Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The War of the Worlds Godzilla 1898! - A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg - Shifting Powers

 Still upon my mind is our Victorious rpg campaign  after having a beer with a fellow DM today. Would the world powers of the 1890's be actively searching for & exploiting for monsters & Kaiju?! So I dragged out my Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition Monster Manual & Monster Manual & Monster Manual II to think about this end of the campaign. 

So as the evening draws in here, thoughts of what a Martian invasion would mean to an 1897 Earth have been on my mind. A combination of classic AD&D or D&D immediately springs to mind. Imagine if you will for a moment that the Elves, Dwarves, & other mythological creatures of Europe had a foot hold or so on the elite & royal families of Europe. Every once in a while a portal to the Wilderlands of High Fantasy might open perhaps AD&D's Greyhawk. 

So basically you've got monsters & tribes of myth & legend still in the far corners of the globe perhaps even the Amazons, etc. all looking into the modern world of the Nineteenth century  with more then a bit of distain. Why?! Well what if the powers of this world started exploiting the giant Kaiju for their own technological & military benefit. Godzilla would be the latest kaiju  in a string of Earth's immune system from a huge variety of otherworldly & interdimensional threats. 

Does this set this world up for an all out early World War? What if Germany knows all about the Kaiju & knows about the Martian invasion by 1880 or so?! This throws everything in  Germany 1880's military machine  into overdrive with fear & panic. Germany begins an age of exploration across the globe in an effort to A. gain as many military resources as possible & B. to expand their own ranks of Kaiju or gain a technological edge. This leads to the possible invasion of the United States in 1897 all part of the  Imperial German plans for the invasion of the United States in  reality. This set up Mexico & Cuba in our Victorious game two years ago. Let's talk about Christopher Tamm of Elf Maids & Ocotopi blog, over the years Chris has been instrumental in killing off several of player's PC & having several of my characters killed off. Chris is completely unaware of this little fact. But every now & then we all need a bit of a boost. Chris has a free download Great Weird War which has been fueling a singular point. 

Does the Martian Invasion of 1897 & the presence of Kaiju bring an early World War I?! Personally yes, the reason for this is that these two pressures set up perfectly for the technological march of HG Wells War in the Air , & even possibly the World Set Free.. 

The War in the Air is a completely alternate history & its one possible timeline that happens as a result of the Martian invasion. Both of these Wellsian peusdo historical events bring about Well's Shape of Things to Come.  This was an alternative  time line visited by the PC's in 2019 but they weren't huge fans of the Well's  one world state. 

And before the fire & pitch forks start Wells was one of the first writers to do an entire shared universe for his fictional creations. But does this set up a full on post invasion war?! Only time will tell as the player's decisions shape the future of this campaign world. The presence of Kaiju excelerates many things including the development of technology & the path of alterative history. 
There was also some talk today about leading the adventurers down into Gary Gygax's EX1 Dungeonland. But once again I had to remind the fellow DM & player of their encounter with the Jabberwocky  from The Dragon issue #54. This thing is a nasty customer. The player's PC's ran from the thing the last time they were in Wonderland. 
And in the aftermath of the invasion there are going to be tons of undead & ghosts to deal with. Fortunely James Mishler has Ghosts The Incorporeal Undead to help generate some really nasty spirits & ghosts from the left over alien & weird radiation. 

The War of the Worlds Godzilla 1898! - A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg - Campaign Update

 My Victorious rpg has been on hiatus for sometime now. But one of the things that's been happening is minor events given the backdrop of New York City. The city is in ruins, the streets are filled with blood, & there's a new menace that's been taking out bits & pieces of the underworld. Draco El Gante is a black dragon whose migrated over from the Wilderlands of High Fantasy via Florida. He's been cutting a path up the East coast with a group of Mafia mauraders until he's gotten to New York City. 

