Thursday, June 22, 2017

Retro Commentary On Judge's Guild's Tegel Manor By Bob Bledsaw Sr. For Your Old School Campaigns

There is gonzo & then there's Tengel Manor, this is Judge's Guild unnaturalism at its finest. Created in 1979 by Bob Bledsaw Sr. this is one of his finest creations for Judge's Guild. Revised in 1980 & then expanded in '89 this sprawling 240 page ghostly extravaganzas  is one of the best examples of fun house dungeons done right. The abode of the Rump family for generations, who all have the unfortunate tendency to have first names that begin with the letter 'R' as well. Tegel Manor is an adventure location that doesn't obey time, space, or physics as we know them. Its a haunted manor in every sense of the word with one of the best maps that was done for an old school adventure.

There is room after room of weirdness & gonzo adventure encounters with two hundred and forty rooms waiting to be dumped onto the PC's. This is one of the most dangerous of the old school adventure locations with the PC's thrust right into the action. In the past I've had players win the deed to the haunted mansion in a brothel at a card table. The random encounter tables with family are done around  a family tree style & offer some the charm & deadliness of Tegel Manor. I first encountered the manor in all of its splendor in '84, when my PC wizard darkened its halls with our party. The place leaves an impression especially dying in a pool of your own blood by a giant beetle  as a ghost laughs as you bleed out.
One of the big influences on this session of Tegel Manor was definitely the original  Ghost Busters, The Adams Family television show, & The Disney Haunted Mansion ride.

At first Tegel doesn't seem like an adventure that would be run with a sword & sorcery game. Looks are deceiving because dungeon masters have been running this beauty for decades with original Dungeons & Dragons & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The module has a following & a couple of years ago I got a chance to run through it with some friends as both a player & co DM. The manor was place in the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea game world of Hyperborea near the capital. It worked out quite nicely with the PC's gaining the deed after the last of the Rump family was killed by a Clark Ashton Smith style assassin. The PC's were eager to take possession of the old family homestead. Things went South from there. There was something about the nostalgia factor that pulled in the players as much as the content.

Tegel Manor is however as much D&D DYI tool kit as it is an adventure & believe or not a perfect vehicle to do a Clark Aston Smith style adventure. This is an adventure location that has the potential to be used as a not only a straight up haunted house but as a dimensional cross over adventure. This aspect of Tegel is one which I've used numerous times to bring adventurers from one world over into another. This is most often a one way trip. There is no rhyme nor reason for some of the encounters but that's alright because Tegel has its own internal logic. You as the player just are not privy to it. The second time we ran Tegel Manor I was running a one shot with the first edition of Warriors of the Red Planet & AS&SH. During that time I was reading a lot of Ray Bradbury especially the Martian Chronicles, well we took ideas from Usher II and a few corpses of the
"Moral Climate Monitors" were found here & there. Other then that the house continued on.

Tegel Manor is incredibly flexible & able to be adapted to any number of genres from pulp to across the board cartoon humor. The tone of the module is pure gonzo all of the way and it wallows in its own sense of the weird. Monsters are incredibly dangerous and with a sense of other worldly haunted fun about the whole affair. I really love Tegel Manor because with a bit of time & investment the DM can really keep his players guessing his next move. A very handy OSR book that I used with Tegel Manor is James Mishler's  Ghosts  The Incorporeal Undead. 
This book can be used to augment some of the ghost within the halls of the manor and flesh out some of the weirdness that happens there.

Ten Ways To Exploit Judge's Guild's Tegel Manor By Bob Bledsaw Sr.
  1. Tegel Manor can act as the focal point for your old school adventures, a sort of location with a reputation in local mythology. A place where friends dare other world forces from beyond the pale. 
  2. The manor has some really heavy other dimensional locations  & there has to be many powers 
  3. There are several cursed items that can make the horror factor go up by a eleven. 
  4. The adventure is flexible enough to appeal to a wide variety of both new school and old school veterans. 
  5. Tegel Manor is gonzo enough to be used with Lamentations of the Flame Princess and yet appeal to other OSR gamers. 
  6. The sword & sorcery factor is high enough to get away with many of the basic  tropes of Tegel with little to no problem.
  7. Many of the traits of the classic Tegel manor are not well known among the OSR crowd allowing a DM to exploit this knowledge for a dangerous adventure. 
  8. Because of its weird nature almost anything can and will happen. Go with the adventure flow because there's lots of room for DYI D&D. 
  9. The Manor is going to take months to go through and the DM has plenty of levers to keep the players on their toes. 
  10. Because Tegel is so weird what the PC's might be able to get away with many things they ordinarily can't. The manor in my experience has its own way of dealing with interlupers & trespassers.  

1d6 Random Cosmic Giants From The Deep Astral Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

When he drew nearer, bounding from slope to slope, his features were manifestly those of some great devil animated with ire and malice towards the sons of Adam. His hair, in matted locks, streamed behind him like a mass of black pythons; his naked skin was livid and pale and cadaverous, with the skin of the dead; but beneath it, the stupendous thews of a Titan swelled and rippled. The eyes, wide and glaring flamed like lidless cauldrons heated by the fires of the unplumbed Pit.
Clark Asthon Smith  By The Colossus of Ylourgne

Within the Deep Astral there are ancient giants, demons, gods, & monsters that have been prisoners for untold eons. These beings have been the subject of uncounted alien scavengers, parasites, & others who seek to exploit the tremendous opportunity for potion creation,organ harvesting, and exploitative alchemical operations.

These beings dimensional locations are very dangerous drifting between the Outer Darkness & the Deep Astral making such operations hazardous undertakings at best and sheer suicide at worst. Only certain half demon and Hyperborean races can survive even a momentary brush with the forces of the Outer Darkness not to mention the hazards that beings such as dimensional shamblers & the 'hounds of the darkness' present.

These demonic horrors given parodies of humanoid form challenged the gods themselves in rebellion. With the add of the Outer Gods & at a terrible price these beings have been consigned to the depths of the deepest parts of the Astral plane.

