THE MARMOREAL TOMB OF GARN PAT'UUL
The first step in order to translate the Marmoreal Tomb to AS&SH is to work on its backstory, and make it fit the Hyperborean setting.
The Marmoreal Tomb is designed to be a smooth introduction to the Classic roots of the game (whether we are talking about Basic, Original or Advanced rules, though with a more straightforward equivalence with the latter): to explore a dungeon with a non-linear design, empower the players' characters to choose their own pace and tactics facing the different challenges the place represents.
In order to successfully introduce new players to the Hobby Shop Dungeon campaign, the Marmoreal Tomb plays on the shared experience of the world's most popular role-playing game. It features a newly-established clan of dwarves, the Stone-cutter Dwarves, who settled in this place after working on the construction of Caer Caeladon (the HSD) with Nester the Arch-mage.
They know the place was once special to the stone giants, and at first avoid venturing too far, using their stone cunning and resources to dig around the remnants of the stone giants settlement, harvesting the celadon marble that makes this place so rich in opportunities for them. Greed ultimately overcomes their leader, however, as he orders his people to get to the Tomb of Garn Pat'uul and seize whatever treasure lies within. This will trigger the invasion of other, modern stone giants, led by a Cambion known as Young Krassus. These giants and their servants were magically called to this place when the Tomb was been breached, for reasons expended upon in the module itself.
The settlement is the site of an epic battle between the dwarves and the stone giants' forces. The dwarves are ultimately decimated, and the rest, as they say, is history. The module's backstory goes into more detail about these events and their consequences. Suffice to say that the players' characters discover in some way, by means of a map or rumours circulating around them, the location of the Tomb. They explore it some ten years after the disaster happened.
Now let's switch the assumptions from the Classic roots of the game, to the Hyperborean game setting. We need to reinterpret this history of the Tomb in the context of the AS&SH game.
AS&SH does not use elves, halflings, gnomes and dwarves (at least not the in the way dwarves are declined in the Classic iterations of the game). It doesn't have stone giants either, not per se. I feel that the best way to make correlations between what any specific group would stand for in a Classic campaign and what it becomes in AS&SH is on a case by case basis, using the sources of the AS&SH game themselves, in order to recreate a similar, yet specific picture that fits the whole, rather than make blanket equivalences to the effect that “all elves are Hyperboreans” and the like, which would invariably run into multiple problems of continuity and dissonance in game play.
AS&SH only has fire and frost giants. Hill giants in the game are fomorians, who are brutish creature wearing thick mammoth pelts speaking a proto-Keltic and/or Common tongue. The creature's entry very interestingly indicates that "[i]n Hyperborea, the Kelts regard fomorians as their enemies of old, notorious for raiding and pillaging their communities for slaves and livestock."
Now that is VERY interesting. What we could have in this case is an Elder Fomorian, the actual enemies of old, be in essence stone giants: these fomorians were the forefathers of the current fomorian race, greater giants with the strength to destroy Keltic communities and face its folk heroes to leave a long lasting trace in the Keltic culture as a whole. Fundamentally, the difference between a hill giant and a stone giant is one of degree, and this is this same degree of difference we will apply between the fomorians and their forebearers.
This means that in our Hyperborean Tomb, Garn Pat'uul was one of those, an Elder Fomorian of great power, who was buried there in ages past. To keep the natural opposition that exist in the Classic experience of the game between giants and dwarves, we could make the Stone-cutters of the Marmoreal Tomb men, Kimmeri-Kelt men, to be precise, for the Kimmerian ancestry of these folks might actually mix well with the Picts and Half-Bloods living in the area, in an indirect, obscure way akin to the relations between the Picts, the Cimmerians and the Celts of R.E. Howard's Hyborian world.
Our Kimmeri-Kelts are outsiders to the societies of men around the Skarag Coast, including the twisted men of Wold Phellora, and those Half-Blood Picts who desperately try to cling to their roots against the corruption of the orcs. This absolutely fits the vibe of the original module, in which the Stone-cutter dwarves were outsiders, nomads who had wandered for aeons before they found Nester and could rise above their humble origins to become a full clan of their own.
Nester himself I will not talk about right now. He is beyond the scope of the Marmoreal Tomb. Let's just assume for the moment that he is a very powerful Magician who might actually have come from beyond the North Wind in search for something that prompted the construction of Caer Caeladon and the enlistment of those Kimmeri-Kelts who were strangers to the Skarag Coast. After many years of work for the Magician, these Kimmeri-Kelts were revealed the location of the Marmoreal Tomb in order to establish themselves as a new clan of men in the Castle's vicinity.
