Thursday, December 14, 2017

Adapting Beyond the Crystal Cave (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Module UK1 By Dave J. Browne, Graeme Morris, & Tom Kirby For Your Old School Campaigns

Fleeing the rage that consumed their feuding families, Juliana and Orlando fled to the Cave of Echoes, where it is said every wish is granted. Two years have passed, and all attempts to return the lovers to their parents have failed, though some believe them lost in the enchanted garden beyond the cave. Many are the rescuers venturing into that enchanted park; a few have returned after long absences, their minds and memories curiously disturbed.

Alright so yesterday I wrote briefly about U.K1 Beyond the Crystal Cave by British designers Dave J. Browne, Tom Kirby, and Graeme Morris, and published by TSR in 1983 as a thirty two page booklet. So it trails in for PC's levels four through seven. Its sort of set within the confines of Greyhawk but its got a very midevil English countryside approach with a very differently enchanted fairyland sort of feel to the adventure taking place within Sybarate Isle in the Hold of the Sea Princes. The size of the isle has always been a source of contention among DM's & players. For me its always been U.K.1's setting situated someplace between Robert Howard's Solmon Kane with the threat of his Conan Picts someplace out there in the far away. The sort of backwater adventure location that could be dropped into War Hammer Fantasy Rpg first edition or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with little issue. 

Yeah sort of like this but with more Fiend Folio first edition monsters!

The PC's are hired to rescue a recently eloped couple that has fled into the Cave of Echoes & its from here where things go wrong. This is a thinking man's adventure where experience points are rewarded for role playing your way out of situations. You as the DM are going to have to think on your feet & move on the trot when it comes to seeing where the PC's take events in Beyond The Crystal Cave. Because kids this is Shakespeare meets AD&D first edition & its an adventure that does it with style.

The PC's are going to have to be wily & clever to enter the Crystal Cave then enter Porpherio's Garden. The Garden is on the island of Sybarate. This isn't as easy as it sounds. There's lots of possible complications, drama, & possible circumstances to easily murder a seventh level PC with easy. The trips, traps, & encounters are balanced but for the thinking rpger & AD&D 1st edition player. Could this adventure be adapted for retroclone systems today? Quite easily because U.K.1 has its roots firmly within Celtic mythology & it wears these on its sleeve!
In fact this module could be transported whole hog into a variety of retroclone systems starting with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. The combination of Fiend Folio monsters & AD&D 1st edition makes this one a nature for the Keltic based nations. The easy of slipping this into the bounds of Hyperborea might need a bit of a push here & there. But all in all it will easily fit into the campaign setting.

I can easily see this  adventure module working for Dark Albion as well where the families become mid tier royals & the PC's have to find the couple as part of the background tapestry of the Rose War. The monsters & adventure background fit the whole cloth of the setting nicely. The lay out & clear writing are hallmarks of the U.K. series.  I can easily see adapting this module into a Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg campaign with more then a few twists & turns!

U.K. 1 Beyond The Crystal Cave isn't for everyone, the module works on a number of levels with its writing, investigative style, quirky subject matter, approach to role playing rather then the traditional Dungeons & Dragons dungeon crawling. For some it remains a cultclassic with its revolutionary approach but for others its not their cup of tea. For me its an old favorite of mine.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

1d6 Random Demons of The Outer Void Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

The Outer Void allows many spirits to bridge the shores of reality. They travel on the Winds of Darkness moving across the bows & breaks of the currents of the Astral to come to foreign shores. These spirits often take over corpses of warriors, strange wanderers, & the fallen. These spirits count as wights or even minor demons, they have often been in the void for centuries. Spirits such as these often carry out ancient agendas that have little meaning in the world of today. So these terrible spirits have to adapt & change to their surroundings.

Often 'Demons of The Outer Void' are summoned to 'Old Earth' & other worlds by means of a simple monster summoning spell. Often this is done by wizards seeking dangerous knowledge of certain Ancient Ones relics & artifacts that leave more questions then answers. The demons are often evasive & very deceptive giving the wizards just enough information to wet the appetites of their summoners. Other summoners use these monsters to create siege weapons when they possess ordinary animals or other prehistoric life forms. These possessions often create 1d8 mutations within the host one of which is always increased size. 

A mirror of reality is always needed for the summoning of one of these spiritual monsters. The mirror is a 40,000 gold piece convex mirrored arrangements of lens that will show any nearby realities for those of a para natural occupation. It will take a skilled craftsman about a year to create the mind bending curves to see into the various levels of alternative realities.

Many times these entities are summoned by necromancers, black magus, & wizards for the sole purpose of advising royals,kings, & rulers about any relics, treasures or ancient artifacts that the Ancient Ones left behind. The demons will mislead, manipulate, & cause as much mayhem after 1d6 years & a day.

 1d6 Random Demons of The Outer Void Encounter Table
  1.  A former general in the armies of the gods, this deceptive & corrupt spirit king's name has been erased from history. It seeks his former comrades in the Underworld but he was separated from them. Only they know his name which will restore him to the rank of  fiend. It is a cruel & infinitely terrible spirit that loves to torture & kill humans as well as near humans. 
  2. Former plaything of the serpent people this spirit is called 'He Who Waits to Kill' a spirit of infinitely cruel jest & torment that loves to possess the strong & virile. This spirit has been a warrior, scholar, & torturer. 
  3. Reubs Sona  The demon jester of Cul is a spirit that hasn't a memory of Earth but the jokes played on him by the Outer Gods. Since then he has to sift through the memories of infinite lives of his victims to form any identity. A joker & trickster spirit that can jump from one body to another to create 1d100 zombie servants. 
  4.  'The Storm of Hours ' is a spirit of infinite destructive power able to possess the elements and create 1d20 demonic elemental bodies. It has knowledge of many technological systems of the 'Ancient Ones' but hates being summoned & bound by magus. It will only serve for 1d6 days before returning to Outer Void as its fury & anger drive it back to its infinite prison between realities. 
  5. Sham Oth - A raging fury of colourless fire & darkness that possesses the dead as its way as former spirit warrior of decay. This spirit knows all of the planar byways & mortal works of history but it can only answer 1d20 questions of horror & madness. 
  6. 'The Shape Without Body' is a spirit of body & biological madness that pulls from an infinite varies of itself for its knowledge. The thing uses dark Chaos energies to shape monstrous bodies & will only answer questions relating to biological weapon systems & cosmic events of an insane nature. It can create 1d10 bodies for itself but direct them as needed. 

