As mentioned in my last post, I’m going to be talking about factions in the Middergloom in my game. Now, I don’t mean factions in terms of game mechanics (such as those used in Kevin Crawford’s Stars Without Number), although I may bring in some sort of mechanic for this at some point in the future, I’m simply using the terms to refer to group/organisations of like-minded individuals with a set goal.
For example, I’d classify the following as factions:
- An ogre tribe intent on raiding nearby villages.
- A secretive cult of chaos worshippers.
Factions in the Upper Middergloom
The list of creatures that I selected from the various OSR publications I have at my disposal is listed to the right. For my first step I’m going to have a look through them and see if there are any groupings that thematically fit together.
- Onmatophorian Half-Goblin
- Carcass Crawler
- Six-headed Sewer Gripe
- Gloomium Dragon
- Tentacled Horror
- Giant centipede
- Purple Worm
- Misshaped Animals
- Trolls (mutated)
There are certainly possibilities for other monsters but I see them more as wandering loners rather than an established group.
- Greater Horned Groat MIDD/110
- Slitherling MIDD/119
- Short-horned ratdog MIDD/134
- Ommatophorian Half-Goblin MIDD/146
- Six-headed Sewer Gripe MIDD/179
- Gloomgool MEXP/156
- Gloomium Dragon MEXP/157
- Tentacled Horror MEXP/169
- Devil Lurefish MGL/190
- Midden Horror MGL/193
- Bandits BXM/6
- Bats BXM/7
- Fire Beetles BXM/8
- Carcass Crawler BXM/10
- Giant Centipede BXM/11
- Goblin BXM/21
- Grey Ooze BXM/22
- Green Slime BXM/23
- Insect Swarm BXM/26
- Kobold BXM/27
- Ochre Jelly BXM/33
- Purple Worm BXM/35
- Rats BXM/35
- Rhagodessa BXM/35
- Skeleton BXM/39
- Spiders BXM/40
- Yellow Mould BXM/47
- Zombie BXM/47
- Ogre OSR/208
- Dark Creeper OSR/279
- Mongrelmen OSR/296
- Misshaped animals FAM/47
- Troll FAM/67
- Giant Pill Bug OPU/87
- Science Fungoid OPU/88
- Beastmen TNU/320
Group 1 clearly lends itself to the idea of wandering tribes of greenskins with assorted vermin kept either as pets or simply attracted by the foul habits of the tribe.
I’ve put the arachnids together in Group 2 partly because they all have an obvious connection, spiders are a strong element in horror and webbed chambers are always good for an atmosphere of menace. Also, there is a creature called a Spawn of Morgontula which is a Shelob-esque Gloomium mutated spider in one of the Midderlands books and I quite like the idea of such a creature controlling a hive of lesser-arachnids. I think this group will be stronger on deeper levels, but in-keeping with their multiple legs they probably have interests in other levels as well.
Group 3 consists of the various mutated and Gloomium infused creatures, I’ve put them together as a group for similar reasons to group 2, and also because there are different stats for Tentacled Horrors, with the most dangerous (and intelligent) at lower-levels, I can imagine one of these aberrant horrors (perhaps unable to leave the life-sustaining radiation of the Gloomium near the planet’s core) stretching out it’s tentacles to influence agents on layers nearer the surface.
I’ve also got three other ideas for groups that I want to add:
Group 4 will consist of the various undead type creatures listed above (along with possibly some other leader types like Wights, Shades, etc originally missing from the listing). The inclusion of the undead is partly to allow clerics to use their turning but it also makes thematic sense, since lots of stuff will be dying in this area that is suffused with magical radiation. I’m also a sucker for the whole undead-Goman idea.
Group 5 will probably be some variation of Serpent Men, because I’ve always been a fan of them and they feature in one of the dungeons I’m using for part of my Middergloom.
For Group 6 I want some more human enemies and–since the players have already discovered that some sort of cult is at work and involved in the Laughing Plague–the cult is going to be the last group.
Current Rough Write-ups for the Various Groups
A tribe of Trolls and Ogres (with numerous Goblin slaves) lead by a mutated champion with a huge crab-claw.
A large Goblin tribe who have been dwelling in the Middergloom in the this area since pre-Goman times.
The undead remains of a massacred Goman legion, killed by Havenlander barbarians. Lead by their undead general Lucius Pascentius.
There are many spiders, both giant and otherwise in the Middergloom, those that are members of the Cluster are all marked (regardless of their size) with an emerald green hour glass. They are commanded by a huge Spawn of Morgontula who lairs deeper within the Middergloom.
Spawn of Yicnathrurh
The Spawn of Yicnathrurh are a group of mutated creatures commanded by an ancient Tentacled Horror that lurks in the Deep Middergloom. At this level the PCs are most likely to encounter Trolls, Beastmen, Mongrelmen, Misshapen animals, etc.
Cult of the Laughing God
A cult of bored nobles and people of influence desperate to stimulate their jaded tastes and gain power in the material world. To do this they use an ancient tome to summon up the essence of an abyssal creature, this creature (known as Smiling Jack) then claims certain people and gives the cultists power in return.
Children of Cthizu
The Children of Cthizu are the remnants of an ancient society of Serpent Men who once dwelled in this area.
I think that’s it for this post, in my next I’ll delve into the aims of these groups and start thinking about what resources and territory they have at their disposal.