Monday, November 20, 2017

More Lovecraftian Old School Monster Ecology & OSR Campaign Commentary

I've been doing a lot of research over the weekend between work, calls, etc. on B/X Dungeons & Dragons monster & lair placement. The fact is that many of the traditional monsters certainly fit into the junket of being opportunists of the highest orders. That is that if a ruin or other adventure location is available they'll take it. This is something that Holmes B/X D&D monsters  take full advantage of. Running with this I began to dig a bit deeper.

But then I started looking a bit further of field, into the deep recesses of the Fiend Folio for first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons & began to notice this same style of opportunism. Since I'm running an Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition/Adventurer,Conqueror, King hybrid campaign I began to delve a bit deeper into the Fiend Folio because of the science fantasy nature of my own home campaign. 'Old Earth' has its roots deeply into H.P. Lovecraft & Clark Ashton Smith along with numerous classic science fiction era authors.

This means that the wastelands have monsters from the Fiend Folio moving into ruins, dungeons & other adventure locations. The Folio's encounter charts provide the perfect opportunities for where & when adventurers are likely to run into the horrors of the weirder edges of the map. But I'm dealing with very jaded & experienced players of Dungeons & Dragons so how do I spice things up for a science fantasy campaign? The answer of course was right in front of me the whole time! I've got a copy of 'The Teratic Tome' by
Rafael Chandler right in front of me & the monsters nicely dove tail in with several of the ideas already present in the campaign. But there's something about the monsters in the Tome that hearken back to the Fiend Folio & Holmes Dungeons & Dragons. The ecology of these monsters is both pulpy & dire, they all take full advantage of their ecological circumstances even in a science fantasy setting.

I'm talking about the fact that these monsters suit the setting in a weirdly twisted way, the gnomes of Mecha Zel from 'The Teractic Tome' are going to be a faction in my 'Old Earth' setting causing all kinds of havoc. They are a hive mind of psychotic steampunk style mutant survivors of Atlantis who have recently come to the surface world. 'Old Earth' already has atomic rockets, whist black powder weapons are very common. The military & certain adventurers have lasers or blasters if their very lucky. But there are far more sinister forces stalking the wastelands as 'Magistrates' stalk the wastelands for any usable & recyclable artifacts they find to take back to the hives.

So as a dungeon master I'm taking full advantage of the fact that these old school & OSR resources work with Adventurer, Conqueror, King. I've been talking with my 'systems' guy over the weekend to take full advantage of the fact that many of these sources are geared for the war gaming aspect of Adventurer,Conqueror, King's Domains at War. I'm planning on a fully realized science fantasy war game campaign down the road.

The priests & monks of Tsathoggua preach about the evils of the raider's alterations as the Hyperborean  own forces field monsters & worse out on the battle fields of Lomar. The campaign setting continues to grow, change, and be dynamic as the monsters & playing pieces come together with Old Earth.

There are still pieces in play from the last time I ran AS&SH's Beneath the Comet, several artifact resources from the adventure have made it to 'Old Earth' causing the goblin races to make a bold move on the Eastern borders of Lomar. The goblins have a very different origin point in 'Old Earth' being an abandoned Lemuria weapon system that has continued to generate & function sans their masters.

Much of the origin point for old Earth comes back to the fact that Ubbo-Sathla ("The Unbegotten Source", "The Demiurge") is stirring & churning the dreams of the various factions of Old Earth causing wars & worse. This means that many of the monsters are acting out the dreams of a mad god with little regard for their own actions. It also means that war is coming! A type of war that the Earth has seen in millions of years!

