Tuesday, May 23, 2017

1D20 Random Vicious Gargoyle Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

The souls of the worshipers that make bargains with the powers of Chaos become trapped within the Outer Darkness. These souls attract a myriad of particles of stone, dirt, dust, and worse in the darkness between worlds this becomes a pseudo living body for the monster. Minds, former lives, personality including individuality are finally scrubbed clean by the ever changing forces of chaos & mutation. These beings become trapped within living stone like flesh that becomes a prison of living Hell for centuries. Black wizards, sorcerers, etc. of the lowest orders  call them into the world of the living.They serve the will of their masters longing to rip into the flesh of trespassers, & adventurers. There are thousands of these beings floating around the orbit of Saturn & Jupiter awaiting the beckoned call of the Great Old Ones & many gods of evil intent.

"One was a snarling, murderous, cat-headed monster, with retracted lips revealing formidable fangs, and eyes that glared intolerable hatred from beneath ferine brows. This creature had the claws and wings of a griffin, and seemed as if it were poised in readiness to swoop down on the city of Vyones, like a harpy on its prey."
Clark Ashton Smith, The Maker Of Gargoyles

 These monsters are summoned by a simple 'Monster summoning' rite but the caster must have an absolute command of these raving beasts for they are of the lowest intelligence. But they have an incredible cunning that only top apex predators have.

They must be commanded to guard a particular area or territory for they are violent and fickle creatures at best. At worst they are raving psychotic monsters of most terrible aspect. They eat what they can catch and haunt ruins, dungeons, and other places of black occult activity.
Many black magick cults promise immortality in exchange for the souls of their members, which they grant after a twisted fashion. These souls are given over to demonic horrors that weave bodies of stone like flesh and dust around the newly created monsters. These monsters vent their violent & angry tempers on the world of living with a vengeance.

"Then, as he still gazed irresolutely at the group before him, and its vague reflection in the glass beyond, there came a thunderous crash, and the panes of the window with their pictured scene were shattered inward in a score of fragments. Ere the litter of falling glass had reached the tavern floor, a swart and monstrous form flew into the room, with a beating of heavy vans that caused the tapers to flare troublously, and the shadows to dance like a sabbat of misshapen devils. The thing hovered for a moment, and seemed to tower in a great darkness higher than the ceiling above the heads of Reynard and the others as they turned toward it. They saw the malignant burning of its eyes, like coals in the depth of Tartarean pits, and the curling of its hateful lips on the bared teeth that were longer and sharper than serpent-fangs."
Clark Ashton Smith The Maker of Gargoyles

All entries inspired by Clark Ashton Smith's The Maker of Gargoyle story.

From the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Characters Coloring Book (1983)
     These monsters gain a +1 to their damage in melee due to the violence that warps & colours their perceptions. They hate & fear priests and clerics of religions of order which they will attack on sight being reminded of their inhumanity & depravity.
 1D20 Random Vicious Gargoyle Encounter Table 
  1. Garusai - A gargoyle that once served a black magician and picked up 1d4 black magic spells of first level. This monster delights in taking out warriors and fighters whenever it can. It has a small stash of magic items that it will use to bargain with for its freedom from its dark god master. It loves to carve its name into its victims after a kill. 
  2. Brarus Otrus - A former gladiator and black wizard who was done in by her husband but now has become a monster of the nether darkness, she takes her vengeance out on all living beings and has a yen for the lower intestines of her victims. She can read  Latin and Hyperborean, she loves to recite black poems as rips apart her victims. 
  3. Htrrus Thal - The former black wizard of a coven who became the sacrifice to his own dark god. This left the soul of the wizard a hollow and terrible thing that was scrubbed clean by the forces of darkness. Now it longs to hurt & maime any it comes across often keeping and eating its victims hearts. 
  4. Arusi No - The soul of a boy given the form and violence of a monster through the means of black magick. This vicious monster longs for its own innocence but takes its anger at its fate on any it comes across with vicious and dangerous claws. 
  5.  Trysu Frus - This former fat man and killer for a dangerous black cult is now the guardian and assassin for several black occult groups that rely on its talents to clean up their messes. This gargoyle has twelve minor treasure caches scattered across the country and its looking for a black wizard to break its condition and free its soul. Until then it vicious kills send chills up the spines of locals and its name is used to frighten children. 
  6. Brus Tri Rursu - A former prince of power who was given over to the talons of a black god. This gargoyle loves to torment and hunt the rich as well as stupid for pay of black cults. It hunts on the wing and leaves 'presents' of dead animals and pets for its victims. 
  7. Aruro The Wanderer was once an explorer from another world that pissed off a black wizard of the darkness who feasted on the fool's soul. Now it passes its time reciting poetry and hunting the enemies of the wizard that created it. 
  8. Orus Rex - The king predator is a former king's hunter that slept with the king's wife and maid servant. His privates & brains were given over to a cult of black wizards and this mighty hunter was the result. He loves to hunt lovers, cheating husbands and black witches. Orus has a forty percent magick resistance created by his dark masters who nightly blast him with the blackest curses. 
  9. Boicyal has become the avatar of the Dark Ones to a local cult of 1d6 Lovecraftian cultists lead by a dark wizard of 4th level. This gargoyle has come to relish its position of murderer and assassin to its master. A violent and yet silent soul, this being's eyes betray its thoughts of wanton chaos and depravity.
  10. Thrus The Myriad is a collection of souls knitted into its current hideous form that serves 1d6 black cabals of wizards. This thing loves gems and to collect the eyes of wizards so that it can stare into the black abyss of the final rewards after it makes a kill.  It has 1d6 souls stores in bottles along its hide out. 
  11. Bris Thal - A former princess who willingly walked into the darkness and embrace of her gods. She has served many masters and has collected hundreds of treasures in her time. She has become a power broker to several black cabals whom she pits against one another to match her price. She is a power broker and information seller flitting from world to world on her black wings. She retains the vicious and violent nature that she had in life. 
  12. Rue rie Rex - The king of the dungeon has become the head of a cult of gargoyles who raid other black cults for their treasures. He will work as a mercenary for any black cults who may meet his price. His gargoyles are highly cunning and have high chance of casing their own clients for a raid. 
  13. The Blood Soaked Warrior is a gargoyle who serves the blood handed cult and has for centuries. He has no proper name is actually an extension of his dark master's will but there are those in his clutch who whisper he was once a prince who was wronged. As the centuries dawn he might have become more self aware and then seek the dead world where his legendary legacy awaits.  
  14.  The black priestess Kell is a gargoyle in a long line of warriors who serve a small goddess who carries out an agenda of guarding dungeons and treasures. She has a string of clients 
  15.  Gru's Rell a former psycho killer who was punished by being made into a perfect instrument of vengeance of a black cabal of sorcerers. He now carries out the wishes of his black hearted masters will relish and longs for the time when their entrails will decorate his claws. He moves from world to world carrying out a streak of violence as a gesture to his black god. 
  16. Resu Thurs - Created on a Thursday in the month of the black goddess this gargoyle has obsession with  time and kills each Thursday so that he can add another cat's eye gem to his thousand and three collection marking his kills. He is convinced that his freedom will be granted when he collects one million kills. 
  17. 'A rrus The Black Mother' a former queen who was given the form of a black gargoyle warrior to wreck vengeance on her enemies. Her form was merged with her warrior husband's to make a better murderer. Her violence has claimed the lives of many and she guards the most precious of her cult's treasures. 
  18. True' Val The Cat Headed - A warrior gargoyle who was the head of a black cleric cat cult whose body was warped into its current form to guard the cult that he founded. He guards all of the holy of unholies of his former cult now. Able to cast 1d4 second level black magic spells this hunter is without peer and collects the ears of Elves which he hates with an incredible violence. 
  19. Rrus Rerllei A former cult of Cthulhu priestess who was given over to the vengeance of a cult of Hastur.  This priestess now guards her former rival's cult members but she has a mind of her own and has murdered twelve cult members over the centuries and secreted away two treasure boxes.  When her curse comes true her current employers will find themselves as sacrifices for her dark god. 
  20.  Areus The Undying is a former priest who turned himself into a gargoyle to save his black cult from twelve warriors of Law. His sacrifice proved his cult with their much needed sacrifices and he was granted immortality. He will regenerate wounds as a troll and has the abilities of a priest of darkness. Very few live to find out these secrets as he guards a Lovecrafian relic of dangerous aspect. He is vicious, violent, and a dangerous hunter of souls. 

