Saturday, June 24, 2017

OSR Saturday Retro Old School Campaign Set Up Second Reel With Ray Harryhausen's 1963 Jason & The Argonauts

In Eighty One on a baking hot Saturday afternoon a bunch of kids myself included were treated to a bunch of classic films including this one. I had read about the Nineteen Sixty Three Jason & The Argonauts picture numerous times in Famous Monsters of Filmland. But to see it on the big screen is something entirely different. The experience blew my mind as a kid & I've loved the film ever since.

So let's talk classic sword & scandal mythological pictures with 'Jason & the Argonauts' from 1963. 
"Jason and the Argonauts (working title Jason and the Golden Fleece) is a 1963 independently made American-British fantasy film, produced by Charles H. Schneer, directed by Don Chaffey, that stars Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Honor Blackman, and Gary Raymond. It was distributed by Columbia Pictures." There are films that are classics & then there's the ones that have a special place in millions of folks hearts. Jason & The Argonauts falls into the latter I think.

Even as an infant Jason has been a pawn on the chess board of the gods. This view is interesting because it up points the symbolically divine relationship between the gods & mankind especially those chosen by the gods.
"Pelias (Douglas Wilmer), misinterpreting the prophecy given to him by the god Zeus (Niall MacGinnis), usurps the throne of Thessaly, killing King Aristo and most of his family. The god Hermes (Michael Gwynn), disguised as Pelias' soothsayer, holds back his army long enough for the infant Jason to be spirited away by one of Aristo's soldiers. Pelias slays one of the king's daughters, Briseis (Davina Taylor), as she seeks sanctuary in the temple of the goddess Hera (Honor Blackman). Because the murder has profaned her temple, the angry Hera becomes Jason's protector. She warns Pelias to beware "of a man wearing one sandal".
Twenty years later, Jason (Todd Armstrong) saves Pelias from drowning (orchestrated by Hera), but loses his sandal in the river; Pelias recognizes him from the prophecy. Learning that Jason intends to find the legendary Golden Fleece, he encourages him, hoping Jason will be killed in the attempt."

In this scene you get the feeling that this is a game this couple has played many,many times. Something that goes back thousands of years under different guises. There is an undercurrent throughout the picture that there were many worlds before this one & its only now that things have gotten a bit interesting again for them. These are gods that play the long game with mortals something that DM's might want to consider doing in their own campaigns. Jason is an agent of the gods willing or otherwise, like many characters of fiction before or after him. He's a reluctant hero but a competent one whose doing a great public relations campaign for the gods of Olympus. There's also something caprice,cruel and more then slightly chaotic about these gods they have a bit of an undercurrent of menace about them.

"Jason is brought to Mount Olympus to speak with Zeus and Hera. Hera tells him Zeus has decreed he can only call upon her for aid five times. She directs him to search for the Fleece in the land of Colchis. Zeus offers his direct aid, but Jason declares he can organize the voyage, build a ship, and collect a crew of the bravest men in all Greece.
Men from all over Greece compete for the honor. Because their ship is named the Argo after her builder, Argus (Laurence Naismith), the crew are dubbed the Argonauts. Among them are Hercules (Nigel Green), Hylas (John Cairney), and Acastus (Gary Raymond), the son of Pelias, sent by his father to sabotage the voyage.
Hera guides Jason to the Isle of Bronze, but warns him to take nothing but provisions. However, Hercules steals a brooch pin the size of a javelin from a treasure building, surmounted by a giant statue of Talos, which comes to life and attacks the Argonauts. Jason again turns to Hera, who tells him to open a large plug on Talos' heel, to release the giant's ichor. Talos falls to the ground, crushing Hylas, hiding his body. Hercules refuses to leave until he ascertains the fate of his friend. The other Argonauts refuse to abandon Hercules, so Jason calls upon Hera again. She informs them that Hylas is dead and that Hercules will not continue on with them."
Yeah & this is another picture with one of the classic 'oh crap' moments in movie history & also this is a film with lots of side quests that all dovetail back into the main thrust of the adventure. Even the side characters or NPC's are engaging. Is there room however for other adventurers to pick up some of the slack in the plot holes that get left behind. Take for example the valley of statues that is found on the island of Crete. Hercules is still there looking for Hylas.

The hands of the gods is constantly meddling in the voyage of Jason & his crew. You can almost but not quite sense the amusement of  the gods as Argo faces down its next peril. Take note her DM's at the fact that the gods are always but not quite close at hand.

"The Argonauts next reach the realm of King Phineus (Patrick Troughton), who has been blinded and is tormented by harpies for his transgressions against the gods. In return for his advice on how to reach Colchis, the Argonauts render the harpies harmless by caging them, whereupon Phineus tells them to sail between the Clashing Rocks, which destroy any ship in the narrow channel, and gives Jason an amulet. Arriving at the Clashing Rocks, the Argonauts witness another ship suffering that fate. When the Argo tries to row through, the ship appears doomed. Jason throws Phineus' amulet into the water, and the sea god Triton rises up and holds the rocks apart so the Argo can pass them. The Argonauts rescue a survivor from the other ship, Medea (Nancy Kovack), high priestess of Colchis.
Challenging Jason's authority, Acastus engages him in a duel. Disarmed, Acastus jumps into the sea and disappears. Jason and his men land in Colchis and accept an invitation from King Aeëtes (Jack Gwillim) to a feast. Unknown to them, Acastus has survived and warned Aeëtes of Jason's quest for their prized Golden Fleece. Aeëtes has the unwary Argonauts imprisoned, but Medea, having fallen in love with Jason, helps him and his men escape.
Meanwhile, Acastus tries to steal the Fleece, but is killed by its guardian, the Hydra. Following right behind Acastus, Jason is able to kill the beast and retrieve the gift of the gods. Aeëtes, in pursuit, sows the Hydra's teeth while praying to the goddess Hecate, producing a band of skeletal warriors. Jason, together with Phalerus and Castor, hold off the skeletons while Medea and Argus escape back to the Argo with the Fleece. After a prolonged battle in which his companions are killed, Jason escapes by jumping into the sea,[2] and he, Medea, and the surviving Argonauts begin their voyage home to Thessaly. In Olympus, Zeus tells Hera that in due time he will call upon Jason again."

