Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review and Commentary On "&" Magazine's Free OSR Download - Mundane Magica For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

 Grab It Right Over

Most Sword and Sorcery games such as Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea are actually post apocalyptic fantasy games.They take place from when the times when the Oceans drank Atlantis and the sons of so and so wandered the Earth or some such. Magic is usually a dying art or at least half of the knowledge of such places is dead, dying, or simply plain lost.  The fact is that any society capable of creating rods, staves, and other powerful magic items is bound to have other less Earth shattering treasures around. Treasures and artifacts that are not capable of altering the reality of your campaign. This is where this supplement comes into play. And these are incredibly useful for a sword and sorcery campaign.
According to the intro : 
Any magical society capable of creating magical
weapons, armor, potions, rings, rods or staves or
wands, and the wide array of miscellaneous magic
items will also have members of the enchanting
profession who are more interested in the gold from
the nobility or even the silvers and coppers from the
less affluent. Those folks aren't always interested in
combat, they’re more often interested in making
their lives easier. And there are members of the
enchanting community who see the difference
between working for the king or church or a famous
hero and working for nobles, guilders, and
tradesmen and women as preferable towards the
latter. So we present another full table, like the one
in Dragon 73, of these types of items. We also
complete the article from that issue by adding a
table with names and values in XP and GP.

Another thing worth noting is the fact that many of these treasures are made for AD&D first edition but are easily compatible with ninety percent of the retroclones on the market. The DM will have to alter where needed. Many of these items are well thought out but I thought there might have been a bit too much put onto weaponry and armor. But for a S&S campaign that's not always a bad thing.
As the back page says: 

With game master ingenuity and translation,
this adventure is also compatible with the original
Dungeons & Dragons TM, including the Holmes, Moldvay/Cook, Mentzer/BECMI/RC, and
open gaming license versions of these games.
This is a free suppliment and clocks in at around thirty six pages. The book is divided into specific categories and by God some of these are damn useful in any fantasy campaign including a science fantasy one with a bit of work.
None of these items are going to make or break a campaign but they will make your players thing if used by NPC's and there is a feel of a by gone age about the material. The authors are an ingenious bunch and there are a wide variety of items that we see here. None are from any cheestastic movies but there are some that I think could be useful for a tribe of backwater barbarians that might spring a surprise or two on a group of players. If the players are a bit too familiar with the usual AD&D DM's Guide or the AS&SH referee's guide then this is a solid and nice book to pull from with a bit of tweaking under the hood.
 From the book 'Stone cat' is a good example of the sort of lay out for magic items we see.

Stone Cat

This item looks like

a life sized very
lifelike carving of a
cat. If the cat is
sitting on the floor
or a surface (but not
in a container) and
an ordinary small rodent comes within 30' of the
stone cat the cat will turn to flesh and animate. The
stone cat can pounce the entire 30', if no suitable
path exists the cat will close at 5'/round (even if this
means going the other way to get there) until it can
pounce. The cat gets a +10 to all checks needed to
pursue its target. Upon a successful hit the target
will be swallowed whole, the stone cat will regain
1hp and it will return to its original position and
turn back to stone. The cat will likewise return to its
original place if the target gets outside the 30' range
(as measured from its original place.)
Note: If this sculpture, in either form, is placed in a
box with a randomly releasing poison gas dispenser
in the box, two identical versions of this item will be
found when the box is opened. One is a functional
item, while the other one is inert and has no magic,
and therefore will not turn into a living cat unless
further enchantments are placed on it to provide
this ability, though at a -90% chance of the copy
accepting any magic.
There is lots of fluff here but nothing that will stump the DM wanting to convert these magic items to their favorite system. All in all this is a pretty solid book for a free download and with a bit of work these items can really make a game or adventure stick out in the minds of the players.
 So the next time you need an artifact,weird bit of dungeon dressing, or need to pad out the treasure for your group of bad ass sword and sorcery PC's turn to this one.
I give it a three or four out of five!  Grab this one while you can. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

1d30 Damned Treasures of Sharath For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System

