Aha, this one is definitely one of my favourites.
I realised quickly once OpenQuest 1st Edition came out that it needed an adventure/scenario pack which quite frankly showed how awesome it was. Life and Death was planned to do that, but I had descended into a pessimistic revise/rewrite loop which meant it wasn’t getting done any time soon. My friend John Ossoway had a series of old RQ3 Conan scenarios, which featured monsters from the HP Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos, which he casually mentioned over a lunchtime meetup. Excited by the idea, I convinced John to let me release it as an OpenQuest adventure.
So the plan was.
For me to create a new setting. Which was faithful to the essence of Pseudo Vikings and a frozen North, fighting eldritch horrors in the wilderness, but didn’t include Howards or Lovecraft’s IP. This led to the creation of the Savage North, which is made up of three kingdoms. The two kingdoms, the Drakkar, Nortland and Sonderland*** and the misty hill land of Bogdan.
To do editorial on John’s adventures, strip out the Conan + HP Lovecraft IP and convert it all to OpenQuest. This led to many bloodthirsty demons replacing Lovecraft’s creations since I’m a bit of an 80s body-horror fan (Clive Barker, Chronenburg etc.). The adventures formed a mini-campaign, which took the characters up a glacier and through the underground dungeons that riddled it to face waking evil Serpentmen Priests. Then south for a spot of monster hunting while safely escort a Druid who was turned into a pig to a sacred grove to be turned back into a human. Finally, the campaign ended with a dungeon lair of a demi-lich on a remote island and a race against time to prevent the master from resurrecting as a full member of the undead nobility. The whole thing was very Old School with dungeons and set-piece encounters along wilderness journies. John wrote one section of the first scenario to provide an excuse to replenish the party after it suffered a Total Party Kill.
John did all the internal art, including this map of the Savage North.
It was one of the most fun collaborations that I have been involved in, and that playful sense of fun translated into sales, with it meeting my expectations. One of D101 Games’ best sellers, it was a no-brainer when I did the OpenQuest 3rd edition that there should be a new version of the book entitled Saga of the Savage North.
I threw together this web comix from John’s art, and I think it sums up the sense of mischievous fun we had 😀
*Drakar was a land of pseudo-Vikings, with a touch of the North East of England where I’d lived as a teen. There’s an Angel of the North, a massive statue that comes to life and crushes its enemies, a city called Newcastle, the twin river gods Way-Ai and Kan-Ai and Howay the Hunter God.