By Dirk Detweiler Leichty Games Omnivorous OSR
Young king Agenor, for peace and wealth, sold his soul to the Green Sun – and such has been delivered for sixty-six years. Now old and fearing the far hells, the king has turned his worship to the BEAST, purchasing extended life with gruesome sacrifices. The BEAST, still hungry, and seeing the beauty of the king’s daughter Europa, became infatuated, saying “bring me her bones, which I will devout, and she will be my wife,” and promised in return that the king would never die. But the princess could not be found …
This 56 pag digest-sized art-punk thing is probably not an adventure, but rather a genre-neutral city setting with a meta-plot going on that the party can experience while going about their normal fucked-live schemes being schemed. Or, maybe, you can play it like a indie-rpg thing, with this being the adventure/ Who knows. Well, i do. It’s not a fucking adventure. It’s a fucking setting. Which is ok, I like settings, especially city-settings. But not when I think I’m buying an adventure.
This is system-neutral. There are not really stats and things are described in such a way that the city could be used in just about any setting. As long as you can have an Monaco-like city with a king and are ok with a couple of mythical elements, like a devil and maybe an elemental spirit, then you can use this in anything from modern-day New York (a super power CEO? The Mayor?) to sci-fi principalities to CoC to fantasy. The fantastic elements are not really forward and a lot is open to interpretation. A religious sect, collecting tithes aggressively? Ok; pretty genre-neutral. A coven? Ok, could be real could be fake. There ARE fantastic elements, the king has sold his soul at least twice to two different beings and some nature spirits make minor appearances, as well an esoteric wishing well or two. But it’s not in your face. The veil has not yet been torn aside and the world, as you know it, is still how you know yet … until you start to probe the surface …
There are ten random-ish things that can happen, each a page, and each with some variation. These are controlled by a die drop astrology chart that handles seasons and phases of the moon and constellations in the sky, etc. Yes, seasons. With encouragement to keep track of days so seasons can change, and guidelines on the party being able to perform four “actions” per day. You can see how this could play out in both an indie-rpg like game and also as a backdrop setting for a larger RPG games. It’s a die drop table for rando stuff with the word “ASTROLOGY” plastered above the top.
There are twenty locations on the “map.” And by “map” I mean “typical art-punk art piece that calls itself a fucking map BUT DOESN”T HAVE FUCKING KEYS ON IT. Instead it has little pictures of buildings. You get to flip through the little book until you find the little picture. Or, search the map for the little picture of the place you want. Fuuuuuuuuucccccck You! Someone made the decision to not dirty the map with a key. WRONG. FUCKING. DECiSION. And, this is where art punk gets its bad rap from.
The adventuring environment, though, is a good one. King Asshat sold his soul to someone. Then he sold it again to #2 “the blue eyed prince”, in exchange for his daughter. Who has run away and is in hiding in the city. He, his family, and his guards look for her, along with a lot of other people. There are cults to the two entities, weirdo other things, the princess showing up as a jockey at the horseraces, and other things. There’s a FUCK TON going on.
In what way, you might ask? One of the first tables in the book is “A place to stay”, describing your lodging, rent due at the start of each month. Your landlord: 1) More like slumlord. 2) Over-nurturing aunt. 3) Debauched partied. 4) Spuy for the king 5) Devout christian. 6) Royal guard sergeant. That sets the tone for the book Things you can work. Three words, each, and yet NPC’s so packed with flavor. This is what every NPC in every game should be described like, something you can hang your fucking hat on. Who the fuck cares how much rent it, or that fish soup is the special, or frank moved to town 26 years ago. “Over-nurturing aunt” … that’s something I can fucking work with at the table! Something I can play with, and build upon. That’s what a fucking NPC description should be!
And a lot of the encounters, locations, and the random building generator is like that. It gives you, in a quick brief hit, something to build on. Not specifics, not detail. No, eait, yes, detail and specifics, but not overly explained. Instead something evocative and short that you can riff on. Something that you can integrate in the ongoing situation easily. A principal or idea, but one terse and full of flavour .Really well done.
So, not an adventure. And maybe not even a city setting. More like a meta-plot for a city, with some key figures and locations to spice up your own city. And it’s FUCKING GREAT as that. But, not an adventure. This could be an interesting type of product, meta-things to weave in to your existing campaign, city, location, etc. No rating, because it’s not an adventure, but it is something I’ll keep and weave in to my home campaign city, immediately.
This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview is three pages. Page “3” of the text has that landlord chart and a brief overview, but the rest of it is the astro-chart stuff. A pretty piss poor preview. I’d have liked to have seen a page with the NPC/wanderer encounter and/or a location encounter so people could know what to expect.