Sunday, July 23, 2017

High Weirdness, Ghostly Action, & Sword & Sorcery Strangeess - An Actual Play Report For Tegel Manor

So during tonight's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea game the PC's got into Tegel Manor through the kitchen after avoiding a garden full of vampire vines & the machinations of the manor's malevolent personality.
The PC's were guided to the manor by another member of the Rump clan one of the many illegitimate children who serve the family as one of the lower tier grounds keepers & gardeners. The PC's followed him up to the lower portion of the gardens just after the house appeared just after sunrise. Up the trails the PC's followed a bunch of tracks of some mysterious chained prisoners who were dragged to up to the grounds for a slave auction. There were rumors for weeks about prisoners & smuggling going on in the village. The PC's had fought members of the local Tsathoggua cult. Things were a bit dicey at best for a while.
Down by the beach below the house there were a good number of long boat landing craft perfect for picking up smuggling contraband and slaves. The PC's also spotted a ship anchored on the horizon that appeared to be waiting for the return of the boats. They made short work of them by drilling holes in them & sabotaging equipment.

The prisoners were led up the service road to the manor & the PC's followed, then up the garden path, then a switch back path into the gardens were they encountered the vampire vines and the remains of a member of the other adventuring party who was hanging from the vines. The PC's shuddered as it became apparent that the corpse had been there a while. Scouting the back kitchen  entrance the PC's managed to fight off a couple of  of the staff cooks.

Apparition (Russ Nicholson, Fiend Folio, TSR, 1981)

The PC's avoided the various strange offerings in the kitchen and the giant rats in the kitchen area munching on some bones of some skeletons of past adventurers. Several things happened as the adventurers were going into the kitchen and then into the dining room past the giant rats.

  • There was a hidden prison room behind the wall unit  where a were bear was being tortured by some haunted chains.
  • These chains almost took out the party but they were able to rescue the bear. 
  • The chains really gave the party a hard time and the dragged the lycanthrope warrior out of the house. They were able to stabilize him.  
The were bear was another fellow adventurer & member of  Sir Tristan's group. 
The players are definitely afraid of Tegel Manor & its weirdness. I've spun a bit of the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride from Disney into the mix. Yes a good dose of the non PC ride was thrown into last night's plot. For the moment our party of heroes is camped outside of the manor proper.
They have n
o idea of the high weirdness that awaits them inside of the bowels of the house proper. A good of the haunted qualities of the adventure as on the fly tool kit added to the fun of last night's events. All in all it was a lot of fun and old school strangeness.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

1d6 Random Legendary Lovecraftian Hoards Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Between the time when the oceans took Atlantis, the seas have tasted many treasures from across the empire itself. From the hand of outlaw to renegade there have been ancient treasures that have passed across the bloody boards of history.

These items take on a life of their own & are often haunted things of the past seldom does any one person know the full history or extent of the curses that follow these items bloody march down across time.
Many of these hoards of treasure have taken on a life of legend, surrounded by mystery, &  steeped in the blood of countless adventurers.There is often a connection to the Outer Gods, the Great Old Ones or one of the numerous nameless horrors that history & time have forgotten. Often a middle man or middle tier horror is attracted to the aura of death and weirdness that surround these objects. . There will be also 1d6 ghosts or other spirits nearby these things. Perhaps victims of murder or greed chained by the unholy aura of such forbidden relics.

There may be 1d10 artifacts or minor treasures in these hoards that are not made of any Earthly metal or have an alien jewel or two. There is 10% chance of these things have strange & dangerous radiations to humans. PC's should save vs poison or radiation if they are exposed to such things. Check mutation tables if such an occurrence should happen picking the worst result because of the wrath of the Old Ones in such cases. There will often be an undead demonic guardian associated with these horrors and it will have the power of a lich or twentieth level wizard.

1d6 Random Legendary
Lovecraftian Hoards Table
  1. Utry's Hoard - A stack of stolen treasure from Mu that has the blood of five thousand damned souls and the blood of hundreds of pirates from the guilds of Atlantis. This hoard has been the subject of three wars in the past because of the three golden chalices of Cthulhu which are able to summon a hoard of the Deep One priests of the great lord himself. There are over fifty thousand irritated gold coins and trinkets among this hoard.  It will convert over anyone who touches it into a zombie like monster with gills and strange razor like claws unless a save vs death is made. 
  2. Jac'Ob's Damnation - This strange hoard of artifacts were taken by the beings of Ib in one of their wars with Atlantis the hoard is made of several hundred strange coins and weird silver artifacts worth over 600000 gold pieces and there are several super science artifacts among the hoard strange devices that can change a man into a monster servant of the Outer Gods for eternity.
  3. The Pylons of Pvrirus - These pure diamond pylons  each of which is flawless & over 3 feet long grants visions of the planes beyond the Outer Darkness. They are worth 300,000 each because of the pitting & cracking of the forces of cosmic destruction they have endured.There are over 1000 ghosts tied by the forces of damnation and horror that have chained them to these artifacts. Priceless
  4. The Egg of Crus'sri - A fist sized egg like object that was actually a mini  matter/time power station of the Deep Ones that attracts shoggoths because of its history and ties to the ancient horrors. The thing will instantly change anything it touches to platinum only if the artifact is handed to a shoggoth technician otherwise its strange radiations will warp and change anyone it touches in 1d8 hours of hideous mutation and cellular warping horror too painful to watch.  Worth 700,000 gold pieces because it part of an even greater cosmic generator/engine. Usually found in a lead lined box like container.
  5.  The Crown of The Angled Ones - This iron like crown is a conduit for the angled ones to breach our world but its made of pure diamond with a carbon coating that protects it from our reality. The crown has a telepathic spell like ability to hear the thoughts and dreams of anyone within a 3000 mile radius and to grant the insane dreams and forbidden visions of the angled ones. Worth 700000 gold pieces to the cult or collectors of Angled Ones artifacts. 
  6.  Pylons of Truso - A set of gold and brass pylons two feet height that control time and space within a twenty mile radius. These artifacts are a part of a Great Race of Yith device but it has been lost to time & history. The pylons can grant eternal youth or age to anyone touching them but their mind is sucked into the horrors of the void at the end of time where Tindalos itself will view their souls and perhaps feast on it. They are priceless and the cult of Tindalos will murder to possess them. These artifacts might be worth 800,000 gold pieces to a nation state or wasteland wizard.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Another 1d5 Random Strange & Twisted Dungeon Locations Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

