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Eight Frightfully Eerie Pulp Fiction Adventure Hooks

Harold S Delay-  Red Nails “…what nameless shapes may even now lurk in the dark places of the world?”

—Robert E. Howard, “The Black Stone”

Well met, and welcome to my own curious little corner of the Crossroads. Here you’ll find harrowing tales of high adventure and histories of unspeakable eldritch horrors.

I’ve always been excited by strange fiction, and throughout my days as a gamemaster, I’ve found the majority of the fuel for my creative fires within the dog-eared folios of classic pulp magazines and their collected editions. An early love of Conan and Cthulhu led me to seek out other lurid yarns that sprang from the yellowed pages of such publications as Adventure, Amazing Stories, and Black Mask—but, most importantly, the inimitable Weird Tales.

Here is an octad of intriguing tales as old as time. And these plot hooks are rather meaty. With the proper bit of preparation, you’ll find a few of these tales will keep your players readily occupied for an evening, while others could very well inform the better part of a campaign.

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The Imajaghan: Blue Turban Paladins of the Desert

Southlands Teaser Image #1

Wearing indigo-colored cheche, a garment that is both veil and turban, and flowing white robes, the Tamasheq of the Crescent and Sarklan Deserts are a simple tribal people journeying endlessly from oasis to oasis while tending their herds of goats, camels, and horses. Or at least that’s what they want others to believe.

The truth, however, is that the Tamasheq have a thriving civilization that they take great pains to hide from the world. For in the Stone Desert lies the Dominion of the Wind Lords. In that inhospitable world of rocky badlands, aspects of nature and even inanimate objects have an incarnate or spirit presiding over them. These spirits are aware and conscious like any living thing and they all pay homage to the primordial beings known as the Wind Lords.

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The Southlands Come Alive: Lost Cities of Gold and Salt

Running gnoll

“Mardas Vhula-gai” is a ruined city overrun by tribes of Dabu gnolls, an outpost of the Kingdom of the Gnoll Queen, located in the arid desert wilds outside of Narumbeki. The name is Southern Goblin for “Devouring Darkness,” and the gnolls have many goblin allies amongst the ruins. The original name of the city is long lost: the city was cast into ruins by awesome powers millennia ago, perhaps during the ancient War of the Gods.

Mysterious glyphs on the oldest surviving pyramids and pillars of the city are well worn and faded, but still glow faintly at night, even after tens of thousands of years. What magic they contain or generate is unknown to current scholars. These runes are one of two reasons why this ruined city is of any interest to anyone but the humanoid raiders who lair here.

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From Zobeck to the Southlands

In the desert

I first started playing around in the world of Midgard when it was just a crossroads city called Zobeck. At this point, Kickstarter wasn’t even a thing, and Wolfgang was crowdsourcing the nascent Midgard Campaign Setting using a form many here know as Open Design’s patronage model. Patronage wasn’t a new concept, but how it was being used for creating vibrant RPG material was certainly new to me.

The first Open Design project I joined was Blood of the Gorgon back in February of 2008—a mere month before my first-ever paid RPG freelance work was published by Highmoon Media Productions (a mini adventure called “The Havenmine Gauntlet” that was sent out to Kobold Quarterly subscribers somewhere around the magazine’s 4th volume). During that first project, I just lurked and learned the process, and then when the Tales of Zobeck project started up, I signed on again and got ready to pitch my ideas.

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On Converting Monsters to D&D

Werelion Fighter

A conversion is more art than science. Please, don’t misinterpret my words. I’m not saying that maths aren’t important, because they are. In fact, I teach discrete maths as part of my day job! But getting a monster, a character race, a spell, and so on from one system to another is something that can’t be done properly just using a formula.

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