Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Free Sword and Sorcery Download ~ The Solomon Kane Stories By Robert Howard

Available right over 
 Why not begin 2014 right with the two fisted tales of Robert E. Howard's Puritan Adventurer Solomon Kane!
Who is Soloman Kane?
He's one of Robert Howard's greatest creations ever to step foot off of the page and into the imaginations of a million readers or more since his introduction!
Solomon Kane is a fictional character created by the pulp-era writer Robert E. Howard. A late 16th/early 17th century Puritan, Solomon Kane is a somber-looking man who wanders the world with no apparent goal other than to vanquish evil in all its forms. His adventures, published mostly in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, often take him from Europe to the jungles of Africa and back.
Howard described him as a sombre and gloomy man of pale face and cold eyes, all of it shadowed by a slouch hat. He is dressed entirely in black and his weaponry usually consists of a rapier, a dirk, and a brace of flintlock pistols. During one of his latter adventures his friend N'Longa, an African shaman, gave him a juju staff that served as a protection against evil, but could easily be wielded as an effective weapon. It is revealed in another story, "The Footfalls Within", that this is the mythical Staff of Solomon, a talisman older than the Earth and unimaginably powerful, much more so than even N'Longa knew. In the same adventure with N'Longa, Kane is seen using a musket as well.
Kane's tales remain a favorite and he has his own role playing game but when I read of him in Appendix 'N' in the Advanced Dungeon's And Dragon's Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary Gygax ever so long ago. Kane was a stranger to me but after I read about his tales. Kane has remained a favorite and influence down through the ages. Here and there we see echoes of other Robert Howard creations surviving down through the ages into Kane's time and his journeys  into Darkest Africa.
 Kane's tales remain perfect fodder for a pistol and long gun style OD&D campaign which I've run many times. The facts are that Kane's adventures share as much in common with with many other Howard creations. I think part of the enduring charm of Solomon Kane is that he exists within the frame work history so to speak. He's not super human at all and indeed is an all too human hero even one that is wandering from one sunset to sun rise across the face of the Earth.
 Solomon Kane has it all from sword play, darkest magic, two different strains of vampires, incredible amounts of horror, ghosts, bits of Lovecraftian horror scattered throughout and lots of long gun actions as well the master hand of Robert Howard. They remain as they have always been old favorites of mine.
Happy New Years my friends and happy gaming in 2014 

Trademark on name Solomon Kane and the names of Robert E. Howard's other principal characters are claimed by Paradox Entertainment of Stockholm, Sweden, through its US subsidiary Paradox Entertainment Inc. Paradox also claims copyrights on the stories written by other authors under license from Solomon Kane Inc. Since Robert E. Howard published his Solomon Kane stories at a time when the date of publication was the marker, the owners had to use the copyright symbol, and they had to renew after a certain time to maintain copyright, the exact status of all of Howard's Solomon Kane works are in question.[7][8]
The Australian site of Project Gutenberg has many Robert E. Howard stories, including several Solomon Kane stories.[9] This indicates that, in their opinion, the stories are free from copyright and may be used by anyone, at least under Australian law.
Subsequent stories written by other authors are subject to the copyright laws of the relevant time.

 Since Robert E. Howard published his Solomon Kane stories at a time when the date of publication was the marker, the owners had to use the copyright symbol, and they had to renew after a certain time to maintain copyright, the exact status of all of Howard's Solomon Kane works are in question

Monday, December 30, 2013

Five More Cult Classic 80's Sword and Sorcery Movies for Your Old School Campaigns

Back again I see to brave the rows of VHS nasties I see in search of more inspirational treasures to bend your sanity and warp your imaginations! Here are five off the top of my head that have done the mind into flights of 80's sword and sorcery movie madness!
Sword of the Valiant 1984 

Yor Hunter From The Future 1984

Ator II 1984 

He Man and The Masters of the Universe

Steel Dawn 1987 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Review and Commentary on 'Sinbad and The Eye Of The Tiger' For Your Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Campaign

In 1977, I saw this film at a Drive in someplace in upstate New York State when I was a kid. The film stuck with me. This and the Golden Voyage Of Sinbad were films that really made an impression. 

