So today I had a get together with some of my fellow DM's for the next leg of the Winter campaign & we've been talking about Adventurer, Conqueror, King. Or more to the point the ACK's Heroic Fantasy Handbook. And there's been some hemming & hawing about doing an ACK's Stormbringer campaign. Now today's blog entry is going to pick up right from our last one.
In the past it hasn't been Stormbringer that's been the focus of our Stormbringer rpg campaigns. But instead Arthurian legend & the Holy Grail have taken centerstage. And according to the Stormbringer Wiki there's a Moorcock explanation that underpins quite a few of the author's series; "The Holy Grail is a cosmic archetype that manifests most often as a jeweled, golden chalice. The Holy Grail could be anything. It could be a cup, a helmet, or an entire universe. The truth of the holy grail is that it is a manifestation of the Moonbeam Roads, the Runestaff and the Spammer Gain. It is the key to the Multiverse, and is therefore also called the cure for the World's Pain, for it unlocks ultimate freedom. The Von Bek family is bound to the Grail and they are its keepers and its seekers."
All of this is a part of the Warhound & the World's Pain
We've had agents of both Law & Chaos work with Von Bek's in the past & now the fact is that Chaos has been stirring in the wastelands again. If your not familiar with the wastelands of Arthurian legend here's the wiki entry on it; "The Wasteland is a Celtic motif that ties the barrenness of a land with a curse that must be lifted by a hero. It occurs in Irish mythology and French Grail romances, and hints of it may be found in the Welsh Mabinogion.
An example from Irish literature occurs in the Echtrae Airt meic Cuinn (Echtra, or adventure in the Otherworld, of Art mac Cuinn). Recorded in the 14th century but likely taken from an older oral tradition, Echtrae Airt meic Cuinn is nominally about Art, though the adventures of his father Conn of the Hundred Battles take up the first part of the narrative. Conn is High King of Ireland, but his land turns to waste when he marries the wicked Bé Chuma, an unacceptable action for the king. He searches for a way to restore his country by sailing towards the mystical western lands, and eventually washes up on an island inhabited by the niece of the sea god Manannan and her husband. He attends an otherworldly banquet, and when he returns his wife is banished, presumably lifting the curse.
In the Arthurian Grail material, the Wasteland's condition is usually tied to the impotence of its leader. Often the infirmity is preceded by some form of the Dolorous Stroke, in which the king is injured tragically for his sins but kept alive by the Grail. In Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, the Fisher King has been wounded in a misfortune that is not revealed in the incomplete text, and his land suffers with him. He can be healed only if the hero Perceval asks the appropriate question about whom the Grail serves, but warned against talking too much, Perceval remains silent. In the First Continuation of Chrétien's work, the anonymous author recounts how Gawain partially heals the land, but is not destined to complete the restoration. Over the course of time romances place less emphasis on the Wasteland and more on the king's wound. In the Lancelot-Grail Cycle the link between the devastated land and the wounded king is not absolute, and in the Post-Vulgate Cycle much more emphasis is placed on King Pellehan's injury by Sir Balin than on the devastation this causes to his kingdom."
The Grail itself is quite safe but the other items associated with it have been missing for a long time. The Shroud of Turin, the spear of Longinus, & the swords of the Fisher Kings. The swords are powerful artifacts of Law lost in the land of legend?! They've floated in & out of our campaigns for years beyond the reach of the player's PC's. Several of our high level ACK's PC's over the years have retired to Fairyland to rule over kingdoms of dreams. But now there's been rumbles among the players that they should be questing for the Fisher King's Swords. Such powerful items along with the Grail regalia should not fall into the hands of one of the lords of Chaos.
And this brings things back to the Wasteland of Arthurian legend being equivalent to the wilderness of original Dungeons & Dragons. Within original Dungeons & Dragons Volume Three Underworld & Wilderness Adventures page 14 -15; "THE WILDERNESS:
The so-called Wilderness really consists of unexplored land, cities and castles, not
to mention the area immediately surrounding the castle (ruined or otherwise)
which housed the dungeons. The referee must do several things in order to conduct wilderness adventure games. First, he must have a ground level map of his
dungeons, a map of the terrain immediately surrounding this, and finally a map
of the town or village closest to the dungeons (where adventruers will be most
likely to base themselves).
"Blackmoor" is a village of small size (a one-horse town), while "Grayhawk" is a
large city. Both have maps with streets and buildings indicated, and players can
have town adventures roaming around the bazaars, inns, taverns, shops, temples,
and so on. Venture into the Thieves' Quarter only at your own risk!
The terrain beyond the immediate surroundings of the dungeon area should be unknown to all but the referee. Off-hand adventures in the wilderness are made on
the OUTDOOR SURVIVAL playing board (explained below). Exploratory journies, such as expeditions to find land suitable for a castle or in search of some
legendary treasure are handled in an entirely different manner."
And this unexplored wilderness becomes a part of the multiverse as PC's trip along the moonbeam roads.