizards as well twisted by the energies released during the 'Destruction'. They guard their ancient catacomb vaults from all comers and hunt among the wasteland. 
  4. A twisted ancient  lich prowls among the ruins and wastelands seeking the souls of the living to feast on. He is armed with a variety of ancient high tech relics. A 5th level wizard of demonic aspect. 
  5. This ancient free willed zombie warlord controls 1d10 skeletons armed with short swords and wooden shields. These horrors are relentless but this ancient horror watches over the tomb of his deceased queen. But he is cursed to watch for eternity after doing nothing as plagues ate his people. He is armed with a laser sword and portable force shield. 
  6. An ancient wasteland spirit that watches over his family's hoard of rare artifacts. This horror devours the life forces of those he encounters and guards 1d6 ancient life force gems worth 400 gold coins each. Once per day this wasteland spirit may place a wasting curse upon a victim. 
  7. 1d4 ancient 4th level ghoul warriors armed with laser crossbows and short swords, these horrors ride small hover bikes and are guarding a massive nearby cemetery feeding ground. 
  8. 1d8 Juju zombie warriors who roam the wastelands looking for their ancient ancestral enemies and foes. The problem is they can not tell anymore who those foes were. There is a 20% chance of them trying to attack any adventurers that they run across. They have a small cache of 3000 gold pieces and a minor ancient relic. 
  9. An ancient Atlantian undead  prince and his routine of 1d8 wight warriors in ancient armor, they are seeking the reincarnation of their forgotten princess. There is a 20% chance of trying to track and kill the PC's for information and a possible connection. They will rob the party of any high tech relics they come across. 
  10. An ancient undead lich upon his nightmare along with 1d4 skeleton knights with him. He is on this plane looking for a pure soul to drag with him back to the cold and dark dangerous Hell he comes from. He has seventy two hours before the eternal winds of fate blow him back to his pocket hell of undeath and horror. He is armed with a laser sword, pistol, and silver shod +2 short sword. He is dressed in light chain armor and seems unconcerned about you. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

New 1d10 Cosmic & Scared Wonders Of The Wastelands Table For Your Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

 Deep in the post apocalyptic wastelands are wonders that defy rational explanation that heroes and adventurers run across. Some of these can alter lives, heal the sick or perform miracles that call down 'divine explanations'; some of these objects, locations, items, and more demand worship of those who live nearby. Here are a few of those weird and strange pieces of the landscape that demand the attention of those around them and may lead to fortune and glory or far worse. 