There are ruins & twisted locations that that have slipped down between the cracks of reality into their own dark and twisted Hells of their own making. They wander across the dimensions under their own power taking adventurers and lives as they want. These places have an agenda all of their own & love to take the souls of those whose egos & reputation attract their attention.

Adventurers who travel between places and times may hear 1d6 rumors or whispered legends about this place  or that place of legend. They might be drawn to the chatter in a local watering hole or tavern. There could be 1d3 minor relics or treasures to draw the attention of adventurers in pawn shops or certain forbidden market places. The legend of these places wealth seems to grow with each telling.
Most horrible of all sights are the little unpainted wooden houses remote from travelled ways, usually squatted upon some damp grassy slope or leaning against some gigantic outcropping of rock. Two hundred years and more they have leaned or squatted there, while the vines have crawled and the trees have swelled and spread. They are almost hidden now in lawless luxuriances of green and guardian shrouds of shadow; but the small-paned windows still stare shockingly, as if blinking through a lethal stupor which wards off madness by dulling the memory of unutterable things."The Picture in the House"
HP Lovecraf

Another 1d5 Random Strange & Twisted Dungeon Locations Encounter Table 
  1. Morotundur - A former strong hold of the Atlantis empire this place had all of its occupants slaughtered by demons and their souls eaten. This was a result of an ancient object that was held in the dungeons below the place. There is a demon of law  spirit bound within the stones that hold the place together with the souls of anyone it captures using them as fodder for its power. There is 1d20 minor object of power which have been dropped by adventurers over the centuries here.
  2. Rincazgu -The so called castle of lust that holds the souls of some forty six vampire lords and their attendants. This place was once the ancient court and repository for the royal vampire lords and ladies throughout the centuries but the death of one innocent girl cursed the place to Astral winds and now it wanders eternity taking anyone it can to satisfy it blood lust and perverse ironic twisted magicks.
  3. Detungl - The residence of the Lord of the Purple Fools, this place holds the promise of an evil and very foolish god of chaos who challenged the mad  satirist gods. They cursed the fool and trapped him within this place's walls. He or it now wanders the planes eating the souls with promises of hidden treasures and relics.
  4. Kongorgl- The abode of the last saint of  Ubbo-Sathla who can no longer retain its own shape and so its existence has shattered the local time and space continuum. The whole place shimmers and shakes as the violence of its existence causes it to constantly fade and become 'real'. There are treasures of this place that come up on the auction block from time to time renewing interest in this location.
  5. Lulronturth - The so called spawning ground of the ancient lords, this former castle is now ruins but below the place are under ground ruins that were once the prison for the damned soul of a wizard of very high undead status. The thing fed on so many people that the gods cursed the place right out of existence. Wandering the planes has the advantage of the owners of this place setting their own agendas of good evil. There are many souls sold to the demonic owners of the place. There are actually 1d8 legendary monsters wander the halls of this ancient pile of old school goodness.

Mini OSR Fall Campaign Idea Using - B10 Night's Dark Terror By Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, Phil Gallagher & Some Free Old School Appendix N Downloads

"Barely one day's march from Kelven, the uncharted tracts of the Dymrak forest conceal horrors enough to freeze the blood of civilized folk. Those who have ventured there tell how death comes quick to the unwary - for the woods at night are far worse than any dungeon.

But you are adventurers, veterans of many battles, and the call of the will is strong. Will you answer the call, or are you afraid of the dark terrors of the night?
Fall is almost on us & already I'm planning for the fall campaign season for my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaigns. I'm planning a series of one shots, extended mini campaigns I noticed something very interesting about Night's Dark Terror in the Wiki entry;"
Night's Dark Terror is an adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game written by British game designers Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher. It was designed specifically for campaigns transitioning from the D&D Basic Set to the D&D Expert Set."
The fact that the module  specifically designed to translate between B/X & Expert makes Night's Dark Terror a perfect candidate for the weird fiction/ post apocalyptic treatment of Old Earth. There's  a weird proto Russian feel to Night's Dark Terror that we can exploit for campaign use here.

"Night's Dark Terror
is a wilderness scenario in which the player characters travel by river and over mountains, from the Grand Duchy of Karameikos to the chaotic lands. The characters encounter a town under siege by goblins, a ruined city, and a lost valley"
There's a very interesting article by Andrew Theisen on  Mystara Modules and Placement which actually can be used to build a picture of where to place modules within a post apocalpytic wasteland as well.  This helps to build a picture of where monsters, peoples, etc. might go in the wastelands.

