Thursday, March 30, 2017

Old School Domain Level Play With B1-9 In Search of Adventure As Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaign Jump Off Point

So I was discussing B9 Castle Caldwell with some friends & someone over heard us & quickly dismissed this old school anthology module as Basic D&D tripe. Oh I beg to differ folks. Tonight we're going to go into one of the turning point modules for B/X D&D and how it relates to domain level play & the OSR. First off don't buy B9 instead buy In Search of Adventure which is an abridged version of both B9 & some of the other adventures that preceded B9 as a super module. This is really the one to get.
"THRESHOLD! The northernmost town in the Duchy - and your last stop before your adventures begin. Threshold, the gateway to mysterious castles, lost temples, deadly caves and caverns. You have heard the stories and legends, now you wish to see for yourself. This product provides a complete campaign adventure that will take beginning characters from 1st all the way to 3rd level and possibly beyond, drawn from the first nine modules of the B-series adventures." According to the Amazon review

In Search of Adventure: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos Anthology is one of the best of the Eighties products to come out because it gives a highly playable & detailed region in the style of a pseudo European campaign setting sure some stuff from the venerable adventure modules was left on the cutting room floor but the sum is greater then the parts. Here the the PC's are adventuring in someone else's domains & the anthology approach of this mega module strings it together nicely especially for sword & sorcery styles of old school play. Castle Cladwell & Beyond is in this one but its got a completely different feel to it.

"The Clearing of Castle Caldwell--A local merchant has recently purchased a small castle... but when he tried to move in, he discovered that the castle was already inhabited!  
Dungeons of Terror--A strange trapdoor in the floor of Castle Cadwell leads to a terrifying challenge! The Abduction of Princess Sylvia--On the eve of her wedding, the beautiful princess has been kidnapped! Can you save her in time? The Great Escape--Imprisoned in an enemy fortress, without armor or weapons, your situation seems hopeless. Yet there may be a way to freedom . . . The Sanctuary of Elwyn the Ardent--A mystical chime of great power has been stolen?but by whom? In the wrong hands, the chime can cause untold harm! But can you find and defeat this mysterious and powerful creature?"

This adventure takes the PC's from the first level right through about maybe third or forth level in terms of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea or Adventurer, Conqueror, King by giving them a well strung together adventure resource that makes them the center of the action. They're the heroes of old as a part of this over arching plot boiler of this adventure setting. "The modules B1-B9 include: B1 In Search of the Unknown, B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, B4 The Lost City, B5 Horror on the Hill, B6 The Veiled Society, B7 Rahasia, B8 Journey to the Rock, and B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond." With a bit of work on the DM's part this anthology can be used to build out the adventure locations used in both the original adventure modules and the super modules to do Marvel Conan comic style returns after one part of the anthology is completed this was a tactic that served me well a few times when running this series of modules especially of the dungeons of the B4 The Lost City where entire dungeon sections are left blank allowing the DM to create five or more abandoned tunnels that can lead to the surface & back tie in with the B6 The Veiled Society as faction of the city setting. Why?

The entire module is build around the premise to allow rookie DM's to take PC's up class levels & have the entire module used as a viable campaign. This means that while the adventures are mostly intact it has a completely different aim then say some of the individual adventures unto themselves. In fact this allows PC's to take several of the adventure locations featured as possible domains for their parties. This is something we see today in several OSR products.
There are several reasons why In Search of Adventure  works for sword & sorcery style play:
  1. Ready made adventure location domains built into the module. 
  2. The PC's have personal adventure investment in the campaign setting location. 
  3. The whole adventure can be dropped into your favorite old school retroclone easily and it still fits quite nicely. 
  4. Lower tier encounters make this adventure ring true with beginning level parties 
  5. The module is still deadly and dangerous regardless of the starting level, this is something that many DM's I know forget. 
  6. There are several encounters that have threads that can be woven into other parts of a sword & sorcery campaign. 
  7. Loot, locks, & opportunity means that parties can carve out their own kingdoms if they're smart about it. 
  8. NPC's are deadly, devious, and dastardly - Several players I've known underestimate this adventure and it gets them every single time. 
  9. Campaign expansion opportunities, have you ever wanted to drop in weird adventure location or dungeon? This is a great anthology to use for exactly this sort of a reason. 
  10. More locations and more trouble for players  DM's should take full advantage of the dangers of domain play from their favorite rules sets when using this adventure. In fact it can easily be tied into White Plume Mountain for campaign expansion.

1d20 Random Other Dimensional Ruins In The Outer Darkness Encounter Table

Deep within the cold bone freezing darkness between the star's reflection in the otherverse between worlds is the Outer Darkness. This blackness can chill and freeze gods in their tracks, a hellish void of eternal darkness & savagery, this realm is the home to countless strange ruins & alien craft. Still there are those fools who plumb the deeps of the Outer Darkness hoping to retrieve some of the ancient lore & relics of  Poseidonis itself. But these depths are guarded by demons from Saturn & worse.