Here are six possible adventure locations to challenge & bedevil even the most adventuresome fools to challenge the realms of the Deep Astral. Should these beings be loose upon reality the devastation & cosmic horror would be tremendous. Only the highly advanced super science tools of alien gods can be used to mine, harvest, take away the biological & bio engineered treasures of these beings. No harm comes to them for the eternal torment is but a passing flicker in their consciousness. Damage up to 1d100 points is instantly healed and the chains of adamantine & Rel metal are indestructible.

1d6 Random Cosmic Giants From The Deep Astral Encounter Table 

  1. Hotta- The product of the mating of a spawn of the Outer Gods & flicking consciousness of a major devil king. This being is a horror beyond words but is now the source of potions that can heal any damage worth 60,000 gold pieces per drought. His curses can split mountains & his beam attacks will level a dragon for 1d20 points of non healable damage but he is chained. His eyes caged for all eternity and he sees nothing. He is 40 miles across chained to a rock from the blackest Abyss.
  2. Ihotholatll - The spawn of a titan & a demonic queen from Saturn, this being is trapped within a giant crystal spiral. Her gas form issues through tiny cracks and is captured to make polymorph potions and youth droughts worth 6000 gold pieces each. It is said that this being whispers 1d4 black magick spells to her followers among those that harvest her bounty. She would kill anyone she can if set free to spread her insanity.
  3. Kephogla The Destroyer is the son of a mad titan & Shub Naggath. He is trapped inside a web of chains seventy miles across and laced with crystals that sap his strength. This being's hair, & slime are used in many super science devices. They are naught indestructible and worth 6000 gold pieces to any alchemist or black wizard. He is a terrible wizard of darkest aspect and has slain two dozen gods before being put here.
  4. Nyanogota 'The slime mother of the undead' - This horrid perpetual decaying giant humanoid is the spawn of the mother of nightmares & the ghoul father. She has given birth to twelve demi gods of undead when she mated with Orcus. This thing was trapped upon destroying two worlds and almost devouring a goddess of love. She can give birth to 1d100 undead things at a time but her bile can be used to create healing potions capable of healing lands from dire curses, these potions are worth 50,000 gold pieces a drought. Swords made from her bones are +1 swords of sharpness and are made by demonic blind monk sword smiths who live upon her . These swords are only given to special & worthy heroes. 
  5. O'hathleph -'The Messenger of Madness' - this being is the mingling of two gods of insanity and has been locked away for so long none living know its dire and forbidden powers. His saliva can be used to restore the sanity of demonic possessed beings and is worth 6000 gold pieces per drought. Special priests gather the spit of this being they have no eyes nor ears being immune to its powers. They crawl insect like across its body and gather its bounty.
  6. Rubothor - The Ancient Thing - This being is twenty to arms, legs, and appendages. Its breath mutates any beings it comes in contact with twisting them this way and that along its genetic congress. This being loves to consume these twisted and horrid victims continuing its fueling and feeding with the primal chaos!
    But its chained to the bed rock of a former temple of Order and its drool is harvested for anti mugentic potions and droughts worth 60000 gold pieces by gene locked alchemists.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure OSR Campaign Build Using Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts, Other OSR Titles, & More

Its been a very busy week so far work wise but I managed to catch up with a friend & sat down for a beer last night. We spoke about the recent Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts game. Recently I've wrapped up a round of  Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts using one of Venger Satanis's adventures. But we wanted to get a brand new campaign set up perhaps for Monday nights.

One of the reasons is that CC1 Creature Compendium from  New Big Dragon Games Unlimited  came on as a 'pay what you want' on Drivethrurpg. The physical book has been sitting on my 'must add to games pile' for close to a year or more. Time to add these monsters into a pulp  OSR campaign. If you haven't picked up this book in pdf or as physical book then what are you waiting for. Many of these monsters are perfectly suited for an old school pulp campaign. They're very dangerous & have a completely alien quality to them making them perfect horrors of another dimension. We began tossing around some of the elements that I've used in the recent past including The Beyond - A Modern Dimension of Supernatural Horror & Depravity For Your Old School Campaigns part I 
I'd love include more of Charlton Comics background elements from their horror comics  into this pulpy campaign. Countess Von Bludd might be getting a work out in this pulp campaign as powerful vampire NPC.

Of course I'll be adding in lots of Lovecraftian elements to this old school campaign but its going to depend upon the ins and outs of how and where I want to them to appear. The sheer variety application of cults in a modern game is dangerous & insidious. Taming them in your games can mean the difference between having a solid game experience & something akin to ending in disaster. I've been a part of both types of games over the years.

Scary Tales #1 (Aug. 1975). Art by Joe Staton.

For this I'm going to end up using a wide variety of OSR resources including Lamentations of the Flame Princess &
Silent Legions From  Sine Nomine Publishing.  plus Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos for the campaign build. Why? Because they allow one to create their own old school horror adventures, mythologies, & pulpy adventures without answering to anyone. All of this can fall back right into the background of the world of Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts. I've especially been itching to throw in some old school influences as well.

Here the PC's are part of  mercenary groups known as Ug'thorho groups that are after relics & artifacts that partially keep the partial planear realms of the occult, the supernatural, & the Lovecraftian attached to their world. These are worlds just over the dimensional threshold that are found between the cracks of reality hidden from everyday life. These are the places where the mad scientist, the occultist, etc. operate and the relics of the old world operate acting as anchors for the gods, demons, monsters, and horrors. These realms are raided by adventurers, outlaws, etc. who are seeking treasures, artifacts, advanced technologies in an effort to get their faction ahead. The Complete Vivamancer a is perfect character & NPC for this style of pulp campaign.

