Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rumble In The Darkness - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Actual Play Event!

 Our heroes are now deep beneath the streets of a Hyperborea city state on a quest for a long lost Hyperborean treasure of deep importance! Will they survive the experience?!? Here's the  by play from last night's adventure!

So last night the player's PCs journeyed deep into the ruins of 'house of Elr'. There were 'dead' bodies everywhere & the players weren't expecting much resistance. What they got was a whole different ball game, strangely garbed warriors, odd lights, & a marked undead warriors caused them terror deep beneath the streets of Hyperborea.

They had descended into the catacombs beneath the house & fought other lesser monsters. But this was with a search part of undead Aztec style warriors/drone in full garb.They were armed with atomic disintegration wands and bad attitudes. The PC's ended up hiding in several stone coffins nearby as disintegration rays played around the room! Their cat girl hireling/slave assassin found herself under some strange mental other worldly influence! So they couldn't rely on her claws or prowess! They were on their own...

Stone coffin by

David Castor (dcastor)

Several lucky shots by the PC's took down the drones & got the PC's time to regroup before something worse came back. The PC's were trapped in a room with no way out or so it seemed! But fortunely they had time to find the secret stairs that lead down to another level just before 'The Baleful Sorcerer of Tsathag'kha' had led his forces onto our heroes location!

Down, down, they went into the bowels of the city until they found themselves in an ancient Hyperborean teleportation chamber that lit up from the power crystals they had recovered last game! The place lit up as blue light came from above what would they do? Then suddenly a 'whoshing' absence of air, light, & a gout of mystic power propelled them to another part of the dungeon beneath the streets of Hyperborea!
Now they find themselves in the temple of Nodens deep in the thick of adventure!
Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss! The whole complex lighted up as ancient power circuits clicked into place and the lord of the deep and lost places statue was lit with radium bulbs dormant for eons lit up! What new terrors await our heroes? Tune in next week!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday B3 Palace of the Silver Princess Tom Moldvay and Jean Wells Notes & Commentary For Your Old School Campaigns

Sometimes the obvious isn't obvious at all when you've been rereading the same material for many years but at about three A.M. this morning the obvious hits me. I could transition my players into a pocket side adventure involving based on the works of HPL, Lord Dunsany, & Clark Ashton Smith. There's a series of forts along the old Hyperborean border lands that were filled with strange Hyperborean writing at might activate a gate or two. I had this echoing through my head at about eight o'clock this morning. I've been thinking lately once again about B3 Palace of the Silver Princess which has always been a bit of a minor obsession.
The module always reminds me of Shadows of Nightmare by Clark Ashton Smith especially with its dream like connections.

What gulf-ascended hand is this, that grips
My spirit as with chains, and from the sound
And light of dreamland, draws me to the bound
Where darkness waits with wide, expectant lips ?
Albeit thereat my footing holds, nor slips,
The night-born menace and the fear confound
All days and hours of gladness, girt around
With sense of near, unswervable eclipse.
So lies a land whose noon is plagued with whirr
Of bats, than their own shadows swarthier,
That trace their passing upon white abodes,
Wherein from court to court, from room to room,
In hieroglyphics of abhorrent doom,
Is trailed the slime of slowly crawling toads.

Shadow of Nightmare By Clark Ashton Smith

"Not long ago, the valley was green and animals ran free through golden fields of grain. The Princess Argenta ruled over this peaceful land and the people were secure and happy. Then one day, a warrior riding a white dragon appeared in the skies over the castle, and almost overnight the tiny kingdom fell into ruin. Now only ruins and rumors remain, and what legends there are tell of a fabulous treasure still buried somewhere within the Palace of the Silver Princess."