So right off the bat we've got traditional D&D monsters such as humanoids,boatloads of goblins,etc. that can be easily converted over to mutant humans. I'm sure there's already a bunch of purists having heart attack because there's no way that this whole module could be converted into a campaign. Well actually Night's Dark Terror could be set in the centuries  leading up Zothique's existence there were eons of other worlds in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp, dated November 3, 1953 some of this is outlined;"Zothique, vaguely suggested by Theosophic theories about past and future continents, is the last inhabited continent of earth. The continents of our present cycle have sunken, perhaps several times. Some have remained submerged; others have re-risen, partially, and re-arranged themselves. Zothique, as I conceive it, comprises Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, parts of northern and eastern Africa, and much of the Indonesian archipelago. A new Australia exists somewhere to the south. To the west, there are only a few known islands, such as Naat, in which the black cannibals survive. To the north, are immense unexplored deserts; to the east, an immense unvoyaged sea. The peoples are mainly of Aryan or Semitic descent; but there is a negro kingdom (Ilcar) in the north-west; and scattered blacks are found throughout the other countries, mainly in palace-harems. In the southern islands survive vestiges of Indonesian or Malayan races. The science and machinery of our present civilization have long been forgotten, together with our present religions. But many gods are worshipped; and sorcery and demonism prevail again as in ancient days. Oars and sails alone are used by mariners. There are no fire-arms—only the bows, arrows, swords, javelins, etc. of antiquity. The chief language spoken (of which I have provided examples in an unpublished drama) is based on Indo-European roots and is highly inflected, like Sanskrit, Greek and Latin."
So what lead up to this world being created? Were there ages undreamt of before Zothique? In my estimation yes and at sometime the stars came right. We get a hint of this theme in the Clark Ashton Smith story,'The Black Abbot of Puthuum.' 

But if the regions of Alaska in North America & Russia were rejoined we might have something very similar to the world of Night's Dark Terror. The stars might have come right with the emergence of the horrors from the fringe & lost places of the world.

"THE MOUND" by H. P. Lovecraft & Zealia Bishop really does give the feel for these sorts of preserves where the true masters of the cults of Cthulhu dwell. But there's another faction one that worships the evil Kraken named Khalk'ru. I'm speaking of  A. Merritt's Dwellers in the Mirage first published in book form in 1932 by Horace Liveright.

The plot is straight out A.Merritt's work from the lost world, to the weird peoples, and a Lovecraftian god thing that wouldn't feel out of place from a post apocalyptic wasteland world preserve;"

The novel concerns American Leif Langdon who discovers a warm valley in Alaska. Two races inhabit the valley, the Little People and a branch of an ancient Mongolian race; they worship the evil Kraken named Khalk'ru which they summon from another dimension to offer human sacrifice. The inhabitants recognize Langdon as the reincarnation of their long dead hero, Dwayanu. Dwayanu's spirit possesses Langdon and starts a war with the Little People. Langdon eventually fights off the presence of Dwayanu and destroys the Kraken.
There are variant endings of the work. In the original, Leif's love dies, but the publisher inartistically has her survive. The original tragic ending has been reinstated in some/many recent reprints."
This one has a bit of everything including a tacked on happy ending but it also has a number of sword & sorcery elements to it. The plot is a perfectly preserved glass Lovecraftian mini world with added elements of super science & sorcery to boot. The perfect place to hatch a faction or two for a completely different take on Night's Dark Terrors.
. "The module begins in a beleaguered farmstead. The PCs then explore more than 20,000 square miles (52,000 km2) of wilderness, with eighteen locations, including a number of mini-dungeons, a ruined city, a riverside village, a frontier town, and a lost valley, with the minions of the Iron Ring waiting for the PCs at every step." So is the Iron Ring one of the power blocks behind bringing back  Khalk'ru to the PC's dimension.
The DM gets the best of all possible worlds with this approach. Several mini dungeons & devilishly delightful mini wilderness encounters along with a mini dungeon crawl at lower levels that set's everything in the heat of the moment with a Lovecraftian twist or two. 

You can read Dwellers in the Mirage With The Happy Ending Here From Fantastic Novels v03n03 (1949 09)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

1d15 Random Finds Inside The Astronaut's Skull Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Sometimes adventurers & outlaws run across some surprising finds out in the wastelands of Old Earth & Mars. There are the unfortunate souls who cross times, dimensions, & spaces as they venture into space & the Outer Void. The corpses of these 'victims of circumstance' often have fallen afield of disaster or misadventure having sometimes very surprising items or finds inside their skulls.

Capsules, space craft, weird astral ether craft and more can all be found out in the wastelands of old Earth or even in wild back country of old Mars. Adventurers are advised to use extreme caution when searching these finds.

1d15 Random Finds Inside The Astronaut's Skull Table 
  1. 1d10 emeralds worth over 60,000 gold pieces wrapped around with a preserved alien worm. The corpse is perfectly preserved & there is a 60% that its an undead zombie horror. 
  2. The astronaut is actually an android from the Delos corporation 1979 model from an alternative universe worth 6000 gold pieces to the right collector. 
  3. A small stone table with a fetish image of Cthulhu and his star spawn. Not worth anything except a 100 gold pieces to a wizard 
  4. Small miniature tape recorder containing the  last message to the Earth from the last president of the United States. Worth 70,000 pieces to the right collectors. 
  5. A face hugger waiting to spring on some unsuspecting fool! Worth 60,000 gold pieces to the right wizard or corporate weapons division. 
  6. A flawless diamond containing a miniature human brain with lots of weird bio wire coming from the bottom of the diamond. Worth about 90,000 gold pieces to a necromancer or black wizard. 
  7. A sentinel sphere monster! Run or it will slice you up! 
  8. Weird miniature spell book of black magick only can be read of a certain blood lines. 
  9. Miniature model of Three Mile Island nuclear facility
  10. The  declaration of independence; worth 900 gold pieces to the right collectors of historical documents 
  11. A single disk of ivory with all the known works of William Shakespeare, this piece is worth about 9000 gold pieces because of the rarity of this item. 
  12. A small ivory statue of the Great Old One   Tsathoggua whose image is worth 1000 gold pieces to the right worshiper/ collector 
  13. A gatherx worm surrounding the back brain tissue that loves to make his victims sing its praises
  14. A small +2 folding pocket knife that has strange glyph worked into the blade. The thing is worth 800 gold pieces to a wizard. 
  15.  A map of a nearby but undiscovered ruin and the cache of stuff of the Ancients hid away. The map is clear and concise

