Thursday, December 29, 2022

OSR Commentary On The Clerics of In the Book of Vergama (1934) By Clark Ashton Smith For Your OSR & Old School Campaigns

 When Sword & Sorcery gets mentioned it's often not Clark Ashton Smith's name that comes up. And at the local meeting of our OSR group the players & DM's have been after me for some months to run another Sword & Sorcery mini campaign. However, today I ran across In the Book of Vergama (1934) By Clark Ashton Smith a part of his Zothique cycle; "These paragraphs precede the beginning of the published version of "The Last Hieroglyph"; April 7, 1934}

'It was said of Vergama, in the lattermost ages, that he had existed immortally ever since the lifting of Zothique from the foundered ruins of continents that history had forgotten. Always, throughout the wide realms and empires of the continent, there had been rumors of Vergama, and various beliefs about his identity, his essence, his birth-place and dwelling-place. The sages disputed learnedly whether he was demon, god, sorcerer, phantom, or a being from worlds whose inhabitants were not akin to any of these. Likewise they debated whether he dwelt in mummy-peopled Cincor, or amid the stark fearful mountains of northern Xylac, or in Naat, isle of evil gramaries lying shrouded with the mist and foam of the sunset ocean, or in some other kingdom or sea-lost island.'

'No idols were wrought in the image of Vergama, no altars were dedicated to him: yet sometimes he was addressed in prayer by savage peoples, or was called upon with-dark runic formulae by the more venturous wizards. Some claimed that the prayers and the incantations were answered; but this, like all else that concerned Vergama, was a matter of much doubt. Curious and almost omnipotent powers were ascribed to him, and attributes of tremendous bale and benignity; but there was no virtual proof of their manifestation at any time. In a land of murky enchantments, of multiform mysteries, Vergama resided unknown, occult, and apart. It was believed that vast multitudes of people had entered his secret house through the centuries and millenniums; but none had returned there from to declare the actual nature of Vergama and the situation of his abode. Certain prophets, appearing in the ultimate years, avowed that he was coeval with life and death, and was the first and the last of the uncreated gods.'

'Even till the ending of time, weird legends gathered about Vergama; and there were divers tales of the destinies of them that passed into his shadowy mansion; and much was fabled concerning a volume called the Book of Hieroglyphics, which belonged to this inscrutable entity. Among such tales and fablings, there is the story of what happened to Nushain, the astrologer.'

What makes  'In the Book of Vergama (1934)' on the Eldritch Darkness unique is Clark Ashton Smith's take on divinity on Zothique. In Ward & Kuntz's Deities & Demigods gods are formed from the foundations of man's belief & divinity. A co dependant relationship but within Vergama's sphere is the idea that the divinity is a dream of reality.; ' Vergama resided unknown, occult, and apart. It was believed that vast multitudes of people had entered his secret house through the centuries and millenniums'.

This makes CAS's Vergama's existence  unique & his clerics could be found within ANY campaign setting. And this is perfect for a neutrally inclined players who want a cleric that has all the benefits & none of the issues. Vergama's clerics have many of the advantages AD&D & B/X  Dungeons & Dragons systems.

Vergama's sphere reaches across the multiverse as a very unobtrusasive minor god of Knowledge, Law, Neutrality, & the Occult. As long as his clerics show devotion & utterance to him. He leaves them alone impart knowledge through dreams & visions. Once in a lifetime his clerics must make a pilgrimage to Zothique. 
Are then 
the uncreated gods that which follows in the death of the gods of Law?! More on this coming up. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.