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger is a 1977 British fantasy film, the third and final Sinbadfilm that Ray Harryhausen made for Columbia Pictures after The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. The film stars Patrick WayneTaryn Power, Margaret Whiting, Jane Seymour, and Patrick Troughton. It was directed by Sam Wanamaker.

 This is perhaps one among the many iconic Sinbad movies with effects by Ray Harryhausen that always seems to just stand out and for sword and sorcery fans its a feast. So many great monsters, plot elements, and weirdness going . Let's not mention Zenobia who is one hell of a villainess  in her own right.

File:Sinbad tiger 1977.jpg

The Plot once again according to Wiki: 
Sinbad (Patrick Wayne), sailor and Prince of Baghdad, moors at Charak, intent on seeking permission from Prince Kassim to marry Kassim's sister, Princess Farah (Jane Seymour). He quickly gets used to the city and its people, but finds it under curfew. When he shelters in a nearby tent, he is attacked by a trio of ghouls, emerging from a fire. Fighting and disposing of the ghouls, Sinbad is yet unaware that a spell has been placed on Kassim by their evil stepmother, Zenobia (Margaret Whiting), which turns him into ababoon (one of Harryhausen's stop-motion creations) just as he was going to be crownedcaliph (Zenobia wishes her son Rafi to be caliph).
Making direct contact with Zenobia herself, Sinbad does not yet know about the curse on Kassim and does not see her as evil at first. But when Farah shows much anger and hatred to Zenobia, and talks about a curse she believes was put on Kassim by Zenobia, Sinbad believes Farah and the two start thinking about what to do. Sinbad sets off with her to find an old Greek alchemist named Melanthius (Patrick Troughton), Hermit of Casgar, who is said to hold the knowledge to help if anyone can. However if Kassim is not crowned within seven moons he will forever lose his right to be Caliph.
They sail aboard their ship, heading in the direction of Casgar, to find Melanthius. It is also at this point that the baboon that is actually Kasim is revealed. During the voyage Farah calms the baboon that is Kassim down (even playing chess with him!) and lets Sinbad get to know him; most of the men on board believe Kassim is a real baboon. Farah tries to keep anyone out of his room so that he will always stay calm. Zenobia and Rafi (Kurt Christian), are at Zenobia's castle, making plans to pursue Sinbad and Farah on their way to Casgar.

Arriving at Casgar, Sinbad and Farah scour the land and eventually find Melanthius and his daughter Dione (Taryn Power), who agree to help them with their quest. Melanthius tells Sinbad that they must travel to the land of Hyperborea where the ancient civilization of the Arimaspi once existed. Meanwhile, Zenobia and Rafi are animating a bronze golem named Minaton (resembling a Minotaur, but made of bronze). With Minaton to power their boat, Zenobia and Rafi set off after Sinbad, Farah, Melanthius and Dione. On the way, Melanthius and Dione get to know the baboon that is Kassim. Melanthius also explains to Sinbad about how to restore Kassim to his human form and what will be needed to do so. Zenobia is meanwhile busy figuring out how to stop or delay Sinbad from reaching Hyperborea. Also three spies from Charak try to stop Zenobia and Rafi but are run over by Zenobia's much bigger boat. One of the men survives but Minaton kills him with a spear.
Along their journey, Zenobia transforms herself into a seagull to spy on Sinbad and his men. She flies to their ship and once aboard, she turns back into a human and shrinks herself, but is found and captured. However, she manages to escape when a wasp grows to the size of a bird and attacks Melanthius (Sinbad later kills it with a knife). Back at Zenobia's ship, Zenobia restores herself to full size but is left with a deformed seagull foot. The long, tiring voyage continues, but eventually they reach the North Polar wastes. Sinbad and his men decide to trek across the ice but are attacked by a giant walrus which destroys most of their food supply and kills two of the men, but eventually Sinbad and the others fend it off with spears. Zenobia gets to Hyperborea a safer way by entering an ice tunnel which leads directly to the pyramid. Sinbad and his crew finally reach Hyperborea. There they meet a troglodyte (a 12-foot (3.7 m) tall creature somewhat like a fur-covered caveman with a single horn coming out of the top of its head), though it is not dangerous to them. This primitive humanoid-like creature Trog, shows Sinbad the way to the center of Hyperborea through a huge face-shaped stone gate. After a long and tiring trek to the pyramid they get through and once inside see a strange light. Meanwhile, Zenobia has already arrived and gets into the shrine by removing a huge block with Minaton's help. However, Minaton is destroyed in the process. Inside the shrine Zenobia and Rafi wait for Sinbad's crew. Outside Sinbad and the others see the dead Minaton and, knowing that Zenobia is already there, become very cautious in entering. They finally arrive at the shrine and while exploring it, they find the light source which will restore Kassim. Sure enough, Zenobia is waiting and Prince Rafi attacks baboon Kassim. Fortunately Kassim wins the following fight and Rafi is killed. After that, Kassim is hosted into the light source (magic of Hyperborea), and is restored. As a last resort, Zenobia transfers her spirit into a sabre-toothed cat which had been frozen. Breaking free of its icy prison, the tiger attacks Sinbad and his men, and fights and kills the troglodyte. Two of Sinbad's men are also killed as they try to save Trog. Sinbad orders Kassim and the others back to the ship while he fights the tiger himself. The tiger then makes the mistake of following Sinbad up the stairs and after a tense battle, Sinbad kills the tiger with a spear. Sinbad is reunited with Kassim, Farah, Melanthius and Dione, and they all return to Charak to rejoice as Kassim is crowned Caliph. As Kassim walks through the crowd, people bowing to him, Sinbad and Farah share a kiss on the lips. You then cut to black, and before the movie ends, the eyes of Zenobia revealed themselves within the black screen, followed with an evil laugh.
 The Legacy Of Hyperborea  And Zenobia 

