Friday, March 24, 2017

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

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


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



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


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

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



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

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

Bronze Age Miniatures' great white ape

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



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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure OSR Campaign Now Powered By The Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts Rpg System By Thomas Denmark An Actual Play Event

So last night I dusted off an old imprint time traveling/dimension hopping  pulp campaign of mine but this time I powered it using a combination of Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts  By Thomas Denmark 
& Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea as the back bone system. This isn't the first time I've done this but I've reconnected this OSR powered system with my High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure OSR  campaign setting. Basically this is a 1920's world that has been exploiting dimensional hopping technologies & the Germans are in a desperate race to get a hold of every last shred of it after discovering the occult secrets of relics in WWI. They've been opening dimensional gateways. They've been mutating & trying to create super soldiers to bolster their nation's ranks. The Germans have been using The Beyond for some of their dark occult technologies but they've also have been making in roads onto other worlds


So after a quick twenty minute PC roll up the group of six players had a good array of PC's.
We had decided that these would be the kids of heroes who were stepping into their adventurer parents shoes to help stop the on coming inevitable war. William Bruce played by Allen was the son of The Super American. He was only a 2nd level mercenary & has been trying to live up to his father's image for years. He also had access to his father's
" Chronopticon" dimensional hopping time machine. The party would be using that machine to head off the German forces man Professor Fenton. Fenton was after the Grail of Thruisu' a lost relic of an ancient African tribe that promised immortality to the owner along with ancient power. 

The professor's connection had been discovered by Jason Quinn aka the Black Avenger the son of second  The Black Bat.  Jason had inherited his father's 18/00 strength but not his dark sight. So he's been using super science goggles & blackout bombs ala the OD&D darkness spell to compensate.  Of course there's always a Quatermain along for the ride & Sarah Quatermain has inherited grand father's curse along with his adventurous spirit. She's one of the group's Treasure Hunters & also only a first level PC played by Jason's wife Holly.



Shiala Piper had inherited her father's dead white skin, evil purple white eyes, & has gained possession of the Moonstone Amulet along with his fetish cane but she doesn't have the Spookman's experience. As the group's 2nd level occultist she's always in the thick of things. She's backed by Harry Wissop the protege of the Ghost whose also the group's second occultist and scientist. But he's only a first level green kid whose head over heels in love and in deep extra dimensional weirdness. Then there's Crash Cranson whose the group's pilot and another mercenary. The party immediately was stranded in another time period by Fenton after confronting him on his lost Pacific island. Here the party met up with Peggy Allen aka the Woman in Red or as another of the party put it, 'Its Peggy Allen's daughter' 'I've heard of this wannabe'! After which she saved their butts from a mutated dinosaur.


After dealing with a horde of ape men, a few of the harrowing traps of the professor, the party did manage to recover the Grail but Fenton made it away with some lost Hyperborean technology! The party went up a level but they've been banned from using the
"Chronopticon" again. But is this the end or only the beginning? The players will have to find a way.


All characters mentioned are public domain but these versions are trade marked and copy righted to the players. Raiders of the Lost Artifacts is copy righted and trade marked to Night Owl Workshop who is in no way responsible for the contents of this blog.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Using The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun Adventures To Construct An Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System Mega Campaign

I've been thinking today about the connections between The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun how these two adventures can be used as a touch stone to create a mega Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign.


“There have been times when only a hair's-breadth has intervened betwixt myself and the seething devil-ridden world of madness; for the hideous knowledge, the horror- blackened memories which I have carried so long, were never meant to be borne by the human intellect. ”
― Clark Ashton Smith

I've been mediating quietly today on the daughter of Iggwilv.I'm speaking of Drelzna, the vampiric daughter of long-deceased archmage Iggwily himself.  
I've spoken of the connections between The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & how it impacts my views of Hyperborea before. But when you begin to dive below the surface of  The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun some of this get's downright Lovecraftian.


"In the Yatil Mountains south of Perrenland there is rumored to be a magical hoard of unsurpassed value, a treasure of such fame that scores of adventurers have perished in search of it. Find the perilous Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and you may gain the hidden wealth of the long-dead arch-mage — if you live."
Cover blurb for The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
The more I'm looking into the twisting corridors and winding passages of  The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth the more it feels like the passages of Underborea to me. The connections to the The Forgotten Temple feel like some sort of unresolved incident from the time before the Green Death in Hyerborea. This beast of a module introduced some the major players of the D&D world in the form of monsters, demon lords, & horrors that would later find their way into the Fiend Folio. Somehow 
Drelzna, the vampiric daughter is a quarter Hyperborean, demonic, & something otherworldly.



I keep thinking about the Norker being some sort of Clark Aston Smith solar system half demonic humanoid created for working on distant gravity heavy worlds of the Solar System. They've always struck me as being more alien then the Fiend Folio portrays them. I see them as miners, heavy muscle, & cannon fodder for the samurai like demon clans of the Hobgoblins who are a quarter demon in my Hyperborea campaigns.




I keep thinking the second that Drelzna awakens she's going to revive the cults that were responsible for the imprisoned god Tharizdun & bring the horrors of  the Black Cyst upon the face of Hyperborea itself. It feels to me as though there's a connection between the Ashen Worm & the horrors of the  The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun


We know that the events of  The Forgotten Temple are kicked off by an incident from The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. These two modules represent some major players in the planes;"The treasure is a remnant of the wealth amassed by the archmage Iggwilv, former ruler of Perrenland, prior to her presumed death at the hands of the demon Graz'zt, whom she had "imprisoned and forced into servitude."" So already we're on Elric style footing here with some major movers & shakers. These modules also mark the first appearance of the 'Grell' & its really nasty version of the monster. Grell (Karen Nelson, AD&D module WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, TSR, 1982)  The original grell made 11 attacks per round, 10 with tentacles and one with beak.