This is not going to be the world you know. Here in the shadows old gods still stir, the stars may not be right but their time is coming, mankind's future is uncertain & alien things cut deals with world powers, Clark Ashton Smith's story cycles are prophecy & possibly the future history of mankind. H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness is the ancient history of Earth & barbarian kings sandaled feet trod through the pages of history &  once ruled over mankind. This is a world of high adventure and deadly extremes. This is a world in need of heroes. Here Allied mercenaries fight in the wilds of  the Astral Plane against Nazi artifact hunters & soldiers for alien relics that once belonged to beings millions of years in advance of their technology. This is where Warriors of the Red Planet comes in very handy, you can expand the technological levels in Raiders! and bring home some fixes for the scientist class.

Another thing about Warriors of the Red Planet is the super science relics in the game are big business in the Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts settings. What sorts of horrors are deep in the Astral plane? Alien gods or giants from the imagination of Jack Kirby's classic D.C. Forth World comics.
Yeah I think so.

What about old school resources? Well of course I'm going to use the Fiend Folio from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition. Hmm what other resources might there be out in the depths of time to plunder? Hmm Perhaps its time to get back to basics take out an old friend from a far simpler time.

I can already see the what about Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea? Are you going to end the Saturday night game? Hell no! This is an experiment to combine some of the material I've been dying to try with a group of players in my home town. What about the 'Old Solar System' posts you've been doing on this blog for months now? Are you going to combined them? We'll see is my answer both of those campaigns are separate & I really want to branch out a bit using some of the classic resources & OSR materials that I own.

Ten Reasons Why This Works For World Building 
  1. Mixing & matching both OSR and classic old school TSR resources often builds the best of both worlds for pulp old school games it gives the wide spread for adventure source material and hooks. 
  2. There are a ton of public domain pulp resources on the internet waiting for enterprising dungeon masters to exploit along with comics. 
  3. This sort of a campaign can keep players guessing for months. What will the DM do next to the party?
  4. Sword & Sorcery or Science fiction can provide the back history of such a campaign world and it doesn't have to take place on our Earth at all. 
  5. The dungeon master can set the tone and breath of adventures set within their own home setting as well as level room for PC's to expand into other settings for adventures. 
  6. There's lots of pulp material to cater to all kinds of palettes for old school adventures. 
  7. The PC's are not limited to simply the ages of pulp from the 20's through 50's, the classic Johnny Quest is pure pulp and a good example of pulp during the 60's. 
  8. This sort of campaign can handle anything from horror through adventure allowing the DM to create and cast a wide net. 
  9. Classic TSR Dungeons & Dragons or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventures can be recast into your favorite pulp setting easily. 
  10. This sort of campaign is only limited by your players and your imagination.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Different OSR Ecology Of The Gibberling For Your Old School Campaigns

Hast heard the voices of the fen,
That softly sing a lethal rune
Where reeds have caught the fallen moon—
A song more sweet than conium is,
Or honey-blended cannabis,
To draw the dreaming feet of men
On ways where none goes forth again?

Beneath the closely woven grass,
The coiling syrt, more soft and deep
Than some divan where lovers sleep,
Is fain of all who wander there;
And arms that glimmer, vague and bare,
Beckon within the lone morass
Where only dead things dwell and pass.

Beware! the voices float and fall
Half-heard, and haply sweet to thee
As are the runes of memory
And murmurs of a voice foreknown
In days when love dwelt not alone:
Beware! for where the voices call,
Slow waters weave thy charnel pall.
Warning by Clark Ashton Smith

There are some places that mankind should not go, places where the weird energies of the Astral & more sinister radiations have had their ways with  things older then men.There were beings here on this world & others long before mankind walked upright. The hand of the Enki & others has their finger prints all over these beings. These are creatures of incredible violence & malignancy, beings who are  inimical to mankind in all ways. These are beings of extremes with violence,insanity & depravity their modus operadi. They have many names across the planes Gibberling, 'The Violent Ones', 'those that murder' & their names are legion as the crimes they commit without order or reason. There is no pattern to their actions only the insanity that a comes from their twistedly insane souls.

Their murderous cannibalistic  rages & hordes pure across their target with a shocking violence & fury that always ends in the quiet of the grave. These beings pour from their hiding places to murder anyone or anything they come across with their swords. Swords created from any scrap metals they come across reforged into a generic shape that has been programmed into these beings of violence. Their swords are plain affairs but very sharp capable of slicing through bone, flesh, and muscle with easy. These beings have no society, art, language, culture,etc. They simply exist under the Earth or out among the asteroids as the remains of a biological weapons system that has gone to seed long ago or so it would seem. These beings are actually the product of weird cosmic radiations that warp the mind and souls of their victims. Latent alien genes created by beings more ancient then the Earth itself created these beings right before the last Ice Age of their epoch. They were created in honor of Nyarlathotep in ancient days but have been seen as the possible final forms of mankind in the distant future millions of years in the future of some nameless Earth.

"I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons—the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown."

Nyarlathotep by H. P. Lovecraft
There are others who whisper that in certain passages of the Necronomicon there are hints that these beings are the spawn of  Lahamu. There hints that they are possibly a prototype of mankind gone wrong or the future fate of mankind after it interbreeds with something hideous out among the stars. The tarot of Lahamu has horrid symbolic meanings in its
representations of the anti zodiac,demon-stars, and the dead constellations of many millions of years hence. There are hints in the scrolls of Varq that the reason for the Gibberlings psychotic behavior is the species cold & dim recognition of what they truly are in the face of an uncaring universe.
 Make no mistake the Gibberlings are not human in a capacity as we know it. They are species that can exist in a state of hibernation for 1d100 years as their inhuman physiology slows their organs processes to a crawl. Their alien senses draw them to places where black dimensional  occult magick energies have invaded our universe. These same energies drive them into frenzies of violence & depravity when they must murder, feed, & mate in strange sexual practices that are best not described. These involve the ritual murder of one of their own releasing the alien bacterial infection of Gibber into the air. Any survivors of one of their massacres must save vs disease or in three days take on many of the characteristics of a proto Gibberling. They will seek out the nearest sharp object, be drive into a blood lust of murder by the 'Song of the Gibber' & seek to be with their own kind on an instinctive level. These beings will seek places of desolation, ruin, & loneliness as a matter of course.