All of has me thinking about the fall out from Palace of the Silver Princess adventure that I ran some months ago. Basically I'm thinking that Arik of the Hundred Eyes patron of Forbidden Secrets & the Lost has taken the entire adventure of B3 into his own fragmented Dreamlands realm and the cycle of events continues regardless of the adventurers, or outlaws who find the place. The events are a part of an ever looping cycle. Treasures, relics, etc. taken from the place spread the corruption of Arik of the Hundred Eyes across the face of Hyperborea. The PC's are going to have to tackle the adventure on his terms to rid the world of the ever increasing evil. Parts of the module could be crossed over into the recent Free  DIY revamp of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess to give the whole affair a much more sword & sorcery Weird Tales feel to it.  That being said one of the elements that I really want to add into my current adventures is rival NPC adventurers. These folks can generate so much conflict and heart ache for PC's and players.

1d6 Random Rival Low Level Adventurers For PC's To
Encounter Table

  1. A party of second level thieves known as 'Well's crew' is looking for relics & treasures. They're murderous thieves and scum of the based nature.
  2.   Here a  group of 1d10 outlaws is on the run from Hyperborean bounty hunters and they've hidden out only to find themselves here. They're very dangerous and armed with a variety of make shift weapons. They won't hesitate to murder others for their own arms. 
  3. A gang of cut throats from the losing side of an army has decided to try their luck here there are 1d6 3rd level fighters

  4.  Strangely garbed Amazons armed with radium pistols & close in weapons are on the hunt for a sacred object. They are 2nd level thieves and assassins working for their clan heads there are 1d6 lady adventurers 

  5. Disguised as palace servants these adventurers are all 2nd level adventurers making their way through the palace. They will murder anyone they come across. They are lead by a third level necromancer

  6. A group of 1d6 royal soldiers has begun to plunder parts of the palace and is looking for other co conspirators to help them. They are 2nd level fighters armed with a variety of swords, knives, and other melee pieces for murder & mayhem.






Friday, April 28, 2017

A Clark Ashton Smith Spin On David Cook's I1 Dwellers In The Forbidden City For Your Old School Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Campaigns

"Somewhere in the heart of the steaming jungle lies the answer to the whispered tales - rumors of a magnificent city and foul, horrid rituals! Here a brave party might find riches and wonders - or death! Is your party brave enough to face the terrors of the unknown and find the Forbidden City!?"Welcome back to the Saturday edition of Swords & Stitchery, so last night I shut down the internet & settled in to read I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City. David Cook delves deeply into the pulpy pot of his imagination for I1. There has been a suggestion from a friend of mine that the dungeon master could add in Dwellers of the Forbidden City as a level of B4 The Lost City. There also been games that I've played in which Dwellers of the Forbidden City became an addition to Isle of Dread. This allows dungeon masters to complete the island hopping campaign adventure idea. So why is I1 so loved?
 Well because its a good old fashioned deadly middle ground adventure for characters level four to seven to really cut loose and get into the pulpy thick of the adventure. I've heard some bellowing from certain old school players about this adventure being very dangerous & dark for encounters for their PC's. There is actually a reason for this folks. According to the Wizards of the Coast entry on I1;"
the I-series of adventures was (mostly) unconnected. Instead, it featured adventures for characters of a certain level: intermediate. The result was one of TSR's longest-running series, containing fourteen books published from 1981-1988, covering Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms, and including modules originating at TSR UK, the RPGA, and the Hickmans' DayStar West Media. Over time, the intermediate adventures supported levels 4-10, roughly matching Basic D&D's expert level.
The I series was later supplemented by the N (novice) series (1982-87) and the H (high-level) series (1985-88). By the end of the 80s, however, the N, I, and H codes were all fading away, to be replaced by the next big thing: modules focused on specific settings."
That's right I1 was the first module to focus on a specific PC level & if your PC survives it congrats. Because it was a module originally designed for mid level convention play. "Dwellers of the Forbidden City was first used in Dungeons & Dragons tournament play at the Origins Game Fair in 1980" 