Medea (Nancy Kovack), high priestess of Colchis is an interesting characters in her own right. She represents a much older order & cult. There's also the fact that these skeletons have inspired the look of many other undead, skeletons, etc over the years this includes the Deadites in Army of Darkness. This was something that my buddy Peter used to connect the history of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis back to the cult of Colchis. There's also the undercurrent of the younger divinities using their knight Jason to murder the old goddess Colchis & steal her treasure the Golden Fleece for themselves. A very interesting way of using an artifact.

Ten Ways Of Using The Classic
Ray Harryhausen's 1963 Jason & The Argonauts
For A Campaign Build 
  1. The cult of Colchis isn't going to take the loss of the Golden Fleece lying down. cult assassins, spies, etc are ripe to throw at an older Jason. The PC might have to step in to be the heroes. 
  2. There were treasures of the gods left behind on the Island of Bronze isn't it time for some PC's to go back for them. 
  3. The gods are fickle at best and there are certainly other adventures connected with them that the PC's can enter into and over lap with the events of  Jason & the Argonauts.
  4. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First edition's Deities & Demigods  has many of the treasures, gods, etc described in this film. Its quite easy to dovetail other Greek myths into the mix for an old school campaign. 
  5. There's a very dark undercurrent about the cult of Colchis. Could there be a far more sinister Lovecraftian connection to their doings? Could the PC's stumble into their secrets and more? 
  6. There are vast differences between this film and the actual mythology that a DM could exploit for even more old school adventures.
  7. Are there other islands out there where the gods of Olympus have be experimenting with their creations? What weirdness could the PC's find? 
  8. Was there more happening in the lands of King Phineus? Are there dungeons of ancient lands below his realm? Did the hydra simply guard the fleece or was there more to its cult? 
  9. The gods are not done with Jason indeed. The PC's might need to lend a hand in his next adventure! 
  10. The god's glory is fading and its up to the PC's to once again journey into the realms of the gods.

Friday, June 23, 2017

OSR Saturday Retro Old School Campaign Set Up With Ray Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans

There's something to be said for going back to the source material when your looking for ideas. In this case we went back to 1981's Clash of the Titans which stars  Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier. "The film features the final work of stop motion visual effects artist Ray Harryhausen. It was released on June 12, 1981 and grossed $41 million at the North American box office."

Sneaking into the Warner Theater on a Saturday afternoon through the side back entrance enabled me and my crew of miscreants to see this film. It was hugely influential on a generation of film goers in the Eighties. Especially gamers, for a time it seemed that you couldn't throw a rock and not hit ten different old school  campaigns all centered around Greek mythology.
The basic plot centers around Argos the land  that Perseus lands in after Zeus's jealous wife Hera sets him down in but there was far more going on around the plot of the film;
"King Acrisius of Argos imprisons his daughter Danaë, jealous of her attracting suitors. When the god Zeus impregnates her, Acrisius banishes his daughter and his newborn grandson Perseus to sea in a wooden chest. In retribution, Zeus kills Acrisius and orders Poseidon to release the last of the Titans, a gigantic sea monster called the Kraken, to destroy Argos. Meanwhile, Danaë and Perseus safely float to the island of Seriphos where Perseus grows to adulthood.
Calibos was always a favorite villain of mine warped by the curse of Zeus into something far more and far less then a man. Calibos has been and continues to be my primer for playing divine curses on NPC's. Even
in this film there is something of the fickle & the undercurrent of the chaotic nature of the Greek Harryhausen gods.

" Calibos, son of the sea goddess Thetis, is a young man engaged to marry Princess Andromeda, the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and heir to the rich city of Joppa; but for committing several atrocities against Zeus, including hunting and destroying Zeus's sacred flying horses (excepting only Pegasus), Zeus transforms Calibos into a monstrous deformed creature with one hoof, goat-like horns, and a long tail. This left Calibos an outcast where he lived in the swamp. In revenge, Thetis transports an adult Perseus from Seriphos to an abandoned amphitheatre in Joppa, where he is befriended by an elderly poet named Ammon and learns that Andromeda is under a curse and cannot marry unless her suitor successfully answers a riddle whose failures are burned at the stake. In order to aid his son, Zeus sends Perseus a god-crafted helmet from Athena which makes its wearer invisible, a magical sword from Aphrodite, and a shield from Hera. Perseus, wearing the helmet, captures Pegasus and follows Calibos' giant vulture that is carrying Andromeda to learn the next riddle. Perseus is nearly killed by Calibos but manages to sever one of Calibos' hands, losing his helmet in the process."