There is a 30% chance that the proto Gibberling will commit three or more murders locally to satisfy its own mad blood lust consuming the corpses of its victims. The thing will seek out the nearest local urban village or location & commit its own ritual suicide with as many witnesses as possible to spread the contagion. Victims will begin turning into more of the monsters with a three day incubation period. These beings will seek out the scent path lead by the first of their kind & go into a quiet cocoon period beginning the final transformations. They will repeat this cycle 1d10 more times until there is a nest of 300 or more Gibberlings. Many times if caught within the first 1d8 hours powerful healing magicks can cure these beings but the change is swift. Many villages or interstellar colonies have inquisition units that handle the eradication  of nests of Gibberlings.

Gibberlings are sensitive to other dimensional eldritch energies often seek out ruins, dungeons, or other planar locations. Their alien senses, weird physiologic make up, & instinctive level of violence make them perfect top tier predators for other worldly locations. They have been found out around the Asteroids and the Outer Worlds near the far colonies of Pluto. These beings have an instinctively dangerous cunning that has allowed the species to survive for thousands of yeas spreading their brand of madness to the far corners of the dimensions. The are not sentient in the traditional sense but share a horde hive mind with quasi telepathic & emphatic instincts on a base level. This gives some hordes a +1 on initiative during combat because of these monsters psychotic blood lust.  They bark, hiss & spit the praises to their respective forbidden gods but this is done by instinctive route.
 In the post apocalyptic wastelands recessive genes of the Gibberling species crop up in death lands as the potent mutational cocktail activates the recessive profile for this species.  The loath Morlocks, ghouls,  cavemen, mutant, and many goblinoid species which are instinctively seen as competition.
Interstellar & colony locations of deep space the Gibberling disease often manifests on failed colonies, dead worlds, & where demonic or other planar incidents have happened. The disease that creates these beings flourishes in conditions such as those. It is said among certain space wizards that the Gibberling species were used as anti personnel species by certain Lovecraftian races. 

There are certain Lovecraftian cults  which see these monsters as the true inheritors of the Earth when the stars come right. They create, interbreed, and encourage the spread of the Gibberling tribes. These same cults often find themselves on the end of the swords most often used by the monsters but see this as a necessary evil for the spread of the infection to continue.

1d20 Random Lovecraftian Encounters With Gibberlings
& Their Hordes Table 
  1. There is a group of 1d8 men infected with the Gibberling disease that is headed your way. They have blood lust in their eyes and knives in their hands! Run you fools! 
  2. A sink hole has opened nearby and 1d20 Gibberlings has crawled out with blood lust in their beady eyes! What will you do? They are closing with their sword which are caked with alien gore? 
  3. Over head a comet of ill rumor flew last night. It was actually an escape pod of the Ancients. There is a proto Gibberling onboard with sword in hand ready for murder! 
  4. Nearby a woman screams like a demon and reveals a short sword, she kills herself in spectacular fashion spraying a nearby crowd with gore. She then closes on you! Will the infection spread and will you be its next victims?
  5. There are screams as a man is dragged off to nearby underground chambers that the Gibberlings have been murdering  their victims in! Will your PC's be next? 
  6. Sounds like a strangled scream come from a nearby alley and a local doctor is infected with the Gibberling disease. He wields a scalpel and bone saw to take down his latest victims. At his feet lay two of his victims! 
  7. A box lays in the street and inside is a strange book containing queer writing. This is a spell book belonging to a wizard whose brother has been turned into a Gibberling and the location of a nearby nest. 
  8. A horde of Gibberlings pours forth from a nearby sewer system! There are at least 1d100 of the mad bastards who are on the rampage! 
  9. A series of murders reveals a strange and dangerous throw back Gibberling which strangely has its mind intact but insane. It goes on a murderous spree but can't control the urge to kill! Now it wants one of the PC's! 
  10. A nearby dimensional vortex has deposited a blanket of planar energies that changes anyone it touches into a Gibberling! 
  11. Locals are on the hunt for a Gibberling disease infected child that ate its parent. The thing has shark like teeth and will inflict a very nasty wound on anyone it comes across. 
  12. An ancient site is the home to a cult of Gibberlings and they've targeted your PC for murder! 
  13. Twelve Gibberlings are on the hunt for a local wizard who has opened up a portal to an alternative dimension with a tribe of ancient Gibberlings who need more sacrifices to their forbidden and alternative sorcerous gods 
  14. Two Gibberlings are acting as scouts for their tribe and want the fresh kill of a man whose crossed them with his family. 
  15. An ancient relic has turned over some very dangerous designs that have attracted the arcane senses of  a group of Gibberlings. 
  16. Two ancient wizards are at war but the local Gibberlings keep killing both sides. A team of specialists is enlisted for assassinating the problem.
  17. An ancient cryo sleep pod contains a proto Gibberling who will go on a murderous spree if awakened! There are 1d10 local Gibberlings who are drawn to the arcane energies of the Gibberling that has come home! 
  18. There is a massive horde of Gibberlings on its way to kill everyone! 
  19. Twenty two swords arranged into the shape of a symbol of murder & mayhem mark the spot where an ancient warrior fell against the Gibberling horde. Now he has com back for revenge! 
  20. An ancient Gibberling horde has come up from the underworld to kill your PC's! The PC's have a minor relics that that attracts them!

Monday, June 19, 2017

1d20 Random Living Ships Table For The Old School Solar System And Your Home Campaigns

Out among the asteroids of the Old Solar system are ancient living relics not seen in a million years. Here are some living ships to bedevil and confound your players.