Cook leans heavily on the Fiend Folio first edition  to fill out the roster of monsters here including: giant bloodworm, the bullywugs, the pan lung, the yellow musk creeper, and the yellow musk zombie.The encounters and factions here are mean, dangerous and link up in a type of weird sword and sorcery adventure that pits PC's against horrid  odds. With one of the themes being the dangerous snake cult of the yuan-ti. " The adventure was instrumental in introducing the yuan-ti as a new species of antagonists.[3] Much like the drow from the Queen of the Spiders Series, the yuan-ti have been featured in a number of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Edition books for the D&D game, and are one of the few species that Wizards of the Coast did not keep open for the Open Game License"
BUHAHAHA  sorry because this hasn't kept dungeon masters for the better part of thirty years from simply changing them to Robert Howard's serpent men and then using them in their sword & sorcery home campaigns. And this is one of the reasons why Dwellers In The Forbidden City is so beloved its dangerous and very adaptable for old school play. The dangerous spreading corruption of I1 has been something I used for years to really get the player's blood going. They try to stamp it out and yet it never seems to go away. I've also mated it up with X6 Quagmire many times. 
Now that being said  Paleologos over at the Vaults of Pandius site has a complete rundown of the mating of X6 Quagmire with Dwellers of The Forbidden City. 
Its a very well organized article and lays out all of the basics the dungeon master needs. 
Personally I would also add in a tribe or two of Robert Howard Picts to try and murder the PC's or to act as NPC hirelings. The number of factions of the player characters can recruit allies from the various power groups and factions within the city, namely the bugbears, mongrelmen, and bullywugs,are not to be trusted and a more human group seems to get more mileage from the players in my experience. The various factions & monsters some of which are straight out the AD&D 1st edition Fiend Folio remind me of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess
The Forgotten Fane has many parts & pieces that can act as reflections of the lost empire of another age. The plot & adventure itself acting as a valve to pull PC's deeper into the mysterious & dangerous elements of a forgotten age.
  There are several key parts of Forgotten Fane that can easily be adapted into I1 Dwellers In The Forbidden City as major adventure points for old school play. Tread carefully with these because your going to need PC's robust enough to survive in the machinations of I1 especially if using AS&SH. So is there a Clark Ashton Smith connection here in I1 Dwellers In The Forbidden City? Actually possibly one that I've done in the past is to connect I1 with Zothique. How? Well by taking a boy like the one named Xeethra from the Clark Ashton Smith story and turning him into an NPC with information critical to the location of The Forbidden City. In fact the entire run of the Forgotten Fane/Quagmire/Dwellers In The Forbidden City mash up mini campaign could be set on Zothique. This might be a fragment of a far future Old Earth. Only the boy's mind & soul holds the answers to that long lost world piece of an ancient empire.

Like the boy the PC's no matter what they do will be stained by the old school corruption that runs through I1 The Dwellers of The Forbidden City. This sort of a campaign might take years to play through.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Clark Aston Smith Old School Twist On B4 The Lost City By A Tom Moldvay B/X Dungeons & Dragons Adventure For Your Old School Campaigns

"Lost in the desert! The only hope for survival lies in a ruined city rising out of the sands. Food, water, and wealth await heroic adventures inside and ancient pyramid ruled by a strange race of masked beings"

Last night I turned the internet 'off ' & began to do a bit of deconstructionist reading about B4 The Lost City. Yeah I van hear the groans from the OSR crowd, oh Gods he's not going to cover that module again is he? Well, yes and no. My question became what happens after the 'The Lost City' adventure is done? There are are so many potential threads that run through this one its pregnant with ideas. Sure the adventure is pure location & factions but its pulp location and factions that be ported into your own home campaign. The faith of Zargon is a slippery & dangerous one to boot. There are several cursed items that can turn the PC's from adventurers to mini Zargon monsters themselves in the adventure. The fact is that the PC's might spread the seething corruption of Zargon to the surface themselves!
The ancient ruined city of Cynidicea is a perfect faction of a subterranean species to introduce the a home campaign world. "The inhabitants of  Cynidicea are addicted to narcotics and spend most of their time in drug-induced reveries, wandering around in costumes and masks." Don't let this fool you folks, these are very dangerous and evil advesaries to unleash upon a campaign world such as Hyperborea. In fact the inhabitants of Cynidicea make perfect Hyperboreans from before the Green Death. In fact there's an article by Christopher Richard Davies  

that outlines a Known World Adventure path that can be used as an outline for an Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea excursion. Another idea is to make the inhabitants as mirrors for the Nithia people of The Hollow World and tie them in as possible lost Hyperboreans. This was an idea that Havard talked about but it takes some of the elements away from the obvious Robert E. Howard 'Red Nails' connections of B4. And while these are now well known and obvious to the OSR crowd & in general the D&D crowd. I'd love to take the The Lost City in a different direction.