"Hotar and Evidon were brothers in science as well as by consanguinity. They were the last representatives of a long line of illustrious inventors and investigators, all of whom had contributed more or less to the knowledge, wisdom, and scientific resources of a lofty civilization matured through cycles. One by one they and their fellow-savants had learned the arcanic secrets of geology, of chemistry, of biology, of astronomy; they had subverted the elements, had constrained the sea, the sun, the air, and the force of gravitation, compelling them to serve the uses of man; and lastly they had found a way to release the typhonic power of the atom, to destroy, transmute, and reconstruct the molecules of matter at will.
However, by that irony which attends all the triumphs and achievements of man, the progress of this mastering of natural law was coincidental with the profound geologic changes and upheavals which caused the gradual sinking of Atlantis. Age by age, aeon by aeon, the process had gone on: huge peninsulas, whole sea-boards, high mountain-ranges, citied plains and plateaus, all went down in turn beneath the diluvial waves. With the advance of science, the time and location of future cataclysms was more accurately predictable; but nothing could be done to avert them.
In the days of Hotar and Evidon, all that remained of the former continent was a large isle, called Poseidonis. It was well known that this isle, with its opulent sea-ports, its aeon-surviving monuments of art and architecture, its fertile inland valleys, and mountains lifting their spires of snow above semi-tropic jungles, was destined to go down ere the sons and daughters of the present generation had grown to maturity."
“A Voyage to Sfanomoe.” Clark Ashton Smith

1d20 Random Other Dimensional Ruins In The Outer Darkness Encounter Table 
  1. The airless void conceals an alien castle ruin with some tendriled beast god living within it. There is a 20% chance of relics worth 3000 to 6000 gold pieces but there is a magick curse upon the place.
  2. Hyperborean sky boat with many decks and glittering trails of relics worth a king's fortune but its guarded by demons from the Abyss Type I 
  3.  Dark and dangerous ruins are the abode of a clan of gargoyles who guard the Hyperborean crown jewels. They will tear the eyes out of anyone who comes near unless they bare the scared word. 
  4. An ancient Hyperborea passenger saucer with over a hundred skeletons and horrors on board but a fully packed cargo hold of relics and artifacts waiting for crews never coming. 
  5. A single cargo ship with a god jelly aboard waiting for some fool to open it. There is a fully stocked fuel supply worth thousands of gold pieces aboard. 
  6. A dangerous monster god with four sky ships of Hyperborean design in its tendrils. 
  7. Hyperborean transport vessel for a high ranking ancient priest now given to the service of a demon lord of the night. He is a lich & 9th level cleric of darkness. He has over 5000 gold pieces of artifacts. 
  8. A single giant gem worth over 700000 gold pieces floats in the darkness 
  9. Dangerous flocks of succubus guard the tomb asteroid of a dead king who lusted after the pleasures of the flesh as Atlantis sank beneath the waves. 
  10. Weird shapes of ancient horror guard the saucer of an Old Earth explorers family. The words Jup in common can be made out but there is valuable cargo on board guarded by six plague zombies. 
  11. A huge sky ship is crewed by four hundred ghouls in the service to some ancient god thing wait for some fool to crack open an air lock. There are tens of thousands of gold pieces worth of relics here but the whole place is infected with ghoul plague. 
  12. Hyperborean rider and sky cycle frozen in place. The sky cycle seems worth 6000 gold pieces but these two are one unit so worth a 1000 gold pieces to the collector of such morbid artwork and remains. 
  13. A vast sky ship/ ruin with over seven floors of material to cover. There are ghouls, demons, & undead vying for space aboard this vessel. They war with each other frequently and there are several caches of relics to tempt the unwary worth over 20000 gold pieces. 
  14. Strange black step pyramid floats on its side, it is of old Martian design and hides a temple of the old gods of Mars. The place is guarded by deadly demons of hideous aspect but its the abode of one of the last tombs of the ancient Martian ocean kings. There are jewels worth 70000 gold pieces but the place is under a strange fungal curse. 
  15. Weird pockets of gas are actually doorways to Saturn caution must be used around these. 
  16. The vast corpse of an ancient god conceals within it's corpse the abode of a group of half demonic pirates who use the place as a lair to strike at star ships in other realities. The corpses is half seige weapon and half lair for the pirates.  
  17. A strange frozen giant bubble of unreality is the lair of demon queen who guards the eggs of an ancient Hyperborean god thing. Each egg is worth 60,000 gold pieces to the right wizard. But these eggs are near hatching and she will eat the soul of those who disturb her. Her astral form can pursue trespassers into other realities.  
  18. Giant claws of an ancient demon god hold the ruins of a castle within them. The castle is the home to clan of Hyperborean liches that have survived the sinking of Atlantis and wish to return to Hyperborea but they are barred by the gods for a sin of horror. They will torture anyone they meet for answers to their questions but hold deadly Hyperborean weapons of mass destruction. 
  19. Worthless ruins of a skyship float here but this is actually the lair of a demonic stalker of hideous aspect who hunts the planes for a wizard he only half remembers so now all wizards are his prey. He has a cache of alien artifacts from his prey worth 4000 gold pieces from many realities. They are worth three times this on Hyperborea.  
  20. A frozen spawn of Cthulhu awaits some fool who awakens it from its diamond covered asteroid tomb of dirt and ice. There are over a million gold pieces worth of diamonds here that were used to seal the beast in place. 

Carcosa/Gamma World Actual Cross Game Event - Barrens Of Carcosa & Five Classic Science Fiction Films That Inspired Last Night's Events

So my friends & I didn't make GaryCon again this year, we all have other commitments for me its my familial obligations. For others the schedules with work & whatnot but that hasn't stopped me from playing the hell out of some scheduled & unscheduled old school con style events. Take last night when I was settled in for the evening, a quick call from my friend Steven & I'm off to an unscheduled Gamma World/Carcosa game via the Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence. I've got nothing worked out ahead for a city location on my version of Gamma Terra  but I've already got that covered. So we get over to Steven's place & already the Golden Age 50's Atomic films are playing.