1d30 Damned Treasures of Sharath Random Finds Table 
  1. A blue Ixian thought globe that contains the dreams and damned fantasiese of a depraved wizard. The globe is worth 200 gold pieces to the right collector. There is a 10% chance of the thing trying to take possession of its new 'owner'.
  2. A bag of dust from the land of dreams that belongs to a demon of the 12th circle. The dust is the dried tears of the damned and is able to send the owner on a vision quest where he or she may talk with the spirits of the pasted but only the most twisted souls who wait outside time and  space. 
  3. A vial of wine belonging to the Fungus From Yuggoth made from the brains of human geniuses and mad men. The wine gives many twisted insights into the minds of the horrors from beyond space and time. 300 gold pieces and the stuff will eat through ordinary glass and must be served in lead crystal glasses. 
  4. A jar of boreas light that will waver and snake around the flesh of any who handle such things. The stuff is not quite colour and not quite light but something resembling the living flesh of certain gods. It will snake its way into the brains of those using it and cause the most murderous thoughts and dreams. It may also whisper 1d8 random spells into the minds of the owner. Worth 300 gold pieces. 
  5. A jar of dirt that is actually the remains of a long forgotten race of fools who were destroyed by the Old Ones and these are their remains. The stuff must be smoked in fish oil to access their reality. 120 gold pieces 
  6. The preserved head of a Deep One priest in a jar that babbles out esoteric pearls of wisdom and once per new moon may cast a special spell of Cthulhu. Worth 200 gold pieces to the right collector. 
  7. A preserved hand of a dimensional shambler and a strangely wrought key to the dreams of madmen. 100 gold pieces. 
  8. A strangely worked piece of gate work that seems to be made of silver and is actually the preserved nightmares of demons given form. Worth 200 gold pieces and burns the believers of the forgotten gods for 1d4 points of damage. 
  9. A finely wrought piece of a machine that still works with strange blinking lights and display that seems to be counting down for some interstellar configuration. Worth 200 gold pieces and it is being sought by priests of the sunken city of Tib. 
  10. A weirdly wrought thigh bone belonging to a human bard but worked through with strange string like pieces of alien flesh. Worth 200 gold pieces and the spell Charm human has been woven into the reality of the instrument. A +1 instrument for seducing humans and stealing their souls. There are three souls within the thing already. 
  11. A strange black pyramid with forty three demonic pacts sealed within the thing. It throbs with demonic life and strange energies. A demon will answer any call put to the thing within 1d4 hours worth 500 gold to the right wizard. 
  12. A skull  with both eye sockets sealed with precious gems and a strange mechanism within it. The machine works and is calculating when Sarnath will rise from the black sands once again. The thing has  tendril guardian monster that looms near it astrally. The guardian counts as a demon type three but with tendrils for arms. 300 gold pieces 
  13. A strangely wrought prism that shines alien light and shows visions from nearby universes. The thing is 'tuned' to Yuggoth and fungus from there will open a door and kidnap the owner if they can. Worth 100 gold to the right collector. The thing will ripple with strange visions and vistas. 
  14. A stone key that opens portals to Yuggoth, Saturn, and many other worlds but only at night under the light of damned stars. The thing is worth 200 gold to the right person or wizard. The thing is cursed however! 
  15. A piece of star stone iron that a sword maker or wizard will pay handsomely for. It may be worked into a +2 sword that can be used for defense against things from the outer darkness. 300 gold to the right buyer. 
  16. A strangely wrought statue of an alien wizard. This thing is actually his soul and it now has been lost for three thousand years. The undead being that is the statue now seeks it between the stars. He counts as a minor lich but once brought together the thing will leave this plane. The statue is also sought by a mad wizard who wishes to use the thing to command the undead horror. Worth 200 gold pieces and what was that sound behind you. 
  17. A piece of glass that is actually candied dream stuff. This glass is shaped as a human heart and throbs with the life of dreams and nightmares. It may grant special insights into spells having to do with love and lust. The thing grants true sleep to those who use it. 200 gold and the thing leaves strange echoes of far off alien worlds in the mind of the owner who will long to visit such places. 
  18. A brick from the far off city of Ib that is still sticky to the touch and slick with the waters of the place. The thing will summon 1d8 ghosts of Ib to the owner of the piece once per new moon. They may try to harm the owner or help him depending on mood. Worth 100 gold pieces and the thing carries a curse of IB within itself. 
  19. A key of iron belonging to a Keeper of Damned Stars, this key will open any door put it as long as their is a map of the heavens within the dwelling place. The key will want to pass over such an item. The key it is said echoes the visions of these maps to its trapped original owner who plans to escape from one of the buried star spheres of Sarnath. 
  20. The eyes of a witness - This is the persevered right eye of a fool who has seen the dreams of the land of Sarnath for themselves. Wizards value such things as they can be used to find scrolls, treasures, and the preserved madness of the nameless region. Demons are said to pluck the eyes of such fools out and pickle them with their breaths under the torturous red sun. 200 gold pieces to the right wizard. 
  21. A ghost in a cut crystal bottle that once belonged to an Ixian necromancer. The thing will serve as a familiar but the wizard must give the ghost his breath to seal the deal. A pact will be made with the head of the ghost's former tribe and the owner's soul must join the fool for all eternity lost within the damned land of Sarnath. The ghost grants visions of lost Ixian lands, artifacts, and greatness once per month. These are actually to drive the fool mad with weird and strange insights into the insane realms of sorcery and depravity. 
  22. The preserved blood of a demon candied by pickling it within the cold flames of Yuggoth. The stuff aids in the summoning of any demon who will demand a taste of it. 200 gold pieces and it acts as a swift and sure poison otherwise. 
  23. A vase of preserved testicles of madmen and foolsused to placate Lamia and other horrors. Worth 50 gold pieces and the vase is cursed with a minor death spell. 
  24. The preserved brain of an insect from Yuggoth which can be used as a minor mechanism to navigate between the planes of otherwhere. The thing is attached to a strange machine with many alien dials and brass displays. 300 gold pieces to the right buyer but the owner will be targeted by the Fungus from Yuggoth. 
  25. The Side arm of Sarnath - This strangely wrought Ixian weapon has elements of both alien bio mechanical organs and preserved inhuman organs in a compact energy weapon configuration. The weapon has elements of preserved tissue, inhuman cut alien crystals and a set of weird blue green metal plates around the firing chamber of the weapon. With a pull from a finger bone like device the weapon charges its strange energy style contents that produce a sickly sweet smelling beam of energy that does 1d6 to 1d8 points of damage. The thing has a range of forty yards and is found with 1d8 charges built into the thing. Even having this weapon has been known to cause insanity and at the very least exceedingly vivid alien nightmares. 
  26. A crystal fragment of Sarnath this cut alien crystal will act as a Crystal ball but the thing shows alien vistas, weird gods, and ill omens to any wizard gazing into it. The thing can also create a ray of living coloured energy once per week that does 1d4 points of damage to anyone within sixteen feet of it. They will be subject to excessive pain as  the weird living light courses through their nervous system overloading and causing miss fires as horrid visions and nightmares of insanity over take their minds. 
  27. The Eye of The Serpent's Past -This alien eye once belonged to one of the numerous demon serpents that swims in the Outer Darkness between the stars. The eye will create strange visions in the minds of anyone it is shown to stunning them with vistas of insanity as their mind is taken from their bodies. They are shown their true place in the universe and for 1d10 rounds they will be stunned as they're souls are locked in doubt and pain about their place in the overall scheme of things. There is a 10% chance of the target's mind attracting the attention of one of the Serpents of the Outer Darkness who will hunt the target in 1d8 days and devour their souls. 
  28. A mass of 10 pounds of alien coins and the fossilized remains of some strange alien humanoid. The thing is frozen in horror and tortured horror. The coins are of alien gold and are slightly sorcerous. Once per week they will call some nameless alien ghost to their owner. The owner must make a wisdom check to control these other worldly horrors who will want to relate their secrets,tales, and destiny. 100 gold pieces to a necromancer. 
  29. A whistle that will call 1d6 ghouls and their night gaunt mounts. The ghouls will want to know the reason for their summoning and it better be a damn good one or they may tear you limb from limb. 200 gold to a wizard or necromancer. 
  30. A statue of  one of the Lesser Gods of Hyperborea now forgotten by modern societies. The thing will appear if the statue is prayed to and demand to be worshiped . Failure to do so will result in the fool being carried off by nightgaunts and flown to Saturn, then left there as a sacrifice to some alien horror. Pledging allegiance to the god then the worshiper will be changed into a follower of the god. Worth 200 gold to a cult of this god! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some Pieces of Jack Kirby Artwork As Inspiration For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg Systems

