Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Clark Asthon Smith's Zothique & The Second Chess Board - Appendix 'N' & Castles & Crusades - The D'Amberville Legacy


There are times when my mouth should be shut. This morning was one of those. So last year we ran through a Castles & Crusades mixed with Amazing Adventures rpg campaign. And that campaign had the PC's end up on Zothique. And the PC's ended up working with & for 
the wizard-noble Stephen Amber (Etienne d'Amberville) from X2 Castle Amber By Tom Moldvay. Today was one of those days when DM Ricky has been on the phone to me again. After that it was DM Steven this was followed by a phone call to an old player of mine Bob. Bob played with one half of our group of players whose wrestler ended up going toe to toe with some of the gladiators & wrestlers in 
Shathair. Stephen Amber was playing chess with real people with Ossaru the wizard king.  To this end Ossaru  helped a niggling little wizard  fix his dimensional gate gizmo that ran a murder circus.  Thanks to David Baymiller's NPC's one of the player's PC's was turned into a vampire when the party ran head long into the murder circus. 

There's only one artist who captures the essence of  Clark Aston Smith's Zothique & that's the artwork of  Rodney Mathews. Even during the Nineties when you'd walk into a hobby shop & on the shelves would be TSR  Dark Sun products they never quite captured the alien dark fantay for me. Nor did Dark Sun have the  essence or alien qualities for me of  Clark Aston Smith's Zothique. This is especially true of the quinssential Zothique tale 'The Tomb Spawn'

"Great was Ossaru, being both king and wizard. He ruled over half the continent of Zothique. His armies were like the rolling sands, blown by the simoom. He commanded the genii of storm and of dark-ness, he called down the spirits of the sun. Men knew his wizardry as the green cedars know the blasting of levin.

"Half immortal, he lived from age to age, waxing in his wisdom and power till the end. Thasaidon, black god of evil, prospered his every spell and enterprise. And during his latter years he was companioned by the monster Nioth Korghai, who came down to Earth from an alien world, riding a fire-maned comet." 
The Tomb Spawn Clark Ashton Smith 

The weight of ages hangs heavy on the stories of Clark Ashton Smith but the important bit here is  Ossaru, being both king and wizard. So this is one of the heavy hitters on Zothique & the story relates even more when the alien monster Nioth Korghai enters the picture. 
And it enters Zothique's history well & truly. Go read the story there's no wish of ours to destroy the stoy's ending. 
 Zothique is old inhumanly old & perhaps one of our  all time favorite Clark Ashton Smith's creations. For a pseudo Sword & Sorcery setting there is  so much to lend itself to gaming take for example the Gnorri from the Zothique D20 book: ; 
Small Undead Hit Dice: 2d12 (12 hp) Initiative: +2 (Dex) Speed: 30 ft. AC: 13 (+3 Dex) Attacks: Bite +3 melee; 2 claws +1 melee Damage: Bite 1d4+3, claws 1d2 ea. Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft. Special Attacks: Stench Special Qualities: Undead, +1 turn resistance, Darkvision 10 ft., receive double damage for all non-magical attacks Shaman spells: Darkness, Create More Ghorii Saves: Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +3 Abilities: Str 9, Dex 16, Con -, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 12 Skills: Climb +6, Escape Artist +6, Hide +6, Jump +6, Listen +6, Move Silently +6, Search +6, Spot +6 Feats: Multiattack, Weapon Finesse (bite) Climate/Terrain: Any desert, ruins, and underground on the greater continent Organization: gang (2-6), pack (7-19), band (20-60), horde (60-100) Challenge Rating: 1 Treasure: Conditional (see below) Alignment: Always lawful evil Advancement: 3-6 HD (Medium-size)" 
Any DM worth their salt can easily adapt the Gnorri  to a Sword & Sorcery  OSR based campaign especially using either Swords & Wizardry or Castles & Crusades. The chess board is still set up & the pieces are still in play. The only question is when does the first move on the second board begin?! 

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