Friday, January 6, 2023

Original Castles & Crusades Revolution - Decay & Horror In The Tomb - - Clark Aston Smith's The Tomb Spawn

 "Evening had come from the desert into Faraad, bringing the last stragglers of caravans. In a wine-shop near the northern gate, many traveling merchants from outer lands, parched and weary, were re-freshing themselves with the famed vintages of Yoros. To divert them from their fatigue, a story-teller spoke amid the clinking of the wine-cups:

"Great was Ossaru, being both king and wizard. He ruled over half the continent of Zothique. His armies were like the rolling sands, blown by the simoom. He commanded the genii of storm and of dark-ness, he called down the spirits of the sun. Men knew his wizardry as the green cedars know the blasting of levin."

"Half immortal, he lived from age to age, waxing in his wisdom and power till the end. Thasaidon, black god of evil, prospered his every spell and enterprise. And during his latter years he was companioned by the monster Nioth Korghai, who came down to Earth from an alien world, riding a fire-maned comet."

Clark Aston Smith The Tomb Spawn 

Rodney Mathews artwork used without permission 

Let's pick it right up from the last blog post on Zothique here. 

Clark Ashton Smith's Tomb Spawn is one of those Pulp tales that helps not only to develop the world of Zothique. But to take it to the next level as for setting the entire campaign world unto itself. And for Castles & Crusades 'The Tomb Spawn' spins out a tail of alien horror & decay. The monster of the tale can be seen as the black wizard or the alien monster or both who are more then the sum of thier parts;""For many years King Ossaru was served by Nioth Korghai, and gave service to the monster in return. Then Nioth Korghai sickened with a strange malady, and men heard no more the cackling in the sunken vault; and the noises of drums and fountain-mouths grew fainter, and ceased. The spells of the wizard king were powerless to avert his death; but when the monster had died, Ossaru surrounded his body with a double zone of enchantment, circle by circle, and closed the vault. And later, when Ossaru died, the vault was opened from above, and the king's mummy was lowered therein by his slaves, to repose forever beside that which remained of Nioth Korghai." 

For Castles & Crusades Clark Ashton Smith's Tomb Spawn offers something unique. Because it allows the circumstances of the alien monster & the wizard that it serves to serve as an example of a unique cosmic encounter via the alien horror Nioth Korghai. And it also serves a very unique function in which we the audience see a example of dungeon delving on the part of the jewel merchants. Another factor is also the fact that PC's should be visitors upon the wasteland shores of Zothique. Other alien monsters or demons should be unique when PC's encounter them. And unique alien monsters or demons can easily be done with The Tome of the Unclean for Castles & Crusades. A demon or devil is chosen for the demon haunted wastes of Zothique. Several Chaos mutations or special abilities are used for the horror. And place it within a tomb or other wasteland ediface & your party of doomed fools will try to loot it. Why because of the fact that Ossaru was not the only black & foul souled petty wizard who thought he was the scourage of Zothique. 

And as the D20 Zothique supplement proves there's plenty of adventure to be had upon the sands & demon haunted shores of Zothique. The tomb of  Ossaru was guarded by the undead horrors the  Ghorri. It is not unreasonable to assume the fact that there are thousands of such ruins & tombs scattered across the sands also guarded by Ghorri or demons. That being said there is every reason to assume that there are literally hundreds of abandoned cities or mega dungeons on Zothique. And adventurers to these shores could very well find themselves with loot or cursed depending upon how avarious the party of adventurers are. And were there other minor nobles in the court of the wizard King Ossaru ?! Are these nobles & royals also buried & thier own tomb doors guarded by the undead scavengers of the Ghorri packs?! Perhaps as liches or vampires which CAS uses frequently, according to the D20 Zothique booklet ;" Clark Ashton Smith uses “lamia”, “lich” and “vampire” to generally describe a variety of wicked creatures, some of which may have more specific titles in traditional fantasy roleplaying. “Lamia” is used to describe a female semi-demon or vampire-like undead that haunts abandoned areas. The semi-demonic lamia will have beastial hands and/or feet which she is incapable of fully disguising. The vampiric lamia will be wan and furtive, but usually charismatic and beautiful." And it is these vampire lamia that I believe are the true masters of parts of the desert wastes of Zothique. And these undead masters are the horrors that C&C party are going to have to parley with or deal with passage through thier sections of the wastelands of Zothique.  Clark Ashton Smith's Tomb Spawn makes it clear that the death of a wizard doesn't mean that wielder of black magick is gone. He or she has merely passed unto another state of being. And these creatures are the rule not the exception to being dungeon dwellers. Zothique is a world of adventure but it's a world of adventures beyond the grave itself in some cases. 

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