Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique As Old School Campaign Destination

"the sun no longer shone with the whiteness of its prime, but was dim and tarnished as if with a vapor of blood. New stars without number had declared themselves in the heavens, and the shadows of the infinite had drawn closer. And out of the shadows, the older gods had returned to man…. And the elder demons had also returned, battering on the fumes of evil sacrifices, and fostering again the primordial sorceries."

Clark Ashton Smith

The Zothique stories are some of my favorite Clark Ashton Smith pieces that I've read over the years. The dead outnumber the living & adventurers are not as much in evidence. Yet I keep finding myself wondering if there are connections between the demonic planar scum that feed on the bones of the Earth during the time of Zothique & the alien entities of C.L. Moore's North West Smith space stories.

  Yet somehow I'm left with the gut feeling that 'Zothique' exists as an alternative Earth location  or adjunct location to Hyperborea within my own 'Old Solar System' campaign. If Hyperborea is waning under the Hellish eye of  Cykranosh ( Saturn ) then Zothique is one step away in another dimension or an alternative time line. 


Smith tells his tales with a gusto of vocabulary & vividness of a fever dream  that takes the reader on a delirious journey into his far future world. I'm often left feeling that there's far more going on below the surface of these tales, the irony & cruelty is both enticing & frustrating. I've written about Io being perhaps the Hyperboreans weapons testing facility within my home campaign. 
Yet the far future happenings of 'Isle of the Torturers' shows the mirroring cycles of events from 'The Silver Death’ — on the city of Yoros to the shadow of death from the ghastly events in the  city of Zul-Bha-Sair in the story “The Charnel God”
The dread sorcerer Namirrha of the story "The Dark Eidolon" is exactly the sort of wizard that might be socializing  with the sorcerers & wizards of Jack Vance's Dying Earth series.

“The Dark Eidolon”

Completed December 1932. First published in Weird Tales, January 1935.


Yet I mentioned C.L. Moore's North West Smith at the beginning of this blog post. So what does he have to do with this? Well, many of the pseudo demonic horrors that Moore's hero fights might be far more at home in Zothique then simply the planets of the solar system. Everything in these stories goes in cycles including mankind's ascend & extinction. Death & entropy are central themes laced with irony within the Zothique cycle. This same theme plays itself out within C.L. Moore's & Leigh Brackett's solar system stories. Zothique is one of the most dangerous places in the multiverse because of the excursions of 'otherness' from the 'Outer Blackness'. Wizards have been empire building for countless centuries here.

Gnome press dust jacket for North West Smith


So could the central government of 'Old Earth' (is there such a thing as its only two minutes to midnight when the 'Stars Come Right'?) know about Zothique? Not only do they, there's possibly a twenty to fifty thousand gold piece reward for such artifacts from the crypts & vaults of the setting. Because of monsters such as the ones found in CAS's 'Weaver In The Vault' & 'The Tomb Spawn' we are left with the feeling that very few with collect such a reward. The noses of the Leigh Brackett's Terran Exploitations Company & the Earth government or Terran authorities are going to be investigating any artifacts & relics by 'top men' in their fields. After which all of these artifacts are going to be consigned to a secret warehouse some place.

Warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981

We know that Hyperborea of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition fame is the far future of an Earth. But could there have been a Hyperborean people on Zothique which experienced the Silver Death? The answer is a resounding yes! Ulua, the daughter of the king of Tasuun, from The Witchcraft Of Ulua By CAS is one whose description perfectly fits a Hyperborean sorceress of the highest orders & they are not someone to be trifled with.
"During his first month in Miraab, Amalzain heard much of the Princess Ulua, sole daughter of Famorgh and Queen Lunalia; but since the women of the royal family seldom attended the banquets or appeared in public, he did not see her. The huge and shadowy palace, however, was filled with whispers concerning her amours. Ulua, he was told, had inherited the sorceries of her mother Lunalia, whose dark, luxurious beauty, so often sung by bewitched poets, was now fallen to a haggish decrepitude. The lovers of Ulua were innumerable, and she often procured their passion or insured their fidelity by other charms than those of her person. Though little taller than a child, she was exquisitely formed and endowed with the loveliness of some female demon that might haunt the slumbers of youth. She was feared by many and her ill will was deemed a dangerous thing. Famorgh, no less blind to her sins and witcheries than he had been to those of Lunalia, indulged her in all ways and denied her nothing."
So perhaps the 'Silver Death' caused the 'Hyperboreans' of Zothique to build vast vaults just as they had in Hyperborea. And those vaults became their tombs. There are thousands of undead or worse waiting below the sands of Zothique. But could the 'Silver Death' or 'Green Death'  have been a milady of the soul rather then simply one of the flesh? There are eerie parallels with the movie 1985 film Life Force with its alien space vampires. The comet swings around Earth depositing the 'Silver Death' plague upon  on the city of Yoros as well as perhaps Hyperborea.
What other horrors await adventurers out in the Asteroid Belt as the Boreas Winds blow through? Zothique could well become more tomb then 'world of adventure' for your party's 'heroes'


'The Derelict' from '85's film Life Force.

Adventurers journeying to Zothique are going to have to be high level, prepared for a wide variety of undead, necromanctic magick, and far worse. There are few reasons why I'd position Zothique as an adventure destination:
  1. The setting works on its own and has a richly detailed setting primed & perfect for an old school Sword & Sorcery campaign. 
  2. There are literally thousands of potential dungeon & adventure locations. 
  3. Perfect as destination for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition's higher PC levels. 
  4. There are plenty of chances for necrotic adventures with high level undead such as liches, vampires, and more. 
  5. Demons, demons, demons, the setting is rife with extraplanar demons. 
  6. Perfect store house for foul and degenerate magicks of all types.
  7. Locations are alien enough to be molded into adventure settings for popular AD&D first edition or B/X D&D adventure modules. 
  8. The weird & strange seem right around the corner. 
  9. A world setting with a definitely history with lots of holes perfect for the DM to squeeze in their own DYI D&D creations with lots of epochs of undefined time periods & empires. 
  10. The perfect setting for all of those crazy Fiend Folio Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition monsters.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

OSR Commentary On The Lovecraftian Aspects Of B1 In Search of The Unknown By Mike Carr For Your Old School Campaigns

" In Search of the Unknown is a module for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, designed for use with the Basic Set of rules. It was written by game designer Mike Carr and was first published in 1979 by TSR, Inc. The module details a hidden complex known as the Caverns of Quasqueton. Reviewers considered it a good quality introduction to the game that was written in the so-called dungeon crawl style, where the primary goal of the players is the exploration of a dangerous labyrinth to battle monsters and obtain treasure."

Mike Carr rolled out a classic module in the form of B1 In Search of the Unknown, there are flawed classics and this is one em.



"Many years ago two wealthy adventurers, Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown, built a hidden complex known as the Caverns of Quasqueton. From this base, they conducted their affairs away from the prying eyes of civilization. While of questionable ethical standing, the two drove back a barbarian invasion and gained the support of locals. Eventually, they gathered their own army and went on an expedition against said enemies, where they met their demise."



I have run 'B1 In Search of  The Unknown'  way too many times to count. I dusted it off because of looking into the Sword & Sorcery rough & ready aspect of B1. I've talked about B1 many times & run it way back in January of this past year.
So when you begin to look at Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown, then you begin to see the tale of two adventurers who were resisting the Hyperboreans in the 'Old Solar system' setting. Then the Green Death came along & killed off the adventurers and their crew. Now the reason why I chose the old version of B1 to look into is because of the conversion guidelines that were included to convert from Basic D&D to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition.


