Showing posts with label demon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label demon. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Seasons in The Abyss

A while back I talked about how my players in the Order of the Platinum Dragon are splitting off for one level (14 to 15) to do something different with each of their characters.  We have jokingly referred to as a "vision quest" but in the Mythos of my game world it would be more appropriate to call them "Secret Journies".

They are trapped in the Abyss and each one will visit a different demon world before they hook back up on the Demonweb.  I have no issues with them finding each other across the Abyss; they just will.  A random encounter with a Chaos Stone has them all linked with a minor form of telepathy.

In one case one of the Paladins and the Fighter will be visiting Liberation of the Demon Slayer. The sorcerer will be going to Têhom, the Abyssal layer that had belonged to Tiamat.  Likely he will bring her back to life.  And the others... I have no clue yet.
I know I need one that is a savage world, maybe one with Dragon-lords.

So I dove into my archive at DriveThruRPG to see what might work.

Liberation of the Demon Slayer
The adventure is six levels and 70 pages. VS suggests using 3 0-level characters per player and let everything work out, or a large party of 1st level characters. Nothing is mentioned on how many players, but I am guessing 6 to 8.

There is some background given about the world this adventure lives in. They are all optional, but it does set the mood for the rest of the book. I found the bits about Snake-men and elves to be interesting. The adventure is steeped in a lot of Lovecraftian tropes and we are introduced to some of the "Old Ones" here, albeit with different names.

If you, like me, love eldritch abominations and dark magic then this the adventure for you. The adventure itself "sounds" simple enough. Retrieve a demon-killing sword from the caves to stop the demons attack your village. Easy peasy. Trouble is that the author grew up when dungeons-as-meat-grinders were a thing and everyone was afraid the big bad devil was going to get you. This adventure though is closer in tone and danger to the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen than it is to most Lamentations of the Flame Princess products. With the right DM this could be a great and dangerous adventure where the party could live. Sure they could all easily die too. One can read this and imagine that all of the author's games are a bit like it.

I have known the author for a number of years and yeah this is exactly the kind of things I expect in his games. I think the difference here with this adventure and some of his earlier material is there is a maturity here to accept the absurd. This adventure can be played straight or with a dash of dark humor. Think of it as a horror movie, even the scariest have a touch of humor to them; it sets you up for the bigger punch later down the road.

In my own games I do have an epic weapon for killing demons. In my current world state this sword is lost and a quest is needed to recover it. Maybe this is what I need. If so then the value of this adventure just increased ten-fold for me. I am going to have to spend some quality time with it and a pencil to see if it can be recrafted into something that fits my world a little better.

Lair of the Demon Princess
38 pages. Full color.
This is an older adventure designed for D&D 3.0/d20.
Part 2 of 2 adventures it can easily be run on it's own.  The positive features of this adventure are some new monsters, and use of old monsters in interesting ways.  In fact one of the things I liked most about this was the creative use of use of a Vrock and a Succubus as the main bad guys.  This adventure reminds us that demons need to be played as an intelligent monster.  Bloodthirsty agents of rage and destruction, but intelligent.
The adventure is fine, I think it might be a bit easy for the listed levels of 8-12.  The layout of the module could use a little more work and some the art comes out as blurred or pixelated.

Against the Cult of the Bat God
A while back my players ran into the Demon Bat-God Camazotz.  He managed to get away with the what he thought was the heart of the Sun God (it was his liver).  Since then my players have been itching for a rematch against him.  This adventure might just be the thing.
While the creature here is listed as "Servant of the Bat God" a little tweaking and I could make this into a coastline being terrorized by the Bat God himself.
The characters have three days to complete their task, so it's a nice tight adventure, exactly what I want, and it weighs in at just under 60 pages.
In any case there is a lot of good stuff here to use.

B1 Journey to Hell
I bought it on a whim based solely on level and "hell". First off you get a lot of adventure for your buck. 45 pages of adventures and maps (granted it is the same adventure twice, but still). The artwork is great, coming primarily from sources like The Inferno. This is quite fitting given that the adventure itself is quite reminiscent of Dante's great tale. It does include some art from the Larry Elmore CD that was out years ago, but doesn't properly cite it in their OGL page. It is dual stated for the OSRIC and Altus Adventum Role-Playing Game, always a plus in my book, but it can be played with any number of OSR systems or their fore-bearers.

Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants
After dealing with the Queen of Spiders, maybe the Queen of Ants would be fun.
This 21 page (cover, OGL, and 19 pages) book is the first of the GODS,DEMI-GODS, AND CULTS series. This one features Khraliche Karinkhamür the Chaos Queen of Ants. Presented here is plenty of detail about the cult, the sub cults and the important figures. Worshipers are detailed and discussed. We also get some new spells for both Wizards and Clerics and some new monsters.

BTL005: Brave the Labyrinth - Issue #5
An OSR Zine, but filled with more useful content than some books.
We get a new Elvish-Demon Lord, some elf-sub races and a castle to adventure in.  I immediately decided that all of these are connected and the Demon Lord, Erebus has these elves in his castle.
There are some patron saints of Good. Some magical tools and some new lycanthropes.

Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds
Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds, or GTFO (cute huh) is again a case of me getting something that is exactly what I need.  While I am not going to play it as-is, there is a tweak mentioned in the book itself that works perfectly for me.  In fact, a lot of this book works perfectly for me and my next set of adventures.  I can't believe I am saying this, but I will turn up the gore factor in this Lamentations product for my needs.
Not a real fan of the art inside but I see why it works for this.


There are plenty more.  I just need a few.   One for the cleric/paladin and fighter, one for the Dragonborn paladin, one for the Dragonborn sorcerer, one for the two elves (a thief and ranger) with maybe the half-pixie NPC (Brave the Labyrinth is looking like a good choice for them).

This is going to be a fun winter!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

OMG: Celtic Mythos, Part 1

Brigid. Imbolc by TerraIncantata
Welcome back to another edition of "One Man's God".  Today I want to cover something very near and dear to my heart; the Celtic Myths.

