Sunday, 20 October 2013

Adapting "Horror on the Hill"

Yep! Another game!

It's my intention to run a game using the module "Horror on the Hill" as a foundation. But it will be a heavily adapted version.

I have always been interested in Gary Holian's article; "The Kingdom of Keoland" in the Living Greyhawk Journal #1, page 8. The article presents us with the Hobniz village of Kilm, which has recently been razed by monstrous humanoids from out of the Jotens, from across the Javan River. The fortress of Godakin Keep has sent troops to investigate, but they have learned nothing. In fact, the Countess Allita Elgarin's own son – Lord Garson Elgarin – has disappeared trying to figure out what has happened.

The module "Horror on the Hill" also presents us with a fort, located across a river – from the hill – waiting to be invaded by monstrous humanoids. Personally, I can't think of a better Greyhawk setting for playing "Horror on the Hill." My group will be playing out Gary Holian's written "history" of a section of the County of Flen, Kingdom of Keoland, World of Greyhawk!

What can I say? The World of Greyhawk is "my" world. It's my gaming world of choice. Of course, that's not to say that I agree with – or like – everything "Greyhawk." I hate mixing science with magic. Thus, in my Greyhawk, there is no hero-deity named "Murlynd" running around with six-shooters and there is no crashed "spaceship" in the Barrier Peaks.

This "pet peeve" is one of the reasons I'm not thrilled with Pathfinder's world of Golarion. For all the pictures (artwork) they like to produce of Wizards and Undead, their world in "high" in science. In the nation of Numeria, they have light-sabers, pure and simple. In the nation of Nex they have golems that are unquestionably "scientific" in nature, not magical -- though that point can be argued. In the region known as The Shackles, they have gunpowder weapons, which are primarily made in the region known as the Mana Waste. Given that these two regions are across a continent from each other, makes it highly likely that gunpowder weapons can be found in any and all of the nations' found in-between these two.

I am not the least bit interested in having a long, drawn out discussion with any of my players explaining "logically" and "rationally" why they can't have a light-saber in my game. The reason is simple . . . because it's my game! I'm not even interested in Spelljammer, because it's too much like Star Trek, "the game." I don't play those types of RPGs. You want to visit the moon in my game? That's fine . . . as long as you can cast Dimension Door, or some such spell.

I know that there are many of you that will read this and disagree. It's all a matter of personal taste. I like magic, not science. I live in a world of science; I don't look to science for my escapism. I look to magic for that.

Anyway, what do you think of my playing out Gary's history of the County of Flen with the module "Horror on the Hill?" Can you think of a better fit? If so, let me know!


  1. I feel the same way. Science mixed in with fantasy goes way, way back, but it's not the feel I want for my game either. I'll run a whole post-apoc or science-fantasy game if I want that, rather than toss in blasters with my dungeon fantasy. It's just not what I'm looking to GM.

  2. Yes, even Howard touched on it in "Tower of the Elephant." Still, not my cup of tea and I'm a BIG Howard fan.

  3. I'm a fan of the Fallout series which is a post apocalyptic setting in the future. I'm also a fan of swords and sorcery. However, never shall the twain meet IMC. I'm one of the few people I know that don't like Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. It was well written, it just does not fit my gaming style. I was completely opposed to gun powder in my games. While I have yet to allow them in a game, gunpowder works well or seems to work well in a pirate campaign. Overall, I think the level of magic or science in a game should be somewhat consistent with the game world your trying to create.



  4. Though gunpowder fits our idea of a Pirate campaign, the truth is that the Pirates which Caesar drove out of the Mediterranean, did not have gunpowder weapons. Even the Vikings were "Pirates" and they didn't have gunpowder weapons either.

    Another thing that makes this an impossibility for my game is that illiterate, uneducated, idiot Pirates will never invent the weapons they are imagined to use, much less manufacture them. So, what kingdom -- in an imaginary game world setting -- did they get these weapons from? There's no way to give pirates "sophisticated" gunpowder weapons without them existing elsewhere in the game world. It just can't be reconciled without resorting to "saying" nothing more than: "But it's a fantasy world!"

    I hate that.

    No, I'll stick with the Pirates of Caesar's world.