One thousand years ago, the wizard Martek knew that you would come to find his Sphere of Power. Now, one of his glowing Star Gems shows you the way. The starlight, reflected in the glass beneath you, flickers peacefully.
Suddenly, the Skysea before you bursts up into a thousand shards of splintered glass, showering into the moonlight! A horrible creature is silhouetted against the moon. You strain against the rudder to keep your ship upright.
Too late! Your cloudskate tips onto one runner, and then tumbles over, skidding to a stop on the glass. As your companions struggle to right the ship, you turn and face the monster. You must hold the creature back to give them time. Without the ship, none of you can get off the glass before the sun rises in the morning.
Martek's prophecy spoke of heroes, tests, and dangers. Are you the heroes? What are the tests? What dangers and riches lie ahead.
Everything about this cover screams otherworldly pulpy old school adventure from the skate ship to the purple worm creature. This is I5 Lost Tomb of Martek by Tracy Hickman for characters 7 through 9 & boy do they mean it. This is both a wilderness crawl & dungeon session all with an underlying plot that moves the adventure backbone along. But my ex co dungeon master & friend took the plot to the cleaners with both Clark Ashton Smith & HP Lovecraft's name on I5. This was an adventure that caused me to reevaluate my life on more then a few levels.
Call me old fashioned but I'm not much of a joiner these days & going over my notes from Peter's old Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg mash up campaign with I5 Lost Tomb of Martek I suddenly remembered why. Turn your wayback machine to 2011 when our hero PC's were last killed by the Pit of Everfall. Only we woke up on board a skate ship bound for the tomb of the eons dead wizard Martek or so we thought. Nope, Peter had changed tactics & adventure storyline for I5. Instead we were skating through a reverse planar Diamond Desert dreamland on our way to meet with the ancient Egyptian pharaohs Khephren and Nitokris. Perhaps to be sacrificed to some nameless hippopotamus-sized, five-headed, tentacled beast servant of Nyarlathotep. Peter was especially fond of Nyarlathotep and loved to dovetail the Crawling Chaos into all kinds of old school adventures. There were two of the Star Gems aboard the craft which was sailed by half-man, half-animal mummies.
This wasn't a good sign at all for that matter Sir Tristen the Bold wasn't a knight of Apollo after all but an agent of Hastur as we found out during the events of I4 before we were killed!? The bastard was no where to be seen and the player was playing a desert barbarian. So what happened to him? We would never find out but more on that later.
Dave Trampier artwork from the AD&D first edition Monster Manual
The animal headed mummies were intelligent but had the mummy rot touch of standard AD&D first edition mummies. We had to think fast? So when we encountered that weird purple Dhole our party as one dumped all seven animal headed mummies overboard! Our party lost three of our nine PC's during the melee. We took control of the skate ship only to find out it was on a pre-programed extra dimensional course. There were PC's waiting at the tomb to replace the others, these were prisoners of the cult of
Nyarlathotep. We had to time this whole adventure ruse carefully & grab the new prisoners then make our way through the tomb of the wizard who was being held by the ancient Egyptian pharaohs Khephren and Nitokris. They were waiting for the arrival of the Crawling Chaos himself!
The Black Man", artist Jens Heimdahl's rendition of Nyarlathotep.
The situation seemed to get worse & worse for our party. We made our way through various dungeon levels of the Tomb of Martek the garden, crystal prism, and citadel were especially dangerous for us. Greed killed a few of our number time and again. Finally we made it to the the Mobius Tower inspired locations This was a place whose levels are magically linked in a loop as a part of a curse of 'The Crawling Chaos'. 'The time-trapped inhabitants of the tower - who appear frozen because they exist in a different, slow-moving time-frame' element played marry havoc with our party. We completed the adventure received our experience points. I knew that Peter had spent a good month using HP Lovecraft's
"Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" as his source material and masterfully blended it all together. We managed to escape the destruction of the Citadel of Martek. This was before the arrival of Nyarlathotep.
Front cover of the May-June-July 1924 edition of Weird Tales
We finished the adventure over the weekend from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. But everything went to Hell for Peter & his family. That week in 2011 was very bad, he lost his job, his apartment in Torrington, & moved out of the state by the next weekend. His wife almost divorced him,and his dad who was his land lord threw him out.
He ebayed a small chunk of my gaming collection and my buddy Steve's gaming books. These aren't these gents real names folks. This is to protect the guilty folks. Some of those items I'm still trying to recover to this day. Shrug. I know his back was against the financial wall and things were nasty but Peter if your reading this you could have come to me pal. I would have and you know that. Someone mentioned not being able to afford keeping up with the OSR product arms race tonight on G+ and that's very true. In point of fact that's one of the reasons for starting this blog and why I stopped reviewing every single adventure title & OSR source book that comes out. You eventually suffer from burn out. But there were a ton of loose ends from I5 that a DM can exploit for a weird pulpy adventure.
Ten Still Loose Adventure Hooks For A
Mythos Modified I5 Lost Tomb of Martek Adventure
- There are number of indicators that this adventure might take place in an HP Lovecraft dreamlands version of the Sphinx of Giza where the beast is far more dangerous then his real life counterpart. This version of the Abū al-Haul, English: The Terrifying One; literally: Father of Dread has connections with Nyarlathotep.
- Many of the indicators in Clark Ashton Smith's work have deep connections with the pharaohs Khephren and Nitokris who are far more dangerous entities that are the high priest and priestess for Nyarlathotep
- The bringing together of the Star Gems awakens a very dangerous avatar of Nyarlathotep and releases it into the Diamond Desert of Hyperborea.
- The tombs of serveral of the 'favored ones' of Nyarlathotep are found within the area surrounding tomb and its lands.
- There are other indicators that the a number of planes on the way to the Citadel of Martek are infact Nightmare dimensions of HP Lovecraft Dreamlands.
- A number of highly valuable artifacts are found in the Citadel of Martek which could be treasures gathered by Nyarlathotep and could prompt a return visit to recover these for some patron or client.
- Several of the priests and other NPC's could actually high ranking Nyarlathotep cult leaders who could cause much pain for other adventuring parties in the future.
- Martek himself might be a high level lich who got the low end of the bargain with Nyarlathotep creating even more adventures for the PCs in the future.
- A variety of magical treasures from I5 could be connected with other HP Lovecraft mythos cults causing headaches and issues in the futures of adventurers.
- Because of the association with death and the Egyptian afterlife, The Tomb of Martek there might have a deep connection with the Jackal-Dog Anubis, the God of the Necropolis. This could lead to the PC's have a return trip to the adventure locations of I5 for a quest or errand for the god or his priests.