1d10 Scared Wonders Of The Wastelands Table 
  1. A ring of standing stones where time itself slows down, illness and injury may be halted and death will not come for the victim for 1d8 months. Those who use the ring's miracle need neither food nor drink to sustain them within their death like sleep but there will be a price to be paid for the use of the standing stones in the form of blood and misfortune. The locals view the stones as scared and will slay any that they can for trespassing upon the land of these stones. 
  2. A single great eye like orb that opens every new moon and will dispel any mental mutational induced insanity unless it was caused by a head injury. The orb hums with a warmth and purpose of vast intent, the intelligence that controls the orb will telepathically scan the user and determine a price of a valuable relic to be sacrificed at dawn for the orb's attentions. 
  3. A stone chest at the head of an ancient alter with carbon scoring across its surface. This sand stone chest holds 'holy food' which will heal most minor diseases and several major mutational damages to the target's genome. The chest will demand a minor boon from those using its miracles. Once per day the chest may call down a lightning strike upon a target up to twenty klicks away. 
  4. A single pillar of black basalt with an incredible double whirled pattern across its surface. This twenty seven foot tall feature flows with a black and orange pus like slime which may induce one beneficial mutational change to the target. The target will smell of rotting flesh for a week and attract several large clouds of biting flies however upon themselves. The pillar will demand the small finger of the right hand to be placed within a nearby stone niche and then the user must make a 100 gold piece offering to the 'gods of the wasteland' for his blessings. The pillar's goo can be used only once in a life time. 
  5. The hole of flesh is a twelve meter deep hole of living flesh that will grant the user a regenerated limb should an old one have been lost. The user simply places the withered limb's stump upon the inside of the hole and within 1d10 rounds a new limb will start to sprout. The hole will need a bit of flesh for this trade. How or what doesn't matter but failure to do so will result in the limb causing dire harm to the user such as murdering them in their sleep. 
  6. The house of relics, this incredibly intricate house is made from millions of relics and artifacts seemingly wielded together. These artifacts  have been constructed this way by androids and robots run by a very dangerous and cagey A.I. who will grant a request made by a supplicant. The A.I. will allow a user to take a specific artifact if it has it upon the side of the small cottage house. There is a 40 % chance of the artifact being there but user must bring two artifacts of greater value back to the house to replace the one that was given 
  7. The Weather Maiden - This imposing statue controls the local weather and will grant certain favorable weather conditions for seasons, plantings, and general community conditions. But it is worshiped as a goddess by jealous locals who will try to sacrifice any who seek their 'goddess's' attentions. Certain weather related artifacts may attract the attentions of this fickle and somewhat blood thirsty 'goddess'. She is also interested in the families and well being of those under her charge and ask after them telepathically. She expects an artifact every three months like clock work or she might bring down horrible weather or worse to the locals 
  8. The Giant Gray Ball  A giant 150 diameter ball of concrete that floats three feet off the ground is able to grant powers of control over magnetism and gravity to certain mutants brought before it. The ball has a bombastic and somewhat unpredictable personality. It will demand feasts and sports events in its honor. The ball will affect the gravity and magnetic fields around it in a 100 kilometer radius and certain natural disasters will attract its attention. Damns and other metallic nature features of the ancients will be under its protection and no individual power will interfere in the ball's ownership of such objects. 
  9. The Lights of Lo - These strange lights will hover around any other dimensional intrusions within a 400 klick radius of the area. These lights are controlled by an unknown planar based A.I. that sees the local area as its zone of influence and Heaven help any monster, demon or other horror that seeks to stalk the land. The lights will swoop in and their nature will be revealed. Each light is actually a very strange energy plasma based mechanism capable of generating incredibly strong laser energy bursts. These things will carve up anything with 3d6 +3 points of damage. There will be a constant hum of energy surrounding each sphere and there is a sensation benevolence surround these creations. Those within 40 meters must make a save or resist the urge to fling themselves into these strange blue green energy filled creations. The spheres will incinerate anyone they contact unless a save vs death is made. 
  10. The Column of Constant Light - this seventy foot column of vivid white yellow light is generated deep within the Earth and is actually a time space window into all of history. Anyone approaching this incredible display within 10 meters or so will travel 1d100 years into the past 20% of the time, sideways in time 40% chance to an alternative Earth, or into the far distant future 40% of the time.  This mechanism is controlled by a very advanced android in the form of an ancient old woman who will kindly ask the PC's where they wish to go? Those who avoid her and try to use the column will be aged 1d20 years and all of their relics along with hidden artifacts will be drained. The little old lady will ask a boon from the characters and the locals will see that it is carried out or they will be thrown into the column lost to all space and time for eternity while demons feed upon their immortal souls. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Commentary On Adapting Necronomicon: Book of Dead (1993) As Old School Campaign

 I sat down with an old VHS horror classic with Jeffery Combs ! Not the Reanimator series but the seldom mentioned but often rented Necronomicon. Its one of those films that came out in the Nineties.  H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon, always seems to have been out at the back alley hole in the wall video rental place I worked in. Its a weird beastie of an anthology film with an 'R' rating meaning plenty of Nineties T&A with a wrap around story starring Combs.