File:Mercator Septentrionalium Terrarum descriptio.jpg

So the credits roll, the movie is over, and everyone lives happily ever after. Actually the lands of Hyperborea still exist and the evil of Zenobia is still out there in the world. Now even worse because she's gotten access to Hyperborean technology, alchemy, and occult knowledge.
A very dangerous combination indeed!
According to wiki: 
Their land, called Hyperborea or Hyperboria – "beyond the Boreas" – was perfect, with the sun shining twenty-four hours a day.
Never the Muse is absent
from their ways: lyres clash and flutes cry
and everywhere maiden choruses whirling.
Neither disease nor bitter old age is mixed
in their sacred blood; far from labor and battle they live.
PindarTenth Pythian Ode; translated by Richmond Lattimore.
Reaching such exotic lands is never easy; Pindar cautioned:
neither by ship nor on foot would you find
the marvellous road to the assembly of the Hyperboreans.
Much of the following is available from the wiki entry on Hyperborea right over HERE
According to Wiki : 

  • The 1977 film Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger wove a number of related references into the plot. Hyperborea was the name given to an island far in the North Sea, described in the film by the witch Zenobia as being "past the Celtic Isles". The island had been home to the Arimaspi and contained a pyramid structure called The Shrine of the Four Elements, located in a temperate valley hidden amongest the ice of the Arctic Circle.
About 90% of the elements of Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger are available in the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg. Could the lands of the Arimaspi be a survival of 'Old Earth' ? A place whose people fell victim to the 'Green Death' brought through the old gate systems?  
 The ancient Arimaspi peoples might have tried to use the Shrine of the Four Elements as both central control for their magical energies and as a possible cure for the 'Green Death' only to be wiped out in the last possible moments. Thus leaving all of their knowledge, treasures, and artifacts behind. Could the old gate system still be functioning upon Hyperborea? Is it simply waiting for PC's to cross over? 
What of the evil of the witch Zenobia and her power base? Surely such a witch is not going to remain idle for long. Death is not an obstacle to one such as her. Could she even now be recruiting a cult and gathering followers to spread the madness of the lands of Hyperborea among the world of Sinbad? This might be possible within your campaigns of AS&SH.
Many of the monsters, artifacts, and spells featured in the movie are available in AS&SH as a homage to the worlds and wonders that Ray Harryhausen brought to the screen. 
The monsters of the lands of the Arimaspi are most likely from the Ice Age and possibly the age of mammals. There might be a few isolated dinosaurs here and there as well. There might well be a few mythic beasts as well as Yeti, trogs, and Carnivorous Apes.
The possiblies for Lovecraftian races might also be high. They may have moved in after the 'Green Death' took effect. 
In the end the lands of  Hyperborea are ripe with possibilities for further adventures in AS&SH or any Sword and Sorcery campaign.