" Man's conquest of the interplanetary gulfs has been fraught with many tragedies. Vessel after vessel, like venturous motes, disappeared in the infinite — and had not returned. Inevitably, for the most part, the lost explorers have left no record of their fate. Their ships have flared as unknown meteors through the atmosphere of the further planets, to fall like shapeless metal cinders on a never-visited terrain; or have become the dead, frozen satellites of other worlds or moons. A few, perhaps, among the unreturning fliers, have succeeded in landing somewhere, and their crews have perished immediately, or survived for a little while amid the inconceivably hostile environment of a cosmos not designed for men."
Clark Ashton Smith
The Master of the Asteroid
The Old Solar System asteroid field is full of many ancient treasures & relics beyond human understanding or reckoning. There are ancient living ships that still ply the spaceways without crew or understanding of their original purpose. These ancient craft were part of the Atlantian star craft whose brains & A.I. networks were grown around the AnzĂ» models created millions of years ago by the Elder Things. These craft are incredibly complex & valuable beings who fetch hundreds of  thousands of gold pieces on the open market.

There are of course the half dead craft of the Mi Go run by the brain cylinders of their loyal agents & followers. Immortal, half insane from the cosmic horrors that these beings have experienced. The Mi Go ships are dreaded things and seen as ill omens by many spacers & those of Old Earth. But these are of course only a small sample of the millions craft that use the Asteroids as cover for their nefarious activities.

There are hints of such things in
"No Man's Land in Space" from the July 1941 Amazing Stories by Leigh Brackett. It's got an asteroid full of space pirates, a rogue industrialist, and a crazed scientist set against the start of a war between Earth and Venus.

You can grab this one right over here!
1d20 Random Encounters With 'Living Space Craft
In The Old Solar System
  1. A living space craft created when the world was young, its been monitoring Earth for millions of years. There are numerous ancient curses scrawled around the hull of the craft almost as if their trying to keep someone or something inside the craft. 
  2. Mi Go living ship with 1d100 brain cylinders on board along with bio drive systems. There are ancient guardian drive systems that are watching the Earth for time. 
  3. The still living skeleton frame of this ancient craft holds 1d6 violet fungas on each level and its growing around the valuable 1dx3000 gold pieces worth of stuff here. 
  4. An unliving space vessel is crewed by 1d3 massive alien golems made by the skeletal remains of past adventures. 
  5. There are 1d4 ancients aboard this living vessel who remember a time before all the life had appeared in this universe. This vessel also contains certain very hungry and dangerous life forms.
  6. The telepathic messages of some ancient king does not give away the fact that the the levels are unbalanced within the bio matrix and some needs to take out the giant microbes that are now living here. 
  7. This Mi Go craft contains over thirty seven mentally deranged individuals who are actually valuable scientists. On the open market these things are worth five thousand gold pieces each 
  8. This living ship holds a black hole generator and the possibility of never getting out alive. There are three hundred living minds aboard. 
  9. This living craft is actually a polymorphed demon, the weird flesh of this craft teams with deadly malice on any adventurers trying to handle it. 
  10. A very dangerous living craft contains the insane essence of a space god and his crew. They are waiting for some fool to let them loose. 
  11. A seven mile craft contains the last remains of an Atlantian colony ship. There is an ancient monster aboard that guards all of this. 
  12. This living ship is actually a space god who awaits a new cult. Perhaps you can become this new cult of fools. This craft will devour the soul of anyone it comes in contact with. 
  13. This treasure ship is actually a rogue A.I. created from the thought patterns of Alister Crowley or how aliens imagine him to be.
  14. This living craft has been created from the cybernetic genius & mind of an insane scientist who merged with a star spawn of Cthulhu. 
  15. A living ship made from one massive still living master brain  that has thousands of gold coins on its surface. These act as armor and camouflage in the asteroids. 
  16. This massive alien street is now an incredble living shopping mall with thousands of shops & a weird agenda.
  17. This living ship is made from the skull and head from ancient cosmically powerful alien. The thing was used as a repository for forbidden artifacts and ancient cosmic treasures. 
  18.  A city sized ship that has seventy or so alien buildings on the back & shoulders of a massive giant gargoyle. The thing serves as the focal point for a cosmic infernal cult of diabolical wizards. 
  19. A living planetoid with a strange and disturbing agenda for any adventurers it runs across. There are hundreds of souls stored in crystals with this being. 
  20. A dangerous alien scientist has created a weird living ship from the cloned cells of his body and flown them throughout the asteroid field on a mission of evil according to the cleric in this bar. 

Commentary On The Free OSR Resource Ben Ball's Hyperborean Encounter Tables! For The Astonishing Swordsmen of Hyperborea & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg & Your Old School Campaigns

I'm always looking for new resources for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, its a sickness & illness with me. That pulpy edge that helps to define a game of AS&SH with monsters & the overall sword & sorcery weirdness of the game. Ben Ball is one of the prolific & solid writer/designer fans of the AS&SH line. He's come up with a dangerous set of encounter tables that I love over on the OD&D forums.

"Ever wanted to let your players just hex crawl all over Hyperborea? Here are the tools you've been lacking. Customized encounter tables for every region, city, and body of water listed in the gazetteer. These suckers have it all: Monsters of every kind. Weather. Natural disasters. Human encounters from individual NPCs to pilgrims and merchants to armed patrols to rival adventuring parties. THE DREADED CELESTIAL PHENOMENA (now with new horrors like "Fortean Fall", "Voice of Doom", "Seas Turned to Blood", and "White Death"). Hundreds of different possible encounters in every region!

All of the encounters fit the overall weirdness of Hyperborea with its monster infested lands & alien laden edges. The sword & sorcery themes mixed with that 'Weird Tales' aesthetic is each encounter just waiting for the players to stumble on them.
"For the most part the tables are weighted toward encounters with animals, natural phenomena, and humans - in keeping with the popular perception of what "sword & sorcery" means - but some regions are a lot more monster-ridden than others: The Aeries are crawling with mythical beasts, Sharath is thick with aliens and the undead, and if you go to Thaumagorga's Teeth, you just might meet a bunch of daemons. Keep a sharp eye out for my unique sense of "humor" too ("Tornadoes in a village always strike the lowest quality housing first." - hahaha I kill me)."

