Sunday, January 28, 2018

Role-Playing the William Blake Way

William Blake          Jerusalem, Plate 25 (detail)          1804-20

Part 8 of Lords of Creation features the Lands of Wonder – “six unusual settings where adventures may take place.”  One of these settings, The Land of Ulro, “is a science fantasy world inspired by the mystical poetry of William Blake...”  This is an interesting choice, but not inexplicable given that Philip José Farmer's “World of Tiers” series was specifically cited by Moldvay as an inspiration for Lords of Creation and Blake was an inspiration for Farmer's series.

“Science fantasy” is one of the seven setting types Moldvay describes in Part 7 of the Rule Book.  “Anything and everything goes in a science fantasy setting,” Moldvay informs us.  Additionally, “science fantasy settings are the easiest to work with since anything mentioned in the rules can be used.”  Science fantasy foes include (but are not limited to):  GIANT ANIMALS, Le Comte de Saint-Germain, Kuan Yin, FELINES, SILKIES, and Väinämöinen.

The physical form of Ulro is that of a huge hollow sphere.  The inhabited area of Ulro is on the inside shell of the sphere.  The sphere is filled with Udan Adan, that is, with outer space complete with stars and a sun which makes a daily journey through Udan Adan.  Paradoxically, Udan Adan really is outer space.  By travelling into it one can travel to the outside of the sphere into normal space.  Similarly, one can be travelling in normal space and find oneself in Udan Adan in Ulro without even noticing the transition.

Among the points of interest in Ulro:
Tree of Mystery – “A huge tree that bears every known fruit in addition to some strange, unknown fruits that appear nowhere else.”
Drantham Road – “A road made of silver that runs from the Tree of Mystery to Golgonooza...”
Stone of Night – “A giant black, square stone which weeps tears of blood when major battles are in progress anywhere on Ulro.”
City States of Enitharmon – “Seven cities located in the middle of fertile cropland.  The cities are all ruled by matriarchies.”

Golgonooza is a city of superscience and supermagic.

Moldvay tells us that “Golgonooza exists in four dimensions instead of three” and that “One implication [of this] is that the city travels in time.”  Also, “the city exists simultaneously in four spots at the same time.”

With regard to the Lands of Wonder settings, Moldvay states, “There is no reason why the GM cannot exercise imagination to fill in the details...”  One could argue that such an exercise is not optional.  This is especially true of Ulro, since we are not aware of what sort of adventures Moldvay intended for this setting.  “Though sometimes difficult reading,” he explains, “for inspiration the GM may want to study the poetry of William Blake...”  Absent this study, “anything can happen.”
There are many individuals mentioned in the mystical poetry of William Blake.  For reasons of limited space, only six were described in THE BOOK OF FOES under THE FAMILY OF LOS (Los, Enitharmon, Orc, Rintrah, Palamabron, and Vala).  Other sons of Los and Enitharmon include:  Theotormon, Bromion, Antamon, Sotha, Manathra-Vorcyon, Ozoth, Ohana, Har, Gon, Mydon, Ellayol, Ochim, Natho, and Harhath.  The daughters of Los and Enitharmon include:  Ocalythron, Elynittria, Oothon, Leutha, Elythiria, Enanto, Hevah, Thiralatha, and Ethinthus.
According to the description of the Family of Los in The Book of Foes, they “do not call themselves 'gods and goddesses'...Their power has passed beyond such pettiness.”  Each member of the Family of Los has every power of each class.  (This necessarily includes 'cyborg'.)  The least powerful member of the family detailed in The Book of Foes, Palamabron, “is the founder of abstract law and often appears in priestly robes, wearing a horned head piece.”  Compared to Palamabron, Zeus and Odin are a couple of lightweights.  Granted, Zeus and Odin both have every power class (including 'cyborg'), but Zeus is only worth 6,600 experience points and Odin, 4,350.  Palamabron is worth a hefty 8,500 experience points.

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