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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:57 am 
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Okay Michael,

I have now seen the film and it was a hoot! Christopher Lee is now my official model for a druid leader!

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:04 pm 
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pbj44 wrote:
Christopher Lee is now my official model for a druid leader!

Guessed so. :) After all, your Onderland-druid writeup had me immediately thinking of Christopher Lee in that movie.

Now: Back to our correspondent in Onderland!

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:57 pm 
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More thoughts on the gods of the Onderland

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Mythos and the Onderland Campaign

In the annals of science fiction and horror fiction (sometimes collectively referred to as “weird fiction”), none stand out so much as the works of H.P. Lovecraft and what became known as the Cthulhu Mythos.

Millions or even billions of years ago, creatures, god-like beings from other stars, came to the Onderland and ruled over a myriad of bizarre creatures before either leaving or descending into an eons-long slumber whence they are now beginning to stir once more to consciousness.

The Mythos can be introduced into the Onderland with relative ease, as it is more a sense of philosophy than unpronounceable names with apostrophes in unlikely places. One of the misconceptions about the Mythos (and one which plagued even many of Lovecraft’s contemporaries) is that it is about horror drawn from the unusual.

While the supernatural and otherworldly nature of many of the Mythos’s creatures and figures are, of course, bizarre enough to drive most men to insanity, what really sets the Mythos apart is the sense that there are forces at work in the cosmos that are at best indifferent to the lives and desires of mere mortals. At worst, they see mortals as sources of amusement (through their hideous deaths) or food (ditto).

The Mythos (or something invented by you as game master which stands analogous to or derived from it) need not be the focus of your Onderland campaign. Even if you decide to include some Lovecraftian themes, these can take the form of small degenerate cults, or solitary sorcerer-sages driven mad by the burden of their knowledge, and cosmic forces straining at the outskirts not only of civilization but reality as we know it, trying to get back in.

One of the central themes of Lovecraft’s original works is that final confirmation of the true nature of the universe through the act of seeing it first hand is sufficient to drive even the most jaded student of the occult to the extremes of insanity.

Most characters in a world tinged by the Mythos are secure and comfortable in the society-imposed myth that the universe is benign and follows regular rules, placing humanity and its close allies at the center of importance in the working of the world. (Those myths will likely be rocked to their foundations during the course of play in a Mythos-tainted campaign.) Witnessing particular sights or learning particular insights into the true nature of the universe would, in turn, result in the loss of one’s sanity, permanently.

Bear in mind that these are not the truths that demons exist, and can assume hideous forms. Such is part and parcel of everyday Ondish existence. The minds of most, especially adventuring types, are made of sterner stuff.

That begs the question; in the Onderland where sorcerers hurl elemental forces from their fingertips, what could possibly threaten the sanity of a hard-bitten adventurer simply by knowledge of its existence?

Indifference.

The sheer knowledge that the world as you know it, as it knows itself, is not only completely a pleasant veneer over an awful reality, but also that the true underlying nature of the universe doesn’t care a single iota about the individual’s desires or very existence. That the character and all he knows are simply shadows of reality at best, and that the true reality undergirding that which the character knows wouldn’t even think to consider whether it should care. Even a universe with room for demons and arch-devils follows some basic rules of reality. The true universe of the Mythos, and those creatures which are aware of, and inhabit that true reality, does not even follow those rules.

When confronted with this concept on a serious intellectual level, the effect can be unnerving. When positive proof that everything the character knew about the universe-- even about his own very existence within it-- is discovered, the effect can be mind-shattering. The creatures of the mythos exist on a moral plane as beyond concepts such as good and evil as a great sage is beyond a grain of rice in intellectual capacity.

Demons and devils are at least evil; the creatures and deities of the Mythos cannot even be called that, for doing so would render them at least partially conceivable to humanity, and that they simply are not.

And what of the minions of these nigh-imponderable forces? What could possibly motivate someone, besides the very depths of madness itself, to cooperate with, let alone serve and hasten the ascendancy of, such forces? Pure and simple ego. Knowing of such forces, their fragile minds revolt against the notion that they-- They Themselves-- could be regarded with such indifference. By playing at serving the Old Ones, they feel a modicum of significance; they are shouting into the void “I shall not be ignored, even if it is only for you to command me!”

