" To arms! To arms! The battle lines are drawn as desert men and inhuman tribes wait poised to strike on the fertile and rich lands of the east. The call has gone out through the civilized lands. The armies have been raised to match the invading foes from the west. Nobles and peasants have joined swords to greet the foes.
But Fate or Chance has decreed another role for a small few. No glorious banners will wave on their march. No squadrons of knights will charge at their word. Instead, they will fight the war through stealth, secrecy, and cunning. The risks they will take are great, but the fates of both armies lie with them.
It begins one night for your party far from the fighting. Suddenly you are entrusted with the most dangerous missions of the war. Can you cross the Sind Desert, occupied now by enemy armies, to find the Great Pass? Can you find the one known only as The Master? What will you do if your do find him?"
So yesterday we spoke about X5: "Temple of Death" (1983), by David "Zeb" Cook, if X5 is South East Asia then X4: "Master of the Desert Nomads" (1983), by David "Zeb" Cook is definitely the Arabian Pensulia with a whole lot of Sword & Sorcery trappings. So if we're going with yesterday's brief outline then we know similar to the collapse of civilization during the Bronze Age.
If we have beings of incredibly potent cosmic power fighting over the usual areas of Law & Chaos within old school Dungeons & Dragons then. We are going to see this same fight trickling down across the plane of this proto Mystara. This is going to lead to economic collapse, religious presssure, and situations which various peoples are going to take advantage of. Yes, we're referring here to the 'Master' of X4. Because Zeb Cook takes full advantage of the heratiage of Pulp Sword & Sorcery in X4 Master of the Dersert Nomads. This isn't a disavantage here its a feature of this Sword & Sorcery old school adventure. So what does this have to with Moorcock & Lamentations of the Flame Princess?! Quite a bit in a way. We mentioned Qelong by Kennith Hite because it typicifies the Lamentations of the Flame Princess module. The idea that vast cosmic forces are leaning down on the shoulders of the general populace of the Prime Material plane. You have two powerful cosmic level immortals at war with each other.
This is affecting everything within the setting around them. But this is a small slice of a bigger picture and its one that is a part of not only a greater battle but a larger war. An alien cosmic war that is being played out without any difference to the human beings around it. If we go with Michael Moorcock's Elric or Corum saga as a possible venue for this cosmic warfare. Then the forces of Law & Chaos are up to their usual feuds. But what if this is only a part of it. What if the economic collapse is so bad that only a tyrant is holding the strings of civilization together?! What if I told you that the real reason why there's a lack of humanoids in X4 is that they've been consumed by the forces of Law & Chaos?! Ramses III was the only thing holding Egypt together after the Invasion of the Sea People.
Perhaps its the fact that we're seeing 'the master' holding what he or she can within X4 against the forces of the occult far beyond his control. Does this sound familiar? It should its a very similar situation to one that we've seen before countless times in Michael Moorcock's work. Are we saying that the Master isn't evil? Hell no! Are we excusing his behavior?! Nope not at all. We are saying that the saga of the eternal champion plays out countless times.
Your full of crap?! There's no proof that X4 has anything similar happening within this adventure?! Armies marching across wastelands, countless weird & desparate encounters within X4, villages just barely holding together against the coming onslaught of an army of nomads, & let's not mention the PC's stuck in the middle of encounters & forces beyond their control. Now imagine Now imagine chaos spawn dropped into X4's desert wastelands from The Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and Their Modern Simulacra.
And you've got the connective tissue that we've seen in countless Conan & Elric stories time and again. In point of fact you as the DM can adapt the monsters to the desert wastelands to act as an adventure bridge gap. This adventure might not be the start point at all. Not unlike the Moorcock's the Eternal Champion the party might find themselves right in the middle of a comflict between cosmic powers within X4 the alien metal seen in Qelong foreshadowed in this module. The lack of humanoids might indicate a mass die off of humanoids or demihumans. The human population has been pushed to the breaknig point.
The PC's are not only aware of their fate within X4 but have been actively summoned to take part within their destiny. This is another aspect of the Eternal Champion that we can borrow & recycle a point that Moorcock does as well. This is something we see alluded to in "Supplement IV" Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes by Robert J. Kuntz and James Ward (two of my favorites) in the Robert E, Howard's Hyborea
Are we seeing the hints of the dimensional vortex on full display in X5? Yes in a way in X4 Master of the Desert Nomads. We see peeks of things to come, & its possible that one or two of the encounters in X4 could foreshadow this by dropping in one or two monsters mentioned in the Denizen's of Nightmare thread on the Vaults of Pandius website.
Why?! Because this isn't Mystara or even Blackmoor The First Fantasy campaign instead this is a proto Mystara carved out from the Prime Material plane. A bauble of the Million Spheres where only the PC's are going to make a difference in the realms of alien gods, monsters, demons, of Law & Chaos. All of this is gonna be happening as the conflict rages.