Report from a Fallow State

IMG_0024AD&D 1e

I’ve been slightly fallow, after finishing my Star Wars campaign and waiting for my Beowulf campaign to begin. It had been scheduled for this coming Monday, but some core players couldn’t make it, so that means it will be two more weeks before session 1. On alternating weeks I’m taking part in an AD&D 1e campaign. It’s seldom that I’m a player, and it’s even more seldom that I enjoy being a player. But this experience has been great. For the first time ever, I read the 1e Player’s Manual cover to cover. I’m quite impressed with the game. I think it’s a good system. My DM allows every player to be running two characters: my rolls resulted in a Druid (Arty, short for Artemis) and a Cleric (Festus, sometimes called Fester, dedicated to the swine-god Gozer). My DM is about ten years older than I am. He is using all the original materials that he acquired in the 70s, because he never throws anything away, and we’ve been spending most of our time entering, exploring, and then usually fleeing a massive dungeon that our DM has designed. During downtime in the nearby village, Arty has built a hut in the forest and has started keeping chickens in some hand-built mud-and-wattle coops. Oh, that reminds me, the following is what I posted on our Facebook group:

Even after Artemis (affectionately known to those in the Order as “Ma Arty”) had become Grand Druid, those humble beginnings remained in the very center of the Grove Infinite. That dugout trunk and those mud-and-wattle coops functioned as the “Holy of Holies.” The chickens there were said to be preternaturally long lived. Their eggs, with yolks of a positively glowing hue, were said to boost fertility. And those seeking answers to the Druidic Mysteries made pilgrimage to those clucking oracles and contemplated that tired puzzler “What came first, the Chicken or the Egg?” The popular answer was “Neither”, or “Both”, for it is evident that the Chicken is within the Egg just as much as the Egg is within the Chicken. The two cohere in Immanence, which is as much as to say, as Ma Arty frequently has taught, that “the World is all there Is.”

Festus, alternatively, has been spending his time with the clerics in the temple of O-Ka (the Great Spirit), and because of their debates and discussions has come to learn that his own god, Gozer, serves O-Ka. Fester has come to believe that all sentient life — perhaps all life — originates from the Great Spirit, but in the process of incarnation, some life gets perverted or corrupted. These most commonly are the Chaotic and Evil entities, most often Monsters. And Fester’s divine mandate is to free these creatures from the shackles of the flesh so that their spirits might return to O-Ka for purification and eventual re-embodiment.

The Beowulf Campaign

Now and then I have poked along at Part 2 of the Beowulf campaign. I’m designing Part 2 as a bit of a hex crawl, making the PCs lords of Whale’s Head, the main harbor town of the “wind-loving Geats.” The thrust of the adventure, of course, will be for the PCs to try to locate and then possibly exterminate the Dragon who is terrorizing the farmsteads. The overall hex map has been created and I’ve sketched out the main outlines of the dragon’s lair. The rooms of this dungeon have to be detailed a little more, and a few other “dungeons” in various hex locations likewise need to be developed (just in case the PCs decide to explore outside of the narrative track). In this current fallow state, it’s difficult to continue work on this, though I’m certain that I’ll be inspirited once I’m able to begin playing Part 1 of the Beowulf Campaign.

Reading

I’m always reading a handful of texts, and a number of them typically inform ONOSR. Reading relevant to ONOSR has been some handbooks of Norse Mythology; The Land of the Silver Apples, the second book in Nancy Farmer’s Sea of Trolls trilogy; and Charles Watts Whistler’s Havelok the Dane. I suppose at any moment I might, in a gulp, finish my third reading of Poul Anderson’s Hrolf Kraki’s Saga, as well.

Conan the Slayer: Blood in Their Wakes

Ever since Cullen Bunn started writing his first six-issue story “Blood in His Wake” for Dark Horse Comics’s Conan the Slayer series, I’ve wanted to adapt the story — I think the story is original to Bunn — into a game for convention play. Over the last year or so I’ve considered adapting Swords & Wizardry for it (borrowing heavily, I suppose, from Mongoose’s d20 Conan system), but this was until I happened to purchase Barbarians of Lemuria on sale from DriveThruRPG. The iteration I bought was “Mythic,” and it is a prime demonstration of rules bloat. But searching out earlier, free editions of the game proved inspiring. I’m excited about the system and have sketched out a draft of Bunn’s narrative for quick convention play. I’ll probably develop this for my home group after the Beowulf playtest.

Traveller RPG

While grabbing Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic from DriveThruRPG I likewise snatched up the original 1982 release of the Traveller RPG. A close friend of mine is deeply into the science fiction genre, and I thought it would be fun to run an original old school science fiction system to tell a story most likely set in Kristin Kathryn Rusch’s “Diving” universe. What’s great about Rusch’s most recent stories is how like an old school dungeon crawl they are: the difference is that Rusch’s characters, set on salvaging missions, are delving into the “Boneyard,” a strange area of space crammed full of mysterious, derelict spacecraft from a multitude of times and places. A game set in this milieu should be great fun, and if the experiment is successful it might result in yet another game I can offer for convention play.

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