Once again I think about turning to one of my favorite writers of old Clark Aston Smith! There's an old tale of his I haven't thought about in ages called 'The Invisible City' that has many of the 'lost world' elements of the pulps that I love but isn't that well known & dovetails nicely with B4 The Lost City. Here's a long synopsis from The Eldritch Dark The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith site;"Two explorers, wandering in the Gobi desert, lost, and searching for water, come to a series of strange, regular-shapen pits in the desert floor. Examining these, they find to their amazement that the pits are covered with an invisible, solid substance, that they are walking among unseen walls, on unseen pavements, in what appears to be a maze of buildings wrought of an ice-cold substance absolutely permeable to light." I don't want to spoil it but with a bit of reworking this city might be one of the lost levels of Cynidicea. Simply connect up the Invisible City with one of the rooms of Cynidicea and away you go.  First appearing in Wonder Stories June 1932, this story makes a nice connection to the undercurrent of former super science found in AS&SH. Be warned characterization is not on the mind of CAS in this one.

Many of the inhabitants of the 'Invisible City' could simply be another faction of B4 & give that precious weird pulpy super science jolt that I so often seem to be looking for. B4 The Lost City might appear close to the edge of the Diamond Desert in Hyperborea.
The Invisible City could also be used for a Lamentations of the Flame Princess game adventure set in the Age of Exploration or as fodder for a Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts adventure arch but then it might connect back into Mongolia as the setting for B4 The Lost City. But that my friends is another blog entry to come!

You Can Download
Wonder Stories June 1932 Here  Which Contains Clark Ashton Smith's Invisible City Here

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Commentary UK4 When a Star Falls By Graeme Morris For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition Campaigns

"The power of prophecy is given to few. Wise are they who guard this gift well, for those who thirst after such knowledge are not always men of principle.

Bastion of destiny, the Tower of the Heavens stands silhouetted against the star-studded night sky. From within his darkened observatory, perched like an eyrie on the highest turret, a figure in white charts the course of a shooting-star as it disappears behind the snow-capped peaks of the Tegefed mountains. The old man smiles grimly to himself; the event foretold has come to pass!

Power, glory, riches - it takes years to acquire them. The uncanny accuracy of their predictions has brought all these and more to the sages of the Tower of the Heavens. But what is hard to win is often easier to lose, and the future of the tower now hangs in the balance."

There are weird tale like D&D adventures & then there's When a Star Falls which many dungeon masters, players, & fans consider to be Graeme Morris finest adventure hands down. The adventure is for PC's level 3–5 but this adventure is for a lot of players. Your going to need six to ten experienced players for this one because it involves some interesting old school twists & turns. In fact many of the elements of When A Star Falls feels like it came straight out a mix of a Clark Ashton Smith Weird Tales story & bits of a Celtic mythological tale. "The PCs have an encounter with a monster called a memory web on the moors south-east of the Tegefed mountains, and learn of a falling star that reached the earth. They are encouraged to find it and bring it to Shalfey, an Elder Sage of the Tower of the Heavens." Yes, these are not your PC's memories but its the way that the adventure unfolds in its own way that makes it stand out.

The PC's are going to have their work cut out with this one because their dealing with several notables from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition Fiend Folio. DerroSverfneblin with their own agenda  and dangerous clerics with their own agendas are some of the elements of Graeme Morris at his best. Here's one of the things about UK4 that many dungeon masters don't realize. When A Star Falls is set within its own generic D&D setting. This means that you could place it anywhere that you want to as the Dungeon Master. You've got huge lairs of the Derro and extensive bases of the Sverfneblin. This element of UK 4 gives the whole module a very Weird Tales and pulpy feel. 