I don't think its an accident at all that there's a connection between HG Well's War of the Worlds Martians and the Grell. We know that Gary Gygax was fan of both Wells & Burroughs as well as Clark Aston Smith. For the more I study these two modules the more I'm convinced of the connection with CA Smith's The Coming of the White Worm;"
In much fear and wonder he descended and flung wide the portals. Before him were two men, or creatures who had the likeness of men. Both were strange of visage and bright-skinned, and they wore for mantles such rune-woven stuffs as wizards wear. The runes were uncouth and alien; but when the man bespoke him he understood something of their speech, which was in a dialect of the Hyperborean isles.
"We serve the One whose coming was foretold by the prophet Lith," they said. "From spaces beyond the limits of the north he hath come in his floating citadel, the ice-mountain Yikilth, to voyage the mundane oceans and to blast with a chill spendour the puny peoples of humankind. He hath spared us alone amid the inhabitants of the broad isle Thulask, and hath taken us to go with him in his sea-faring upon Yikilth. He hath tempered our flesh to the rigour of his abode, and hath made respirable for us the air in which no mortal man may draw breath. Thee also he hath spared and hath acclimated by his spells to the coldness and the thin ether that go everywhere with Yikilth. Hail, O Evagh, whom we know for a great wizard by this token: since only the mightiest of warlocks are thus chosen and exempted."
Sorely astonished was Evagh; but seeing that he had now to deal with men who were as himself, he questioned closely the two magicians of Thulask. They were named Dooni and Ux Loddhan, and were wise in the lore of the elder gods. The name of the One that they served was Rlim Shaikorth, and he dwelt in the highest summit of the ice-mountain. They told Evagh nothing of the nature or properties of Rlim Shaikorth; and concerning their own service to this being they avowed only that it consisted of such worship as is given to a god, together with the repudiation of all bonds that had linked them heretofore to mankind. And they told Evagh that he was to go with them before Rlim Shaikorth, and perform the due rite of obeisance, and accept the bond of final alienage."
This mirrors the coming of the Ashen Worm in AS&SH which might reflect the rise of the cult of
Tharizdun itself. 


I'm half convinced that these two modules could be used to create a nasty & very high level section of Underborea. The feeling of this material will have the weight of both a sword & sorcery setting as well as the irony of Clark Aston Smith's sardonic wit to it. The god Tharizdun is pure evil, simple clean & utterly alien in its malevolence.

Eons before Man walked the Earth, Tharizdun was chained and his name struck forever out for history; his crime unspeakable. By interconnecting the underworlds of The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, with The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & then back tacking it into the dungeons of B4 The Lost City Adventure it links up a network of Underborea for the Temple of Elemental Evil show down.


There are several reasons why this sort of a sword & sorcery campaign would work with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea: 

  1. Levels the PC's can start out with Keep on The Borderlands and then climb up very quickly or die trying.

  2. Sword & Sorcery connection this sort of a mega campaign could have cosmic connections taking the PC's from the depths of the dungeon into the realms of the gods or their remains. 

  3. Science fantasy weirdness given the material in Expedition To The Barrier Peaks this sort of a campaign could help to explain the weird science fantasy 'in' of that adventure. 

  4. This could take years, looking over this sort of a campaign your probably looking at twenty five or more years. 

  5. World Spanning or ending threat given the nature of Tharizdun & the gods behind the Elemental Evil this could have happened to many worlds in the multiverse or solar system. So its not a far stretch to see where this could lead, perhaps the asteroid belt of the Sol system had this happen. 

  6. Little beginnings - Starting with both Keep on The Borderlands & In search of the Unknown there could be a natural progression across many modules. 

  7.  Generational threat - By using the time line of AS&SH its possible to create entire families whose PC's have been fighting this sort of evil upon the face of Hyperborea for a very long time indeed. 

  8. Living to Spend It - Given the levels of AS&SH its very possible that during this sort of campaign several PC's might have complete careers in adventuring and retire if they live that long. 

  9. Earlier I mentioned this being a threat that might stretch across the planes & this could see PC's journeying to other classic era TSR  systems such Gamma World or Boot Hill. 

  10. Treasures between worlds - There could be one or more treasures or relics that have deep connections to bringing this sort of a campaign to a head. These should be focal points and very dangerous to both NPC's & PC's alike something we see time and again in Marvel classic Seventies & Eighties Conan. 

 

 

 

Free OSR Appendix 'S' Science Fantasy Download - Science Fiction Adventure Classics #01 (1967 Summer) For Your Old School Campaigns & Details on The New Aurach Adventurer,Conqueror, King Rpg Kickstarter


Pulps can be difficult things to sometimes get a hold of or they used to be Appendix S material is a very mixed back of stuff. Appendix 'S' is what I refer to as my go to science fantasy index.

Science Fiction Adventure Classics which ran from '67 to '74 was a God sent in some respects, according to the Pulp Trader Website;"A series of reprint magazines.
In Spring 1969, Ultimate Publishing Co. started printing Strange Fantasy, which ran issues #8-13 and made it look like they were changing the magazine name. But then they went back and continued Science Fiction Adventure Classics with #8.
In 1970 they repeated this by starting Space Adventures with issues #9-14. They continued the original name with an Annual and a Yearbook edition, but those were not numbered. Finally, they restarted Science Fiction Adventure Classics with #12.
--Gordon, February 11, 2002"
They even feature a check list for the magazine which is important for the downloader/collector like me.

Science Fiction Adventure Classics was always a mixed bag for reprints but there were some great stuff here from Hugo Gernsback to the classics of Murray Leinster. So here's what we're going to get in this issue:
THE MAGNETIC STORM, HUGO GERNSBACK 5
POLITICS, MURRAY LEINSTER 18
THE LUNAR CHRYSALIS, RAYMOND GALLUN 40
THIA OF THE DRYLANDS, HARL VINCENT 66
THE MURGATROYD EXPERIMENT,
CAPTAIN S. P. MEEK U.S.A 100
SHORT STORY
THE EGGS FROM LAKE TANGANYIKA, CURT SIODMAK 93
FEATURES
INTRODUCTION 4
THE SKYLARK OF SPACE,
ILLUSTRATED BY FRANK R. PAUL.... COVERS 2,3,4
A PORTFOLIO, JULES VERNE
ILLUSTRATED BY FRANK R. PAUL 127

I'm really interested in Thia of The Drylands which is a science fantasy novella from the Gernsback era of science fiction. Known to a few devotee's of Mars science fiction it first appeared in the  June 1927 issue of Amazing Stories magazine.
Synopsis: A woman aboard the captured space liner “Poseidonia” is taken to the Red Planet amid a clandestine campaign by Martians to steal Earth’s water. Its got a ton of stuff to loot for a Mars style game from the  Martian city of Risapar on the banks of the Canal Pyramus, one of the canals mapped by Schiaparelli in the late 19th century. This rip roaring tale takes place in the future post Colonial era of Mars & its got a bit of everything for the enterprising DM to pilfer. There's a really good break down of this classic story right over here from '09.  
 There is a ton here to draw from and use for any science fantasy Mars but given my recent preoccuptation with my Mars. This is an excellent look into one of the human city states.



