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3/02/2014 10:32 pm  #1


My Own Private Hyperborea

My Own Private Hyperborea
 
I became a huge fan of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerors of Hyperborea a few hours after opening the box. I loved the Baggley art, and if that had been it I would have been fine with the set. What I quickly realized is that Jeff Talanian had somehow tapped into a setting that brought me back 30+ years to the dawn of my gaming experience and the Greyhawk setting.
 
Hyperborea is nothing like Greyhawk and yet it brings back to me the same feeling of having found a well-spring of imagination and the invitation to drink my fill.  The game rules add greatly to my own 1e AD&D Houseruled system.  Jeff would probably be appalled out how readily I trim to fit his excellent rulesystem, but then again probably not. The mechanics aren't really the Thing.
 
Then there is the setting. As you read through the rulebook you realize how meshed it is with this fantastic setting. The setting itself is described in a relatively small gazetteer, until you read more and realize that the chapter on monsters enhances the gazetteer and the chapter on treasure, and even the chapter on character classes which fit this amazing setting so well. Everything is really part and parcel with Hyperborea, but drastic alterations and additions fit Hyperborea as well. You can easily have a Conan-esque game with only touches of weird monsters, technologies and horrors from beyond space and time. You can have a Lovecraftian game of mind-warping terror or something inspired by Clark Ashton Smith with adventure and fantastic encounters, or an A. Merritt inspired game with technology that is more akin to magic and alien races that have been on earth longer than mankind. Anything goes, adventures and ideas drawn from the pulps and early strange fiction writers, adventures with a touch of the weird and historical such as C.L. Moore penned or Clark Ashton Smith described in his haunted French countryside of Averoigne.
 
My own campaign drags quite a bit of the historical into the game and removes some of the more alien and technological from the realms of common experience. The esquimox have mostly disappeared from my campaign (I have given them the ability to cross between Hyperborea and Old Earth at will). The Ixians are gone entirely, the Hyperboreans and fading race of man akin to such people as A.Merritt described in his various works, but completely human. The Hellenic people are much more populace (as are all the places and cities of Hyperborea) and important in my campaign (the fishing town of Port Greely has disappeared and in its place is the Hellenic city-state of Ptolemides; a place a growing importance in my campaign). I have added the Rus as an important cultural group and plan to add a civilization of Finns, the Kimmerians becoming more of a Cossack-like civilization (without guns). Technology does still play a part in my campaign, but mostly alien technology which is hard to understand and extremely dangerous. There is also room for a lost expedition from the Miskatonic University of the 1920's and perhaps ships, planes or even submarines run aground on the shores this lost land.
 
Almost everything fits. So much so that the land grows and twists as it is traveled and a sudden mist may find travelers on the other-side of the continent, or somewhere in the distant past, or another dimension entirely.  And yet there is a stability; Khromarium the eternal city, Ptolemides, they provide a running continuity for my players.
 
I'd love to hear about other people's Hyperborea campaigns. I recommend trying it if you have a taste for Clark Ashton Smith or old Weird Tales kind of adventure. I will certainly be posting much more about in various ideas (which hopefully can generate some inspiration in any campaign setting) but also expand on this post to detail my own campaign, because talking about your campaigns as DMs and/or players has become part of the great enjoyment AD&D has brought to me over the years and I can't think of a better place to talk about it and hopefully receive responses.http://i61.tinypic.com/zx40h1.jpg

 

3/03/2014 6:30 am  #2


Re: My Own Private Hyperborea

For me,the mechanics really are not the Thing, as you surmise. To me, it's about the setting. It (I hope!) establishess the tone, the mood, the flavor, and certainly Baggley's art captured that spirit. 


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

3/05/2014 10:45 am  #3


Re: My Own Private Hyperborea

The rules are not the game. The game isn't the rules. 

Cheesy mantra I know, but so true.


Author, Hyperborean Laboratories, AFS Magazine Issue 3
Co-owner, partner at GP Adventures
The Hobby Shop Dungeon
 

4/06/2014 12:39 am  #4


Re: My Own Private Hyperborea

I initially picked up AS&SH with the intent of using it as a toolkit with a more traditional D&D game, but Jeff's Hyperborea have really grown on me as I read the game (which I have yet to play or run). I like the "D&D by way of Weird Tales" design philosophy that went into it.

One of the things that really grabbed me is the idea that instead of playing in an "ersatz" world in which you have stand-ins for historical human nations, you get to play characters who actually hail from these cultures. I'm all for having "Skandians" or "Norscans" or whatever you're calling the fair-skinned, fair-haired, seafaring barbarians from sub-arctic climates in your game world, but no name you ascribe to them will ever have the same impact of saying "my character is a VIKING BERSERKER" (cue Dimmu Borgir).