It means that you as the dungeon master could use this module to create your own version of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's Underborea on your own terms. The Derro especially get an extensive fleshing out & are especially nasty in this adventure. But I know what your thinking, AS&SH has a lot of weird & twisted machinery. Well, the
Sverfneblin have that gadgets & technology that would put a gnome to shame and then some. In fact given their more then slightly twisted appearance their right in line with the maggot spawn of AS&SH and proper mythology.

One reviewer
Chris Hunter of Imagine magazine noted of UK 4 ,"an "excessive use" of non-standard monsters (i.e. those from the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II)". I have to say that this is one of the perfect reasons why I love the UK TSR series of modules. Not only are they of exceptional quality but they make use of some the best of the Fiend Folio monsters. This means that the players will not be expecting this roaster of old school fiends at the table. They'll be in for a complete shock when these NPC's come to spoil their fun. But there are other reasons too. Everything you need to run UK4 is self contained within the thirty two pages in a clear, concise package that can provide the DM with a complete blue print for a self contained dungeon challenge & old school experience. Make no mistake this is a heavily plot driven module and with a bit of work could be used in a complete sword & sorcery setting. So how would this module be used within the Hyperborea setting?

The dungeon master needs to take When A Star Falls & put it smack into the heart of the Keltic people's lands on Hyperborea. The adventure is so uniquely TSR U.K. that it echos with those classic D&D elements & quite nicely fits into the area's elements described in the Referee's Guide. On the whole many of the monsters, adventure elements, etc. all fit the area of the Keltics without exception and set things up for further delves in the area. But beware that the DM is going to need more then a handful of players to deal with everything presented in When A Star Falls. Your going to need ideally perhaps seven or eight players at least to get the most mileage out of this old school classic. Note that there is some very deadly play in some of the encounters of UK4 that could result in TPK's.

UK4 could be used to mold and tailor the Underborea setting  into something weird, dangerous, whimsically alien & yet deadly as some of the Weird Tale's author's classic material. There's a feel here of classic Celtic or Welsh otherworldly underworld elements in U.K. 4 that can be used as a framework for the DM to create their own underworld setting for AS&SH. This might even rely on some of the lesser known Fiend Folio monsters for something classically old school unique.
Here are ten reasons why UK4 When a Star Falls By Graeme Morris works for old school campaign play:
  1. Not the usual suspects, because of the use of the Fiend Folio horrors there's a more concentrated burst of the U.K. old school feel. This often takes even experienced players by surprised when some of their old favorites from the Fiend Folio start trying to murder their PC's. 
  2. An intricate plot, because of the author's effortless writing and clever design this is one of the module that has it over on many of the more modern modules. U.K.4 is clever, dangerous, and weird in its approach and play. 
  3. Not necessarily the usual rail road, sure there are some strange twists but When A Star Falls takes full advantage of the players and doesn't stop. This approach makes it an excellent module for the swords & sorcery treatment. 
  4. A different mythology then the usual AD&D module makes this one memorable and adaptable to a variety of campaigns & styles of play. 
  5. Dangers in U.K. 4 are not short changed, if the players are stupid then they will die and die hard with no regrets. Remember that this is an old school module through & through. Blood, thunder, and the grave await the stupid. 
  6. Treasure is within but it also hides some really nasty twists.
  7. When a Star Falls is rich enough to stand on its own apart from a campaign which means that it can provide a between campaign events module making it perfect to slip into the back door of a campaign. 
  8. Sure there's hack and slash but remember this is a module ahead of its time and its plot driven not simply another hack and slash. Sure there is murder and mayhem but this is a thinking man's module. 
  9. A different kinda of weird, there's a unique feel to the U.K. TSR modules and that can translate into a unique voice & feel for a sword & sorcery campaign making this a perfect module to flesh out the Keltic people of Hyperborea if the PC's survive. 
  10. Danger, nasty business, and full on metal adventuring are what the PC's are in for. So read the module through a few times before running it. Classics are classic for a reason.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Commentary UK5 Eye of the Serpent By Graeme Morris For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition

"Gazing down form the pinnacle of Hardway Mountain, who would not be drawn by the far-off glint of the Serpent's Eye? The descent will be hard, the mountains know neither mercy nor compassion. Many are the lessons to be learned, but fate has left you little choice - are you equal to the challenge?"