Download & Grab Science Fiction Adventure Classics #01 (1967 Summer) Here  
So when we look into the possible recent OSR connections I'm drawn to the new Aurach kickstarter which has two books their trying to get off the ground the Heroic Fantasy Handbook™ &  the Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu Setting Sourcebook™. But for the moment let's look at the the Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu Setting Sourcebook™. (I'm not crazy about all of the trade mark symbols of the new books. They're off putting reminding me of the classic TSR era's Marvel Super Heroes game).



The
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu Setting Sourcebook is their science fantasy setting book & it has the usual science fantasy bells and whistles but toned into the ACK's world setting :
While the Heroic Fantasy Handbook explores the classic heroic fantasy genre, Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu embraces what might be called “barbarian fantasy” or perhaps “pulp fantasy.” Barbarian fantasy is an amalgam of three distinct but related genres. The first is sword & sorcery literature, exemplified by the likes of Howard's Conan and Moorcock's Elric. This genre counterpoises corrupt, decaying cities and empires with rough-edged barbarian upstarts. It contrasts the decadence of urban life with the vigor of those untainted by it. This might have been inspired by the fall of decadent Rome to the Germanic "barbarians"who set themselves as kings of its ruins, or even by Samson's divine-inspired exploits against the urbanized Philistines.  
The second is sword & planet, exemplified by Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom, a fantastic vision of Mars. This genre explores similar themes to those of sword & sorcery but does accept certain "science fiction" elements such as alien planets, radium pistols, flying craft, and other technological wonders. Sword & planet still follows the vision of a morally-ambiguous 'outsider' protagonist, archetypically an earthling on Mars, using his might to smash the decadent villainy of the local society.
The third is science fantasy proper. This book, however, presents a "science fiction" milieu closer to a fantastic setting once the outer trappings of starships and rayguns are stripped off it. This genre is exemplified by space princesses, dashing interstellar rogues, space combat which looks suspiciously similar to WWII air combat, and a relative disregard of actual science when it conflicts with the plot. The same tropes of the barbarian fantasy genre also apply here: it is easy to envision the mighty lost-world barbarian smashing through the ranks of raygun-wielding aliens with his massive sword, answering their advanced technology with his brute strength.  
With barbarian fantasy as its inspiration, Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu presents new monsters, magical items, technology, spells, classes, and variant rules, all packaged together in Kanahu, a dangerous world of pulp fantasy. Kanahu draws on the myths of the Ancient Near East and pre-Colombian Mesoamerica and blends them together into a gonzo milieu with dinosaurs, Cthulhoid creatures, giant insects, crazy sorcerers, muscled barbarians, city-states, alien visitors, and super-scientific technology. You get:  
  • A set of 15 new character classes from the world of Kanahu, including the scurrying roach-like bugman, the dreaded cultist, the inhuman deep one hybrid, the mighty dragon incarnate, the stealthy geckoman stalker, the savagely sorcerous lizardman witch-doctor, and the mysterious alien Nephil.  
  • A collection of 45 new monsters, with chthonic deep ones and shoggoth, verminous giant cockroaches and giant mantises, pack-hunting velociraptors, sinister serpentmen and scorpionmen, and mysterious alien flying saucers, robots, and more.  
  • A catalog of super-scientific technology ranging from weapons, armor, and vehicles to chemicals, robots and devices. Add fusion launchers, laser rapiers, force fields, hoverbikes, and war-drones to battle and bedevil your adventurers. 
  • A gazetteer of Kanahu, with a complete setting history; continental, regional, and city overview; and a ready-to-play sandbox with over 60 points of interest. 
  • And much, much more!
Given the quality & type of books that comes out of
Autarch I'd back this one. It looks like there is a ton to use in these two books but their not out otherwise I'd be contacting Alexander Macris  for the books now!

Actually both books are right up my alley so if it was me I'd back this one now.
I'll go into more detail on the kickstarter in another blog entry soon. But for now that's all I have the time for. Keep em rolling.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review & Commentary Of The Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts Retroclone Rpg System By Thomas Denmark


Bare with me as I'm going to dive into Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts but I've got to finish my lunch time beer.


Some days you just need to go out with your buddies for a beer to get your head out of your ass. So over the weekend I happened down to my favorite watering hole with three other very experienced dungeon masters who were able to get away from the familial ties for a bit. That's when Billy pulled out his tablet & proceeded to tell me that Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts had made pay dirt & was loose out out in the wilds of the OSR. Thomas Denmark & the folks over at Night Owl Workshop are very strange because they don't Kickstarter any of their projects & they churn out quality product.  The background for Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts has its roots deeply in the Raiders of the Lost Ark pond. See way back in '81 Raiders Of The Lost Ark changed everything. The film was a surprise hit & everyone wanted to jump on the band wagon. Suddenly everything pulp was hot again. Everyone and his brother were making pulp based movies & we got Tale of the Gold Monkey(classic stuff). Throughout the Eighties, Nineties, etc. the world hasn't been the same since. This whole phenomenon hit the Gangbusters rpg & there were stats for whips. Every other brother's D&D game had a thief who was an artifact dealer & there were time traveling Nazi officers



Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts is exactly what it sounds like an 'Eighties Pulp Resurgence'  inspired pulp retroclone with a parody Raiders of The Lost Ark D&D inspired pulpy background. Not so fast kids, despite its roots there's far more here then meets the eye. You've got four classes: Mercenary, Scientist, Treasure Hunter, and the optional Occultist. The optional Occultist is derived from the Warriors of the Red Planet which is great because I actually love the pulpness of that optional character class. So the idea here was that Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson in some alternative universe were inspired by the Thirties & Forties cliff hanger serials & created Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts.
"What if the first roleplaying game had been about skulking around in ancient ruins, underground tombs, and ancient graveyards in search of treasure, magic and secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know… but the heroes themselves were pulpy archaeologists, explorers and mercenaries from the 1930s instead of the wizards and warriors of fantasy"




It actually does live up to its premise and then some, the authors know the original material and the Eighties Pulp Resurgence stuff. They've dipped a bit into the OGL but its been edited, stripped down, & clarified for OD&D style adventures .So your going to end up playing Mercenary, Scientist, Treasure Hunter, and the optional Occultist. Which is right along the alleyway of the pulpy inspired material & they do it with style & the flourish of a whip. This is cut down & opened up rule sets which is perfect for a Saturday afternoon's pick up & go game. 