I really like the idea of Hyperborea as a world that is intrincately connected with our own Earth across space and time, in some inescrutable way. Jeff has a killer selection of "races" for a character to hail from. I'd never think of Amazons or Esquimaux, but Jeff did, and the game is more awesome because of it.

If anything, I would like expand on Jeff's central idea of a world that's coterminous with Earth across history, and have even more character options. I initially thought of this because I felt there's a dearth of Western European Medieval backgrounds, which I'm sure was deliberate, but I'd really like to have some corner of Hyperborea with knights in plate armor and feudal lords. So I seriously considering shoehorning in Clark Ashton Smith's fictional French province of Averoigne somewhere.

Then I thought to myself, why stop there? Maybe there are chunks of land that have been settled by time-lost Roman legions or Mongol hordes. Maybe there's an island ruled by the descendants of a multi-ethnic pirate crew from the 1600s Caribbean, when a strange storm swallowed their ship. And so on.

Also, Hyperborea needs a time-lost valley of dense jungles and dinosaurs. Badly.

I find this rationale amazing because, simple as it is, it finally allows me to set up the nonsensical patchwork of cultures and nations that is the typical D&D setting with a ready-made in-game-world explanation. I might even top it off with a Big Secret (is there rhyme or reason to these abductions of human groups from Earth? Who's doing this? Bored gods, playing with mortals like they were chess pieces? Mi-go trying to better comprehend humankind by setting up large-scale experiments?) that players can eventually interact with. It also allows players to play characters from pretty much any background they might want from Arabic Assassins to Zulu Shamans.

The one limiting factor is that, like I said, Jeff's Hyperborea has really grown on me. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/nervous.png


I'd love to hear more from people who are fiddling with Hyperborea as presented oin the books, using an original homebrew setting instead or in addition to Hyperborea?

 

4/06/2014 11:15 pm  #5


Re: My Own Private Hyperborea

The Butcher wrote:

I initially picked up AS&SH with the intent of using it as a toolkit with a more traditional D&D game, but Jeff's Hyperborea have really grown on me as I read the game (which I have yet to play or run). I like the "D&D by way of Weird Tales" design philosophy that went into it.

One of the things that really grabbed me is the idea that instead of playing in an "ersatz" world in which you have stand-ins for historical human nations, you get to play characters who actually hail from these cultures. I'm all for having "Skandians" or "Norscans" or whatever you're calling the fair-skinned, fair-haired, seafaring barbarians from sub-arctic climates in your game world, but no name you ascribe to them will ever have the same impact of saying "my character is a VIKING BERSERKER" (cue Dimmu Borgir).

I really like the idea of Hyperborea as a world that is intrincately connected with our own Earth across space and time, in some inescrutable way. Jeff has a killer selection of "races" for a character to hail from. I'd never think of Amazons or Esquimaux, but Jeff did, and the game is more awesome because of it.

If anything, I would like expand on Jeff's central idea of a world that's coterminous with Earth across history, and have even more character options. I initially thought of this because I felt there's a dearth of Western European Medieval backgrounds, which I'm sure was deliberate, but I'd really like to have some corner of Hyperborea with knights in plate armor and feudal lords. So I seriously considering shoehorning in Clark Ashton Smith's fictional French province of Averoigne somewhere.

Then I thought to myself, why stop there? Maybe there are chunks of land that have been settled by time-lost Roman legions or Mongol hordes. Maybe there's an island ruled by the descendants of a multi-ethnic pirate crew from the 1600s Caribbean, when a strange storm swallowed their ship. And so on.

Also, Hyperborea needs a time-lost valley of dense jungles and dinosaurs. Badly.

I find this rationale amazing because, simple as it is, it finally allows me to set up the nonsensical patchwork of cultures and nations that is the typical D&D setting with a ready-made in-game-world explanation. I might even top it off with a Big Secret (is there rhyme or reason to these abductions of human groups from Earth? Who's doing this? Bored gods, playing with mortals like they were chess pieces? Mi-go trying to better comprehend humankind by setting up large-scale experiments?) that players can eventually interact with. It also allows players to play characters from pretty much any background they might want from Arabic Assassins to Zulu Shamans.

The one limiting factor is that, like I said, Jeff's Hyperborea has really grown on me. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/nervous.png


I'd love to hear more from people who are fiddling with Hyperborea as presented oin the books, using an original homebrew setting instead or in addition to Hyperborea?

Excellent! Hyperborea is a setting that can be heavily fleshed out and personalized and still retain the weird tales atmosphere that Jeff has instilled in the books (both rulebooks, monster book and gazetteer. For myself I developed an area filled with Rus, and a Hellenic city-state.  I like doses CAS and Lovecraftian settings as well as more rollicking adventurous areas that REH would be at home in. I'm dashing in this that, Tesla is a great wizard in Hyperborea and both Ulysses and Jason are great captains always trying to find a way back to old earth. Lost people, lost ships and planes find their way to Hyperborea and they all fit very well.

     Thread Starter
 

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