There are a couple of things to keep in mind for an old school dungeon master looking at Clash of the Titans:
  1. The hero & his party of adventurers & hirelings go on a few side quests before achieving their goals. 
  2. Scattered all throughout Clash of the Titans are the remains of the world before the gods. This is something that echoes throughout the film. The feeling that there was 'a world before'. The Kraken itself can be considered a part of this.
  3. The prison of Medusa at the edge of the Underworld is pure dungeon crawl & has many classic elements of an old school adventure including a guardian monster in the form of the two headed dog Dioskilos.
  4. There are other echoes of earlier Greek mythology films such as Jason and the Argonauts from 1963. 
  5. Burgess Meredith as Ammon is a perfect pure bard, sage, and councilor NPC & his performance makes an excellent reference for old school DM's 
  6. The interaction between the gods and humans in '81's Clash of the Titans is fickle at best and downright dangerous at worst. This sort of interaction might be typical for human and god interactions. 
  7. There is treasure just sitting around several of the picture's adventure locations and this could lead a party of adventurers to follow the trails blazed by Perseus and co.   
  8. The Kraken isn't the only monster that the gods have imprisoned. There's a bunch of horrors implied by the film but never seen. 
  9. There isn't much back story given to the Stygian Witches but its clear that their very dangerous. Could a relative of  the PC's have been one of their victims? This might make for a good side quest. 
  10. The gods make several references to the moves of other humans on their chess board. Could these be the PC's interfering in the plans of the gods? 

"Perseus seeks a way to defeat the Kraken, while Pegasus is captured by Calibos and his men. Zeus commands Athena to give Perseus her owl Bubo; but she orders Hephaestus to build a golden replica of Bubo instead, who leads Perseus to the Stygian Witches. By taking their magic eye Perseus forces them to reveal that the only way to defeat the Kraken is by using the head of Medusa, who lives on an island in the River Styx at the edge of the Underworld. The next day, the group continues on their journey without Andromeda and Ammon, who return to Joppa."

The Kraken comes to claim Andromeda.
"On the Gorgon's island with three soldiers by his side, Perseus fights Medusa's guardian, a two-headed dog named Dioskilos, who kills one of his companions but Perseus intervenes in the nick of time and kills the beast. Perseus leads his two remaining allies into the Gorgon's lair. His two other companions die on encounter with Medusa herself; she shoots one of the soldiers with an arrow and turns the other to stone. Perseus uses the reflective underside of his shield to deceive Medusa, decapitates her, and collects her head; but the shield is dissolved by her caustic blood. As Perseus and his party set to return, Calibos enters their camp, forces Bubo into the water, scares the horses away, and punctures the cloak carrying Medusa's head, causing her blood to spill and produce three giant scorpions called Scorpiochs. The scorpions attack and Thallo is able to kill one of them, but he and his fighting companion are both killed by Calibos himself. Perseus slays the other two scorpions and thereafter kills Calibos and grieves Thallo's death."

The scorpion scene still creeps me out but its indicative of the fact that the mortals are playing with the materials, items, & events of the Greek gods. This is one big entertainment for those same gods something again implied in '63's 'Jason & the Argonauts' film. In fact there's always been deep connections between Clash of the Titans & Jason & The Argonauts.
Is the whole set up with the Kraken simply another entertainment in a long line of such events of the gods? Both pictures imply this very thing.

There's this feeling to both pictures that there's far more going on then we the audience are seeing. There have been other heroes & adventures that we are not even aware of. These films imply a history and deep backstory that one gets from a Harryhausen film. I'm not waxing lyrical here or clouded by nostalgia. These were films with weight to them and mythological backgrounds to them for old school campaigns. An early look into Clash of the Titans can be found in Starlog issue #38 which has a really solid article on the film.

So the Kraken is defeated & all ends well for Joppa. Well not exactly you've still got the gods plotting their next move on the city state & then there are the families of the poor bastards that went with Perseus.  This is where the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition Deities & Demigods book comes in. Almost but not quite everything is stated up in this book except the Kraken.

I know that your thinking that surely you can't plug this into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea? Can you? Well actually you can. The heroes & some background elements were placed in the constellations by Zeus himself. What if there's shadows of these NPC's in the stellar namesakes. Could there be a quest in the making between the Outer Darkness of the night between the stars? I have a feeling of something along those lines. 

For now keep em rolling!  Clash of the Titans remains an old favorite of mine and millions out there.  A perfect game night film and perhaps set up for your old school campaigns?!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Retro Commentary On Judge's Guild's Tegel Manor By Bob Bledsaw Sr. For Your Old School Campaigns

There is gonzo & then there's Tengel Manor, this is Judge's Guild unnaturalism at its finest. Created in 1979 by Bob Bledsaw Sr. this is one of his finest creations for Judge's Guild. Revised in 1980 & then expanded in '89 this sprawling 240 page ghostly extravaganzas  is one of the best examples of fun house dungeons done right. The abode of the Rump family for generations, who all have the unfortunate tendency to have first names that begin with the letter 'R' as well. Tegel Manor is an adventure location that doesn't obey time, space, or physics as we know them. Its a haunted manor in every sense of the word with one of the best maps that was done for an old school adventure.