UK5: "Eye of the Serpent" (1984), by Graeme Morris, is the fifth UK line of adventures in the module series. This is a one on one style adventure aimed at putting one on one play & centers itself around the skills of rangers, druids, or monks giving a stake in the development of their  classes by dealing with the perils & hazards of Hardway Mountain. The module presents different paths to the dangers of the mountain allowing a dungeon master to vary the hazards making play unique to each player.

The 'one on one' format was something that the U.K. branch of TSR took from the parent company & updated this module's format as well as style of play. This is from the Drivethrurpg entry;"
The idea of a one-on-one dungeon, with one GM and one player, dates back at least to "Quest for the Fazzlewood" (1978), a tournament run at Wintercon VII (1978). TSR revised and updated that adventure as O1: "The Gem and the Staff" in 1983. In 1984, TSR UK tried their hand at the format, publishing first UK5: "Eye of the Serpent" (1984), then O2: "Blade of Vengeance" (1984). TSR would later revisit the idea of one-on-one adventures in their eight-book "HHQ" series (1992-1995)."
"Eye of the Serpent" is actually a somewhat unusual one-on-one adventure, for a few different reasons. First, it includes three more party members who are run as NPCs - which means that the adventure can be run for multiple players if desired. Second, it can be run for either for either druids, rangers, or monks (thanks to a very clever wilderness system), whereas all the other one-on-one adventures require a single specific class."

The unique arrangement of the NPC allows this module's contents to be run for a larger party of PC's allowing this one on one to be used for group play as well as as a unique wilderness adventure. Because of its clever wilderness system this makes an interesting adventure to run as a back to back with new players of old school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. While it has its detractors this adventure has the players getting quickly investigated in their low level PC's quickly & puts them squire in the action in my opinion as they get quickly tied into the adventure

Adventure has that the PC's (lvl 1-3) are captured by Rocs & deposited in their nest high in the mountain tops. It's up to the brave heroes escape down the mountain &  investigate the strange 'eye of the serpent' that can be see from the mountain top.
There is just enough plot to the adventure to hold the players interest as play continues with the PC's have to deal with hazards of the mountain & its environs. This is because of the flow chart style of the adventure paths in 'Eye of the Serpent'. It keeps the plot moving & gives a unique feel to the adventure whist having the PC's encounter the elements of U.K.5 which are specifically geared toward the druid, ranger, & monk classes. Because of the uniquely generic nature of U.K. 5 this is an adventure that can easily be placed within the confines of an Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea game.

The action here is going to most likely take place within the Norse or Keltic realms of Hyperborea on one of the border lands with the oceans of Hyperborea nearby. The rocs of the piece are going to be feeding upon cattle, ocean going sea serpents or other behemoths. This places the action in on of the more accessible mountains allowing the DM just enough elbow room  to place the action of Eye of the Serpent as needed. The rocs and some of the adventure elements can be tailored to place this adventure squarely within the sword & sorcery camp.By allowing DM's to add this adventure into the realm of Hyperborea this adventure can supplement a low level adventure specifically for the nature oriented classes of AS&SH. 

Even though UK5 Eye of the Serpent is a lower tier adventure there's enough here to expand the adventure into a full jump off point for a campaign by expanding the number of PC's. This creates an instant bonding experience & allows the DM & players to throw together a very unorthodox mix of player character types. Rocs are not picking as to their prey but getting that prey to work together is a challenge especially against the events of UK5 Eye of the Serpent.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

1d6 Random Weird Wasteland Spirits Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

They are all that remains of the lost spirits that inhabit the wastes, the souls of the damned of Atlantis and Lemuria.They are encountered without rhyme or reason when some ancient relic is carried by the Boreas winds to the shores of ancient lands. When encountered in the wastelands they can very dangerous as they carry with them the curse of the damned and dying.

