Sunday, December 8, 2013

Free Swords and Sorcery Fiction ~ Robert Howard's Bran Mak Morn Cycle - The Worms of The Earth and More For Your OSR Campaign

Get It Right
Firast appearing in Weird Tales number Weird Tales November 1932. Worms of the Earth and all of the Howard's Degenerate Snakemen stories are favorites of mine.
 The plot according to Wiki:
Bran Mak Morn, King of the Picts, vows revenge on the Roman governor Titus Sulla after witnessing the crucifixion of a fellow Pict. He seeks forbidden aid from the Worms of the Earth, a race of creatures who Bran Mak Morn's pictish ancestors had banished from the earth. They were once men but millennia of living underground caused them to become monstrous and semi-reptilian. He secures their help after stealing a religious item of theirs from a barrow, trading it back in return for them delivering Sulla to him for a battle to the death. However, Sulla's mind is broken from his contact with the horrific Worms of the Earth and Bran Mak Morn slays him in mercy rather than vengeance, realising that some weapons are too foul to use, even against Rome.
 The story has many connections with HP Lovecraft's Cthlhu Mythos including mention or R'ylh, Dagon, and more but the real stars of the story are the so called worms of the Earth which appeared in another story by Howard called the Children of the Night. Here's a description according to Children from Wiki 
As Aryara, O'Donel describes the Children of the Night as:
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.
 You can find that story right over HERE

 The cycle concludes with the People of The Dark once again steeped in the Cthlhu mythos and dealing with the degenerate remains of serpent men and a former race of humanity now hybrid snake things. The tale can be found right HERE
Using The Worms of the Earth In Your OSR

 Time and again I've used these tales and many times the Worms in sword and sorcery style adventures and to augment the various incarnations of serpent men when PC's face them.  In sword and sorcery adventures the worms often times take the place of fairy and many times PC's have been surprised and horrified to find out exactly what they are facing.
 Many of these tales have direct connections to Arthur Machen's Shinning Pyramid and the land of Ixaxar. Many times when PC's face serpent men and the various incarnations of these monsters especially in a game like AS&SH a bit more muscle is needed. The Worms often come in handy. There are often mind bending varieties of these horrors some conforming to the stats for lizard men, others Naga, and still others much worse. This allows the DM to customize his enemies to the strengths of the PC's. Be sure to sprinkle in many references to known Cthlhu personagas and artifacts. 


  1. excellent stuff indeeed.

    there are loads of other REH work on

    to enjoy!

  2. Glad you r enjoying my Robert Howard romp Tim. He's possibly one of my favorites but the serpent men connection with Machen is pretty deep and I'll be covering that tomorrow.
    Thanks for the comment Tim!

  3. Damain Breen -
    Thanks for the Robert Howard links. I've got more of his stuff coming up tomorrow! Thanks for the comment and the links!