In one of my Castles & Crusades rpg campaigns a black dragon controls the underworld of New York City. Why?! Black Dragons are one of the most nasty & dangerous of the Chromatic dragons around. They have the sort of conniving disposition to handle the New York city underworld. This was after the red dragon Lady Demona  bit the dust literally against eight or so Martian walkers. Now why wasn't a red dragon going up against a Godzilla?! Are you kidding?! Why do all of the work when a radioactive lizard is doing it for you? None the less the Martians got a bit too close for comfort & so action had to be taken out. The red dragon bit the big one because of bad dice rolls on my part. So the underworld hates a vaccuum and left an opportunity for Draco El Gante & his gang to move in. Meanwhile several other wizards & evil doers who have been laying low in the fairy land of  EX1 & EX2 through a portal in barrel. Have recently decided to take quick look over the rubble is New York. 

They figure now is the perfect time to take down the opposition & the Martians. So now plans are underway for them. Alliances & double crosses may result from these events. But we'll have to get back into the swing of things once the players get their collective work shedules back in shift. So the heroes are in for a real fight once they get back or will they?! 

Quick Review & Commentary On The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith Part of the Appendix S & N

 If there is one Appendix N or S  author who doesn't get the recogniation he deserves, It's definitely Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, aka Cordwainer Smith whose Human Instrumentality stories were among some of the most unique pieces of science fiction produced during the Golden Age. Take one part Chinese or Japanese mythological tale, wrap it in a healthy dose of 16,000 years in the future 'peek a boo', & then give it the biting sarcasm of a psychological warfare officer from WWII. And you just might scratch the surface of Cordwainer Smith. 

Cordwainer Smith's Science Fiction writings  have been  highly influencial on both orginal Dungeons & Dragons & the orignal  Traveller rpg. These stories  have also influenced numerous Empire of the Petel Throne dungeon masters. 

"According to Frederik Pohl

In his stories, which were a wonderful and inimitable blend of a strange, raucous poetry and a detailed technological scene, we begin to read of human beings in worlds so far from our own in space in time that they were no longer quite Earth (even when they were the third planet out from Sol), and the people were no longer quite human, but something perhaps better, certainly different" 

The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith published in 1993 is the collection that your going to want to get if your a fan of his writing. Why?! Because it actually contains the following; "Includes 33 stories that represent Cordwainer Smiths entire SF works except for the novel Norstrilia. These stories are "classics" of the field such as "The Dead Lady of Clown Town," "The Game of Rat and Dragon," "Scanners Live in Vain," and "A Planet Named Shayol." Appearing for the first time in print are "Himself in Anachron" and the completely rewritten adult version of his high school story "War No. 81-Q." Introduction by John J. Pierce."

 Cordwainer Smith's Influence upon M.A.R. Barker's Empire of the Petal Throne stories  rpg  comes not from the good professor but many who run the game. The Human Instrumentality's efforts to shake up humanity & many of the events sorround  the Human Instrumentality organization remind one of the efforts of adventurers within The Empire of the Petal Throne. 

With the release of the Worlds without End rpg  & the Stars Without Number Rpg that preceeded it Cordwainer Smith's writing has become even more influencial. His writing takes a stab at the adventure plot idea covering  the vastness of both culture, , the rise & fall of Empire, and humanity among the vastness of the  stars.The Human Instrumentality  material here is vivid, rolling, & very well done in a style of writing that is unique. Interstellar regimes come & go, pockets of humanity continue along their paths out among the stars, & thousands of years pass on admist the ending of a story. 

Smith's work definitely hits spot on for Kevin Crawford's Worlds Without Number. The Human Instrumentality is a nice instellar empire to visit but you wouldn't want to live there. Humanity is a dour breed whose roles in life are genetically pre programmed. Underpeople animals that have been uplifted of a sort do many of the mundane jobs. And the Earth gets sold to an Australian boy one night & then things get weird from there. 

