Saturday, April 21, 2018

Blood & Murder In Hi Rise City - Actual Pulp Era Campaign Event

In tonight's game the PC's got themselves in way over their collective heads, the royal family they were staying with were kidnapped! The high rise that the PC's were staying in was invaded tonight after a new weird science dimensional portal device was unveiled! The party's bard went to check on Samantha Turck after her almost death & poisoning.

A sky ship landed on the roof pad with various mine consortium exacutives & mine heads from the outer edges of the solar system. The deep exploration & elemental planar mines had yielded a new type of portable gate device aboard the sky ship. Its application for new avenues of exploitable mining opportunities was about to be discussed when something or someone interrupted the meeting. Time went funny & the elevators weren't working properly.
The adventurers grabbed
Samantha Turck & made a hasty retreat to the roof of their own sky ship. Then they encountered a strange shape changing ooze monster & they were lucky to escape with their lives! One of the PC's henchmen was able to buy the party some time to escape.

 Finally the PC's made it past the roof & their own sky ship. They boarded, got skyward, & locked & loaded the guns! What they don't know is that a Visitor saucer is hot pursuit of them!

Will the PC's survive their ordeal! And why are they being pursued by the Visitors?! What strange alien agenda do these alien beings from beyond the stars have for a small child? These and other questions will be answered in next week's game as the players head for the wild & woolly wastelands of New Jersey! There in the wastelands

warbots battle amidst ruined starships & still active Martian war walkers!

Everything in tonight's game was accessed from the
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu handbook for Adventurer, Conqueror, King retroclone rpg sytem.

Technically I'm working on integrating a bunch of OSR & old school D&D elements from original Dungeons & Dragons as well as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. The pulp elements from Clark Ashton Smith Zothique series of stories has already been cropping up in the background of this game campaign but its time to really move them forward along with a good dash of H.G. Wells for good measure.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sunken Lands, HP Lovecraft, Appendix N Weirdness & Old School Campaigns

"Dazed and frightened, yet not without a certain thrill of the scientist’s or archaeologist’s delight, I examined my surroundings more closely. The moon, now near the zenith, shone weirdly and vividly above the towering steeps that hemmed in the chasm, and revealed the fact that a far-flung body of water flowed at the bottom, winding out of sight in both directions, and almost lapping my feet as I stood on the slope. Across the chasm, the wavelets washed the base of the Cyclopean monolith; on whose surface I could now trace both inscriptions and crude sculptures. The writing was in a system of hieroglyphics unknown to me, and unlike anything I had ever seen in books; consisting for the most part of conventionalised aquatic symbols such as fishes, eels, octopi, crustaceans, molluscs, whales, and the like. Several characters obviously represented marine things which are unknown to the modern world, but whose decomposing forms I had observed on the ocean-risen plain.

It was the pictorial carving, however, that did most to hold me spellbound. Plainly visible across the intervening water on account of their enormous size, were an array of bas-reliefs whose subjects would have excited the envy of Doré. I think that these things were supposed to depict men—at least, a certain sort of men; though the creatures were shewn disporting like fishes in waters of some marine grotto, or paying homage at some monolithic shrine which appeared to be under the waves as well. Of their faces and forms I dare not speak in detail; for the mere remembrance makes me grow faint. Grotesque beyond the imagination of a Poe or a Bulwer, they were damnably human in general outline despite webbed hands and feet, shockingly wide and flabby lips, glassy, bulging eyes, and other features less pleasant to recall. Curiously enough, they seemed to have been chiselled badly out of proportion with their scenic background; for one of the creatures was shewn in the act of killing a whale represented as but little larger than himself. I remarked, as I say, their grotesqueness and strange size, but in a moment decided that they were merely the imaginary gods of some primitive fishing or seafaring tribe; some tribe whose last descendant had perished eras before the first ancestor of the Piltdown or Neanderthal Man was born. Awestruck at this unexpected glimpse into a past beyond the conception of the most daring anthropologist, I stood musing whilst the moon cast queer reflections on the silent channel before me."
Dagon is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, written in July 1917
I've been doing a lot of thinking about Appendix N authors tonight namely HP Lovecraft & his novella
"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1931). The mythological connections between mermaids & Deep Ones hit me as a kid since I read the novel. As clear as day I was looking at paperback of Lovecraft's fiction & straight into a Lang illustration of a mermaid. The connotations were obvious to me as a kid & dungeon master. Since that time period I've always held the Deep Ones having a strong connection with the Black Hag, Green Hags  & Sea Hags of B/X Dungeons & Dragons &  Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition Monster Manual. These these three species live in both swamp & oceans environments respectively.  These three species of hag all have ties with the Le Fey family covens of witches & through them ties with the forces & rites of Chaos from Lion & Dragon.