Mirrors of steel or silver, gold or glass antique!
Whether in melancholy marble palaces
In some long trance you drew the dreamy loveliness
Of Roman queens, or queens barbarical, or Greek:
Or, further than the bright and sun-pursuing beak
Of argosy might fare, beheld the empresses
Of lost Lemuria; or behind the lattices
Alhambran, have returned forbidden smiles oblique

Of wan mysterious women—mirrors, mirrors old,
Mirrors immutable, impassible as fate,
Your bosoms held the perished beauty of the past
Nearer than straining love might ever hope to hold;
And fleeing faces, lips too phantom-frail to last,
Found in your magic depth a life re-duplicate.
Mirrors  (1922)  by Clark Ashton Smith

OSR Commentary & Review on The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting From MonkeyBlood Design For Your Old School Campaigns

So I've been looking over  The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting 
pdf last night during a wicked ice storm. This morning I'm looking over the Midderlands setting last night & can't seem to shake the feeling I've seen this style of setting  before. But first what is the Midderlands, "A green-hued, dark-fantasy, old-school mini-setting and bestiary set in a twisted middle-England." So what do I possibly mean I've seen this style of OSR setting before?

The Drivethrurpg blurb goes into far more detail;"

"Situated in the middle of Havenland is an area known by the ancestors as the Middle Havenlands. They don’t use that name much any more, preferring to talk lazily, and skip letters.
In strange accents, often misheard and little understood by those outside of the central region - they call it “The Midderlands”, and themselves “Midfolk” or “Midderlanders”.
There are many peculiar folk that call these Midderlands home. Generally mistrusting of outsiders, they suspiciously eye strangers, close doors, bar windows and scurry in opposite directions. Maybe the area has had a troubled history and that is why the folk behave the way they do.
All that aside, there are good folk too. These folk just want to subsist peacefully and not have interference or “goings on” in their lives. Nothing is ever that simple.
As well as the people of the area, there are the places. The towns and hamlets, the woods and hills, the lakes and the rivers. Amongst all these places are stranger locales too; circles of stones, strange towers, castles and burial grounds.
Everywhere, the Midderlands is tainted by a green-hued menace that rises from the deep and affects nature and order, sometimes subtly and sometimes catastrophically. It rises from the mysterious subterranean realm known as Middergloom. Often described as hell bathed in green fire and flames. Green-tinged slime, noxious vapours, and miasmas creep upwards, amongst them viridian-coloured demons, lime-green tentacles and other malachite horrors claw their way to the surface to wreak havoc. The Lords of the land are always working to keep things at bay. The realm of Middergloom is deliberately nebulous and mysterious, and left for you to develop as needed to suit your campaign.
The vileness that lurks below taints the skies above the land too, known as The Drab. The atmosphere is a hint of green rather than blue. The colour can shift between turquoise and sickly yellow-green in a short space of time. When night comes and the Drab clears, the midfolk can see the constellations surrounded by wispy green nebulae, strange wandering stars and comets, and a single many-cratered moon.
There are many things to keep the inquisitive minds of treasure seekers amused. There are also many things to keep the treasures where they are.
Things stir in this viridian-hued landscape. Evil eyes blink and watch. Teeth and claws scratch and sharpen. Gaping maws slobber and drool.
All is not content in the Midderlands."
So needless to say that the Midderlands is very well done, the layout is easy on the eyes, the material fits exactly the itch of a deep, dark, dank fantasy England. Glynn Seal knows his sources & solid background of his world very well. This is not your average OSR world but one that seems to reflect the uniquely weird U.K. brand of fantasy.
So where have I seen this style before? In The U.K. series of classic TSR modules. This same home grown U.K. style where the grit is matched by the monsters of the setting twisted into the plot background of the product so that the adventure flows together well as a cohesive setting whole.

I'd compare the Midderlands setting to U.K.1 Beyond the Crystal Cave. "Beyond the Crystal Cave was written by British designers Dave J. Browne, Tom Kirby, and Graeme Morris, and published by TSR in 1983" There are several reasons why I'm saying this. Your going to need to actually role play, think outside the box, and figure your way out of the interiors of several of the nastier bits of the Midderlands. This is the same idea that Beyond the Crystal Cave employed. By hook or crook the PC's have to use their brains time & again. The second reason I'd compare the two is because of the way that the author has shunted the material into a strangely spun English countryside;" U.K.1  is set in an old English milieu on Sybarate Isle in the Hold of the Sea Princes." This is the same style that we'd later on see in later on in the classic  Warhammer Fantasy by Games Workshop because authors of TSR U.K. would go on to create classic era Games Workshop!

Let me go so far as to say that you could drop the entire TSR U.K. series right into the Midderlands & the setting would let out a burp & a fart then continue on. That's the beauty of this setting its adaptable easily able to be used in a wide variety of OSR setting & milieus easily including Dark Albion, Gavin Norman's
Dolmenwood , Greyhawk, & many others.  The Midderlands Promo gives a good sampling of the sorts but Gods below that music.