"The Midnight heaven's burning
Through the ethereal deeps afar
Once I watch'd with restless yearning
An alluring aureate star;
Ev'ry eve aloft returning
Gleaming nigh the Arctic Car.
Mystic waves of beauty blended
With the gorgeous golden rays
Phantasies of bliss descended
In a myrrh'd Elysian haze.
In the lyre-born chords extended
Harmonies of Lydian lays.
And (thought I) lies scenes of pleasure,
Where the free and blessed dwell,
And each moment bears a treasure,
Freighted with the lotos-spell,
And there floats a liquid measure
From the lute of Israfel.
There (I told myself) were shining
Worlds of happiness unknown,
Peace and Innocence entwining
By the Crowned Virtue's throne;
Men of light, their thoughts refining
Purer, fairer, than my own.
Thus I mus'd when o'er the vision
Crept a red delirious change;
Hope dissolving to derision,
Beauty to distortion strange;
Hymnic chords in weird collision,
Spectral sights in endless range....
Crimson burn'd the star of madness
As behind the beams I peer'd;
All was woe that seem'd but gladness
Ere my gaze with Truth was sear'd;
Cacodaemons, mir'd with madness,
Through the fever'd flick'ring leer'd....
Now I know the fiendish fable
Then the golden glitter bore;
Now I shun the spangled sable
That I watch'd and lov'd before;
But the horror, set and stable,
Haunts my soul forevermore!"
Astrophobos  (1917)
by H. P. Lovecraft

Saturday, November 18, 2017

'Smoke & Mirrors of Olathoë' Session Report

In tonight's hybrid game, the party wandered through the streets of Olathoë and made contact with the bard's guild after spending the night in the local temple of Tsathoggua.The monks of the temple were tending & helping to heal the city's soldiers who were having lots of problems with inhuman raiders in  the western wastelands of the land of Lomar. The temple is serving as a hospital for the soldiers in the city who were wounded in the raids the week before.

Olathoë is a war wracked city surrounded by enemies who want to take  the plateau of Sarkis. The city's black powder musketeers are stretched thin by the inhuman forces on all sides forcing the city to bring in human Viking mercenaries. The situation is holding for now but for how long & what secrets do the wastelands outside the city hold? Once the sites for countless battles with the human forces that once occupied the place, its now a hotly contested zone for the city's defenders with death of mercenary troops being both common & expected but the Hyperboreans pay well and offer fishing rights as well as subsidized crops of fungus, wheat, and other high end sundries.

There are the ruins and underground vaults of a great many ancient temples that were destroyed during the various invasions & battles of the past now occupied by all manner of monsters including  the hairy, long-armed, cannibal Gnophkehs & far worse. So naturally the PC's are headed out into the wastelands to find out if the city outpost has been compromised.

There are rumors that the PC's heard in tonight's game of gargoyles, ghouls, and worse stalking the battlefields feeding on the souls & flesh of the dead. Tunnels have been found by certain rangers leading deep into the Earth with the sign of  Mordiggian painted in blood & mud above certain tunnels that were sealed off with the sign of Koth. Representative priests from the temple of Nodens have come to see if they need to send an inquisitor party in but things are strained. So the PC's have been contacted to help investigate the situation and see if the raiders and co are in league with the ghouls. Or worse a necromancer has been stirring the supernatural pot of events.

The assassins guild has been active as of late spying on the movements of certain foreign trading houses for the king of Lomar within 
Olathoë. Are there monstrous forces within the city & how can the party cope with an overwhelming enemy such as a werewolf or worse. They need more support & perhaps more hands to help them combat these dark forces which need aligned against them. Is a necromancer, vampire, or worse on their trail as the temple seer indicated from last week's game? Only time will tell as they make their way to western wastelands to find out if the city outpost has been taken over by the dark raiders forces. Maybe they will stumble on a dungeon or two?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Appendix 'N' Commentary - The Eternal Battles of The Worm Ouroboros By E. R. Eddison For Your Old School Campaigns