The Last OSR Review & Commentary(Sort Of) On The S'rulyan Vault II From Kort'thalis Publishing

"Like the first S'rulyan Vault, this is two extremely high-resolution dungeon maps in both old school blue/white and bloody parchment hue.  The dungeon is huge and contains a variety of cavern and traditional room/corridor areas... along with special icons." Well, the S'rulyan Vault II is a bit more then that & a bit more.


So let me start this review with the following note - I'm going to be quite clear on this whole thing I put a six month moratorium on doing OSR product reviews. Given my dad's condition & the fact that I've had to take over the sewing machine repair business more. I don't really have the proper time to devote to giving OSR products their fair shake that they deserve for a proper review. So this is the the last OSR product review for a long while.
P.S. my dad is fine and continuing to the sewing machine repair work. But its a lot for him to deal with so I end up helping out where & when I'm needed. This means I have less time for what amounts to a hobby. End of message and now onto the review.

So what is the The S'rulyan Vault II? Well according to its Kickstarter;
"The S'rulyan Vault II is more of the same... but different.  Obviously, there will be a totally new dungeon layout with lots of interesting things going on.  The files can be printed off so you've got one massive map or four quadrants in order to easily mix and match them with each other and the previous S'rulyan Vault." Its giant mix & match dungeon map & DYI  kit with Venger Satanis's guile & attitude which is clearly outline about The S'rulyan Vault II introduction;
"Delving into dungeons can be the most rewarding roleplaying experience there is. It's the perfect
environment for adventuring since that's where the monsters and treasure are. Of course, with monsters
and treasure you also get traps, wizards, subterranean civilizations, exotic flora and fauna,
natural hazards, and unexplained wonders.
There are three things GMs occasionally forget when running a dungeoncrawl...
● Gygaxian Naturalism or Fantastic
Verisimilitude, if you prefer. Basically, this  provides a "realistic" background for the adventuring. Such as, where does the food and water supply come from?
● There should be a compelling reason why the PCs are down there, besides a desire to slay evil
creatures and take their loot. Even if that's the primary motivation, we want to know precisely
why the adventurers want to kill these monsters and steal their treasure. And each session, the
PCs' emotional investment in clearing the dungeon should pay off.
● This is a great opportunity to show off your own GMing style, aesthetic, and creativity! Use your
imagination - come up with at least a couple rooms that defy expectation. Go nuts!
Keeping those three things in mind, I invite you to make The S'rulyan Vault (volumes I and II) truly

Can we talk about the Drow babes in implied 'Legend of the Overfiend' style tentacle porn dungeon god cover artwork here for moment? The only reason its there is to attract attention because while the thing might be in the The S'rulyan Vault II but I found it more distracting then tantalizing. Why? Because the contents of the The S'rulyan Vault II book are good solid boiled down DYI dungeon map and kit  in seventeen pages of old school goodness. Venger Satanis is a good enough writer/designer who doesn't need  to rely on cheap and blatantly pornographic themes and artwork to sell his products. His work is solid enough on its own to stand on its own merits. This is a good tool kit for a really well thought out dungeon. You get factions, reasons for the dungeon crawls, and lots of random tables for generating a grand night's adventure for your players.

Glen Seal of Monkey Blood Design doing some of the type of quality dungeon cartography you'll find in the The S'rulyan Vault II

This product sinks up with its earlier incarnation,  The S'rulyan Vault I adventure plot completely and easily.  There's no tears to this and because this product has the quality of Monkey Blood Designs cartography & design work. The S'rulyan Vault II is both OSR cross compatible & rpg system agnostic. The art and cartography by Glynn Seal,Monstark, &
Fizzbig, work. The layout is well done and up to the usual Venger Satanis standards. Dungeon masters will get a ton old school gaming  utility out of the wandering monster tables, dungeon restocking table, & rival adventuring party disturbance tables. Along with a ton of new & great  take on old school adventuring for a continuing dungeon adventure tool with years of life to come at the gaming table. Do I think its worth buy? In a word yes I do and think it will provide a great tool at the gaming table.