When had last left the PC's they had mostly escaped the Islands's influence or so they had though. Making it back through the scillicating dimensional gate pylon back to the wizard Shem'eli's tower the PC's were greeted by their employer & a stranger. They could rest & make use of the facilities but their employer had another job for them. The stranger in question was a masked patron of the Fruse'ru family from Torth ala Revelry in Torth [O5R adventure].
The players groaned they've faced this family & been employed by them many times before & died in their employ. They're relic & artifact sellers throughout the multiverse & their wizards of the lowest order.

The wizard Shem'eli's tower is located on the edge of the Wreckside District: A Post Apocalypse Setting
  From Fish Wife Games. Yeah I used a product that my buddy Dave Woodrum had given me a day or so ago with just this sort of a thing in mind. What happens next is all on  the Fruse'ru family representative, the masked priest Kelop'ru. While everyone is sleeping, healing, & recovering the tower's alarm goes off!

This is when all hell breaks loose for our heroes! Mutant alien mercs from Torth are swarming the tower! They're lead by a masked
Fruse'ru family wizard riding on the back of a giant mutant preying mantis! Yup that's right kids The Deadly Mantis inspired madness for your PC's doom!

So back through the gateway our PC's go as the wizard's tower endures an all out assault! Lasers firing, and weapons blazing the PC's make their way to strange gateway to make their escape!

Back to the purple inspired madness of the other dimensional gateway system to the dark gods know where?! Well after a few rounds, some saving throws, a dice toss or two they wake up on a strange other world that seems oddly familiar! They haven't had time to pack, grab food or water but they sure as hell grabbed their weapons!  They wake up just in time to see a strangely familiar thing about to munch on them, a horrid wormlike spawn of some elder eon inspired by The Monster That Challenged The World!

What hellish landscape of phantasmagorical nightmare & weirdness have they found themselves? What fiendish devilry have I cooked up for our heroes? The answer comes in the form of  the Rhedosaurus which takes out the wormlike god thing in one bite! All the PC's can do is look on in fear and then run! Run for their very lives!

So after about what seems like an eternity they come across a village of red men in the strange wasteland like landscape that seems achingly familiar to them. That's when one of the players spots an evil purple book sticking out from the very edge of my backpack! A strange warped book of horrid forbidden evil, The BARRENS OF CARCOSA adventure By Geoffrey McKinney. 

Groan not Carcosa?! Why in all of the universe did it have to be that lost & insane backwater world of ancient & terrible evil?! Well because they picked me up at nine at night & caffeinated beer made with hot sauce is the Devil's own creation but back to the game!  The redmen take in our mutant heroes & they are allowed to rest for the village needs champions against an evil that has taken down their best warriors. Some giant vegtible like human Thing From Another World (1951) has been terrorizing the village. The PC's immediately set off to destroy it and loot the downed saucer it came in.

So this took up the better part of the night & the PC's Pure Strain Human Restorationist technical advisor was almost killed by the Thing. It took some quick thinking on the parts of the players to take this boss monster out. Then they were exploring the rest of the saucer & came across a robot that sent shock waves of disbelief through the party. A deadly silver robot was escorting his prisoner to captivity when it escaped and began to wreck havoc. They looted what they could & quickly left! They made sure not to disturb that silver behemoth in the saucer!

Alright so our heroes are still trapped on Carcosa but they've got food, water, and shelter for the moment. The fact was that I again had to mix a good deal of first and second edition Gamma World in together to even things out for play. The modules weren't too bad at all. For last night's game the film inspirations were in no particular order The Deadly Mantis 1957, The Monster That Challenged The World, The Thing From Another World 1951, The Day The Earth Stood Still 1951. So 1951 & '57 respectively which were classic years for the Golden Age of atomic monster movies and alien invader flicks.

The mixing and matching of old school games,AD&D first edition and retroclone material went very well because of the fact that I was playing with very experienced players. Will I do this again? Only time will tell my friends but caffinted beer is the Devil's own. Keep em rolling. All films are trade marked and copyrighted to their respective owners this blog post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.

Oh and don't forget
Venger's latest KS is Trinity of Awesome Returns! For as little as 7 bucks, you get three adventures in PDF format - "one eldritch science-fantasy scenario (Crimson Dragon Slayer), one retro sleazy sci-fi scenario (Alpha Blue), and one pulp / investigative horror scenario (The Outer Presence)."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Commentary On Dark Albion + Eighties Cult Classic Movie Krull For An Old School Campaign Jump Off Point

Alright fine, I've been challenged tonight to come up with a way of combining three of my favorite things into a viable campaign. So here goes Dark Albion The Rose War & Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos  plus 1983's Krull film combined with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea equals out to a fully formed interstellar swords & sorcery campaign setting.

At first it doesn't seem as through a cheesy Eighties cult film has anything to do with the historical backdrop of  Dark Albion but as we shall see there's more here then simply nostalgia.  A prophecy regarding "a girl of ancient name that shall become queen", which says "that she shall choose a king, and that together they shall rule their world, and that their son shall rule the galaxy".
Down comes the Black Fortress on to Krull or should I say the world of Albion. The kingdoms have been a mess since the Hundred Years War. 
The House of Lancaster (associated with a red rose), and the House of York (whose symbol was a white rose) have gone to war after the coming of the Beast's Black Fortress. Both Prince Colwyn &  Princess Lyssa are but minor players in this grand stage of interstellar battle.

The slayers are the least of the problems as the Frogmen are about to invade Albion & wreck everything. There has been on and off conflict with them but the weakness of the Hundred Years war has left them an opening. Here the Beast is a chaos infested demonic power once disposed member of Albion's royal linage. He's gone out into the stars to create a demonic army & has returned to wreck havoc on the houses of the Lancastrian kings. This is a time of change as the interstellar map is rapidly changing.