Life works in strange & mysterious ways, last night I had wicked migraines, these are something that I've had since I was a kid. I know what causes them & their nothing to be concerned about but my work schedule has been a bit scattered & hectic to say the least. But in my travels up at the wilds of the wild & wholly Litchfield hills of my home I came across not one but two treasures beyond compare. Two flag ship books in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series  The Worm Ouroboros, E. R. Eddison (April 1967) & The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, H. P. Lovecraft (May 1970) (#01923-7) both in prime to good condition.
So why was/is this book imprint important? Because once upon a time there wasn't an internet & these books were the only way of getting anything right & proper in the Appendix N of the Dungeon Master's Guide from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Here's the back history on the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series imprint from Wiki;"The Ballantine Adult Fantasy series was an imprint of American publisher Ballantine Books. Launched in 1969 (presumably in response to the growing popularity of Tolkien's works[1]), the series reissued a number of works of fantasy literature which were out of print or dispersed in back issues of pulp magazines (or otherwise not easily available in the United States), in cheap paperback form—including works by authors such as James Branch Cabell, Lord Dunsany, Ernest Bramah, Hope Mirrlees, and William Morris.[2] The series lasted until 1974.
Envisioned by the husband-and-wife team of Ian and Betty Ballantine, and edited by Lin Carter, it featured cover art by illustrators such as Gervasio Gallardo, Robert LoGrippo, David McCall Johnston, and Bob Pepper. The agreement signed between the Ballantines and Carter on November 22, 1968 launched the project. In addition to the reprints comprising the bulk of the series, some new fantasy works were published as well as a number of original collections and anthologies put together by Carter, and Imaginary Worlds, his general history of the modern fantasy genre."

Professor J.R.R. Tolkein today gets all of the press but for me Eric Rücker Eddison, CB, CMG (24 November 1882 – 18 August 1945) was & is the superior writer. His creation the The Worm Ouroboros  stands head & shoulders above his contemporaries but still has resonance with a modern audience. This novel has all of the intricacies,mythology, warfare  of Game of Thrones with out the bull shit narcissism & weirdness to get in the way. Wiki sums the central plot nicely for me;"The book describes the protracted war between the domineering King Gorice of Witchland and the Lords of Demonland in an imaginary world that appears mainly medieval and partly reminiscent of Norse sagas. The work is slightly related to Eddison's later Zimiamvian Trilogy, and collectively they are sometimes referred to as the Zimiamvian series."
The characters of the are operatic in stature and life, beings molded in the turn of the century style. Heroes & villains of depth & status totally indifferent to the struggles of the common men & women around them. People die by the score but so do the heroes.
This doesn't make them any less likable but of a mythic status for the action of the novel doesn't take place on our world but a secondary world referred to as Mercury. These are characters  in the older almost medieval  & mythic mode but they're essentially humans of a completely different cut. Even though we have both the lords & ladies of both Witchland & Demonland they're human beings but drawn from the expansive imagination of
E. R. Eddison. They still die in battle & war.
In fact the world of the The Worm Ouroboros can be considered the inversion of everything that Tolkien does in his fiction. The book was written thirty two years before 'Lord of the Rings' The heroes are made great by the deeds of their continuing war with Witchland. Demonland's warriors adhere to the old Norse war code of glory & loyalty in battle. This doesn't make the sentiments as such. But it does offer the DM plenty of opportunities for exploiting the circumstances for their own campaigns.
So what does The Worm Ouroboros have to do with an old school campaign? Especially my Old Earth style game which draws heavily from the Clark Ashton Smith style school of dark fantasy. At first the high fantasy of the novel clashes with the dark fantasy of Clark Ashton Smith & Lovecraft circle of writers. This brings me to my second find today, 'The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath' by HP Lovecraft. Now I mentioned the larger then life characters, mythology, etc. of  The Worm Ouroboros. What if the events of the Zimiamvian series are taking place in another dreamlands? What if these races of Demonland & Witchland are actually a variant of the Hyperboreans that have somehow slipped past the Boreas winds into the dream lands of Mercury? We know that Zothique has its roots in the far future of Earth in the times to come. But what if the events of
The Worm Ouroboros happened in the distant past & only the PC's can save the world. But is this a world that wants to be saved?Are the answers someplace deep within the Dreamlands of HP Lovecraft or
The Gods of Pegāna's dream worlds?
The Hyperboreans have the same distain for humanity that the characters  of the world of Mercury show for the humans around them. I think that there's more then a passing connection.