If you want to get into Cordwainer Smith's  science fiction. Then The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith is the work that you want to grab. Yes the book clocks in at six hundred & seventy one pages of science fiction Smith goodness but here's what it contains:

Stories of the Instrumentality of Mankind

No, No, Not Rogov! ( read the beginning below)
War No. 8 1 -Q (rewritten version)
Mark Elf
The Queen of the Afternoon
Scanners Live in Vain (read the beginning below)
The Lady Who Sailed The Soul
When the People Fell
Think Blue, Count Two
The Colonel Came Back from the Nothing-at-All
The Game of Rat and Dragon
The Burning of the Brain
From Gustible's Planet
Himself in Anachron
The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal
Golden the Ship Was-Oh! Oh! Oh!
The Dead Lady of Clown Town
Under Old Earth (read the beginning below)
Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons
Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (read the beginning below)
The Ballad of Lost C'mell
A Planet Named Shayol
On the Gem Planet
On the Storm Planet
On the Sand Planet
Three to a Given Star
Down to a Sunless Sea

Other Stories

War No. 81-Q (original version)
Western Science Is So Wonderful
The Fife of Bodidharma
The Good Friends

This review comes with a warning! Don't make the mistake that I made back in '93 in the U.K. and grab the U.K. title with the same name. 

If you want a sample of Cordwainer Smith's  science fiction here's two of his best Under Old Earth & A Planet Named Shayol. 
There's also the 
Cordwainer Smith website maintained by his daughter here

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

OSR Commentary - Weird Tales Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy - Modron & The Mystery At Port Greely

 "Five centuries ago, Modron was a thriving port city whose inhabitants worshipped Modron, the Goddess of Rivers and Proteus, the Shepherd of Neptune. Legends tell of the huge merchant vessels from far off Karakan and the incredible wealth brought by traders from the Isle of the Blest for pearls and dwarven artifacts. The mermen of Crespar stopped trading sponges and pearls, yet the port's wealth increased. Then, a huge migration of Orcs stopped the flow of dwarven merchandise and the far travelers no longer docked at Modron. In less than 50 years, the once flourishing area lost most of its population and the followers of the god and goddess blamed each-other's deity for the loss. Civil strife erupted and the temple of Proteus was submerged in the holocaust. The death blow was delivered by raiders in longships which carried off the few women and men into slavery. The survivors fled when or& scavengers moved into the ruins for a final pillage, hefting tons of marble. The Temple of Modron, being underground, was left unscathed and the Mermen renewed their vows to the Goddess of the Rivers.

With funds from the City State, a new town was founded on the ruins of the old, to protect the Overlord's merchant ships fro- river pirates. 'Maelstron', a giant sea snake, with an allegiance to the City State, protected the builders. The original name was retained because it equated with magnificent warships and high-wizards in songs of the bards..."

So as per usual last night I was zipping around Wayne's book site & doing a bit of research when it comes to Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy section. 
Now looking deeper into the Judges Guild  Wilderlands of High Fantasy, I began to notice Modron. Modron was a module that came out in '77.Modron is a product from Judges Guild for the Wilderlands. It was published in 1977 and was written by Bob Bledsaw and Gary Adams.  And the module has an interesting flavor. Modron is someplace between a war time  boom town, a fishing village, & a salvage  crawl.  The Bundle of Holding For Astonishing Swordmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea kicked off a run of Sword & Sorcery nostalgia at our table top.  Now what if the events of Modron kicked off something far more sinister. 

So the what if the adventure events of Modron kicked up a hornet's nest of Lovecraftian proportions. Modron's location is the key here & its 'Goddess' might be far more & less then she seems. Now we've talked about running the Wilderlands with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg. Now the events of Modron come off without a hitch for our PC's.  Modron is built on a site that is scared to three peoples, the humans, the Formorians, & the Deep Ones. Wait, what?!  The PC's messing around with the recovery of the treasure in Modron have disturbed something very dangerous. A shrine sacred to ancient peoples best left alone. 
"Until about three years ago, the peculiar town of Port Greely was renowned as a prolific exporter of crustaceans. Then the Greely lobstermen severed all ties with outside partners. Subsequent attempts at renegotiation were shunned." This is the opening for 'The Mystery At Port Greely' for AS&SH. What if the messing around at the undersea ruins of Modron kicks off the events of the 'The Mystery At Port Greely'.  
Why?! Because Modron was once the center of worship for the Formorians, the Deep Ones, & their human subjects. The Deep Ones have continued to make pilgrimages across worlds to their once sacred site. But now with the PC's having disturbed the ruins the compact between peoples has been broken! This kicks off the second ark of 
'The Mystery At Port Greely' ; 'More recently, a small group of Fishmongers’ Guild representatives from the City-State of Khromarium has gone missing in Port Greely, and answers have been less than forthcoming. At present, the Guild seeks answers. It wants to know what became of its representatives, and it wishes to re-establish its lucrative partnership with the Port Greely lobstermen.' 