For Dark Albion, The Midderlands is the going to be a mid point in the Albion empire. Not quite a backwater but the sort of a frontier border countryside that's common in England. These lands are going to be 'settled' but not quite up to the usual Albion strictness of control that one gets deeper in the cities & towns. There are deep & dark monsters in these places. PC's are going to have to tread very carefully between the politics of the area, the residents, and the monsters.
So what kind of artwork are we seeing? Well I stumbled across this video of the author/artist doing a bit of pen work on one of the buildings featured in The Midderlands.

This isn't simply a commercial or art video pay attention to the building's style . For adapting The Midderlands setting for an old school Sword & Sorcery campaign world like Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition, 'The Midderlands' represents the point where civilization ends & the wilderness begins. The technological level is a mid to high point late Roman Empire to Medieval real world historical perspective. As such The Midderlands would be a place where the humans have recovered or retained a good deal of their technological prowess compared to some of the places in Hyperborea. This means that the Midderlands would be the belt way of the capital of Hyperborea. This is the beauty of 'The Midderlands' as a mini setting it can be moved where its needed in an OSR campaign setting.
I'd give it five out of five for an outstanding product. We will be reviewing, offering more commentaries on the 
The Midderlands  Setting as we  adapt it into the on going campaign stream of play.
You Can Grab The Midderlands - OSR Bestiary and Setting Here

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Unboxing & Campaign Building Commentary

If you've been following this blog for awhile now then you know of my all consuming love of Jeff Talanian's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition from North Wind Adventures.

 So imagine my surprise when I received a great big package( alright don't because I was informed bout this about a month ago by the author himself. I nearly nerdgarmed right on the email. Merry Christmas to Jeff, The North Wind Adventure crew  & The Talanian family)!

The North wind packing & packaging was excellent. They did this the right way unlike some of my packages in the past from lulu publishing which has gotten better.
 But this fantastic Christmas present got me thinking about the on the table use of classic B/X Dungeons & Dragons & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventures with AS&SH. This comes adapting other OSR adventures as well but we'll get to that in a second.

Jesus you could kill someone with this book don't mind my hairy Bigfoot like arm in the picture but check the quality of the binding on the side that's what I want to see in games.

The whole centeral focus of AS&SH system & campaign settings  are the writings of Clark Ashton Smith  & the Lovecraft circle of writers 
But the DM shouldn't feel crippled by an official setting for AS&SH at all. Instead they should be making it their own. But the fact is that a lot of DM's & for that matter players don't have the time to do a lot of prep work & whatnot today. So instead their going to focus no classically published B/X D&D or AD&D first edition adventures. But I just briefly want to talk about the focus & flavor of AS&SH second edition. On the whole it can seem right out regular Dungeons & Dragons but its not. Instead the setting echoes the classic pulp era with HP Lovecraft & Robert Howard's mythos writing but it might also be the far future where Hyperborea is in its last gasps before the whole mass sinks into that bloated red sun.

I really appreciate the sentiment Jeffrey seriously I do & right back at you.

For my 'Old Earth' campaign setting Hyperborea is a echo of a bygone war torn age. But for running something like the T1 The Village of Hommlet, the place is a bastion of civilization in the wilderness of cavemen,giants, etc. that are waiting to meet & eat your PC's head on. The PC's are going to need the Keep from The Borderlands  & want a base of operations straight out when adventuring on Hyperborea.The town of Swampgate & the introductory adventure does the exact classic bastion of civilization. The technological levels of AS&SH run from secondary Ice Age cavemen to Greek & perhaps in some of the most civilized areas mid period empire Rome. This means that wilderness adventuring  can be the rule not the exception on Hyperborea. And its that Weird Tales wilderness where villages & entire farms can be swallowed up by some Lovecraftian horror or nameless thing. Classic campaign run modules such as the Temple of Elemental Evil should be adapted to AS&SH not the other way around. There are the classic D&D monsters but in AS&SH they've been given a Hyperborean coating. Should the DM work with them they can surprise & kill even seasoned veteran player's PC's easily.

The page meet is solid meaning that the binding is quality.Notice where the meet points are & how the pages are balanced.

This means that AS&SH is wearing its Sword & Sorcery origins quite literally on its sleeves. So I have a tendency to run classic Dungeons & Dragons modules with a twist or two that the players who have played the classics before are not expecting. Because let's face it 'gamers' in general are a pop culture wary & jaded lot. AS&SH's Hyperborea isn't drawing from one cycle of  Clark Ashton Smith's cycles or H.P. Lovecraft's writings its drawing from many of them. Stealing from them in the night & then moving on. This makes campaign play not only doable but it demands it. This isn't to say that you as a player or DM can't run one shot adventures in fact I would suggest a television episode style of adventures to expand & flesh out their Hyperborea setting because Sword and sorcery commonly overlaps with heroic fantasy.

The color plates really do add to the spice of the setting and give the DM fodder. They lay the ground work with regards to the hows & why's of Hyperborea as a living breathing campaign adventure setting. They're gorgeous.

On the whole AS&SH is a classic OSR retro clone system & many of the fine OSR adventure products on the market can easily be adapted to the system. This also includes settings as well. Because in my mind AS&SH takes place in the far future its easy to adapt them to the AS&SH system. I reading some of this minor blog entry I make the whole thing sound plodding & as a stick in the mud serious retroclone. AS&SH can easily do classic Saturday morning cartoons such as 'The Herculoids' or 'Thundarr The Barbarian' as easily as Robert Howard's Conan.

I haven't talked much about North Wind Adventures other official adventures like Beneath the Comet , Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess, or Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes 
but especially The Mystery at Port Greely
The Mystery at Port Greely is a recasting of  HP Lovecraft's The Shadow over Innsmouth onto Hyperborean shores. This adventure has given me the most campaign adventure hooks, player reactions, & TPK's of the AS&SH line. Why? Because its one of the defining Lovecraftian  adventures of Hyperborea. The adventure seems to fade from players minds for some reason but the events of the adventure point to a world baring threat with implications of Lovecraftian wars brewing on Hyperborea. This adventure has some very dire implications for my own 'Old Earth' campaign but we'll get to that soon enough. Mental note to self get a physical copy ASAP. Seriously I keep forgetting to order the physical copies of these adventures because last year I gave them to a friend as a Christmas present.

