A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.
"Eldorado", st. 1 (1849). Edgar Allan Poe
Apparently Timothy Brannan the co writer on Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars wasn't getting credit on this blog's entries as co author of the game system?! That's my oversight & now that we've remedied that let's get back to the action. Something started to occur to in the back of my mind about Original Dungeons & Dragons booklet 'The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures Volume Three of Three booklets' the following really weighted heavy on my mind; "Lost Parties: There is a chance of being lost, the chance depending on the type of terrain the party begins its turn upon. A lost party must move in the direction indicated by the die roll (1-6, as shown in the OUTDOOR SURVIVAL rules and on that board) and may make only one direction change from that direction. When exploring the referee should indicate which direction the party is lost in."
What happens if this isn't the players adventurers?! Think about it. Dungeons as presented in original Dungeons & Dragons are set up to be machines of evil. Places of absolute riches, murder, dread, etc. So what happens to the other parties of NPC's who go down there?! This got me talking with DM Ricky & DM Steve about this & there was even more input. The idea that the dungeon could as adventure location become the nexus gate of a crisis. And the central point for both Law & Chaos as entry point into a plane prime. But this can't happen in a modern Earth right?! Not only did happen but it happened with two champions of balance in the official Moorcockian canon?! The anthology 'Tales of the Eternal Champion's 'Evening Odds' story follows Gary Gygax's Gord The Rogue & his adventure to close a portal in Miami Florida by the archfiend Baphomet. Baphomet is actually serving the flip side of the powers of Law in the Nine Hells.
Don't forget the powers of Law don't necessarily mean 'good' it simply means 'Law' as in pay attention to the alignment of a monster.
Let's flip this back to the underworld for a moment. Those lost deep in the bowels of a dungeon may be willing to do anything to escape because not even death means a release from the grasp of those powers of the underworld. The underworld means both literal & figurative. Where do you think all of those skeletons & wandering monsters come from?! And were does the power come from to animate these undead?! Well what if the powers of Chaos in the form of the Balrogs which are at the top of the heap of original Dungeons & Dragons helping wizards in dungeons. There's a fan theory that there are literally thousands if not more Balrogs in Tolkein & you can find about that here.
The fact that the semi demonic & undead races draw power from him reminds me of Sauron's necromancer guise from Tolkein. But where does this leave him in Zothique?! Absolutely no where. Why?! Because by the time we read about him in The Dark Eidolon, CAS 1935 his armies have laid siege to the world, his time is almost over, & the dark promise is done. But what happens if this world millions of years in the future is accessible to the modern age?! Its through the underworld of the dreamlands & Sauron survived through the underworld of mankind's dreams. He navigated history using the minds of mankind himself to skim along the currents of history, time, & space until it erm he arrived on Mu & later on Zothique.
"The beginning of Clark Ashton Smith’s short story, The Dark Eidolon:
On Zothique, the last continent on Earth, the sun no longer shone with the whiteness of its prime, but was dim and tarnished as if with a vapor of blood. New stars without number had declared themselves in the heavens, and the shadows of the infinite had fallen closer. And out of the shadows, the older gods had returned to man: the gods forgotten since Hyperborea, since Mu and Poseidonis, bearing other names but the same attributes. And the elder demons had also returned, battening on the fumes of evil sacrifice, and fostering again the primordial sorceries.
Many were the necromancers and magicians of Zothique, and the infamy and marvel of their doings were legended everywhere in the latter days. But among them all there was none greater than Namirrha, who imposed his black yoke on the cities of Xylac, and later, in a proud delirium, deemed himself the veritable peer of Thasaidon, lord of Evil."
This one statement brings Zothique into focus but its appearance within Pagan Publishing's Realms of Shadows By Blair Reynolds means that its accessible to 1920's game campaign. Which is pretty perfect for Timothy Brannan & Jason Vey's Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars. Because it ties into the back end of Mystara via X2 Castle Amber By Tom Moldvay.