Now I've talked about the Elves & powers of Fairyland playing merry havoc with Europe since the time of Camelot. But how is easy enough, the hags have been hiding in plain sight this whole time. This goes back to original Dungeons & Dragons origins of the hags;

In the original Dungeons & Dragons, the sea hag first appeared in the Blackmoor supplement by Dave Arneson (1975).[1] The Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set included its own version of the hag. The sea hag and the black hag appeared in the Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules (1985),[2] and the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991).[3]

In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, the sea hag appears in the 1977 Monster Manual,[4] where it is described as inhabiting thickly vegetated shallows, and hates beauty and is so ghastly in appearance that it makes other creatures weak with fright. The night hag also appears in the Monster Manual, where it is described as the ruler of the convoluted planes of Hades. The book states that night hags form larvae (the most selfishly evil of all souls who sink to lower planes after death) from evil persons they slay, and sell them to demons and devils."

There  are deep occult connections between royal houses & mythological sea creatures. The mermaids of legend are in fact the handmaidens of Dagon & Mother Hydra or at least some of them. These are the comely female Deep One hybrids whose connections to Arthurian legend dive into the house of  Sir Lancelot du Lac itself.

"However, one scholar has suggested that Lancelot may be a variant of the name Lancelin.[3] Lancelot or Lancelin may instead have been the hero of an independent folk-tale which had contact with and was ultimately absorbed into the Arthurian tradition.
The theft of an infant by a water-fairy, the appearance of the hero at a tournament on three consecutive days in three different disguises, and the rescue of a queen or princess from an Otherworld prison are all features of a well-known and widespread tale, variants of which are found in almost every land and numerous examples of which have been collected by Theodore Hersart de la Villemarqué in his Barzaz Breiz, by Emmanuel Cosquin in his Contes Lorrains, and by J. F. Campbell in his Tales of the West Highlands."

The Lancelin family has been fighting the forces of Chaos & its cults for centuries. This also ties into the fact that around France & England may of the major sunken cities & countries were sunk at the end of the last Ice Age by the Deep Ones & the forces of Chaos.

These places in Arthurian literature & lore are what sets up events for the invasion & take over of France by the Frogmen who are simply another form in the alien evolutionary path of the Deep Ones ala the Frogmen of the Swamps of France.

There were centuries of resistence to the struggles of the Frogmen trying to assume full ruler ship of France. Especially from Lyonesse in Arthurian literature & its king Tristan.
"Tristan(Latin & BrythonicDrustanus; Welsh: Trystan), also known as Tristram, is a Cornish knight of the Round Table and the hero of the Arthurian Tristan and Iseult story. He is the son of Blancheflor and Rivalen (in later versions Isabelle of Cornwall and Meliodas), and the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, sent to fetch Iseult back from Ireland to wed the king. However, he and Iseult accidentally consume a love potion while en route and fall helplessly in love; the pair undergo numerous trials that test their secret affair."

Walter de la Mare's "Sunk Lyonesse" (1922) evokes the country as as a lost Lovecraftian world:
"In sea-cold Lyonesse,
When the Sabbath eve shafts down
On the roofs, walls, belfries
Of the foundered town,
The Nereids pluck their lyres
Where the green translucency beats,
And with motionless eyes at gaze
Make ministrely in the streets.

And the ocean water stirs
In salt-worn casement and porch
Plies the blunt-nosed fish
With fire in his skull for torch.
And the ringing wires resound;
And the unearthly lovely weep,
In lament of the music they make
In the sullen courts of sleep:

Whose marble flowers bloom for aye:
And—lapped by the moon-guiled tide—
Mock their carver with heart of stone,
Caged in his stone-ribbed side."

Sunken  Lyonesse is another one of the many legendary kingdoms now lost to sunken realms of Fairyland now a plaything of the Deep Ones & their cousins from Lion & Dragon.
Tristán e Iseo (La vida) by Rogelio de Egusquiza (1912)

We get possible glimpses of the warfare between humanity & the forces of Chaos in Lion & Dragon as well as the literature of Arthurian lore. Many of the struggles between the alliances of the Elves of Dark Albion & Lion & Dragon with the Deep Ones are set forth. What might motivate the worshipers of the cult & covens of witches of Cthulhu might be the promises of alien immortality set forth by HP Lovecraft  in "TheCall of Cthulhu".