Some Commentary On The Free OSR Fanzine Underworld Lore Issues 1-3 For Your Old School Campaigns

 Wormskin magazine  From  Necrotic Gnome Productions  is a an old school twisted fairy tale sandbox setting which if you haven't gotten into I would because its perfectly aligned with B/X Dungeons & Dragons. Its really an odd little setting but in a good way. I'll get into Wormskin another time and blog entry.
But this isn't an advertisement for Wormskin instead long before this quality old school magazine there was Underworld Lore. Underworld Lore was Greg Gorgonmilk assembling the parts & pieces of what would become Petty Gods.  My love of that project is well known among the OSR. Meanwhile we got a preview of dread things to come in Underworld Lore.

Underworld Lore is a free OSR fanzine with lots of great stuff to mine for your old school games. Most of the material is completely OSR system focused so its easily adapted but its got that zip tang of weirdness that seems to go down so easy with the old school crowd. All kinds of bits of sewer born things and wisdom snake their ways through the issues.

Issue one features gems, dungeon fruits, quick & dirty rules on insanity, a petty god, and some establishments in classified to throw at your players. All really good stuff to throw into a game adventure to add that memorable bit of color.
Issue #2 has 'the Slanterry Mermaid Tap House' an establishment that I've used a number of times especially in the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg adventure The Mystery at Port Greely as a start point. The Honey Veiled Reclusive Webcap is just the sort of seemingly innocent monster that will cause all kinds of havoc with a party. Then a party patron that can be just the sort of a god that a group of first level PC's might need. Let's not mention the petty goddess of children's teeth. Then we get into the petty goddess  of jerky,hard cheese mold, & entropy of food. This is one that you definitely want on your party's side. Then there's a guide for dungeoneering cocks which isn't as sick as it sounds. Magical diseases of the dungeons and infections is next and its perfect to infect your adventurers with. Delver's Dictionary is slang terms of the dungeons. There's a ton of ideas in the classified and its well worth the download just for those. But Conan has found your gaming wanting!

But if we're going to talk about one of the most useful of the Underworld issues for me it was issue three! There is a ton of OSR information on Robert Howard's Conan series along with a great overview of the world of Hyboria including a monster, another preview of Petty gods this time its James Mishler's Crom., Robert Howard's The Hyperborian Age including some great maps that have been modified for rpg system play.
Alright so where is this free material useful? Well, you can easily adapt this stuff to either Labyrinth Lord or B/X Dungeons & Dragons making this easy to fit into a number of niches within an old school campaign setting. This means that this OSR material can easily be adapted to any number of old school & retroclone systems. If there is an overall theme and idea here with dungeons being a spawning ground for all kinds of magical diseases, fungi, and infections that seem run through various issues of Underworld Lore. This means that you as a dungeon master can infect your PC's will all kinds of expensive & heinous conditions. With games such as Adventurer, Conqueror, King this infectious material doesn't seem like it would fit at all. But actually its a perfect focus making adventurers the target for spending their hard earned gold on cures for these nasty magical diseases, fungi, and infections. 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Some Commentary On ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment By Patrick Wetmore & Free OSR Adventure Resources For Your Old School Campaigns

 ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment By Patrick Wetmore  is one of the most seldom mentioned mega dungeons on the OSR market. This  is a great mix of the traditional old school fantasy & gonzo science fantasy adventure elements packaged around a great campaign world setting all for the Labyrinth Lord rpg system. 
"Put those dark elves back in their box and get your gonzo on! Riches, glory, and super-science await the bold and the clever in the deep places under the ground. This module describes the dinosaur- and wizard-infested future of the Earth, the city of Denethix, and the first level of the megadungeon that beckons from below: the Anomalous Subsurface Environment" This makes this great adventure/campaign setting  to introduce a mix of Mutant Future/Labyrinth Lord without the traditional 'Thundarr The Barbarian' stereo world type that almost every post apocalyptic dungeon master seems to using according the internet. This is a fantasy world where the post apocalyptic is still bubbling right below the surface in a pulpy morass mess just waiting for adventurer's to pop the boil of it!

What started off this whole quest into ASE1, was looking into resources for Labyrinth Lord.  I found  this question on Stack Exchange's rpg section
"How does Swords & Wizardry differ from Labyrinth Lord?' which has a really good breakdown of the two systems. This was followed by,
"What are the differences between Labyrinth Lord and Lamentations of the Flame Princess." There is also this was followed by this little question on Reddit,"Opinions wanted Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations of the Flame Princess"
I have a lot of history with Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, & B/X Dungeons & Dragons as a lot of folks know so I love to cross compare these systems. Finding out how the clock work of a system works is part of the fun for a dungeon master. 
It also makes it easy to move PC's from one setting to another. How is the opening of a mega dungeon such as Anomalous Subsurface Environment going to impact a campaign setting? Its going to be a huge world changing affair actually. Sparking the equivalent of a science fantasy gold rush across a fantasy world.  This is one of the reasons why ASE2-3 is a necessary step for a DM planning on introducing the city of Denethix.

"The Anomalous Subsurface Environment is more than just robots and lasers – it's clowns and dinosaurs, too! Levels 2 and 3 of the critically ignored gonzo megadungeon are finally available – with more classes, more tables, and more cruel and unusual ways to die deep beneath the surface of the post-apocalyptic Earth!" There are going to be other adventurers, rumors, and all kinds of legends surrounding  the Anomalous Subsurface Environment.
This brings me to the free Dungeon of Signs LAND OF 1,000 TOWERS (ASE) ADVENTURE LOCALES which are the perfect way to introduce a party to the whole ASE1 setting. This can be done without dropping the poor bastard adventurers into the deep end. Obelisk of Forgotten Memories  is a low 1-2 level adventure perfect to introduce new PC's into the setting of ASE. Part outdoor adventure & part dungeon it has many of the author's take on the world of ASE. The Wreck of the Anubis adventure is another location adventure designed for parties of adventurers levels 2-3.With a whole different take on the 'lair as adventure' trope of D&D.
The Land of 1000 Towers is a dangerous little setting that can be added into the DM's old school campaign. This brings me to the idea that the mega dungeon as domain level campaign changer. Suddenly the appearance of a mega dungeon heralds a major change in the world setting. This is something that we've seen in a few B/X  or Holmes Dungeons & Dragons adventures.  With the Adventurer,Conqueror, King rpg system this leads ASE dungeon being a huge influence on politics, warfare, fashion, etc. across the whole range of society. Nations might go to war over the resources the mega dungeon offers, cities  could have their entire social dynamic changed, and more. The religious implications of this location are huge for an on the ground sword & sorcery setting especially one set in an alternative  Age of Sail or post Roman empire.

This brings me to the 'FALLEN EMPIRE' setting adventures of Dungeon of Signs, there's some really good pulpy sword & sorcery stuff here. 'Lone Colossus of the Akolouthos Sink' is a weird pulpy adventure for 1-5 level PC's in the guts of a war machine.  Stone Ships  is an experiment in random dungeon generation  for level 1-4 PC's that includes blood sucking monkeys & there's more. Just go and download the whole lot of it. Its that good. Of course I'm going to try working 
the Anomalous Subsurface Environment adventure  into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The city of Denethix & the surrounding countries could be used as another world with doors onto Hyperborea which would be the best route. There are some damage thresholds that would have to adjusted from Labyrinth Lord to AS&SH especially when it comes to ASE's artifacts. My advice is to use AS&SH as the back bone system & convert damage on the fly as needed.

ASE might actually be another remanent of 'Old Earth' in another world in the form of a mega dungeon location. Given the races,classes, etc. there are lots of lost world potential here with cross overs making things very dangerous & dicey for parties of adventurers.
'Hel's Crow's Final Rest'  is a great adventure for low level Viking parties for AS&SH as well.  Adrift on the Sea of Love has all of the charm of a pirate with scurvy in a good way and would also work for a low level AS&SH party with a pirate focus.

You can grab The FALLEN EMPIRE LOCALES Adventures
  In The Middle Of The Download Page & LAND OF 1,000 TOWERS (ASE) ADVENTURE At The End.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Free OSR Fanzine 'Back To The Dungeon' For The Labyrinth Lord Retroclone System & Your Old School Campaigns .