"When B1 was released, Basic D&D was not yet its own rule system, but rather an introductory set of rules that was intended to lead players on to the original D&D game or the AD&D game. The closeness of the Basic and Advanced lines in those days is revealed in B1's earliest printings, by the inclusion of a short section that explains how to convert the adventure to AD&D. That section was removed by the time the third printing appeared in 1979, and was the last attempt to overlap the two lines."Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown must have been generals & local powers in their own right. The Caverns of Quasqueton lay completely unfinished at the time that the Green Death struck Hyperobrea. What were they searching for? My guess is that they were specifically searching for weaponry  or artifacts left behind by one of the numerous prehuman races. Down in the lower unfinished levels are some
of the pre-filled rooms which include a museum, an arena, and grand cavern all of which points to incredible construction possibly started by others before our two adventurers moved in and took over. Many of the monsters & other residents that moved in speak of laboratories & other underground facilities. Lizardmen, troglodytes, fishmen all point to some very high level Lovecraftian race connections in the Caverns of  Quasqueton.


Fishman Jason Sholtis


So what's really going on here at
the Caverns of  Quasqueton? I believe that during the Hyperborean occupation & height of their power came across an outpost in Underborea belonging to the Great Race of Yith. "Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown" came across this knowledge during their exploration of the region & began to exploit it to gain power towards the end of their adventuring career. That is until the Green Death turned their plans to death. Where exactly does the Green Death come from? Well,"The Isle of the Torturers" appeared in Weird Tales, March 1933  & it was not a part of the Hyperborean cycle but Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique tales.  The tale speaks of a cosmic cycle of the 'Silver Death' visiting the inhabitants of Zothique from a comet.

Could the Great Race of Yith have been experimenting to avoid dying by the strange plague of the Green Death in
the Caverns of  Quasqueton? I think so. Given their precognition abilities and time travel connections from HP Lovecraft's 'The Shadow Out of Time' its easy to see them doing everything in their power to avoid being killed by the strange powder from the sky. "Dire was the Silver Death; and none knew the secret of its contagion or the cure. Swift as the desert wind, it came into Yoros from the devastated realm of Tasuun, overtaking the very messengers who ran by night to give warning of its nearness. Those who were smitten felt an icy, freezing cold, an instant rigor, as if the outermost gulf had breathed upon them. Their faces and bodies whitened strangely, gleaming with a wan luster, and became stiff as long-dead corpses, all in an interim of minutes.

In the streets of Silpon and Siloar, and in Faraad, the capital of Yoros, the plague passed like an eery, glittering light from countenance to countenance under the golden lamps; and the victims fell where they were stricken; and the deathly brightness remained upon them."

Isle of the Torturers Clark Ashton Smith. 

It all fits, the laboratories, the isolated adventure location, a vast array of experimental subjects/slaves, the lonely quasi mining operation, & more. All of it points to a vast machine of an operation going on within  the Caverns of  Quasqueton. Because of the DYI Dungeons & Dragons aspect of B1 In Search of the Unknown its very easy to slip it into a campaign even under the radar of experienced players. B1 still makes an excellent choice for a campaign stepping stone even today. Even though its flawed B1 has many excellent resources
Keep em rolling. 

'Echoes Of A Distant Manor' - Actual Play Session Event

Lomar as a campaign destination hit a bit of a snag when the player's PC's turned back into Tegel Manor. But this isn't so much a problem as the problem itself presents the solution.




Last night's Tegel Manor game went weirder then normal, the house continued its journey after the players took a wrong turn and completely muffed up my plans or did they? The adventure in Tegel Manor has taken on a life of its own. Its gone from being an adventure taking direct inspiration from  classic 'The Adams Family'  television show  & Disney's original Haunted Mansion ride to something darker. They've ended up fighting turf wars through the house with giant rats & their were rat masters.



Dealing with degenerate serpent men in the tea room & having running fights with high weirdness in the solarium. Then the action returned into the dungeon below the house. Hmm I'm reminded of another classic Eighties film of mine?!


So Tegel Manor has different factions of ghosts & Lovecraftian nightmares fighting over the treasures & resources of the place. Dimensional doors last night were opening & closing, all of the while the PC's were dealing with trying to play around with the changing conditions. This isn't the first time the players have put a stick into the spoke of my campaigns. Sometimes when this happens it best to go with it & expand on the fly as needed.




