Saturday, April 24, 2021

Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, & Karl Edgar Wagner - Age of Conan & Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars By Jason Vey

  Yesterday was one of those days where you find yourself stuck in a waiting room of a garage. This happened to be in my home town which meant 2 hours or so of garage back & forth for car parts. So grabbing the first printed out pdf from the stack. And in this case it was a print out of two classic OD&D resources Grey Elf' (Jason Vey)'s Age of Conan II: Secrets of Acheron,a sourcebook for sorcerers and sorcery in the Hyborian Age & Age of Conan III: Secrets of the Black Circle, a further sourcebook for Hyborian Age campaigns. Now all of this back slots into Jason Vey's Age of Conan original Dungeons & Dragons rpg hack. 

Several things jumped out at my attention immediately  in  Age of Conan III: Secrets of the Black Circle, the use of fate points was very fimilar. These are points that are used in the O.R.G.E. system of Night Shift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg. Could the sorcerer & black wizard magick systems in Age of Conan be applied in Night Shift?! 

Who cares?! Well lets go backward for a moment, the Age of Conan sorcerer rules are fierce & very dangerous. They give black sorcerers teeth, & have almost all of the usual Lovecraft along with Conan monsters &  demons of the Outer Darkness to them. If you were paying attention to yesterday's blog entry on Mars. Then you know that the gods of Law & Chaos from Michael Moorcock's eternal champion mythos wear different masks depending upon the reality of the Million spheres. But what if there was another mythology that was done by one of the other titans of modern dark fantasy that joined into both the Robert E. Howard stories & Michael Moorcock's stories. 
Yes I'm talking about Karl Edgar Wagner's Kane here & last night reading through The Midnight Sun: The Complete Stories of Kane several things stuck in my brain. Kane is the one who created his world's apocalpyse & shares many of the darkest characteristics of Elric. Kane is in many ways far worse then Elric. Kane rips across his world causing mayhem, horror, & insanity in his wake even as he tries to make the world better?! 

In the past with my uncle we ran through his Stormbringer rpg Kane appeared as a major NPC. And we as a party of adventurers worked for (we really didn't have any choice), under,& finally fled from this Gothic antihero. On the East of Eden Karl Edgar Wagner fan site there was a very interesting little tid bit:'Gothic Touches in The Gothic Touch   The first Karl Edward Wagner story I ever read was The Gothic Touch. This was a crossover between Wagner's anti-hero Kane and Michael Moorcock's iconic albino, Elric of Melnibone, which appeared in an anthology of Elric stories called Tales of the White Wolf. At the time that I read it, I knew very little about Kane, Wagner, or the Gothic Novels of the eighteenth century. All that would soon change.

Like many people who hadn't actually read the Kane books, I assumed he was just another Conan knock-off. The Frank Frazetta covers of the Warner paperbacks did a lot to further this image, showing the usual sword & sorcery images of a big guy in armor fighting demons or just standing there looking dangerous. Reportedly, Wagner wasn't completely pleased with Frazetta's vision of Kane, but a Frazetta cover certainly didn't hurt sales in the mid 1970s.

As I began to track down and read the Kane stories though, I soon learned that Kane not only wasn't a Conan clone, he wasn't even a barbarian. He was instead, a staggeringly well read and intelligent man who had traveled his world for centuries and was able to discuss music, poetry, politics, and any number of subjects. He was also a born killer and completely amoral. He was, in fact, the biblical Cain, an immortal who must walk the world until slain by violence. And Kane is darn hard to slay.

In his essay, The Once and Future Kane, Karl Edward Wagner discusses the origins of his character. While Wagner admits to admiring and being somewhat influenced by the works of Conan's creator Robert E. Howard, he gives his primary influence as the Gothic Novels of the 1700s." 

Kane has in several of his stories gone after & killed immortals, gods, & others in his eternal game with his mad version of the Almighty. Which begs the question, 'If Kane is still out in the multiverse & playing his own game against the powers of Chaos & Law what could the fall out be?!' Imagine for a moment that the Cults of Chaos or Law  are operating on a modern Earth ala CHAOS CULTS OF THE YOUNG KINGDOMS BY CHARLES GREEN. Kane isn't going to stand the competition in any arena. And this makes the immortal incredibly dangerous. 

But your crew of Gothic themed defenders of mankind come up against the machinations of Kane. What would a crew of immortals do against Kane whose agendas often seem to wreck entire countries or empires. Neulow Games Secrets of the Immortals could easily be converted over to Nightshift.Giving a possible organization that could potentially have Kane in its sights.

 Vampires, immortals, gods, oh yes Kane's killed all them& more besides . But it seems that the black sorcerers of Age of Conan present a real target & challenge. Kane the immortal represents a very dangerous antagonist & possibly an anti champion of both Law & Chaos. Kane might even be the dark champion of the Balance. 

Would this set up work as an OSR supernatural thriller & horror game with a Sword & Sorcery spin?! Very possibly & we're talking with DM Steve & DM Ricky right now. 

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