The planet of Albion was once the playground of the Elves whose cults have infiltrated every level of society & whose alliance with the Beast has caused great concern among the mystics, rulers, & the inquisition of Albion. There are rumors of Prince Colwyn seeking the Elven infernal device among the wastelands with a rag tag group of mercenaries but this may be House of York propaganda. There is also evidence of the Prince consorting the former head of a shadowy chaos cult known as the "Widow of the Web". These claims have yet to be substantiated but there are dark rumors circling about since the First Battle of St Albans.

Even as the Beast's Black Fortress moves across the face of Albion the houses are at each other's throats. There are rumors that  Henry VI's queen, Margaret of Anjou is stirring the pot & bringing events to a boil behind the scenes with her spies and net work of Frog cults. She is a dark and sinister power behind the throne & PC's must be vary careful to avoid her at all costs.

Other rumors & innuendo put forth in certain circles are that the Elves are using the civil war to make a grab for power from the humans, the old god's worship has returned to certain Albion control areas. These claims can't be substantiated because the empire's resources  have  been stretched to the breaking point. A fact well known by the forces of Chaos and their cults. The war's future is uncertain, the interstellar picture in the Albion system is very dangerous, & the events between  The House of Lancaster &  The House of York 
have erupted into full blown civil war. The presence of the Beast only complicates these events all of the more.

So how does this sort of a campaign work? Well this campaign set up still follows the real world history of the War of the Roses of Dark Albion but we add in the material from Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos for good measure & then use Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea for a rules set to add in that dynamic sword and sorcery adventure elements as needed. Because there's the odd science fictional bit in AS&SH this should make the transference of old school and retroclone elements a snap. This campaign plays out as one part Game of Thrones, two part Frank Herbert's Dune, mixed with elements of Krull all set into a blender on the high setting. This is a campaign setting where the PC's have the chance to carve themselves out a domain of their own amidst the chaos of the civil war itself.
I've only barely scratched the surface of this campaign but things could have a much darker turn if events follow  history of the War of the Roses

This is a campaign with the potential for years of adventure where the forces of the Beast & its cults of chaos have been on Albion for years sewing the seeds of death & destruction only waiting to cause havoc on all levels of society.

Note that this is not an attempt to violate the copyright nor trade mark of the film Krull nor Dark Albion or Cults of Chaos or Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboorea. Neither of these OSR games is responsible for any of the content of this blog. This is merely the product of a deranged Krull fan's mind. All other ideas are copyrighted to Dark Corner productions.

The Domain Level Adventure Locations Of 'Landscape Giants' For Your Old School Campaigns

Landscape shaped like a face. State 1. from Wenceslaus Hollar

So when is the PC's domain,adventure location, etc. also the monster & perhaps siege weapon? When it happens to also be 'a landscape giant'. This of course comes from the great polymath from the 17th century  Athanasius Kircher whose been my dungeon saint for years now. I'm zipping around the public domain review site this morning and stumbled upon this.
The possibilities with this really are endless, the dungeon can suddenly become an NPC itself as the explorers have to navigate the inner workings of the adventure location itself. The story is according to the article;
"One of the most popular versions of the anthropomorphic landscape is the depiction of a bearded man, horizontal in rocky profile. The beginnings of this can be traced back to an image created by the great 17th-century polymath Athanasius Kircher, featured in his Ars magna lucis et umbrae (1645/6). Kircher’s design is said to have been inspired by a story related by Vitruvius about the 4th-century-BC architect Dinocrates’ plan to sculpt into Mount Athos a colossal image of Alexander the Great, who would hold a small city in one hand and with the other pour a river into a sea by means of a gigantic pitcher. Kircher’s more modest rendering — involving only a face rather than full body — was to be copied and riffed-upon many times over the next decades, including by Wenceslas Hollar, who in his rendition trims the “beard” and “hair” for a general smarter appearance."

Forget fighters having mere fortresses & wizards having towers, what if our adventurers have entire giants made up of their holdings as a possible siege weapon or dungeon. The investiment in time and resources isn't that far off what we see in AD&D or B/X D&D but its really within the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg system  line that things begin to shine.

Joos de Momper the Younger, Anthropomorphic Landscape c.1600-1635

The recent Heroic Fantasy & Barbarian Conquerors Collection kickstarter presents the spell singing rules in their most recent update and here the idea of this sort of spell casting to awaken such a giant becomes quite appealing from a OSR adventure potential element perspective;
"He chanted a song of wizardry, / Of piercing, opening, of treachery / Revealing, uncovering, betraying. – The Lay of Leithian in The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien) 
Spellsinging is an alternative way to perform magic that is more fluid and flexible than traditional spellcasting. Spellsinging was inspired by the magic of Middle Earth, as used by Tom Bombadil and Lúthien Tinúviel; the magic of the Kalevala, itself based on traditional Finnish spellsongs; the magic of the Greek hero Orpheus; the magic of Blue in the Apprentice Adept series; and more. It could also represent other fluid types of spellcasting, such as the Wheel of Time’s channeling. The following rules explain how spellsinging works. The Elven Spellsinger class in these rules is built on these mechanics, but the Judge may convert other classes to spellsingers if desired." The PC or NPC doing such a casting is going to seriously burn through some very large amount of spell points to pull this off. Read more right over here

Study by Herman Saftleven
This also opens up the possibility of using these types of creatures for full borne adventure locations within a post apocalyptic wasteland. These sorts of giants might be controlled by ancient A.I.'s or other half forgotten super science technologies. Assigning a range of stats for this sort of an adventure location is sort of foolish but there are plenty of adventure ideas that can be used with this sort of a domain. The upkeep alone is going to require double the amount of magical energies, food stuffs, resources,etc. They might well be a part of a wasteland waiting to be sprung on unsuspecting adventurers.