I've used the places, ruins, battles of 
The Worm Ouroboros to create a number of dungeons & other adventure locations in the past for B/X Dungeons & Dragons & perhaps its high time I begin to do this again. The larger then life high fantasy fits the operatic Jack Kirby style of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second especially after the glory & heroics has faded to wrack & ruin.
Past the winds the distant sounds of battle can be heard as the clash of swords & warfare winds its way across strange vistas as the forces of Demonland & Witchland forever clash together as it will be forever more.

If  Your Interested In Downloading & Reading "
The Worm Ouroboros"
Its Available For Free Here

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thoughts on Thouls,the Throghrin,& Old School Monster Ecology For Your Campaigns

I've been thumbing through the B/X Dungeons & Dragons rule book today on my lunch break; we've been incredibly busy at work today. Hence the late posting on my blog but whist zipping around the monster section I noticed the Thoul. They've been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.

I love using Thouls because their Sword & Sorcery weird feel I began to want to use them for my next up coming Adventurer,Conqueror, King, & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition hybrid adventure. They weren't listed under their usual monster label in either rule book so I went back to Goblinoid games Labyrinth Lord retro clone rule book which is the basis for ACK & on the web. In Goblinoid Games forums I came across the following;
"LL has something eerily similar in the form of the Throghrin, which you'll find on page 98 of the core rules" I looked in the ACK's core book & sure enough there's the Throghrin in all its glory.

But there was something else about the Thoul & its ACK's Throghrin counterpart I noticed today. These monsters are artificially created, a mix of troll, hobgoblin, & ghoul plus their not undead. These are an elite & specialized monster to say the least. But whose creating these hobgoblin hybrid horrors? Its gotta be a wizard or some NPC class far more specialized in the creation of hybrid or chimera species of monsters.

This sort of a chimera monster makes me think of the wizards of both Jack Vance & Clark Ashton Smith. CAS's  all powerful sorcerer Maal Dweb is exactly the sort of wizard who could & would have created  the Throghrin species most likely from Atlantean Pict survivors mixed with a generous helping of troll virus & ghoul DNA. There's probably a demonic pact in the mix someplace but these things breed true with hobgoblins. I started thinking again about the post apocalyptic fantasy wastelands of B/X Dungeons & Dragons when we mixed B/X Dungeons & Dragons with a generous helping of Gamma World back in middle school. Over the last couple of years I've thrown in the Fiend Folio into the mix of Gamma World to pad out some of the edges of the adventure map.

So I'm thinking about many of the humanoid species in the Fiend Folio as being possible chimera or slave race prototypes of humanoids on many of the worlds of the solar system. I can see the Elder Things from HP Lovecraft's 'At The Mountains of Madness' creating five pointed artificial  bio-environments or deep space bio ships with a wide variety of these species on board. Possibly these ships might be guarded by shoggoths or worse.

Elder Thing artwork created by Віщун -

So what does this mean? Perhaps the Elder Things who were masters of biology, magick, and bio technologies far beyond our own created hobgoblins from a mix of an unknown demonic humanoid species plus, Atlantean or Lemurian survivors after the shoggoth rebellion.
This was a disposable race of humanoid servants & perhaps food species with a finite life span & a built in willingness to serve.
These shock troops might have been very susceptible to the Elder Thing telepathic commands. A race with a built in passion for violence & military like tribal structure that might have filled the gap in while the Elder Things fled the surface world. Could they have followed their masters into the inner world of the Earth? With slow wars of creatures such as the Yithians, the spawn of Cthulhu, and others the Elder Things are a race that counts in eons not centuries. Hobgoblins would be a fast breeding, pliable, & yet hardy race in some ways ideally suited for their environment. Thouls would be a subspecies created by latter day wizards or others.