"These data, received with suspense and astonishment by the assembled members, proved doubly exciting to Inspector Legrasse; and he began at once to ply his informant with questions. Having noted and copied an oral ritual among the swamp cult-worshippers his men had arrested, he besought the professor to remember as best he might the syllables taken down amongst the diabolist Eskimos. There then followed an exhaustive comparison of details, and a moment of really awed silence when both detective and scientist agreed on the virtual identity of the phrase common to two hellish rituals so many worlds of distance apart. What, in substance, both the Eskimo wizards and the Louisiana swamp-priests had chanted to their kindred idols was something very like this—the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional breaks in the phrase as chanted aloud:
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
Legrasse had one point in advance of Professor Webb, for several among his mongrel prisoners had repeated to him what older celebrants had told them the words meant. This text, as given, ran something like this:
"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
And now, in response to a general and urgent demand, Inspector Legrasse related as fully as possible his experience with the swamp worshippers; telling a story to which I could see my uncle attached profound significance. It savoured of the wildest dreams of myth-maker and theosophist, and disclosed an astonishing degree of cosmic imagination among such half-castes and pariahs as might be least expected to possess it.
On 1 November 1907, there had come to New Orleans police a frantic summons from the swamp and lagoon country to the south. The squatters there, mostly primitive but good-natured descendants of Lafitte's men, were in the grip of stark terror from an unknown thing which had stolen upon them in the night. It was voodoo, apparently, but voodoo of a more terrible sort than they had ever known; and some of their women and children had disappeared since the malevolent tom-tom had begun its incessant beating far within the black haunted woods where no dweller ventured. There were insane shouts and harrowing screams, soul-chilling chants and dancing devil-flames; and, the frightened messenger added, the people could stand it no more.
So a body of twenty police, filling two carriages and an automobile, had set out in the late afternoon with the shivering squatter as a guide. At the end of the passable road they alighted, and for miles splashed on in silence through the terrible cypress woods where day never came. Ugly roots and malignant hanging nooses of Spanish moss beset them, and now and then a pile of dank stones or fragments of a rotting wall intensified by its hint of morbid habitation a depression which every malformed tree and every fungous islet combined to create. At length the squatter settlement, a miserable huddle of huts, hove in sight; and hysterical dwellers ran out to cluster around the group of bobbing lanterns. The muffled beat of tom-toms was now faintly audible far, far ahead; and a curdling shriek came at infrequent intervals when the wind shifted. A reddish glare, too, seemed to filter through the pale undergrowth beyond endless avenues of forest night. Reluctant even to be left alone again, each one of the cowed squatters refused point-blank to advance another inch towards the scene of unholy worship, so Inspector Legrasse and his nineteen colleagues plunged on unguided into black arcades of horror that none of them had ever trod before.
The region now entered by the police was one of traditionally evil repute, substantially unknown and untraversed by white men. There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypus thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight. They said it had been there before D'Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep away. The present voodoo orgy was, indeed, on the merest fringe of this abhorred area, but that location was bad enough; hence perhaps the very place of the worship had terrified the squatters more than the shocking sounds and incidents."
These swamp dwelling rites & rituals are also the source for & over seen by the handmaidens of Cthulhu, the swamp hags & worse are created during these cult rituals. These some of the sources of the transition from men into monster hinted about in the works of H.P. Lovecraft & built upon by Clark Ashton Smith.

There could be far more to the background of the cousins of the Deep Ones, the Koa Tua & the Frogmen then even the B/X adventure U1  The Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh hints at?! I've touched at this before but the monster ecology of these cults of Chaos is both complex and very dangerous especially when the legendary creatures hide far more then at first they seem.

Review Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars By Venger Satanis For The Alpha Blue Rpg System

So this might be Venger Satanis's last run down the old space brothel ways of the Alpha Blue rpg according to the intro into Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars.
I'm really sorry to see this development. The OSR needs more independent designers. But what is   Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars?
"Three sleazy scenarios for the Alpha Blue RPG. Plus, a huge, color map of the Ta'andor Galaxy with die-drop event/encounter tables."
This book  clocks in at seventy six pages of rules, four sleazy scenarios, a fantastic

color map of the Ta'andor Galaxy by Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design.

All of the sleazy adventures center around the space brothel Alpha Blue with lots & lots of random tables from cosmic orgasms to full blown encounters. This is not a game supplement to take seriously at all, the level of humor is that of perv R rated space sex comedies from  back in the Eighties. The sort of Up All Night space romp movies that used to be on late night cable & this book plugs right into that.
The text, layout, etc is all up to the usual 
Kort'thalis Publishing standards. The artwork is good for the product & portrays the sleazy vibe that Venger is going for. If your not into the type of space opera comedy that Venger does then this book isn't for you.

