Thursday, August 4, 2022

Zothique, X2 Castle Amber, And Clark Ashton Smith's Necromancy From Naat By Way of OSRIC

 Today's blog post is going to pick up right from this blog post here.  When it comes to Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique exotic & completely alien are the two words that come to mind. This is borne out within the CAS story ' Necromancy In Naat'. Clark Ashton Smith cranks up the 'ick' factor by '11' and then goes in for the kill with his ending. Death, the grave, and even then the ending isn't the original one. According to the Deep Ones KentonSem;"A few details from the notes by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger in the NSB edition of The Last Hieroglyph:

"Necromancy in Naat" was completed on February 6, 1935. It appeared in the July 1936 issue of Weird Tales, where it was accompanied by another Virgil Finlay illustration, where it tied with Robert E. Howard's "Red Nails" as the most popular story in the issue. Smith was paid seventy-three dollars for the story.

Smith wrote to August Derleth that "'Necromancy in Naat' seems the best of my more recently published weirds; though Wright forced me to mutilate the ending."

Apparently Farnsworth Wright had an issue with the last paragraph and the "shadowy love" that is hinted at (although it's not exactly necrophilia if it's between two consenting dead folk, now is it? Let's just call it necromantic). The original version was eventually restored for the NSB volume and presumably the online version listed above." 

Rodney Matthews, Obsidian Castle used without permission. 

And so what does this prevading use & abuse of the undead in 'Necromancy of Naat' have anything to do with OSRIC or the D20 version Zothique? Quite simply the dead don't rest quiet on Zothique and I believe that THAMOGORGOS the lord  of The Abyss is partially  responsible for this state of affairs. Many of the events of 'Necromancy in Naat' remind me of the restless and dangerous undead of X2  Castle Amber by Tom Moldvay. How?! In both the story & the module the dead play dangerous parts with the living. And it's possible when weird old gods are at play the rules for reality slide out the window. 

Starcrossed lovers who are actually dead & then become the play things of the necromancers amid the dying Earth's lost wasteland seas?! The classic X2 has many of the trappings of the' Necromancy of Naat' without the implied undead umm ick . X2 is one part dungeon, one part wilderness, & partially a module with deep roots in Glantri. Zothique itself while not a magick heavy setting none the less is on par with many Sword & Sorcery settings. 
And this is where the connection comes in with Elric's Pan Tang wizards, soldiers, mercenaries, etc. comes into play. We know for a fact according to the Stormbringer books by Michael Moorcock that the Young Kingdom's Pan Tang were sending out expediationary forces, envoys, etc. to expand the scope of the horrid kingdom's reach. 

Pan Tang miniature forces by Games Workshop 

If we look at the idea that we've got Pan Tangian envoys & forces moving beyond the planes of the Young Kingdom through foul magics then.  Then the foul forces of Pan Tang  can show up any place and this includes Zothique! The party may come up against forces they may have to flee from. 
If the PC's go into the land of Ghouls in X2 Castle Amber then the party may eventually find themselves within the lands of Mordiggan on Zothique!  After naviagting & neogatating with the ghoul tribes  or their foul Lovecraftian god events may trip in the party's  favor if the ghost of Stephen Amber parleys with the ghouls on the players behalf. Stephen  De Ambers was a mage of iincredible skill and it's no surprise that other mages may be angling to take over his domain. 
Many of my contempary DM's have eluded to the fact that Castle Amber may be a domain of Ravenloft. And perhaps Zothique could be one as well?! 

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