So what does this film have to do with old school gaming? There are loose connections & more that can be mined here so bare with me for a moment. First of all this film has a hell of a cast; "H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon, original title Necronomicon, also called Necronomicon: Book of the Dead or Necronomicon: To Hell and Back is an American anthology horror film released in 1993. It was directed by Brian YuznaChristophe Gans and Shusuke Kaneko and was written by Gans, Yuzna, Brent V. Friedman, and Kazunori Itō. The film stars Bruce Payne as Edward De Lapoer, Richard Lynch as Jethro De Lapoer, Jeffrey Combs as H. P. Lovecraft, Belinda Bauer as Nancy Gallmore, and David Warner as Dr. Madden."
It sort of goes for a weird 'Bordello of Blood' meets 'Tales From the Darkside' in a back alley for a quickie with a side of  H.P. Lovecraft's Mythos thrown in as its framing device. Its sleazy, humorously dark, not PC at all, plays very fast & loose with the Mythos.
Its actually partially the framing device that allows the DM to draw on it for old school games but we'll get to that in a moment.
"The three stories in the film are based on three H. P. Lovecraft short stories: The Drowned is loosely based on The Rats in the Walls,[1] The Cold is based on Cool Air,[2] and Whispers is based on The Whisperer in Darkness.[3]"
Yeah its actually the The Whisperer in Darkness that helps to move the entire anthology along & its the Mi Go who are actually the secondary antagonists in the film. They've set up a small monastery where Comb's Lovecraft goes to access the Necronomicon for research for his fiction. What he actually wants to do is steal the forbidden book & things don't quite go as planned or do they?
"In the wrap-around story of the film, H. P. Lovecraft (Jeffrey Combs) learns of a monastery where a copy of the Necronomicon is held. Having been a regular there for his research, he sets up an appointment, his cab driver told to wait outside. Taking insult when the head monk calls his work "fiction", Lovecraft insists that all his writings are true. Requesting to read the Alchemical Encyclopedia Vol. III, Lovecraft steals a key from another monk and flees to the cellar where the Necronomicon is being held. Unknown to him, a monk has seen him. Unlocking the vault where the book is held, the door closes behind Lovecraft unexpectedly, making him drop the key down a grating and into the water below. As that happens, one of the seals is opened.
Lovecraft sits to read and record what he is reading. It's not specified if he sees visions of the future through the book, or if the book contains future accounts. It's likely the stories will come to pass, and for the Necronomicon have already passed, alluding to the Necronomicon's timelessness, as all the stories take place well beyond the 1932. " "
So who the heck are the Ommati monks & why are they setting up shop as an occult society right in the middle of  Los Angeles? Simply put these Mi Go were part of the second wave of occultism that swept through America in the 30's. Note that this H.P. Lovecraft is more of an occultist then our 'real world' version. He's brave, conniving & the perfect media for the Lovecraftian gods to get their messages of insanity into the world.

Yeah its all a set up, the Necronomicon shows him stories & visions of its forbidden knowledge in the form of stories with snippets of its forbidden wisdom thrown into the mix. Not enough to really drive him mad per say but him insight into the dark recesses of its true potential. The film is great because it drives Lovecraft purists up a wall. Take for example the 'Drowned' which has figments of The Shadow Over Innesmouth

& the Rats In The Wall. Edward De LaPoer, a member of the De La Poer family is tracked down & given an envelop from which he learns of the tragic fate of his uncle. The creature featured  might be an avatar of Cthulhu with hints of its own very small remnants of a cult around it. 
Then you get into the 'Cold' with a twist of weird science gone very wrong & the twist of medical conditions gone very wrong. Cold is three parts boring, insane, & whole unique with some ideas that are so twisted that they could shock even the most jaded of palettes.

'Whispers' is the final installment taking place in modern day Philadelphia which is in the grip of "the Butcher" a dangerous serial killer. Its a really twisted tale of two police officers, Paul and Sarah of the Philadelphia Police Department who run afoul of a group of degenerate Mi Go who are using humans for reproduction. Its a really nasty Nineties gore fest with a twist of the usual VHS classic gore.

Then we flash back to Lovecraft whose had access to the Necronomicon this entire time & there are a wide variety of traps with various sigils that have been revealed within the 'vault' where the book was kept. There's a degenerate avatar of 'Dagon' down below the grate where Lovecraft was sitting but he rolls a 'twenty' with his sword cane. Then the final reveal as a child of the Outer gods comes to claim Lovecraft's soul & he manages to escape the 'monastery'. The 'Necronomicon' is in his possession & roll credits.
Surely there is no way that this film could be used as old school adventure fodder? Actually it could be & has by me several times. Right off of the top let me clear up why the
Ommati monks would let Lovecraft have access to the book. They were ordered to by Nyarlathotep in order to spread the madness of the Outer Gods. This version of the book of the dead would probably have 1d20 minor black magick spells with 1d6 major Lovecraftian spells.

 "The Black Man", artist Jens Heimdahl's rendition of Nyarlathotep,
according to H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Dreams in the Witch House".

As for why the Mi Go would be using the Twentieth century as jump point is because this is merely a beach front in a war that has been going on across space & time with other aliens such as the Great Race of Yith.

