Saturday, May 20, 2023

Under The Theocrat - Experiences With The Pan Tangians from Original Dungeons & Dragons To The Stormbringer rpg First Edition

 Last night one of the things that I did was to grab my copy of Kuntz & Ward's original Dungeons & Dragons Gods, Demigods, and Heroes. Why?! Beacause for me OD&D is like coming home in a way. According to Brett Christensen's comments on original Dungeons & Dragons on Rpg Geek site from 2012; "Glorious, beautiful, unpolished gem, made complete and amazing by simply adding a creative dungeon master to polish the edges."

"Even poor organization, bad art and inconsistent terminology couldn't hold it back. It's still magic putty in a referee's hands. In many ways it is a vastly superior rpg to all its descendants. It is light enough on rules that you can bolt on anything you want without breaking it and truly make it your own. That being said, there is a lot you DO have to fill in on your own."

"I waver back and forth between what I think is actually better between OD&D (core books) and B/X. They are both great with minimal fluff. Moldvay added a lot of clarity and organization and Mentzer added the 'even a 12 year old can learn this on his own' factor. As great as the three LBB's are, they require a good bit of ruling, deciphering and molding (fun for me, maybe not so much for someone coming to it fresh)." And these I think also apply to Gods, Demi Gods, & Heroes to a certain extent as well. 
When it comes to the Elric Mythos in Kuntz & Ward's original Dungeons & Dragons Gods, Demigods, and Heroes this was where many of us first got exposed to Elric & Moorcock as young kids. And yes there's going to be plenty of the Grognards out there who were exposed to Moorcock during the Sixties. For us back in the early 70's it was getting a TPKed by a group of Pan Tang Warriors that sealed it. Within OD&D's Elric Mythos section this version of the Warriors of Pan Tang appeared; "PAN TANG WARRIORS Move etc. as men An army of fighters all able to fight with the ability of a 10th level fighter. These humans never check moral and ride a 6 legged reptile which stands 15 feet tall and moves 20" per turn. FIGHTING TIGERS OF TANG Armor Class — 4 Fighter Ability: As Tigers Move: 19" Psionic Ability: Class 6 Hit Points These are 10 feet tall tigers able to bite for 4 (8-sided) dice of damage" 
Now this version of the Pan Tangian army has appeared numerous times as is in various old school &  OSR game encounters. And the Chaotic weirdness of the Pan Tangians carried over into the Stormbringer first through fifth edition games that we've run over the years. Even to the point that back in the 90's I fielded a Pan Tangian Chaos army for Old Hammer at one point (don't ask what happened to the army as it became slag in an appartment firee during the Nineties). This form of the Pan Tangian infantry filtered into Stormbringer first through fifth edition. Even making its way into the Sorcerers of Pan Tang sourcebook. 

Overseers on Devil Lizards patrol the Field of Pan Tang (Alain Gassner, Sorcerers of Pan Tang, a Stormbringer adventure, Chaosium, 1991)

 In Nineteen Ninety One, we got a fantastic sourcebook for the  Stormbringer first edition rpg with Sorcerers of Pan Tang. Sorcerers really up sold the Pan Tangian villain aspect. And as a player one could run into these dengerates almost anywhere in the planes. We were one of those groups of players whose PC s got sent to Pan Tang from Sorcerers of Pan Tang. And these adventures are grim dark for sure. I believe our PC's  escaped the island nation eventually. But it was another one of those Scourge of the Slave Lords (A1–4) situations. And in point of fact the DM had converted the Scourage series over into Stormbringer first edition. We made it out of Pan Tang but several of our party had A. Chaos mutations or B. Had some form of insanity. 

Sorcerers of Pan Tang are not someone with which to tangle (adventure for the Stormbringer RPG, Alain Gassner cover, Chaosium, 1991)

The truth is that the Pan Tangians were not to be messed with. Later on we would incorporate several of the degenerates into our mist as mercenary characters. Our party's normal operating proceedure during those years was to bail anytime we a heard Elric or Moonglum was in the area or that the Theocrat's forces were around. 

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