The encounters material is balanced but in a very twisted way reflected not only the author/designer's humor but the fickle nature of Hyperborea itself. There's also the fact that this set of encounters reflects my own pulpy science fantasy view of Hyperborea seen through the lens of Weird Tales. Seems as if around every corner is another crashed spacecraft or set of weirdos trying to put forward their own alien agenda or other.

Grab The
Hyperborean Encounter Tables! HERE

Sunday, June 18, 2017

OSR Commentary & Review Of The 'Pay What You Want' Adventure HS3 Incursion of the Chain Devils For Your Old School Campaigns

Three nights ago, strange lights and screams were heard from the local temple of Ishtar. Grotesque humanoids, wearing tattered clothes and wrapped with chains, emerged from the very walls, causing murder and mayhem within.

Can the PCs save the temple of Ishtar from the incursion of the chain devils?
I'm always on the look out for another Sword & Sorcery old school style title, so I began to look around Drivethrurpg. Generally this is a dangerous thing to do but there are few 'pay what you' want titles that caught my eye. Incursion of the Chained Devils is one of those weird titles that you don't usually come across but this time I listened to the little voice that said, 'Grab it'. This is a weird & interesting little beast of an adventure that hearkens back to something I would have snatched up as a twenty year old dungeon master.
"H3 Incursion of the Chain Devils is a module for 4-8 characters levels 5th to 7th using the first edition advanced rules"
This is an expansive & sprawling module with a sword & sorcery horror adventure aspect to it. To be honest about it, I was quite happy to come across this one on a Sunday night. This adventure only clocks in at about eighteen pages but its a really nice change up from the investigative adventures I've been running into lately.
Its a really nicely put together module that has more in common with a Conan novella like Red Nails & Eighties horror classic Hellraiser by Clive Barker. This is a module that you can drag & drop right into your existing campaign world such as Hyperborea. It won't make a ripple in the local campaign world & its been designed & written that way; "Much of this depends on where you locate the Temple. If you locate it in the wilderness, you could have the PCs stumble upon it and decide to simply
loot it.
You might simply drop it into an existing city in your world. If you do this before you plan on running the adventure, the PCs might go and visit the temple, either for healing or to enjoy themselves. Then when the temple gets invaded, they might wish to go to the rescue simply because they know the
people there and wish to help. The PCs might also be hired by a fleeing priestess. They might get a vision from the goddess herself. They might also be in the need of clerical henchmen and decided that rescuing some would be a great way to recruit."  What I love about Jeremy Reaban's stuff is that he doesn't screw around with his adventures right in the description there's a focus on his OSR sources & where he's gotten material for his adventures;"As with previous entries in the HS line, the focus is firmly on combat. There are 20 rooms and likely 8-10 encounters. Most of the monsters are backward converted from third edition and full write ups are provided."
The material here in HS3 is balanced, deadly, & will kill more then a few PC's before they navigate & solve its mysteries. Its made to do exactly what it says on the tin. There are new monsters, some interesting encounters, and everything is geared to be DYI D&D friendly. So in case you haven't noticed this is right up in my wheel house, you've got a lost temple out in the middle of the desert wastelands which could be placed in the Diamond Desert in AS&SH. There is a ton of pulpy monsters in this one & a fully fleshed out adventure location which makes this really nice adventure to add into the back end of B4 The Lost City.
In fact the temple in HS3 Incusion of the Chain Devils could be another above ground section of the ruin's environs from B4. There's no reason why another cut off section of the city from that classic module. What I'm saying here is that
HS3 Incusion of the Chain Devils is modular enough and packed into its own niche so that it can be used with other old school products with little effort.

Things in HS3 Incursion of the Chain Devils are keyed to bring PC's right into the middle of the action. The cenobite like ' kytons' are original enough to make a lasting impression on a group of AD&D players and weird enough to actually be usable in a one shot adventure that will last several sessions. There are several factors to keep in mind when running HS3 Incursion of the Chain Devils:
  1. This is a straight up adventure with a few twists & turns that challenges, maimes, & the monsters will aim to destroy PC's. 
  2. The loot is well laid out in the adventure & PC's greed could get a party killed. 
  3. There are bunch of band new monsters that have the potential to be used outside of HS3 for cults, NPC's or to create your own Lovecraftian cult of lust & depravity.

Infact this adventure could serve as a bridge gap adventure location for say AS&SH Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes & B4 The Lost City. The temple location has enough going on to allow a DM to place it when & where they want it in the creeping sands of their old school wastelands.

So what does HS3 Incursion of the Chain Devils mean in terms of a sword & sorcery adventure? It puts the infernal right into the PC's laps & turns up the old school heat. This adventure doesn't dance around encounters with devils. Those are front & center right in the middle of the whole affair. This means that not only is there the lost temple but the focus is right on the black sorcery aspect right away. But does this mean I like
HS3 Incursion of the Chain Devils? No because I love it. This is an adventure that puts the combat front & center, magic weapons are a must not the except. There's no hidden agenda here, no mid adventure switch around or anything special to complicate matters. This is straight up monster fight and a deadly sword & sorcery romp.

Ten Ways To Make HS3 Incursion of the Chain Devils Work For You

  1. Add in the cult of the Chain Devils into your home setting to foreshadow this adventure but have them much weaker NPC's to lull the players into a false sense of security. 
  2. Add in HS3 Incursion of the Chain Devils to a post apocalyptic wasteland for a novel and very dangerous adventure location. 
  3. Have hints of the corruption of the temple featured in this adventure in other places. Weird weather, diabolic influence, and much more. 
  4. Add in the temple as a part of the regular home play to help bring a sense of unity for your old school campaigns. 
  5. Monsters make the adventure and there's some new ones that need plenty of air time for PC's. Add or subtract as you desire. 
  6. Rumors of the temple's corruption should be rumors in every place the PC's hang out. 
  7. Place a relic or minor artifact to lure in PC's. They're numerous way's to incorporate the treasure as a part of the lure. 
  8. The PC's are going to have some semi permanent brain damage encountering this latest devils in this adventure. 
  9. There's more to the story of the chain devils featured in this adventure enabling DM's to fully customize their background as needed. 
  10. Exploit the hell out of the temple before the adventure begins. Have it be healing point, a port in the storm of adventuring, a safe house, etc. This gives the temple traction when the PC's are needed in HS3.