For me Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition isn't just a gorgeous book but a setting that I want to play in  again & again.
 If You Want Your own copy of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition Grab It Here

Have a great afternoon & Trouble says hi folks. Remember to keep those dice rolling!

Monday, December 11, 2017

OSR Commentary - Using Classic Dungeons & Dragons Adventures For Campaign Construction

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!

Areas of dimensional instability first started to appear in the time of the Ancient Ones with the 'The Amazing Stranger  from Another World Affair'. A space craft appeared in the skies in 1918 to the fanfare of the world at the edges of the outer solar system through a rip in the fabric of time & space. Scientists, physicists,astronomers were able to chart the very bounds of reality. The adventure career of the occupant of that craft is well documented elsewhere & far to much for a single blog entry. Needless to say that this single event catapulted the world's sciences decades forward on all levels including FTL travel,astronomy, physics, even the basic building blocks of what we call reality.

 The second event is 'the mysterious Warden event' in which an interstellar traveler from a far away world crashed into Earth in 1922 in the then Yugoslavian mountains. The disaster devastated local villages, cities, & burnt massive swaths of the countryside. The loss of life totaled in the thousands but then the monsters started to appear. A few at first & then more. Teams of international scientists, explorers, etc. were sent in & none returned. The reports of monsters continued, a few artifacts of incredible technological potential were recovered. During World War II the Nazi conquered, sent in teams, & died by the hundreds.


The Americans & Soviets sent in teams as well learning from what they could about the craft.
A few baubles were recovered which propelled the sciences once again this time in medicine & energy production. The biggest break came in the early Fifties after the 'California They' disasters which were indirectly influenced by the mutagen forces released into Earth's atmosphere from the craft. Scientists incorrectly attributed it to the atomic bombs. An engineering bot was recovered after repairs on the crashed craft were being done. A mercenary group managed to smuggle the bot out of the restricted area. The bots data banks took decades to decode by the R.U.R. think tank. This lead to a revolution in robotics, A.I., & the fields of artificial intelligence that is barely understood.  The appearance of the Warden on Earth signaled a barely recognized start of events that spelled the end of Earth. The Hyperborean & Mound wars started a few short decades later. The end was on its way.

Bubbles of dimensional unreality lead to other dimensions & alternative Earths making the whole place one of the most dangerous on Earth. Adventurers, scientists, and dimensional trespassers routinely come through this place. To this day not many have penetrated the secrets of the Warden. It still stands quietly being repaired, worked on & tinkered with by its robotic & monstrous inhabitants.

So what is this above? A brief set of passages based on my 'Old Earth' campaign history's  time line. What I've done is basically taken a classic TSR era module & molded it around the needs of my players & the campaign setting's history.
There's a quick background, some fun fluff, & a way of combining this with any number of retroclone systems.

"S3: "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" (1980), by Gary Gygax, is the third "Special" adventure for AD&D. It was published in February 1980.", is one of the more flexible & completely adaptable but very deadly adventures. I've used it numerous time for weird fiction ala James Raggi IV's Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Rpg Pundit's Dark Albion, Adventurer, Conqueror, King, & even Stars Without Number. The point is that one module can be used to set up & run an entire campaign setting as its touchstone.  Hell,
The Grand Duchy of Geoff could become a pre WWII micro nation that hires the adventurers to penetrate & possibly die among the mysteries of the Warden. Dungeon masters should never ever be intimidated by 'classic' adventures because other gamers have strong opinions about these classics. Your players are the one who matter and its them you are playing with.
May all of your saves happen & you roll twenties. More to come!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

OSR Commentary - Using Classic Dungeons & Dragons Adventures With Weird Fantasy Gaming Systems

This blog got a mention on G+ thanks to +Brett Slocum  & in this case the topic was one that I've had a bit of experience with. How do you weird up a classic adventure module in the vein of Lamentations of the Flame Princess? The actual question comes from Dismaster FraNe;
'Let's say you have some classic modules (Caverns of Thracia, Keep on the Borderlands etc.)

How do you weird them up in a LotFP style?

I am running a classic fantasy dungeoncrawling (Tomb of the Serpent Kings) but the idea is to expand the campaign outside and in other places and dungeons along with the official LotFP ones.

My idea was to have a multidimensional universe with different places like Weird Early Modern Europe (the main LotFP setting) along with A Red And Pleasant Land, Vornheim, maybe Carcosa, and "fantasyland" (classic D&D fantasy, where the players now are).
I'd like to spice up fantasyland in a LotFP way though.'

Lamentations of the Flame Princess by James Raggi IV  is a very solidly designed gaming system & offers some unique challenges when running PC's through its gaunt of weird adventure mixed with actual real world history. The setting is a dark & very twisted pulped out Europe during the ages leading up to the age of   'Pike & Shot'
So where does this put a classic module like 'Keep on The Borderlands?' It puts the keep  right at center stage where the warfare of Keep of the Borderlands is a part of the wars of  raging across a war wary Europe.
'Player characters begin by arriving at the eponymous keep, and can base themselves there before investigating the series of caverns in the nearby hills teeming with monsters' Since this module was written & designed by G.Gygax himself  it seems that it might be out of place in in LoFP campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth if the module is set along the Black Forrest of Germany. The area has a rich history of mythology including fairy activity dating back thousands of years.
Warfare stirs up the ancient powers of fairyland & then its all bets off as the humanoid's activity blends into the background of the violence of the events of 'Better Then Any Man.' Why I'm talking about the events of Better Then Any Man? Because everything in that adventure takes place in Karlstadt as the center of Better Than Any Man & the home of the adventurers.
Make sure before running that adventure as a prelude to B2 that you visit this blog for some solid advice & resources for 'Better Then Any Man.'

