" The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death.
Part Two, Ch. 4"
On the Road (1957) Jack Kerouac
Now we've talked frequently about the modular nature of the various OSR clones on the market these days. But sometimes its all about going back to the well. There seems to be a variation of the idea that with a certain world the elements of standard Dungeons & Dragons exist. Elves & Dwarves exist & all goes about its business. But dipping back down the well of original Dungeons & Dragons has its place. Sometimes you've got to go back to it. From the introduction to the 1973 original Dungeons & Dragons set; "These rules are strictly fantasy. Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don't care for Burroughs' Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits, who feel no thrill upon reading Howard's Conan saga, who do not enjoy the de Camp & Pratt fantasies or Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pitting their swords against evil sorceries will not be likely to find DUNGEONS and DRAGONS to their taste. But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers. With this last bit of advice we invite you to read on and enjoy a "world" where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!"
This blog post is going to pick up right where this one leaves off.
This is a game of imagination & sometimes you go back to the well so to speak & often times I rely on the weird & infact trust in it. The Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg Referee book has an entire section devoted to the weird tale; "The main thing that separates a Weird Tale from a conventional horror story is the forces completely out of the control of those who encounter them. A thing that cannot be explained, cannot be defeated, cannot be solved. This is easy to do in a story, as the writer can easily manipulate the entire tale in order to serve the purpose of inducing the reader to feel as the writer wishes. In a role-playing game, this is not so simple. Player charaŎers must have agency. They cannot be puppets or mere observers to events. The Referee is not telling a story (this must be stressed as often as possible), but presenting an environment and situations within that environment. The story is the summation of what happens during play"
The weird & the weird tales elements of play frequently seem to bleed over into each other during play. Players can do far more for creating the heavy lifting of the presenting the weird to a campaign then we as dungeon masters can often presents. But with a supernatural game the lines between weird tales Pulp & the occult blurr. They twist with the enviroments of the dread not necessarily horror but the weirdness of dread.
Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars & Age of Conan both by Jason Vey both have many of these same elements within them. Campaigns using these two might cross paths with the a more conventional old school campaign setting such as the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Because of the fact that Sword & Sorcery thrives on the very elements that we over the last couple of months on this blog have been concerning ourselves with. While naturalists, sages, & the like concern themselves trying to classify every harpy & monster. The weird simply looks at them & laughs. Why?! Because chaos & entropy are the handmaidens of mutation or worse. You don't need an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual you need to make things weird. The occult tech that we talked about earlier today from ' The Legacy of Lum The Mad & Leuk-O In Greyhawk & The Wilderlands of High Fantasy' is bleeding over into our reality at the very edges. These edges are exploited by others. The wizards, mutants, & cranks from a dozen realities.
“Treasures are not won by care and forethought but by swift slaying and reckless attack.”
–Michael Moorcock, Elric The Stealer of Souls
At the end of last year we ran through LoFP Black Blade of the Demon King by Ahimsa Kerp, & Wind Lothamer. It was an adventure that taught us a few things, the whole affair was like a Moorcockian fever dream with a combination of Elric mythologies combined with traditional Norse mythology but mixed with something weirder. The upshot was that the Sword & Sorcery adventure elements left quite a few parts & pieces still in play.
There's so much potential of the world of the supernatural & The Fey colliding with the edges of a campaign reality that frequently get mentioned in supplements like OD&D's Gods, Demi gods, & Heroes by Ward & Kuntz. And this isn't always a good thing & in point of fact is the underlying premise behind the Black Blade of the Demon King!
If we look into the introduction to Black Blade of the Demon King we get a very clear definitation of the Moorcockian mythology behind the interactions between the alien forces of Law & Chaos with PC's; ". This is not a story about delving for treasure or fighting hordes of monsters, nor is it intended to be a quest for the Black Blade—or at least not really. You see, the Blade is the villain of this story and its powerful ego and dark magic are behind all of the hazards and obstacles that the PCs must overcome in their adventure. It is evil incarnate and will overpower and destroy whomever is unfortunate enough to wield it, just as it has done for time immemorial"
These forces which are behind the masks of Law & Chaos are taking full advantage of the weird. They use it as a sort of cloak to move their own agendas along. And parties that get involved with these forces are at great risk to become involved in far deeper ways then they can even understand. Kevin Hite's Qelong has only a mere shading of this. I know that I'm going to sound like a broken record here. If the two god things of Qelong are warrior gods for Chaos & Law imagine what would happen if they crossed over into our current reality?!
These forces & others like them draw in adventurers like moths to the flame of opportunity. The party is both acting as both fulcrum & lever for these various alien powers agendas. This is where adventurer's such as Karl Edgar Wagner's Kane & Michael Moorcock's Elric come in.