The Celtic Mythos from the Deities & Demigods is an interesting combination Irish and Welsh gods.  Truthfully, this is no big deal. There was a lot cross-pollination between Irish, Scots, Welsh and Manx cultures.  Even the first page of this section features an Irish god, The Dagda, and a Welsh one, Arawn.

While I could go on (and on) about the Celtic gods, the point of this series is talk about demonized gods.

We do know that when the Christian monks settled in Ireland and Wales they did a fantastic job of saving these old oral traditions.  Not only did they take them down, but they were immortalized in such remarkable in their own right texts such as The Book of Kells.  Maybe because of the literacy of these monks and their obvious love for their country and these stories we do not see the demonization of these gods the same way as we do in other cultures.
Instead of becoming demons these gods often became faeries or other creatures of fey.

Not to say there are not monsters!  I am beginning to think that Ireland is the home to more types of Undead than anyplace I have ever seen.  I might follow up with that.   But let's talk about the gods and heroes in the book now.

Irish Ways and Irish Laws

The section on the Celtic Gods is smaller than some of the other gods here.  This is not a big surprise.  There have been some fairly major changes to how scholars see the Gaelic world since 1988 and on to today.

In Irish myth, we learn that Ireland was invaded many times.   Some of these invaders are viewed as gods, or at least some of their offspring are.  We can read this in the Lebor Gabála Érenn, or "the book of the taking of Ireland". There are four major groups (there are others, but these groups also connect to the Mythological Cycle of Ireland), the Fomorians, the Fir-Bolg, the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians.
Of these, the Formor and Fir-Bolg are at least quasi-divine.  The Tuatha Dé Danann are seen as gods, but mortal gods and the Milesians are human.

Most gods, namely the ones associated the most with the Tuatha Dé Danann,  diminished in power with the coming of the Milesians.  They become the sídhe or the fairy folk living under the mounds.
We have to assume that the Milesians are there since Cú Chulainn is listed as a hero and that puts us in the Ulster Cycle of Myths (the one after the Mythological Cycle).

Of course, some gods are still gods.  The Morrigan, for example, is a goddess and features prominently in the Ulster cycle.

Other gods went in the opposite direction.  The goddess Brigit (Brigid, Bri, Bride, among others) was not later demonized. Quite the opposite. She would later become Saint Brigid.

What About the Fomorians?

If there was a case for a demon in Irish myth it belongs to the Fomorians.  Giant, supernatural, ugly and representing the destructive side of nature, their king is even named Balor.
To me though the Fomor were always closer in nature to the Greek Titans.  Yes they are evil, but Brigit is the daughter of a Fomorian king.  There are many blood ties between the Fomor and the Tuatha as well.  This makes their relationship more like Tolkien's Orcs and Elves.




Next time, no demons?  No problem! The celts have enough troubles with the undead!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

OMG: Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian, Part 3

I want to wrap up this edition of OMG with some of the missing gods and demons from the Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian myths in the Deities & Demigods.

Let's mention an OBVIOUS miss here.
Where is Ereshkigal?  The world's first goth-girl and she isn't here?  That's a freaking crime in my book.  Well, let's fix that.  If you want to classify her she belongs to the Sumerian Myths, her cult has been taken over by her husband Nergal by the time of the Babylonian myths.

Burney Relief
Ereshkigal
ARMOR CLASS: -4
MOVE: 12"
HIT POINTS: 250
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: See below
SPECIAL ATTACKS:  See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to poisons, disease, and death causing magic
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 75%
SIZE: M (6')
ALIGNMENT: Neutral Evil
WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: All alignments
SYMBOL: Female with four wings and clawed feet
PLANE: Kur (section of Hades)
CLERIC/DRUID: 15th level cleric
FIGHTER: Nil
MAGIC-USER/ILLUSIONIST/WITCH: 25th level witch
THIEF/ASSASSIN: 15th level assassin
MONK/BARD: Nil
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
S:25 ( + 7, + 14) 1: 20 W: 15 D: 20 C: 23 CH: 25

Animal: Owl
Color: Black
Day of Worship: Friday

Ereshkigal is Queen of the Underworld. Here she keeps the dead and not even the gods can sway her.  She has made exceptions, in particular to her sister Innana/Ishtar, but to none other.

Ereshkigal knows all the spells granted by the Sumerian gods, since all secrets come to her.  She also knows all the spells of witchcraft, which are of her design.  She can cast two spells per round at separate targets if she chooses.

Her rivalry with her sister Innana/Ishtar is legendary.
Ereshkigal would later be syncretized with the Greek Hecate and some of her aspects would also form the story of Lilith.  Indeed in my own research time, the Burney Relief has gone from a representation of Lilith (which was tenuous at best) to a representation of Ereshkigal.

She is mentioned in Return to the Keep on the Borderlands and I swear there were other mentions of her in other D&D books, but so far I found nothing.


Pazuzu
Also not present in the D&DG, but certainly a demon of note (and notoriety) is Pazuzu.   Good old Pazuzu was the king of the demons of the wind and the bringer of storms, famine, and drought. He was the demon of the southwestern wind.  He was not a god, though he was the son of the god Hanbi/Hanbu.
Pazuzu, of course, rose to fame and popularity thanks in large part to the Exorcist movies.  I consider the Exorcist to be one of the scariest movies ever made and having Pazuzu as the "big bad" only helps that.  A demon as old as civilization itself?  Yeah, that's some scary shit.  He makes his AD&D debut in the Monster Manual II.

He seems to have a long history even in myth.  He is likely an Assyrian import, maybe even from the Levant.  So that is quite a demonic pedigree to be the demon of so many different cultures. In my games, Pazuzu is an Eodemon, a demonic race that appeared before all the others.

One thing not considered in Monster Manual II version of him is his battles to stop another demon Lamashtu.  Pazuzu effectively guards human from her evils.

Lamashtu
Now in truth, I see why she was not included.  I mean if no Pazuzu then no need to have her too.  According to some texts, she was a demoness or a goddess.  She is also associated with witchcraft and the murder or newborns and infants. She has many features that would later be syncretized by or with Lilith and other female night demons.  She is currently a god in the Pathfinder setting.

