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HDK 102 † HDK Dungeon​​​-​​​synth magazine # 3

by V.A.

In the boundless white desert of Karak-tul, after a sandstorm lasting seven days, a pyramid of black stone, never seen by anyone, is appeared. The puma men, ancient nomads of the desert, have been the first to identify the pyramid by furrowing the sky with their mighty Rocs, but they never got close to it: their priests have decreed it a forbidden place. You have only been in Kanda for a few hours, but you have already realized that you will have to watch your back from the cutthroats and bandits who are around every corner. You’ve done everything to go unnoticed, but the presence of a foreign Vashnir has inevitably aroused suspicion in the slums. By now the criminals of Kanda have set their sights on you because they know that you are planning an expedition to the pyramid and ... they want their share of the treasures you will find in its rooms, a part of those priceless riches of which the songs of tavern already overflow. The fever of exploration is high among the adventurers of Kanda and it has not been difficult for you to find companions willing to join you on this mission. The half-elf Artaud seems like a good guy to you, like you he is a rootless half-breed and he has been doing this job for many years; you have some doubts about the mercenary Lilith because she is descended from the tribes of the mountains, rough people with an enigmatic look. But maybe it’s just prejudices that you would do well to ignore, because she is the only one of you three who was born in this desert and she knows its secrets. More you ask around, in the smelly taverns, in the temples, in the chaotic markets of Kanda, more you realize that most of your interlocutors speak by hearsay: although everyone knows of someone who has been to the pyramid, you cannot meet anyone who really explored it for real. Your experience tells you that much of the information you gather is mere rumor and pure fabrication. You have taken care of the preparations for the expedition with your usual care of details because you know that they can make the difference between life and death: you have obtained all the useful equipment, accumulated supplies for a few weeks and sharpened your arsenal of blades. You are not so surprised that you have not found any guide willing to guide you for three days and three nights in the middle of the desert to the pyramid. Some asked you for a lot of money, but when you proved you could pay ... they disappeared. You will have to rely only on yourself, on Artaud’s elfish sense of direction, and on Lilith’s knowledge of the desert. The day of departure the sky is clear and a warm wind blows from the sea. Your mates are late, you are waiting for them at the meeting place. A few minutes pass, then others, and finally an hour. You are not surprised by this either: you decide not to waste any more time and spur the camel. After all, you knew from the start that you were going to tackle the pyramid alone. 00:00 - The boundless desert of Karak-tul 04:51 - A foreign Vashnir in Kanda city 08:59 - Your quest...alone? 11:00 - A pyramid of black stone
The village of Bershan, in the western lands, was the scene of a bloody battle. During the Wars of Religion, centuries ago, a group of heretical knights heroically resisted the siege of the village by holding back the invasion of the barbarians of the South. The cynical King Juan Murdo, to please the devotees of the orthodox cult of the Sun God, instead of rewarding the knights for their feat, had captured them with deception and executed them in the public square as heretics. After blinding them with fire, he tortured and burned them alive by burying their charred bodies in a mass grave. You are an adventurer in search of fortune and, a short while ago, you were received by Bertold De Ossorio, an advisor to the local feudal lord. Lately many nobles in the area have been mysteriously murdered. People say they saw a dozen of ghost knights riding in the moonlight. Bertold is terrified and promises you a pile of gold if you can drive out the army of the terrible blind resurrected... 00:00 - The riding of the resurrected blind army 04:59 - The mass grave 06:41 - The cathartic release of tormented souls 11:28 - ... And the story ends (in the folds of history)
The party reaches a rocky and barren mountain pass. To the south lies the black and foetid Qi’m Marsh, to the north the scraggy Rodja Moors are studded with sharp outcrops of rock. As the party sets up camp on the hillside they hear, and then see, a party of slaves, chained in single file and being escorted along the mountain path by some grey-scaled Snake men. At their head is a figure known through out the land (DC10 vs Int or a relevant skill) Hermann D’Waij, a seven foot high heavily-muscled snakeman with impressive hood. How the first party tackles the second one and their slaves is up to them. They can hide and let them pass by, though there is a chance the snakemen scouts will find them (DC15 vs Stealth or similar to avoid). They can try and free the slaves, though a head on attack is unlikely to succeed and the snakemen are heavily armed with Assegai, shields and bronze armour. There are a few notable characters they might have chance to interact with: Hermann D’Waij: a proud warrior, son of the snakeman chief and intent on earning his spurs. He captured the slaves in the nearby village of Quontock Biljis a few days ago and is taking them to the market at Ipsataar, three days journey north. Herman may strike a deal with the party if they have something to offer, though he is more interested in prestige than wealth. Morris Minortov: A travelling bard from the lands to the south of the Yagamash Sea. He is a virtuoso on the fiddle and is allowed to play for the other slaves (and the snakemen) every evening, though his ankles remain chained. He has a map in his pocket, drawn on a scrap of linen. He doesn’t know where the map leads to, but he took it in payment from an old crone in return for cutting her a winters worth of wood. Serjeant Grub: A goblin of many words. The only think that will make him shut up is a beating at the hands of the snakemen (or the party, for that matter…) He talks of many things, gold hidden on the moors, a dragon’s hoard. None of it is true. 0:00 The Chain Gang 1:36 Under the Snakemen’s Gaze 3:39 Morris Minorov’s Camp fire Medley The Rabi and the Nun The Merchant’s Folly The Hedgefund Manager’s Lament 5:47 Escape Across the Rodja Moors