Where the game really shines is in the Relics section, these are the treasures of myth, legend, history, & even pulpy popculture according to the add, "Hundreds of new, incredibly powerful magic items called Relics and here's a good example of exactly what your going to get;
"Agrippa’s Book of Occult Philosophy: Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) is the most influential writer of Renaissance esoterica, and indeed all of Western occultism. The Book of Occult Philosophy (De Occulta Philosophia libri) is Agrippa’s study of occult philosophy, acknowledged as a significant contribution to the Renaissance philosophical discussion concerning the powers of ritual magic and its relationship with religion. The book was printed in 1531 in Paris, Cologne, and Antwerp. It was an ambitious attempt to rejuvenate the art of magic which had degenerated during the medieval ages. He did this by assembling an intellectual and theoretical foundation from his extensive collection of sources. Agrippa started with a “systematic exposition of Ficinian spiritual magic and Trithemian demonic magic and treatised in practical magic” (I. P. Couliano in Hidden Truths 1987, p. 114). Other major sources used by Agrippa include Liber de mirabilibus mundi of pseudo-Albertus Magnus, Giovanni Pico’s Oratio de Dignitate Hominis and Apologia, Johannes Reuchlin’s De Verbo Mirifico, Pliny’s Historia Naturalis, as well as Picatrix and the Hermetic and Neoplatonic texts. The resulting text circulated widely in manuscript form.
Unknown to most was that the original hand written book contains true occult power, filled with spells, incantations, and alchemical recipes. The original has long been lost, but recent clues have arisen that might reveal its actual location. The volume was published in three books (and it might make for a more interesting adventure to have the players collect three originals)."
This basically means that you could literally see hundreds of your favorite items from Excalibur, Merlin's staff, to whatever tickles your fancy can trickle in. Here's another example from the author's blog ;"The Aegis



This was a form of magical armor born by the goddess Athena in Greek myth, and also sometimes carried by her father Zeus. It was symbol of military prowess and defense. Athena may have crafted the aegis from the hide of one of her monstrous foes, perhaps the giant Pallas, whom she killed in the war against the Giants. In form it could vary, but it was often worn wrapped around the wearer’s body, and also hanging down behind her as a cloak. It was said to have a surface like golden snake skin. After the Gorgon medusa was slain, Athena arranged to have its severed face integrated into the folds of the garment; when uncovered, the gorgon’s red eyes stared out from her chest and its writhing snake-hair hung like tassels, and its petrifying gaze could fall upon all who faced her. The Aegis could also be rearranged and attached as a cover to a stout shield (again with the gorgon-head facing outward); Zeus, if he used it, often preferred this form. It takes two rounds to change the Aegis’s form.

The aegis was sometimes leant by Athena to favored individuals  such as mortal heroes, and perhaps it passed into one of their possessions after the gods left the earth (and hid whatever palace they had on Mount Olympus from mortal eyes). Should this be the case, it is possible it might be found in some ancient Greek hero’s tomb or temple, possibly one sacred to Athena, that in or around the Mediterranean region

As a garment, the Aegis provides AC -2 (22) to its wearer; as a shield cover it is a +4 shield (not cumulative with any bonus an existing magic or high-tech shield already provides, but if the shield is itself +4 or better, the combination provides a +5 bonus). In addition, when the medusa-head is uncovered anyone who is looking directly at it and comes within 50 feet must make a saving throw or be turned to stone (after making a saving throw, they are immune). When the Aegis is worn as a garment, anyone grappling its wearer may be stung by the live snakes; they collectively attack in close combat with 4 HD with a hit doing 1d4 damage and requiring a saving throw vs. poison to avoid death.

Even with its face covered, the aegis is also a potent symbol of power and victory; should a leader wear the aegis, any troops with him will have +2 to morale checks or saving throws made against fear, and the wearer or wielder of the aegis is themselves immune to fear.

Groups who might be seeking in the Aegis could include those archeologists or occultists who believe in the truth of Greek legends like the Illiad, as well as Greek nationalists and Hellenophiles (many of them British) who revere Athena as a symbol of justice and democracy. Political leaders who fear assassination may also wish to possess the aegis merely for its protective qualities, although its benefits to leadership would also help. Possible guardians for the Aegis include the usual array of mythical Greek monsters, and the danger of finding the thing uncovered and being turned to stone..."
Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts has a decent monster section with monsters from mythology, legend, etc. The most dangerous 'monsters' in the game are mankind & since this game was inspired by Indiana Jones there is going to be Nazi forces & baby there are in there. Large, in charge, and ready to blow your guys to Hell. They'll be Nazi spies in every port & harbor from here to Bombay & this is followed by some of the most dangerous bastards ever to don a black uniform. They're being sent around the globe to gather those treasures.



The classes are decent, the lay out easy on the eyes, and book makes you want to actually run a game. So is there support? Well yes there's a brand new G+ group & the game is only now starting to make OSR headway. Raiders! is also cross compatible with all of the Night Owl Workshop games and many OSR games! So technically this game could be used to bridge gap into say Adventurer, Conqueror, King for a domain level pulpy campaign. The mind boggles with some of the possibilities!


YOU CAN GRAB THE PDF RIGHT OVER ON DRIVETHRURPG (there isn't a print option yet these things take time to be ready for Drivethrurpg print). 