We have no idea where or when the Ommati monks got their copy of the Necronomicon nor where it came from making this a perfect set up for PC's to do a recovery job sometime in the past. While this book does seem like a potent artifact its certainly not up to the standards of the original book.  This makes me suspect that this might have been or is a fake copy that's been created as a prop to keep cultists of Nyarlathotep safe. The monsters, cultists,etc. all mentioned in the movie are dead ends to the Old Ones & Outer gods. So instead of merely destorying them outright they use them as fodder for others such as the Inquisition or other investigators of the Lovecraftian. While this is not a great film its a great piece of VHS weirdness from the golden age of horror of the Nineties. There are lots of angles to mine here and Combs Lovecraft makes a great occultist NPC & one that players don't expect. A man of action & some bravery instead of the usual sniveling depictions I've seen in several novels.

There are certainly several things I love about the film but this is one that devides both the horror comunity and the Lovecraft purists. There's lots of fodder in HP Lovecraft's Necronomicon Book of the Dead. But you've got to look around for a copy on the internet or VHS. Its never had a Blu Ray release. For the record this trailer drives me crazy, Clive Barker never took much inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft. He's always had his own imagination to pull from.

Please note that this blog post is not an attempt to violate the trademark or copyright of the film Necronomicon: Book of Dead (1993) This blog post is for entertainment,  informational, & educational purposes only.  All other ideas are  copyrighted to the original writer.

1d10 Random Lovecraftian Time Haunted Ruins Table For Your Old School Campaigns


'The process of delving into the black abyss
 is to me the keenest form of fascination.'
H. P. Lovecraft

There are ruins that travel between dimensions and planes, sliding between in  places, time, &  space. Those who encounter such places are sure they are haunted and the lives of many adventurers have been changed over a visit to one of these places.
                                               1d10 Random Time Haunted Ruins Table
  1. A set of monoliths with the signs and symbols of the Great Old Ones carved in the top of them. There are ghoul worshipers who come at night to dance and have rites under the uncaring stars of the damned. There will be 1d6 random monsters or spawn of the Old Ones around these monoliths. There will 1d6 random minor relics around the place scattered. 
  2. This is a supermarket mostly in ruins but there are two tribes of mutants living around the place; staying for more then 1d4 round will cause the PC's to have to make a mutation check. There are several cars in the parking lot of unknown make and model. There will be 1d4 super science relics in these. 
  3. A set of alien statues whose rock and stone is actually living flesh, these lifeforms will act as giant mimics and adhere to anyone foolish enough to approach the 1d4 'stone' chests scattered around. These chests are actually mimics who worship the larger mother statues. There are 1d8 corpses scattered around the place of past adventurers who have stumbled upon these things. There are treasure type D scattered about.
  4. A whirling mass of elemental air marks the passage of dimensional energy to the elemental plane of air, several genies will tear apart anyone trying to enter this place. There is a chest of gold suspended in the air on a cushion of solidified pseudo matter. The tinkling of bells marks the location of this point. 
  5. Ruins of a home once stood on this spot and now it marked by the burned out shell of a place. A smaller then human set of stairs leads into a pit in the ground. There are 1d100 bodies or bones that might be corpses piled high in one corner. The thing will turn into a composite monster of incredible destructive capacity. It will not leave the house's ruins though.
  6.  A former military bunker marks this point and a strange glow fills the air, this is actually the creation of fungus and not radiation. There are 1d8 rare relics of a post apocalyptic nature. The place is marked out by the constant drone of a small mechanism. The thing is actually a motor that powers the last survivor of this place. His brain is a psionic construct able to appear in 1d4 rounds, he will not attack but will ask questions of the PC's but he is actually stealing 1d10 years from his victims. 
  7. A garden shed that is actually an entrance to one of the planes of the Abyss, there will be 1d4 minor demons milling around the building. There are +3 garden and farming implements scattered about and a +3 ax of sharpness in a stump. Around back is a rotting pile of heads of various humanoid types piled high.
  8. A train station has two groups of old West outlaws who fight over the place with guns blazing and horses but they have no idea why. Anyone staying in the place for more then 1d6 rounds will become trapped in the time loop that goes on continuously repeating itself for eternity. There are several major treasures within crates on the landing of the place. 
  9. A strange pulp style alien space craft has just landed, actually the thing has been on auto pilot, the crew are now alien zombies hungry for flesh. Aboard a shaggoth in suspension is held in place by a force cage. 1d6 crates scattered in the back of the ship will have some random treasure within. The whole place is infected with a zombie plague as well. Save vs disease must be made upon leaving this hazard. 
  10. A strange haunted miniature castle of stone and brick is the playground of the gods of the Earth's dreams and there are 1d8 fey servants and attendants. Those who stay will be drafted into a warped version of a mid Summer Night's Dream. All of this will dissolve when the dream of the god awakens stranding the party in the Astral.