A Hilly Landscape with an anthropomorphic design

Periodic spell singing or rituals might be needed to keep such a location asleep & ready for a possible military application of these monsters. Your talking at least several miles of landscapes, buildings, etc. to support such monster's Gygaxian ecologic needs. These monsters make ideal dungeon locations unto themselves especially for a sword & sorcery style game. These monsters might be the remains of Hyperborean horrors that were created centuries ago within the bounds of Hyperborea as temple, wizard tower, or Hyperborean city locations for the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea game.

All in all these landscape giants are a perfect old school campaign element that can add another lay of adventure and weirdness to your campaigns.

Momper, Joost de the Younger - Allegorie des Frühlings

All artwork shown is within the public domain and breaks no copy right. So enjoy!

Monday, March 27, 2017

High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure OSR Campaign- Between A Rock & The Claw An Actual Play Event For The Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts Rpg System By Thomas Denmark

So the PC's from last week's game aren't going to let them be keep in the same time space continuum, so they began to brain storm about another possible time machine or gateway to help them defeat the machinations of the German forces man Professor Fenton. The PC's trail of adventure led them to the shores of the Pacific island nation of Ricca, & its sleazy highly dangerous harbors. They were in search of information and possible weird science dimension hopping technology that had been smuggled in. They got far more then they bargained for when they almost were imprisoned in the dungeons of the demonic lich ruler of Ricca, The Claw.

The PC's came face to face with a brotherhood of pirates who wear in the employ of 'The Claw' and about to deliver  a rare gem. The PC's were able to acquire a rare diamond gem relic 'The Blue Fire'  which belonged to another forth level treasure hunter/assassin The Cobra. Rather then face the wraith of the Claw, the pirates fled & their leader the Cobra went to deal with the PC's but they were gone having flown away by that time. The Claw is an occultist of the highest order & a god like figure on the island nation. The party started having bad dreams, mechanical problems in their plane, and almost ended up dying but managed to escape with a few lucky rolls. Meanwhile the Cobra is now on their trail & he's not going to stop until he gains revenge on the adventurers!

Meanwhile the Blue Fire seems to be exerting an unhealthy influence on the party's occultist & there's reason to suspect that The Claw himself is behind this. The party needs a port in a storm and there are several in the party's flight plan but how long can they remain airborne with the 'God of Hate' on their tale and what's the strange ghostly plane that's trailing them now? Only time will tell if the Claw catches up with our heroes but they've heard tales of another treasure!

In tonight's game everything seemed to work out quite smoothly by using the strengths of both retroclone systems.  I powered tonight's game adventure  using a combination of Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts  By Thomas Denmark & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea as the back bone system. On the whole everything seemed to have a very golden age pulp feel to it and the encountered seemed to really challenge the player's tonight. I'm curious to see what's going to happen if the 'Claw's forces catch up with the PC's! The only complaint I have is that I need a physical copy of Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts, the pdf copy is driving both myself and my players nuts. I'll have to wait a couple of weeks until my next pay day and Lulu's next sale.  My eyes are ready to fall out of my head from reading the pdf.

Review & Commentary 'Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss' By Venger Satanis From Kort'thalis Publishing

Play Your Character like a Fucking Boss is the latest title from Venger Satanis and is his book end to his other work How To Game Master like a Fucking Boss. Clocking in at about fifteen pages this book is really geared towards OSR style players, well mostly. What this book is actually is a primer or manifesto for Venger's wit and wisdom when it comes to his style of gaming for the player. So what your getting is a primer for the player's side of the screen. 

The cover is pretty awesome with a Venger style wizard taming his three headed dragon and yeah the cover is boss. The advice inside is as well for players up to a point, the break down here is the finer points of this book is the fact that at certain levels its not really a primer for players. But a set of guidelines for smoother play & more cooperation between dungeon masters & the players. It has more between its pages then a simple review of it can kinda of encompass. There are some ideas for PC guidelines, quick idea backgrounds, how to approach both both play at the table, and how to deal with the dungeon master at your table. All of this is done with Venger's usual unique take. It kinda boils down like this.
Without the players you don't have a game & its really not about being a complete jerk. Talking & having complete communication across the table is key here. Which basically makes this book something  a look into a set of opinions, PC guidelines, & some solid advice. This isn't so much a book of incredibly awesome ideas but simple on the ground common sense. That right there makes this book far more valuable to me as a player. Do I agree with everything in this book, umm no but then I'm not meant to and neither are you as a player. Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss is a box of chocolates in this regard. Pick and choose the pieces of advise that are in  there for you.

If your DM is like Dexter then run now!