So how does this effect the overall feel, placement, etc of the overall campaign? Well it really doesn't at all. The facts are that this arch actually plays into the timeline of the campaign by making Tegel Manor 'The House on The Borderland' of my campaign. That is to say that William Hope Hodgeson's 'House on The Borderland' adds in that element of perfect Hodgeson mayhem & weirdness that the campaign has taken on.


Ace Books, 1962, cover by Ed Emshwiller, the cover at depicts events of the story.

"The world was held in a savage gloom—cold and intolerable. Outside, all was quiet—quiet! From the dark room behind me, came the occasional, soft thud[10] of falling matter—fragments of rotting stone. So time passed, and night grasped the world, wrapping it in wrappings of impenetrable blackness.
There was no night-sky, as we know it. Even the few straggling stars had vanished, conclusively. I might have been in a shuttered room, without a light; for all that I could see. Only, in the impalpableness of gloom, opposite, burnt that vast, encircling hair of dull fire. Beyond this, there was no ray in all the vastitude of night that surrounded me; save that, far in the North, that soft, mistlike glow still shone.
Silently, years moved on. What period of time passed, I shall never know. It seemed to me, waiting there, that eternities came and went, stealthily; and still I watched. I could see only the glow of the sun's edge, at times; for now, it had commenced to come and go—lighting up a while, and again becoming extinguished.
All at once, during one of these periods of life, a sudden flame cut across the night—a quick glare that lit up the dead earth, shortly; giving me a glimpse of its flat lonesomeness. The light appeared to come from the sun—shooting out from somewhere near its center, diagonally. A moment, I gazed, startled. Then the leaping flame sank, and the gloom fell again. But now it was not so dark; and the sun was belted by a thin line of vivid, white light. I stared, intently. Had a volcano broken out on the sun? Yet, I negatived the thought, as soon as formed. I felt that the light had been far too intensely white, and large, for such a cause."

On the whole the haunted house aspect has taken on a much darker tone but this plays quite heavily on the Weird Tales angles of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's second edition. More as the factions & destinations of Tegel Manor develop.

Friday, October 13, 2017

OSR Commentary - Strange Lost Worlds of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition's I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City By Dave Cook

"Somewhere in the heart of the steaming jungle lies the answer to the whispered tales - rumors of a magnificent city and foul, horrid rituals! Here a brave party might find riches and wonders - or death! Is your party brave enough to face the terrors of the unknown and find - the Forbidden City!"
Where do I really begin with I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City By David Zeb Cook? Its an old favorite module of mine that I've run countless times for large groups of experienced players & it reeks with the hollowness of its pulpy underpinnings. The real heart of the module is the quasi oriental city of the module. With Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition winging its way to the door steps of the Kickstarter backers I'm dusting this classic off from 1981. Today I began to think about 'I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City' because of its self contained adventure setting & isolated adventure location. I1 is a mini sand box location with its own self contained factions & weirdness that could potentially be used as a Hyperborean fragment adventure location. 



This is a module for PC's from levels 4 - 7 within an isolated ruined cityscape straight out of Robert Howard or even a Doc Savage novel. David Zeb cook thinks I1 might be the reason why he was hired by TSR in the first place.
"The module was written by game designer David "Zeb" Cook, who partly ascribes his hiring by TSR to his work on this module. In the adventure, the characters are hired to find an object taken to a lost oriental-style city, which has been taken over by a cult of snake-worshipers, the yuan-ti, and their servants, the mongrelmen and tasloi." But its the influence & deadliness of the snake cult that interests me tonight. These various factions compete against one another within I1 but many of the monsters of the modules compete against one another but could the mind numbingly dangerous religious cult of the Yuan-ti escape from I1 and back into Hyperborea? Hear me out here. The serpent men of Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess be another faction competing against the Yuan-ti? With so many dwelling places within the city ruins of I1 its not hard to imagine.