You can grab the
The S'rulyan Vault II
From Venger Satanis Right here

1d7 Random Treasures & Relics of Old Satan For Your Old School Campaigns

At the edge of a valley on Mars two figures edge along kicking up dust and a cloud of sand upon the back of their lizard horses. They stopped when of the riders nearly broke his mount's leg on a metal object sticking out of the sands. 'Easy girl' was the half voiced & telepathic response as the rider got off & eased his mount. The two riders had gotten turned around in a violent Martian sand storm & found a path into this lesser known Martian  valley.
'Rel The Strong' the red Martian mercenary took his googles and sand gear off to examine the object that almost sheared off his mount's leg, 'She's very lucky, it only took off a bit of hair and scales. But who the hell leaves a brass bladed sword like this out here?' I've never seen a blade like this in twenty years of the trade'.
That's when he uncovered the alien skeleton with dozens upon dozens of cuts through the corpse's chitin exoskeleton & armor. 
"Don't touch that sword friend Rel' the hiss of
Hashic Vro Tholian occultist was like the crack of the man eater whip vines they had faced on 'Old' Venus. Rel got his swords out just as the first warrior covered from head to toe in whirling signs & glowing infernal symbols attacked!
'Where the Jeddak's dagger did he come from!?' the question was answered by the dozens of trap doors in the valley's floor opening letting more warriors pour in on the two adventurers. The lizard horses the first things to go down under the exceedingly sharp brass swords of the warriors. Their cries were unearthly things that chilled mind & soul.

That's when the singing & chanting started along the walls of the valley. The alien signs & symbols etched into the swords began to glow with the cold fires of ancient & dead Hells.
'We've got to leave this valley my friend!' The cuts in the exoskeleton were pulsing with sickly light  in time to the chanting in the valley above them.
The sigil of Satan for all to see was visible to all to see!

On the lonely sands of  future Zothique there stand ancient & abandon temples to the old
"enemy" or "adversary" of creation. The old devil Satan more malevolent entity opposed to the Gods, also called the devil, who possesses abhorrent qualities. He has become even more twisted by time & now is an insane and utterly evil power of chaos. Alone and infecting others with his might, he is a disease on the face of Old Earth & the solar system. He has become an insane devil god of old. Making pacts & feasting on the souls of his followers. He relieves in the violence & power he grants to his followers. Wizards & black priests think of him as a  a symbol of virtuous characteristics & liberty but these have long been shed for the horror beneath. It has become a god of essence reveling in the violence of excess & horrors long past a beast of the wastelands.

The 'Vulth' russ' tells a vastly different story about the bright star & scholar of warriors. This being came from the stars battle scarred & with swords broken. He tempted the  warriors of the old plains with promises of  knowledge & the glories of warfare. Those who serve him serve him in his valley throughout eternity, their pledges of eternal war are etched on their swords & their skin. They are cursed with undeath, damnation, and eternal service. There are those among the wastelands who still spread the word of his cult. Adventurers & outlaws from time to time come across his valley and temples  on Mars, out in the Asteroid belt, & even out in the ancient wastelands & ruined cities on Old Earth.
1d7 Random Treasures & Relics of Old Satan
  1. Lvriel Bracers - These bracers have row after row of inscribed etchings and runes of power that draw from the black blood of the planet. They give the owner a +2 on all melee damage and they're able to hit contra temporal beings. These bracers also give the owner the ability to see 1d4 minor nearby planes but also may 20% drive the owner mad with dangerous visions of insanity. They are inscribed with the runes of violence & excess disguised as a rune of liberty. 
  2. Claws of S'arna - These +2 claws were created using the metal bones of an ancient Martian demon. They still bare the feriousity and violence of that creature scared to Satan. These claws were used to murder many an ancient Jeddak or prince. These claws may be used to slay certain types of minor undead or minor semi demonic kind/. They've been lost to the Martian sands for many centuries. 
  3. Daggers of The Twelve Betrayed Kings - These +2 daggers of Martian design were created by twelve Jeddaks as symbols of their unity and brotherhood but were used by all in a coup for an ancient political assassination. They will warn if anyone close by is planning a murder except if the murderer is a close blood relative. These daggers may once every century be used to summon the beastly prince aspect of Satan. 
  4. The Crown of Knowledge - This crown is actually a repository for the lost knowledge of the scientist king Crusr the Second. The crown contains all his knowledge as the king sold his soul to save his dying father. He himself always had the answer but the old devil took his soul anyway. It will turn its owner into a lich with vast mad science knowledge after 1d8 years of use but this relic has been lost to the old solar system for many centuries. 
  5. The Swords of the Beast  - These are the brass swords of +2 that are forged using the heart blood of the follower who must make a pact with the old devil for their eternal service and black honor. They are seldom seen as those who do are murdered by them. These swords can be used to cut through most mortal substances and the blood of their victims is absorbed by the sword adding their to their terrible power. The owner heals damage quite quickly but begins to take on the characteristics of undeath.
  6. Wands of Brill - These metal wands are created by the blind wizard smiths from the iron of the valley of the lost. They enable one to see any and all of the works of the infernal . Once per day they can cast 1d6 magic missile spells & glow with the power of the Satan. Those who see this light of damnation must make a save vs fear or flee from its power and might. 
  7. Fangs of the Beast - The preserved fangs in metal and Martian ivory of the Martian banth that enables its owner to take on the aspects of the monster. The owner becomes a beast like horror subject to lycanthropy rules and able to track enemies across the wastelands easily. The owner is able to gain a +2 attack against any supernatural horror but is subject to a murderous rage once per day. They are far more prone to the influence and horror of the old devil. At the end of their life their souls are forfeit to the cold hells of the old beast aspect of the devil. 

A crownless king who reigns alone,
I live within this ashen land,
Where winds rebuild from wandering sand
My columns and my crumbled throne.

My sway is on the men that were,
And wan sweet women, dear and dead;
Beside a marble queen, my bed
Is made within this sepulcher.

In gardens desolate to the sun,
Faring alone, I sigh to find
The dusty closes, dim and blind,
Where winter and the spring are one.

My shadowy visage, grey with grief,
In sunken waters walled with sand,
I see- where all mine ancient land
Lies yellow like an autumn leaf.

My silver lutes of subtle string,
Are rust- but on the grievous breeze
I hear what sobbing memories,
And muted sorrows murmuring!

