Dated: 09 Sep, 2020
It’s an old trope – a long dead sleeping evil that is waking up and bent on world domination; practically every series of stories has done a variation on it, even based the whole series on it – Harry Potter and the return of Voldemort, X-Men Apocalypse and the blue Egyptian dude, the Lord of the Rings and Sauron, Star Wars and the Sith (twice), Transformers, etc. I am sure you could add to this list ad nauseum.
My favourite of them all, which is saying something considering the above list, is “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P Lovecraft. The idea of finding an ancient, super-powerful culture frozen under the ice and waking up, or possibly just arriving as they wake up, makes me tingle. Especially the bit where (spoiler alert) the noble adventurers nearly get creamed by one of the ancient race’s biological-machine-weapon-guard-things (a Shoggoth). It is a passion I share with ST Joshi, an acquaintance of mine, top bloke and one of the foremost Lovecraft experts in the world (look him up – he’s done some cool stuff!).
So, being a bit of a fan boy, how could I produce an homage to this fantastic story without re-hashing something and producing a lame smear of a book? Well it was tricky but I have given it a go…
“SM14 Of the Rakuli” is the latest publication by Dunromin University Press. The Rakuli of the title is the elven name for the Great Old Ones who once ruled Barnaynia completely, up until about 90,000 years ago, when they just seemed to vanish. So completely and suddenly did they go that they have since passed progressively into history, legend, myth and fairy story, before being pretty much forgotten by everyone.
So what were they? What happened to them? And are they ever likely to come back so that they can feature in my campaign?
These are the kinds of questions this book sets out to explain in depth…
It’s essentially a Monster Manual but with only one monster in it (although the Deep Race, Deepsea Dragons and Minor Elementals from SM05 The World Guide to Barnaynia are reprinted here as well, as they are closely linked to the Rakuli in different ways). The text starts with a bit of scene-setting fiction and then goes into the monster stats, culture, history and all the other details about the race you’ll need, including the Great Cataclysm that ended their reign and several adventure and campaign ideas as to how you might use them in your own games.
Spoiler alert (again) – they are not all evil but they will not be your friend. They have a diverse culture with different groups (nations) representing different ideals, government styles and social norms. They are pretty powerful, but in a scaled way so you can use them against any level of party from about level 5 up and keep them a challenge without being a TPK. There’s lots to read and consider; plenty of food for thought - even if you don’t use them.
The stats are written for OSRIC which means they will work with pretty much any OSR ruleset and First and Second edition AD&D with no adjustment. They should also work with BECMI and later D&D editions with a little adjustment.
The book is ready for download on DriveThruRPG as Pay What You Want. I know this means you can have it for free, which is fine, but if you can spare a penny for this small, independent publisher with three children to feed, please do.