It is left to the discretion of the GM to determine whether they are actually receiving such commands, or whether their fevered minds are simply creating the voices they insist must be out there, acknowledging them…

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:01 am 
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An often missed find in dungeon environments is the cache of tools and sundries left behind by other adventurers to serve in lengthy or future expeditions. So here's a suggested chart for determining the contents of cached gear and supplies.

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Dungeoneer Cache

Roll 1d100 1-6 times to determine the contents of a Dungeoneer Cache

1-4.........1-6 Flasks of Lamp Oil
5-6.........1-6 Flasks of Whiskey
7............1-6 Flasks of phosphorous oil
8-10......Flask of wine
11-12...Jug of Beer
13-14...5 gallons of water
15.........New Pair of Boots
16-17...Clean Cloak
18-20...Bandages (1-6 uses)
21-22...1-6 empty potion vials
23-24...6 Iron Spikes
25-28...50' of Rope
29-30...6 candles
31-35...1-6 days’ worth of Rations.
36-38...1 large bag of Oats
39.........1-6 bags of Flour
40.........1 bag of reeking Onions
41.........Quart of Vinegar
42-45....Twice Baked Bread
46-48....Small Cook-pot
49-50....Intact Fire Kit
51-52....1-6 Clean Bedroll(s)
53-54....1-6 blank pieces of parchment in a scroll tube.
55-56....vial of writing ink
57-58....Bag of Caltrops
59-60....Hammer (tool)
61-62....Prybar
63.........Grooming kit
64-65....1 bag of Pipe Weed
66-67....Eelskins (1 pair)
68..........Bear Grease
69-70....Whetstone
71-72.....Sewing kit
73-74.....20 Sling Bullets
75-77.....12 Arrows
78-80.....10 Crossbow bolts
81-82.....6 Darts
82-83....Throwing Daggers
84..........1-6 vials of acid
85-87....1-6 vials of Holy Water
88-89....1-6 packets of salt
90-91....1-6 buds of garlic
92....1-6 sprigs of wolves bane
93.......... 2 Bronze Ferry Tokens
94...........2 Silver Ferry Tokens
95......Witchy smelling Potion
96......A strange Scroll
97......Odd set of Footwear
98......Creepy Rope
99......Funny smelling Candle
100….Well-made Sword

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:31 am 
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I detect a distinct lack of old corpses! :) Without those, anyone finding equipment would assume that the dungeon has been cleared, no?

P.S.
Actually, I was also hoping to see a brief explanation why people of Onderland hide their treasures in dungeons of all places. Isn't the common burial safer and harder to find for thieves?

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:06 am 
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higgins wrote:
Actually, I was also hoping to see a brief explanation why people of Onderland hide their treasures in dungeons of all places.


Somewhere in Onderland, near a fireplace in a cosy cottage...

"Now gather round children. It is time for Grandpa to tell you the story of how the game of Adventurer Baiting was invented..."

;)

Some things just don't need a rational explanation. Like evolution...

Cheers,

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:24 am 
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@Ian - :lol: You are indeed the master!

@Higgins - Burial Mounds, the ancient abandoned cities of the Wissen, ect. The term dungeon is liberally used to refer to poking around any place that you shouldn't. :D

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:27 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
"Now gather round children. It is time for Grandpa to tell you the story of how the game of Adventurer Baiting was invented..."
If I ever need to run an adventure for a group of D&D veterans, that's going to be IT! :lol:

But yeah, the whole reasonable explanation thing was an intended pun. :) Burial grounds aside, I don't think a reasonable explanation for "dungeons" exists -- and how many of those many hundreds D&D dungeons are burial grounds? I'm guessing not a lot.

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:05 pm 
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higgins wrote:
But yeah, the whole reasonable explanation thing was an intended pun. :) Burial grounds aside, I don't think a reasonable explanation for "dungeons" exists -- and how many of those many hundreds D&D dungeons are burial grounds? I'm guessing not a lot.