Everything within I1 is geared for a South East Asian style adventure with its own unique Lovecraftian style twist. Having visited Thailand I can honestly say that the Yuan-ti can easily compete with or be traded in for the Serpent men  of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition's
'Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess.' Given the map of I1 its easy to see how the hidden ruined city can become another part of the 'Serpent Isles'. By making the adventure module locations separate its easy to run I1 first to get the PC's levels up and then bring them through Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess'. This gives the whole affair an epic mythological quality.


We are not talking a light weight campaign we're talking about a mini campaign of more then a couple of monthsBecause I1 was a competition module originally there is an element of having this become a campaign location where the party of adventurers will have to dip in and out of it in the tradition of an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel. This also means that the link between I1 & The Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess is going to more then fleeting.
"Less than a month ago, your party found itself in Port Zangerios, where you heard of an Esquimaux thief selling a treasure map. Low on wealth but high in courage, you sought him out. The man turned out to be a fearful ex-slave who had “acquired” the map from his Ixian master. The map is incomplete but shews the Isle of the Serpent in far-off Lemuria, where rests a fabulous treasure called the Feathered Crown of Nanasa (or so thought the Ixian). Pooling your money to purchase the unfinished map, you bought passage on an Amazonian trade ship. After passing through tempests and torrential rains that shimmered with auroral light, you have come to the great city of Jhaman Ket. Now you must seek out the location of the Isle of the Serpent."


Within the introduction we're getting the outline to the placement, ideas, and possible hooks for not only the PC's but further adventures within this adventure. I've said before Forgotten Fane is as much source book as it is adventure. This means that the PC's are going to have more then their hands full with it. They're going to be running for their God forsaken lives with some of the monsters from this adventure.
The menace of 
the Yuan-ti make an excellent counter point to the lost world horrors of the monsters of the Forgotten Fane. If the Yuan ti get to the mainland of Hyperborea's jungles then there's going to be Hell to pay for the already beleaguered continent


I've written extensively about using I1 with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea as a jump off point for domain level games. This style of lost world game is the complete opposite & journey into the heart of darkness of a lost world setting. Something similar to many of the ill conceived adventures of Clark Ashton Smith's
"The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" or Robert Howards Temple of the Toad From 'The Thing on the Roof'



The jungles of Lemuria from 'Forgotten Fane  of the Coiled Goddess' are highly dangerous & incredibly weird settings. The PC's are going to be up against some of the toughest customers that the old school can through at them in a one on one style of balls to the walls adventure mini campaign. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition has many of the existing monsters from Forgotten Fane and simply catalogs them. Players are not going to expect the Conrad's Heart of Darkness old school style mini campaign.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

OSR Commentary - Echoes From The Desert With The Dungeons & Dragons Adventure B4 'The Lost City' By Tom Moldvey

"Lost in the desert! The only hope for survival lies in a ruined city rising out of the sands. Food, water, and wealth await heroic adventures inside and ancient pyramid ruled by a strange race of masked beings"I have used & abused B4 The Lost City adventure & its inhabitants  for years now a venerable pulp  module created by Tom Moldvay.  ""The Lost City" (1982) was the first adventure written entirely for the second edition Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1981). No surprise, then, that it was written by the author of that set, Tom Moldvay. "


Today I've been thinking about specifically adapting this module as perhaps a starter to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition as an introductory module. There are several reasons but specifically because this is  an instantly classic TSR module with an solid base as an introduction & its easily placed within the confines of the Diamond desert.


 

Today I've been thinking about specifically adapting this module as perhaps a starter to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition as an introductory module. There are several reasons but specifically because this is  an instantly classic TSR module with an solid base as an introduction & its easily placed within the confines of the Diamond desert.
As an introduction to the AS&SH setting B4 The Lost City serves several functions within the confines of the TSR classic adventure. First of all the inhabitants, factions, etc. of the underground Cynidiceans and their hungry god, Zargon make perfect stand ins for the Hyperboreans of AS&SH. The whole sale DYI dungeon aspect of B4's dungeons, rooms, etc. & there are a lot of them are perfect places to introduce the newer weird monsters of second edition AS&SH. Because B4 is an introductory adventure it can be used as a stand in for the infamous Hyperborean vaults from the time of the 'Green Death'.