I posted a demon Lamashtu a while back.  Here are some stats.

FREQUENCY:  Uncommon
NO.  APPEARING:  1  or  1-3
ARMOR  CLASS:  -1
MOVE:  9"/12"
HIT  DICE:  10
%  IN  LAIR:  25%
TREASURE  TYPE:  F
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-6/1-6/2-8
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  bonus  of  +2  to  hit;  also  see  below  (Con drain)
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +  1  or  better  weapons  to  hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  65%
INTELLIGENCE:  Very
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  evil
SIZE:  L  (9'+  tall)
PSlONlC  ABILITY:  150
  Attack/Defense  Modes:  A,  C,  D/F,  G,  H

Lamashtu are powerful demons, close only to the Lilitu themselves.  Believed to be the offspring of Lilth and the various Eodemons. These demons are old even by demonic terms.  Their natural form is a horrid hybrid of a linoness’ head, donkey ears, and teeth, a hairy human female body, with the hindquarters of a pig.  They are commonly holding a large snake.  In their “human” form they prefer to disguise themselves as old women or nursemaids.  This gives them access to their preferred prey, newborn babies.  Once she has gained access to a new-born babe she will carry it off till she can find a safe place to eat it.  Lamashtu are not tempters, they hunger and only flesh will satisfy them.  They can be held at bay if a witch prepares a special talisman.    Her song drains Constitution to all who hear it, 2 points per night.  Anyone so drained must make a Constitution based save or fall asleep.
Lamashtu may cast spells as a 7th level witch.



Dagon
Dagon is an improt to this mythology.
Here is another problem.  Dagon is a god. Dagon is a demon. Dagon is some sort of Lovecraftian Old One. Or he is all of those things.

I think my favorite take on him was in the 3.5 edition Hordes of the Abyss and the 4th edition Monster Manual 2. Where he is just this really ancient thing. For me that makes him an Eodemon.
Somehow I'd like to capture all aspects of this creature in one whole.

I think it is time to leave the Fertile Crescent. Should I move forward alphabetically or chronologically? 

You can read Part 1 here.
You can read Part 2 here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

OMG: Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian, Part 1

Then were they known to men by various Names,
And various Idols through the Heathen World.
- Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1

For this posting of One Man's God, I thought it best to go back where it all began for me.

The Babylonian myths in the Deities and Demigods are one of the most interesting collections of characters in the book really.  I was fascinated by them and when I got to college I jumped at the chance to take a mythology class and learn more.  There Professor Joan O'Brien (yes I remember her 30 years later, she was that good) told the story of Gilgamesh and Marduk and many others in the Enûma Eliš, or When On High.   So I am likely to spend a couple of posts on this topic just because it is so rich.

Now I want to clear about one thing.  I am not here to dismiss or deride the research done by James M. Ward and Robert J. Kuntz.  They did what they did without the benefit of computers, the internet and the collected archeological knowledge I have access too since 1980.  For example, there were some pretty significant finds in 1984 and published in 1992 that would have changed some things.  Plus they were not writing for historical, archeological, or mythological scholarship.  They were writing first and foremost for the AD&D game.  So let's keep that all in mind when digging through the rubble of ages.

Alas, Babylon
The myths of the Sumerians, Akkadians, and Babylonians represent some of the oldest myths and stories mankind has intact.  Dating back to 3500 BCE these are quite old. Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon (the Empire, not just the city) roughly share the same area between the  Tigris–Euphrates rivers, they also shared related languages; Sumerian, but mostly Akkadian.  They used the same cuneiform writing and they recorded them on clay tablets. They shared gods and they shared a culture.  While there is more time (more than twice the time really) between the rise of the Sumerian city-states and the fall of the last Babylonian empire than there is between Babylon and now, we tend to view them as related.
Because of this I am more likely to treat the Babylonian Mythos and the Sumerian Mythos of the D&DG as being one and not two.

Druaga
Let's start with what can only be called the Poster Boy for this series.  Druaga, Ruler of the Devil World.   We really don't know much about this guy other than he is a real monster.  We know he never appears to anyone the same way twice, yet he has a true form that frightens others.  He is Lawful evil and can summon devils (except Archdevils) and can turn victims of his mace attacks into devils.

Is it me or does his mace remind you of Asmodeus' Ruby Rod?



I have a lot of issues with Druaga here.

If you thought he doesn't really seem to fit the Babylonian gods then you are right.  He doesn't appear to be one of their gods at all.  There is a connection to "Druj" which is an Avestan (proto-Iranian) spirit of corruption.  But that concept comes from later and further away than Babylon.  He appears to be made up whole cloth for this book.  The only other reference to him in anything like this form is from a 1984 video game and later anime; Doruāga no Tō or The Tower of Druaga.  The game features Gilgamesh and Ki, who seems to be based on the Sumerian Goddess Ki (yeah I have some issues with her too...).  Druaga even looks similar to the D&DG version.


There is also the issue that despite his obvious power there is no place for him in the devils' hierarchy.  He is more powerful than Asmodeus and can create new devils besides.  So what gives?

In my own games, I took Druaga and I put him on the first layer of Hell in place of Tiamat (more on her in a bit).  First, I figured he was a better fit since I wanted Tiamat to be Chaotic Evil and he had the look.  I had already started dividing my devils into the ruling and serving classes.  The rulers were the fallen angels or everyone from a pitfiend up.  The servers were the less human looking devils (Eventually called "Shedim" or Demons of Rage in my games)  Druaga was their leader.
To steal from the greats I had made my Hell already filled with some creatures.  Some the Fallen took over and others they kicked out.  I also made my first level of Hell the place where the pagans go, ala Dante's Inferno.

Over the years we have gotten a number of Rulers of Avernus; Tiamat, Bel and now Zariel.  Maybe Druaga was there first.

Looking at his stats he is pretty powerful.  Strength at 24, Intelligence at 18, Dexterity at 23, Constitution at 25, and a Charisma of -4.  Only his 13 Wisdom fails to be godly.
He is listed as a 15th level fighter, 15th level magic-user, and 15 level assassin.  If we give him 15 HD and maximum hp (d8+7 for Con) then that gives us 225 hp.  Not far off from his 230.
He has 75% magic resistance as well as being immune to breath-weapons.