There is room after room of weirdness & gonzo adventure encounters with two hundred and forty rooms waiting to be dumped onto the PC's. This is one of the most dangerous of the old school adventure locations with the PC's thrust right into the action. In the past I've had players win the deed to the haunted mansion in a brothel at a card table. The random encounter tables with family are done around  a family tree style & offer some the charm & deadliness of Tegel Manor. I first encountered the manor in all of its splendor in '84, when my PC wizard darkened its halls with our party. The place leaves an impression especially dying in a pool of your own blood by a giant beetle  as a ghost laughs as you bleed out.
One of the big influences on this session of Tegel Manor was definitely the original  Ghost Busters, The Adams Family television show, & The Disney Haunted Mansion ride.

At first Tegel doesn't seem like an adventure that would be run with a sword & sorcery game. Looks are deceiving because dungeon masters have been running this beauty for decades with original Dungeons & Dragons & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The module has a following & a couple of years ago I got a chance to run through it with some friends as both a player & co DM. The manor was place in the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea game world of Hyperborea near the capital. It worked out quite nicely with the PC's gaining the deed after the last of the Rump family was killed by a Clark Ashton Smith style assassin. The PC's were eager to take possession of the old family homestead. Things went South from there. There was something about the nostalgia factor that pulled in the players as much as the content.

Tegel Manor is however as much D&D DYI tool kit as it is an adventure & believe or not a perfect vehicle to do a Clark Aston Smith style adventure. This is an adventure location that has the potential to be used as a not only a straight up haunted house but as a dimensional cross over adventure. This aspect of Tegel is one which I've used numerous times to bring adventurers from one world over into another. This is most often a one way trip. There is no rhyme nor reason for some of the encounters but that's alright because Tegel has its own internal logic. You as the player just are not privy to it. The second time we ran Tegel Manor I was running a one shot with the first edition of Warriors of the Red Planet & AS&SH. During that time I was reading a lot of Ray Bradbury especially the Martian Chronicles, well we took ideas from Usher II and a few corpses of the
"Moral Climate Monitors" were found here & there. Other then that the house continued on.

Tegel Manor is incredibly flexible & able to be adapted to any number of genres from pulp to across the board cartoon humor. The tone of the module is pure gonzo all of the way and it wallows in its own sense of the weird. Monsters are incredibly dangerous and with a sense of other worldly haunted fun about the whole affair. I really love Tegel Manor because with a bit of time & investment the DM can really keep his players guessing his next move. A very handy OSR book that I used with Tegel Manor is James Mishler's  Ghosts  The Incorporeal Undead. 
This book can be used to augment some of the ghost within the halls of the manor and flesh out some of the weirdness that happens there.

Ten Ways To Exploit Judge's Guild's Tegel Manor By Bob Bledsaw Sr.
  1. Tegel Manor can act as the focal point for your old school adventures, a sort of location with a reputation in local mythology. A place where friends dare other world forces from beyond the pale. 
  2. The manor has some really heavy other dimensional locations  & there has to be many powers 
  3. There are several cursed items that can make the horror factor go up by a eleven. 
  4. The adventure is flexible enough to appeal to a wide variety of both new school and old school veterans. 
  5. Tegel Manor is gonzo enough to be used with Lamentations of the Flame Princess and yet appeal to other OSR gamers. 
  6. The sword & sorcery factor is high enough to get away with many of the basic  tropes of Tegel with little to no problem.
  7. Many of the traits of the classic Tegel manor are not well known among the OSR crowd allowing a DM to exploit this knowledge for a dangerous adventure. 
  8. Because of its weird nature almost anything can and will happen. Go with the adventure flow because there's lots of room for DYI D&D. 
  9. The Manor is going to take months to go through and the DM has plenty of levers to keep the players on their toes. 
  10. Because Tegel is so weird what the PC's might be able to get away with many things they ordinarily can't. The manor in my experience has its own way of dealing with interlupers & trespassers.  

1d6 Random Cosmic Giants From The Deep Astral Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

When he drew nearer, bounding from slope to slope, his features were manifestly those of some great devil animated with ire and malice towards the sons of Adam. His hair, in matted locks, streamed behind him like a mass of black pythons; his naked skin was livid and pale and cadaverous, with the skin of the dead; but beneath it, the stupendous thews of a Titan swelled and rippled. The eyes, wide and glaring flamed like lidless cauldrons heated by the fires of the unplumbed Pit.
Clark Asthon Smith  By The Colossus of Ylourgne

Within the Deep Astral there are ancient giants, demons, gods, & monsters that have been prisoners for untold eons. These beings have been the subject of uncounted alien scavengers, parasites, & others who seek to exploit the tremendous opportunity for potion creation,organ harvesting, and exploitative alchemical operations.

These beings dimensional locations are very dangerous drifting between the Outer Darkness & the Deep Astral making such operations hazardous undertakings at best and sheer suicide at worst. Only certain half demon and Hyperborean races can survive even a momentary brush with the forces of the Outer Darkness not to mention the hazards that beings such as dimensional shamblers & the 'hounds of the darkness' present.

These demonic horrors given parodies of humanoid form challenged the gods themselves in rebellion. With the add of the Outer Gods & at a terrible price these beings have been consigned to the depths of the deepest parts of the Astral plane.

Here are six possible adventure locations to challenge & bedevil even the most adventuresome fools to challenge the realms of the Deep Astral. Should these beings be loose upon reality the devastation & cosmic horror would be tremendous. Only the highly advanced super science tools of alien gods can be used to mine, harvest, take away the biological & bio engineered treasures of these beings. No harm comes to them for the eternal torment is but a passing flicker in their consciousness. Damage up to 1d100 points is instantly healed and the chains of adamantine & Rel metal are indestructible.