This basically gives the perfect excuse to try out the newer mummy types from the new second edition mummies and undead sections which might make very interesting & challenging priests of Zargon. This adds an interesting twist to many of the factions presented in B4. These factions suddenly go from silly to deadly in a quick flip of the dice. But there are several other things going on here.

Priest of Zargon

B4 done the right way can take six characters from   1st  through 4th level easily setting the PC's up for further adventures. These PC's are going to be exposed to a major boss fight in B4 The Lost City & it could be defining moment in their adventuring careers. I've seen B4 described as a Robert Howard Red Nails style adventure. Although there are aspects of this I think that B4 contains many of the classic elements of pulp magazines. Weird factions, strange ideologies, and the potential for lots of customization. B4 is the perfect module to stick a lich or other high level undead monster as a vile villain.


One of the things that I've done with B4 in the past couple of years is use its environs as the final resting place of 
Ymir’s Serpent from 'The Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes.' This adventure is pretty well set up to deal well with this sort of a situation. This is one of those adventure that can be easily adapted to your own style of play.

"Somewhere in the depths of Diamond Desert lie the skeletal remains of Ymir’s Serpent, a legendary Viking longship. In days of yore, Sigtrygg Forkbeard led his company upriver, piercing the desert’s hostile heart. There the Vikings unearthed a lost mine brimming with green diamonds, but the River ├ćolus desiccated as the Serpent prepared for launch, and the ship was swallowed by the dunes. Forkbeard and his company were never seen again, but tales of a shimmering Viking ghost ship gliding over the dunes persist to this day."


 


Many of the aspects of 'Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes' fit the adventure triangle trouble of balancing encounters verses real potential for acting like a fulcrum to get the PC's on the ladder for PC advancement. Add in the factional elements & there's the potential for a pulptastic good time. This is a good & solid classic module with the potential to push it over the edge into OSR greatness. The right combination of players & dungeon master can make this happen.



The Diamond Desert is outright strange, brutal, and highly dangerous as described in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. Because this second  edition fills in so many gaps there is still plenty of room for customization on the DM's part. Weird monsters and dangerous circumstances are all a part of the creative DNA of B4 'The Lost City'  add in the Diamond Desert aspect of a nasty and dangerous angle & its perfect material to really bring home the pulpy and dangerous aspects of this classic module.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New OSR Monster - The Connecticut River Serpents For Your Old School Campaigns





""Gawd's sake, Aud, but why'd ye go for to do that? Hain't ye heerd all the things they've been tellin' about this snake-devil Yig? Ye'd ought to a told me, and we'd a moved on. Don't ye know they's a devil-god what gets even if ye hurts his children? What for d'ye think the Injuns all dances and beats their drums in the fall about? This land's under a curse, I tell ye—nigh every soul we've a-talked to sence we come in's said the same. Yig rules here, an' he comes out every fall for to git his victims and turn 'em into snakes. Why, Aud, they won't none of them Injuns acrost the Canayjin kill a snake for love nor money!"
Written 1928, published November 1929 in Weird Tales, Volume 14, Number 5, Pages 625-36.

Not seen since 1886 the Connecticut River Serpents have returned enforce to the lower banks of the Connecticut River. 
Brought from the depths of the Earth by the warriors of the realm of K'n-yan. These genetically enhanced giant serpents were the creations of the serpent men in ages long past. These powerful river serpents are some of the most feared predators on what was the North American Neo England continent.These serpents are highly intelligent and boast a dangerously murderous predatory intelligence. They boast a strangely almost humanlike reptilian face with balefully cunning unblinking eyes.



They thrive in the brackish waters of what was the Connecticut River in the marsh like inlets & fresh water marshlands near the turquoise walled riverside temples of the snake god where they serve as guardians. They are incredibly stealthy & capable of silently murdering humanoid prey. Many times they simply violently bite their prey with a poisoned bite & retreat off to a distance whist the poison does its work. Many swear that these beasts seem to enjoy the show. They often lurk underwater for up to six hours or more. To the Picts of the area these monsters are a menace & their mere presence   is regarded as "bad medicine". Many of the Hyperborean warriors give them & their cult members wide berths when venturing through the extensive ruins of Hartford where a grand nest of them dwell in the Hog River Tunnel, under Hartford.