I've spent the day looking for inspiration for the Snake Riders by Tim Kask  mini campaign that I'm in the middle of DMing with my players for AS&SH. Today I've been looking into some inspiring artwork from the pen of Jack Kirby. This king of comics never seems to not inspire me at all. So here's a selection of artwork that isn't the usual Marvel Thor stuff by Mr. Kirby.
Here's we've got a wide cross section of Kirby artwork from across the spectrum. These are not meant to challenge or violate any of the copyrights or trade marks of the original copy right holders only to inspire and entertain. 

Check out the Kirby Tech Tumbler For more artwork HERE 

Mr Miracle #5.

Mantis is one of the more compelling enemies created by Jack Kirby for his Fourth World.

From The 2001 A Space Odyssey comic book by Marvel and the amazing talents of Jack Kirby.

Jack kirby captain victory splash panels- (11)

From The Demon by DC, A two page spread by Jack Kirby 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review and Commentary on The Free Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Resource - Masks By Colin Chapmen

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According to the blurb on the AS&SH website : 
  • Masks is a resource created by Colin Chapman. This 4-page PDF document provides a means for players and referees to randomly generate racially specific physical features (hair colour, eye colour) and other distinguishing features.
    This is actually so much more then simply a distinguishing features set of tables. This is a great random NPC table that can be used to generate instant NPC foils for your AS&SH adventurers. Bump into someone in the city or small town and wham your PC's are embroiled in the business of some interesting hi jinks. This is a perfect tool to get the ball rolling with adventure in the offering.
    The fact that the generator is simple and concise is perfect for DM's who like to 'wing' it or even if you want to get in on the details. Does the NPC have a facial scar from the pox and some other odd details that simply adds to the flavor of the encounter. This is the generator for you folks. Simple, easy, and ready to go for any retroclone really. A great free resource to use. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Trek Along The Lizard Coast - Dealing With The Snakeriders of the Aradondo In AS&SH - Actual Play.

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My regular Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of  Hyperborea game has been hiatus for a couple of weeks now due to my having the flu. Last night was the first night I got together with my regular players who are dealing with the heat, humidity, and general jungle nastiness of the Lizard Coast ( refer back to the AS&SH Referee's Guide page 206 for more details on the region). Aradondo is a small island off the coast of this region. It's even more dangerous then parts of the interior but it's really all relative to the natives who live there.
To recap we've been playing through the AS&SH version of Snake Riders From the mighty pen of Tim Kask.
 If your unfamiliar with Snake Riders here's the Drivethrurpg blurb :
 "Hidden a midst a jungle teaming with giant crocodiles, man-eating carnivorous apes, and frogs the size of ponies lies a forgotten temple that harbors the bane of mankind.  The skilled might reach this temple.  The exceptional might actual discover its secrets and prevent a great evil from emerging to plague all the inhabitants of this world. Adventure is calling... will you accept the charges?

Snakeriders of the Aradondo is a classic Old School dungeon from the twisted mind of fantasy legend Tim Kask.  Containing both an overland adventure and a dungeon crawl, this non-system specific adventure is guaranteed to provide multiple sessions of entertainment for 3 or more players of average to skilled experience." 
 I've got a crew of seven players dealing with the heat, and nasty conditions of the Aradondo Island. There are some tribes of Pictish cannibals which worship the Snake Riders as semi divine gods as well to spice things up. PC's have run across several small shrines in the region. Died at the hands of carnivorous apes and giant frogs. Replacement PC's have been escaped adventurers from the cannibals or the Snake Riders.
Thieves and barbarians have been the order of the day with this adventure and players have remarked that this mini campaign has a Conrad's Heart of Darkness vibe going on. Actually one of the sources of the adventure at least for me to add a bit more of a Howard vibe has been the "The Thing On The Roof" You can find that one right over HERE .

