Now, pounding away through Conan, having a barrel of fun picking the lore out between fits of berserker rage and building Fort Dumas up to survive a ridiculous level of Purge I have forced on myself, something occurred to me.
Somebody had to send us to the Exiled Lands.
Supposedly, the Ring of Set was taken from the Exiled Lands by Thoth-Amon during his youth, and the Sorcerer found a way to escape the Exiled Lands with the relic, which supposedly ‘doomed’ the rest of the Humans trapped there to never be able to escape themselves.
And yet, the Purge is mentioned as a organized attempt to slay or at least weaken the people trapped within the Exiled Lands, targeting whoever has a relic of power at random.
But what about the animals that attack during the Purges? The Imps? The Elementals? The Demons?
Well, who sent us to the Exiled Lands?
Let me lay out my theory here:
We’re part of a big 4th Dimensional Chess Game between Thoth-Amon, his rivals in the Black Hand and the sorcerers of the White Hand of Hyperborea, who in turn are the pawns of an even larger and more labyrinthine game played by the Gods for ultimate control of our world. And the Exiled Lands, saturated with sorcery courtesy of the native Giants of the region and millennia of blood-sacrifice to Set and conjuring of Demons, have worn away at the ‘Veil’ that separates Hyborea from the alien realities on the other side of the Veil.
Hence the Divine Avatars we can summon. Hence why nothing tied to the Giants or the Gods themselves ever really ‘dies’ in the Exiled Land. Hence why we have these alien monsters running around, elemental creatures and horrifically mutated creatures, not including Jhebbal’s offspring. The entire region is torn halfway between the ‘normal’ reality and the ‘alien’ realms where Demons and, indeed, the Gods all hail from. The natural laws of the world are broken and distorted, and alien things from inhospitable realms stare longingly at our peoples and lands, just a half-step from breaking through but still unable to completely pass into our world by the natural ‘rejection’ of such things by the Veil, and possibly the work of the Celestials as well.
The Players are there as Amon-Thoth’s pawns, driven individuals who all held a slumbering spark of sorcery in their souls, strong enough to survive, even thrive, in the hostile region but not strong enough to actually use that spark of sorcery to duplicate his seemingly-impossible feat so many years ago. Shackled with the Cursed Bracer, their pasts obscured by trauma, alchemy and sorcery and thrown head-first into a brutal fight for survival, they are seemingly alone in their struggle … but Thoth-Amon is watching, always, and has been subtly guiding and protecting his pawns, or rather has been doing this in the theme of a Black Hand Sorcerer.
All those rocks that fall down mysteriously? Not happenstance. Somebody or something has been watching us from the shadows, tracking our movements, studying our habits, reporting back to a higher power …
Either we will succeed and gather the remaining relics for him, or we fail but have blazed a trail for the next batch of would-be heroes to follow and possibly succeed in our stead.
Of course, Thoth-Amon has never ruled uncontested, such is not the way of the Black Hand or Stygia herself. The rest of the Black Hand know something strange is going on and have no doubt sent their own allies and agents to the region, either as more Bonded Ones or even members of the Purges themselves, to test us, claim our treasures and thwart Thoth-Amon’s agendas, possibly securing a powerful relic for their own use.
And lest we forget that the White Hand is no idle force either, and their endless study of sorcery has much need of man-flesh to power it, both as research materials and sturdy bodies to go out in search of more resources for these vile sorcerers.
A good way to expand the game further would be to have all the Relics gathered, the player(s) are about to leave, the portal in the barrier opens in blinding light … and through steps Thoth-Amon.
He congratulates us on a successful mission, assures us our memories will return in time, mostly, and even if they do not, A sorcerer of all things must stand true to their word: You will live in luxury and excess to the natural end of your days, wanting for nothing and served by many.
As Conan stalks forwards and threatens both you and the Sorcerer, banter is exchanged and Thoth-Amon mentions that gathering the relics and taking them away from the Exiled Lands will save Stygia, and by dint of being on the same planet, the rest of the nations of the world, from an invasion by Set’s rivals who are far more blood-thirsty and corrupt than even the Serpent of Darkness himself, and that a thousand sacrificed fools in these blasted lands are a cheap price to pay for avoiding such a fate. Conan begrudgingly admits he can’t fault you for getting tangled up in a sorcerer’s plot, but he can wash his hands of the entire mess … when a volley of arrows hisses out through the portal, hitting everyone. Thoth-Amon roars in rage and throws an ominously glowing purple orb back in retaliation, causing several voices to scream in pain, and then another volley of arrows, this time from the other direction, sends everyone sprawling for cover.
You and your relics, Conan, Thoth-Amon and his Ring of Set, are all gathered together. The other players in this game want their prize, and the Black Hand assaults from outside the barrier, while the White Hand rushes their forces trapped within the Exiled Lands, both eager to claim your relics for their masters.
Conan springs to his feet and demands Thoth-Amon do more as the Cimmerian lays into the charging Hyperborean forces, while the Sorcerer simply pulls a bloodless arrow from his shoulder and says that recklessly using sorcery with so much alien magic in the air could very well tear open the Veil entirely and let all manner of darkness infest the world, and then pulls a golden Khopesh out from under his robes and engages the traitors from his own nation in furious sword-play.
As the two enemies, and the player(s), fight to hold back the swarm of enemies, two groups of Sorcerers, heedless of the danger that even Thoth-Amon fears, charge in, wielding witch-fire and alien sorcery with reckless abandon, and the relics you have gathered hum with energy.
The skies turn black, strange creatures fall from the sky, and screaming in horror, you, Conan, Thoth-Amon and all the forces you, the Black Hand and the White Hand brought to the fight are drawn up into the inky void by irresistible forces …
When you next regain consciousness, your bracer’s gem glows a disturbing purple colour, and you are alone in an alien, blasted landscape of curling thorns of jagged rock and golden sand, where overhead two moons, one red, one blue, glare down at you from an unfamiliar sky.
Where-ever you are, this is not Hyborea anymore, and you see human-like figures skulking in the shadows, just out of bow-range …
The game basically drops your level 60 character in a new map, an alien world ravaged by the conflicts of Set, Yog, Jhebbal Sag and Mitra in ages past, where the original Serpentmen were born and whose image Set used to forcibly mold the Serpentmen of Earth, albeit imperfectly. New races to meet, enslave and use to build your empire, new mysteries as to where you are, what happened to Conan and Thoth-Amon, and how you can return home, and 40 more levels to gain, along with new talent-trees to pursue, including a Sorcery-themed one where you can use the ‘low craft’ of Alchemy to create Witchfire Bombs, Homunculi and stranger effects still, and recover your Thralls who were likewise sucked up into this alien world with you during the cataclysm that devoured the Exiled Lands.
Obviously we can’t go full techno-savages here, but pulpy Conan science with a touch of the Cthulu mythos-level of technology could be a fun addition to the campaign without taking away the Sword from the Sorcery.