Its Sunday at about eleven o'clock, I've picked up the wife to be from the bus stop two town or so away. Barely made it back home but that's another story for another blog entry. Uriah Heep is playing through the speakers & the other half's U.K. twang is picking my memories of my adopted uncle. He did a ton of weed to the Heep's Demons & Wizards album from 1972. Never in front of me mind you but I heard the stories of what we call today mega dungeons. So this Sunday morning I went looking for a free one & came across Raven's Keep for the Labyrinth Lord retroclone system. It looks like the full adventure location or a huge chunk of the megadungeon appeared in issues of Back To The Dungeon. This dungeon looks like it ran its course from late 2013 through 2014. Its evolved into a completely different retroclone system now which is the way of things. However the entire run of five issues for the Labyrinth Lord is available for free!
 This is the issue that your going to want right out of the gate because it sets up the adventure locations, the dungeons, the monsters, encounters etc. Because its a Labyrinth Lord production it makes it perfect fodder for an Adventurer, Conqueror, King adventure location or for a beginning  B/X Dungeons & Dragons adventurer party location. Raven's Keep is a small city of eight thousand out in the middle of no where. So you've got everything you need as a DM to keep an old school campaign going for months. 

The entire run of five issues is up there on the Internet Archive and there's the better part of a year or more's old school D&D style action. Everything is laid out and its ready to play. The maps in this fanzine are serviceable and look pretty easy to work with. What's really nice about this material is how easily adaptable it looks to any number of old school retroclone systems and not just Labyrinth Lord. Because you've got temples, shops, urban locations, magus universities, etc. Raven's Keep is perfect to add into an outlying era of Hyperborea for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. This means that you as a dungeon master can weave this city & its dungeon locations right in the  Mainland Hyperborea and Nearby Islands Map by (Ben Ball) from the AS&SH resource page on their   website here. 

Raven's Keep and its environs would be perfect up the line from Kimmeria or along the Kimmerian Steppe. A number of adjustments on the history, races, etc. would be necessary to keep it in line with the swords & sorcery motif of AS&SH. All in all I think that Raven's Keep & the Back To The Dungeon fanzine adventure locations are great resources to add to an OSR campaign as a starting base for a party of beginning level or mid tier PC's in a retroclone system.

You Can Download The Entire Run Of 'Back To The Dungeon' HERE

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Free OSR Appendix 'S' Science Fantasy Download - Thrilling Wonder Stories v11n01 (1938 02) For Your Old School Campagin

Appendix S has been my go to science fantasy index of stories, classic pulp era novellas, & perfect fodder for an old solar system campaign. This brings me to Thrilling Wonder Stories, this was one of the Pines magazine line & according to Wiki ;"Pines' magazines included several with "Thrilling" in the title, such as Thrilling Detective and Thrilling Love Stories. These were run by Leo Margulies, who had hired Mort Weisinger (among others) as the workload increased in the early 1930s. Weisinger was already an active science fiction fan, and when Wonder Stories was acquired, Margulies involved him in the editorial work. Margulies' group worked as a team, with Margulies listed as editor-in-chief on the magazines and having final say. However, since Weisinger knew science fiction well, Weisinger was quickly given more leeway, and bibliographers generally list Weisinger as the editor for this period of the magazine's history.[37] The title was changed to Thrilling Wonder Stories to match the rest of the "Thrilling" line. The first issue appeared in August 1936—four months after the last Gernsback Wonder Stories appeared.[13][37] Wonder Stories had been monthly until the last few Gernsback issues; Thrilling Wonder was launched on a bimonthly schedule.[13] In February 1938 Weisinger asked for reader feedback regarding the idea of a companion magazine; the response was positive, and in January 1939 the first issue of Startling Stories appeared, alternating months with Thrilling Wonder"
Pines magazines were a cut above the rest of the pulp lines of the thirties specializing in some really interesting space fantasy which at the time was the sort of adventure based science fiction that we've come to love today. Today we're going to be talking about
Thrilling Wonder Stories v11n01 (1938 02) 
With a cover by Howard V.Brown that screams pulptastic adventure.  This issue has all of the space ship action, lost continent weirdness, & extra solar strangeness that I love to throw into my old school sword and planet adventures. 
We start off this issue with a story by one of the masters of the Lovecraft circle Frank Belknap Long is known for the author of The Hounds of Tindalos. There was a lot more to his mythos output with," the
"The Horror from the Hills", a story serialised in 1931 in Weird Tales and one of Long's best-known works, incorporated almost verbatim a dream H.P. Lovecraft related to him (among other correspondents) in a letter. The short novel was published many years later in separate book form by Arkham House in 1963 - The Horror from the Hills.

Frank Belknap Long, date unknown
In the late 1930s, Long turned his hand to science fiction, writing for Astounding Science Fiction. He also contributed horror stories to Unknown, later called Unknown Worlds. Long contributed an episode (along with C.L. Moore, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft) to the round-robin story "The Challenge from Beyond" (1935)." We the Invisible is a good solid entry into the short story round with potential for old school adventure potential. Alchemy Of Outer Space By D.L. James is the sort of a story that one finds in Thrilling Adventures has several leads that I'd use to flesh out the Hyperboreans in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Did you ever want to know how to treat immortals in sword & planet old school adventures? Otto Binder's Anton York stories have some of the answers and are easy to go through. They are great fodder for trans cosmic entities in your old school games.
"Anton York is a man of tomorrow. He has discovered the secret of voluntary suspended animation and requires no food or air. He can live where he pleases, when he pleases, for as long as he wants. Somewhere in the dim future ages, this man-made God must die"
What happens when a remanent of Atlantis collides with one of the piece of 'Old Earth' via a nineteen twenties style adventurer and his crew?
Zones of Space a  novelette by Max C. Sheridan has all of this material and more. Its one of the highlights of this issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories and a perfect piece of fodder for AS&SH meets Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts. Via Asteroid is a  short story by Otto Binder writing as Gordon A. Giles 
and has all of the material for a Clark Ashton Smith style mini campaign setting among the asteroid belt. There's some great stuff here from monsters to micro factions all waiting to be used!