Campaign Matters Infernal : Beer & Judges Guild - Inferno By Geoffry O. Dale

 So on Sunday it was get together with friends over beer & discussing our  varsious campaigns over one of my player's houses. Things have been pretty chaotic in Connecticut with the Pandemic & the rise in cases. But not so much that we didn't get together but half our players were missing so it was a beer night. And things turned as they do to past games & one of which was TPK romp through Inferno By Geoffry O. Dale. Where do we start with this module? Well at the time it offered an alternative infernal cosmology to Dragon issue #75.  Old School hersey I can hear the AD&D first edition crowd screaming. Inferno By Geoffry O. Dale came out in Nineteen Eighty. 

So over the years my uncle Jack mixed,patched, matched infernal adventure & campaign elements as needed.  This is no slight on Geoffry O. Dale's creation & we gained a very healthy appreciation of Dante's Inferno. So let's jump right into the thick of things here;

"Inferno is based primarily upon the poem "Inferno" by Dante and is also fitted as a scenario into my campaign, Nidevellir. My purpose in writing it is twofold -- first, to answer the perennial question of Judge's when the party finds a cursed scroll: "GO DIRECTLY TO HELL!!" now what do I do? And secondly, to provide a power base to the evil immortals in the campaign. There may arise occasions in which an irate Cleric will geas some poor fighter into returning something that is on the Devil's plane and this allows the character somewhere to go for the adventure."

This brings up  where & when I would use O'Dale's modern creation looking into the classic review of this module from Dragon #44 (December 1980).

Which if you don't have is worth it for the classic 'Food Fight game alone. Simplier times folks. Anyhow, 
William Fawcett goes deep into the module hitting the high points;

"Inferno was reviewed in Dragon #44 (December 1980) by William Fawcett. He commented that "This is one of the more expensive and longest modules offered by Judges Guild. It is a mixed offering with some excellent points and some potential problems. Many DMs will like this module just because it is perhaps the one situation where they can validly play with Asmodeus as a wandering monster!"[3] Regarding the commentary on TSR's placement of the archdevils, he stated that "Actually there is support for both placements; the argument harkens back to the days of the “angels on a pin” discussions. Depending on their sources, both authors have them placed correctly (or relatively, incorrectly). In any case this is of little importance to the play as most characters will be reluctant to face any of the Archdevils anyhow."[3] Fawcett added: "Obviously, this is a very high-level dungeon. A party of no fewer than eight members and averaging no less than 10th to 14th level is suggested. Even for these levels, this is a very deadly place. This puts a strain on the judge; there is a fine line between playing this module well and playing it either so deadly as to be discouraging or crossing over into Monty Haul dungeoning. [...] This can lead to a party that is terribly over-encumbered with new major magic items."[3] He continued "Another problem inherent with playing characters and monsters who are this high in levels is that it takes a long time to resolve most melees. Either the characters have a lot of hit points or the more complicated magics take longer to roll up and compute. Several new spells are also suggested for use in the module, many of which would unbalance a campaign when (or if) the characters return. Even with these problems this module can be a real experience if played with a capable DM. There are some excellent descriptions in the early sections that set the mood beautifully for the players. The DM is further aided by suggestions throughout the book on how to play certain situations. These, for the most part, are quite useful. The module handles encountering and generating high-level monsters very well."[3] Fawcett concluded his review by saying, "If you are looking for something that will challenge players who have characters grown to great heights or are looking for a suitable ground to play high-level characters as a change, this is an excellent choice. This is definitely not a module for a new DM to attempt, but correctly run it offers an unusual challenge."" 
One of the ways of handling the magic item problem is very simple, some magic items don't work outside of Hell. Even escaping Hell is going to be problematic enough. 
So we started brininging this discussion into our Castles & Crusades rpg game. Now recently the Troll Lords are going to be producing a planes book. That's great but I really don't care. Most of my infernal goings on have come from the above sources & material that has appeared in Tome of the Unclean. 