1d6 Random Cosmic Giants From The Deep Astral Encounter Table 

  1. Hotta- The product of the mating of a spawn of the Outer Gods & flicking consciousness of a major devil king. This being is a horror beyond words but is now the source of potions that can heal any damage worth 60,000 gold pieces per drought. His curses can split mountains & his beam attacks will level a dragon for 1d20 points of non healable damage but he is chained. His eyes caged for all eternity and he sees nothing. He is 40 miles across chained to a rock from the blackest Abyss.
  2. Ihotholatll - The spawn of a titan & a demonic queen from Saturn, this being is trapped within a giant crystal spiral. Her gas form issues through tiny cracks and is captured to make polymorph potions and youth droughts worth 6000 gold pieces each. It is said that this being whispers 1d4 black magick spells to her followers among those that harvest her bounty. She would kill anyone she can if set free to spread her insanity.
  3. Kephogla The Destroyer is the son of a mad titan & Shub Naggath. He is trapped inside a web of chains seventy miles across and laced with crystals that sap his strength. This being's hair, & slime are used in many super science devices. They are naught indestructible and worth 6000 gold pieces to any alchemist or black wizard. He is a terrible wizard of darkest aspect and has slain two dozen gods before being put here.
  4. Nyanogota 'The slime mother of the undead' - This horrid perpetual decaying giant humanoid is the spawn of the mother of nightmares & the ghoul father. She has given birth to twelve demi gods of undead when she mated with Orcus. This thing was trapped upon destroying two worlds and almost devouring a goddess of love. She can give birth to 1d100 undead things at a time but her bile can be used to create healing potions capable of healing lands from dire curses, these potions are worth 50,000 gold pieces a drought. Swords made from her bones are +1 swords of sharpness and are made by demonic blind monk sword smiths who live upon her . These swords are only given to special & worthy heroes. 
  5. O'hathleph -'The Messenger of Madness' - this being is the mingling of two gods of insanity and has been locked away for so long none living know its dire and forbidden powers. His saliva can be used to restore the sanity of demonic possessed beings and is worth 6000 gold pieces per drought. Special priests gather the spit of this being they have no eyes nor ears being immune to its powers. They crawl insect like across its body and gather its bounty.
  6. Rubothor - The Ancient Thing - This being is twenty to arms, legs, and appendages. Its breath mutates any beings it comes in contact with twisting them this way and that along its genetic congress. This being loves to consume these twisted and horrid victims continuing its fueling and feeding with the primal chaos!
    But its chained to the bed rock of a former temple of Order and its drool is harvested for anti mugentic potions and droughts worth 60000 gold pieces by gene locked alchemists.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure OSR Campaign Build Using Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts, Other OSR Titles, & More

Its been a very busy week so far work wise but I managed to catch up with a friend & sat down for a beer last night. We spoke about the recent Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts game. Recently I've wrapped up a round of  Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts using one of Venger Satanis's adventures. But we wanted to get a brand new campaign set up perhaps for Monday nights.

One of the reasons is that CC1 Creature Compendium from  New Big Dragon Games Unlimited  came on as a 'pay what you want' on Drivethrurpg. The physical book has been sitting on my 'must add to games pile' for close to a year or more. Time to add these monsters into a pulp  OSR campaign. If you haven't picked up this book in pdf or as physical book then what are you waiting for. Many of these monsters are perfectly suited for an old school pulp campaign. They're very dangerous & have a completely alien quality to them making them perfect horrors of another dimension. We began tossing around some of the elements that I've used in the recent past including The Beyond - A Modern Dimension of Supernatural Horror & Depravity For Your Old School Campaigns part I 
I'd love include more of Charlton Comics background elements from their horror comics  into this pulpy campaign. Countess Von Bludd might be getting a work out in this pulp campaign as powerful vampire NPC.

Of course I'll be adding in lots of Lovecraftian elements to this old school campaign but its going to depend upon the ins and outs of how and where I want to them to appear. The sheer variety application of cults in a modern game is dangerous & insidious. Taming them in your games can mean the difference between having a solid game experience & something akin to ending in disaster. I've been a part of both types of games over the years.

Scary Tales #1 (Aug. 1975). Art by Joe Staton.

For this I'm going to end up using a wide variety of OSR resources including Lamentations of the Flame Princess &
Silent Legions From  Sine Nomine Publishing.  plus Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos for the campaign build. Why? Because they allow one to create their own old school horror adventures, mythologies, & pulpy adventures without answering to anyone. All of this can fall back right into the background of the world of Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts. I've especially been itching to throw in some old school influences as well.

Here the PC's are part of  mercenary groups known as Ug'thorho groups that are after relics & artifacts that partially keep the partial planear realms of the occult, the supernatural, & the Lovecraftian attached to their world. These are worlds just over the dimensional threshold that are found between the cracks of reality hidden from everyday life. These are the places where the mad scientist, the occultist, etc. operate and the relics of the old world operate acting as anchors for the gods, demons, monsters, and horrors. These realms are raided by adventurers, outlaws, etc. who are seeking treasures, artifacts, advanced technologies in an effort to get their faction ahead. The Complete Vivamancer a is perfect character & NPC for this style of pulp campaign.