Using The  The Snakeriders of the Aradondo

There is a definite question of balance when using Snake Riders with AS&SH. The material is very well balance and easily converted using the AS&SH monsters, treasure, and encounters.  Anyone using this adventure should prep this one out before the session and really reread the encounters. Pepper the adventure with some seriously minor 'treasures' and artifacts from AS&SH as well. I don't mean sun swords and laser cross bows but bits of Atlantian metal, odd coins, and perhaps a few things that can do a parlor trick or two of old school magic.
 In addition add in cannbals as well. Think of the Hovitos from the first  Indiana Jones  movie as a template or perhaps the Tcho Tchos might be a bit more along the lines of the AS&SH feel.
The Snake Riders should have a wide array of minor artifacts and perhaps a relic or two from AS&SH. They're vicious and quite nasty.

More To come as the PC's have made contact with a friendly tribe and are moving long the route toward the next encounter! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea- As Source Material For Your Sword And Sorcery Campaign

Way, way, back in the nineties this classic came out and it now one of the classics of anime. This was a joint venture from France and became an afternoon staple on Nickelodeon from 1990.  
This makes a great resource for a sword and sorcery campaign much of the artifact and technology was interesting as well as very original. I hate to say this but I used this material for a OD&D Hallow World campaign.  Much of what follows is from the Wiki entry on the series. 

"Ever since the time of the Great Cataclysm, the Arkadians have lived deep in the center of the Earth. They believed they were the only survivors of this great devastation. Their civilization thrived under the power of their sun, the Tehra...until it began to fail. In desperation, the children of Arkadia broke the law and entered the forbidden Archives, searching for a solution. What they discovered gave them hope. Anxiously, they used their special powers and created a messenger to the people above. They named her Arkana...'

The lost city of Arkadia (named for Arcadia) resembles a small Alderson Disk, and is home to an ancient civilization which escaped a Great Cataclysm by relocating deep within the Earth's crust. Unaware that life continued on the Earth's surface, and hoping to keep their people safe, the elders sealed all records of their past in the city's Archives.
Arkadia survives by the light of an artificial sun, the Tehra (Shagma), which is dying. A group of Arkadian children defy the law and enter the Archives. With information about the world above, they create a messenger, Arkana, and send her above to find help.
Arkana encounters two children from the surface, Matt and his sister Rebecca, and brings them back through the underground strata to save Arkadia. They travel in a living turtle type spaceship called Tehrig, along with Spartakus (a mysterious wanderer) and Bic and Bac (a pair of pangolin-like creatures), Arkadia's mascots.
Arkana: The Arkadian children created her out of stone with the help of the Tehra's rainbow light, as an avatar of the Arkadians. As she was made in the image of the surface dwellers, having legs, unlike the Arkadians themselves. She is a well-meaning but naïve magician, capable of telekinetic feats and projecting illusions. Her mission is to seek help from above in repairing the Tehra. She is referred to by the show's villains as the "supergeophysical gal."
Bic and Bac: Among the oldest living things in Arkadia, these two happy little animals are the best of friends, and enjoy dancing to their song, the "Flashbick." They are a kind of pangolin anteater, but unlike their real-life relatives, they have no scales or claws. They are affectionate, clever and playful, and can make fire by rubbing their noses together.
Matthew "Matt" (Bob) and Rebecca: Brother and sister, these children from above ground join Arkana and Spartakus on their quest to save Arkadia. Matt is the older of the two, and tries to protect his overeager sister, whom he affectionately calls "half-pint."
Spartakus: Formerly a gladiator in the city of Barkar, this young man escaped slavery following a revolt. His gauntlet conceals a magic crossbow and grappling hook, and can cause reactions when in close proximity to Arkadian artifacts. He remembers very little about his past, but often hums the songs his father taught him. His character is based on the historical Spartacus.
Tehrig (ShagShag): The only creature allowed free access to the Archives was Tehrig, an intelligent robotic vehicle vaguely shaped like a giant trilobite a.k.a. a turtle. It secretly helped the children of Arkadia gain entry to the records and serves Arkana and her friends as a transport. Though its computer brain dates back to before the Great Cataclysm and possesses an encyclopedic database, there are large holes in its memory. It also contains a number of tiny robots called Triggies (Shaggies) that it can mobilize to distract enemies or repair itself.

The Pirates of the Seas: Members of the Interstrata Marine Pirate Federation, these "punk pirates" roam the strata seeking helpless voyagers to rob or enslave, and they frequently show up to menace the show's heroes. Their appearance is marked by a recurring theme song and dance performance. Their society is structured in the guise of a democracy controlled through mass media.
  • Nasty Max (Maxagaze pun with "Masque à gaz" (gas mask)) has a large blue mohawk and leads the vicious band.
  • Mighty Matt (Mattymatte), a simple-minded pirate with a small red mohawk, is Max's sidekick.
  • Massmedia is Max's girlfriend and broadcasts station FIPIRATE from her radio craft. Her mohawk is blonde.
  • Sleazeappeal (Seskapil pun with "16K pille (the french for battery)"), a sophisticated pirate with a green mohawk.

