Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Astral Plane As Sword & Sorcery Hyperspace To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting

"There were many shadows in the palace of Augusthes, About the silver throne that had blackened beneath the invisible passing of ages, they fell from pillar and broken roof and fretted window in ever-shifting multiformity. Seeming the black, fantastic spectres of doom and desolation, they moved through the palace in a gradual, grave, and imperceptible dance, whose music was the change and motion of suns and moons. They were long and slender, like all other shadows, before the early light, and behind the declining sun; squat and intense beneath the desert noontide, and faint with the withered moon; and in the interlunar darkness, they were as myriad tongues hidden behind the shut and silent lips of night."
The Shadows Clark Ashton Smith

I've been going over some of my notes from past games this weekend & was looking into the Astral Plane. Specifically, the OD&D Greyhawk Astral Spell which got my juices flowing thinking about the Astral plane as sword & sorcery Outer Space. So that's how I'm going to play it.

The Astral plane is going to become my hyperspace for OSR games. Sure its still going to be the plane of the mind buts going to be full of abandoned space stations, giant behemoth space hulks, many other strange monolithic alien mega structures. All of this is inspired by Jack Kirby's Negative Zone photomontages. 

Here are are hundreds of alien Astral planes filled with the thoughts, concepts, & artifacts of a billions of strange life form's minds. This is not a place to be taken lightly for travelers can run into demons from one of a myriad of half formed Hells.

"There now followed a hideous whirl through frigid space, endlessly up and eastward toward the gaunt grey flanks of those impassable mountains beyond which Leng was said to lie. Far above the clouds they flew, till at last there lay beneath them those fabled summits which the folk of Inganok have never seen, and which lie always in high vortices of gleaming mist. Carter beheld them very plainly as they passed below, and saw upon their topmost peaks strange caves which made him think of those on Ngranek; but he did not question his captor about these things when he noticed that both the man and the horse-headed shantak appeared oddly fearful of them, hurrying past nervously and shewing great tension until they were left far in the rear.
The shantak now flew lower, revealing beneath the canopy of cloud a grey barren plain whereon at great distances shone little feeble fires. As they descended there appeared at intervals lone huts of granite and bleak stone villages whose tiny windows glowed with pallid light. And there came from those huts and villages a shrill droning of pipes and a nauseous rattle of crotala which proved at once that Inganok’s people are right in their geographick rumours. For travellers have heard such sounds before, and know that they float only from the cold desert plateau which healthy folk never visit; that haunted place of evil and mystery which is Leng.
Around the feeble fires dark forms were dancing, and Carter was curious as to what manner of beings they might be; for no healthy folk have ever been to Leng, and the place is known only by its fires and stone huts as seen from afar. Very slowly and awkwardly did those forms leap, and with an insane twisting and bending not good to behold; so that Carter did not wonder at the monstrous evil imputed to them by vague legend, or the fear in which all dreamland holds their abhorrent frozen plateau. As the shantak flew lower, the repulsiveness of the dancers became tinged with a certain hellish familiarity; and the prisoner kept straining his eyes and racking his memory for clues to where he had seen such creatures before"
The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath By H.P. Lovecraft

This is also the abode of the Mi Go who use the Astral as a short cut between interplanetary destinations. They may have a brain cylinder or two  with them as they go about on their unending alien agendas. Leigh Brackett's No Man's Land In Space is a perfect fit for this alien asteroid bit beyond Mars. The asteroids rubbing the edges of the Astral plane connecting the dangerous edges of reality with the beyond of the Astral has a certain appeal.


In the gray expansive darkness there are thousands of things waiting for prey as the Astral plane rubs against the skin of the frozen Outer Darkness.
1d20 Random Astral Hyperspace Encounters Table

  1. A giant twelve mile long alien machine rusted but with a myriad of strange creatures crawling across its surface. There are 1d10 strange giant alien crab like monsters. 
  2. There is the severed head of a long dead & mummified ancient god thing with thousands of mushroom like growths growing out of every end of the remains. 
  3. An a giant alien flying saucer with hundreds remains of long fossilized passengers, the thing is over six miles long. 
  4. There are thousands of giant fire fly like humanoid insects mating or killing on another. Spells and vast telekinetic powers are being used in some sort of weird rites & forbidden rituals. 
  5. With a block of ember like material a star spawn of Ctlhlu slumbers & sends thousands of insane rantings of dream like cries into the grey. 
  6. A huge alien device quietly hums to itself signaling some ancient & deep Astral god in its own weird mathematical languages. Hundreds of Greys in space suits crawl over its surface anchoring in mini saucers or worse. 
  7. A huge alien city block is covered with a strange grey like web material & phase spiders hunt the streets for some ancient prey they have yet to find. There is treasure worth a cool 70,000 gold pieces for the taking if you can get past the spiders.
  8. Giant silver ships hover and wink out of existence leaving their garbage of gold and silver worth hundreds of pieces of silver but how will you get it from here. 
  9. A god's corpse dreams in death & tries to change its own reality with magick power not realizing it is long dead. There are hundreds of fire work like magical effects going off across the giant corpse over five miles long. 
  10. Thousands of astral raiders sit on the body of an astral whale guiding some alien agenda that only they know. 
  11. A alien raiding party of weird astral wanderers flies through the void on the power of their minds looking for the nightmare prey they have pursued through eight realities and ancient planes. 
  12. A rainbow time storm passes through taking 1d20 years off of the life of a victim unless they save vs death.  
  13. 1d4 giant astral whales pass by on an alien mission for a dead god thing whose mind has taken them over. There is a nearby temple where alien adventurers are meeting. 
  14. An Elder Thing sky ship moves across the Astral on a mission of desperation and mercy for one of their deep Astral colonies. 
  15. A time traveler and his machine have become stuck in time amber & float with a cargo worth  1d200X4  gold pieces. There are dangerous alien beings guarding it. 
  16. There are 1d20 astral parasites crawling across the body of giant space hulk 5 miles long & they have consumed the souls of the crew. This thing can not make port or many will die. 
  17. A giant stopped urn has turned up with a strange demon bound within the thing. The demon is a demon of hunger and requires a brand new host or six. 
  18. Giant car sized diamond the size of a small car with a demon trapped within it. 
  19. An astral black hole that opens deep into the real universe with a trapped gate keeper with its center. 
  20. There is a minor demon lord within a glass coffin who wishes freedom in exchange for a magick favor.

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