The Feast on Titanhead

By Brayden Doomscribe Turenne
Games Omnivorous
LotFP? CoC? Meh, It's horror, and horror tends to translate well when well done

“Doomscribe delivers a heavy-metal, grind-core interpretation of the Manifestus Omnivorous, coated in weird-horror. One that speaks both to Lovecraft fans and those of movies like Saw. There is a big bad MONSTER that players will most likely not defeat. The LOCATION is the head of that very monster. And everything seems to be there to DEVOUR something. Includes psychotic outbreaks, naked people popping their eyes out, grotesque masses of fungi and engines of growth/rebirth that reshape humans into abnormal masses of skin and soft-tissue.”

This 28 page adventure describe twelve rooms in a colossal titan skull. Body Horror/The Thing/Stranger Things beasties abound in an adventure that brings the horror, but not necessarily the “skull”, and, as always, begs the question “Why bother going there?”

So, mountain, with a giant partially exposed skull on it. And I mean GIANT partially exposed skull. For some fucked up reason you’re going in there. The adventure suggests you’re hired to go in. Or you’re going in to find a friend that disappeared inside. Or, you’re just walking down the road and see it, and, of course, go take a looky loo. I know, I know, people say hooks don’t matter. I generally agree. Except when they ARE included. If you’re going to put a hook in then make it a decent hook. Or a supported hook. Or a relatable hook. And not just a couple of throwaway lines of text.

This mentions it’s set in “Europe”, but that doesn’t really impact the adventure in any way. There’s mention of leather armor, and one mention of explosives being used previously on the mountain to expose more of the skull, but both of those points are trivial to setting this wherever, in whatever game, although Europe+Leather generally means the default LotFP setting, but, as most horror adventures are, this could be used almost in any genre at any time. I only mention this in the context of Why? As in “Why the fuck are exploring this shithole of a place?”

The age old question. A giant skull halfway up the side of the mountain? FUCK Yeah I’m in! Let’s go? Same skull, but filled with weird pulsating fungus and hybrid creatures with giant toothy gaping maws stretching too wide? I’m getting the fuck out of Dodge! So, why explore? There’s no real promise of treasure, and a lot of promises delivered on of weird body horror shit.  There’s some kind of CoC do-gooder gotta stop the evil impulse, I guess. But, even then, dumping the place full of gas or explosive laced animals seems to be a better idea than slogging through each room. If you aint gotta, then nuking the site from orbit is always the correct PC answer. 

So, yeah, body horror. Naked people inside who have torn out their own eyeballs. Or, in the words of the designer “They’re each covered in blood, with many wounds along their bodies. As they move closer, you can see that their own eyes have been gouged out. They walk blindly, yet sniff the rank air like dogs, jerking their heads abruptly at their surroundings.They moan and weep pathetically as they scratch and bite themselves bloody like animals. The walls are scrawled with scribblings in blood and shit. One of them, a woman, is in the process of digging out their own eyes from their sockets. A large mound of brain matter resides on the opposite wall. A single man lies half sunken into it, writhing as though in ecstasy.” So … yeah. I said body horror, right? This is good writing. It certainly paints  very visceral picture and, also, does a good job SHOWING up a monster instead of just TELLING us its a monster. The writing is, overall, pretty strongly evocative. It dances over the line to pretentious read-aloud sometimes, but the DM text is pretty strong overall. “His head is half caved in, exposing part of his brain. His eyes are blood red and wide with shock. A PC may notice that the visible portion of Elijah’s brain looks wrong and that his skin is discolored in a sickly green.” Yeah, that dude is pretty fucked up. Probably no reason to waste a cure light on that guy. A lot of adventures TELL you that someone is too far gone to use cure light on, but this one does a good job SHOWING you. The rooms have a little interactivity, mostly shit like the pineal gland psychic blasting you, or a magnetic trap room, etc. Just a light amount for what is, at the end, just a small dungeon.

It is doing a few “interesting” things with mechanics. Every 20 minutes of real time everyone gets to make a save. If you have you have a vision and get a little crazier. After missing five save you attack another party member three times without them getting a defence … you’re just too fast! One more fail and you’re an insane NPC. So, about two hours, I’d say, before the whole party is a TPK because of the adventure mechanics. I get the need for a timer Mr “just fill the entire place with gasoline”, but I’m not sure this is the right way to do it. Also, every time you fail you have a vision which are mostly just variations on “empty blackness” and have NOTHING to do with advancing the adventure. That’s too bad, abd a very big missed opportunity. “You open your eyes to find yourself submerged in a sea of unknown substance, of a color that you cannot describe. You breathe the liquid as though it were air.” Sure, whatever. 