Recurring characters[edit]

Brigands of the Fjords: The Pirates of the Seas' rivals throughout the series. The only identified member is their leader, Ringmar, who frequently competes with Nasty Max for leadership of the nested worlds' rogues.
Shagmir and Loria: Are the two of Arkadia's elders. Arkana was presented to them and sent on her quest to the surface world. They tended to not believe the existence of any life on the surface.
The Inquisitors of the Living Crystal: This three-person tribunal of blue-skinned judges is first seen in the second episode of the first season, "Le cristal vivant" ("The Living Crystal"). They try to make Galileo renounce his claims of a world beyond the Living Crystal. They have the group captured and psychologically tested to convince them that they are beings who were caught in the Living Crystal and are suffering "a deformation of time". They are even prepared to re-crystallize Tehrig if Galileo does not renounce his beliefs. They are seen again in the second episode of the second season, "L'échiquier des mondes" ("The Most Dangerous Game").
Arkshag: Spartakus' nemesis and guardian of the Prisoners of the Lost Time.

Minor characters[edit]

Emperor Qin: The ruler of a Chinese-like empire within the strata. He marched out to conquer Arkadia. He was eventually killed amongst his army of clay robot-like warriors.
Galileo: A strata version of the real-world Galileo; he lives in the Living Crystal. When he discovers the group imprisoned in a crystallized Tehrig, he breaks them free. Their existence proves the prohibited theory that there is life outside of the living crystal. After being forced to deny the truth, he was allowed to leave with the group, but at the last moment returned home.
Gog and Magog: two monstrous creatures sharing the same body. They are unintentionally released to rage havoc by Arkana, who is misled by the Phoenix into using her powers. In the end they are both forced back to their own world.
Demosthenes: A famous spokesman, kidnapped by Nasty Max in order to help him learn the art of speaking and thus win election as leader of the Interstrata Pirate Federation. He was banished from his country because he did not have the walls repaired.
The Mogokhs: A nomadic warrior people who oppress and steal from others. They are notable for their invincibility. They never get down from their mounts for fear of being trampled to death.
Méo and Myra: A grandfather and his granddaughter who live in a village pillaged by the Mogokhs. They seek aid from the group, who help them overcome the Mogokhs.
Starkus: A scientist and Star Healer on board a space ship, he investigates and tries to "cure stars". He met with Rebecca and Matt and welcomed them. Upon hearing that they were accompanied by Spartakus and Arkana, he immediately disappears. Later, when the group returns to their own time and place (in the episode "Star Healer"), he contacts them via Tehrig and informs the surprised Arkana and Spartakus that they are his ancestors.
Thot: A strange creature that lives in the ancient ruins of a long-destroyed city. He kidnaps Arkana, but without intending to hurt her. He is shot by Spartakus when he tries to protect Arkana, but is only slightly wounded.
Rainbow: Spartakus's younger brother, he grew up in luxury as the adopted son of the Lanista (trainer of gladiators) of Barkar. Unlike his brother, Rainbow is cruel and nihilistic. After the Lanista was overthrown, Rainbow began to wander the nested worlds.
For a kids show this one had a ton of stuff going on and many of the themes were way, way, ahead of their time. From the creation of artifical life to the struggles of Spartakus. There was a lot going on here. Much of the material is easily adaptable. Arkana bares a striking resemblence to the goddess upon the Hallow World campaign box.

For a sword and sorcery campaign there is a ton to mine from this one. I could spend at least three blog entries on this classic.
 Much of the material and ideas of  the series was layered in such a way as to reveal one minor thing after another to lead the PC's on. The ruins, technology, and setting kept building on itself whist dealing with the struggles of the characters themselves. I was always partial to the fact that the minor artifacts never over shadowed the characters. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review and Commentary On The Free OSR Resource - Black Streams: The Yellow Bone Legion From Sine Nomine Publishing For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea

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This is another in the Red Tide material for Labryth Lord that has been provided for free by Sine Nomine. The material is well thought out and easily adapted for 90% of the retroclones on the market. It has a very distinct and well thought out mythlology and culture all of its own. This material can easily be adapted into a full blown background easily for Astonishing Swordsmen or any sword and sorcery campaigns.
The Drive Thrurpg blurb: 

A people live by the sacrifices of their defenders- even when those gifts are not always freely given. Enter the world of the Red Tide Campaign Setting and Sandbox Toolkit to learn of the Yellow Bone Legion and the terrible price they paid to save their city in the hour of its greatest need.
In this free Labyrinth Lord-compatible supplement you'll find the truth behind the Legion's grim birth and the secrets that Xian's ancestors did so much to bury. You'll find details of the new Walking Ghost character class and ways to bring this revenant warrior to your own table. Plot seeds are provided for whipping up a fast Legion antagonist for your game, and conversion notes are given for trimming the meat of this supplement out of the world of the Red Tide and planting it firmly in your own creation.
Adapting the Bone Legion

The included PC class can easily be adapted into an NPC to bedevil or aid your PC's within Hyperborea quite easily. The secrets of The Yellow Bone Legion are weird and strange enough to engage a group of PC's for at least a couple of months if played with. The material even if its only seven pages provides a DM with quite a few options to play with. All in all its well worth the download in my opinion.
 Grab this one while you can.