But what does any of this have to do with the Formorians?! The Formorians have deep links to Irish mythology & within several places have been cited as a part of the origin of the Sea Elves of AD&D's origins.  According to Wiki; "
The Fomorians (Old Irish: Fomóire, Modern Irish: Fomhóraigh or Fomhóire)[1] are a supernatural race in Irish mythology. They are often portrayed as hostile and monstrous beings who come from under the sea or the earth. Later, they were portrayed as giants and sea raiders. They are enemies of Ireland's first settlers and opponents of the Tuatha Dé Danann,[2] the other supernatural race in Irish mythology. However, their relationship with the Tuath Dé is complex; some of their members intermarry and have children. The Fomorians have thus been likened to the jötnar of Norse mythology.

The Fomorians seem to have been gods who represent the harmful or destructive powers of nature; personifications of chaos, darkness, death, blight and drought.[3][4][5] The Tuath Dé, in contrast, seem to represent the gods of growth and civilization" Within my uncle's Wilderlands of High Fantasy campaign the Formorians were a part of the branch of deep ones through a hated strain of sea giant. 

So not only do you have the strains of war happening on two worlds but the PC's have to navigate through two very dangerous adventures to bring two worlds to peace. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Coffee, Tea, or Elric of Melnibone By Michael Moorcock - Some Quick Sword & Sorcery Thoughts on The Elric the NPC

 "Elric of Melnibone, an albino prince, travels in the Ship Which Sails Over Land and Sea to the city of Dhoz-Kam, through the Shade Gate to the Pulsing Cavern where the magic swords Stormbringer and Mournblade await him"

Written in Seventy two when I was but a wee lad of two, by Michael Moorcock 
Elric of Melniboné. This was one of my bed time stories when my dad got back from
 to. There's something about Elric's situation which just goes from bad to worse that seems more akin to how Sword & Sorcery sometimes plays out. Moorcock's writing is at his best here someplace between 70's Rock & Roll & the Pulps. In other words the majority of Elric's saga is lightning in a bottle. It will not come again. Why because Elric isn't really a likeable guy but does he deserve the part he plays in the saga of the multiverse?! Yes & no.. 

Yes & no, the consequences he unleashes to stop his cousin ultimately doom all of reality to the cosmic cycle of things when Law & Chaos come calling. Chaos itself is ultimately a force of evil unto itself that people are only far too willing to play with.
 Magick itself is power. That unto itself is dangerous & nothing about the Elric saga is safe. And its that danger that propels the saga forward in a way. The older I'm getting Elric is not an NPC that should ever really be encountered! Every place he goes gods, evil, & destruction follow in his wake. 

Recently the group of players that I'm with have been tossing the Stormbringer rpg back & forth. And talking about the fact that Elric isn't really an NPC that they'd want to run into. And in point of fact he might be a danger on level with the Jammers in The Design Mechanism's Luther Arkwright rpg

This was a topic of conversation over coffee & tea today with some friends. How would you get rid of Elric & co. if they blundered into your world?! He's got the attention of the chaos gods & elemental lords on his side?! Not to mention a god killer & soul sword at his side in the form of Stormbringer.

If Elric shows up on your back doorstep in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition your campaign is  in major trouble. Elric is a mercenary & antihero of the highest order & no where is this more evident then in the recent Titan comics releases of the graphic novels. Elric's appearance in AD&D first edition's Deities & Demigods gives a good overview of the NPC. 