The PC's are going to find out that something rather nasty is going on as they encounter an orc or groups of humanoids attacking a small village near the events of BTAM. This leads them into an encounter with the forces of the keep & the possible desperate situation of B2's fort's inhabitants. Remember the fort is a part of a backwater community. The PC's have just experienced the twisted reality of 'Better Then Any Man'. This is going to lead them into the Caves of Chaos which is not a part of our world but a part of fairyland. The humanoids are not what they appear but the damned souls of Rome's finest. In the 200 years between the reforms of Augustus and the rise of Septimius Severus the Roman army fought to expand the Empire and saw action in the dark forests of Germany. The Caves of Chaos claimed their souls & the generators of the place keep reincarnating them back as the slave troops of the supernatural forces of the caves. These poor bastards exist to slaughter, murder, and war. The PC's are going to need to end the madness & move on.
This adventure path leads directly into;
"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!'B5 Horror on the Hill by Douglas Nile from 1983 at first doesn't seem to fit into the Lamentations of the Flame Princess aesthetic.  This is where there are two things to remember like B2 Horror on the Hill has a PC base of operations in this case Guido's fort & the events of this module are going to be taking place within an adventure location with connections to fairy. 
The infinite tower location from Better Then Any Man might well be connected with events of Horror on the Hill & its easy enough to replace Guido's Fort with the Keep from B2.

The goblins & hobgoblins are going to have to be much more dangerous & metal for Lamentations implying that perhaps the dungeon location is one that switches back & forth between the real world & reality. This is perhaps because the alien reality of fairy has in the past taken various places back to the unrealities of fairyland. Time runs different, babies are kidnapped & possibly eaten, the connections to the damned & dead are very real. All of the weird bits of the fairy legends are true & very dangerous. This is also going to mean that the realities of adventuring are going to have unforeseen consequences for the PC's. Treasures & relics taken might be cursed or turn to leaves. Lives of PC's wasted at the drop of a hat for the false promise of riches & perhaps the various Elves & Dwarves of LoFP long for fairy but are denied memories of it.
A vital clue or two might lead PC's into a time warp & gateway from B5 into England of 1620 & the events of No Salvation For Witches by Rafael Chandler . Why? Because the stop gap gives the PC's a chance to experience the horrors of the meddling of man kind with the 'forces of beyond'. It also gives the dungeon master a chance to connect the random demons of No Salvation for Witches with events of B5 Night's Dark Terror. Note that this adventure path is going to chew through a lot of PC's. This is alright because this is LoFP.

Because B10 Night's Dark Terror is a wilderness based adventure with lots of B/X campaign setting weirdness in it. According to the Drivethrurpg entry; ""Night's Dark Terror" marks the start of the second wave of Known World creativity, following the period from 1981-1986 when it was primarily the vision of Zeb Cook. It was also the third great touchstone for the setting, following its introduction in the D&D Expert Set and its unification in X10: "Red Arrow, Black Shield".  The adventure details many of the wildlands of the Grand Duchy of Karamekios and also introduces new peoples such as the ancient Hutaakans and the Iron Ring slavers. It extensively describes several major locations, such as the city of Threshold. A magic tapestry of the lands that appears within the adventure really helps to define B10 as the gazetteer for this part of the Known World. " This is fine because it marks B10 as being a perfect vehicle for an early Russian or Romanian historical adventure. This means it can be married up quite nicely with a secondary campaign setting that the players are not going to expect in the form of Zak Smith's A Red & Pleasant Land or Zak S and James Edward Raggi IV  Death Frost Doom  In fact because of the wilderness crawl aspect of B10 both adventures can seamlessly fit into the whole cloth of the campaign & adventure path with none the wiser. Don't over explain the mysteries & weirdness the players will do all of the heavy lifting for you.

Hopefully by now in the campaign some of the adventurers are going to retire to Karlstadt or have taken over the keep & their ready to retire. Another generation of adventurers can take up the mantle at the point. So what might happen? Well new adventurer PC's means new opportunities & here I'd use England Upturn’d by Barry Blatt  as an adventure set during the English Civil War with an entirely new cast. Things are going to be very desperate & the various factions of this adventure means opportunity to run perhaps the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh trilogy right into the background with a far more Lovecraftian flare.

This secondary adventure path gives the dungeon master the opportunity to introduce Carcosa & Isle of the Unknown to the unsuspecting players. By dropping clues from England Up Turn'd some faction might want to mount expeditions to the fabled 'treasure islands'. By dropping  in X1 Isle of Dread but placing  the adventure on Carcosa  gives the DM the opportunity to watch the sheer panic.


This sort of an arch gives the DM plenty of opportunity to use Geoffrey McKinney's Isle of the Unknown. 
There are several things to keep in mind when threading in & out of this sort of a weird fantasy campaign. All of the LoFP products are not simply adventures but whole cloth source book which often have a real world history component.  This dark history version of Europe is the default setting for LoFP princess and lends a great deal of gravitas to the various Lamentations adventures. Dungeon masters should not ever feel constrained to not modify or edit either the classic era TSR adventures nor the various Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventures as the whims of the players & the campaign dictate.
In fact part of my own inspiration for tonight's commentary & adventure path was inspired not by the usual Robert Howard's Solomon Kane but

Dark Agnes de Chastillon who might be thought of as the spiritual ancestor to the Flame Princess;
"Dark Agnes de Chastillon (also known as Agnes de Chastillon, Dark Agnes, Agnes de la Fere and The Sword Woman) is a fictional character created by Robert E. Howard and the protagonist of three stories set in 16th Century France, which were not printed until a long time after the author's death.
The character of Agnes was beaten by her father and almost forced into an arranged marriage. She avoids this by killing the bridegroom and running away. She meets Etienne Villiers, who at first attempts to sell her to a brothel, and Guiscard de Clisson, a mercenary captain who trains her as a swordswoman. When de Clisson is killed, Agnes heads for Italy with Villiers.
Like the later character Red Sonja, who was based on another Howard character, Red Sonya of Rogatino, Agnes has red hair and a short temper. But while Red Sonja's skill in the handling of swords is a divine gift, Agnes's skill is a mixture of innate talent and training.
The character may be partially based on Novalyne Price.[1] Fictional prototypes include Jirel of Joiry, created by C. L. Moore. Moore was enthusiastic about the first of Howard's stories:[2]
My blessings! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed “Sword-Woman”. It seemed such a pity to leave her just at the threshold of higher adventures. Your favorite trick of slamming the door on a burst of bugles! And leaving one to wonder what happened next and wanting so badly to know. Aren’t there any more stories about Agnes?"