So why is he not ruling hell?

If we go with the Politics of Hell article as a guide, Druaga was the ruler but was deposed when the Angels fell and became Devils.

For starters, I am happy with 15 HD, though higher is also nicer.  The 1e AD&D Monster Manual sets the Pit Fiend at 13 HD, so 15 HD for a former ruler, reduced in power works for me.

Druaga, Former Ruler of Hell
FREQUENCY:  Unique
NO.  APPEARING:  1
ARMOR CLASS: -2
MOVE:  12"/24"
HIT DICE:  15 (230 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  95%
TREASURE  TYPE:  J,  R
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  2
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  6-15/6-15 (1d10+5)
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  See  below
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +3  or  better
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  65%
INTELLIGENCE:  Exceptional
ALIGNMENT:  Lawful  Evil
SIZE:  L  (9' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

When the Angels fell after the War in Heaven, Druaga was already there.  When faced with the legions of the Fallen, Druaga surrendered his ruby mace to the leader of the Fallen.  Eventually, it came into the possession of the Arch Duke Asmodeus.

Druaga still holds considerable power.  He lives in a giant ziggurat temple on Avernus where the souls of the damned still perform service to him.   He can summon any devil of Pit Fiend status or lower to his aid once a day in numbers from 2-20.
Druaga has all the same immunities as do other Devils, he is also 100% immune to the effects of all breath weapons.

Next time we will talk dragons.

You can read Part 2 here.
You can read Part 3 here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

OMG: Level Setting and American Indian Mythos

To start this first post on One Man's God I wanted to set some levels on what I want to look for, in particular, what constitutes the top end of what is a demon vs. what is an evil god.

Now a couple "rules" regardless of what edition I plan to post the stats in I am starting in the lingua franca of 1st Edition AD&D.  That's what the Deities and Demigods is written for and the Monster Manual I am using today.

Level Setting
How powerful are these demons?  Well, let's have a look at our high-end examples.
The first edition Monster Manual gives us four of the biggest big bads we STILL talk about today. Orcus, Demogorgon, Asmodeus, and Tiamat.  Each one of these can be viewed as a god in their own way; two of which Orcus and Tiamat were gods in their respective mythologies. What the MM does not give us are the HD for these creatures.  Orcus has 120 hp, Demogorgon has 200 hp, and Asmodeus has 199. Tiamat has 128 but is also listed as a 16 HD monster.  This is nice since this gives us a nice example of a monster with maximum (8 per HD) hp.  So dividing the others by 8 we get:
Orcus 15 HD, 120 hp
Demogorgon 25 HD, 200 hp
Asmodeus 25 HD, 199 hp
Looking at other editions you can see them climb over the years.  Till we get to today.


Still very powerful in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

What this means to me is I am looking for monsters in that 15 to 25 HD range if I want to call them Demon Princes or Archdukes of Hell.  Likely none will come up to that level, most will fall short of Prince or Archduke power.

American Indian Mythos
If there is one thing I know it's I am in no way qualified to talk about American Indian mythic traditions.  I mean I did grow up in the mid-west and I spent time going to both the Dickson Mounds and the Illinois State Museums.  So I feel my background is better than most, but still very much lacking.   The American Indian section in the Deities & Demigods in no way represents all the myths and stories of these extremely diverse peoples.  Sure there are some commonalities, but there are just as many differences. Maybe more.   Since I am limiting myself to the entries in the D&DG this one will be really fast.

There really are not many "demons" in the classical sense in American Indian myths.  I mean there are some, but not many and none of them appear in this book.   Even the monsters that do appear here are more monsters than demons and the evil gods (both of them) are more destructive forves of nature than anything else.   So not really my idea of demons to be honest.
Hastsezini is the fire "god"* of the Navajo.  I put god in quotes based on the work of Professor Grant L. Voth, Ph.D.  He claims that Amerindian did not worship gods per se but larger spirits that they honored.   This god/spirit doesn't really give me a demonic vibe.

Next time I will cover the rich and fertile ground of the Babylonian myths.  Might need to spend more than one post there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

OMG: One Man's God

I came to D&D back in the 70s via my interest in myths about the Gods and Heroes.   I was reading D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths when a friend lent me his copy of the Monster Manual.   The rest, as they say, is history.

One of my favorite books in the entire AD&D line was/is Deities & Demigods.  I have been mentally going back to that treasured volume since I picked up The Great Courses: Great Mythologies of the World.



The scholarship in D&DG is not University or scholarly level, but I give Rob Kuntz and James Ward many kudos, and really it was not supposed to be.  It was supposed to be a game book and in that it succeeds wildly.

But it all got me thinking about that old adage; "One man's God is another man's Devil."
What would it take to grab some of the evil monsters and revisit them as AD&D/OSR style demons, complete with their placement in the Gygax-ian Great Wheel?   One of my bigger misgivings about D&DG, despite how good it was, it did not try to integrate into the larger D&D view of the multiverse and planes.  Today I think that is perfectly fine, but then it bugged me more.

I guess in a way this is my gift to me of 1981 or so.

My plan is to go through the D&DG and take an extended look at the pantheons and the myths behind them and find some good bits (there are lots) and comment on some others and hopefully find some cool demons to fit the larger D&D world.

Ok, so I have a Ph.D., I can do academic rigor. That is not what this is about. This will not be a treatise of comparative religions or a dissertation.  This is blog post, with game material.  My audience is the same as Kuntz and Ward's, the D&D gamer.

The only thing I have not figure out yet is whether to do these as an OSR-friendly S&W/Basic-era format or as D&D 5.  Maybe both or one or the other as it strikes me.