  Manly Wade Wellman delivers a perfect match up story with  Dream Dust from Mars which makes an excellent Warriors of the Red Planet/Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea adventure fodder piece. This one has elements of Leigh Brackett & that Martian underworld that we've come to expect of Old Mars.

Free Appendix N Sword and Sorcery Download - Avon Fantasy Reader 05 (1948) For Your Old School Campaigns

So good afternoon its a bit after one here in Connecticut and today I wanted to bring to your attention The Avon Fantasy Reader # 5. They don't get any more important then this one folks. So over the last two years there's been a huge uptick in interest in Swords & Sorcery fiction & science fantasy. There is a ton of stuff here that can be mined here & much of it ties directly in with what I've been doing for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The Avon Fantasy Readers were always a cut above the rest of the run of the mill stuff back in the Forties & Fifties.
"The Avon Fantasy Reader was a magazine (sometimes classed as a series of anthologies) which re-published science fiction and fantasy literature by now well know authors. Avon strived to bring readers little known stories by then little recognized writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Murray Leinster and William Hope Hodgson. The Avon Fantasy Reader was published from 1946 to 1952 and had 18 issues in full. A short lived sister publication, Avon Science Fiction Reader, had three issues featuring just science fiction."
This issue has it all! Classic material from across the spectrum of  the science fantasy & sword & sorcery authors.

Now I mentioned Robert Bloch in my Mythos Memory Wrap Up Commentary For Adapting I5 Lost Tomb of Martek Adventure For The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System & Your Old School Campaigns.Well, here's the Robert Bloch tie in with Fane of the Black Pharoah, this one's got it all & its perfect material for mining for your old school sword & sorcery adventures set against HP Lovecraftian mythos.  Ready for a North West Smith tie in for that Astonishing Swords Men & Sorcerers of Hyperborea/ Warriors of the Red Planet campaign? C.L. Moore's Scarlet Dream makes the grade with great Martian retro future action! Carl Jacobi is a master of the Weird Tale and his work with Arkham House was top drawer stuff. 
"The Gold Dress" by Stephen Vincent Benét 
is a first rate ghost story with a twist but there's a lot of adventure potential here. 
His work has some potential for old school adventures. There are hidden things in the woods and only the Words of Guru by Cyril M. Kornbluth can reveal them. This tale is a gem and first appeared in Stirring Science Stories in 1941. This same author also revealed a certain doctor's bag that  Rod Serling used  for an episode of his Night Gallery series 'The Little Black Bag' . This dramatization starred Burgess Meredith.   

Scene from Night Gallery episode "The Little Black Bag. "
So that's all for today and keep em rolling folks we've got more to come!

Friday, May 19, 2017

1d20 Random Pulp Treasures From Beyond Edge Table For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg Systems

There are bits and pieces that blow on the Boreas winds echoing with the weird radiations of Old Earth & lost worlds. These winds vibrate with strange cosmic radiations & weird not sounds as that blow across the face of Hyperborea. Strange objects fall from the sky, weird treasures are sometimes found in odd places, these are seemingly attracted to the ruins of bygone eras. Its almost as if these places were calling their old relics home.

 Out in the wastelands there are strange and very dangerous treasures that blow in on the Boreas winds of Outer Darkness. Sometimes things turn up in the wastelands that can make an adventurer's fortunes or ruin their lives here are a few treasures to change the fortunes of your adventurers but be warned these could in fact change their lives forever.

1d20 Random Pulp Treasures  From Beyond Edge of Hyperborea  Table
  1. Dagger carbon coated worth three thousand gold pieces because it contains the souls of the damned. This dagger may summon 1d4 ghosts from beyond the Outer Darkness every new moon. 
  2. A ash covered vase of glass hard as diamond containing a Ginn of incredibly deadly aspect sealed with magick wax, copper wiring,& the seal of a Necromancer or black wizard of Old Earth. Worth 600 gold pieces 
  3. Burnt unliving hand of an ape able to grant five wishes but in an ironic & darkly black magic way. Worth 6000 gold pieces to the right collector 
  4. Radiation grenade sealed in a strange glass like substance. The edges of the treasure are blackened and grey, worth 670 gold as a curiosity. The thing pulses with menace and is actually the home of a demon from Saturn. 
  5. A bronze seal of a king that has been dead for 10,000 years but worth 7000 gold pieces because to a wizard or necromancer it can seal a demonic contract to make it binding. 
  6. A melted piece of glass from Old Earth that contains twenty souls of the damned. The thing can be used to case fortunes every new moon and is worth 400 gold pieces. These pieces of glass wear our after 1d20 years. 
  7. A ancient mechanism fully fused together but worth 2000 gold pieces to a wizard or collector for its history value. 
  8. Twenty strange black sticks that can activated as +2 arrows of flawless returning the owner must learn the command whistles for them. They're worth 4000 gold pieces to the right collector 
  9. A dancing sword made of volcanic glass and with a jade cross guard gains a +2 against demons of the Outer Darkness. Worth 6530 gold pieces as a historic collectable. 
  10. An ancient iron Hyperborean slave collar from Old Earth that contains a servant ghost. Worth five hundred gold pieces to a death wizard or necromancer. 
  11. Twelve pieces of cold iron from the deepest demonic suns able to be used as vessels to trap demons or witches souls whole within them. These are empty and worth 200 gold pieces each. 
  12. An ancient skull of jade and crystal that glows in the presence of demons. The thing has seen many owners and can cast a protection from evil spell once per day. Worth 1699 in gold to the right wizard or collector.
  13. This sword is made from the finest Hyperborean  bronze and able to cut the astral cord of anyone it wants. The sword has seen lots of action during the demon skirmishes out towards Jupiter and it hates Lamias. Worth 10,000 gold pieces as a collector's item or even a weapon but burnt by chaos energies around some of the edges.
  14. Hyperborean helm of breathing but its crispy from going across the sky, but its still in operational condition. Able to protect against the cold & conditions  of the Outer Darkness three times per day for up to forty eight hours and comes with the ability to generate its own atmosphere. 
  15. A twisted piece of metal and bone that is actually a serpent men blaster capable of firing fifty shots from its clip and the thing does the same damage as a laser cross bow. Worth 60000 gold pieces essentially for  collectors or serpent men who will murder to possess this item. 
  16. This set of ancient metal tubes, hoops, etc. is actually a dimensional fork that is able to seal gates, keys, & dimensional rifts. This piece is worth 6000 gold piece as their quite common among the other Hyperborean races. 
  17. Hyperborean wrist gun capable of firing 1d30 shots per round as the mechanism slides along with the memories of its former glory days. Same damage as a heavy cross bow and twice the range.
  18. A strange mechanism that is actually a dimensional portal gun capable of generating 1d20 extra dimensional ports within a twenty foot range. But the thing has lots of scratches and a set of finger prints from a little boy that won't come off.
  19. This small slightly baked figurine is actually an alien war commander whose been tricked by a vile villain. But its capable of opening 1d4 magical portals. Worth 20000 gold pieces to the right family. 
  20. A small statue of a Hyperborean warrior capable of animating and summoning 1d200 warriors from beyond the pale  Worth 60000 gold pieces because of its cultural significance to the Picts.