HS3 Incursion of the Chain Devils Right HERE 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Expanding The Campaign Frontier With B10 Night's Dark Terror by Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

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

But you are adventurers, veterans of many battles, and the call of the will is strong. Will you answer the call, or are you afraid of the dark terrors of the night?
Night's Dark Terror is the module for campaign expansion after your traditional Keep on the Borderlands introduction module run through & the next connecting module Horror on the Hill. Night's Dark Terror pulls the PC's into what remains of the ruins of an empire long gone to seed but vital enough to kill them quite easily.
"This campaign adventure is for characters just beginning Expert play (levels 2-4) and hurls them into the exciting outdoor world which awaits in the Expert rulebook.

With a 64-page booklet, 2 double-panel covers, and complete scans of the orioginal double-sided mapsheet, this super-module provides all you need for epic wilderness and dungeon adventuring. Journey across the Grand Duchy of Karameikos in a desperate race against time and the forces of evil."
B10 Night's Dark Terror is one of my all time favorites because it's a true location based adventure & its got the look plus the feel of the classic Conan novels with an over arching Russian look about it. It can be used as a point crawl or hex crawl or as a full up action oriented adventure with a classic siege mentality about it. There are mysteries, weird events, plenty of unresolved adventure elements, & political intrigue. Sure I've written about Night's Dark Terror before. But I'm going to take this in a slightly different direction.

Night's Dark Terror brings several things to the table in terms of what it can do for the PC's:

  • This is also a great module to let those rangers & scouts shine at what they do in their classic elements. This module also has plenty of hooks for a shaman or druid to come into their own for a party of classic 
  • The action is pretty high enabling a DM to keep the encounters dangerous and yet build up their campaign world within the adventure context. 
  •  As a Dungeon master you get an entire mini-campaign in 56 pages, and it's the type of by the seat of your pants action I like, complete with mystery, a siege, and a pulp-style Conan lost valley.

This means that Night's Dark Terror can be used to expand the frontier/wilderness of your own home campaign. This wilderness is the 'dark wood' of so many fairy tales & pulp adventures. The placement of  Night's Dark Terror in campaign world has one very interesting factor about it. The adventure takes place almost but just out of reach of the capital of Mystara. You can see this in Mystara Module and Placement by Andrew Theisen  at the Vaults of Pandius site. This means that all of action takes place just out sight of the campaign world's capital & help isn't coming. It also indicates an empire gone to seed as the wilderness has crept back to get an almost strangle hold around the throat of civilization.
The fact is that throughout the Night's Dark Terror there's a sense of the pulpy Sword & Sorcery  weird that runs throughout it. Things are over the edge of the strange wilderness & the PC's are in way over their heads. This is another of those modules that seems dangerous to many levels of  player characters because of the type of monsters and the danger the at PC's seem to face at every turn. There's a sense of the authentically violence that seems to bubble just under the surface of B10 that gives the adventure gravity implied in Keep On Borderlands a reality during play.

The wilderness surrounding the Keep could mate up with the events of 'Horror on The Hill' & then B10 Night's Dark Terror for a sprawling wilderness campaign with plenty of room for even more ruins & dungeons to be thrown in. I had a sense reading through Night's Dark Terror of Clark Ashton Smith's  Hyperborean cycle whispering in my ear. I felt like there would be shrines to the toad-god Tsathoggua sprinkled near some of the trails that the PC's tread.

This is one of the strengths of the module is how adaptable it is for campaigns & even retroclones. The fact is with  few elements of CAS thrown in Night's Dark Terror could be mated up with events happening around or near the borders of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerer's capital.  The reason for this adaptability of the adventure is because it serves as bridge gap between B/X Basic D&D & Expert. This was done by the team of authors who would later on go on to create the seminal Warhammer Fantasy Rpg.

Thanks to member Mike:
"Here is what I found on the Vaults of Pandius:

Replica map of The Lost Valley of Hutaaka from B10 by Thorfinn Tait, from the Mystara Message Board posted 16 May 2006.
Replica map of Foamfire Valley from B10 by Thorfinn Tait, from the Mystara Message Board posted 14 May 2006."

B10 Night's Dark Terror could be used in conjunction with  Dark Albion to create the beyond the edge of empire feel with both Keep On The Borderland & B5 Horror on The Hill. The events of  the War of the Roses might not have happened.. yet. The PC's however have been dealing with the forces of Cults of Chaos for months before hand lending them a sense of wisdom of the depth & corruption of Chaos.

This is part of the flexibility & the customization factor that allows early modules to remain classics for a reason. In fact with a little work B10 Night's Dark Terrors can be one of the pivot modules in a DM's collection allowing them to set up multiple events helping to build a dangerous wilderness frontier where death is only a knife's blade away.