I am not likely to include the non-human deities since they are already more integrated into the larger D&D mythos,  but I may focus on one or two that I want to expand on; Blibdoolpoolp and Vaprak the Destroyer come to mind for different reasons. Possibly Laogzed too.
I am also not going to go in order.  I have this notion of starting in the Fertile Crescent and working my way out, both physically and temporarily.   This is for my own education so I can mentally place various cultures in their proper times in relation to each other.
I also have not figured out what to do with beings that began as gods and later were transformed to devils, for example, Astártē to Astaroth.  I am planning on splitting up Greek and Roman, if for no other reasons to deal with some unique Roman ideas and dabble a little in some Etruscan myths and legends. Or maybe do an extended Greco-Roman-Etruscan post.

Love to hear suggestions and ideas.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Areelu Vorlesh, Witch Queen of the Worldwound

I picked up some Pathfinder minis a while back and this succubus in the mix that I did not recognize.  She also had a proper name, Areelu Vorlesh.  Imagine my joy when I discovered she was not only a succubus (well half succubus) but also a witch!

A trio of wicked witches, Iggwilv, Areelu, and Skylla
Turns out she is also a major NPC baddie in Pathfinder, the primary architect of the Worldwound in Golarion.  I am not sure what happens to her there, but she would really be a perfect addition to my War of the Witch Queens.  Plus I already have her mini!  Now I just need a Wayne Reynolds print on my wall.

Her Pathfinder stats are crazy. She is a 10th level witch, 10th level demoniac and an 8th level archmage.  Plus she has a lot of her half-succubus powers.  She has some truly outrageous stats too.

Areelu Vorlesh
The human that would become the witch Areelu Vorlesh has been lost to time. It was known that she was a witch in Deskari’s cult.  She was researching the nature of the separation of the worlds and planes (Plot hook!).  It was her success at opening the Worldwound that caused her Patron to transform her into a half-fiend.

Areelu Vorlesh (28th level witch)
The Witch

Strength: 14 Death Ray, Poison 3
Dexterity: 18 Magic Wands 4
Constitution: 18 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 3
Intelligence: 18 Dragon Breath 6
Wisdom: 18 Rods, Staffs, Spells 5
Charisma: 19

Hit Points: 73
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
AC: -2 (Bracers of Defense, +3 Amulet of Protection)

Occult Powers (Malefic Tradition)
Familiar: "Gimcrak" (Quasit, Enhanced)
7th level: Evil's Touch
13th level: Devil's Tongue
19th level: Curse
25th level: Polymorph Other

Succubus Powers
Fly (at normal movement rate).
Drain Constitution (1 point).
Immune to fire damage and poison.
Half damage from cold and electricity.
Takes double damage from "holy" items.

Spells
Cantrips (7): Arcane Mark, Detect Curse, Ghost Sound, Mend Minor Wounds, Message, Spark, Summon Vermin

First (8+3): Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Command, Increase Sex Appeal, Mend Light Wounds, Protect Familiar, Quicken Healing, Shattering the Hourglass, Silver Tongue, Spirit Dart

Second (8+2): Ecstasy, Enhanced Familiar, Enthrall, Evil Eye, Hold Person, Invisibility, Phantasmal Spirit, Rite of Remote Seeing, Scare, Twisting the Heartstrings II

Third (7+2): Bestow Curse, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Enlarge Familiar, Feral Spirit, Fly, Ghost Ward, Tongues, Witch Wail

Fourth (7+2): Abomination, Charm Monster, Confusion, Divine Power, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Moonlit Way, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Withering Touch

Fifth (6): Baleful Polymorph, Feeblemind, Greater Command, Nightmare, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue

Sixth (6): Bewitch VI, Break the Spirit, Geas, Mass Suggestion, Repulsion, True Seeing

Seventh (5): Draw Forth the Soul, Eternal Charm Monster, Maze, Binding Ritual (Ritual), Gate (Ritual)

Eighth (5): Bewitch VIII, Damming Stare, Destroy Life, Wail of the Banshee, Imprisonment (Ritual)

So this version of Areelu Vorlesh is pretty powerful, though still not as powerful as the Pathfinder version (551 hp!) but still a very formidable foe and a worthy Witch Queen.



Monday, March 19, 2018

Weekend Gaming: On the Doorstep of the Forbidden City & Monster Monday

Worked in a couple of gaming sessions over the weekend.  Only about two hours each day, but the Treasure Hunters of the Second Campaign managed to sneak into the Forbidden City.  Here they had their first encounter with the evil Yuan-Ti.

Now for those of you that still belabor under the assumption that 5e is "easier" let me just say that Yuan-Ti under 5e are much deadlier and one Yuan-Ti Abomination and one Pure Blood nearly took out the entire party of seven. They are now hiding out and have no more potions of healing.



I have not even tricked out the Yuan-Ti at all.  These are by-the-book deadly.

This adventure will introduce a bunch of new monsters to my players.  If Order of Platinum Dragon/Come Endless Darkness game is about revisiting all the classics, this one is about the near classics.  So a lot Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II monsters.

I also considering having there be a lot more involvement by Demogorgon. To that end, I am going to re-import some of my ideas from the time I used Demogorgon for the WitchCraft RPG.

This will include the Blood Apes.

Blood Apes

One of the largest cults of Demogorgon is a cult of intelligent apes. They are often referred to as Blood Apes due to their habit of bathing in the blood of fallen enemies and comrades. These cultists actively worship Demogorgon as their god and attribute to him all spoils. The doctrines of the cult emphasize destruction and violence.  All blood apes are voracious carnivores and keep human or (where appropriate) chimpanzee slaves. It is even whispered among the human populations that some humans are kept in an attempt by Demogorgon's Hierophants to breed true a race that features the most terrible qualities of both ape and man. Others claim they have already succeeded.

Every tribe of blood apres will have a CR 5-6 tribal leader and a CR 6 blood ape, fiendish-pact warlock.
Stat block from Statblock5e.

Once they get out of the city then things will get REALLY dangerous.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

All Hail the Prince of Demons!

Wide on the wasteful Deep; with him Enthron'd
Sat Sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The Consort of his Reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon
— John Milton, Paradise Lost II. 961-965

Ever since I first picked up the Monster Manual way back in 79 (or 78, I started playing in 79) there were some names that jumped out at me as an invitation to use them in some way;  Orcus, Tiamat, Asmodeus, and Demogorgon.