Could the hobgoblins then be one of the species that exits the inner Earth World when the Hyperboreans returned to the surface world of Old Earth sometime in the future? They might have become servants or shock troops for the Hyperboreans longing for another powerful race to serve. There is some evidence that Clark Ashton Smith implied such a race might exist within his Zothique cycle. Unfortunately evidence for this conclusion is scant at best. Hobgoblins within my 'Old Earth' campaign definitely have an Elder Thing origin point. For Dungeons & Dragons & its various retroclones there is very little explanation on the origin or even event for many of the various humanoid races. This suit an innovative & creative dungeon master just fine; old school monster books didn't do all of the heavy lifting for you. You & your players created the world, shaped it through play, and harvested the result as another product of your imagination.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

OSR Commentary - Episodic Adventures & Quick Old School Campaign Design

"There is much to worry about in the mutated world of the future, but Baron Jemmas, Warder of Horn, has more on his mind than most. In recent weeks several of the outlying towns of his Barony have been wiped out by a band of mysterious golden marauders."

I've been mediating on Gamma World's Legion of Gold module & wishing that B/X Dungeons & Dragons had followed this adventure's example. Legion of Gold was written in 1981 by Gary Gygax with his son Luke and Paul Reiche III.
"This is the first GAMMA WORLD module to be produced by the Game Wizards at TSR Hobbies, Inc. This module includes the main Legion of Gold adventure, several mini-adventures which lead up to it, background information, suggestions for the referee, a special players' map and numerous referee's maps."
This module does exactly what it says on the post apocalyptic tin. But today we're going to be talking about
the anthology location adventure approach of a Legion of Gold formula campaign set up. 

The sand box anthology approach allows the DM & the players for that matter to determine the tone & direction of their own home campaign. Legion of Gold has been my go to Gamma World module because of its short anthology adventure style. It gives the Dungeon Master just enough with a minimalist approach to the post apocalyptic material to get the DM started.
When we start talking about B/X Dungeons & Dragons these mini sessions allow the dungeon master to take a series of miniature adventures & string them together to form an over arching campaign. This approach has been something I've liked & used as old style television episodes in the past. Isolated adventures that form the back bone of an episodic campaign played quickly and with little fuss.

This brings me to the point here of Holmes Dungeons & Dragons with its dungeon of the skull mountain example in the classic rule book. I mentioned this dungeon to a younger friend of mine whose in his twenties & he had no idea that such a dungeon existed. Each room & location within the skull mountain dungeon could be played like a separate television episode forming an over aching epic campaign.

Let's take this approach to the next logical step with the Legion of Gold model then we could have a series of small wilderness adventure encounters which take the PC's from first through fourth levels. A mix of ruins, a mini dungeon, & perhaps an underwater adventures. Then bring in something like Faster Monkey Games Skull Mountain adventure which is based on the classic dungeon for Labyrinth Lord. Faster Monkey Games Skull Mountain was six dollars but all of their adventures & supplements have been free for a year or so.
Then your cooking up an epic campaign with minimalist fuss & you get to have a convention style game with an episodic set up.

Skull Mountain is a perfect stand alone location based adventure that can stand quietly off in a campaign world. Its ideally suited for a Sword & Sorcery campaign world such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Because of the very nature of 'Skull Mountain' it lends itself to the anthology location adventure approach of a Legion of Gold adventure formula campaign. In point of fact Skull Mountain could be used as both the final goal & big evil of such a campaign.
You as the DM don't have to write an over blown  or aching script for such a campaign, the players will fill in the gaps, corners, colour in all of the blank spots so fast it will make your head spin. In the down time between playing sessions the action & pulp adventure style will have their imaginations working overtime. The products of their imaginations will become your old school campaign quickly & with very little effort on your part but keep a note book handy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

New OSR Monster & Spell - Ashes of Sunset

Who fares to find the sunset ere it fly,
Turning to light and fire the further west,
Shall have the veils of twilight for his guest,
And all the falling of an ashen sky.

On lands he shall not know, the splendor lies—
A pharos on some alienated shore,
In foam and purple lost forevermore,
Where dreams are kindled in remoter eyes.

