Recently the Astoninshing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea humble bundle came into my greedy hands & upon rereading AS&SH some very interesting things came to light.
Sometimes you've got to go back to the well & in this case it was Disney+'s Wandavision ( watched the entire run over a friend's house. Because I absolutely refuse to give Disney the time of day. This has nothing to do with politics & everything to do with close family friend who worked in one of their animation departments.) Anyhow the show got me thinking about classic AD&D & D&D's illusionists class or sub class of magic users. The Dragon magazine issue#12 completely revamped the class from its humble beginnings in the The Strategic Review - Volume 1, Number 4 (Winter 1975) into a formible sub class of magic user. Yes at lower levels illusionists are not as effective blah,blah, etc.
The article in The Dragon issue #12 'A New Look at Illusionists' by Rafael Ovalle has several interesting things happening in it at once but let's get into the interesting bit; "Finally, when the class illusionist was constructed few provisions were made for those magic items which they could use. Illusionists, in correction, can use those items designated for all or magic users with the exception of those items which duplicate non-illusionist magic-user type spells. Specifically the illusionist can use Rods of Rulership, Cancellation and Beguilement; all Wands of Detection; Wands of Illusion, Fear, Polymorph and Negation; Staffs of Command and Striking; Crystal Balls, Talismans of the Sphere and the Wizard’s Robe for hypnosis and polymorph. Illusionists cannot use any other magic-user items, even the cursed ones. To play an illusionist is very difficult and treacherous but there is more room for creativity. With these additions the risks are worth it."
This additional bit of editing to the illusionist class is something we'd much later on in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition & according to the Dungeons & Dragons fandom wiki history on the class;"Illusionists made their first core appearance in AD&D, in the PHB, as a sub-class of magic-user. The illusionist is a separate class entirely, having a different XP table, a different spell list, and even a different maximum HD from the standard magic-user. The spell lists were highly differentiated, with little overlap between them. AD&D Illusionist spells include a host of transmutation, enchantment, and other "tricky" spells. Their spells are acknowledged to be weaker, and their slightly less restrictive magic item selection was meant to compensate for that weakness.Of special note is that gnomes could become illusionists, though they could not become magic-users of other sorts. "
Within the OSR this is something that we see within AS&SH 2nd edition much later on. But let's go back to The Dragon issue #12 'A New Look at Illusionists' by Rafael Ovalle and this little tid bit "7th level Alter Reality: Same as before but full wish not limited wish." And does this sound familiar?! AS&SH illusionists don't have the ability to alter reality that their original Dungeons & Dragons counterparts do.
Now when it comes to illusionists there are going to be exceptions & the thinking is that someplace in Hyperborea is a very ancient & deadly illusionist perhaps a lich. A being whose lost everything in the Silver erm Green Death whose altered reality to create a kingdom of shadows & ghosts of things past. This leads into the idea that perhaps an ancient book of black magic of the most vile sort is helping him or her to keep these illusions of the first age going.
Any lich asccessing these types of abilities is going to be chaotic at least & possibly totally insane as a result of dailying with such powerful magical energies. This brings up my point there's has to have been any number of liches within Zothique that have used the same trick to keep the illusions of the past going. Given the Clark Aston Smith connection to the Appendix N & AS&SH this connection is a no brainer.
The force of suns had waned beyond recall.
Chaos was re-established over all,
Where lifeless atoms through forgetful deeps
Fled unrelated, cold, immusical.
Above the tumult heaven alone endured;
Long since the bursting walls of hell had poured
Demon and damned to peace erstwhile denied,
Within the Abyss God's might had not immured.
(He could but thwart it with creative mace. . . .)
And now it rose about the heavenly Base,
Mordant at pillars rotten through and through
Of Matter's last, most firm abiding-place.
Bastion and minaret began to nod,
Till all the pile, unmindful of His rod,
Dissolved in thunder, and the void Abyss
Caught like a quicksand at the feet of God !
The Abyss Triumphant (1912)
by Clark Ashton Smith
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