Monday, February 17, 2014

1d10 Random Treasures of The Ghul Tribes Table For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea


"Only the real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear—the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness",
"Pickman's Model" H.P. Lovecraft

1d10 Random Treasures of The Ghul Tribes
  1. The artificial copper and bone leg bone of a king. The thing will act as a perfect focus for necrotic magic. The weird negative material planar energies fairly crackle around the thing as a halo of energy. 400 gold pieces for this treasure of the ancients. 
  2. A set of bone pan style pipes made from human and near human finger, thigh, and toe bones. These cunningly made instruments may be used to call down the nameless horrors from beyond the stars. 100 gold pieces. 
  3. A skull sealed with wax and ancient coins from the realm of the damned. This skull sings when exposed to moonlight and will call the tribes of the damned for worship for the cult of Mordiggan. The thing may summon 1d8 zombies once per week. 500 gold pieces to the right collector. 
  4. A jeweled gargoyle's claw that clutches a crystal orb. This piece of greater artifact can be used to open a portal once per week to the realms of Negative material energy once per week. Anything caught within this swirling hellish vortex of energy will be sucked to the otherside and suffer the effects of Negative planar radiation unless a save vs death is made.Otherwise they may contract ghoul plague or a wasting disease. 400 credits but handling this thing is dangerous. 
  5. A hand of a ghul king - This hand clutches an intricate puzzle box with a treasure within. The hand will open any lock it is put next to every new moon and the box moves of its own accord. A bit of blood must be rubbed on the skin. 
  6. A brand new pyramid of brass and iron has come for a tomb of Atlantis. The thing moves of its own accord in the midnight hour of the full moon. It will summon a minor demon of sinister aspect once for every chime of  the hour. The caster must have a battle of wits with these things from Hell. 
  7. A tomb stone from Rlyh that has the names of seventy two kings craved into it. They may be summoned once per week as wights to serve the owner of the stone. They will demand a boon as well from the living and a minor sacrifice. The owner must sup with them as well and share their dread company. 400 gold pieces 
  8. A flute that calls the burning spirits of the damned once per week. It must be played in an ancient cemetery of sinister aspect. The dead will wish to talk about their secrets and lives. The owner may learn of treasure, spells, or worse when the speak. They may not shut up ever. 300 gold pieces 
  9. Finger Of The Elder God, this bone finger bone belongs to an ancient alien god. Once per week the owner will become possessed of the thing and its horrid secrets will be whispered into his brain. The bone may also be used once per week to cast a wall of bone in a forty foot radius around the caster. The spirits of the damned may whisper mind numbing secrets to the fool when this wall is erected. 100 gold pieces
  10. An eye of a star spawn of Cthulhu allows the owner to see with sight beyond and see the true nature of the world around him. Monsters and dread things will be drawn to the eye by the power of that which can eternal lie. The owner once per week may open a doorway to many strange eons. The owner of the eye gains 1d20 extra years upon their lives but may go mad as the spawn who is imprisoned within the Earth squeals and screams its rage against the walls of the mind of the user and reality itself. 500 gold pieces. 
Many of these items are available for sale at the bazaar of Al' Creetref within the Nameless Place near the  City of the Ghul Kings.
The admission to such places is the corpse of damned man and finger of an innocent one. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review On The Free OSR Product - Children of the Aesir From The Andonome Coterie For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System

Grab It Right Over
Right this is exactly the sort of quality product that I'm looking for when wanting to bring you the best AS&SH adventures for review and down load. This is a Viking style system agnostic adventure that can easily be slipped into your current sword and sorcery game or right into the AS&SH world.
The Drive Thru Rpg Blurb: 
Children of the Aesir is a gritty, Norse adventure.  Twelve unhappy prisoners are thrown into an acursed mine and each player receives a number of these characters to play; and they will need all of them.  The characters are weak and the dungeon is brutal.  They will be strangled, burnt, bludgeoned, insulted and confused.  If any reach the end of the dungeon and retreive the blood-stone, they will receive the revelation that they are the child of a god and a mortal - a demi-god, and are fated for great things.  At this point the surviving characters receive great powers and can return home, blasting and hacking at the creatures they previously fled from.
This is a fifty three page brutal romp of Norse goodness that will melt right into the background of your current Norse AS&SH campaign. The maps are nicely drawn and plot brutal and nasty. This adventure makes a nice middle of the road adventure for AS&SH with very little in the way of fiddly bits to get in the way of your PC's excitement. 
The plot has some twists and turns. The adventure operates like something right out of a Frezetta painting come to life with your PC's bloodied and bruised as they navigate this adventure. The ideas here are not original but they are freshly presented into a whole cloth that can easily be adapted to about 90% of the retroclones on the market currently.  All in all this one is well written and interesting. With a bit of work this adventure could be the start of a mini campaign lasting several weeks with experienced players. 
All in all Children of the Aesir has lots of potential for the right group of players and its a nice free product! Don't miss this one! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Review And Commentary On The Free OSR Product - Black Streams: Solo Heroes From Sine Nomine Publishing For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaign

Grab It Right Over

The snows, flu, and winter in general can make OSR play difficult at the best of times and not being able to get together with friends is nasty on a campaign. This product makes that not as unpleasant as it could possibly when your players lose interest, experience goes off, and your players characters are at other ends of the table.  Did I mention that this product is free and also comes with a free adventure as well? 
According to the Drivethrurpg blurb:
Maybe you want to show a friend the fun of classic D&D, but you can't pull a group together on short notice. Maybe you have nights where only one friend can make it, and you're tired of breaking out the card games. Maybe you just want to run a side game for somebody, but don't feel like weighing them down with an entourage of henchmen just so they can survive their first combat. What do you need? You need Solo Heroes, a free Labyrinth Lord-compatible supplement for lone adventuring.
While written for the Red Tide Campaign Setting and Sandbox Toolkit, this supplement is compatible with a wide range of old-school games. Within, you'll find a simple set of rules for running classic adventures with just a single PC. There's no need to alter character sheets or rework modules to make them survivable for whatever class your player has chosen- Solo Heroes gives you a handful of simple rules for turning such solitary exploration from a death wish in the making to a daring tale of risk and potential glory.
In addition to these rules, the mini-adventure of The Yellow Toad God's Well is provided to give you a little something instant to run for your player's new hero. And if it turns out you've got a full group for that night's session? Just drop the optional rules and run it by the book.Solo Heroes lets you play the game without painful paperwork and adventure redesign, whether for one player or half a dozen.