Note that this blog entry is for education and entertainment use only and in way or form is out to violate the trade marks or copyrights of  Sinbad and The Eye of The Tiger or Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea.
The owners of this blog would like to thank the owners of both the movie and AS&SH for the use of their properties in this article.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Another Free Download - The Seed from the Sepulchre by Clark Ashton Smith For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaign

Clark Ashton Smith 1912.jpg
Read it Right Over 

 Clark Ashton Smith was a master fantasist and writer of tales of the darkest fiction with sardonic wit that has yet to be equaled.
It was said ," Smith was one of "the big three of Weird Tales, along with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft",[1] where some readers objected to his morbidness and violation of pulp traditions. It has been said of him that "nobody since Poe has so loved a well-rotted corpse."You can read more about him right over HERE
 Smith is well known to DM's and  players of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons because many of his works appeared in the so called Appendix N in Advanced Dungeons and Dragon's Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary Gygax.
 Wiki has this to say about his most famous works : 
Most of Smith's weird fiction falls into four series set variously in HyperboreaPoseidonisAveroigne and Zothique. Hyperborea, which is a lost continent of the Miocene period, and Poseidonis, which is a remnant of Atlantis, are much the same, with a magical culture characterized by bizarreness, cruelty, death and postmortem horrors. Averoigne is Smith's version of pre-modern France, comparable toJames Branch Cabell's Poictesme. Zothique exists millions of years in the future. It is "the last continent of earth, when the sun is dim and tarnished". These tales have been compared to the Dying Earth sequence of Jack Vance.
Today I want to speak of a tale of a particular flower. A very rare and somewhat dangerous orchid or possibly a parasitic flower of a genius never found outside of the Venezuelan jungles.
I've used this flower many times in my outdoor encounters and various sword and sorcery adventures. 

Each and every time a party member was infected by this dangerous bloom.  Read the short tale that appeared in the 1933 issue of Weird Tales and you'll understand why. I believe that what we're seeing in this tale is a survivor from before the cataclysm that reshaped the world.
This guardian of the ancient past lives on in the deepest jungles and blooms only to reproduce in its rather unique way.
 I'm not writing stats up because many of the retroclone games or classic AD&D source book already have such a plant or score of them. There is only an additional bit of advice. Place such plants on their own and not among the various 'Lotus' families that also seem to also be quite common now a days in the various retroclones.
These flowers are unique and quite deadly. They should be passive guardians for only the most rare treasures within your Sword and Sorcery campaigns. 
 I hope you enjoy the 'The Seed from the Sepulchre' by Clark Aston Smith. The Dark Corner Blog would like to thank the Eldritch dark website for making this master storyteller's work available to the general public.  

Free Sword & Sorcery Classic Download - Robert Howard's King Kull Stories

Download For Free Right

Conan always seems to get more attention then Kull in my humble opinion but Kull has a charm all his own in the annals of Sword and Sorcery. There is lots to use including the best depictions of the serpent men outside of their mention in Lovecraft. Then there is the entire depiction of Kull's Atlantis and all of its environs.
According to wiki : 

Featuring Kull, a barbarian precursor to later Howard heroes such as Conan, the tale hit Weird Tales in August 1929 and received fanfare from readers. Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright bought the story for $100, the most Howard had earned for a story at this time, and several more Kull stories followed. However, all but two were rejected, convincing Howard not to continue the series.

The Kull Timeline and the coming of the Barbarians To Atlantis 
While we see many of the echoes of Kull  in Howard's Conan's tales. Kull is a very different creature from the barbarian thief. There are many elements that would later be incorporated in other creations of Howard. Here Howard is at his Atlantian cycle's high and it shows. The evil that Kull face is real, in his face, and absolutely deterimined. 
Kull was born in pre-cataclysmic Atlantis c. 100,000 BC. At the time Atlantis was ruled by barbarian tribes. East of Atlantis lay the ancient continent of Thuria, divided among several civilized kingdoms, including Commoria, Grondar, Kamelia, Thule, and Verulia. Most powerful among these was Valusia. East of Thuria were located the islands of Lemuria, which were the mountaintops of the sunken continent of Mu.
Kull was born into a tribe settled in the Tiger Valley of Atlantis. Both the valley and tribe were destroyed by a flood while Kull was still a toddler, leaving the young Kull to live as aferal child for many years. Kull was captured by the Sea-Mountain tribe and eventually adopted by them. In "Exile of Atlantis", an adolescent Kull grants a woman a quick death so that she would not be burned to death by a mob; for this he is exiled from Atlantis.