These monsters are very similar to monstrous serpents found on 'Old Venus'. But the Connecticut variety exhibits an almost human like sense of evil cunning which many believe is the influence of their dark master Yig's doing.

No Encountered: 1 (unless temple or nest in 1d6)
Alignment: Neutral ( with evil tendencies) 
Size: L 
Movement:30 (swim 50) 
Dexterity: 9 
Armor Class: 6 
Hit Dice:4 
Attack:1/1 Bite
Damage:1d6 +1 
Saving Throw:14 
Morale: 9 
Experience points: 400 
Treasure type : Within temples of Yig F

Tactics these serpents often try to ambush humanoid prey members & easy prey at just before sun up. They will lay the body in the water in the hopes of attracting more prey. These serpents have a monthly feeding cycle often taking out families or victims directed by local cults of Yig.



There are reports of similar monstrous serpents being found in some of the urban waterways of Ghost City but these can't be substantiated at this time.

OSR Commentary On L1 The Secret Of Bone Hill By Lenard Lakofka For Your Old School Campaigns

Danger lurks in the Lendore Isles. Bands of evil creatures prowl the hills overlooking the town of Restenford, seeking unwary victims. Now you have come to this sleepy little village looking for adventure and excitement. You seek to fathom the unexplored reaches of Bone Hill and unlock the mysteries of Restenford.So I was having a debate about L1 The Secret of Bone Hill with a friend of mine. This is one those modules that is more setting book then module. Originally designed for AD&D first edition its one of those modules with a history steeped in the changes that were happening at TSR in 1981 ;'The Secret of Bone Hill is an adventure module written by Lenard Lakofka for the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and published by TSR in 1981. It is designed for novice and intermediate players with characters of levels 2-4.' This is a weird beast of a module because its more of a campaign primer then simply adventure. What makes it unique is just how detailed the wilderness areas are. The town of Restenford is its own rather unique adventure location with lots of tidbits & mini locations.


Restenford a small town that has secrets and many of them are deadly cue Lovecraft music here. Over the years I've come to respect & use 'The Secret of Bone Hill' adventure many times. I've known Lenard Lakofka name since I was a kid because of his work in the hobby of  wargaming. 'The Secret of Bone Hill' was an adventure location from his own home campaign which later on became part of his own Lenore Isles campaign it was run for the Nystul family from approximately 1978-1985. Think of Restenford as sort of Lovecraftian 'Payton Place' where during the day everything looks normal enough but then the undead come out to play and well things get interesting for the PC's. L1 is also a low level & very friendly for dungeon masters who want to introduce the environs of Restenford.  Warning this is a module that your going to have to invest in as a dungeon master. Its a dangerous second level module to start with.  There are also hints in the rumors table that original inhabitants of Restenford are not the original ones.  This brings up all kinds of possibilities for a DM whose willing to go several extra miles to take a good module and turn it into a great one. All of this can be tied back into Greyhawk as Gary Gygax has given the Lenore Islands a place within the confines of the iconic historical TSR campaign.
"The introduction of Lakofka's Lendore Isle to Greyhawk marked one of the first and largest additions to the campaign world by someone other than Gary Gygax. Lendore Isle had previously been set in Lakofka's own campaign world, part of a game that he ran primarily for the Nystul family from approximately 1978-1985. When Gygax was drawing up the maps for the World of Greyhawk Folio (1980), he offered to give Lakofka's island a place in his own setting, and thus the Greyhawk Lendore Isle were born."