Saturday, December 9, 2017

1d6 Random Lemurian Death Angels & Ghosts Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

There are places in the wastelands that seem abandoned by time,suspended in another age, & left alone by all. No animals live in these places, the air is still & stale, it seems as if these places are forgotten by all. Most adventurers see these places as perfect picking grounds for relics, treasure, & loot. But locals &  veteran adventurers know better.
These are abodes of Death & her minions, entropy has long since left these places behind, time has slipped its mortal coil here, & now they are the lairs of forces of horror & the end of chaos.

artwork from Welcome images here

Those entering these places will smell the stale air which has the smell of vanilla & an under current smell of the faded scent of freshly cut roses. After 30 rounds or so time will seem 'off'' & colors of objects, buildings, & even small items will seem to fade.
After fifteen rounds the grey & lifeless corpses of the former inhabitants will manifest & these announce the arrival of a ghost or angel of Death. These manifestations will politely ask if the PC's have come to die & take advantage of her services? If the PC's have taken any items or treasures from these places the dungeon master  consider them cursed for they are heirlooms of Old Earth. If nothing is taken & the ghost or angel of Death is not attacked & treated politely with the utmost respect she may answer a few questions & grant a boon prophecy for the party.  She may invite a member of the adventurer's party to play a game of chance such as cards or chess for a member of the party's life or for a great treasure in her possess. Those who win such contests have no fear of the curse of Death. Those who are foolish enough to attack a minion or ghost of Death attack these entities as if they were lichs because some of these things are. Those necromancers who seek the path of lichdom sometimes trod a modified path with its origins in 'The Lemurian Death Tenants' a group of scrolls that allow one to serve the negative material plane's powers & Death herself. To obtain these one must find an abode location & petition one of these entities for them. Upon completion of study they will fade back into the clutches of these entities.

Welcome image from here

Many of these abode locations sit outside of time & space crossing into several places & eras at once. These entities enjoy picking and choosing their visitors for they sometimes lure adventurers into their abodes to parlay with a mission or side quest for certain objects or other esoteric targets. They do not see themselves as 'evil' but rather fulfilling an enviable public service. They cause the end of eras & cycles of time to move on. Death is a small mercy to mankind & near humanoid kind.
Once per year they may take on the guise of mortal flesh for one solid year & a day. Some manifestations have parented bloodlines & families across the dimensions. Often times these are some of the most accomplished necromancer & clerical families whose traditions are steeped deeply in the lore of death & undeath.

A simple monster summoning or necrotic summons spell will call one of these entities up but they are not bound by many of the strictures of necromancy. They hate being taken from their charges, abodes, and holy duties. Many necromancers may pilgrimages to the spirits of Death's abodes which are far safer means to approach them.  Much of our knowledge of these spirits and their habits comes from a lost Lemurian order of death priests & necromancers.

1d6 Random Lemurian Death Angels
& Ghosts Encounter Table

  1. A six armed minion of Death who was a priestess of a goddess of sex & love. Her village was cut down by plague when she encountered her first angel. Now she has made the pilgrimage into the sacred lichdom after the death of her old goddess. She guards the remains of a large city & its own holy treasures. She often has adventurers find artworks and artists who are needed in the afterlife & underworld. 
  2. Ar'ru The Sacred Skeleton Srur - This weird triple armed warrior of Death was a druid until his grove was cut down by inquisitors three thousand years ago. Now he collects the heads of those who summon death spirits from their sacred duty. He hates those who defile innocents and children with a vengeance. 
  3. Silas Com - This ghost of Death was a necromancer who crossed over when he took the blow for his master a necromancer of an almost god like level. Now he watches over an ancient city of necromancers at the end of time. He often employs adventurers to save works of art from the end of a country or civilization. 
  4. Trus Ran - Master chess player & former necromancer whose skill at playing reality is now matched by his skill at taking down demon cults who spread the will of Orcus. The demon lord  disrupts the balance of things in many dimensions. Adventurers are employed to help in his sacred duties. 
  5. Raore Queors - The sacred general ghost of Death employs adventurers to bring him those warriors & wizards of incredible skill to add to his armies. He fights in the Grand Games of Death often against Odin & other gods of War. His skill guards the planes of death & the underworld against the incursion of dangerous demonic forces. 
  6. The Last One - A ghost of a small alien who works in the employ of Death against the most dangerous of planar forces especially those who destroy the houses of Death which hold the most dangerous wizards & criminals of the gods. She often employs adventurers to bring back the most dangerous escapees from the Underworld prisons.

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

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

    (He could but thwart it with creative mace. . . .)
    And now it rose about the heavenly Base,
    Mordant at pillars rotten through and through
    Of Matter's last, most firm abiding-place.