Make no mistake he really is Chaotic Evil in every sense of the word after a quick re read of Elric of Melnibone By Michael Moorcock. We used to run or clean up after Elric would show up in my uncle's Stormbringer rpg campaign. But how the Hell do you get rid of Elric? What happens if the anti hero is actually the real villain after all?! 

Free Download Review & Commentary Classic Module Twist Up #1: The Desert of Desolation & The Classic Compilation module I3-5 Desert of Desolation

"Every DM & Player hold certain adventures in the realm of “favorites”. Ravenloft, Secret of Bonehill, Against the Cult of the Reptile God…etc. The unfortunate side effect though was we all learned them to a point where we just knew what was coming next. Whether treasures, traps, or secrets - most players will remember something no matter how hard they try role play around it. Never willing to give up a favorite the CLASSIC MODULE TWIST UP, (CMTU), series seeks to promote these classics by expanding or changing certain portions of the adventure without putting out materials that would violate copyright or allow the adventure to be played without at least knowledge of the original source material."

So reads the introductions for one of the lastest AD&D free downloads that I came across on Dragon's foot's site here.  Auhr Lanse's latest OSR efforts have produced an adventure variation on the Desert of Desolation super module. This thing is a beast at two hundred & five pages of free down load & supermodule twist up. What this beast does is completely take the PharaohOasis of the White Palm, and 
Lost Tomb of Martek then turns the adventure plots  on their  collective ear.  For those of you who don't know about the Desert of Desolation series's history here's the wiki entry breakdown; "Desert of Desolation is a compilation adventure module published by TSR for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy roleplaying game. It combines three previously published individual modules: Pharaoh, Oasis of the White Palm, and Lost Tomb of Martek. The modules were made for use with the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) rules. Pharaoh was created by Tracy and Laura Hickman soon after the couple married in 1977, and published by TSR in 1982. Oasis of the White Palm was a collaboration between Tracy Hickman and Philip Meyers, and Hickman wrote the Lost Tomb of Martek on his own; both were printed in 1983." All of these were collected into a super module back in Eighty Seven & there's lots of revisions; "The compilation module Desert of Desolation was printed in 1987.[12] The compilation features a cover by Keith Parkinson.[7]:101 It is a revision of the I3, I4, and I5 AD&D game modules, with additional design and revision by Peter Rice and William John Wheeler.[13] Wheeler attempted to expand on the originals, without altering their tone.[14] The adventures in Desert of Desolation are designed for a 5th-10th level party and have been reworked to fit into the Forgotten Realms setting, and the material was made compatible with the Wilderness Survival Guide rules.[3] In the revision, the designers added additional background material, as well as staging tips for the Dungeon Master.[13] The details of various elements that had been open-ended elements were spelled out.[14] Desert of Desolation includes a 128-page adventure booklet, a sixteen-page maps booklet, and a large A1 sheet of maps and handouts.[3] The compilation module contains new maps, including an isometric map of the tomb of Amun-Re.[13] The revision also introduces ancient inscriptions for the players to decipher"

The author & designer goes through this same history but makes changes so that CMTU1 will work in ether Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms ; "When they were brought into the TSR lineup they were placed in the “I” series that included I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City and I2 Tomb of the Lizard King. Both of these were in the Greyhawk Realms so most gamers of the time placed the three modules in The Bright Desert or Sea of Ash. In 1987 the series were put into The Desert of Desolation, (DOD), and placed in The Forgotten Realms. In the CMTU 1 several changes were made with hopes of adding new twists without taking away from the original adventure. CMTU1 will follow The DOD chapters listing the changes to be added and what areas to place them. As no part of The DOD were be placed in CMTU1 it is up to the DM to go through The DOD module prior to game play to make whatever notes or adjustments are needed" 
There are quite a few changes that Auhr Lanse's has made to the Desert of Desolation modules including theology, population density, placement of peoples & monsters, additional content, changes to adventure elements, etc. This twist up is gonna take months or years to play through & that's a good thing. Because it takes I3-5 in whole other directions. 