The part about the OSR I agree with mostly but then again I don't; "Players, you have a lot more power than you realize.Banding together with common goals is the equivalent of forming a union. If I was part of this player union, my first order of business would be to find an easy, fun, rules-lite system that the majority will enjoy. I'm sure you can think of several off the top of your head, but indulge my blatant pimping… Crimson Dragon Slayer, The Outer Presence, and Alpha Blue are prime examples of simplistic yet awesome
roleplaying games. On the flip-side, strong unions - when thoroughly corrupted by power - deserve to be broken. By the way, I feel the same way about strong, corrupt corporations. That's all part of the fascinating pushpull dynamic between the Game Master and players. Neither side has absolute power, and thank the gods for that, as the game would lose its fun. The second old school element I dislike is that player  characters were occasionally… what's the opposite of putting something on a pedestal? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for initiation - the risk of a quick, unceremonious death comes with the old school territory. However, when you beat the odds, make the right decisions, and lady luck smiles upon your character, succeeding despite all the nasty shit the  GM throws at you… I expect a fucking parade!"  Which I mostly agree with but many OSR games find their own level and quite quickly.  This is one of the reasons why its been easier to get players to play Dungeons and Dragons rather then Alpha Blue. This product is part manifesto and part advise primer by someone whose been in the hobby a long while. The artwork is very well done and the layout is top notch. The advise is right on target & for what it does 'Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss' By Venger Satanis gets five out of five.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Carcosa/Gamma World Actual Cross Game Event - Lost In The Yuthlugathap Swamps With Five House of Hammer Prehistoric Film Influences

So today I got a chance to throw back a few beers & get together with friends for a bit of Gamma World second edition/Carcosa mash up event & five favorite prehistoric & cult classic monster movies playing in the background. We're going to go in for some serious cult films today. We'll start with the house of Hammer prehistoric trilogy One Million Years B.C. (1966), Slave Girls (1967), The Lost Continent 1968, & When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth (1970).
One Million Years B.C. is a 1966 British adventure/fantasy film starring Raquel Welch and John Richardson, set in a fictional age of cavemen and dinosaurs. And its a perfect example of the type of primitive conditions that folks are dealing with on Carcosa.

Or As I like to refer to em Appendix 'C' films for Carcosa. Sure I can't be at GaryCon but that doesn't stop us from doing a bit of retroclone old schooling. One of the players in last night's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea/Islands of Purple Putrescence game was messing around with a time/space pylon. This caused the pylon to appear in today's game & suck in the party of adventurers from Gamma Terra! And where were these poor mutant bastards and adventurers deposited? Well right over on LoFP's Carcosa & what they didn't know is that the party had picked up a shape shifting serpent man half caste priest named Nadri'al (this priest was on the Purple Islands doing a bit of recon work for his own sinister goals). The PC's ended up in The Yuthlugathap Swamps.

They ended up running into a band of Amazon women who worshiped a scared white dinosaur species which I liberally stole from the '67 film Prehistoric Women.

There are several key plot points I borrowed for today's game including the assassination of one of the Amazon women's key leaders by our serpent man/assassin NPC. 

"David Marchant (Michael Latimer), a British explorer, along with Colonel Hammond (Robert Raglan) and a guide are pursuing a leopard on an African safari. The Colonel takes aim but misses and only wounds the animal. With the guide warning that it will soon be dark, David decides to find the beast and put it out of its misery before following the party back to camp.
Walking some way, he passes various trees with a picture of a white rhino but ignores them. Finally, the weakened leopard attacks him and he shoots it dead, whereupon David is ambushed and captured by a primitive tribe. They accuse him of disturbing the spirit of the white rhinoceros, and take him to their leader's temple. As the high priest/leader makes his decision, David notices a large, ancient stone statue of a white rhino and realizes this is what the tribe worship"

The players were forced to flee into the wastelands & besides a whole host of lizard men, and some mutated crabs they dealt with several encounters with Grey Aliens & their flying saucers. They dodged most of these encounters and learned very quickly to run away. But they quickly dealt with a tribe of  Blue Men who wanted to sacrifice them to Shub-Niggurath spawn they worshiped because of the color of their hair. Obviously a nod to Hammer's When Dinosaur's Rule The Earth.
But what really freaked the players out was running into their boat from a 2011 Carcosa game that had been taken its nods from The Lost Continent from 1968. One of the mutant fools erm adventurers was killed by the vampire sea weed that was still aboard. The rest of the PC's blew the boat to kingdom come with an energy weapon they had recovered and continued on after the serpent man. This was  after he had almost succeeded in killing them in some ruins. He left them to die with a group of killer robots! If it wasn't for the party's mutant warriors they would have been toast.

They finally found the gate way back home but it was guarded by a group of tribes whom I lifted directly from Creatures The World Forgot from '71. There was a bone man sorcerer living in disguise among these people as a priest of a particularly nasty spawn of Shub-Niggurath. The players figured out who he was after he met with the serpent man assassin in the triple moonlight that night. The party followed him back to his cave and that's where they discovered his dimensional gate way. He cooked one of the mutants with a death ray but the party managed to take him out with a laser pistol they had. The serpent man NPC managed to slither away in the confusion.

All in all for a spur of the moment one shot I think things went rather well, the THE YUTHLUGATHAP SWAMPS module worked rather nicely because of its Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition gaming background. This made it rather easy to blend with Gamma World. I ended up using a good bit of second edition Gamma World to round out some of the system and artifact kinks. Everything went off without too much of a hitch thanks to the notes in the AD&D 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide. Several of the charts from Islands of Purple Putrescence also came in handy to round out some of the random elements of today's game. So all in all it was a great one shot game.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Renagades a Go Go On The Islands of Purple Putresence - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Actual Play Event

Tonight we got together for our weekly The Islands of Purple Putrescence game powered by the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea first edition rpg engine

So earlier this evening my players have embarked upon the interior of the Islands of Purple Putrescence. What I really began to draw from was the Eighties classic Holmes D&D edition mixed with a healthy dose of classic era Pulp resources. I created several factions & ideas for this game which I set upon first edition Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign world.