Across the broken monuments,
Memorial of the dreams of old,
The sunset flings a ghostly gold
To mock mine ancient affluence.

About the tombs of stone and brass,
The silver lights of evening flee;
And slowly now, and solemnly,
I see the pomp of shadows pass.

Often, beneath some fervid moon,
With splendid spells I vainly strive
Dead loves imperial to revive,
And speak a heart-remembered rune-

But, ah, the lovely phantoms fail,
The faces fade to mist and light,
The vermeil lips of my delight
Are dim, the eyes are ashen-pale.

A crownless king who reigns alone,
I live within this ashen land,
Where winds rebuild from wandering sand
My columns and my crumbled throne.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Another Mini OSR Campaign Idea Using - X1 Isle of Dread By David Cook & Tom Moldvay & Some Free Old School Appendix N Downloads

Hundreds of miles from the mainland, surrounded by dangerous waters, lies an island known only as the Isle of Dread. Dark jungles and treacherous swamps await those who are brave enough to travel inland in search of the lost plateau, where the ruins of a once mighty civilization hold many treasures - and many secrets!

Wiki has a good breakdown of the history of X1 Isle of Dread;"The Isle of Dread is an adventure for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The adventure, module code X1, was originally published in 1981. Written by David "Zeb" Cook and Tom Moldvay, it is among the most widely circulated[1] of all Dungeons & Dragons adventures due to its inclusion as part of the D&D Expert Set."

I know what your thinking, "Oh no not another X1 Isle of Dread commentary, this one is angled to the Weird Tales aspects of X1 so bare with me as I take this classic module in a completely different & pulpy direction." The basic plot has the PC's with their backs against some of the classic adventure elements of X1;"""The characters somehow find a fragment from a ship's log, describing a mysterious island on which many treasures can be found, and set out to explore it. Typically, the characters will first make landfall near the more or less friendly village of Tanaroa and after possibly dealing with some troublesome factions in the village, set out to explore the interior of the island. In the course of their explorations, they may find a number of other villages of unfamiliar intelligent creatures, numerous hostile monsters and the treasures they guard, and a band of pirates. Many prehistoric creatures, including dinosaurs, are prominently featured, especially in the original printing of the adventure. Near the center of the island is a hidden temple inhabited by monstrous, mind-bending creatures known as kopru; the characters may stumble across it or learn that it is a source of problems for the other inhabitants of the isle, and the climax of the adventure typically consists of the characters exploring this temple, battling its inhabitants, and uncovering its secrets"

There has always been a mystique around the X1 module, it is after all one of the most popular & recognizable adventures that was published during the classic or golden era of TSR. Yet today I spoke with several friends who have never once considered running the adventure as a part of A Gamma World or post apocalyptic campaign. Not only can this be done but it should be. The fact is that given the scope and diversity of the various OSR resources X1 is a prehistoric sand box of epic proportions. Because of the AD&D 1st edition Dungeon Master Guide contains all of the conversions necessary to bring your mutants, outlaws, and adventurers into an age undreamt of by man. On the there is a great thread called
Can I run The Isle of Dread with AD&D? It has some great background & options for DMing the adventure.  But what does X1 have to do with A. Merritt? Well if we look into his classic 1924 Appendix N pulp novella The Ship of Ishtar things become a lot clearer. The novella concerns a world out of time with two factions vying for control of their very existence similar to the factions of the Isle of Dread fighting for time out of eons survival. In fact one of the campaigns I played in had several of the priests of  of Nergal and his  minions on the Isle as NPC's along with a group of  Ishtar priestesses  and her female minions on the other side of the island. This is one of the beauties of X1, its flexibility as an OSR toolbox.

An epic version of the Island of Dread is available from the Vaults of Pandius here which might help to bridge the gap into a far more adventure where the PC's are interfering in the affairs of the divine.

A. Merritt's The Ship of Ishtar is available right over here as a free download 

 Alright let's get back into the time lost
Bermuda Triangle
aspect of X1 The Isle of Dread. Back in 1981 when X1 was published the Triangle, UFOs, Flying Saucers, ghosts, & space warps were still front page tabloid news.  It was a part of the pop cultural zeitgeist & what goes around comes around. So if we look towards another Lovecraft circle writer then we get another adventure element and possible setting where the isle of dread might be touching another world or time. Clark Ashton Smith's Poseidonis cycle of novellas and stories draws heavily from Secret Doctrine by Helena Blavatsky. The very forces that sank Atlantis might have ripped a hole in the space time continuum allowing the isle to appear not to far from the "the last isle of foundering Atlantis"
Poseidonis. This strange extra dimensional quality of the isle of dread means that many classic AD&D or Gamma World elements might appear on its shores & beaches. In fact 'The Last Enchantment' By Clark Ashton Smith implies that many of the weird & sorcerous elements of the wizard Malygris might provide a perfect cross point for X1 as some artifact provides the necessary push to send adventurers to their doom in the realms of X1.

"Now Malygris was old, and all the baleful might of his enchantments, all the dreadful or curious demons under his control, all the fear that he had wrought in the hearts of kings and prelates, were no longer enough to assuage the black ennui of his days. In his chair that was fashioned from the ivory of mastodons, inset with terrible cryptic runes of red tourmalines and azure crystals, he stared moodily through the one lozenge-shaped window of fulvous glass. His white eyebrows were contracted to a single line on the umber parchment of his face, and beneath them his eyes were cold and green as the ice of ancient floes; his beard, half white, half of a black with glaucous gleams, fell nearly to his knees and hid many of the writhing serpentine characters inscribed in woven silver athwart the bosom of his violet robe. About him were scattered all the appurtenances of his art; the skulls of men and monsters; phials filled with black or amber liquids, whose sacrilegious use was known to none but himself"

Then there are the inhabitants of the isle of dread themselves who seem right at home as much on Gamma Terra as they do in Expert D&D not to mention the pirates and other factions of the isle. The pirates should not be taken lightly even by Mutant Future or Gamma World adventurers. They are as deadly as they come.