    Bastion and minaret began to nod,
    Till all the pile, unmindful of His rod,
    Dissolved in thunder, and the void Abyss
    Caught like a quicksand at the feet of God !
    The Abyss Triumphant  (1912)
    by Clark Ashton Smith

Blood Soaked Murder In The Marketplace - Olathoë' Session Report Five

So while we watch the snow come down here in Connecticut I played catch up by phone with my players & had a bit of a teleconference & quick play with my 'Old Earth' campaign. Old Earth is a setting where Hyperborea has been removed from Earth, the clock is ticking for the return of the Great Old Ones, & the lesser Lovecraftian Earth races have had a series of protracted wars with humanity. We use a combination of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition & Adventurer,Conqueror, King rpg system.

The PC's have just made it into the 'Western Wasteland  Outpost' market place & there started hearing rumors of war. The populace is fearing invasion by mutant & raider armies at any moment. The PC's are circulating among the populace & they spotted a very familiar face among the market goers. A renegade assassin from the city of  Olathoë in the employ of a very familiar anti paladin. As soon as he was spotted he bolted into a crowd of market goers & the PC's gave chase.

Now the players are more then a bit paranoid about a cell of assassins operating out of the 'Western Wasteland  Outpost'. What or who are these assassins & what is there connection to the
'Alpha  Gnophkehs'.

The assassins melted but the players saw a couple more pieces of insect style graffiti that they had left behind. A group of bards & storytellers were the last thing the PC's found just as an arrow came flying from a nearby bolt hole.

Things are moving along nicely in the game campaign setting,  system wise  Adventurer, Conqueror, King adds a nice touch of gravitas to the whole affair. Pretty soon I'm thinking of running Domains At War for the invasion for the coming invasion & Lovecraftian warfare.

Meanwhile I've been quietly watching over at Rpg Pundit' s blog while he has recently announced the release of  the Lion & Dragon rpg. This title is an OSR medieval authentic system up coming this coming week.  This is going to be right up my alley folks!

One of the things that I'm finding is that the good quality OSR systems offer a wide variety of options for both the dungeon masters & players alike. This makes play both exciting & varied enough to keep play going for years.

Next game will the player's PC's get taken out by the assassins? What is there connection to
Raz Thru? What about the upper strata political corruption that the players are speculating about & who hired the assassins in the first place? Find out next game!

1d8 Random Wasteland Warriors & Adventurers Encounter Table For Old School Games

Wastelands are breeding grounds for the weird, strange, & just plain dangerous. Places of violence that attract the kind of men & women that high adventure calls. These warriors of the wastelands are a rare breed attracted to the wildness & wanton ruination that accompanies much of the landscape. These are men & women adventurers of unique aspect who wander the wastelands in search of adventure & the next score.

There is a 30% chance that these wanderers of the wastes were employed as mercenaries in one of the many local brush fire wars. These conflicts eat warriors & their fighting prowess up with rapid fire wars conflicts. The spoils of war have run out and these veterans have turned to the life of adventuring. There is a 20% chance of a wizard or warlock being among such rabble. Many local tribes look down on and will chase away such adventurers. They see these rabble for the scum they are as potential sources of possible violence & people whose profession are the ways of warfare.

There is a 40% that when encountering these various warriors that they may be opening to acting as hirelings for the party. They often have very 'colorful' backgrounds & histories with a 15 % chance of encountering an NPC adventurer with a murderous blood vengeance upon a wasteland adventurer. Wasteland warriors & wanderers always seem to attract violence & dramatically weird events with their very presence.

Wastelanders often have deep associations with local gangs of cut throats, bandits, murderers, and worse. These outlaws often use reputations of the wastelanders to foster their own reputations. There is a 20% chance of a wastelander having a relic or magic item. These are often used to bargained with if their lives are in danger or used when supernatural enemies show up. There is also a 10% chance that these adventurers will have type B treasure or better if they are 3rd level fighters or better.

1d8 Random Wasteland Warriors
& Adventurers Encounter Table

  1.  Truu Ro & his party of adventurers are actually a tribe of time lost survivors who have ended up in the wastelands. They have sold their services as mercenaries to other adventurers and have made a tidy profit killing outlaws and collecting bounties. 
  2. Brabarus Russ - Russ is a murderer of the highest caliber and works with several groups of adventurers as a professional assassin. She made her way here from her home world across the cosmos. She has acquired several contracts in recent years by simply observing local politics.
  3. Georgus The Bold - This warrior is the head of several large mercenary families that farm their services out to the local black market, assasination guilds, and has made his money from the adventure opportunities afforded her. 
  4.  Grut The Mighty is actually the head of a local tribe of warriors who often raid money lender caravans.The locals want to know if this barbarian is building an army of professionally trained merc troops. He often raids lone travelers. 
  5.  Truss - An android warrior from the far future that is actually a 5th level fighter with a terrible past who is now committing crimes in the wastelands to cover his actual assassinations of key players in the local government positions while taking the treasures and relics for his group. 
  6. Fel The Amazing  is actually a warlock of incredible power that has thrown his lot in with the wrong crowd. He has become a jaded almost demonic figure with the wasteland community with a passion for collecting valuable artworks. 
  7. Kalus The Cat - This strange almost cat like mutant humanoid might be a traveler from another world or another dimension. She has a band of misfit warriors 2nd level who take it upon themselves to rob and steal from the locals. 
  8. The Grinning Skull is a local home grown wasteland adventurer whose got his tendrils throughout the wasteland underworld. He has amassed a sizable fortune through racketeering & running deadly raids on travelers.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

1d6 Random Petty Barbarian Warlords NPC's Table For Your Old School Campaigns

There are always those who live on the fringes of the map, those who refuse to settle down into civilization's ways  lest they become soft & lose the razor edge of being a warrior, bandit, or worse. These men & women are laws unto themselves & Heaven help those who cross those under their protection. These leaders often have to be hard to protect those under their wing from the scourge of the wastelands & the dark forces of the supernatural.