Over the last several weeks the PC's have collected crystals, pissed off minor hedge wizards, explored the ruins of a Roman fort & generally almost gotten themselves killed several times over. Well in tonight's game the stakes began to go up the group's shaman has traded in several crystals for an animal woman slave whose become his bodyguard. Nula was this particular animal woman's name & she is a third level assassin. Blessed with an almost supernatural psionic empathy sense & the ability to communicate without actually speaking she  was more then a match for several of the NPC's  the party encountered on the island.

Deeper in the thick of the jungle the party ran into several mutant slavers who were in a bad way; the slavers last week had run into a rather dangerous cosmically radioactive horror & seemed to be easy pickings for the party. A bit too easy but the party managed to recover several artifacts & even more Purple island crystals but that's when after a moment the party encountered one of the island's pylons.
The party's Hyperborean shaman started to mess with this dangerous device of alien horror & created several doppelgangers of himself as the Einsteinium time space hi jinks started. 
The player is completely unaware that the island has already marked him as one of its own & the crystals keep finding the party. Time and again at several of the Roman forts they've encountered along the way there have been several ape men traders & slavers who have been warning the party of the islands alien influence. Now it seems that the Lovecraftian powers of the islands have been quietly exerting more & more power over certain events but only time will tell how this turns out. 

The party has met several of the various Greyhawk mercenaries that I've used over the years including a renegade Amazon princess whose taken an instant dislike to one of the PC's. Needless to say that a future confrontation has been set up. Needless to say she's not at all what she appears to be, she's actually Joane De Val'u servant of Shub-Niggurath and renegade Amazon cult leader on the islands furthering her mistress's twisted goals.

The players are quite unaware that they've been followed by this dangerous and deranged cult leader. The question is whose goals is she furthering her own or the islands. Only time will tell. Joane was created using Venger's Free OSR resource Three Swordsmen From Kort'thalis Publishing  
& several suggestions from  Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss. 

We ended with our characters camped for the night & several horrors out in the jungles closing in on them. What will happen? Will our heroes survive their night's terror and why are powers of the islands taking such an interest in them?

Old School Domain Level Play With S2 White Plume Mountain As Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaign Jump Off Point

"White Plume Mountain has always been a subject of superstitious awe to the neighboring villagers. People still travel many miles to gaze upon this natural wonder, though few will approach it closely, as it is reputed to be the haunt of various demons and devils."So let's talk S2 White Plume Mountain here for a moment, this is one of the classics & has to be run for a group of experienced players. When it comes to classics this one of the more twisted ones, with the designation of special & it lives up to that designation. Its also one of the higher level modules that whilst designed for the world of Greyhawk can be adapted for other worlds. That's what we're going to be talking about today.

At S2's heart & soul are the three Moorcock style weapons,"
precipitated by the theft of three magical, sentient weapons:[6] a trident named Wave, a war hammer named Whelm, and a sword named Blackrazor (all three were introduced in this adventure).", this adventure puts the PC's in the cross hairs of danger where they belong. "It is also the favorite adventure of Wired magazine's Ken Denmead, who described it as the "amusement park of dungeons", & this comment is where we're going to kick things off. Because with a bit of clever dungeon mastering S2 can be moved lock, stock, and puzzles right over to your favorite campaign world in this case Hyperborea. Why Hyperborea? Well last night I got into a discussion with one of my players. What was Hyperborea like before the Green Death? The high level weirdness and puzzles of White Plume Mountain for me answer the question. A decedent adventure location that has been taken over by wizards & all sorts over the centuries. But what does this have to do with domain level play? Everything really. S2 is the ultimate expression of the fun house dungeon with a ton of intimidating monster encounters. There are several reasons for this.

Why? Because the entire module is built around that premise. Its built to quite literally rip PC's apart. "The recommended number of players is four to ten, with levels ranging from fifth to tenth." This is a convention level group of players but many times over the years I heard of groups of smaller players completing the adventure. How? By taking the parts and pieces of S2 apart and dealing with the parts rather then the whole over time of game play. In other words using S2 as an episodic television series type of game. Which brings me to the domain element of S2 White Plume Mountain, this adventure is dungeon creator Keraptis the 1,300-year-old wizard's front & back yard there's whole range of other high level horrors living within the adventure location. This is because in Adventurer, Conqueror, King terms S2 White Plume Mountain is a sink of evil in the worst way possible. If you've been paying attention to the Heroic Fantasy & Barbarian Conquerors Collection Kickstarter then you've been seeing some of the leaked updates that
Autarch has put out then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Sacrilege is going to be the cry from certain corners of the OSR but hear me out here. "White Plume Mountain" is very loosely connected to Greyhawk & given the amount of weirdness of the place I've used it as a mini domain of fairy multiple times.
This one is a favorite of mine because the Great Swamp, White Plume Mountain, and Castle Mukos didn't match up with anything else within Greyhawk though the text of the adventure clearly places White Plume Mountain in the Shield Lands, near the Great Rift. It can easily be moved where the DM needs it go. I've even seen a customization or two place White Plume within a fantasy version of Iceland and Greenland for a game of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I could also see using White Plume as a part of a very gritty and dangerous Dark Albion campaign. Hence why I've said that it works for domain level play.
There are several reasons why S2 White Plume Mountains works for sword & sorcery style play:
  1. Players are going to take years turning this place into a domain by clearing out every nook and cranny of the dungeons of White Plume. 
  2. There's lots of weird occult tech that keeps White Plume running and its perfect fodder to connect with Expedition to the Barrier Peaks 
  3. Make no mistake those three Stormbringer style weapons are perfect fodder & excuses for war with other Hyperborean nations. Yeah their certainly that powerful and dangerous
  4. Anything from the DM's aresenal of monsters and horrors can be customized to add to White Plume Mountain. 
  5. Dealing with some of S2's NPC's is going to be campaign play unto itself. 
  6. There are several hooks scattered throughout S2 that can be used to cement S2 into the volcanic lands of Hyperborea which could tie in other dangerous AS&SH NPC's. 
  7. Piece meal play of White Plume Mountain means that the DM has more time to avoid DM burnout and far more time to make S2 their own for campaign play. 
  8. Adding in more mini levels and to S2 is one way connect S2 up with B4 The Lost City  and I've seen this done several times with AS&SH's Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes 
  9.  Taking over White Plume Mountain is going to be very tricky for the PC's & there's plenty of opportunity to add another layer of danger to this sort of an operation. 
  10. More locations and more trouble DM's should take full advantage of the dangers of domain play from their favorite rules sets.

