By Evey Lockhart
In Search of Games
Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Why Go to the Ruinous Palace? 1. Old Gold to be Stolen from Old Places 2. Rumors of Supernatural Fecundity and Ruination. What wizard would not wish to study such?
3. Nearby communities are hemorrhaging Livestock. The Dragon learns to hunt and gather.
4. A forest Unmolested for centuries… could become a fortune in Timber.
This is a twenty one page adventure with about six encounters, centered around a small ruined structure with a mythic abomination in it. It’s themed after one of those Earth Mother things: a naked woman, full breasts, giving birth to abominations. It has a STRONG mythic vibe going on; this is not your boring Paizo D&D but rather recalls all of the countless years of myth and story that have floated around the world. This adventure probably skews closer to level two or three than level one, and features some mature themed monsters.
This adventure FEELS like you are going someplace DIFFERENT. You journey through a creepy forest, full of creepy sad zombies. The ruins in which the main adventure takes place almost certainly have a massive dragon curled around them, asleep. Both of those, together, help communicate to the party that they are leaving the mundane world of farmers and lords and entering a different kind of world, where the freaky deaky will be found. IE: the transition to The Mythic Underworld, for those of you versed in blog-o-sphere lore. It’s a very effective technique for helping to set a mood.
The forest journey begins the adventure. There is no hook, just the little publisher’s burb up in the first paragraph, to set help up the why’s of the party going there. It’s a creepy, wet, pine forest, with a heavy but sporadic mist. Scattered throughout are the Sad Zombies. Imagine a zombie in a misty pine forest, in the distance, wearing only a mitre hat. Or one sitting on the ground, crying. Or one chained a tree, with the tree having grown around them. There’s not really much to this, other than the atmosphere of the forest and the sad zombie wandering table. Still, the weirdness of the situation, with the atmosphere, is a great way to begin the mood setting. At the end of it you encounter the ruins, which almost certainly has a huge sleeping dragon wrapped around them, with scales of obsidian.
The dragon is 10HD. Just inside the door is a 2HD monster made up of light, only hit by magic, but captured by opaque surfaces … almost a puzzle in monster form. None of the creatures here are book monsters. The dragon with obsidian scales, the light monster, some shit creatures, the daughters of the woman that are half hippo, and the mother herself. The players won’t have any idea what’s up, the creatures are strongly themed but without mountains of words. It FEELS like something out of myth or folklore.
Well, maybe a Guillermo del Toro folklore. Shit monsters and an earth mother monster who gives birth to needle fish to attack you is a little … uh … repulsive? You’ve got some mature themed creatures and effects that are going where other adventures don’t. Like turning your genitals to stone. That section includes this gem: “septicemia kills more murderhobos a year than any other disease.” It all makes sense, in the adventure and doesn’t feel forced or, oh, included just for shock value. Even tangential sexual themes, like in this, are more than a little unusual.
There’s a fair amount of fluff/inspirational text in the adventure, but it’s almost always confined to a page by itself, in LARGE font. More artful than wordy. This is a great way to include this sort of meta-inspiration without clogging up the text that the DM needs to run at the table. Magical treasure is light, at none, with mundane treasure fitting in nicely but lacking really solid sticky descriptions.
The adventure has a habit of putting entrance/transition information one room ahead of where it should be. In a room at the bottom of stairs you get the stair description, instead of at the room at the top of the stairs. In the room behind the secret door you get the secret door description, instead of in the room that has the secret door. This, and the lack of more mythic treasure, is annoying.
But still, a nice decent adventure with a great vibe going on if you can get past the pussy monsters stuff. When you finish, I suspect your players will really think they’ve accomplished something, much in the same way that happens something in good DCC adventures.
There’s no real preview on DriveThru, unfortunatly.
Just one paragraph of “the bad” and critics? You are becoming condescend!
Weird…I just picked this up the other day. It’s a quick read, with a few very memorable encounters. I’m not sure I want to run the whole adventure, but I definitely want to steal the sad zombies, and maybe a couple of other things. It’s weird and atmospheric, but I don’t know if there’s a whole lot going on. I’m not sure what my players would do other than fight and loot in this adventure.
Sounds a bit like Dark Souls. And pretty good. I’ll probably have to get this one.
Actual play, with spoilers galore:
I had a total blast running this one. I did add some magical treasure, which is out of character for me!
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One thing I think the adventure itself undersells is the pack of feral druids. I had set these up with some other resources when we played through this, but they are still out there and without ever actually attacking en masse have already caused some serious headaches for the players. Not sure what will happen next, but these could easily turn into a recurrent source of tension.
I bought this based on your recommendation, and Handy’s hearty endorsement (which, no offense, is worth three Bryce’s) and … I thought it was like Tower of The Were Toads all over again. “Oooooh, you got me twice! It’s an “edgy” deconstructed dungeon, a D&D Mad Lib,Pay-What-You-Want-to-Write-Your-Own-Module-Using-the-“Author’s”-Notes,’ and I cursed your name.
And then it started to ferment in my mind and I went back to it. Yes, actually, although it’s not really a complete “module,” really being an amalgation of ideas and images, they’re pretty good ideas and images and there’s enough gooey nougat between to hold it all together. Insane, but together. It’s definitely Clive Barker-ish (the make-you-squirm short story Barker, not The I-can-write-the-Dark-Tower-too novelist Barker). Yes, I can and will definitely run this.
Although God knows what character levels this is supposed to be for. Maybe we run throw up our hands and run it as CoC: Dark Ages.
Man I reviewed this too and I totally disagree with you (a rarity), I think it’s a nonsensical mess cobbled together by someone who is neurologically and ideologically similar to Patrick Stewart but about 10-20 points lower on the verbal IQ scale and it shows.
Some of the encounters and ideas work in isolation but they are mixed together in a fashion that is tonally dissonant and nonsensical. On top of that it is sloppy and poorly written. For all its originality it never coheres.
The sad zombies set up a perfect atmosphere for some sort of pseudo-greek tragedy that the adventure then undercuts by throwing in dick petrification, semi-petrified smurfs, giant poop bacteria that make characters shit themselves to death and a magic light man that makes no sense in the context of the offspring of Metegorgos (but then again neither does the poop bacteria). If the goal is solely to come across as bizarre then the adventure succeeds, but really only in that.
The dungeon itself, besides being mapped carelessly and arguably lazily, is simplistic in the extreme, and contain straight up combat encounters.
The author attempts a mythical background but the writing is so inconsistent it fails to hit the right notes and comes across as meandering. The mundane treasure was alright and I really dug the last encounter with the druids (simple though it was).
The individual encounters are at times very good if skewed towards the bizarre and the creativity is there but the author needs to learn how to write and string that shit together.
Got this because the author made it free, but still remains a “nonsensical mess” as PrinceofNothing said…