1. Mugul the priest watched them in the mystical puddle on the floor of his study, located in a secret wing of the royal palace. Thanks to that magical body of water he could see with the eyes of his creature: a wooden golem. He had sculpted that wooden warrior with a hasty spell, without paying attention to details: the humanoid had to serve only to convey his gaze and, if necessary, to fight roughly. Together with the golem Mogul had sent the barbarian Zighir, a skilled and glacial mercenary, to the missions. Zighir was part of a secret unit of shadow-soldiers directly employed by the priests. Mugul could see in the magic pool in real time what the wooden Golem saw. And the Golem saw Zighir’s mighty shoulders as he marched the rugged paths of the Valley of Persistent Mists. Though the vegetation was sparse, the slimy grass and dense fog made walking difficult. Mugul had heard rumors that a tribe of mountain kobolds had settled in the underground crypts of the ancient cemetery at the bottom of the valley: it was an isolated place where, devoured by moss and lichens, tombs from a so archaic era stood that nobody knew who they belonged to. The cemetery had been registered by the Priests as a Passage: a rift in the earth that overlooked Hrkgkrh the Unpronounceable, also known as the Negative World: the forbidden space in which the human laws are upside down. Sealing the gates to Hrkgkrh was the mission of the Church of which Mugul was a priest and faithful servant. The one in the cemetery subterranean crypts was a small Passage, an isolated and inactive fissure. However the security protocol required Mugul to intervene: it was necessary to free the area from the unwary kobolds before they caused any damage and then seal the Passage: an easy task for Zighir’s sword, Mugul thought while he lit a crystal pipe to enjoy the show. 2. Mugul made a brusque movement in surprise. The pipe slipped from his hand and fell into the pool, rippling the vision. The wizard waited for the water to settle in order to confirm what he had seen. A few minutes ago, Zighir had struck down a kobold with a mighty hit that had slashed its side, now that same kobold was on his feet again and, although his flesh was hanging and in tatters, he had dealt a brutal blow with a club on the barbarian’s back. Mogul saw Zighir as surprised as he was and winced when a dozen humanoids that his two warriors had easily slaughtered a few minutes earlier emerged from the dense mists. What witchcraft was there in that place? Mugul saw the barbarian, stained with blood up to his eyes, shouting a peremptory order to the golem accompanied by an unequivocal gesture: cut off his head! Mugul was pleased with the idea of ​​the barbarian. The golem and Zighir began to pry the heads off the necks of the downed kobolds with brutal blows, before they could return to life on the wings of that dark curse. The two hurriedly advanced into the basement of the main crypt: they knew the opening must be somewhere below. A long corridor of dark, slimy stone ran in the darkness. Suddenly the golem’s vision rotated to frame the companion behind him. The barbarian Zighir was bleached in the face: at the neck, arms and ankles five severed heads of kobolds sank their teeth into his flesh. They were bites of steel, so much so that blood had begun to flow copiously from the wounds. The golem did everything possible with its squat wooden hands to free its companion from the feral mouths, but there was nothing to do: Zighir’s jugular had been severed from the kobold’s canine fangs. Mugul had programmed the golem for him to retire in the event of his companion’s death, so the wodden figure started running at full speed towards the exit of the crypt. 3. In the cemetery everything seemed quiet, but the golem had stopped: in the thick fog, two red eyes could be distinguished, as if suspended in the air in the Golem’s visual framework. In a moment, two tongues of fire emerged from those eyes. Now Mugul could only see flames, and a sudden cloud of steam rose and sizzled from the magical puddle, draining it. Mugul now could no longer see anything. His contact with the Golem was definitively lost, leaving him with atrocious questions and the certainty of having intervened too late to face the case. Evidently the kobolds had found the Passage before him, unleashing things as horrible as they were unknown. 4. In the following days Mugul was gnawed with doubt: to report his failure to the priestly council (only God knew what would happen to him) or to keep quiet, secretly sending a new agent in the hope that he would solve the problem. He mulled over this as he walked through the alleys between the palace and his home, on a foggy night. As he turned the corner of the deserted alley, the creature appeared before him. The wooden golem was charred from the chest up, its features were completely disfigured, the body was chipped and furrowed. His face was a deformed log of coal, but what really terrified him were the two holes placed in the place of the eyes where, by a mysterious witchcraft, shone two red burning embers. It was those eyes, the ones he had seen in the cemetery! The golem’s mighty wooden hands tightened around the priest’s wrinckled throat. Mugul was stunned as his creature snapped his neck.