Ten Ways That B10 Night's Dark Terror Can Work For You
  1. Cults, factions, slavers are all in the module waiting to be expanded and fleshed out as powers of incredible potential for campaign play. 
  2. Lots of room for sticking in your favorite set of ruins or lost super science artifacts in a dungeon. 
  3. The module can even be used as a  Assault on Precinct 13 or edge of the wilderness Western style adventure set in a dark fantasy world. 
  4. Up the fairy tale elements and add in horror for a Ravenloft style Gothic edge of the wilderness horror survival adventure.This works well with Lamentations of The Flame Princess. 
  5. Turn up the volume on the lost world cult for a far more conspiracy style game to weird out the players. 
  6. Set B10 during a post apocalyptic game for a twist on the Gamma World classic adventure. Thundarr & Moks not included and sold separately. 
  7. Change up the Russian elements and add in more Fiend Folio monsters for a completely weird fantasy realm. 
  8. Add in traveling ancient Chinese merchants to form a bridge gap into another Orientialist sword & sorcery realm. New factions can be created for the expanding frontier feel. 
  9. Exploit the native NPC's by the slavers for an almost but not quite quasi historical feel.  
  10. Expand the wilderness for more 'old world' European encounters but add in more Lovcraftian cults to up the weirdness & pulp. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

OSR Commentary On B5 Horror on The Hill By Douglas Niles For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

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!  One of the best mid tier B/X Dungeons & Dragons adventures that came out during the B/X era. Yes I said mid tier because this is a very deadly adventure in some respects. You've got elements of a wilderness crawl, several deadly encounters & a butt load of goblin & humanoid encounters. Wiki actually has a pretty solid breakdown of the whole module;"It is intended for beginning gamemasters and 5-10 player characters of level 1-3.[1] The module contains around 20 encounters on the surface, a monastery, three dungeon levels and three new monsters."
So this adventure has been made for a large group of five to ten players?!? Which makes the adventure come off as a bit of a 'combat hog' ( a term often used in New England war gaming circles to indicate a combat situation which could bog down play for hours). In fact its got a completely different feel from 'Keep on The Borderlands' in terms of artwork, production values, & overall cohesiveness to the whole old school affair. This is also an adventure with a decidedly European pulpy flair as one of my American friends pointed out last night.

Some other very interesting things about 'Horror on the Hill' with a little work this adventure can be used to put PC's straight into the middle of a sword & sorcery fairy tale gone wrong setting. The dungeon master here is going to have to do a lot of work but with some customization work this isn't as bad as it sounds. The whole feel of the module has this sort of 'fairy tale' gone wrong or is it reality?! Something a friend suggested on the phone when we went over the module is that the forces of sorcery have been breaking things down & mutating the locals for some time. Some minor artifact of old has been unleashed within the last twenty years & slowly warping the locals in some very bad ways. The witch has been taking full advantage of this & bringing in several monsters from other realities.
"At the Fort, hardy bands of adventurers gather to plan their conquests of The Hill, the hulking mass that looms over this tiny settlement"

In Mystara the placement of 'Horror on the Hill 'by various hands reveals an interesting pattern. The adventure brings its placement that sharp interior fantasy Europe that we so often in D&D or AD&D campaigns. What this means is that DM's are using Horror on the Hill as a bridge gap for parties of adventurers to cross over from 1st to higher levels instead of simply using it as a first to third level advancement as the module was intended to do. This is being done because of the number of players that the module relies on. This isn't the first time I've had some commentary with 'Horror on The Hill'. 

So I've been thinking a lot about Horror on the Hill & how I would use it. There are several conclusions I've come to lately. The fact is that module might be used to help define a 'war with chaos' using local conditions that are 'on the ground' for players. The weird elements are clearly defined from easy encounters right up through the dragon at the end. There's a weird Saxon/Roman movie romantic feel to the artwork of 'Horror On The Hill' giving a not quite but close Arthurian or Russian pulp fairy tale feel to the module. This could be picked up and run with by the Dungeon Master.  How do I mean? Forget Michael Moorcock & let's plug into a far older chaos war. Perhaps Paul Anderson's Three Hearts & Three Lions background might be something that the dungeon master might want to pull from. What's giving me such an epic background for a beginning module is the number of players needed to pull Horror on the Hill off.

Surely that's going only be a one shot style of adventure? Umm no with the background of a world such as Hyperborea of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea we can mold the background of Horror on the Hill as we see fit. We have no ideas what's been taking place after the events of the Green Death plague.

Yes once again this is a clear point in which the DM is going to be setting the tone & placement of the adventure. This is something that happens time & again in campaigns but its up to the players to decide where & when their going to run with the adventure elements. The article Modules and adventures in Mystara is a clear example of this sort of thing.

The fact is that 'Horror on the Hill' could be mated up with Keep on the Borderland to create an over arching ruined fortresses on the edge of a crumbling empire sort of a feel. Something that has clear indicators for a game campaign world such as Dark Albion from which the PC's might be called back to deal with the War of the Roses events. In fact Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos could be used to add even more background to give 'Horror On The Hill' a bit more historical gravitas for players.

Horror on the Hill could be used to highly the pulpy transition from the run of the mill into the deep end of old school pulpy adventure with little effort. The DM is going to have to be willing to sacrifice a few PC's along the way because of its lethality but this is a module from the transition period of TSR. It has all of the old school deadliness we've come to expect.

Ten Ways That Horror On The Hill Can Work For You 

  1. Get the players into the deep end of your sword & sorcery world by providing local events of the past in an in your face way. 
  2. An easy location in Guido's Fort that can separate them easily from their hard earned gold. 
  3. Horror on the Hill could be used as a side quest for a group of experienced players and add a new faction or two for campaign direction 
  4. As an add on for a quest to pad things out with some pulpy adventure 
  5. To get the PC's into the thick of deadly pulpy humanoid action 
  6. Horror on the Hill makes a very nice post apocalyptic adventure with some adjustments for a slight twist to your old school wasteland adventures  
  7. Add in more pulp elements to bring the adventure into a sharper sword & sorcery focus such as a slightly different origin for the goblins for a game such as AS&SH 
  8. Add in more evil witches & covens with a Lovcraftian twist for a deadly cult of evil. Night Hags make excellent heads  heads of such cults. 
  9. This is an excellent adventure to add in some Clark Ashton Smith elements such as Gargoyles. Or  Averoigne elements to 'Horror On The Hill' 
  10. As a bridge gap for a Sword & Sorcery Greyhawk