Over the course of a couple of days I've been doing a lot of hard thinking about old school systems & Pulp Era campaigns. I've also been doing revamps & rewrites on much of the current Pulp Era campaign. To that end I began to look into Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu
. This book is right in my wheel house leaning close to the edge of both Sword & Planet with a huge foot hold in the Sword & Sorcery end of the prehistoric ocean.
Alexander Macris & Omer Joel,are no strangers to the science fantasy genre & this book proves it. So what is the book & setting like? Well imagine if the creators of Buck Rogers & Flash Gordon got together with H.P. Lovecraft & Robert Howard to create an episode of Seventies Battle Star Galactica set on a lost planet. This planet would be Kanahu. Forget Eternia, Kanahu is a place where He Man or Thundarr would feel right at home.
The world of Kanahu used to be a Grey outpost work & there is a lot of their artifacts still hanging around because human slaves were toiling away & mining the planet for valuable materials. The Greys are on the wane but the alien slave races including humans are on their way back! You've seen this plot & what not a thousand times but this is Bak baby! Swords & barbarians are everywhere. Whole setting is geared for gonzo Eighties action!
And the Greys are still taking slaves for the mines so your old school characters better watch out. The world of Kanahu has lots of racial classes suited for the setting that deal the players into the vibe & science fantasy groove of Kanahu setting.
"A set of 15 new character classes from the world of Kanahu, including the scurrying roach-like bugman, the dreaded cultist, the inhuman deep one hybrid, the mighty dragon incarnate, the stealthy geckoman stalker, the savagely sorcerous lizardman witch-doctor, and the mysterious alien Nephil. " There are these & more with lizard men & insect bugmen taking center stage as the former servants of the Serpent men & Greys respectively.
Kanahu is a world in deep trouble with the forces of Chaos having raged across it in ages past and now the science fantasy races are having to deal with centuries of fallout.
Robots, cybernetic horrors, and worse lay in wait for players whilst worse Lovecraftian horrors from across the Outer Darkness crawls up from the depths of the planet once held in check by the Greys.
This is a world where dungeon dwellers & ruin seekers are going to feel right at home & the consequences can be devastating to the players. The world of Kanahu has plasma weaponry in its artifact tables and their rather nasty. The writing is excellent as well as the layout & formatting which is easy on the eyes.
There is a lot going on in Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu meaning that much of the science fantasy setting material adapts itself to both Sword & Sorcery as well as Science Fantasy role playing. The theme running through Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu is one of both tool kit & planetary sandbox. There are lots of options presented & placed on the table here. These themes are packed & paced into the book which complements & expands upon what's been presented in the Heroic Fantasy Handbook. While its not necessary to have the ACK's the Heroic Fantasy Handbook on hand I can see why the dungeon master & players would want it on hand. The ideas present in the book are highlighted with skill packages,proficiencies ,and other PC kits geared around through out the whole affair of Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu.
This adds into the sandbox nature of Kanahu as a setting for PC's to explore & get lost in on their way to getting killed in one of the planet's innumerable dungeons.
So let's talk about the expansions of ACK's with new takes on existing monsters such as the nasty versions of shambling mounds, terror birds, even the humble toadmen get a Lovecraft make over and its not a pretty one. These monsters all have ties to a variation of Lovecraftian Chaos & its something that PC's should avoid at all costs. This ties back into the revamp of the spells of Kanahu whose magick had a hand in the downfall of the planet. Seriously, there are some nasty business in these spells that you don't want PC's using. All together I'm rather pleased on the whole with the magic section because it really captures the flavor of what the writers & designers were going for.
But how does one use Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu? This is the exact sort of setting book/science fantasy tool kit that I wish I had some months ago. For OSR science fantasy OSR games this is a God sent, no really. Take out the science fantasy planetary sandbox setting with lots of detail and your left with a tool kit perfectly suited for creating all kinds of extra solar system goodness. There are numerous hooks, tags & adventure fodder for doing exactly that built right into the back bone of Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu. There's already enough maps, ruins, etc. in the book to keep a group of players going for at least a year or more. But with a bit of clever slight of hand a DM could keep a group of players in his or her own setting going for years!
I give Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu a five out of five for a really well thought out system and ACK's base for creating & maintaining a Sword & Planet, Sword & Sorcery or Dark Fantasy campaign. In my opinion grab this one!
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