The force of suns had waned beyond recall.
Chaos was re-established over all,
Where lifeless atoms through forgetful deeps
Fled unrelated, cold, immusical.

Above the tumult heaven alone endured;
Long since the bursting walls of hell had poured
Demon and damned to peace erstwhile denied,
Within the Abyss God's might had not immured.
The Abyss Triumphant

Clark Ashton Smith

These are spirits whose death was so violent that it has driven them beyond insanity & depravity. These are merely creatures of undeath and appetites of the most extreme kind. They are mere parodies of their former living selves. These insane spirits will count as ghosts from the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual or spectral wights. Often times they tied to areas where one or more minor artifacts are secreted.

1d6 Random Weird Wasteland
Spirits Encounter Table
  1. A former banker/money lender whose spirit is tied to the 1d1000 strong box that was his chain life. He is tied to the souls of three ghoulish guardians who torment him as violence of their destruction makes them repeat their lives in an endless loop of haunted horror. But these spirits hunger for the souls of the living. 
  2. A metal cylinder is actually the spirit battery for an ancient scientist who was taken when the acid of it burst bathing him in destruction. He endlessly forms and reforms from the event but attacks with dangerous claws once he senses the living. There are 1d200 silver pieces secreted in a section of flooring near his destruction that he was trying to get before things went sideways. 
  3. The spirits of three mad priests endlessly argue over the fate of their city and will whirl around their targets as they try to pin the soul of their prey between them. They can use 1d4 clerical spells that they had in life as they try to trap their prey. 
  4. A single gold coin holds the ghost of a former governor who was visiting this providence upon its destruction.He is now a wight of extremely nasty disposition appearing on every third full moon to murder the living. He loves to murder travelers and take their eyes. 
  5. Born at the cross roads of Hell, this ghost guards an interference to the underworld and takes those it can. It has forgotten its identity and has almost but not quite become a partially demonic thing of extreme violence. There are 1d200 gold pieces that it has taken from various victims as trophies over the eons. 
  6. This wizard's dark spirit serves three demons from Saturn and it has identity for 1d20 hours and is able to cast spells before this spirit is tormented by them and degenerates back into a simple wasteland ghost. It guards 1d4 minor relics.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Commentary On I2 Tomb of the Lizard King By Mark Acres For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition

"The southlands of Eor are being despoiled. Merchants will no longer run their caravans on the main highway past the quiet village of Waycombe. The peasants are fleeing their lands, and all are demanding protection from the powerful Count of Eor. The goodly count has sent a troop of his trusted fighters to exterminate the brigands believed responsible for these outrages, but weeks have passed, and still there is no word from this force.
Now John Brunis, Count of Eor, has turned to you for aid. After taking counsel with the High Priest of Eor, he believes that a small party of cunning, bold adventurers may succeed where armed might has failed. You find yourselves faced with many mysteries!
Why has robbery suddenly erupted in the peaceful southlands? How could mere brigands be as powerful as the foes described to you by their numerous victims? Is this really mere robbery? Or is there some truth to the rumors, told only in hushed whispers, about the beginnings of a hideous plot being hatched by an ancient, vile, and evil foe of all mankind?"

After having a beer with a friend we started to dissect & get into the backbone of I2 Tomb of the Lizard King by Mark Acres. This is one of the 'I' series which stands for intermediate player characters; believe me I2 lives up to its for " large groups of characters of level 5-7, or smaller groups with higher levels." reputation which makes this a perfect module to run for convention set ups. While I've covered Tomb of the Reptile Men the focus here on my commentary is going to be a bit different.