Back when 4e was the new hotness I picked up the Orcus mini. No surprise, he is the bad guy of not one, but two campaign capstone adventures.  He is also the "mascot" of both Necromancer Games and Goblinoid Games. So yeah, he is pretty popular.

Before that, I picked up the Mage Knight Apocalypse Dragon to stand in for the full Tiamat.  Works well.

For Asmodeus, I figure just about any devil will do really. He doesn't even really need to be big.

I have my Tharizdûn and my Lolth.
What I didn't have was a good Demogorgon.

Until now.

Last year I picked up a Demogorgon last year at AdeptiCon. Earlier this year I grabbed the Classic Creatures Collection from WotC which had two Demogorgon figures; a full size and an aspect.

I was ok, though I wished all of them were bigger.  THEN I discovered the Loot Crate DX Demogorgon.   Well, I wished I hadn't because I became obsessed with finding one.

Finally, this weekend my quest ended.


He is huge!



As you see he compares nicely to 4e Gargantuan Orcus.



He compares even better to his smaller "aspects".  That is my demon-hunter paladin there.  I hope he is ready!

None are exactly the same and that is a good thing.  Demons, especially this demon, should have shifting forms.

Right now I have him hidden.  My kids know all about the older Demogorgons (and Orcus and Tiamat), but this one will be a surprise.

My wife saw it too and I told her what I was doing and she is very excited.  I can't wait to pull this bad boy out!

Now I all I need is a good Graz'zt mini.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Gog and Magog!

A while back I presented stats for two Balor that I use in my games, Gog and Magog.

I always wanted to get minis for them, I always thought it would be fun to have them both and have them encountered by a party at the same time.

Well since it had been a cold, rainy weekend here in Chicago my wife decided to do some painting.

Here is the original Balor that I got with some mini set years ago.


Here is the repainted Balor, Errtu from the Legend of Drizzt board game.




I love the new lightning whip and fire sword!  The brass talons on his wings are a great touch.
LOVE the black touches on the wings.



I think it looks fantastic!  So glad my wife loves doing this.

Can't wait to use them in a game!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Demons!

I am a huge Castles & Crusades fan.  Any chance I get to play is a good one.  So when they have a Kickstarter I pay attention.

Castles & Crusades Tome of the Unclean


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/tome-of-the-unclean

I am a sucker for Monser books.  If they have demons or undead in them so much the better. If they are dedicated to demons or undead then I am sold.  I have the PDF versions of this, but to get it as a physical book with add-ons would be great! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Adventures at End of the World Collection

Well according to the latest Doomsday theory tomorrow is the end of the World. Again.

But hey don't let that stop you! There are some great Kickstarters to be had.

Up first is another one from mad wizard +Mark Taormino.

Dark Wizard Games: Double Mayhem Adventures


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marktaormino/dark-wizard-games-double-mayhem-adventures
This one updates Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen and Secret Machines of the the Star Spawn. With new art and editing.  There is also the chance to get updates of other modules.


Burial Plots for the Cryptworld Game


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1895361773/burial-plots
This book has five new adventures for the Cryptworld game.  +Dan P does some really great things with Cryptworld.  I wish I had the time to play it more to be honest.

Baker Street: Strange Cases and Hood: Beyond the Forest



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fearlightgames/baker-street-strange-cases-and-hood-beyond-the-for/
A new casebook for Baker Street and adventures for  Hood: Swashbuckling Adventures in Sherwood. Adventures Beyond the Forest.   +Bryce Whitacre has done a great job and Baker Street is a lot of fun. I have not played Hood, but if it is half as fun as it sounds then we are in good shape.

And what is the end of the world without demons?

Hell Awaits... Wave 1


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/552604905/hell-awaits-wave-1
Some more demons based on old woodcuts.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

So go out and spend your money! We could all be dead tomorrow! ;)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monstrous Monday: Imp of the Perverse

"We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. ... It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow, and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. ... The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies—disappears—we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late!"
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Imp of the Perverse

The Imp of the Perverse is a small invisible imp that can be summoned much as any other demon to cause someone harm.    The imp is small, no larger than a rodent really, and invisible to all but those with the ability to See*.
(*Eldritch sight, detect magic, detect curse, detect invisible, or other such magical sights.)

Imp of the Perverse
Basic-era stats
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaos (Chaotic Evil)
Movement:  120'(40')
    Fly: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d4
Special: Invisible, Suggestion of Harm, only hit my magic weapons
Save: W1
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
XP: 50

The Imp of the Perverse is a small demonic creature that can be summoned and attached to another victim. Once done so the Imp will sit on the victim's shoulder while holding onto their ear. The imp will then whisper in the victim's ear convincing it to harm themself.

The victim must first make a saving throw (vs. Spells, see below). If this save is made the imp does not latch on and is free to roam about to find another victim (those victims will then need to save) until it tries and fails three (3) victims or the magic-user that summoned it returns it.

If the victim fails to save the imp is latched on and becomes completely invisible.  No amount of detection on the part of the victim will reveal it attached. Others might.  The imp can only be removed with a Remove Curse, Exorcism or a properly worded Holy Word or Banishment spell.

Until then the victim makes a saving throw every day to see it they do something to harm themself. A failed save means that something occurs that seems natural that will cause them harm.

On the first failed save they will take 1d6 total damage. On each failed save after that they will take an additional 1d6 hp of damage; so 2d6, 3d6 and so on until the victim is dead or the imp removed.
Once an imp has been removed or it's victim is dead will it become visible once again and can be attacked.

Summon and Bind Imp of the Perverse
Level: Cleric 3**, Wizard 3, Witch /Warlock 3  (**evil/chaotic clerics only)
Duration: 24 hours
Range: Special
By means of this spell, the caster can summon an Imp of the Perverse from the Demon Realms to latch onto a victim.  The victim must be known to the casters and some item of the victim must be present when the summoning and binding are complete. The familiarity of the victim is helpful to the caster to prevent the victim from saving against the attack.