There is a 60% chance of these minor warlords having access to a wizard, shaman, witch doctor, or seer of power. These warlords rely on the magick of a minor wizard or hedge sorcerer to warn them of danger to their tribe or forces. Often these barbarian rabble are made up of a motley crew of outsiders, strangers, outlaws, bandits, and escaped convicts. They often have deep ties to the local thieves guild or a sect of the assassins fraternities or lodges.

There is a 40% chance that for every five or so people there will be a family of 2nd level bandit fighters or brigands. These will have type B loot from raids earlier in the month. There is a 20% chance of them having some minor relic or artifact not even realizing what it is. Knights,cataphracts, & even the occasional paladin sometimes take up this life often because of the shifting political scenes of their countries. These armored warriors are often the leaders of groups of veteran fighters who take up the bandit or warlord  life style.

There is a 10% chance that any of these groups will have type C or better treasure from booty and loot that that will be guarded with a full force of 1st thru 3rd level fighters.

1d6 Random Petty Barbarian Warlords NPC's Table
  1. Ramar Signhi 4th level fighter   - The head of the local resistance movement heads up a desparate gang of cut throats who use some nearby help from the local wizard's guild now & again. He may call upon 1d20 1st level heavies. 
  2.  Raracria The Wise - A 6th level warlock of the blackest stripe of evil, he raids local towns and schools for kids to sell on the slave block. He is assisted by  five  3rd level fighters.He has under his command over thirty warriors and a wizard. 
  3. Stern The Destroyer - This odd human warrior control of the local's gangs as well as his personal borders on a religious fanaticism. There are over 70 members of his gang of cut throats and criminals at his command. 
  4. Zelta Xix - This Amazon warrior is the chief to over 60 gang and brigands under this Amazon's control.She seeks a particular demonic artifact and will kill to get it. 
  5.  Trura The Black Hearted - This evil vile villain is in the employ of a local demon and those whom his men slay have their souls transported to the fiend.This warlord has excellent NPC forces and can rally over a dozen  warriors into his employ. 
  6.  Trus The Barbarian - Trus is an ancient warrior of a mostly extinct tribe of beserkers & thieves who seek to conquer their ancient homeland whist relieving any travelers of valuables that they come across. He has at his command over 15 crack warriors of third level.

The Bloody Rites & Rituals Of The Flesh Rippers of Mu For Your Old School Campaigns

As the legacies of the old world die away, new horrors have come to replace them among them are a secretive Ebony Lodges Of Mu. The lodge is composed of thirty three brothers & sisters all survivors of Mu who were hidden in the interior of the Earth before 'The Fall of The Ancient Ones'. These survivors used arts of the blackest stripe to hide among the human societies of 'Old Earth' between the spaces of reality's skein. With the falling away of the old world the cult of the flesh rippers is flourishing once again at unprecedented numbers of cultists & monsters of the worst kind.

These thrice damned shamans & priests serve several dark demonic entities who have taught them dangerous black arts through the centuries. These cult cells flourish at the remotest corners of society fueled by murder & outrageous crimes. Those wishing to join in the Ebony Lodges Of Mu must make a blood sacrifice of a loved one or someone precious to the caster this is seen as commitment to the path of the lodge. The potential member is then spirited away via teleportation to a meeting with the senior members of the lodge where a further sacrifice of one point of permanent wisdom is made to the dark gods of the lodge. The lodge member is given five animal skins to choose from ala the monster section of the retroclone system of the dungeon master's choosing.
The member then chooses between these five skins & magically these skins become a false part of the member's black soul. From this moment on the member forever more belongs to the lodge & their soul is forfeit to the forbidden gods of the lodge. Once on each new moon the lodge member must ritually murder someone in the name of their lodge's forbidden deities. There is a 70% chance that by using the bloody magicks of  the Ebony Lodges Of Mu the member will develop homicidal tendencies & want to commit a murder every two weeks.

Unlike werewolves or beserkers these flesh rippers are able to choose between five animal shapes & within five to ten rounds assume these false animal forms. They gain all of the abilities of the chosen form & several more powers from their connection to the negative material plane. These automatically involved once the animal or a half man form is assumed; they include: claws at as a +2 weapon,
immunity to normal fires & cold, taking half damage from non magical weapons, a gaze attack which acts as a charm spell three times per day with a ten foot radius, & the ability to become  ethereal three times per day. The armor class & hit points are the same as the animal forms assumed.
There are several dark prices to pay for these powers:

  • The drawbacks of these abilities include only being able to assume an animal form for five hours a day. Should the flesh ripper continue within their assumed form for more then that there is a 60% chance of them fading from reality & their dark god's minions claiming their souls before their appointed time. 
  • The flesh ripper is a disciple  of dark magick & must be invited into a home, lodge, tent,etc. to claim a victim otherwise they are barred from entering by the laws of their own rites.
  • Any shaman, priest, cleric, of a powerful deity  may rebuke them from a house hold or location for a day & a night.
  • Should they be seen by ten or more people in broad daylight the chaotic nature of their magics may warp & twist them into showing their true forms in reality. The flesh ripper will need a wisdom roll to assume their animal forms again & gain their benefits again. 
  • There is a 40% chance of the flesh ripper fading from reality or being caught in the other dimensional tides of the Outer Blackness if they abuse their powers for 1d6 years or more. Those who become veteran members of the Ebony Lodges Of Mu must return to them for the inner lodge secrets.
Many tribes upon 'Old Earth' have instinctive hatred for these murderous shape shifters & have developed their own internal forces for dealing with them. Such a group will consist of a ranger, several experienced fighters, a wizard & or shaman, plus a knight or paladin if such are available. The Ebony Lodges Of Mu have their own alien agenda for their members & often send members on estoretic missions of mayhem & blood letting against certain targeted tribes or targets. Their reasons & agendas are as alien as the methods they use to recruit new members.

There is said to be great enmity between the Ebony Lodges Of Mu & certain tribes of Keltic warriors, Picts, & a very militant tribe of Amazons on Old Earth.