Friday, October 16, 2020

Forbidden Secrets Of The Lamp - OSR Campaign Commentary On Ray Harryhausen's 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' 1958

 Top notch adventure as our hero Sinbad must rescue a princess who has been miniaturized and held captive by a ruthless magician. All sorts of obstacles are thrown in Sinbad's way, including the famous swordfighting skeleton. © 1958,

"Sokurah the Magician: From the land beyond beyond... from the world past hope and fear... I bid you Genie, now appear. "

I'm trying to remember the first time I saw 'The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad' but as it plays in the Blu Ray & that damn sound track plays again. I'm transported back to the world of Sinbad on a Saturday afternoon as channel Eleven showed endless Ray Harryhausen sword & sorcery flicks after cartoons. Here's the specifics according to Wiki;
"The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is a 1958 Technicolor heroic fantasy adventure film from Columbia Pictures, produced by Charles H. Schneer, directed by Nathan H. Juran, that stars Kerwin MathewsTorin ThatcherKathryn GrantRichard Eyer, and Alec Mango."

So what the hell does this have to do with Dungeons & Dragons or the OSR for that matter? Well there have been countless writers, artists, etc. including Gary Gygax & David Lance "Dave" Arneson who took a bit from this picture. But for a dungeon master this film is a god sent for creating & expanding upon for a home campaign. There is almost nothing written about or referenced  about the island of Collossa or its lost people. Sokurah the magician  played expertly by Torin Thatcher has been plundering their secrets, relics, treasures, & life forms for years. He reminds me on a certain level of Forbidden Planet's Dr.Edward Morbius both men are plundering the ancient knowledge of people's long gone. They're secrets are shaping them not the other way around. Sokurah has been messing with the black magick secrets of Collosa & they've been messing with him. He knows each and every detail of the island and its secrets but fails to see the bigger picture.What other secrets await in the dungeons & ruins of Collosa.

[about to land on Collosa]
Sinbad: May Allah grant we find food and water.
Harufa: And may Allah grant we find nothing else.

The peoples of Collosa mastered the transformations of flesh & the creation of chimera. The transformation of the Princess's lady into the serpent woman is both classic & telling.Telling because the magick is both smooth but very dangerous. The great thing about Harryhausen's stop-motion is the dream-like quality that sweeps over the audience. We would later on get another sample of the level of mastery of the wizardry of the people of Colossa.

There's something very unnerving about the skeleton from the Seventh Voyage. The magician transfers a bit of his mind into the skeleton to animate it but its aggressiveness is turned to murdering Sinbad. A friend of mine thought that the skeleton might have been a controlled Deadite ala Army of Darkness. This was something connected to the 'children of the Hydra' skeletons in Harryhausen's Jason & The Argonauts.

Sure by the end of the picture Sinbad & co. sail away from  Collosa & live happily ever after. But what happened to all the ruins & other materials left behind? Its all still there along with other cyclopes & who knows what else. The island is a perfect adventure point for a mid level party of adventurers. Was Toro the only dragon on the island? No, I doubt it. Toro was a very dinosaur like dragon of an almost singular lower tier intelligence that acted as magician Sokura's watch dog & bodyguard.

So what's the story of the island of Collosa ? In my mind there are a few hypothesis that come to mind. One its another R&D facility of the gods like 'the Isle of Bronze'. I'm not the first to put forward that theory or speculation. But there's something much more interesting about the island of Collosa. If you watch the journey that Sinbad's crew take across the island there are different variations of ecosystems that they go through. Some are very similar to Skull Island from King Kong from '33. The  dead island nation is very artificial and perhaps was there long before the people of  Collosa got to it.

Elder Thing by  Віщун -

The island might have been a hold over from the time of the Elder Things of H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness. "The beings first appeared in H. P. Lovecraft's novella, "At the Mountains of Madness" (published in 1936, but written in 1931), and later appeared, although not named, in the short story "The Dreams in the Witch-House" (1933). Additional references to the Elder Things appear in Lovecraft's short story "The Shadow Out of Time" (1936)." The people of Collosa came later after the oceans drank Atlantis, Hyperborea, etc. Possibly foretold before the disaster that took the ancient world during one of its extinction cycles. So what was the black wizard after? Power & recognition  on the global stage pure and simple, he manipulated events from the first meeting with Sinbad right from the get go. He wanted the secrets of the lamp, he had the secrets of the island dead island nation but that wasn't enough. It never is. He wanted the lamp's protection  because there were deeper levels to the ruins where even greater secrets and horrors awaited him. We know that volcanic vents power the island's facilities.

If we go back to the original source material from Sinbad the Sailor from One Thousand and One Nights. Then the picture becomes much clearer in the magician's actual agenda ripe with his quest for forbidden knowledge and power. In fact the comic book adaptation Four Color #944 - The 7th Voyage of Sinbad released by Dell on September 1, 1958.  bares this very fact out!

So what the hell is down blow in the vaults below Collosa? My guess is that there are incredibly ancient secrets of the Elder Things. Perhaps proto shoggoth material, relics, ancient secrets, & knowledge beyond the pale of mankind. Just the sort of thing to interest the black wizard of  Collosa. We have very little on the black wizard's background but given the make shift state of his workshop's he's been plumbing the secrets of the island for ten to twenty years. He's adapted, modified, uses the artifacts & relics of
Collosa as he see's fit.

Sinbad: What weird power restrains that monster?
Sokurah the Magician: The man that holds this treasure is safe from even greater danger.
Sinbad: Why didn't you destroy the monster?
Sokurah the Magician: The genie of the lamp cannot be used to work harm. But in protection, his powers are invincible.

So how could Collosa be used for OSR retro clone system? Well given the artifacts and relics of the dead island nation. I can see using
Collosa as an adventure location for Dark Albion. The island and its ruins make a perfect location to look for relics to help the War of The Roses brewing in Albion. The island could also fit into a Labyrinth Lord game as a destination for travelers and adventurers where the cyclops are deadly beyond measure. The island could also be used as a possible adventure location for Mutant Future as its already very dreamlike and could drift along the planar winds to wind up in the post apocalyptic world. The place would also make an excellent adventure location for Lamentations of the Flame Princess where adventurers have to locate one or more items while facing down the horrors of the island's cyclops guardians. Its also a ready made location to use with B/X Dungeons & Dragon's Isle of Dread which I've done many times!

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