Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Doom That Came To Sarnath By H.P. Lovecraft & Rememberances of The Stormbringer rpg Campaign

here is in the land of Mnar a vast still lake that is fed by no stream, and out of which no stream flows. Ten thousand years ago there stood by its shore the mighty city of Sarnath, but Sarnath stands there no more.

It is told that in the immemorial years when the world was young, before ever the men of Sarnath came to the land of Mnar, another city stood beside the lake; the gray stone city of Ib, which was old as the lake itself, and peopled with beings not pleasing to behold. Very odd and ugly were these beings, as indeed are most beings of a world yet inchoate and rudely fashioned. It is written on the brick cylinders of Kadatheron that the beings of Ib were in hue as green as the lake and the mists that rise above it; that they had bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curious ears, and were without voice. It is also written that they descended one night from the moon in a mist; they and the vast still lake and gray stone city Ib. However this may be, it is certain that they worshipped a sea-green stone idol chiseled in the likeness of Bokrug, the great water-lizard; before which they danced horribly when the moon was gibbous. And it is written in the papyrus of Ilarnek, that they one day discovered fire, and thereafter kindled flames on many ceremonial occasions. But not much is written of these beings, because they lived in very ancient times, and man is young, and knows but little of the very ancient living things.

After many eons men came to the land of Mnar, dark shepherd folk with their fleecy flocks, who built Thraa, Ilarnek, and Kadatheron on the winding river Ai. And certain tribes, more hardy than the rest, pushed on to the border of the lake and built Sarnath at a spot where precious metals were found in the earth." 

The Doom That Came to Sarnath
H. P. Lovecraft 
Written on December 3, 1919. Published June 1920 in The Scot

The Doom That Came to Sarnath by H. P. Lovecraft was published in June of 1920 & it ranks up there within H.P.L's Dreamlands cycle. Why is it important for my old school & OSR leanings?! Because of the fact that we used a ton of  The Doom That Came To Sarnath  for our Sword & Sorcery Stormbringer rpg campaign. 

The Land of Mnar was pretty much a blank canvas for our group. According to the HP Lovecraft wiki entry; " Mnar is the land where the doomed city of Sarnath was located.The river Ai runs through the territory. Successive waves of inhabitants have come and gone over its long history.

"Originally inhabited by the amphibious Thuum'ha who constructed the city of Ib, these creatures were displaced and then rendered extinct in a deliberate genocide by a race of humans who followed the river Ai into the region. These humans built Sarnath on top of the location of Ib." A close reading of the Doom That Came to Sarnath doesn't actually put the land of Mnar into HPL's Dreamlands. And so we treated the lands before the doom that came to Sarnath as Earth's prehistory before the lands of Mnar slipped into the Dreamlands. 

For our Scale Ship the lands of Mnar offered two very distinct things a place where we could do some hunting of prehistoric & minor Lovecraftian entities. And where we could get a line on other Chaos powers & artifacts as well as Lovecraftian knowledge. Now remember we were using a combination of Runequest Third Edition & the Stormbringer rpg. The real kick in the pants for using these with the lands of Mnar were Sandy Petersen's RuneQuest Gateway Bestiary. Which while not as extensive as his later work on Call of Cthulhu is none the less pretty solid. While the RuneQuest Gateway Bestiary doesn't have stats on the ghosts & peoples of Ib it does have stats for Deep Ones. 

We'd use guides from Sarnath to lead our party deep into the wilderness of Mnar for delves into huge sprawling prehistoric ruins that belonged to lost & forgotten tribes and then sell the treasures onto Haven and Sanctuary. Only once or twice did we encounter cultists of  Bokrug, the great water-lizard. And we made offerings to the Great Old One. 
And I believe that the ghosts of Ib later on spared our party when things got very nasty in Sarnath. We left Sarnath went back to a much more primitive land of Mnar later on. All of the old NPC's were dust and lands were quiet sheep country.. The doom didn't just over take Sarnath. 
 Bokrug, the great water-lizard's wrath over took Mnar as well. And the lands faded into the unreality of the Dreamlands.. 

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