This makes Classic Module Twist Up #1: The Desert of Desolation  really worth the download in my opinion. And it takes the whole cloth direction of the NPC ghost of a long-dead Pharaoh in a whole other direction. We are not talking light weight adventure element but whole cloth new adventure path, NPC motivation, and more. Classic Module Twist Up #1: The Desert of Desolation is a complete campaign unto itself as long as the DM has the classic modules or the super module he or she is read to play. But you are literally talking almost years of play here. 
But is Classic Module Twist Up #1: The Desert of Desolation  good & worth the download?! For what it the CMTU1 does? Oh yes! This free download breaths new life into the classic line of modules & really messes with the expectations of old school players who have played through this classic module series.  With the recent release of Castles & Crusades Egpyptian line of mythus modules & supplements I can totally see using this module twist up easily with C&C. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday Mail call - The Eternals: The Complete Saga Omnibus & OSR Commentary

 "When Jack Kirby returned to Marvel in the 1970s, scores of amazing concepts would spring forth from his limitless imagination - and THE ETERNALS was his mind-blowing masterpiece! Kirby unveiled a secret history of humanity, races known as Eternals and Deviants, and a host of towering Celestials come to bear judgment on the Earth! It was a jaw-dropping saga that could have only come from the King of comics. And after Kirby's tenure ended, creators including Peter B. Gillis, Sal Buscema, Walter Simonson, Roy Thomas and Mark Texeira continued to weave stories within the epic mythology that he created! Now, thrill to the complete classic saga of the Eternals!"

Thank God for an understanding & wonderful wife that graces my side. She's been on the look out on Amazon for The Eternals: The Complete Saga Omnibus. And it came today! Which I wasn't expecting this book.  So this was a complete surprise! And The Eternals: The Complete Saga Omnibus is a beast!  So what's in this omnibus well everything I've been looking for for years folks; "ETERNALS (1976) #1-19, ETERNALS ANNUAL (1977) #1; ETERNALS (1985) #1-12; ETERNALS: THE HEROD FACTOR (1991) #1; NEW ETERNALS: APOCALYPSE NOW (2000) #1; IRON MAN ANNUAL (1971) #6; AVENGERS (1963) #246-248; material from WHAT IF? (1977) #23-30". And Amazon packed it in a box! A God damn box folks! Why is this important?! Because of the number of horror stories of books & graphic novels ruined by Amazon & its sellers packing books in bags, sleeves, etc.. You can't imagine how happy I was when I saw the box. 

Since Nineties I've waited for an Eternals Omibus to come along like this. Ages ago I was privaliged enough to own almost the entire run of 
ETERNALS (1976) #1-19. And then almost all of the follow up issues. An apartment fire in Boston turned those Jack Kirby King of Comics of Eternals run into. Now gaze upon the Alex Ross cover goodness. 

By the omni mind I've been lusting after this collection for years now. But who are the Eternals?! Well according to their Wiki entry; "
The Eternals are a fictional race of humanoids appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. They are described as an offshoot of the evolutionary process that created sentient life on Earth. The original instigators of this process, the alien Celestials, intended the Eternals to be the defenders of Earth, which leads to the inevitability of war against their destructive counterparts, the Deviants. The Eternals were created by Jack Kirby, and made their first appearance in The Eternals #1 (July 1976)."
And before Disney releases the new Eternals Marvel Cinematic universe film soon. Disney is already screwing with the cinematic counterparts because the Celestials created the Eternals from early man. In the film the Eternals were created thousands of years ago & sent to the primitive world of Earth by the Celestials. A minor point but.. I wanted to dive in & grab this run. But my lovely wife beat me too the punch! And this beast is the result! 
The Eternals: The Complete Saga Omnibus is a full two inches thick! 

This sucker has all of the Eternals vs Deviant Marvel mayhem to be had! I can't wait to dive into this sucker! The entire run covered is listed in the back of the 
The Eternals: The Complete Saga Omnibus. And this is a huge lot of Eternals Marvel goodness. 

