Wednesday, March 17, 2021

'If This Be Our Last Battle Ground' Sword & Sorcery OSR Thoughts On X5: "Temple of Death" (1983), by David "Zeb" Cook, Michael Moorcock, Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg, & More

 "Sent on a desperate mission into an unknown land, you must seek out one called "the Master" and his Temple of Death. There is little time to waste, as you must act before the Master's armies destroy your homelands. But to complete your task, you must battle fearsome guardians, travel through a hostile kingdom, and discover the secret of the Master. Can you survive his defenses and win?"

This is one thing that's been said across the table top X5 Temple of Death deserves a ton more Sword & Sorcery credit then it gets. 
X5: "Temple of Death" (1983), by David "Zeb" Cook, remains a pivotal campaign center piece for a wide variety of old school campaigns. X5: "Temple of Death" has all of the trappings of South East Asia & eventually evolved into Mystara.
There's something evokative about X5 that really makes it ideal to adapt to a Sword & Pulp campaign. Perhaps its the fact that the dimensional vortex makes its first appearance in this module. This planar constraint isn't found in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Great Wheel at all. And its this conceit that has me thinking about Lamentations of the Flame Princess tonight. Especially Qelong by Kennith Hite where you have two powerful cosmic level immortals at war with each other. 

What if these two beings are expressions of warfare of something  far more sinister then at first it seems. What if X5: "Temple of Death" (1983) & Qelong are part of the same South Eastern style campaign setting. What happens if these two barely conceived beings are actually rival  combatant god soldiers for the Lords of Law?!  Imagine if you will that you've got both the Lords of Law & Chaos duking it out as per usual in Michael Moorcock's mythos. But the twist here is that the Dimensional Vortex ala BECMI's  ala the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991) is holding something back both very dangerous & very valuable to the colllective gods as well as the immortals. 
Is the nightmare dimension simply another aspect of the collective prison for the entities from outside or another part of the collective unconsciousness of humanity?! According to James Mishler's Demension of Nightmares article on the Vaults of Pandius site a bit of both. Now imagine chaos spawn dropped into X5's hot steaming jungles from The Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and Their Modern Simulacra

The alien metal that infects the land of Qelong could in fact be another manifestation of the ever widening contamination of the Lords of Chaos & Law.

 Manifestations that we've seen several times since the 90's in the fiction of Michael Moorcock. But especially the tribute Elric  Sword & Sorcery paperback Tales of the White Wolf. 
     This proto Mystara is merely another battle ground to the world striding Lords of Chaos & Gods of Law. The PC's are witnesses to the ever widing gulf of the cosmic action & perhaps this is in fact the motivation for the villain of the modules. Rulers desparately trying to hold onto power against total anihilation. 
What could the PC's do?! Could they make the situation better or worse?! What if the PC's and the villains put aside their differences to save their world & simply asked the divinities to leave ala Corum?! The divine events of the Qelong River valley may be only the tip of the iceberg here?! 
Could this be run with Elric or The Stormbringer rpg?! Yes but let's face facts here OSR D&D or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition would also work here. Why?! Because a mad group of adventurers is gonna be facing down gods, demons, or worse in their journey past both Qelong & X5. Could the party of adventurers ultimately deal with both Chaos, Law, & the Courts of Nightmare!? Hard to say but its really up to the players & dungeon master.                                                                                                 

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