Slave, pirate, outlaw and gladiator[edit]

Kull attempted to reach Thuria but was instead captured by the Lemurian Pirates. He spent a couple of years as a galley slave before regaining his freedom during a mutiny.
He tried the life of a pirate between his late adolescence and his early twenties. His fighting skills and courage allowed him to become captain of his own ship, creating a fearsome reputation for himself in the seas surrounding Atlantis and Thuria. Kull lost his ship and crew in a naval battle off the coast of Valusia but once again survived. He settled in Valusia as an outlaw but his criminal career proved to be short-lived as he was soon captured by the Valusians and imprisoned in a dungeon. His captors offered him a choice: execution or service as a gladiator. He chose the latter. After proving to be an effective combatant and gaining fame in the arenas of the capital, a number of fans helped to regain his freedom.

Soldier and king[edit]

Kull did not leave Valusia or return to the life of an outlaw. Instead, he joined the Royal army as a mercenary, pursuing elevation through the ranks. In The Curse of the Golden SkullKull, approaching his thirties, is recruited by King Borna of Valusia in a mission against the ambitious sorcerer Rotath of Lemuria. Kull proves to be an effective assassin.
Borna promoted Kull into the general command of the mercenary forces. Borna himself, however, had gained a reputation for cruelty and despotism. There was discontent with Borna's rule among the nobility leading eventually to civil war. The mercenaries proved more loyal to Kull than any other leader, allowing him to become first the leadership of the revolt and then King. Kull killed Borna and took his throne while he was still in his early thirties. In The Shadow Kingdom, Kull has spent six months upon the Valusian throne and faces the first conspiracy against him.
The series continued with Kull finding that gaining the crown was easier than securing it. He faces several internal and external challenges throughout the series. The conspiring of his courtiers leaves Kull almost constantly threatened with loss of life and throne. The aging King is ever more aware of the Sword of Damocles that he inherited along with the crown.
The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune finds Kull reaching his middle-forties and becoming progressively more introspective. The former barbarian is left lost in contemplations of philosophy. At this point the series ends. His fate is left uncertain.
Why Use Kull's Cycle For Your Old School Campaigns 

Kull isn't as well known today as he was when the 1970's Marvel comic book was out.
There are lots of sword and sorcery elements to borrow for your OSR sword and sorcery games. Kull is intelligent, dangerous, and his fate very uncertain.
The stories also contain some of the best depictions of Picts in the Howard cycle of stories.
 Here the serpent men in all of their evil are dragged into the light of day and we are given their doom in word and deed. A fate they nor their ilk would ever recover from. Then we are given the Pictish people at one of their cycles of civilization's heights. 
We see this according to wiki :

Several characters reoccur throughout the series. The best known is his trusted ally Brule the Spear-slayer, a Pre-cataclysmic Pict. First Councillor Tu is a trusted administrator, but also a constant reminder of the tradition bound laws and customs of Valusia. Ka-Nu, the Pictish Ambassador to Valusia and wise man, is responsible for the friendship between Kull and Brule despite the ancient enmity between Atlanteans and Picts. Kull's mortal enemy is the sorcerer Thulsa Doom.
 Thulsa Doom is one of the best depictions of a 'lich' in old school sword and sorcery around. He's nasty, completely evil, and very, very, dangerous. 

