Got together with friends today & we started talking about 'Sword & Sorcery' literature especially Jack Vance's Dying Earth & Robert E. Howard's original Conan stories. This in turn lead to a conversation about using ruins as gateway points to adventure. This in turn lead to a classic issue of 'The Dragon'.
Tonight was one of those night that going through the archives led me back to Dragon (Issue 54 - Oct 1981). This issue has one of my articles, 'Ruins: Rotted & risky - but rewarding' by Arn Ashliegh Parker. This article has some execellent commentary on using ruins in remote wilderness locations. And this article brings up one of the classics from Sword & Sorcery literature, the abandoned ancient city.
'Ruins: Rotted & risky - but rewarding' goes deep into advice for designing, maintaining, stocking, and dealing with ruins. Ruins are the outdoor equivelant of the underworld dungeon location. The article fully goes on with the wreckage of buildings, the ruins of shops, and much more with the eye being on the stocking of the ruins, the traps, and maintaining the ruined locations.
And this has me thinking about the idea of the ruined city as both draw & bane of a party of adventurers.
But how does this apply to our modern OSR adventure parties?! Ancient ruined cities are perfect locations to become the center of attention of a campaign. And with games such as Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg they can be much more! The ruined city itself could be the point of chaos for a campaign. A place where the humanoid races have become the dominant force for a region while inhabiting the ancient works of the ancients. And there's so much potential within the walls of a ruined city. From ancient artifacts secreted in mini dungeons within the city to full on dealing with the factions of war that appear camped within such ruins.
'Ruins: Rotted & risky - but rewarding' also has it's uses in both Lion & Dragon Rpg as well as Sword & Caravan. The ancient routes lead to the ruins of ancient pre Biblical ruined cities that exist in both the physical world & the supernatural one. These ruined cities are far more dangerous then they appear. The Silk Road is literally covered in legends & mythological stories of ruined cities straight out of nightmare.
For Castles & Crusades, 'Ruins: Rotted & risky - but rewarding' offers a good set of guidelines perfect for adding in a ruined cityscape or other ancient set of ruins that could be a deadly trap. The ancient ruined city scape is something straight out of Jack Vance's dying Earth series. And city ruins offer an exciting alternative to the usual dungeons & underworld adventure points.
The monsters cataloged in 'Ruins: Rotted & risky - but rewarding' are all available in the C&C's Monsters & Treasure books. And many of the players of C&C have little experience with early issues of 'The Dragon' giving the DM a bit of an advantage.