Now this gives us a better idea where we are going with our Hyperborean Tomb: the Elder Fomorians that inhabited the mountains in time past, the horrible rites they might have led in honour of some horrifying, otherworldly masters best forgotten in the present day, the Kimmeri-Kelt who aided Nester build his castle and upper dungeons, and the greed that overcame their leader when they opened the tomb of Garn Pat'uul.
I am reminded of the Picts of Robert E. Howard, and in particular how the author's ideas regarding their origins and rule over Britain prior to and after the days of Bran Mak Morn changed over time.
At first, Robert E. Howard associated the decline of the Picts, a race with a long, long history stretching all the way back to the days of Atlantis and ancient Valusia, with the legends of the little people living under the hills, below the dolmens and menhirs of Britain. This view evolved over time, in part due to exchanges with HP Lovecraft which led to the notion that the Picts were not the Little People of legend, but some predecessor race, presumably of mongoloid (sic) ancestry, which was pushed away and back below the ground by the ancient Picts who came from the Mediterranean and ruled Britain prior to all others. This ultimately led to one particular story of Robert E. Howard which I know is very dear to our host: The Worms of the Earth, featuring Bran Mak Morn for the very last time during Robert E. Howard's life.
I am going to take huge inspiration from this, and going to assume that the conflict between Tlinglit Picts and orcs did not end up with the end of the race on the Skarag Coast. In this version of the Skarag Coast, the Half-Blood Picts live on, isolated deep in the forests, high on the hills of the region, hiding away from the orcs concentrating in and around Orcust. Some of these Picts are still in tune with their ancestral ways, much like their brothers and sisters of the Savage Boreal Coast. Others, however, have traded a surrender to the pig daemons of yore for more obscure, soul-shattering rites which initially helped them survive, but ultimately forced them to recede deep in the dark places of the world, deep below the surface, far away from the light and the world of men.
These Picts have embraced the ways of the ancient fomorians who walked the surface of the continent long before the first spires of Khromarium were raised by the Hyperboreans. They listened to the forbidden secrets hinted at by the ancient mossy stones raised in the forlorn fens of the world. They discovered the Black Stone and were welcomed by the essence of Gol-goroth who dwells in places where darkness is so thick and sharp it can cut through the eyes of those trying to pierce it.
Krassus the Cambion learned from them. He is no Pict, oh no, for he spent a long time getting used to Hyperborea, building up his forces in hopes to challenge those who oppose him. He was not always strong, however. He thought he was, as one of the major commandants of the Ninth Legion, but he did not really know what he was doing. Adventuring beyond the Wall was folly, he knew it then, but had he known his fate on that day, he might have deserted instead of walking further north. It would have been fine for a strong youthful Roman commander to die in the service of the Senate of Rome, but to be exiled, victim of some Pictish sorcery, to become lost and wander up to the point he emerged from the dark swamps of Hyperborea on this cursed Skarag Coast, he could not abide.
Even when he fell victim to the Picts, when his camp collapsed, eaten from the inside, sucked into the ground by devilish forces well beyond this world, he could not tell what was going to happen then. They let him live, you see. They shook him and restrained him and took him away... but they kept him alive. In the dark. Rocked by a multitude of degenerated beings in the bowels of the earth. Listening to the terrible, impossibly deep songs within.
He emerged some time later. He survived, but he was changed. He was now on a mission for a power beyond the reach of man that spoke to him, and told him where to go. The power altered his body, his mind, his very identity, changing him into a Cambion, a soul-partner to the Great Old Ones. He came back into contact with some of the other Roman exiles, shared his secrets with them, and delivered the fomorian touch that had wretched his own very being. Together, they walk as the new emissaries of Gol-goroth, building their strength, growing an army to rain destruction upon their enemies. It is said they seek the Black Stone to reunite with the essence of the dark, and that their attack upon the Kimmeri-Kelts who once served Nester was but a first act in a grand tragedy that is yet to unfold.
In the meantime, the Tomb lays silent. Its location has been found, and it is up to you to find whatever you can, whether it be treasure, maps leading to Nester's Folly, or more.
Last edited by Benoist (7/11/2014 12:46 pm)