Or You Can Grab A Print Copy Right Here On Lulu



Do I think you should buy a copy? In a word yes! The book is well done and solidly presented, the material is solidly done and can easily be used right out of the gate. Th artwork is on target for the material and presents the golden age of adventuring easily & without getting to deeply into the morass of stuff that D20 has! The fact is that the Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts game is also open for cross compatible OSR content! So Grab this one today!
Five out of five for one that I've got to wait a couple of months to get because I just got a huge lulu order! Damn it! I should have waited another week or so. Anyone want to spare a copy? Anyone?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Four Sixties Cult Films As Fodder For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns


There are four movies that have influenced me as a kid, these are classics that seldom get mentioned today. Yeah these were shown to me as a kid & they foreshadowed many of the later Eighties sword & sorcery films . First up is the 'Long Ships' from 1964. The Long Ships is a movie starring Sydney Poitier as a Moorish king named Aly Mansuh. Based on the Swedish novel, "The Long Ships" by Frans G. Bengtsson. Released in the United Kingdom, in 1964. Excellent film with a great cast and now mostly forgotten except by some of the real film fans. Yeah there's going to be a bit of a Viking theme here but forgive an old war gaming fan.


Next up is one that I saw in a theater in my home town of Torrington Ct back when the Warner theater ran back to back two dollar films. This film had a plot straight out of a Saturday matinee (which for me it was!) and a superb cast!
Einar and Eric are two Viking half-brothers. The former is a great warrior whilst the other is an ex-slave, but neither knows the true identity of the other. When the throne of Northumbria in Britain becomes free for the taking, the two brothers compete against one another for the prize, but they have very different motives - both involving the princess Morgana,
There lots to mine here for an old school sword & sorcery film especially the torture and death scene of Tony Curtis's character by flesh eating crabs. You've also got to love Einar whose pure lawful evil awesomeness.



Well I was only going to do three but when you've got Kirk Douglas senior then you've got to mention the movie that put him over the top. Yeah I'm speaking of Spartacus which is a Sixties film that has it all.  Arguably the best of the 60's "blood and sandals"  epics.  Some fantastic acting from an all-star cast and hordes of extras for the big scenes. There's tons to grab for a sword & sorcery campaign.
Even though the ending was made up this is the real deal and a classic.


One thing I love about games such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, you can play 'What if' with it & never have to say a word to those amateur history buffs at the table. Which brings me to my next film. This is classic Sixties Hollywood historical weirdness with Mayans vs American Indians, yes I'm speaking of 's Kings of The Sun.
"In order to flee from powerful enemies, young Mayan king Balam leads his people north across the Gulf of Mexico to the coast of what will become the United States. They build a home in the new land but come into conflict with a tribe of Native Americans led by their chief, Black Eagle, while both Balam and Black Eagle fall in love the beautiful Mayan princess Ixchel. "
This film is filled with pulpy goodness to mine from & its so relatively unknown today that I'd swear not one of my players had even heard of this one.



So why use these films? Well, with Hyperborea being the far future of Earth its easy to slip in the occasional and isolated city state of Old Earth cultures and not even break a sweat. Plus its easy to have all kinds of weird groups pop up with dangerous factions, strange ways, & never even apologize for the efforts. Each of these films represents a different group of humans who might be separated by miles of mountains, weird weather, etc. But are perfect micro cosm cultures rife for clashing warfare against the alien backdrop of Hyperborea.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Adapting & Exploiting B5 Horror On The Hill, B8 Journey To The Rock, & B10 Night's Dark Terror For An Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea & Adventurer, Conqueror, King Rpg System Domain Level Mega Wilderness Campaign

Imagine the the wilderness of such depth that not even the sun can occasionally shine between the trees, fill it with blood thirsty children of demons, giants, and stir with a pulpy spoon waiting for adventurers to venture into the darkness. This is the set up for a sword & sorcery mix of the 'B' series of modules jumping off after the PC's have completed the iconic Keep On The Borderlands. The PC's are brought into the cross hairs of B5 The Horror on The Hill;""The end of the road. A lonely fort stands on the banks of a mighty river. It is here the hardy bands of adventurers gather to plan their conquests of The Hill, the hulking mass that looms over this tiny settlement.

The Hill is filled with monsters, they say, and an evil witch makes her home there. Still, no visitor to The Hill has ever returned to prove the rumors true or false. The thrill of discovery is too great to pass up, and only the river stands in the way. The adventurers' boat is waiting!" This is the beginning of the affair as they push into the temperate and unforgiving wilderness. Here the old ruins lay after the Green Death has taken down everything. The wilderness has come to reclaim everything and ruins are overgrown with the weight of ages. Scattered like islands of civilization are minor city states & kingdoms that have endured the centuries. Half inbred & decedent nobble families vie in warfare that only weakens them and ancient horrors from beyond the Outer Darkness prowl the forests.



There are towns(more like settlements) that have sprung up here and there along the rivers. But there are dark things in the night, "The Hill is filled with monsters, they say, and an evil witch makes her home there. Still, no visitor to The Hill has ever returned to prove the rumors true or false. The thrill of discovery is too great to pass up, and only the river stands in the way."  Here you put together the ingredients for a fully realized sword & sorcery campaign. The legacy of Hyperborea is just under the roots of trees that have sprung up. The half breed remains of a once proud people are found in the forests while the degenerate remains of the giants children the hobgoblins seek your life at every turn then there is the matter of the witch
& her machinations.

There is life beyond death, I know, and I know this, too, Conan of Cimmeria"--she rose lithely to her knees and caught him in a pantherish embrace--"my love is stronger than any death! I have lain in your arms, panting with the violence of our love; you have held and crushed and conquered me, drawing my soul to your lips with the fierceness of your bruising kisses. My heart is welded to your heart, my soul is part of your soul! Were I still in death and you fighting for life, I would come back to the abyss to aid you--aye, whether my spirit floated with the purple sails on the crystal sea of paradise, or writhed in the molten flames of hell! I am yours, and all the gods and all their eternities shall not sever us!"
Robert Howard "Queen of the Black Coast" (1934)

There are rumors in some of the forest villages of
Lirdrium Arkayz a wizard who seeks to know about the Hyperborean ruin know as the Rock. "The road to The Rock leads to danger and hidden peril - dangers that have claimed the lives of many brave adventurers. Rashness and folly will lead to quick death, but riches await the clever and the brave." this is the talk of old women & cunning folk. There are forest demons and other horrors that await the brave or foolish if they journey to the Rock. There are many leagues between here and that pile of rot and ruin.