Ashes of Sunset  (1922)  by Clark Ashton Smith

Down from Saturn these things have come, shapeshifter life forms that bonded with the ashes & leaves of the ghoul plagues that swept the Earth of old. These things roam about carried on the invisible astral winds that blow across the 'Old Earth'. Desperate, dangerous, & weird pieces of living abnatural tissues they blend into the once golden leaves of Fall. The blow like miniature tornadoes tearing apart living beings with with death by a million cuts for touching them does 1d4 points of damage as blood is sucked dry into the desiccated tissues of these horrors.  These things take on a golden color of an Autumn sun set after a feeding but there is something disturbing & off about them in their appearance. Because of the Saturian nature they are shape shifters after a limited fashion. They can take on the appearance of dead native plant life.

Adventurers encountering the Ashes of Sunset for the first time will hear the rushing of wind from no particularly location & a sense of dread followed by the taste of burnt matches on their tongue. By then it far too late, the Ashes of Sun set have set hundreds of spores capable of paralyzing their victims. The victim must save vs wands or be frozen to the spot. Looking like the leaves some alien tree the Ashes of Sunset  open up with millions of cilia containing a dark pustulent acid capable of doing 1d6 points of damage to the tissues  of anyone unfortunate enough to encounter them. These things are an emphatic hive mind & drawn to living beings within a twenty mile.  When they have not fed these things resemble the ashes of a recently burned piece of paper or rag carried on the winds. These things travel from place to place on a combination of very limited telekinesis flight & astral winds. They move in a  deceptively relaxed manner. Attracted by emotions of conflict & violence. Often wars, combat, or violence will attract a colony of Ashes at Sunset. They will wait for any dying or wounded victims to fall to the ground so they can move in silently  then begin to drain blood, life force, & reproduce.  Those that survive an encounter with these things must make a save vs disease or have their  sprout with strange weirdly living unnatural sporelike finger sized growths. Only a bless spell or remove curse can halt the process.

Ashes of Sunset
Frequency: Uncommon 

No appearing: 1d4 
Armor Class: 4 
Move: 12" 
Hit Dice:4
% in Lair:Nil
Treasure Type: See Below
No of Attacks: 4
Damage/Attacks: 1d4, 1d4, 1d4, 1d6
Special Attacks: Paralysis
Special Defenses: Undead immunities
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Average but very alien
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Size: S - M
Psionic Abilities: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Level/XP Value:
II, 65+4 per hit points

These growths being the alien & painful process of leeching life force & soul stuff to form the basis for the next generation of Ashes of Sunset. The victim is paralysized & conscious while the process happens. Gold dust particles are attracted from the air & form the protective shell of the undead alien life form as the corpse of the victim decays at an accelerated rate. There will be three or four pounds of pure gold. Within 1d8 days a new colony collective of 1d4 Ashes of Sunset will burst forth from the corpse. Because of their undead nature these horrors can be turned like a ghast by a priest or cleric.
Those Ashes of Sunset that have recently fed take a person take
on a golden color of an Autumn sun set whisking themselves along on the astral winds to their next victims. There is some evidence that suggests that the Ashes of Sunset may work for one or more gods of Saturn but the evidence is scant at best.

Rumors say that there strange Roman like designed temples of marble & basalt that the Ashes of Sunset protect. The overgrown  grounds scattered with the corpses of hundreds of their victims. Adventurers looking for quick riches only to get caught by the alien monsters. There are those alien or insane spell casters & Druids of Old Earth who summon these things from the depths of the alien wastelands of the new world where they wander. 

Call forth Ashes of Sun Set
Level: Druid 4, wizard 5, witch 4, shaman 4 Range 20 feet, Duration: 6 turns (1 hour)

The caster cuts themselves with a specially prepared dagger of Narn wood & blood Quartz. The droplets of blood become charged with the power of the magick & the strange looping astral winds that blow between dimensions carry the power of the spell across the land. The Ashes of Sunset appear within 1d4 rounds drawn by the essence & blood. They will emphatically contact the caster & if in a favorable mood they may serve the fool on some simple errant. There is a 30 % chance they are hungry & may turn on the caster if a suitable victim isn't available. The Ashes of Sunset are fickle & dangerous at best, unless the caster has a very well written poem ready for being recited once they have appeared  these monsters may take the victim & turn on the caster anyway.
Casters call the Ashes of Sunset to create their strange gold as a sacrifice for demons & other alien entities for summoning. The Ashes often can create 1d10 pounds of gold for such endeavors from one victim within an hour under the influence of the spell.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Character Workshop & Loose On The Streets Of Olathoe Session Report

So last night I got together with friends to have a character workshop using Adventurer,Conqueror, King & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. Character workshops enable me to make sure the players are all on the same page with their PC's.