DM choice for their campaign trumps rpg creator, writer, & company's vision every single time at the table top level. This is something that going all of the way back to the first 'official' world setting has been a problem. Homebrew campaign world's settings  always beat the above. I'm not picking on Troll Lords in particular at all but over the last forty years numerous incidents have rammed this point home. Games should be bought, read, torn apart & the dungeon master along with his or her players should make it their own. This is part of the philopshy that one sees with some of the Troll Lord Kickstarters.   This level of customization on the DM's part doesn't equal micromanagement. That get's thrown out the window by the players as soon as they start playing a high level adventure like Inferno. It takes a steady hand to do these adventures. Because players are gonna screw your plans up royally and its glorious folks. 

What I don't agree with is  Ron Shigeta review about Inferno  in The Space Gamer No. 31;"Ron Shigeta reviewed the adventure in The Space Gamer No. 31.[2] He commented that this adventure "is for those that have gotten cursed scrolls saying, "Go to Hell!!" or owe a Geas to some Lawful Good cleric. Hell is everything it's cracked up to be. Not just anybody can dash in and out of this place. As a matter of fact, it would be the achievement of a character's career to get out alive, as it should be. Everything is covered, from Tiamat's cave to the palace of Minos – and nothing is easy; both new and old Devils and monsters abound here."[2] He continued: "But not everything is as it should be. Minos' Palace has 13 rooms and Tiamat's cave has four paragraphs, where it should have a book of its own. Often a description of some new magical item will take up more room than the overall description of the level it's on. Usually the only major encounters are those on the road through, leaving the rest of the circle one big random encounter area."[2] Shigeta concluded the review by saying, "I bought Inferno because I wanted the plane of 9 Hells in my campaign and didn't have the time to do it myself. Anybody who wants to spend a few weeks on it can probably do as well or better, and with the gaps in Book 1, I feel little confidence in the forthcoming book 2, which contains the remaining five levels, the infernal City of Dis, all the Monster Manual Arch-Devils, and the only way off the plane .... Perhaps Mr. O'Dale should be playing Napoleon instead.""

Sigh, Hell has been the back bone for my campaigns for over thirty years.
Here's how it works, Hell is main stage & the Abyss is the backstage of Hell.
The whole cloth of the game campaign is based around it. Anything even romotely 
associated with the infernal is choatic.

Things of Earth & the material don't last 
in the infernal at all. Hell adapts as it wants & needs to but
 its always evil, destructive, & destructive. That brings up Hell coming into its own 
with its latest incarnation in the Metallic Tome by 
Rafael Chandler.

But if you want to deal with the hardcore metal forces of the infernal darkness along side the Metallic Tome. Then I suggest going with 'The Dragon' magazine issue #20. This issue has quite a few variations of the usual infernal themes that would fit along side of horrors of the Metallic Tome. Especially 'Demonology Made Easy' By Gregory Rihn. p. 15  a perfect article for those lawyer demons;

"Any demon or devil should be a hard bargainer in making a pact of service, attempting to get as much from the operator as possible in return for as little actual work as can be. The demands of lesser fiends will be in the area of material rewards. They will demand a small animal sacrifice each time they appear, or else a small taste of the operator’s blood or tears. This is because the lesser fiends cannot bind the operator’s soul to perdition, or enforce their will upon him once he is in their clutches — the big ones will take him away!" 

So there are only four levels to O'Dale's Hell? Getting a party of adventurers to even get past the first would be a trick unto itself. But this isn't very Dungeons & Dragons at all. Well let's talk for a moment about Michael Moorcock's The Warhound & The World's Pain. An aspect of the eternal champion takes up the familial search for the Holy Grail. 

To run this campaign in a more modern setting I turned to an older game that happen to love because its easily adaptable and that's The Lion & Dragon rpg. Not only did I use it with a modern infernal game but used it quite nicely with adventure elements from Inferno By Geoffry O. Dale. 

Gaming is what you make of it and always has been. Judges Guild material is very adaptable to old school & OSR campaigns as needed. Beer often leads to Hell but this time it lead down several memory holes and perhaps a campaign hook or two..