Adapting Shannach - The Last by Leigh Brackett & More To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting

Yesterday I looked at Leigh Brackett's The Jewel of Bas & how it relates to the Old Solar System setting that I've been working on and off for a year now. Partially as an adventure campaign thought exercise & as an actual sandbox play setting. Today I want to re examine Shannach - The Last by Leigh Brackett
What exactly happened to Mercury in The Old Solar System setting? Something similar to what happened across the Old Solar System. The Hyperboreans coped with the destruction of 'Old Earth' as best they could by seeding small minor colonies across the solar system. They tidal locked Mercury, used their super science to terra form it as best they could, seeded it with adaptable life, installed a trans cosmic custodian or small minor race & moved on. They installed a few of their race to oversee the projects and these are some of the factions that PC's might have to deal with. This also a process that they repeated throughout the solar system's asteroid belt & beyond.

Who were these Hyperboreans? Were they a dying race of monstrous overlords? Not quite at all. I think from looking into the stories of Leigh Brackett they were a group of semi religious zealots dealing with the not quite extinction of their belief system. It was really another member of the Lovecraft circle who really added in the creep factor with his Immortals of Mercury. Clark Aston Smith's Immortals of Mercury is a classic and an old favorite of mine.  These Engineer type immortals are in my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Hyperborean survivors who have fled to Mercury and cut themselves off from contact with outsiders.  They've got living bio engineered suits worth a cool 70,000 to 80,000 gold pieces in the right markets. Good luck trying to leave because Mercury is bombarded by cosmic storms and its tidally locked.

Mercury is a world of campaign micro settings & its own internal Lovecraftian or Smithian ecologies. Its also one of the most important worlds in the Leigh Brackett solar system. Why? Because its the proving ground for her heroes and it can be for your PC's as well. "Once again its Leigh Brackett who gives this planet a Conan style treatment & its a proving ground for some of the most colorful as well as dangerous characters. "
"In Leigh Brackett's short stories (especially "The Demons of Darkside" (1941), "A World Is Born" (1941), "Cube from Space" (1942), and "Shannach – the Last" (1952)), a tidally locked Mercury features a 'Twilight Belt' exposed to dangerous variations in heat and cold and havoc-wreaking solar storms. Some of Brackett's most colorful characters, like Jaffa Storm ("Shadow Over Mars") and Eric John Stark, were Mercury-born."
Mercury is the proving ground of the strong, the smart, the resourceful, & its a world that creates adventurers, outlaws, & outsiders.

If you're looking at a Mercury that has seen the hand of the ancient Hyperboreans. Its a world where PC's might be looking to carve out their own kingdoms or zonal planetary spheres of influence for a game like Adventurer, Conqeuror, King then your going to be having to import followers, etc. to maintain everything. This is a harsh setting & just the type of place that games like Adventurer, Conqueror, King & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea talk about using as the focus for an adventure. Every game & adventure element  about Mercury is going to apply to the asteroid belt, the outer Old Solar System worlds, & beyond.  This almost makes the Mercury seem like the colonial penal colony days of Australia or the American West. "On the Mercurian frontier a small group of volunteers, prisoners from the previous war, struggle to make the world habitable to human life. But, there are those who want the planet for themselves. This story originally appeared in Comet magazine, July 1941"

You Can Download A World Is Born Right Here

This of course is the same style of gambit that players are likely to pull on the DM with Mercury or the minor planetoids in the asteroid belt between Mars & Jupiter. This is fine because it makes perfect sense for an experienced party of adventurers. But their going to have to contend with the factions, monsters, hazards, etc. that they find in these places. But the real question is why were the Hyperboreans hiding? It wasn't simply the extinction of an ancient religious belief system. There's more to it then that. PC's are going to have to contend with the trans cosmic entities that Lovecraft & his circle wrote about. The Outer gods are out there in the void between the Boreas winds and the Outer Darkness waiting for the right moment when the stars are right again. Heavy is the head that wears the crown especially when so many are depending upon basic survival & sanity. The decisions that the king makes effect not only the entire party but perhaps the entire world. The pseudo super science used by the Hyperboreans in the past isn't going to last forever, that means that adventurers are going to be on the hunt for more. This is part of the outlaw & perhaps space pirate angle that one finds so often in these stories, that desparate criminal element that underlies many of Brackett's & Clark Aston Smith's solar system stories. Making this perfect fodder for an "Old Solar System' campaign setting.