  My own childhood connection was Ikaris whose the Eternals guardian of the  Pyramid of the Winds – a mysterious structure that Valkin and Phastos had built deep below the ice of the Arctic for storage of deadly weapons. Jack Kirby's redition of his creation is the definite version of the character. 

Write has a really good indepth look into Irakis but the important point is how the Eternals are often woven into Marvel's human mythology. And in Irakis case it extents to his mythological namesake; "But Ikaris used his powers to do much more than simply guard the Pyramid. When the Celestials destroyed the Deviant city of Lemuria and devastated the planet with a flood, he led a number of humans to safety in a giant ark."

"Years later, Ikaris defended Crete from the Deviant hordes. He married a human woman there, who bore him a child. Because the young boy loved to fly in his father’s arms, Ikaris constructed a flying harness for him. Unfortunately, the Eternal was called away before he could instruct his son on the use of the device." You can read more about Ikaris within the character study on Write up. There are several OSR connections between The Eternals & several OSR games including Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. 
There is a hard core connection between Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea & the Celestials is  woven throughout several  North Wind Adventures modules as a sort of gaming Easter Egg . Within the old school Judges Guilds  'The Wilderlands of High Fantasy' has eluded to several Marvel ties in with the Eternals having been mentioned in passing in several modules. For Lamentations of the Flame Princess Carcosa of course is the venue where the Celestials are most likely to be encountered. And Jack Kirby's creations were a major influence on the LoFP's most infamous Lovecraftian world according to Carcosa's author leading to even more OSR goodness. 

I'm really looking forward to diving into the The Eternals: The Complete Saga Omnibus folks! Thanks honey for a fantastic & unexpected present! We will continue with Eternals commentary coming up on this blog! 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Appendix N Musings - Michael Moorcock's 'Kane of Old Mars', & an OSR Sword & Science Fantasy Campaign Set Up

 As was said last blog entry there's something very distinctive about Michael Moorcocks's Kane of Old Mars series. The Michael Moorcock, Kane of Old Mars (Warriors of Mars/Blades of Mars/Barbarians of Mars) (Lancer, 1965) books are a homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom books. But they have a very distinctive flavor because the war between Law & Chaos on Mars is far closer to the fight between Entropy & Order. Kane of Old Mars in my opinion is close to the tone to the Leigh Brackett's Mars tales. The rich tapestry of  ancient order of Mars  veruss the newer races of Earth's  tribalism & colonization within Bracett's tales contrasts against the battle of Law & Chaos. Moorcock's Mars is a rich painted landscape of ancient brooding Mars contasted against the soul of the eternal champanion warrior Kane. 

Both of these author's takes on Mars contrasts with the Martian tales of Clark Aston Smith. Smith's Mars is a brood pile of wastelands were human interlopers are out matched by ancient horrors. Which is the true Mars?! All of em folks. Because these ancient horrors lurk at the very edges of the rpg that draws distinctly from Clark Ashton Smith. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea definitely drinks deeply from the veins of Clark Aston Smith & Michael Moorcock.

In terms of the OSR adventures that combined these alien elements  into a truly weird & alien mix. Lamentations of the Flame Princess Barbarians of Orange Boiling Seas does an excellent job of combining the effects of explorers & ancient Barsoomian like cultures clashing. Again it has that distinctive LoFP flavor but Barbarians will work with AS&SH as a further expansion module. 
Zzarchov Kowolski is up to his usual standards of adventure design. 

What does any of this have to do with the ideas of AS&SH's Hyperborea?! Quite a bit besides the ever present science fantasy artifacts another time. The clash of the Law of society & the Chaos of barbarianism. The same theme we see over & over again in Edgar Rice Burroughs writing even though its not smacking the reader in the face in the Barsoom books. Once again in Brackett's work we have an artifact sword that represents far more then it seems. In Bracket's Sword of Rhiannon we find an artifact that transports those that hold it back to the days of ancient Mars. A tribal Mars where the warfare is far more real & dangerous then even the reader knows. This is a Mars with ancient gods, powerful magicks, & battles as old as Lovecraftian time where humans  & Martians are the 'johnny come latelies'. 