Could Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars be used for other OSR space opera style games? In a word yes if the players don't take their role playing seriously. The scenarios are clever & sophomoric in their content but the adventure ideas have some great potential for a space based campaign. There's some great rules & ideas if your an Alpha Blue dungeon master.

Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars plays out as it should a sleazy & well written groupings of rules & adventures for the Alpha Blue rpg system. The  Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars 

book is solidly done for the Alpha Blue rpg system & it would take quite a bit of shoe horning to get it to work with other OSR systems. Is Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars well done? Yes but is it for everyone? No unless their looking for the sort of space sleaze that  Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars is offering. 
Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars Is Available Right Here

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pulp Era OSR Make Over For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons's Modue N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God By Douglas Niles

I was asked to do a Pulp era make over for N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God By Douglas Niles so let's dive right in.

" Terror by night! The village of Orlane is dying. Once a small and thriving community, Orlane has become a maze of locked doors and frightened faces. Strangers are shunned, trade has withered. Rumors flourish, growing wilder with each retelling. Terrified peasants flee their homes, abandoning their farms with no explanation. Others simply disappear. . ."

"No one seems to know the cause of the decay -- why are there no clues? Who skulks through the twisted shadows of the night? Who or what is behind the doom that has overtaken the village? It will take a brave and skillful band of adventurers to solve the dark riddle of Orlane!"
Along  the remote coast of Scotland an evil has taken over the quiet inhabitants of a remote village  for its own nefarious purposes. Coming from the world of Greyhawk a tribe of lizardmen has taken over a remote modern village. The sinister arcane powers behind the take over have been plot this for centuries & have now crossed over to a near by Prime Material plane. The idea here is that they're going to restart on another world. The lizardmen forces of N1 have a much more humanoid quality about them borrowed from Robert Howard's half human serpentmen hybrids. This version of N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God By Douglas Niles takes a good deal of its Lovecraftian thunder from Children of the Night by Robert E. Howard.

"Humans they were, of a sort, though I did not consider them so. They were short and stocky, with broad heads too large for their scrawny bodies. Their hair was snaky and stringy, their faces broad and square, with flat noses, hideously slanted eyes, a thin gash for a mouth, and pointed ears. They wore the skins of beasts, as did I, but these hides were but crudely dressed. They bore small bows and flint-tipped arrows, flint knives and cudgels. And they conversed in a speech as hideous as themselves, a hissing, reptilian speech that filled me with dread and loathing.
They are frequently described as snakes or having snake-like qualities. The Aryan legends say that the Children—none of the Aryans know what they call themselves—used to own the land in an ancient "outworn age" until they were hunted and driven underground by the Picts."
The PC's are under the influence of past lives or the arcane power of a wizard who has  faced these monsters down in the the western Flanaess. Modern or the science fantasy  technology isn't going to make too much difference here. The adventure will balance out with the inclusion of a showdown in a "traditional" dungeon at the end of the module.

The troglodyte are an excellent minion link up between the serpent men & the lizard men of N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God By Douglas Niles. The dimensional byways & doors used by the ancient serpent men make an excellent bridge gap between a traditional Greyhawk campaign & a more modern adventure.

A better question is once N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God By Douglas Niles ends do others in the vicinity bear the Lovecraftian taint of Children of the Night?
Are there descendant of the Children of the Night who have acted as agents for the cult and what of Robert E. Howard 's Bran Mak Morn and the cult of The Dark Man?

Have they been standing idly by as their world has been invaded by their ancient enemies? There are so many possibilities with the material found in N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God By Douglas Niles that a DM could use this module to flesh out a turn of the century campaign setting with little effort.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

OSR Review & Commentary On The Heroic Fantasy Handbook From Autarch For Adventurer, Conqueror, King & Other OSR Retroclone Systems

Sometimes its not the genre but the way that a book presents the material. In this case The
Heroic Fantasy Handbook From Autarch  tries its best to heal a nagging ulcer that has existed in the table top role playing game fantasy book fandom since the early days. That is the divide between the fans of High fantasy vs Low fantasy. There's also a similar divide between modern Dark Fantasy fans & pure pulp magazine fans. The sub divisions of hobbies & fandom also spills over in to Sword & Planet vs Heroic Fantasy books & so forth. All of this B.S. spilled over into the Appendix N of  Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the first edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide back in '79.
Basically its a way for others to turn their nose up at other people who are using the themes, ideas,etc. of any of the above to play adventures, campaigns, & games where the themes & elements of High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Sword & Planet, Dark Fantasy, Pulp are used & mixed with gusto! Others haven't been playing their own campaigns 'the right way'.
Personally I think all of these definitions & divisions are manure! The Heroic Fantasy Handbook From Autarch  takes the ideals of all of the above & boils them into a stew that focuses the lens of Heroic Fantasy in a set of actually playable & usable guidelines for the Adventurers, Conqueror, King retroclone system.