The real equalizer is of course the dinosaurs and other prehistoric horrors capable of eating adventurers, pirates and cat people in one gulp. Prehistoric life is one of the real adventure elements that can ruin the day of any player. These horrors are all too real in the adventure setting of X1 where they provide yet another challenge. Cook and Moldvay both frequently pushed another aesthetic: pulp adventure which fits the design and writing aesthetic of X1.
These pulp and prehistoric elements really push the envelop on the isle of dread giving the PC's yet another reason to look over their shoulders.

You can have magick, technology, gun powder, ray guns its not going to matter. The PC's are still going to die in a monster's belly or at the end of trap's spike or other deadly accoutrements. X1 has everything just waiting for PC's to blunder into its clutches. The
weird alternate-world fantasy of Clark Ashton Smith gives the perfect excuse to introduce serpent men adventure elements & artifacts, such as the ones seen in CAS's Double Shadow another tale that comes from the Poseidonis cycle. The fact is that originally the isle and its surrounding environs might have been a part of some vast laboratory of the serpent men or as a part of the former monstrous, mind-bending creatures known as kopru empire. Races such as the as the racoon-like phanaton and the cat-like rakasta give X1 part of its "Lost World/Skull Island laboratory feel'

This is something that I've talked extensively about before and one of the ways that X1 might be slotted into an old school campaign or a post apocalyptic campaign setting.
The Kopru, dreaming the restoration of their lost Empire might have been one of the ancient enemies of the 'Elder Things' left behind after the destruction of their own empire.Could X1 in fact be a last alien battle field that the PC's in fact have stumbled into? I think so we almost but not quite we get a very 'events have passed here before us into history feel' as we do with the classic 1933 King Film.

X1 Isle of Dread remains a classic for a reason and one of those is the classic plasticity of the module. A great little example of old school design & classic old school adventure writing. Remains an old favorite of mine and probably will for decades to come.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mini OSR Campaign Idea Using - S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks & Some Free Old School Appendix N Downloads

"The Grand Duchy of Geoff has recently been plagued by a rash of unusually weird and terrible monsters of an unknown sort. This western area, particularly the mountain fastness which separates the Grand Duchy from the Dry Steppes, has long been renowned for the generation of the most fearsome beasts, and it has been shunned accordingly -- save a handful of hardy souls with exceptional abilities. Within the last few months, however, a walled town not far distant from the area, and four small fortresses as well, have been destroyed by mysterious attacks! "

So begins the classic  S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks by Gary Gygax which is for PC's levels eight through twelve. According to Wiki there are reasons for this;"Expedition to the Barrier Peaks was first played at the Origins II convention in 1976, where it was used to introduce Dungeons & Dragons players to the science fiction game Metamorphosis Alpha. In 1980, TSR published the adventure, updated for first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules." So this was another convention module that was supposed to challenge & kill off PC's as they solved tricks, traps, gathered technology, & moved through the Warden.
" It takes place on a downed spaceship; the ship's crew has died of an unspecified disease, but functioning robots and strange creatures still inhabit the ship. The player characters fight monsters and robots, and gather the futuristic weapons and colored access cards that are necessary for advancing the story."

I've written extensively about S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks & it remains a favorite of mine, I used it with Gamma World instead of Greyhawk. I placed the ship remains having crashed in Canada. Its doing exactly what it did in Greyhawk & introducing invasive alien species. Combined with the events after Gamma World's Legion of Gold adventure. It would take characters from a post-apocalyptic version of southern Wisconsin with "Jen City" & "Horn". The Duchy of Geoff becomes more of a central power while Horn is an up & coming rival/ally. The crash of 'the Warden' on Earth was a major event in the 'shadow years' but players have no idea of what's going on outside of the events of their little corner of the world. At least they didn't if they've played through Rite of Passage. So why was the Warden trying to get back to Earth? Because the cause of the apocalypse rose up from the depths & lost places of the Earth to take back what's theirs and nothing stopped them. Instead of simply a competition module this adventure becomes a tragic foot note in the history of the world.

What you basically have is the remains of a few countries & nation states fighting over a smoldering pile of rubble while the real far more alien threat is out in the world. When we begin looking into the backdrop of A.Merritt's take on his world setting its a place filled with some very strange cults, stranger technological life forms, & a very alien A.I. that is one part emperor & one part very megalomaniac life form. This stuff makes Saturday morning Thundarr look tame. Dr. Walter T. Goodwin is A.Merritt's professor Challenger & Goodwin's old friends Martin and Ruth Ventnor, brother and sister scientists are his helpers. This whole affair takes place back in the Trans-Himalayan mountains to the world. The expedition comes across the  lost city of the artifical A.I. Monster God. Ruth Ventnor is slowly reprogrammed to take the priest Norhala place. Norhala commands the power of lightning and controls strange metal animate Things, living, metallic, geometric forms; an entire city of sentient cubes, globes and tetrahedrons, capable of joining together and forming colossal shapes, and wielding death rays and other armaments of destruction.
They are able to escape and deal a bit of a crippling blow to the technological forces of A.I. God monster of the valley. But this is only one of many valleys scattered cross the face the world.