There are going to be lots of issues that PC's are going to have to contend with not the least of which is mere survival. PC's who carve out their own trans cosmic domains are going to faced with lots of potential for both adventure & the horrors that await them in the darkness of Mercury.

This post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any 
of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a 
private table top rpg campaign. None of the ideas or opinions expressed 
in this post are meant to violate the trademarks nor copy rights of any 
of the table top rpgs discussed nor are they in away responsible for the
 thoughts or opinions of the author. The writing, ideas, and opinions 
are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner 
productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Adapting Leigh Brackett's The Jewel Of Bas To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting


Alright its been a long while since I've returned to The Old Solar System campaign setting, but I've been a bit busy & I want to dive right into the deep end of The Jewel of Bas. This is where we get into the Outer Darkness of the micro worlds of the asteroid belt between Jupiter & Mars. The tagline doesn't do this novella justice.
"A quest to the Mountain of Life to save what remained by humanity from the machines that were bent on destroying them." So someplace in the Outer Darkness is a small world lit by super science sun balls and two thieves trying to survive against the backdrop of a small world with a big god. This is the story of a god, his world, people trying to survive against the backdrop of the cosmic. Mouse and her husband are down on their luck thieves who are moving amid the world of Bas. This is one of those stories that points out exactly how PC thieves are going to survive on a world controlled by 40's super science & sorcery.
Everything about this novella is perfect fodder for an old school campaign & its such a great story. There's a bit of everything here from non typical main characters, to interesting fodder for adventure campaign locations, to uses of factions, and a bit of how the semi divine immortal might interact with PC's.

Weird alien worlds, classic sword & sorcery references, memorable characters, and more are found in The Jewel of Bas. Yet unlike other Brackett novellas everything is keyed to the human scale and not the epic. You get a real sense of a quest with the Jewel of Bas set amid the rubble of divinity within a world unto itself. This is a perfect OSR setting for all kinds of weirdness something we'd see much later on in other Brackett efforts.

"The Jewel of Bas" appeared in  Planet Stories, Spring 1944 made quite the splash as it presented something quite different from the usual material. This novella must take place after the Big Jump .

This is when humanity is settled into a number of minor planetoids & has found some of them inhabited by ancient god like beings. There's plenty of super science to loot especially when  the Cochrane family, are willing to pay 10000 to 50,000 gold pieces per relic depending on where, when, and how its found in the Old Solar system. Bas is the sort of a cosmic entity or minor god that Adventurer, Conqueror, King or Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers talks about using as the focus for an adventure. There are several factions vying to take him out and the adventurers are going to have to help stabilize the situation. Their world is going to depend on it and so is their survival. There's also plenty of opportunities for the factions depicted in the novella to have their way with the PC's so they might want to tread carefully.

The Jewel Of Bas

 But what's really going on out there in the Outer Darkness as the Boreas winds blow? Its the Outer gods & their larva that really scares the hell out of the Terra government, the Mars Coalition, & other solar system powers. They've made the big FTL jumps and they've seen what's really out there. The various alien minor Lovecraftian factions don't need humanity awakening any of the greater horrors between the stars. Bas is a very minor player in the grand cosmic scheme. This novella shows the unique place of such beings against the greater backdrop of  Lovecraftian space opera. Hyperborea is unique because its cosmology is both on the ground for Swords & Sorcery and the grand pseudo cosmic that we find in Sword & Planet literature. There are other connections that The Jewel of Bas novella  feeds.

Master of the Asteroid by Clark Aston Smith is a great resource for some of the minor and more benevolent aliens that might lurk among the remains of the Old Solar system.
This story also gives some insights into CAS's Mars and more. The Jewel of Bas offers a unique opportunity for PC's who reach higher levels as they might take the place of the minor godling's place and carve out their own cosmic domain.

Tomorrow we'll be returning to Mars & the inner worlds! Stay Tuned!
This post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any 
of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a 
private table top rpg campaign. None of the ideas or opinions expressed 
in this post are meant to violate the trademarks nor copy rights of any 
of the table top rpgs discussed nor are they in away responsible for the
 thoughts or opinions of the author. The writing, ideas, and opinions 
are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner 
productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mythos Memory Wrap Up Commentary For Adapting I5 Lost Tomb of Martek Adventure For The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System & Your Old School Campaigns

Your sleek cloudskate skims across the Skysea. It is midnight. All day long, the glass sea soaked up the scorching desert sunlight. Now, that heat lifts your ship a few inches off the glass and fills its sails. The only sound you hear is the soft swish of the diamond-edged rudder as it cuts a path across the Skysea.

One thousand years ago, the wizard Martek knew that you would come to find his Sphere of Power. Now, one of his glowing Star Gems shows you the way. The starlight, reflected in the glass beneath you, flickers peacefully.

Suddenly, the Skysea before you bursts up into a thousand shards of splintered glass, showering into the moonlight! A horrible creature is silhouetted against the moon. You strain against the rudder to keep your ship upright.

Too late! Your cloudskate tips onto one runner, and then tumbles over, skidding to a stop on the glass. As your companions struggle to right the ship, you turn and face the monster. You must hold the creature back to give them time. Without the ship, none of you can get off the glass before the sun rises in the morning.

Martek's prophecy spoke of heroes, tests, and dangers. Are you the heroes? What are the tests? What dangers and riches lie ahead.
Everything about this cover screams otherworldly pulpy old school adventure from the skate ship to the purple worm creature. This is I5 Lost Tomb of Martek by Tracy Hickman for characters 7 through 9 & boy do they mean it. This is both a wilderness crawl & dungeon session all with an underlying plot that moves the adventure backbone along. But my ex co dungeon master & friend took the plot to the cleaners with both Clark Ashton Smith & HP Lovecraft's name on I5. This was an adventure that caused me to reevaluate my life on more then a few levels.

