Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Beyond The Levels - B4 The Lost City by Tom Moldvay & Stars Without Number Revised

 Growing up in no where city that I did we were lucky to find both Science Fiction & Fantasy paperbacks. This isn't a joke & long before the days of book stores on every corner of the Nineties. And so we had to adapt to the Science Fiction & Fantasy that came from tag sales & Antiqurian book dealers in our area. We literally had a pool book club of nerds who would read Science Fiction & Fantasy every month together. This was one of the sneaky ways that my uncle got us to read Science Fiction  arthurs like Arthur C. Clarke & Isaac Asimov. I myself was prone to far more of Science Fiction's red headed sibling Sword & Sorcery. So in the Summer of '81 when Arthur C. Clarke's 'The City & The Stars''Against The Fall of Night' came into our lives. 

My uncle had found a box of God knows how many paperback copies  of these two Arthur C. Clarke novels at a tag sale. And we kids read them cover to cover?! Why because my uncle took parts of these two novels and combined them with B4 The Lost City By Tom Moldvay. Bearing in mind that this long before other products were on the market combining Science Fiction & Fantasy. 
Our party was transported to Tom Moldvay's Lost City but there's far more boiling below the surface. The trick here is to get passed the cult,  Zargon,  & into the lower levels to activate the computer's A.I. & then the city's immortals. This makes total sense if you've A. read the book and B. then dealt with Zargon in the lowest levels of B4 especially with the Wiki entry on 'The City & The Stars'; "The City and the Stars takes place (at least) two and a half billion years from the present —ten rotations of the Galaxy since the apparition of the human species in the novel—(one rotation of the Solar System around the galactic center (galactic year) is equivalent to 220 - 250 million years), in the city of Diaspar. By this time, the Earth is so old that the oceans have gone and humanity has all but left. As far as the people of Diaspar know, theirs is the only city left on the planet. The city of Diaspar is completely enclosed. Nobody has come in or left the city for as long as anybody can remember, and everybody in Diaspar has an instinctive insular conservatism. The story behind this fear of venturing outside the city tells of a race of ruthless invaders which beat humanity back from the stars to Earth, and then made a deal that humanity could live—if they never left the planet.

In Diaspar, the entire city is run by the Central Computer. Not only is the city repaired by machines, but the people themselves are created by the machines as well. The computer creates bodies for the people of Diaspar to live in and stores their minds in its memory at the end of their lives. At any time, only a small number of these people are actually living in Diaspar; the rest are retained in the computer's memory banks.

All the currently existent people of Diaspar have had past "lives" within Diaspar except one person—Alvin, the main character of this story. He is one of only a very small number of "Uniques", different from everybody else in Diaspar, not only because he does not have any past lives to remember, but because instead of fearing the outside, he feels compelled to leave. Alvin has just come to the age where he is considered grown up, and is putting all his energies into trying to find a way out. Eventually, a character called Khedron the Jester helps Alvin use the central computer to find a way out of the city of Diaspar. This involves the discovery that in the remote past, Diaspar was linked to other cities by an underground transport system. This system still exists although its terminal was covered over and sealed with only a secret entrance left." 
Each of the player's PC's in our B/X Dungeons & Dragons Advanced Dungeons & Dragons hybrid game were 'Uniques' regardless of PC class. We solved all of the Myst style puzzles, dealt with weird technology, and more. 

So what does any of this mean for an OSR game such as Stars Without Number Revised ?! The campaign ideas that my uncle laid down are still valid. This is easily true of the Dead Names supplement which could be used to lay the adventure foundation for a pre Scream or Fall of Mankind mega city as campaign location. 

If we marry some of the ideas between Dead Names & Skirmisher Publishing's Quantum Flux then we've got the start some killer Science Fantasy levels for B4. Remember many of the levels of B4 are blank & can easily be customized for the type of campaign both the players & the DM is looking to do! 

Quantum Flux:Unique Superscience Artifacts, pairs really well with Angry Golem's Stars Without Numbers Equipment Database for creating some really nasty & well thought out artifacts for such a campaign. 

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