There are modules that rely on getting the PC's right into the thick of things & Tomb of The Lizard King is one of those. Straight out of the gate the PC's are involved in a set piece encounter & delivered into the southlands of Eor . A friend of mine this evening gave me a heads up with an article called Modules and adventures in Mystara by Bouv which allows I2 to be placed within Mystara but also has a killer custom map of Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

But where is
Eor & the viallage of Waycombe in Hyperborea? Well that's an easy one because the pulpy action of I2 takes place within the fields of Vol. Eor is a decadent remnant near swamp gate. The lizard men are trying to muscle in on the human fodder because of the events of Port Greely. Humans are one of the resources for many of the inhuman races on Hyperborea. If the PC's have gone through N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God then the PC's should be ready to tackle I2 because they've raised up levels or their PC's are dead.

Waycombe is really one of the keys here bordering the Lug wastelands ancestral homelands of the lizard men & one of the last bastions of the serpent men before the Green Death wiped most of the evidence of the seat of their ancient empire on Hyperborea. The key here for running this is the sleight of hand set up of the module;"
Tomb of the Lizard King is a three-part adventure involving a wilderness trek, a battle against brigands, and a foray into the tomb of the Lizard King" This gives an incredibly dangerous guided tour of one of the underpinnings of the reptile cult on Hyperborea. I've used this to take the cult all the way to the old serpent men works on the Hyperborean steppes. This means that you get twice the dungeon crawling potential from one or two modules. I've said before that the lizard men on the whole are actually the forth tier down on the rung of inhuman slaves to the former serpent men kings on my version of Hyperborea. The villain at the heart of I2 Tomb of the Lizard King might not be wholly unique there might be others of his ilk and condition.

Because of the deep Greyhawk connection today that Tomb of the Lizard King has I've back tied in a star gate into the steppes of Hyperborea. Once again my version of Greyhawk is a sword & sorcery driven land not that drivel that passed off as the the western Flanaess of today. Because the county of Eor was 'officially' folded into Greyhawk, I used that knowledge to turn campaign matters & setting things on its ear by turning the realm of Eor into a decedent backwater with its own flavor & 'ahem' regional charm. A place where the reptile cult not only flourishes but continuous the way it has for centuries. Continuing what I said in my review of N1, The reptile cult should be a thinking man's enemy, they play for keeps & fit right into the Robert Howard/Clark Ashton Smith mold.

A faction of epic proportions that can challenge and lock horns with a fairly large group of players as I2 is designed to. Make no mistake Tomb of the Lizard King delivers but its only the beginning really for a dungeon master to take events to the next level. Even experienced players have told me that they dread this module with good reason. "Doug Cowie reviewed I2 favorably for Imagine magazine,[5] calling it a "one off exercise with various encounters occurring in widely differing settings" and praising the well-drawn maps.[5] Although he found the outline and "source of villainy" very similar to module N1, Cowie thought I2 was a better-presented adventure than N1 as it provides an "interesting setting, good NPCs, and some very dangerous underground encounters"" make note of those encounters because they can easily TPK a large party of experienced players with little effort. So be careful or not before running this classic for your players. I really wish that Mark Acres had done more AD&D modules of this quality, he was an incredible game designer and writer.  I2 Tomb of the Lizard King By Mark Acres remains a classic and mainstay of the old school hobby. Its accessible, easy to run, fun, and very dangerous everything I want from a sword & sorcery adventure.

Here are ten reasons why I2 Tomb of the Lizard King By Mark Acres

  1. Classic set up and easy adventure & campaign insertion into an old school set up. 
  2. A great module for large groups of players for an investigation style adventure with plenty of old school action and encounters. 
  3. Deadly and challenging encounters for mid level tier PC's
  4. Twist and turns for old school adventures & perfect set ups for sword & sorcery action. 
  5. Weird tales style monsters with room for expansion into further adventures with hooks built right into the adventure 
  6. A small sampler of Eighties AD&D first edition encounters and danger. 
  7. Corruption danger, and depravity in the countryside 
  8. A great weekend book end adventure for a mini campaign with you and ten of your friends. 
  9. Twisted and weird fun with lizard men 
  10. Plenty of treasure and danger to satifsy the old school gamers!