Dear dungeoncrawlers,

We have happily reached the third episode of this bizarre adventure! We are receiving great feedbacks from the dungeon synth scene and we thank you for your endless passion and support: as long as there is this enthusiasm we will not stop clogging the ether with weird music and unpredictable projects! Since HDK DS Magazine was born, we have been very impressed by one thing: many of the musicians of the dungeon synth scene we have involved, at the end of this adventure, have told us that they have made one of their most inspired music ... ah, the inspiration! What is this holy grail that every artist desperately seeks? After years of quests, descents in unknown dungeons and adventures in magical and misty lands, it is still difficult to define what inspiration is. But it certainly has to do with the setting, the territory and the direction we decide to take when we turn on the synthesizers or open the piano roll window... Dungeon synth music feeds on atmospheres, stories, adventures and is closely linked to an imaginary that takes shape behind our closed eyelids.

And certainly the music of the four artists, who make up this new episode of your favorite cassette magazine, has a strong imagination! We are talking about the great Orcus from Canterbury UK, which tells us a mysterious story called “The Pyramid”. Or even an old acquaintance of the HDK catalog, TiR, a Turkish musician residing in the far (from here!) Australia, who, with his wise notes, evokes the cruel battle of the blind resurrected. Turning the side of the tape, however, we meet another acquaintance of HDK: we are talking about that cute humanoid animal named Red Gremlin, from the hills of Shropshire in the UK. As always he will be able with his simple and effective music to involve you in a story of slavery and (possible?) rebellion. The mediterranean Mauzhar closes this issue with a truly disturbing story entitled “Eyes in the fog”.

What else to say? We just have to be guided by the magical notes of these four tales: ladies and gentleman, let the story begins ...


released July 31, 2021

HDK dungeon-synth magazine vol. 3
by Heimat der Katastrophe

Cassette cover art by Eugene JAWORSKI

Mini-book art by Hodag rpg ILLUSTRATION

Support the artists here!
ORCUS: orcus-vm.bandcamp.com
TiR: tirofficial.bandcamp.com
RED GREMLIN: zundmarazkhulshilkn.bandcamp.com
MAUZHAR: mauzhar.bandcamp.com




Heimat Der Katastrophe Milan, Italy

DIY label focused on ambient punk, minimal-synth, dungeon-drone, wartime music and post-nuclear wave. Managed by a creative punx collective from Milano city.

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