Familiarity Save Bonus/Penalty
Unknown +3 bonus to saves
Known by name +2 bonus
Know each other (can identify each other) +1 bonus
Know well -1 penalty
Know intimately -2 penalty
Same blood or kin -3 penalty

Material Components: The caster needs a personal item from the victim: clothes, a bit of hair, fingernail, drop of blood, and the like.  A bit of copper wire and loadstone.  The items are tied to the loadstone with the copper wire.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Medieval Demon Miniatures

Spend anytime here or reading my books you know I LOVE old woodcuts of witches and demons from the Middle Ages.   They were the Monster Manuals of the day.

Well much to my happiness Antediluvian Miniatures is coming out with a line of 28mm miniatures of these old wood cut demons, and yes some flying witches!

Medieval Demon Miniatures


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1565070206/medieval-demon-miniatures

They look awesome to tell you the truth.

All the figures will be in metal too, not plastic.


It's like Pokemon, I want to collect them all!
Besides you can never have too many demons.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1565070206/medieval-demon-miniatures

Monday, March 13, 2017

More Weekend Gaming in the Second Campaign

It was my youngest son's birthday last week so we spent the weekend having kids over and gaming.
I decided to run another session of my so-called "Second Campaign".
We had a variety of kids playing including some that have played before and some who never had played.  I stuck with Under Illefarn since there other adventures in the book that would work.

Also, I had 7 kids between the ages of 13-14 so I needed something to keep them all busy.
So I ran the "Rescue Mission" mini-adventure.  The conceit of having all the characters be part of the city guard is great and it worked out well for this group of mixed new and old characters. Plus we had three paladins, so that worked out well.


It took us three hours to play that adventure.

Overly caffeinated and sugar-dosed kids (birthday cake, ice cream) makes for some difficult times in focusing.  Plus I was tired, having worked on my son's computer all week and weekend to get it running (I failed, but that is a different tale for a different day).

I will give the kids credit, they caught up with the Baron that had kidnapped the Duke's sister and instead of fighting him made a VERY convincing plea to the Baron that why kidnapping is not a good way to profess your undying love to someone.  They managed to do such a good job that the Baron agreed to go back with them to the Duke and plead his case for the hand of Bronwyn (the Sister) to the Duke himself.  By the end of the adventure, they Baron and Duke were already discussing wedding plans in front of an aghast Bronwyn.  I know, not very forward thinking of me, but it was a time when people were married off for political alliances all the time.

Of course on the way they managed to fight some ghouls and rescue a band of pixies.  One of the pixies is now part of the city guard.   We had about an hour left so my oldest joined us and I had them take out a nest of ghouls.  The nest of ghouls was added by me, it was something that I have used in the past to great effect.

I have decided that I am going to spend more time on the personalities populating the Realms than my usual games.  I am still fairly sure that many of the "Big Names" won't be making an appearance, but it would be a shame if I didn't at least name-drop them.

One thing I am thinking of doing is have Demogorgon make an appearance or be a "thing" in this game.  Orcus has what, 30,000 adventures out there, Lolth has at least as many. But no one ever does anything with the Prince of Demons.

It will be this campaign that I introduce the multi-verse to the players and characters.

One character, in fact, is coming over from our Come Endless Darkness game.  Cynder is the daughter of one of the wizards of my 3rd Edition game. She made a brief appearance in the Come Endless Darkness game during one of the flashback adventures. The other characters had forgotten about her but when the flashback was done they remembered and began to wonder what happened to her.

She is going to wake up in the Realms and it will soon be discovered that she can wield Spellfire.  Why not. It is an homage to first ever Realms novel I ever read and I love that cover art from Clyde Caldwell.  How she got there is not as important as to why she got there.  Spellfire could have changed the tide of the war brewing in Come Endless Darkness.



This is going to be a great time.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Krampus for your OSR/5e Games

It's Christmas eve so you know what you need?  More demons!

Here are a couple PWYW products for your Christmas games.










Have a great Christmas, Holiday, Yule and New Year.

Friday, October 7, 2016

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Church (1989)

Another Dario Argento flick.  The first 5-10 minutes was like Monty Python and Holy Grail that someone decided to play straight.  Seriously. Many points I was going "we are the Knights that say Ni!", "Burn her she's witch" and "Bring out your dead!".   Someone even looked like Patsy there was even a duck.

The rest of the movie is in modern times. And there it slows down to a crawl.  A church is built on the site where the Teutonic Knights killed a bunch of witches and in the modern day the church, now in disrepair is the home of a legion of demons.  The demons look kinda cool though.  Especially the last one.

There are some neat hallucination/possession scenes.

It does feature a very young Asia Argento as the last girl.

Not a great movie, but it have some really neat looking effects.


2016 Movie tally
Watched: 7
New: 6




Monday, August 22, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: Wendigo Matron

A while back I featured a Wendigo as part of my A to Z.  Well, my son has been running some games on his own with a group of his friends and he has been using Wendigoes as well.  This monster is one of his original creations.

Section 15: "Wendigo Matron" Copyright 2016 Liam W. Brannan.

Wendigo by TheRutheLa
Wendigo Matron
Armor Class:  2 [17]
Hit Dice: 10d8+5* (50 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws / 1 bite / breath weapon / spell use
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 1d6+3 / 1d8+5 (cold)
Special: breath weapon, fear, low-light vision (240’), scent, immunity to cold
Movement: 90’/180' (fly)
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Witch 10
Morale: 9
Treasure: None
Alignment: Evil (Chaos)
XP: 3,000

A windigo matron is if anything, more evil than the common wendigo.  This creature is te defacto leader of a any band of wendigo and she has powers above and beyond the already formidable powers of these foul creatures.
In addition to the physical attacks, breath weapons, and fear of a normal wendigo, the wendigo matron can also use the following spell-like powers 3 times per day:

Wind Walk
Fly
Invisibility 
Shape change

A common tactic of a wendigo matron is to shape change into a normal human woman and lead victims to the lairs of the wendigo. She will often pose as a rescued victim, or as a someone seeking vengeance against the wendigo that killed her "family".   There may be truth in both guises as the wendigo may in fact, have been her family.
The wendigo matron is also different in her origin.  While humans can become wendigo when confronted with the prospect of starvation and freezing to death, a wendigo matron chooses to become what she now is.
It is believed that there is a dark ritual where prospective wendigo matron cuts out her own heart with a flint dagger.  What is known that a wendigo matron can not be truly destroyed till she is reduced to 0 hp and her heart is burned.  Otherwise, she will rise again when the next snowfall occurs.
Like the lich and his phylactery, the wendigo matron keeps her heart in a safe place.