This is not going to be the world you know. Here in the shadows old gods still stir, the stars may not be right but their time is coming, mankind's future is uncertain & alien things cut deals with world powers, Clark Ashton Smith's story cycles are prophecy & possibly the future history of mankind. H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness is the ancient history of Earth & barbarian kings sandaled feet trod through the pages of history &  once ruled over mankind. This is a world of high adventure and deadly extremes. This is a world in need of heroes. Here Allied mercenaries fight in the wilds of  the Astral Plane against Nazi artifact hunters & soldiers for alien relics that once belonged to beings millions of years in advance of their technology. This is where Warriors of the Red Planet comes in very handy, you can expand the technological levels in Raiders! and bring home some fixes for the scientist class.

Another thing about Warriors of the Red Planet is the super science relics in the game are big business in the Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts settings. What sorts of horrors are deep in the Astral plane? Alien gods or giants from the imagination of Jack Kirby's classic D.C. Forth World comics.
Yeah I think so.

What about old school resources? Well of course I'm going to use the Fiend Folio from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition. Hmm what other resources might there be out in the depths of time to plunder? Hmm Perhaps its time to get back to basics take out an old friend from a far simpler time.

I can already see the what about Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea? Are you going to end the Saturday night game? Hell no! This is an experiment to combine some of the material I've been dying to try with a group of players in my home town. What about the 'Old Solar System' posts you've been doing on this blog for months now? Are you going to combined them? We'll see is my answer both of those campaigns are separate & I really want to branch out a bit using some of the classic resources & OSR materials that I own.

Ten Reasons Why This Works For World Building 
  1. Mixing & matching both OSR and classic old school TSR resources often builds the best of both worlds for pulp old school games it gives the wide spread for adventure source material and hooks. 
  2. There are a ton of public domain pulp resources on the internet waiting for enterprising dungeon masters to exploit along with comics. 
  3. This sort of a campaign can keep players guessing for months. What will the DM do next to the party?
  4. Sword & Sorcery or Science fiction can provide the back history of such a campaign world and it doesn't have to take place on our Earth at all. 
  5. The dungeon master can set the tone and breath of adventures set within their own home setting as well as level room for PC's to expand into other settings for adventures. 
  6. There's lots of pulp material to cater to all kinds of palettes for old school adventures. 
  7. The PC's are not limited to simply the ages of pulp from the 20's through 50's, the classic Johnny Quest is pure pulp and a good example of pulp during the 60's. 
  8. This sort of campaign can handle anything from horror through adventure allowing the DM to create and cast a wide net. 
  9. Classic TSR Dungeons & Dragons or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventures can be recast into your favorite pulp setting easily. 
  10. This sort of campaign is only limited by your players and your imagination.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Different OSR Ecology Of The Gibberling For Your Old School Campaigns

Hast heard the voices of the fen,
That softly sing a lethal rune
Where reeds have caught the fallen moon—
A song more sweet than conium is,
Or honey-blended cannabis,
To draw the dreaming feet of men
On ways where none goes forth again?

Beneath the closely woven grass,
The coiling syrt, more soft and deep
Than some divan where lovers sleep,
Is fain of all who wander there;
And arms that glimmer, vague and bare,
Beckon within the lone morass
Where only dead things dwell and pass.

Beware! the voices float and fall
Half-heard, and haply sweet to thee
As are the runes of memory
And murmurs of a voice foreknown
In days when love dwelt not alone:
Beware! for where the voices call,
Slow waters weave thy charnel pall.
Warning by Clark Ashton Smith

There are some places that mankind should not go, places where the weird energies of the Astral & more sinister radiations have had their ways with  things older then men.There were beings here on this world & others long before mankind walked upright. The hand of the Enki & others has their finger prints all over these beings. These are creatures of incredible violence & malignancy, beings who are  inimical to mankind in all ways. These are beings of extremes with violence,insanity & depravity their modus operadi. They have many names across the planes Gibberling, 'The Violent Ones', 'those that murder' & their names are legion as the crimes they commit without order or reason. There is no pattern to their actions only the insanity that a comes from their twistedly insane souls.

Their murderous cannibalistic  rages & hordes pure across their target with a shocking violence & fury that always ends in the quiet of the grave. These beings pour from their hiding places to murder anyone or anything they come across with their swords. Swords created from any scrap metals they come across reforged into a generic shape that has been programmed into these beings of violence. Their swords are plain affairs but very sharp capable of slicing through bone, flesh, and muscle with easy. These beings have no society, art, language, culture,etc. They simply exist under the Earth or out among the asteroids as the remains of a biological weapons system that has gone to seed long ago or so it would seem. These beings are actually the product of weird cosmic radiations that warp the mind and souls of their victims. Latent alien genes created by beings more ancient then the Earth itself created these beings right before the last Ice Age of their epoch. They were created in honor of Nyarlathotep in ancient days but have been seen as the possible final forms of mankind in the distant future millions of years in the future of some nameless Earth.

"I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons—the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown."