Call me old fashioned but I'm not much of a joiner these days & going over my notes from Peter's old Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg mash up campaign with I5 Lost Tomb of Martek I suddenly remembered why. Turn your wayback machine to 2011 when our hero PC's  were last killed by the Pit of Everfall. Only we woke up on board a skate ship bound for the tomb of the eons dead wizard Martek or so we thought. Nope, Peter had changed tactics & adventure storyline for I5. Instead we were skating through a reverse planar Diamond Desert dreamland on our way to meet with the ancient Egyptian pharaohs Khephren and Nitokris. Perhaps to be sacrificed to some nameless hippopotamus-sized, five-headed, tentacled beast servant of Nyarlathotep. Peter was especially fond of Nyarlathotep and loved to dovetail the Crawling Chaos into all kinds of old school adventures. There were two of the Star Gems aboard the craft which was sailed by half-man, half-animal mummies.
This wasn't a good sign at all for that matter Sir Tristen the Bold wasn't a knight of Apollo after all but an agent of Hastur as we found out during the events of I4 before we were killed!? The bastard was no where to be seen and the player was playing a desert barbarian. So what happened to him? We would never find out but more on that later.

Dave Trampier artwork from the AD&D first edition Monster Manual

The animal headed mummies were intelligent but had the mummy rot touch of standard AD&D first edition mummies. We had to think fast? So when we encountered that weird purple Dhole our party as one dumped all seven animal headed mummies overboard! Our party lost three of our nine PC's during the melee. We took control of the skate ship only to find out it was on a pre-programed extra dimensional course. There were PC's waiting at the tomb to replace the others, these were prisoners of the cult of
Nyarlathotep. We had to time this whole adventure ruse carefully & grab the new prisoners then make our way through the tomb of the wizard who was being held by the ancient Egyptian pharaohs Khephren and Nitokris. They were waiting for the arrival of the Crawling Chaos himself!

The Black Man", artist Jens Heimdahl's rendition of Nyarlathotep.

The situation seemed to get worse &  worse for our party. We made our way through various dungeon levels of the Tomb of Martek  the garden, crystal prism, and citadel were especially dangerous for us. Greed killed a few of our number time and again. Finally we made it to the the Mobius Tower inspired locations This was a place  whose levels are magically linked in a loop as a part of a curse of 'The Crawling Chaos'. 'The time-trapped inhabitants of the tower - who appear frozen because they exist in a different, slow-moving time-frame' element played marry havoc with our party. We completed the adventure received our experience points. I knew that Peter had spent a good month using HP Lovecraft's
"Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" as his source material and masterfully blended it all together. We managed to escape the destruction of the Citadel of Martek. This was before the arrival of Nyarlathotep.

Front cover of the May-June-July 1924 edition of Weird Tales

We finished the adventure over the weekend from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. But everything went to Hell for Peter & his family. That week in 2011 was very bad, he lost his job, his apartment in Torrington, & moved out of the state by the next weekend. His wife almost divorced him,and his dad who was his land lord threw him out.
He ebayed a small chunk of my gaming collection and my buddy Steve's gaming books. These aren't these gents real names folks. This is to protect the guilty folks. Some of those items I'm still trying to recover to this day. Shrug. I know his back was against the financial  wall and things were nasty but Peter if your reading this you could have come to me pal. I would have and you know that. Someone mentioned not being able to afford keeping up with the OSR product arms race tonight on G+ and that's very true. In point of fact that's one of the reasons for starting this blog and why I stopped reviewing every single adventure title & OSR source book that comes out. You eventually suffer from burn out. But there were a ton of loose ends from I5 that a DM can exploit for a weird pulpy adventure.

Ten Still Loose Adventure Hooks For A
Mythos Modified I5 Lost Tomb of Martek Adventure 
  1. There are number of indicators that this adventure might take place in an HP Lovecraft dreamlands version of the Sphinx of Giza where the beast is far more dangerous then his real life counterpart. This version of the Abū al-Haul, English: The Terrifying One; literally: Father of Dread has connections with Nyarlathotep. 
  2. Many of the indicators in Clark Ashton Smith's work have deep connections with the pharaohs Khephren and Nitokris  who are far more dangerous entities that are the high priest and priestess for Nyarlathotep
  3. The bringing together of the Star Gems awakens a very dangerous avatar of  Nyarlathotep and releases it into the Diamond Desert of Hyperborea. 
  4. The tombs of serveral of the 'favored ones' of Nyarlathotep are found within the area surrounding tomb and its lands. 
  5. There are other indicators that the a number of planes on the way to the Citadel of Martek are infact Nightmare dimensions of HP Lovecraft Dreamlands. 
  6. A number of highly valuable artifacts are found in the Citadel of Martek which could be treasures gathered by Nyarlathotep and could prompt a return visit to recover these for some patron or client. 
  7. Several of the priests and other NPC's could actually high ranking Nyarlathotep cult leaders who could cause much pain for other adventuring parties in the future. 
  8. Martek himself might be a high level lich who got the low end of the bargain with Nyarlathotep    creating even more adventures for the PCs in the future. 
  9.  A variety of magical treasures from I5 could be connected with other HP Lovecraft mythos cults causing headaches and issues in the futures of adventurers. 
  10. Because of the association with death and the Egyptian afterlife, The Tomb of Martek there might have a deep connection with  the Jackal-Dog Anubis, the God of the Necropolis. This could lead to the PC's have a return trip to the adventure locations of I5 for a quest or errand for the god or his priests.