You can listen to the Metal Monster By A.Merritt here

Much of the alien technology of the Metal Monster sounds from its description exactly the sort of alien weirdness that the people of N'Kai from  "THE MOUND" by H. P. Lovecraft & Zealia Bishop would originally have been using. But their studies in necromancy & the mythos have moved them beyond it. The unique and very dangerous alien technologies of the Metal Monster would have left Gamma Terra or any number of worlds in shambles. In a Mutant Future style game this is exactly the sort of alien technology that we've gotten hinted at again and again. Perhaps the collecting of artifacts is actually the instinctive gathering of unaltered technologies to fight against the A.I. cults that have sprung up across the world. The threat of these cults and their masters might make an isolated country or city state have an entirely different spin. The really big equalizers might be magick & mutations. The side of chaos might take the upper hand from Law run amok ala Michael Moorcock in this sort of world . Machines & A.I. can evolve & change very quickly possibly leading them to time when it was the opportune time to invade the Earth.
This is exactly the sort of world that perhaps Old Earth from AS&SH broke away from. Were these A.I. hive mind cults on of the starts of the epic war that took the Hyperboreans away from Earth? I think so. You've got a very dangerous & disastrous pattern for high scale & high level campaign world with technological artifacts gone riot.

You Can Download The Metal Monster From Here

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Very Different Mini OSR Campaign Idea Using The Lost City (B4) by Tom Moldvay & Some Free Old School Appendix N Downloads

When it comes to the The Lost City (B4) I always seem to find myself reinventing the wheel with this adventure and that's alright in my mind.
Lately I've been doing a lot of high end/hi technological relics for my games & a project I've been working on with a friend. More on that another time folks but the point is that I can easily justify my choice of artifacts & relics. Once upon a time I ran
The Lost City (B4) by Tom Moldvay with Gamma World. I took the whole module and threw it into the Gamma World Earth's wasteland.

I can easily justify this by pointing out a rather interesting Appendix N author. I'm talking about A.Merritt whose The Metal Monster & The Moon Pool novels are right on the list.

So last night I was rereading the CH Retrospective on A.Merritt's The Moonpool and it reminded me of what I've been doing with this blog. The Moon Pool itself has chameleon suits, anti-grav vehicles, age accelerating contact poisons, powerful healing elixirs, &  gravity manipulation rays all within one hell of a justified megadungeon location with factions, gods, & very dangerous cults just waiting to murder PC's.
So how the hell did
the ancient ruined city of Cynidicea and the descendants of the city's people end up on Gamma Terra? Because they were the cause of the destruction of Earth. The monster god of the Moonpool had other spawn one of which was Zargon. The  ancient ruined city of Cynidicea was supposed to be the seat of a new capital of the Earth but instead has been forgotten & consigned to the furthermost wastelands.

I personally placed Cynidicea near the ruins of Los Vegas which seems quite fitting & used A.Meritt's Moonpool as the basis for a mini campaign . The wiki entry on The Moon Pool has exactly the sort of background detail that can help to get the heart across the sort of power we're talking here.
"The plot concerns an advanced race which has developed within the Earth's core. Eventually their most intelligent members create an offspring. This created entity encompasses both great good and great evil, but it slowly turns away from its creators and towards evil. The entity is called either the Dweller or the Shining One." Given the break down of power in Gamma World its an easy jump to see that the Cynidiceans, addicted to narcotics and spend most of their time in drug-induced reveries, wandering around in costumes and masks are almost but not quite a mirror image of some of the cryptic alliances from Gamma World.

Alright so maybe the powers at the Earth's core caused the shadow years of Gamma Terra then its not all that much of stretch to see that something went very wrong for them as it did in the Moon Pool. This sort of a campaign shows the power and imagination that The Lost City (B4) by Tom Moldvay  has. But what if we took it a step further and cut out the Gamma World aspect entirely. What if we brought the Lost City to Vegas & then took a more modern retroclone say Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea?! Well A.Merritt was a contemporary of Howard, Lovecraft, & Clark Ashton Smith. Could the people of
"THE MOUND" by H. P. Lovecraft & Zealia Bishop be simply another faction or culture that was waiting to burst from the ground out in Mid Western United States?! I think so. If we look at the future of Clark Aston Smith's fiction on his future Earth cycles then it becomes apparent that a number of lost world races could be bursting onto the scene causing untold havoc.
This download contains the 
"THE MOUND" by H. P. Lovecraft & Zealia Bishop for download 

Back to the Moonpool for a moment, there are lots of things to steal to make a very different post apocalyptic science fantasy world work. From the powerful and handsome Polynesian-like 'dwarves' and a race of humanoids whom the Silent Ones developed from a semi-sentient froglike species to the Shining Ones themselves who seem almost all too human. There seems a lot that can be taken, mined, repurposed for those other lost levels in The Lost City (B4) by Tom Moldvay

There's a very good reading of A.Merritt's Moonpool which is available right over here

From a gaming perspective there's a great supplement from Goblinoid games called Realms of Crawling Chaos that has many of the Lovecraftian monsters, cults, etc. that would work perfectly well for this sort of a mini campaign. Combined with Mutant Future this has the potential to work itself into a very Lovecraftian science fantasy campaign indeed.

The Moonpool gives some really weird options as far as a mini campaign & puts a very different spin on this classic module especially if its set in the post apocalyptic wastelands. There is a lot that can be done with this sort of a campaign and I might develop this further in the next blog installment.

You can download A PDF
of the A.Merritt's Moonpool here!