Don't forget to include the hashtag #MonsterMonday on Twitter or #MonsterMonday on Google+ when you post your own monsters!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! Q is for Queen of the Demonweb Pits

Q is for Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

What else could it be?  Well...funny you should say that. There is also a few Vampire Queen adventures out there and there is the adventure path I am playing around with, War of the Witch Queens.  But I guess really there is only one queen and only one Q module.

Queen of the Demonweb Pits is the ultimate finale that began with the characters looking into some giant raids. Behind it all was the Drow and Lolth!...er wait. Wasn't supposed to be the Elder Elemental Eye? Tharizdun? I mean that is what is going on in T1 Village of Hommlet.

Well as it turns out Q1 was supposed to be different. It wasn't the vision that Gary wanted. Now the official story is that Gary was too busy to work on Q1 because he was working on T2 The Temple of Elemental Evil.  We can see bits of his thinking in T1, S4 and WG5.  So David Sutherland came in to finish it off.  At least that is story we have been told.  According to Shannon Appelcline this was the start of Gary's eventual ouster at TSR.

Regardless of how, what and why, Q1 is fondly remembered to this day 36 years later.  As part of the GDQ series it is considered to be one of the greatest adventures of all time.

I remember playing this back in the day and that confusing as hell map.  I remember talking to friends in the days WAY before the Internet and how we would speculate on Q2 and Q3.

Like T1 and the mythical stand-alone T2, a DIY Q2 would be great.

SO TO MY REGULAR READERS:  What would be in YOUR Q2?

Would you have the characters look into the Elder Elemental Eye connection?  Maybe there would be a civil war among the drow; those that support the EEE and those that support Lolth.

I suppose I could take a few pages from Expedition to the Demonweb Pits for 3.5 edition of D&D to.  I do know I need to work out this Lolth-Tharizdûn issue before my players get there!

3 Different Editions, 1 Basic idea


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! E is for Epic Level Adventures (4th Ed)

E is for Epic Level Adventures (4th Ed)

Fourth Edition gets a bad rap from a lot of gamers, especially old-school gamers.  Which is really a pity to be honest.  There is a fun game there. There is even a fun D&D game there.  But alas it is also a game I am not likely to ever play again despite my investment of time and money in on it.

What I did like the most about 4e though were the HPE modules.  These were a series of three adventures for each "tier" of play; H for Heroic (1st to 10th level), P for Paragon (11th to 20th level) and finally E for Epic or 21st to 30th level of play.  Now while most D&D games stick to 20 levels, 4th edition went to 30. Well...1st had an assumed cut off at 20 and D&D BECMI went to 36th and beyond.  But I'll get to that.

The Epic level adventures were truly epics.  The adventure plot was discovering that Orcus, the Demon Prince of the Undead (and the cover boy on Prince of Death), desires to be a god and he sets out to kill the new Goddess of Death, the Raven Queen.  The E series had you confront Orcus in a reality-spanning quest to stop a mad demon with the powers of an ancient evil artifact.  It was a plot that appealed to me.  The series featured three modules.
Now back in the 1st ed days we battled Orcus back in the Bloodstone Series (H1-4), which I'll also cover on "H" day.  So this was not really all that original.  Indeed even today in the 5e world we have the Rage of Demons adventure series which includes Orcus.   Orcus is a very easy target. He hates everythng, wants everything destroyed and is a rampaging beast.  Which is also the biggest issue I have with these modules.  Orcus is portrayed as a schemer. He isn't. He is a beast. In my own games he is classified as a Rage Demon.  So I thought someone else pulling the strings behind him would make more sense.  Someone clever, someone evil, and someone that will use Orcus getting godhood just as a mask to his own plans.  So now I think you can see how my "Come Endless Darkness" was born.

Over the last couple of years I have come up with some fairly rough algorithms for 4e conversion.  So here are my current thoughts.

Plan 1.  Use bits of this plus bits of H4 Throne of Bloodstone to fold into my Come Endless Darkness campaign.  This is the most likely really.

Though I would still LOVE to use ALL these adventures someday.  Play all nine, ten or eleven if you count the ones that came with the 4th ed basic set and Ghost Tower of the Witchlight Fens.   I doubt I will ever run it under 4e, but stranger things have happened.
But I could convert it.

Plan 2. Convert for use for another game. There is some good stuff here really and I would still love to play all of them out.  Conversion could solve my issues, but how do I convert it?

Well if I am playing 2nd, 3rd or 5th ed then levels are about to 2 to 3.  So if the adventure says it is for 6th level then I take 4th level characters through and replace the monsters appropriately.

If I am playing B/X/C or BEMCI (aka "Basic") version of D&D or AD&D 1 then I add 5 levels to the characters.  B/X/C and BEMCI assumes that the characters, well, human characters, will advance to 36th level.  And your average 1st level 4e character is still more powerful than your average 4th-5th level character.

I am more likely to try it under Basic; going from 1st to 36th level.  I am not really sure how well it would work to be honest.  But I will also admit this is my conversion of choice.  It allows me to use all the cool OSR toys I have and use a system am very familiar with.  I would adopt some of the 4e trappings like conditions, especially "bloodied" and ideas like minions.
I have already converted 1st and Basic-era luminaries as Emirikol the ChaoticAleena and Morgan Ironwolf to 4e, so going backwards is not that difficult.

There are a couple of conversion guides out there too. WotC has one as does Sly Flourish.  But none that I have found so far back-converting.

If you are new to this and want to learn how to play 4th Edition D&D and see the first part of the HPE saga you can get H1 Keep on the Shadowfell & Quick-Start Rules for 4e for free.
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