Brackett, Moorcock, Clark Ashton Smith, & even Clark Ashton Smith's Mars contrast with one another but could be one in the same planet. And they are within this OSR science fantasy campaign we're cooking up. Its been a campaign described as Conan on Mars. And in some cases this is correct. But what makes it is the Law Vs Chaos aspect of Moorcock's Kane of Old Mars. The idea lurking just over the threshold of a very alien Mars with ancient gods lurking just on the fringes of the literature. 
These very elements are lurking within Beyond Belief Game's Jarkoon - Adventures on Planet X! which pick up on & dive deeper into the other planetary adventures ideals we talked about last blog entry. 
We'll explore further how all of this fits together as one whole cohesive campaign setting coming up on the blog 

Astonishing Swordmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Michael Moorcock's 'Kane of Old Mars', & an OSR Sword & Science Fantasy Campaign Set Up

 Alright several weeks ago before the current Sword & Sorcery run that we've been on at the table top level. Things got pretty interesting before DM Steve's schedule with work fractured our current campaign. So its been a bit of mad scramble to get back on track but last night a phone call proved quite good with him feed us some Sword & Planet notes.  His proposel was simple use Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg as the basis for an OSR  Sword & Science Fantasy campaign set up. The idea here is that millions of years in the future. This picks right up where yesterday's blog entry ended. Steve's idea here is that we draw some inspiration from Michael Moorcock's 'Kane of Old Mars' stories. The Kane series is a homage to Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom stories; "Michael Kane is the principal character, a Vietnam veteran that goes into physics and ends up on Mars during one of his experiments. He tells the author of the book his tales of adventure and the life he made on Mars. Typical of Moorcock's Eternal Champion stories, Moorcock's hero is a philosophical man who hates war (except Elric), but is good at it when he needs to be. Through Kane, Moorcock speaks of how fear affects us and causes us to do the wrong thing (kill, hate, etc.). Kane tries his best to remedy that with logic and compassion." All of the above comes from Michael H. Weekley Amazon review on Kane of Old Mars 

So using this as a campaign basis we need to expand the classes of AS&SH to really give the  an OSR  Sword & Science Fantasy campaign set up push. So using two other OSR rpg sources DM Steve feels confident that it can work. Source one is BX Mars which is beautifully done Michael Gibbons artwork, rpg design, etc. And really this is a whole cloth campaign unto itself. 

OSR source two is Warriors of the Red Planet rpg by Night Owl Workshop  this adds in a psionic system class to our game campaign set up. We could stop there but there's even more coming up. We need a basic adventure to kick off the Sword & Science Fantasy campaign. So what we're going for is full on 'Conan on Mars' feel here. Beyond Belief Games has Jarkoon - The Princess and the Green Men. This is a clocked in ten page, easy to run 1st level adventure, with the machinations of the Green Men all dialed in. For contrast Doc's Warriors of Mars from Jason Vey's Grey Elf site is a classic. 

So if you want to run your AS&SH party of adventurers within an old  solar system style adventure upon another planet with a Barsoomian flare without the copyright violation issues. This is one way. But if you want to expand this beyond into the intersellar bounds then Beyond Belief Games has you covered with Space Adventures X. 

From here if you want to dive back into a whole cloth urban adventure in the streets of Hypborea's capital City-State of Khromarium before heading into the wilds of space millions of years in the future. 
Lankhmar: City of Adventure for Second Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons works quite nicely as a Khromarium stand in. 

'Kane of Old Mars' is another of Moorcock's phisophical eternal champions & its interesting how he stands in stark contrast the violence of Bar erm Mars around him. Out of the eternal champions he's one of the most compassionate & yet complicated of the incarnations of the eternal champions. Could the PC's be used to tie up a ton of the loose ends of 'Kane of Old Mars'?! Its a strong possibility as a Mars campaign bridge gap. 
 As far as this being Mars for this run of AS&SH?! We think not. The popular consense is that this is another worldlet with this solar system. Tomorrow we dive into other applications of this campaign frame up.