The city state of Tuma has many opportunities for the wise and willing adventurer, the Rock is a place of death and destruction though, its trails and byways are dangerous & deadly.



But the wilds and wilderness of this trackless country has many challenges including the impenetrable Dymrak forest where rumors of cults, strange things & even trolls await you fools after growing fat & foolish sampling the pleasures of the city of Kelven.
"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 wild is strong. Will you answer the call, or are you afraid of the dark terrors of the night?"

So this sort of a sword & sorcery campaign cycle for use with Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea or Adventurer, Conqueror, King. This grouping of modules provides the DM with hundreds of miles of manageable wilderness set in a proto Russian campaign setting rife with opportunity and danger. Here the sun doesn't even touch the ground! There are influences of Hyperborean, Norse, Russian, and far weirder influences still.



How does this work? Well this series of modules is put together in a rather large stretch of wilderness kingdoms that have become intertwined with the Green Death. Huge swath of abandoned cities, ruins, etc. have returned to the wilderness. This is prime real estate waiting for the right adventurers to carve out their own domains but even while Hyperborea has gone on with itself. These lands have become reoccupied & inhabited by monsters, men, and demons. This is the perfect time to introduce monsters from the Fiend Folio Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition into Hyperborea especially those monsters with an Eastern or Near Eastern Russian style flare. Everything from throat leeches to apparitions are perfect fodder to throw in. They'll be completely unexpected and very dangerous to PC's.



So how do these old school resources match up and why go this route? Well there are several reasons why this is going to work and work out very well. The fact is that each of the above modules have factions, ideas, adventure hooks, etc. all relating to the wilderness elements of old school gaming. Here's ten reasons why the 'B' series is perfect adventure fodder for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea:

  1. Horror on the Hill has some really choice pulpy elements that a DM can exploit & use to motivate his adventurers and especially the players. These factions and encounters are really well done if used correctly. The wilderness is actually manageable for the DM even though it looks 'huge' on paper. 
  2. Classic adventure can be given the AS&SH twist to get the players to be a bit off guard especially if they've played these classics before. Look to mythology and legend for a plethora of influences that you can use. 
  3. Journey To The Rock can be twisted a bit to provide further adventure hooks by limiting the paths or later opening them up for more adventure! The plots hooks & encounters are already built in. 
  4. The expanding frontier of adventure is perfect for the adventurers to actually be the ones to be exploited instead of the natives! This means they might end up penniless and very desparate! 
  5. Picts and minor undead are your friends! Have a favorite Russian or Mongolian animal? Create a fictional tribe of NPC's based on it and go to town! Twist the Picts by making them far more 'civilized' then the city state dwellers! Turn the city state into a cannibal nation ala Edgar Rice Burroughs. 
  6. Do you have dungeon or adventure location of ruins that you've always wanted to run? Now is the opportunity to throw it into the mix. With miles of abandoned cities and ruins there is the opportunity to throw in anything and get away with it. 
  7. Witches, hags, and horrors are perfect NPC's to throw at the players these are corner stones of this style of adventure campaign. Conan literally ran into hundreds of these in the Marvel comics and magazines. Perfect excuse to exploit these for your gain. There is a strong Norse influence felt throughout this sort of a campaign. Use tons of NPC's with these influences to help reinforce the adventure aesthetic. Traders, merchants, slave traders are all found wandering though and selling their wares.
  8. Never underestimate the power of Indian or Mongolian monsters. There are literally hundreds of these monsters that never get used in traditional D&D games now is the time to change that. These can be used as boss monsters especially with Adventurer, Conqueror, King's sink of evil rules!
  9. Vampire species make perfect Hyperborean undead nobles and horrors use them. 
  10. There are several Lovecraftian elements in these adventures use each and everyone of them to their fullest extent. 
 When in doubt turn back to Robert Howard  or your favorite sword & sorcery author for even more ideas. These three adventures have tons of wilderness or hex crawling goodness and can be used to weave together an entire wilderness mega campaign!

"Conan stood paralyzed in the disruption of the faculties which demoralizes anyone who is confronted by an impossible negation of sanity." Robert Howard "The Devil in Iron" (1934)

1d8 Random Ancient Viking Treasures Table For Your Old School Campaigns

These relics come from another time after the fall of the Old Gods, they carry with them the echoes of Ragnarok & the doom of ages. To carry these objects is to carry the weight of ages for their stories yearn to be told & their owner's forgotten lost deeds to be carried out. There is a 20% chance that a geas or other spell of the ages is carried upon them.
 


But there are far darker & disturbing aspects of these objects, demons, entities, and other horrors from beyond time & space stalk the angles outside of time looking for the scent of Old Earth echoing through the ether between the "Dark Spaces." These forces  will seek the trails of the owners of these objects to murder or worse such folks to oblterate the traces of them from all reality. These things are hates from old & they loath those who would remember the nobility and heroism of the 'Old Peoples'.



"Like gay-hued leaves after an autumn storm, the fallen littered the plain; the sinking sun shimmered on burnished helmets, gilt-worked mail, silver breastplates, broken swords and the heavy regal folds of silken standards, overthrown in pools of curdling crimson. In silent heaps lay war-horses and their steel-clad riders, flowing manes and blowing plumes stained alike in the red tide. About them and among them, like the drift of a storm, were strewn slashed and trampled bodies in steel caps and leather jerkins"
Robert Howard The Phoenix & The Sword 1932