"Thulsa Doom first appeared in the short story "Delcardes' Cat" by Robert E. Howard, which featured the character Kull as the protagonist. Howard submitted the story to Weird Tales in 1928 under the title The Cat and the Skull[1] but it was not accepted. The story did not see print until 1967 in the paperback King Kull published by Lancer Books.[2] Thulsa Doom is described by Howard in "The Cat and the Skull" as being a large and muscular man (As he and Kull are said to be "alike in general height and shape."), but with a face "like a bare white skull, in whose eye sockets flamed livid fire." He is seemingly invulnerable, boasting after being run through by one of Kull's comrades that he feels "only a slight coldness" when being injured and will only "pass to some other sphere when [his] time comes.
In the end Kull is one of the best of Howard's creations and much under used by DM's and gamers in my humble opinion. These are simply some fast thoughts, humble opinions, and ideas use them as you will. 
Happy Gaming 
This blog entry is for entertainment and educational purposes only.  This blog post is not intended as a challenge to copyright or trade mark. 
The name Kull and the names of Robert E. Howard's other principal characters are trademarked by Paradox Entertainment of Stockholm, Sweden, through its US subsidiary Paradox Entertainment Inc. Paradox also holds copyrights on the stories written by other authors under license from Kull Productions Inc.
The Australian site of Project Gutenberg has many Robert E. Howard stories, including several Kull stories.[2] This indicates that, in their opinion, the stories are free from copyright and may be used by anyone, at least under Australian law.
Subsequent stories written by other authors are subject to the copyright laws of the relevant time.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

AFS Magazine #4 For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers Of Hyperborea Rpg Ordered !

Get It Right Over

Alright I bought myself a late Christmas gift and stepped up to order a copy of AFS magazine from folks over at the Halls of  Tizun Thane. I've been doing a ton of reading over at the OD&D forums about the back issues and doing a bit of campaign planning. So I sent in a money order a couple of days back but with Christmas it might take a 'New York Minute'.

What's in the Magazine? AFS Magazine Issue #4 is released!   - and available for purchase. It contains a full color cardstock cover & a color cardstock map and will be sent by parcel mail. Each copy costs $8.75 USA Domestic includes shipping, $10.75 Canada includes shipping, $14.50 International includes shipping.  It includes old school gaming adventures, tables, a short fiction piece and articles with a nod to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Vance, Robert E Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith.
 Here's the contents:

AFS Magazine #4   - Table of Contents

New Monster – The Gurondu by Tim ‘Turgenev’ Hartin

Variant Class – The Burglar by Scott Moberly (written for Holmes Basic)

Artifact -  The Iounic Loop – Reimagining the Ring of Gaxx by Allan T. Grohe Jr. (grodog)

Fiction – A Blizzard in the Sahara by Aleister Crowley (1911)

Table of Items – High Value Treasures by Scott Moberly

Variant Class – The Purloiner by Jeff Talanian & Colin Chapman (written for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea)

Adventure – The Lamia’s Heart, An Adventure By Jeff Talanian (set in Hyperborea
For 2–5 Zero Level Thieves)

Table – One Sentence Plot Hooks for Sandbox Gaming by Various (named) authors

Adventure – Theme for a Jackal (an adventure set in Hyperborea for character levels 2-3) by Scott Moberly

Article- Crawling Without Hexes by Chris Kutalik

Map – The Nooks & Crannies Level by Allan T. Grohe Jr. (grodog)
So here's a look inside from  Jeff Talanian himself over at the OD&D forums

According to him :
Colin Chapman and I have a new thief subclass (the purloiner) and a mini-adventure, "The Lamia's Heart," inAFS #4, one of my favorite zines being published today. The below pictures shows my hand-drawn map of the adventure locale. 

Now I'm a sucker for fanzines. I write for several local ones in the Litchfield Hills here in Ct. So I know the amount of DYI effort that goes into putting one of these things together. I'm really looking forward to getting my copy for both review and to infect my players with the AS&SH bug as well. 
Everything looks really nice and its seems that this mag is a labor of love for the publisher as well as the designer of AS&SH. So grab yourselves a copy and some friends to play a round of Astonishing Swordsmen! 