Nyarlathotep by H. P. Lovecraft
There are others who whisper that in certain passages of the Necronomicon there are hints that these beings are the spawn of  Lahamu. There hints that they are possibly a prototype of mankind gone wrong or the future fate of mankind after it interbreeds with something hideous out among the stars. The tarot of Lahamu has horrid symbolic meanings in its
representations of the anti zodiac,demon-stars, and the dead constellations of many millions of years hence. There are hints in the scrolls of Varq that the reason for the Gibberlings psychotic behavior is the species cold & dim recognition of what they truly are in the face of an uncaring universe.
 Make no mistake the Gibberlings are not human in a capacity as we know it. They are species that can exist in a state of hibernation for 1d100 years as their inhuman physiology slows their organs processes to a crawl. Their alien senses draw them to places where black dimensional  occult magick energies have invaded our universe. These same energies drive them into frenzies of violence & depravity when they must murder, feed, & mate in strange sexual practices that are best not described. These involve the ritual murder of one of their own releasing the alien bacterial infection of Gibber into the air. Any survivors of one of their massacres must save vs disease or in three days take on many of the characteristics of a proto Gibberling. They will seek out the nearest sharp object, be drive into a blood lust of murder by the 'Song of the Gibber' & seek to be with their own kind on an instinctive level. These beings will seek places of desolation, ruin, & loneliness as a matter of course.

There is a 30% chance that the proto Gibberling will commit three or more murders locally to satisfy its own mad blood lust consuming the corpses of its victims. The thing will seek out the nearest local urban village or location & commit its own ritual suicide with as many witnesses as possible to spread the contagion. Victims will begin turning into more of the monsters with a three day incubation period. These beings will seek out the scent path lead by the first of their kind & go into a quiet cocoon period beginning the final transformations. They will repeat this cycle 1d10 more times until there is a nest of 300 or more Gibberlings. Many times if caught within the first 1d8 hours powerful healing magicks can cure these beings but the change is swift. Many villages or interstellar colonies have inquisition units that handle the eradication  of nests of Gibberlings.

Gibberlings are sensitive to other dimensional eldritch energies often seek out ruins, dungeons, or other planar locations. Their alien senses, weird physiologic make up, & instinctive level of violence make them perfect top tier predators for other worldly locations. They have been found out around the Asteroids and the Outer Worlds near the far colonies of Pluto. These beings have an instinctively dangerous cunning that has allowed the species to survive for thousands of yeas spreading their brand of madness to the far corners of the dimensions. The are not sentient in the traditional sense but share a horde hive mind with quasi telepathic & emphatic instincts on a base level. This gives some hordes a +1 on initiative during combat because of these monsters psychotic blood lust.  They bark, hiss & spit the praises to their respective forbidden gods but this is done by instinctive route.
 In the post apocalyptic wastelands recessive genes of the Gibberling species crop up in death lands as the potent mutational cocktail activates the recessive profile for this species.  The loath Morlocks, ghouls,  cavemen, mutant, and many goblinoid species which are instinctively seen as competition.
Interstellar & colony locations of deep space the Gibberling disease often manifests on failed colonies, dead worlds, & where demonic or other planar incidents have happened. The disease that creates these beings flourishes in conditions such as those. It is said among certain space wizards that the Gibberling species were used as anti personnel species by certain Lovecraftian races. 

There are certain Lovecraftian cults  which see these monsters as the true inheritors of the Earth when the stars come right. They create, interbreed, and encourage the spread of the Gibberling tribes. These same cults often find themselves on the end of the swords most often used by the monsters but see this as a necessary evil for the spread of the infection to continue.

1d20 Random Lovecraftian Encounters With Gibberlings
& Their Hordes Table 
  1. There is a group of 1d8 men infected with the Gibberling disease that is headed your way. They have blood lust in their eyes and knives in their hands! Run you fools! 
  2. A sink hole has opened nearby and 1d20 Gibberlings has crawled out with blood lust in their beady eyes! What will you do? They are closing with their sword which are caked with alien gore? 
  3. Over head a comet of ill rumor flew last night. It was actually an escape pod of the Ancients. There is a proto Gibberling onboard with sword in hand ready for murder! 
  4. Nearby a woman screams like a demon and reveals a short sword, she kills herself in spectacular fashion spraying a nearby crowd with gore. She then closes on you! Will the infection spread and will you be its next victims?
  5. There are screams as a man is dragged off to nearby underground chambers that the Gibberlings have been murdering  their victims in! Will your PC's be next? 
  6. Sounds like a strangled scream come from a nearby alley and a local doctor is infected with the Gibberling disease. He wields a scalpel and bone saw to take down his latest victims. At his feet lay two of his victims! 
  7. A box lays in the street and inside is a strange book containing queer writing. This is a spell book belonging to a wizard whose brother has been turned into a Gibberling and the location of a nearby nest. 
  8. A horde of Gibberlings pours forth from a nearby sewer system! There are at least 1d100 of the mad bastards who are on the rampage! 
  9. A series of murders reveals a strange and dangerous throw back Gibberling which strangely has its mind intact but insane. It goes on a murderous spree but can't control the urge to kill! Now it wants one of the PC's! 
  10. A nearby dimensional vortex has deposited a blanket of planar energies that changes anyone it touches into a Gibberling! 
  11. Locals are on the hunt for a Gibberling disease infected child that ate its parent. The thing has shark like teeth and will inflict a very nasty wound on anyone it comes across. 
  12. An ancient site is the home to a cult of Gibberlings and they've targeted your PC for murder! 
  13. Twelve Gibberlings are on the hunt for a local wizard who has opened up a portal to an alternative dimension with a tribe of ancient Gibberlings who need more sacrifices to their forbidden and alternative sorcerous gods 
  14. Two Gibberlings are acting as scouts for their tribe and want the fresh kill of a man whose crossed them with his family. 
  15. An ancient relic has turned over some very dangerous designs that have attracted the arcane senses of  a group of Gibberlings. 
  16. Two ancient wizards are at war but the local Gibberlings keep killing both sides. A team of specialists is enlisted for assassinating the problem.
  17. An ancient cryo sleep pod contains a proto Gibberling who will go on a murderous spree if awakened! There are 1d10 local Gibberlings who are drawn to the arcane energies of the Gibberling that has come home! 
  18. There is a massive horde of Gibberlings on its way to kill everyone! 
  19. Twenty two swords arranged into the shape of a symbol of murder & mayhem mark the spot where an ancient warrior fell against the Gibberling horde. Now he has com back for revenge! 
  20. An ancient Gibberling horde has come up from the underworld to kill your PC's! The PC's have a minor relics that that attracts them!