All of the players are extensively experienced Dungeons & Dragons players who have played a number of editions over their time in the hobby of table top gaming. So the ACKS Player's Companion From  Autarch  & the Guns of War supplement wasn't unfamiliar to them. PC's were set up rather quickly & equipment was bought. The PC's were off to the lands of Lomar amid the dire & dark streets of many-templed Olathoe.

Methought the world was bound with final frost:
The sun, made hueless as with fear and awe,
Illumined still the lands it could not thaw.
Then on my road, with instant evening crost,
Death stood, and in its dusky veils enwound,
Mine eyes forgot the light, until I came
Where poured the inseparate, unshadowed flame
Of phantom suns in self-irradiance drowned.

Death lay revealed in all its haggardness:
Immitigable wastes horizonless;
Profundities that held nor bar nor veil;
All hues wherewith the suns and worlds were dyed
In light invariable nullified;
All darkness rendered shelterless and pale.
White Death  (1912)  by Clark Ashton Smith

Many-templed Olathoe has returned along with the long mystery shrouded glens of the lands of  Lomar under the bloated sun of a far future world of 'Old Earth. The planet has moved on but the stars are not quite right for the Old Ones return. Mankind's city states  has uneasy truce with the Hyperboreans & subterranean empire of the realm of K'n-yan. For they ruled the Earth for a while but human kind proves to be far more resilient to these peoples then they thought. Mankind's works have been cast down but old ways of technology & super science persist in the human city states. Barbarianism is the rule & the sway of the sword along with magick sways the day.

Many-templed Olathoe is a city of 30,000 Hyperboreans at the height of their magical & occult technological progress. Mankind reached for the stars & fumbled whist he has the solar system along with some far flung colonies these are tedious holds at best. The coming of Hyperborea in the night sky & Saturn visible at night looming above the Earth has caused much destruction.

'Old Earth' is on the mend but there is a growing feeling that other more dangerous alien gods are returning as well. The land of Lomar is an agricultural & sea based society with human Viking second class citizens making up 20,000 mercenary troops, fishermen, tradesmen, & more. Olathoe uses fungal based food stuffs, geothermal power, & other high technological tactics to feed its citizens. In the shadow of  the mountains  Noton & Kadiphonek many temples dedicated to Tsathoggua, Nodens, & a host of other gods stand among the marbled streets.
""Lomar was home to the city of Olathoë, described in the story "Polaris"by HP Lovecraft:
Still and somnolent did it lie, on a strange plateau in a hollow between strange peaks. Of ghastly marble were its walls and its towers, its columns, domes, and pavements. In the marble streets were marble pillars, the upper parts of which were carven into the images of grave bearded men.[9]
Later in the story the plateau is identified as Sarkis, and the mountains as Noton and Kadiphonek."

This is a world where the atomic rocket jockeys of the human city states bring cargo & much needed medicines from the human colonies. But also take the rare & exotic 'Old Earth' wares to the Outer Worlds, these delicate relationships are in peril with the awakening of the powers of far older & alien things then the Earth governments can imagine.

But right now
Olathoë is greater danger from the tribes of inhuman raiders perched right outside their doors. The city has survived a raiding attack of incredible destruction as the PC's have just arrived.
The PC's are given a mission to carry a letter in code to the city watch by a mysterious set of travelers. A strange barbarian warrior accompanied them & seemed to guard the adventurers on this strange quest.
They were suddenly attacked by three gargoyles of leer continence & horrid violence. They managed to lay arrows into the monsters & destroy them but their barbarian chaperone was laid low by horrid wounds. The party's bard managed to heal the poor bastard & gained a reward in gold.

What happens next?! Tune in next week folks!