How does "The Heroic Fantasy Handbook" do this? Well, let's look at the actual definition of Heroic Fantasy from L. Sprague de Camp's introduction to the 1967 Ace edition of Conan (Robert E. Howard), p. 13.

""Heroic fantasy" is the name I have given to a subgenre of fiction, otherwise called the "sword-and-sorcery" story. It is a story of action and adventure laid in a more or less imaginary world, where magic works and where modern science and technology have not yet been discovered. The setting may (as in the Conan stories) be this Earth as it is conceived to have been long ago, or as it will be in the remote future, or it may be another planet or another dimension.
Such a story conbines [sic] the color and dash of the historical costume romance with the atavistic supernatural thrills of the weird, occult, or ghost story. When well done, it provides the purest fun of fiction of any kind. It is escape fiction wherein one escapes clear out of the real world into one where all men are strong, all women beautiful, all life adventurous, and all problems simple, and nobody even mentions the income tax or the dropout problem or socialized medicine."

"The Heroic Fantasy Handbook" does this by giving the players options that are patterned after the stories, novels, etc. of the subgenre itself while keeping the basics patterns & ideas that are found in the ACK's handbook in tact whist adding a set of 16 new character classes inspired by the archetypes of material. This isn't a quick coat of paint & bunch of OGL revamps but a loving & well thought out inspiration of material.

Nobiran Champion, Charles Myers

"The Heroic Fantasy Handbook"  is well laid out & easy on the eye with a professional care toward its magick systems & PC options. This is a two hundred & twenty four page monster of a book with magics that reflect & heighten the ideals of the material presented in the the Adventurers, Conqueror, King retroclone system.
 The eldritch magic system is a marriage of the magicks of Conan's Mythos with the temptations of hinted at in C.S. Lewis's Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe along side the weirdness of Tolkien. And all of this echos back to the world of ACK's.

Nobiran Wizard, Charles Myers

The ceremonial magicks of "The Heroic Fantasy Handbook" give the magician a far more reaching & subtle mechanism for game play enabling players to give a heavy hand during play on monsters, rulers, and other enemies. This magick turns the wizard in question into a power to be reckoned with not only in life but in economics & during adventures.

Zaharan Sorcerer, Alexander Macris

There's more weirdness here with the implementation of spellsinging which is directly related to ACK's elves & it works to give the Elven enchanters more arcane muscle which they sorely need. There are over a hundred & fifty five spells here & this doesn't mean that  "The Heroic Fantasy Handbook"
is another padded 'splat book'.  "The Heroic Fantasy Handbook" is designed as an add on book for characters looking to be flesh out for play in a more complete campaign setting. There's lots of options here and all of them are actually usable.
Michael Syrigos incredible artwork & deft hand with the artistic subject matter helps to set the tone & overall look to the "The Heroic Fantasy Handbook".

More of Michael Syrigos incredible artwork can be found here

Battle against the Báleygr, Florian Hubner

This isn't a bull crap book trying to take your money. This is a book for adding more dimension to your ACK's characters & NPC's. This book is as much for the dungeon master as its for the players. Was the "The Heroic Fantasy Handbook" worth the wait? Yes it was!   This is a five out of five book and no I'm not kidding. This is the book that I wish I had when I started my ACK's & OSR  campaigns. Why because it works at what it does and that's kick ass & take names!
A Berserker in Bear Form, Charles Myers

Why do I say this? Because if you want to run a down & dirty campaign with all of the elements of ACK's Sword & Sorcery mixed with a healthy dose of Tolkein then this is the book for you! If you want to run a straight up balls to the walls Sword & Planet campaign then your going to want the ACK's rule book & Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu. But you'll want "The Heroic Fantasy Handbook"to bring the thunder & lightning to the whole campaign affair.
While not necessary the 
ACKS Player's Companionhas several kick ass NPC options that can still kick the crap out the player's PC's such as the Anti paladin, dwarven fury, & a few others to put those Heroic types down!
Sorry but I'm going to give the
"The Heroic Fantasy Handbook"
a five out of five because its just that good!

Can Grab 
"The Heroic Fantasy Handbook" PDF RIGHT HERE!