    Classics are classic for a reason and this one still holds up and because of the high level nature of the adventure it attracts players like moths to an old school torch flame.
    Keep em rolling folks.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ecology of Kong Skull Island, AD&D 1st Edition Carnivorous Apes, & Old School Campaigns

So my father & I got a chance to catch Kong Skull Island over at the local dollar cinema last night. We loved it and mostly had the movie theater to ourselves so see it in a theater if you get the chance. The basic plot line follows an American Army crew into the heart of Skull Island. The special effects are well done the basic plot is a homage to Apocalypse Now with a mix of classic popculture mythology.

Of course this film counteracts & completely wipes away the floor with Peter Jackson's 2005 King Kong film. Umm not at all really at all. Skull Island itself is really at the center of all this but what is Skull Island itself? Skull Island is one of the remnants of Atlantis or Mu that has been perpetually sinking into the ocean but how does this interact with the films? And why would there be an OSR connection?

Seismologist Houston Brooks blurts out the Gygaxian ecology of the Skull Islands, he states that he had a paper in college that describes pockets of inner Earth or Hollow Earth theory. Is it any reason that Project  Monarch picked him up? If there was an incursion by mankind or series of  expeditions or landing onto the various Skull islands then this could explain the aggression by the apes. We know that species like the Skull Crawlers & much more dangerous monsters are found in these environments. But if  Monarch knew about about the apes then it might have been because of the 1933 New York King Kong incident. But how do you explain the vast ecologies of the islands? These are various islands that have been thrown up and torn down by the seas over the past sixty five million years. These are predator top heavy because of the fact that the predators wait for the openings for migration from the inner earth to open up. These are routes from the "hollow earth" land of Pellucidar that have been there for millions of years. In fact the latest King Kong picture could tie in with the rest of the King Kong incidents even going into the 1970's Kong picture. They don't really counter act one another. Monarch has been very good at their job.  This might also help explain the boat load of various ruins & mega dungeon like structures that have been scattered in remote places across the globe.

Now here's where the Gygaxian ecology comes in, these are not the only apes that have been seen over the years in the various Appendix N literature. Carnivorous apes have been standard fare since the beginning of OD&D but I think you're looking at an entirely other inner Earth species here. These apes species are closely associated with these variations of mankind. The states of the cultures of the tribes of the Skull Island chains are simply reflections of the survivors of the sinking of Mu, Atlantis, or whatever other lost world happens to have been thrust up by the tops volcano chains that make up these places. These apes have close ties to these people because actually they're the degenerate remains of other survivors of the disasters that sank these lost countries. This all ties back into Lovecraft & the killer ape theory, "

The killer ape theory or killer ape hypothesis is the theory that war and interpersonal aggression was the driving force behind human evolution. It was originated by Raymond Dart in the 1950s; later it was developed further in African Genesis by Robert Ardrey in 1961."  All of this actually ties in with HP Lovecraft's "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" & the many killer ape stories out of African pulp adventure fiction including the connection with the 1995 film Congo.

Your not looking at normal apes when we speak of Carnvous apes your looking at a creature part man & part something else entirely. This ties in with Clark Aston Smith Voormis/ HG Wells Time Machine Morlock connection & equation which other bloggers have put forth in the past.  I think the most dangerous thing that might come from below the surface might not be the giant monsters but the horrors that are just like us.

Now the Voormis had, from their remotest origins, considered themselves the chosen minions of Tsathoggua, the sole deity whose worship they celebrated. And Tsathoggua was an earth elemental ranged in perpetual and unrelenting enmity against the Rhan-Tegoth and all his kind, who were commonly accounted elementals of the air and were objects of contempt to those of the Old Ones, like Tsathoggua, who abominated the airy emptiness above the world and by preference wallowed in darksome and subterranean lairs.
—Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith, "The Scroll of Morloc"
 But how would these islands not be discovered until the Seventies? Those perpetual storms that surround the islands because of the on going volcanic activity. In H. P. Lovecraft's fictional manuscript The Pnakotic Fragments we get most of the story but there might be more including the round about connection to the eight armed white apes of Barsoom.

Bronze Age Miniatures' great white ape

We know that the survivors of Skull Island use a very subtle form of telepathy that we see on screen.  ERB's inner Earth cave men have similar senses as do his Barsoomians. So could all of these be survivors of the disasters that took out Hyperborea, Atlantis, Mu?

Well that's up to you in your campaigns. As for me I already know the answer to the question but next time I'll begin to really explore some of the connections to some of the most dangerous challenges that adventurers can face.