1d8 Random Ancient Viking Treasures Table

  1. A chess set of carved ivory & precious woods with the board nearby the chess pieces seem weirdly realistic. Worth 600 gold pieces to the right collector for the pieces can give echos of the future 1d20 weeks away. 
  2. Set of strangely wrought wooden navigation tools that don't correspond to any known Earthly sea going pieces. These can be used by a Viking wizard to navigate the deeper lower Astral or the Outer Darkness worth an easy 1000 gold pieces to the right black magician, necromancer or other wizard. 
  3. Brooch of Protection against the horrors of the Outer Darkness 600 gold pieces because of a serious nick in the neck of the piece works about 60 % of the time. Roll for percentage each encounter. A spot of blood never goes away on it. 
  4. Staff of Jet and Wood made to resemble the face of an ancient wizard or man that allows the owner to cast a true sight spell three times per day. This piece also can increase the casting duration of any spells effects by 30% when used. Worth 6000 gold pieces because of the incredibly intricate wooden carvings that seem to writhe and move under the user's hands when its used. 
  5. Golden Valkyrie carving is made to resemble a little girl's doll but it is anything but. This piece can show who carries the death sign in an upcoming battle three times per day. The piece is also will rebuke any minor undead within a 30 foot radius as the spirit of the piece mocks the state of such beings. The golden Valkyrie will  appear to the owner once every six full moons to advise, chastise, and impart wisdom on matters of the dead, heroic dead, and some minor necrotic matters. This item is worth 5000 gold pieces or trade goods to the right temple or lodge. 
  6. Scales of The Wise - This set of scales belonged to the magicians of the ancients and is able to measure the power & magicks of astral lands. These are vary valuable to the right type of magician. They can also three times per day rattle and warn of any demonic influence within a 30 foot radius. 
  7. A Cross Pendant made from the bones of a necromancer this piece has been carved from the bones of a hated necromancer & echoes with the trickery and strangeness of the dead. It allows a path of safety to be created through any minor undead three times per day but it also whispers horrid truths and prophetic rhymes when it does this. Undead hate and loath this thing for it mocks them with whispers and untold truths within ten feet. It is an annoying and hateful thing worth 1000 gold pieces to the right collector or wizard. Necromancers will try to destroy it.
  8. The Drinking Cup of Dragons - Carved from the single horn of a hate of old this drinking cup allows its owner to gain the wisdom and deep understanding of the ancient kings of old serpents three times per week. The owner will enter a fugue state that must not be broken for 1d6 days and he will receive dark and disturbing dreams but gain incredible wisdom from the spirits of the horn. Priceless to the right tribe

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mediations on C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness (1e) for Sword & Sorcery & Domain Level Campaign

"A shadow from the past, the Ghost Tower of Inverness has loomed ever larger in the mind of the great Seer of Urnst. Now he has convinced the Duke that an expedition should be organized to go to the ancient keep and recover its greatest treasure - the fabled Soul Gem."


So opens one of the more iconic & in some ways controversial titles in the 'C' or Competition series of modules, 1980's The Ghost Tower of Inverness is pure competition module right out of the gate. You can construct a storyline around it for your home campaign but the tower itself is situated in the world of Greyhawk an ancient magical tower located in the southern Abbor-Alz Hills. My version of the tower had a slightly more Moorcockian origin. The place moved between dimensions and the fabled Soul Gem, a legendary artifact of great power powered it. Wiki has a good breakdown of the adventure and of the process for tournament play;"All of the characters are in the dungeon of the Duke Justinian Lorimnar of Unst for various crimes and charged with the task of recovering the Soul Gem for the Duke:
Hodar - A sorcerer practicing forbidden magic specifically outlawed by the Duke
Zinethar - A priest who led a temple revolt against the Duke's citizens
Lembu - A fighter who killed the palace guard captain and 11 of his men in a barroom brawl
Discinque - A thief who attempted to steal jewels from the crown, only to fall off the wall on top of the guard patrol
Li Hon - A monk indentured into the Duke's service by her monastery in lieu of tax payment

The Duke, after providing gold for the characters to equip themselves, also provides a magic item (the Amulet of Recall) which teleports the party back to the Duke, no matter where they are. After equipping is complete, the palace guard escort the characters to the ruined site of the ghost tower, where players must then figure out actions on their own how to best enter the tower and recover the gem. Tournament Points are added, or deducted, from both team and individual scores depending on how characters choose to handle the situations they encounter. These include a chess room, a "frozen bugbear" room, a "tunnel" room, and others." So part tournament module & a possible enigma wrapped around a traps & tricks core of weirdness. Players & their PC's have to think on their feet, for Hyperborea The Ghost Tower is a chance to present a Hyperborean artifact of both extreme power & dangerous weirdness. In other words the tower itself should be an artifact of mythology and local legend.


The key to doing this is in the use of Duke Justinian Lorimnar of Unst who could be a minor official in the bureaucracy of Hyperborea or another sword & sorcery world. Think the bureaucracy of ancient Rome and uncaring attitude of an Eighties flick like Greed and you get the idea. This is a man willing to send others into harm's way to achieve his own ends. The tower is as much an npc as any other character in this adventure and care should be taken to get this point across the players. They've got to work together as a team and this is one that has to be played with experienced players to get the best out of the Ghost Tower of Inverness.


This one isn't player vs player its a team effort scaled around the adventure goals themselves which are reflected in the 'fun house' nature of the Ghost Tower, its dungeons, traps, items, and the adventure location's ins & outs. All of this revolves around the theme of the dungeon which highlights both its qualities and style of play.


So how does this relate to domain play? Well the tower could be one aspect of a right of succession which some retroclone & completing the adventure are part of a noble birth right. This all of course ties back into who and the elements of  C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness,


There are few reasons why "The Ghost Tower of Inverness" (1980), by Allen Hammack,  the second adventure in the competition (C-) series actually can work as an old school campaign venue :
  1. There's no tears or fuss setting this one up in your own campaign world setting. There so much D&D DIY that can be done with C2 that it lends itself for a different sort of style of play. 
  2. Stretching the players and the party's role at the table marks the beginning of the use of the fun house as something more. 
  3. Traps, tricks, and lethality  makes this one a dangerous module to run as you the DM want or need it. 
  4. This module has an air of the weird and pushing it in the extra direction of sword & sorcery isn't that hard. 
  5. Have you ever wanted to push as clown or other dangerous NPC theme in a module? This is the module to unleash a bunch of psychotic clown or other nasty you always wanted to. 
  6. Not easily broken, there are several strange bits in the Ghost Tower that can be adapted into your home campaign or to tackle their own version. 
  7. There have been numerous adventure locations in sword & sorcery campaigns that are exactly the sort of fun house play. 
  8. There are themes and setting ideas that roll themselves through  C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, with a bit of foreshadowing these can be come wholly important to the party when they enter the tower. 
  9. The tower can be as much a prize as the treasure and material within it. With a bit of luck & some good rolls the PC's can deal with both the hazards within the Tower and then I've had several players want to make the Tower their domains! I can so see this happening because of the artifact status of the tower. 
  10. The tower works as both an iconic adventure and as a gate way to further explorations in the surrounding lands. 