Free Christmas Download : The HP Lovecraft Collection For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaign

Download It Right Over
I was going to offer one of my favorite Mythos stories for this time of the year for download but instead stumbled upon this wonderful complete collections of HP Lovecraft's writings. I hope everyone has a fantastic and safe holiday and enjoys these tales of insanity and the Cthulhu Mythos.
The Festival is a tale of horror and depravity in the best New England tradition. It appeared in the January 1925 issue of  Weird Tales.
According to wiki it begins thus: 
"It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind." An unnamed narrator is making his first visit to KingsportMassachusetts, an "ancient sea town where my people had dwelt and kept festival in the elder time when festival was forbidden; where also they had commanded their sons to keep festival once every century, that the memory of primal secrets might not be forgotten."
And then bridges into the following: 

with its ancient vanes and steeples, ridgepoles and chimney-pots, wharves and small bridges, willow-trees and graveyards; endless labyrinths of steep, narrow, crooked streets, and dizzy church-crowned central peak that time durst not touch; ceaseless mazes of colonial houses piled and scattered at all angles and levels like a child's disordered blocks; antiquity hovering on grey wings over winter-whitened gables and gambrel roofs; fanlights and small-paned windows one by one gleaming out in the cold dusk....
He locates his relatives' house, which has an overhanging second story, and is greeted by an unspeaking old man with "flabby hands, curiously gloved," and a "bland face" that he comes to suspect is "a fiendishly cunning mask". This mysterious greeter directs him to wait next to a pile of old books that includes a Latin translation of the Necronomicon, wherein he discovers "a thought and a legend too hideous for sanity or consciousness." At the stroke of 11, he is led outside to join a "throng of cowled, cloaked figures that poured silently from every doorway", heading to the "top of a high hill in the centre of the town, where perched a great white church." He follows the silent crowd, "jostled by elbows that seemed preternaturally soft, and pressed by chests and stomachs that seemed abnormally pulpy", into the church.
First aid masks for CPR training.jpg
The procession enters a secret passageway below the crypt, eventually coming to "a vast fungous shore litten by a belching column of sick greenish flame and washed by a wide oily river that flowed from abysses frightful and unsuspected to join the blackest gulfs of immemorial ocean." There they engage in a "Yule-rite, older than man and fated to survive him", while "something amorphously squatted far away from the light, piping noisomely on a flute". The flute-playing summons
a horde of tame, trained, hybrid winged things that no sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly remember. They were not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; but something I cannot and must not recall. They flopped limply along, half with their webbed feet and half with their membranous wings; and as they reached the throng of celebrants the cowled figures seized and mounted them, and rode off one by one along the reaches of that unlighted river, into pits and galleries of panic where poison springs feed frightful and undiscoverable cataracts.
The narrator resists joining this expedition, even when his guide points out the family resemblance on his mask-like face, and shows him a watch with his family's arms that he recognizes as having "been buried with my great-great-great-great-grandfather in 1698." When a sudden effort to control one of the mounts "dislodged the waxen mask from what should have been his head", the narrator throws himself into the river "before the madness of my screams could bring down upon me all the charnel legions these pest-gulfs might

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He awakens in a Kingsport hospital, where he looks out to find a much more modern town, and is told that he was rescued from Kingsport Harbour after footprints revealed he walked off a cliff. Agitated to learn that he is near Kingsport's old churchyard, he is transferred to St. Mary's Hospital in nearby Arkham, where he is allowed to read a copy of theNecronomicon and find the passage that so disturbed him at his ancestral house:
The nethermost caverns...are not for the fathoming of eyes that see; for their marvels are strange and terrific. Cursed the ground where dead thoughts live new and oddly bodied, and evil the mind that is held by no head. Wisely did Ibn Schacabao say, that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth's pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.
Using The Festival For
Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaign
The story was inspired by Lovecraft's first trip to Marblehead, Massachusetts, in December 1922. Lovecraft later called that visit
the most powerful single emotional climax experienced during my nearly forty years of existence. In a flash all the past of New England--all the past of Old England--all the past of Anglo-Saxondom and the Western World--swept over me and identified me with the stupendous totality of all things in such a way as it never did before and never did again. That was the high tide of my life
 The Festival is a great 'Christmas' story to mine for ideas. A party is brought into an ancient city with a decadent and hoary past of horror. The party is lead through a series of weird local rites and then given into some of the final high weirdness perhaps as sacrifices to the gods of the gulf or the local 'Great Old Ones'. Meantime when they escape this parade of terror they awaken to the 'real' campaign location with the usual day light experience.  Did it really happen or were they subject to the past, undead present or a perhaps a time warp of horror?!?
 Remember : " For it is of old rumor that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it."

Merry Christmas and Happy Adventuring!