But for the DM willing to take some time and really sink into the deep end of campaigning I suggest a visit to The Restenford Project blog. There all kinds of neat little resources for the taking.
When getting into the feel & take of the Lenore Isles a dungeon master should really look into the wiki entry on them. The fact is that the Lenore Islands have a completely different take on them then other classic era TSR adventures. According  to the  Wiki entry;"
In the Dungeons and Dragons World of Greyhawk campaign setting, the Lendore Isles, also known as the Spindrift Isles, are a collection of five large islands in the Solnor Ocean, just off the eastern coast of the former Great Kingdom. This portion of the World of Greyhawk served as the base of Len Lakofka's campaign, and is the setting of the L series of modules authored by Lakofka: L1 The Secret of Bone Hill,[1] L2 The Assassin's Knot,[2] and L3 Deep Dwarven Delve.[3] Lendore Island began the inclusion of material from an author other than Gygax or Rob Kuntz to become incorporated into the Greyhawk setting.[4] Previously unpublished materials from Lakofka's gaming sessions in the late 1970s and early 1980s were released in an article in issue 5 (August 2005) of the Footprints e-zine.[5] Additional material, originally intended for release in L3 Deep Dwarven Delve was released by Lakofka in an article in issue 9 (December 2006) of Footprints.[6] In 2006, Lakofka announced on the Pen & Paper website that he will be releasing L4 and L5 through the Dragonsfoot website, introducing additional material and adventures set in the Lendore Isles.[7] A subsequent threaded discussion on the Dragonsfoot forum gave the title of L4 as "Devilspawn".[8] Both L4 and L5 are now available on Dragonsfoot.[citation needed] L4 is indeed titled "Devilspawn", and includes a second book, "The Lendore Isle Companion". L5 is a three-book set: "The Kroten Campaign Guide", "The Kroten Adventures", and "The Kroten Campaign Companion", plus a separate Map Pack."
You really have to read 'L4 Devilspawn' for the sheer brilliance of insanity that this adventure lays down. The Lenore Islands are way on the high fantasy side for my take. But all of the Restenford stuff is worth getting in my opinion from Dragon's foot & its free. Especially the map pack too.
So let's get back to the Sword & Sorcery end of L1 The Secret of Bone Hill. For using this adventure with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition & first off the elves are going to have to be changed to Hyperboreans. The second thing is that in the past I've used Restenford as a stand in for the town of  Saltmarsh from U1 'The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.' There's a thread of corruption and depravity going all the way back to the founding of the castle in U3. This means that the land itself is corrupt & gives reason why the humanoids & wolves exist. There might be a mechanism generating these two by means of spontaneous dungeon life form generation first created by James Mishler 
One of the things I've done running The Secret of Bone Hill is to strengthen the ties between the Deep Ones and the wizard of the tower.That's straight up but let's talk about the undead which are really the key to Bone Hill. Not only are they dangerous & deadly but they lead straight into L2 The Assassins Knot. The wholly own the night in Bonehill & several 'new' types are described. The dungeons & its environs can easily be made to function as a sort 'Weird Tales', Clark Ashton Smith adventure pivot point.


Now let's talk about a monster who hints at far more danger bubbling below the surface of L1 'the spectator' looking like it belongs in a Big Trouble From Little China comic book. The spectator is a key monster that hints at powerful wizards who have made the town of Restenford & Bonehill their home. According to the wiki entry on the Spectator;"A spectator is an extraplanar relative of the beholder with four eyestalks. Somewhat mild and even-tempered, spectators have even been known to form friendships with other creatures, a trait that no other beholderkin or true beholder ever displays."  Somewhat mild & even tempered hints at an advisor or perhaps even a corrupter role for the 'spectator'. What sorts of sins and secrets has this monster seen? Perhaps it could even become a familiar to one of the PC's opening further doorways for adventure.


Is L1 The Secret Of Bone Hill By Lenard Lakofka a great module? Umm no its more of an introduction/source book  to the world of 'the Lenore Islands'. But it has the potential with the right combination of players & dungeon masters to a great campaign starter. The module can become a jump off point for all kinds of 'Weird Tales' style adventures with many of the resources out on the internet. As a mini sand box Bone Hill is not only a flexible frame work but can give you as the DM everything you need to continue your adventures within a nasty, dangerous & dark fantastic frame work of adventure.

I hope you make your saves & keep em rolling.
More to come!