 This is a great set of solo play adventure rules that are completely well balanced and very well thought out. These are perfect for a sword and sorcery campaign as well as emulating that old school feel. They are made for Labryth Lord but with the options as easily laid out they can be adapted into your favorite rules set.
I've been looking into using these with Astonishing Swordsmen and have to talk with my players to see if their open but from the looks of things this one is a no brainer. Grab these quick and take them for a spin for a bit of solo play.  

Review Of The Free OSR Product Black Streams: Cults of Ruin From Sine Nomine Publishing For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaign

Grab It Right Over

A player of mine reminded me of this one today. This is by Sine Nomine products and this one is part of their Black Steams free product line which was done by them using the 
 Red Tide Campaign Setting and Sandbox Toolkit.

 This is a pretty nasty product in what it does, how it does it, and what can be done with it. This is a product that easily loosened upon a Sword and Sorcery campaign in the old school style with a modern design twist. Its very well done and very professional. I'm intimately familiar with Sine Nome's products through my long standing relationship with Stars Without Number.
Drive thru Rpg blurb: 
Gain further insight into the dark powers of the Sunset Isles with Cults of Ruin. Inside this free supplement you'll learn truths about five different foul sects. The devotees of the Black Emperor, the slaves of the Hell Kings, and stranger faiths still are given in this text along with guidelines for using them in your own campaign.
As a bonus, you also get the Azure Inquisitor, a Labyrinth Lord-compatible class dedicated to the rooting out of vile cults and secret cabals.
While written for the Red Tide Campaign Setting and Sandbox Toolkit, this supplement's information is easily reskinned for your own home campaign, with abominable faiths and foul creeds for your heroes to smite with righteous fury.

This is not the Book of Vile Darkness ( not that there's anything wrong with that product), but a very well balanced product that will easily slip into your old school campaign. It might take some modification but this one might be used in an Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea but it its going to take a bit of shoe horning and some fiddling with the ideas of this product.
I think that for a free product this is a pretty nifty set of ideas and some interesting twists to throw at your players. All in all I was happy with the download. I'm going to serious have to start looking into the other Black Stream product and see what I can unleash upon my players. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

1d10 Random Star Crossed Lovers Encounter Table For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System


1d10 Random Star Crossed Lovers Encounter Table
 For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea
  1. A warrior on the run from a pack of  1d8 Amazons warriors 2nd level wish to kill him if they should catch him. Why is unknown? But a princess 3rd level fighter from the same tribe wants to save him from her sisters. She needs help. 
  2. Two barbarians move to bring together a pair of lovers whose tribes are at war. The fact is that these two marriage could heal the rift between them. 
  3. A wizard is selling love charms for a local marriage arranger. But he's on the  run from a succubus from whom he's stolen the secret to make these. 
  4. A ruined prince has had his heart shattered by the death of his sweet heart. She's been killed by a rival of her prince. But her ghost is haunting him to the point of insanity. He needs the help of a group of adventurers to free himself from this curse. 
  5. A cursed magical crown holds the soul of an ancient queen. It has recently surfaced upon the shores of a local river. It now is looking for a new body inhabit. She is a 5th level wizard and wishes to reestablish her kingdom. She will seek out a cave of artifacts nearby. 
  6. A pair of adventurers seeks help on a local mission. They were once lovers but have run afoul of a local Lamia who seeks to spread her influence. 
  7. An Atlantian demi lich seeks to raise his princess from the dead. He needs the help of adventurers to uncover her tomb. He promises to split the loot from her tomb but can he be trusted. 
  8. A pair of kids are on the run from their tribe of barbarians. They wish to hire adventurers to get them across the border and escape the wrath of their fathers. There is also a pair of undead after these bastions of innocence as well. The kids are unaware of their predicament. 
  9. An estranged son seeks to revenge himself upon the family of his former betrothed family by seeking out an artifact. He's looking to hire a party to help find this treasure. 
  10. This princess is on the run from her former lover. She has become aware of her position as a key cosmic lynch pin for the local demonic Lovecraftian god. Her lover is seeking to hire adventurers to help find her. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review and Commentary On The Free OSR Product - The Old School Dungeons - Crypt of the Dread Lord From Crypt Thing Press For The Astonishing Swordsmen And Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System

Grab It Right Over

This is a system agnostic product that is perfect for a pulptastic set of ruins for your old school sword and sorcery game or as an Atlantian pile of ruins for AS&SH.
Because of the laying of the pdf this product is perfect for dealing with the multi complex situations that seem to crop up in AS&SH games over and over again. 
In three pages you get everything you need for an extended play of AS&SH all for free add in the monsters and motives for the PCs then your good to go.
From The Drive Thru rpg blurb: 
Crypt of the Dread Lord
What horrors await within the burial crypt of the fabled Dread Lord? Who among you are foolish enough to brave the depths of this mysterious dungeon?
In this Old School Dungeon you will find a map of an ancient crypt, although it is designed to be generic enough to fit a multitude of uses. 

