Thursday, July 28, 2022

Michael Moorcock's Melnibonéans And Clark Aston Smith's Zothique By Way of OSRIC

 OSRIC came out in 2006, and it's use at the table top is a God's sent allowing the DM to create their own table top adventures & supplements. And OSRIC  also allows the DM to transcend the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Guide, Dungeon Master's Guide, & Monster Manual all in one at the table top level. All of these references are there at the DM & player's finger tips. 

Michael Moorcock – The Stealer of Souls (1963) artwork by Rodney Mathews used without permission 

This thread picks up right from this blog post from the other day here. So let's talk about the  Melniboneans whose alien & very primal ways get a solid from the Knights & Knaves forums here.  And it was Geoffrey's canon that has me thinking over about the classic Michael Moorcock stories:  "My "Elric canon" is pretty short; 

"The Dreaming City" (Science Fantasy #47, June 1961)
"While the Gods Laugh" (Science Fantasy #49, October 1961)
"The Stealer of Souls" (Science Fantasy #51, February 1962)
"Kings in Darkness" (Science Fantasy #54, August 1962)
"The Flame Bringers" [later retitled "The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams"] (Science Fantasy #55, October 1962)" 

And its really Grodog here that I agree with; " grodog » 
I tend to think of Melnibonéans as earlier "generation" of AD&D elves---they're more atavistic/primal, closer to Faerie (in this case the Unseelie Court, of course!), and more tainted with Chaos in comparison to modern-day AD&D elves. Modern elves would likely be seen as some debased Morlock-like freak, if they were acknowledged as relations at all.

YMMV, of course ;)" Of course this brings in the fact that the 
 Melnibonéan tribes may be far more common then at first it appears. There could be other  Melnibonéan sorcerers scattered along the planes that never got the message about their ancient homeland ending. 
And the odd 
Melnibonéan sorcerer will be right at home within Clark Aston Smith's Zothique. These thoughts go back to Guy Fullerton's threads on the Knights & Knaves forum. Fullerton's been playing with this idea for a long time as he's got a Moorcockian Sorcerer class here.  As was said this isn't anything new & goes back to 2015. And it's perfect for Clark Aston Smith's Zothique and Smith himself describes Zothique in a great letter breakdown according to the Zothique wiki entry; "
Clark Ashton Smith himself described the Zothique cycle in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp, dated November 3, 1953:

Zothique, vaguely suggested by Theosophic theories about past and future continents, is the last inhabited continent of earth. The continents of our present cycle have sunken, perhaps several times. Some have remained submerged; others have re-risen, partially, and re-arranged themselves. Zothique, as I conceive it, comprises Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, parts of northern and eastern Africa, and much of the Indonesian archipelago. A new Australia exists somewhere to the south. To the west, there are only a few known islands, such as Naat, in which the black cannibals survive. To the north, are immense unexplored deserts; to the east, an immense unvoyaged sea. The peoples are mainly of Aryan or Semitic descent; but there is a negro kingdom (Ilcar) in the north-west; and scattered blacks are found throughout the other countries, mainly in palace-harems. In the southern islands survive vestiges of Indonesian or Malayan races. The science and machinery of our present civilization have long been forgotten, together with our present religions. But many gods are worshipped; and sorcery and demonism prevail again as in ancient days. Oars and sails alone are used by mariners. There are no fire-arms—only the bows, arrows, swords, javelins, etc. of antiquity. The chief language spoken (of which I have provided examples in an unpublished drama) is based on Indo-European roots and is highly inflected, like Sanskrit, Greek and Latin." 

So using OSRIC to recreate a Zothique style campaign setting isn't only possible but it might be easy to drop in a whole tribe of Melnibonéans and no one is going to be the wiser. 

More artwork by Rodney Mathews used without permission that captures in my mind the weirdness of Zothique.

OSRIC is perfect for a Zothique one shot because of it's flexibility & it's easy of rules for players to grasp. it makes sense then that these rules could be twisted to Smith's world & yes I know about the Free D20 Zothique pdf here.  And we'll be diving into how this applies next time! 

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