Monday, June 19, 2017

1d20 Random Living Ships Table For The Old School Solar System And Your Home Campaigns

Out among the asteroids of the Old Solar system are ancient living relics not seen in a million years. Here are some living ships to bedevil and confound your players.

" Man's conquest of the interplanetary gulfs has been fraught with many tragedies. Vessel after vessel, like venturous motes, disappeared in the infinite — and had not returned. Inevitably, for the most part, the lost explorers have left no record of their fate. Their ships have flared as unknown meteors through the atmosphere of the further planets, to fall like shapeless metal cinders on a never-visited terrain; or have become the dead, frozen satellites of other worlds or moons. A few, perhaps, among the unreturning fliers, have succeeded in landing somewhere, and their crews have perished immediately, or survived for a little while amid the inconceivably hostile environment of a cosmos not designed for men."
Clark Ashton Smith
The Master of the Asteroid
The Old Solar System asteroid field is full of many ancient treasures & relics beyond human understanding or reckoning. There are ancient living ships that still ply the spaceways without crew or understanding of their original purpose. These ancient craft were part of the Atlantian star craft whose brains & A.I. networks were grown around the Anzû models created millions of years ago by the Elder Things. These craft are incredibly complex & valuable beings who fetch hundreds of  thousands of gold pieces on the open market.

There are of course the half dead craft of the Mi Go run by the brain cylinders of their loyal agents & followers. Immortal, half insane from the cosmic horrors that these beings have experienced. The Mi Go ships are dreaded things and seen as ill omens by many spacers & those of Old Earth. But these are of course only a small sample of the millions craft that use the Asteroids as cover for their nefarious activities.

There are hints of such things in
"No Man's Land in Space" from the July 1941 Amazing Stories by Leigh Brackett. It's got an asteroid full of space pirates, a rogue industrialist, and a crazed scientist set against the start of a war between Earth and Venus.

You can grab this one right over here!
1d20 Random Encounters With 'Living Space Craft
In The Old Solar System
  1. A living space craft created when the world was young, its been monitoring Earth for millions of years. There are numerous ancient curses scrawled around the hull of the craft almost as if their trying to keep someone or something inside the craft. 
  2. Mi Go living ship with 1d100 brain cylinders on board along with bio drive systems. There are ancient guardian drive systems that are watching the Earth for time. 
  3. The still living skeleton frame of this ancient craft holds 1d6 violet fungas on each level and its growing around the valuable 1dx3000 gold pieces worth of stuff here. 
  4. An unliving space vessel is crewed by 1d3 massive alien golems made by the skeletal remains of past adventures. 
  5. There are 1d4 ancients aboard this living vessel who remember a time before all the life had appeared in this universe. This vessel also contains certain very hungry and dangerous life forms.
  6. The telepathic messages of some ancient king does not give away the fact that the the levels are unbalanced within the bio matrix and some needs to take out the giant microbes that are now living here. 
  7. This Mi Go craft contains over thirty seven mentally deranged individuals who are actually valuable scientists. On the open market these things are worth five thousand gold pieces each 
  8. This living ship holds a black hole generator and the possibility of never getting out alive. There are three hundred living minds aboard. 
  9. This living craft is actually a polymorphed demon, the weird flesh of this craft teams with deadly malice on any adventurers trying to handle it. 
  10. A very dangerous living craft contains the insane essence of a space god and his crew. They are waiting for some fool to let them loose. 
  11. A seven mile craft contains the last remains of an Atlantian colony ship. There is an ancient monster aboard that guards all of this. 
  12. This living ship is actually a space god who awaits a new cult. Perhaps you can become this new cult of fools. This craft will devour the soul of anyone it comes in contact with. 
  13. This treasure ship is actually a rogue A.I. created from the thought patterns of Alister Crowley or how aliens imagine him to be.
  14. This living craft has been created from the cybernetic genius & mind of an insane scientist who merged with a star spawn of Cthulhu. 
  15. A living ship made from one massive still living master brain  that has thousands of gold coins on its surface. These act as armor and camouflage in the asteroids. 
  16. This massive alien street is now an incredble living shopping mall with thousands of shops & a weird agenda.
  17. This living ship is made from the skull and head from ancient cosmically powerful alien. The thing was used as a repository for forbidden artifacts and ancient cosmic treasures. 
  18.  A city sized ship that has seventy or so alien buildings on the back & shoulders of a massive giant gargoyle. The thing serves as the focal point for a cosmic infernal cult of diabolical wizards. 
  19. A living planetoid with a strange and disturbing agenda for any adventurers it runs across. There are hundreds of souls stored in crystals with this being. 
  20. A dangerous alien scientist has created a weird living ship from the cloned cells of his body and flown them throughout the asteroid field on a mission of evil according to the cleric in this bar.