Welcome to Crypt Thing Press’ Old School Dungeons!

The Old School Dungeons product line offers you old school style dungeon maps for use in your role playing games. Whether you build an adventure around the location or just need a quick map for when the players run off the beaten path, Old School Dungeons has you covered.

Each dungeon map comes layered with room numbers, dungeon dressing, and secrets, so you can enable as much or as little information as is needed for your purposes.
 Much of the material can easily be customized into the AS&SH mindset and the material taken to create a very pulpish and solid background for this dungeon. Monsters from AS&SH should easily transfer over allowing that extra edge of material where needed. 
 Over all the feel and temper of the dungeon should invite further exploration of this crypt and the DM shouldn't think anything of dropping even more hints, tips, and tricks to this one. The dungeon is well done and solid but sparse in effect but that is to be expected for this style of product. The best thing about this one is that it's free. Easy to adapt, customize, sell to your players as a mid level dungeon inside an on going sword and sorcery campaign.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1d10 After The Raid Of The Serpent Men Random Encounter Table For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea

1d10 After The Raid Of The Serpent Men Random Encounter Table
  1. A small child comes from out of the destruction covered in a fine network of tattoos and weird serpent men glyphes. What do they mean and why do her eyes seem to prick and dance with firelight? 
  2. 1d8 sub human stunted and dwarfed humanoids pick and root around the bodies. They appear to be looking for some one or some thing. They haveleather d instruments or tools. There is a 20% chance of some technological artifact among them. They  will scatter at the first sign of trouble. 
  3. A group of degenerate serpent men humanoid hybrid warriors 2nd level fighters armed with flint spears, clubs, and small shields works among the dead carrying off bodies for their masters. They have a small bag filled with kidneys,eyes, and other body parts. 
  4. A full serpent man wizard moves across the scene looking for an ancient artifact. 70% chance of having a technological treasure. 4th level wizard and capable of great evil. 
  5. A group of undead ju ju zombie hybrids moves among the remains here feeding on the dead and performing horrid rites to their ancient gods. There is 20% chance of some horror descending from the stars this night to their ministrations. They look for the stars to be right. 
  6. A lone pack of subhuman survivors stumbles from the darkness. They're sanity has been blasted beyond all endurance and their minds hum with demonic possession. One demon inhabits all of them after coming down from the stars. The thing has a hidden agenda and is moving out into the world. 
  7. An ancient alien has been awoken from a long slumber the thing is armed with an technological blaster that does 1d6 points of damage to anything in a forty yard range. It wishes to contact its descendants here on Hyperborea. It has a near by saucer but needs certain humanoid brain parts for its computers. Yours might do. 
  8. An ancient Hound of Tindalos has been awakened from its long slumber by the serpent men and now stalks the countryside. An ancient tablet may send it back to its frozen nether hells of time and space. 
  9. 1d8 constructs of the Great Race have awakened and begun to carry out their last orders and collecting the locals for experimentation. A serpent man has taken charge of this ancient installation and oversees the project. Nearby a shaggoth powers the place. 
  10. The Serpent men have awakened a Star Spawn of Cthulhu and the thing is breaking free of its ancient crypt. Are the stars right? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review and Commentary On DC Comics Warlords Graphic Novel For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

Way back when DC first got into doing 80's style slick 'Graphic Novels' on of their first attempts into that market was the graphic novel Warlords.  This is an old school sword and sorcery graphic from 1983 done when DC/Atari had formed an alliance for comics. Warlords is by Steve Skeates as writer and the artwork is David Wenzel.  
Warlords concerns the troll Dwayne whose a classic amoral OD&D thief, con artist, and not a character that I actually like at all. The setting is a typical pseudo Dark Ages Europe, this comic dates from a time when maps were in the back or front of every fantasy even some science fantasy novels as well. Back to Dwayne who is awakened to act as a guide for an army of one of four brothers. The Warlords of the story so to speak. Each brother embodies a certain characteristic, his kingdom, tactics, abilities,etc. all reflect traces of  a piece of a magical amulet that they own.
King Restivo has the kingdom of wonders and has a scientific genius working for him
 Dom The Picious uses the power of dogma and religion namely HIS own to enslave and build his own state run religious kingdom.
Marcus The Wizard King - Marcus is a wizard of high level with a nasty streak a mile wide and the cause of much of the action.
King Philip is the youngest of the brothers and is a paladin of high degree who ends up Dwayne's half giant friend Bertem. The troll leaves his partner in crime high and dry with some really nasty characters. Seriously throughout the book I wanted to punch the troll repeatedly. 
The artwork is very well done but the characters began to get on my last nerve. Especially the troll. The kingdom of trolls is a sort of stand in for hobbits, fey, etc. little peoples but Dwayne is a true neutral evil kinda being with tendencies toward profit. I found him really an annoying part of the comic. 

There are lots of good ideas lurking in the background such as the four sides of the brothers vs one another. They were like a bunch of low level 'evil' adventurers given kingdoms and a bit of magical power. 
The map was quite nice and useful if a DM wants  to build in a new set of rulers, background and creatures. The Trolls had some really interesting ideas to them but they were hardly fleshed out and needed a bit more Old School hardcore to make them truly memorable. 

I know that this graphic was written as a comedic affair and the artwork is well done. The story is concise, well written, and the artwork is solid but the troll made me want to kill him as a DM. Repeatedly. If you can pick this one up for a buck or fifty cents then do so.