Because of the iconic nature of this module there's something about running it once per group that makes it stand out. This is only one of my experiences with C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness & there's lots of potential for expansion that makes this one a classic but as always your mileage may vary a bit. 

Further Meditations on B4 The Lost City Adventure For Use With C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan For Domain Level Competion Play & Sword & Sorcery Campaign

Alright I spoke about C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan today but a friend on G+ mentioned B4 The Lost City. And well any excuse to speak about B4 is good enough for me. I've used the two modules together before but tomorrow I'll dive into the rest of the 'C' series. Let's talk about using B4 & C1 together as mega campaign for a moment.

"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. " Sounds like something out of a pulp magazine of the weird tales variety and this wasn't lost on the author Tom Moldvay . 

We're talking iconic modules here and over the years I've used C1 and B4 together as a strung together 'lost world' Conan style 'Red Nails' situation. The various factions of B4 The Lost City are the remains of an ancient people now long gone. The Olman peoples, traps,etc. of C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan might be at war with the various factions of 'The Lost City' hence the deadly level of tricks and traps. All of this adventure set up could be for religious reasons.  I refer back to Robert Howard's Red Nails novella.

"Techotl pointed to a black column of ebony which stood behind the dais. Hundreds of red dots scarred its polished surface — the bright scarlet heads of heavy copper nails driven into the black wood. "Five red nails for five Xotalanca lives!" exulted Techotl, and the horrible exultation in the faces of the listeners made them inhuman.
— Robert E. Howard, "Red Nails""
The two adventure settings connect up via a smaller dungeon tunnel system and into the lost  valley of "C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" . This puts a very different spin on the domain level play of such a campaign where hidden passages, weird Lovecraftian monsters, and even hidden factions could ply the tunnels between adventure locations. This also means that perhaps the players might be taken on one or more of the domain locations. The hidden sinks of evil sub system of magic in Adventurer, Conqueror, King has some perfect fodder for the weird pulpy occult background of such a campaign set up. Thanks to the Vaults of Pandius website there are tons of resources for B4 The Lost City to plunder. 

 B4 The Lost City has some of the best mini campaign elements for D&D DIY since Tomb of Horrors for Competition play as well. This means that with a larger and experienced D&D group a DM could use and expand the tricks and traps of B4 into a mega competition module with "C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" as the next expansion. Bring plenty of PC's the mayhem and death will put the average DCC module to shame.  Infact the mercenaries and hirelings of B4 can be used to help round out parties of adventurers.


So what does this have to do with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea? Plenty actually, I've been rereading
 Novalyne Price Ellis, One Who Walked Alone which I highly recommend for the Robert Howard fan and his themes of cultural decline and decadence;"

The theme of cultural decadence maintained its grip on Howard's imagination. In early 1935 he remarked to Novalyne Price:
"You see, girl, when a civilization begins to decay and die, the only thing men or women think about is the gratification of their body's desires. They become preoccupied with sex. It colors their laws, their religion – every aspect of their lives.
[...]
"Girl, I'm working on a yarn like that now – a Conan yarn. Listen to me. When you have a dying civilization, the normal, accepted life style ain't strong enough to satisfy the damned insatiable appetites of the courtesans and, finally, of all the people. They turn to Lesbianism and things like that to satisfy their desires...I am going to call it 'The Red Flame of Passion.'" — Novalyne Price Ellis, One Who Walked Alone"
These themes are central to the ideas and motivations for competition among the various factions, peoples.etc. of these modules. This leads to the perfect in for players wanting to carve out their own little petty kingdom of weirdness among the ruins. This is central theme to several adventures of both Adventurer, Conqueror, King & especially Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

"Eibon saw that Zhothaqquah was indeed a god of his word: for the scene beyond the panel was nothing that could ever find a legitimate place in the topography of Mhu Thulan or of any terrestrial region. It did not altogether appeal to him; but there was no alternative, save the inquisitorial cells of the goddess Yhoundeh. Envisaging in thought the various refinements and complications of torture which Morghi would have now prepared, he sprang through the opening into Cykranosh with an agility that was quite juvenile for a wizard of mature years."
The Door To Saturn
Clark Aston Smith


Competition, combat, blood, sex, and adventure figure around the central axis of black magick, weirdness, and the dangerous nature of these two modules. The fact is that these are perfect fodder for getting the blood flowing both around the dice and on the map. There are lots of reasons why a cross campaign works with these two modules: 


  1. Drop the Lost City in first & run the whole affair as a mini campaign with the understanding that  "C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" is going to be the follow up the PC's will encounter some corpses of Aztec warriors in B4 and the seeds are planted. There are plenty of opportunities for domain seeds throughout B4. 
  2. Deadly little dungeons are scattered throughout B4 and the factions add even more weirdness to the whole affair, an air of insanity hangs over The Lost City just as Robert Howard's Red Nails. 
  3. Undead are your friends for coloring the war between the city states backstory for this which gives an especially weird Edgar Rice Burroughs feel to the whole thing. 
  4. Trapped Lovecaftian Gods are only the tip of the ice berg here and there can be a story within a competition or domain level adventure here scatter a few legends or adventure locations within. 
  5. Clive Barker vacation spot this is the perfect marriage to drop in a demon or other mid level boss monster with an agenda of its own. Weird city locations are excellent for just this sort of strangeness. 
  6. Strange Character classes - isolated locations are the perfect locations to try out NPC's with strange character classes to see how what works and doesn't. They'll be aced or killed at some point so these NPC's can easily be used to build tension. 
  7. Weird tales for two - This is a good opportunity to build NPC with crazy backstories that are build into the campaign world. Lots of pulps did this time and again. This works especially well for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. 
  8. Competition from Beyond - The rival adventurers are a perfect foil to introduce in mini campaigns such as this and giving them the weird or powerful magic item will piss players off especially if they by passed them in the past. 
  9. These adventures are DM DIY D&D friendly and deadly as sin take full advantage of this fact especially with sword and sorcery themes. 
  10. Have Plenty of Extra PC's and use the scoring system of  "C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" because if the players understand this they will want and demand to come back for more. This is one of the reasons why Dungeon Crawl Classics has been so successful.