Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Matters of Alignment & Violence - Sword & Sorcery Campaign Using The Castles & Crusades Mythos Series Thoughts on Karl Edward Wagner's 1973's Death Angel's Shadow &

 Tonight is one of those nights I seek the soltice of books and especially the moldering Sword & Sorcery paperbacks of the 70's. And in this case it's a bit of a resolution into a dive into  American author Karl Edward Wagner's 1973's Death Angel's Shadow. This anthology features a favorite story about Kane and the Dark Fantasy anti hero wracks up so much violence and horror that a knight mounts a crusade against Kane. 
What if this same storyline was applied to a group of adventurers who are being run by players. Imagine a group of adventurers so infamous that a paladin leads an army to hunt them down. 

And this anthology's story brings home an idea that been brewing in the back of my mind for some months. 
And that is the idea of a hunt for a group of anti heroes goes very wrong indeed. 'Cold Light' has it's grotusque and subdued moments. And Wagner really leans into those. 
It puts me in the mind of the epic peom Beowulf & Codex Nordica of Castles & Crusades fame. Why?! Because of the fact that plot of Beowulf hints at the darkness & underbelly of Europe's mythic and dangerous past days; "
The story is set in pagan Scandinavia in the 6th century. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by the monster Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall and is then defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland and becomes king of the Geats. Fifty years later, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is mortally wounded in the battle. After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a tower on a headland in his memory." 
Wagner draws on elements of his own mythic creations and in many ways Beowulf and Kane are cut from the same cloth. Both are chosen of indifferent gods. And subject to thier whims. Kane is an excellent example of the Lawful Evil alignment within an antihero. His reasons are his own. And his reasons give meaning to his life or his existence for the sake of themselves. 
And this unto itself reminds me of Castles & Crusades Codex Nordica where the PC's are trying to carve out thier own little piece of a crumbling mythic world. Actions that might not be as they seem to others. 

Yet the more I look deeper into the effects that PC's could have upon a campaign it's not out of the realms of possibility that thier actions looked at through the lens of others might be seen as truly evil. And the lens of alignment within Castles & Crusades allows for morally flexible adventures to be experienced. And this especially true within a Sword & Sorcery campaign. Couple this with the back beat of Castles & Crusades Codex Germania and things become very dangerous indeed. When you as adventurers are playing fast  & loose with conquest, carving out a kingdom, and making your name for gold & plunder. You will find yourselves within the machinations of the gods. Alignment plays it part regardless of your wants or needs.  Yes, you might be the heroes to some but your might be the monsters to others. 
And even 
Beowulf, questions his place within the spheres of history and myth. Where the man ends the king begins. 

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