Gee Higgins, in the Onderland there are more ruins, burial mounds and lost cities than you can shake a stick at. The place is just lousy with them...

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:30 pm 
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Dungeons in the Onderland

While Dungeons and other dark places can often take on a cartoonish aspect in much gaming literature, I prefer to take my inspiration from the master, REH, who well describes the vibe and mystery that I love to infuse into my games that periodically venture underground:

"I wonder how old Jacob Kiles discovered these subterranean ways. He did not construct them. They were carved out of dim caverns and sold rock by the hands of forgotten men - how long ago I dare not venture a conjecture."

"I have found that they are far more extensive than I have suspected. The hills must be honeycombed with them, and they sink into the earth to an incredible depth, tier below tier, like stories of a building, each tier connected to the one below by a single stairway."

"I have wondered much as to the identity of the race which must once have inhabited these labyrinths. ... ... One gets a fantastic impression of an emprisoned race burrowing deeper and deeper into the black earth, century by century, and losing more and more of their human attributes as they sank to each new level."

"The fifteenth tier is without rhyme or reason, the tunnels running aimlessly, without apparent plan - so striking a contrast to the top-most tier, which is a triumph of primitive architecture, that it is difficult to believe them to have been constructed by the same race. Many centuries must have elapsed between the building of the two tiers, and the builders must have become greatly degraded. But the fifteenth tier is not the end of these mysterious burrows."

"For some reason, the realization that the fifteenth tier is not the ultimate boundary of the labyrinths was a shock. The sight of the unstepped shaft gave me a strangely creepy feeling, and led me to fantastic conjectures regarding the ultimate fate of the race which once lived in these hills."

Robert E Howard - The Dwellers Under the Tomb

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:05 am 
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Hi Phil,
Would Onderland be ok for Blade?
Do you have any Character design info for the races?

Allan


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:59 pm 
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Hi Allan,

Wow, I have not visited the Onderland forum for a long time!

(Cough, Cough! Lots of dust here!!)

My gaming room still has my enormous 3x5 foot Onderland map on the wall waiting to be used again! That said, I am confident that the Onderland would work with Blade. Just consign the few remaining Elves and Dwarves to legend, transform the Stellthrane into an abandoned city, and banish the last of the monsters to the wilds.

Keep the game firmly focused on humanity and you should be fine.

The appearance of any individual monster would now be rather infrequent, and within the context of Sword & Sorcery gaming, would be the focal point of group play, with the end goal of play now perhaps as much one of avoiding the monster as confronting it.

Regards,

Phil

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:24 am 
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Hey Pj, just wondering what (if any) relation your Tsurani have to Raymond E Feist's Tsurani from the Riftwar Saga?

Have you based these people off of them? Or are we just seeing a name from a long ago read book resurfacing in the subconcious?

Cheers.

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:38 am 
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Ummm, not to sound all know it all, but Mr Feist was a massive rip off master!!!
But I do want to sound pissed at the fellow.
I took great pleasure when I had a book store, which we just closed up this weekend, in re-educating customers when they went all goey over his books.
Not saying any thing about you Mr Caller, smiley face if I could work out how to put them on the page.
But the education;
Feist was a gamer and in there game he used the first RPG setting made using D&D rules as the villians.
He then put it into his writting but changed just enough so he did not break copy right, but if you check the maps and the names of the cities you will find an almost perfect match.
And the culture is another rip off.
The setting is M A R Barkers Tekumel.
Feist has never owned up or he would have to pay.
There has even been some novels by Barker set in his setting. The man is a Tolkien of world design including languages.
So bring bad karma down on the Feist.

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:11 pm 
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Crow Caller wrote:
Hey Pj, just wondering what (if any) relation your Tsurani have to Raymond E Feist's Tsurani from the Riftwar Saga?

Have you based these people off of them? Or are we just seeing a name from a long ago read book resurfacing in the subconcious?

Cheers.


LOL! It is likely the latter. I think I read one of his books in my twenties. In the Onderland the Tsurani are more akin to the Ottoman Turks than anything else.

Phil

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