There’s also a place or two with things … muddled? The first room, the entrance socket, has a horse monster, complete with gaping maw, coming out of it. It’s written in such a way that it’s clearly meant to be the parties first encounter with the weird monsters. But, then, they also show up on the “journey up the mountainside” wandering hazard table … which will blunt this initial encounter with them. Weird things like that, like a little more thought needed to go in to things.

Oh, and the dude at the end, because there’s also a boss at the end, has “a ridiculous amount of HP” and if killed turns in to a baby monster with only 1HP but you need a nat 20 to hit. So … playing with mechanics a lot. That’s not bad, in general, but perhaps implements a little ham-fisted in this one.

And, you don’t get bonus points for using a fucking font that I have to literally copy/paste in a notepad app in order to tell what the fuck the writing was supposed to be. If you make “Sepulchral” illegible that’s on you. You have to be able to actually sit on it if it’s a chair and you have to actually be able to read the words if it’s meant to be read. I just don’t fucking get why that’s hard to understand.

So, lots and lots of body horror. Not so badly done and one of the better examples of it. Suffers from the “Why the fuck bother at all?” problem common to so many LotFP adventures. A little one note, and  all of the horror essentially starts in room one and doesn’t let up or change., which doesn’t help much. Death Frost Doom had old Zeke and his warning and then the cabin to warm the party up, and this needed something like that to ramp things up. One of the better body horror adventures, in terms of evocative writing, though.

This is $7 at DriveThru. The preview is nine pages and none of those nine really give you a good impression of the actual adventures writing. It’s better than the intro/background garbage that appears in the preview. So, bad preview that should have shown us a room or two anyway.

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10 Responses to The Feast on Titanhead

  1. Horror’s hard to nail in gaming. Books succeed because they get directly into the reader’s heads and exploit an alchemy of fear and insecurity. The intimacy of our internal dialogue, I suppose. But the intermediary of the GM inevitably dilutes even the best written scenario. Body horror is low-hanging fruit though. I’m a combat-disabled veteran (Iraq) for pretty much everything that implies. Coming home with a changed body and living through a decade of nightmares and social anxiety is as close to Lovecraft as you’re liable to get in real life. Luckily, most people won’t experience this; but they know how awful it would be, so they’re more apt respond to even ham-fisted depictions of mutilation. It sounds like this adventure has that going for it, which might be enough…

  2. Stripe says:

    This is another of the hundreds of examples of why I read tenfootpole. The review is *entertaining.*

    Yes, it’s informative as well. Like Bryce says, “If it’s a chair, you have to be able to sit on it.” If it’s a review, it has to tell us if we should buy/run/play it or not.

    That’s Bryce’s mission statement and he fulfills that time and time again. That’s also why I’m a Patreon, and why I set up a Patreon account just to do so. This is the only thing I Patreon. (Can it be used as a verb? I say yes.)

    He didn’t give me $5 to shill for him. He also didn’t give me another $5 to *say* he didn’t give me $5 to shill for him. I’m just bored waiting for my girlfriend to get out of the shower so I can take my turn.

    >This is good writing. It certainly paints very visceral picture and, also, does a good job SHOWING
    >up a monster instead of just TELLING us its a monster. The writing is, overall, pretty strongly

    Oh, wow, this is going to get a “The Best” for sure . . .

    >And, you don’t get bonus points for using a fucking font that I have to literally copy/paste in a
    >notepad app in order to tell what the fuck the writing was supposed to be.

    Oh, nope. No, it isn’t. Totally screwed the pooch there.

    I would be the first to comment I’m surprised this didn’t at least rate a “No Regerts”, but I also know Bryce is completely inconsistent with his own tags.

  3. Jonathan Becker says:

    This sounds like crap.

    The blurb says it’s “system agnostic” for use with “any traditional role-playing game,” which is generally code for “D&D-pick-your-edition.”

    Except that it’s shit for any edition of D&D I play. Which means it’s a waste of my money.

    From now on, I will mentally shit-can/delete anything labeled as “system agnostic.” You can’t be everything to everybody. Pick a fucking system you money-grubbing wanker. Then I can judge how well your adventure works for the system for which it’s designed.

    Bull. Shit.

    • BACLF says:

      It was originally written for “Edgelord: The Lording”.

    • The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

      Agree with Becker. Pick a system. This system agnostic crap seems to be growing like a fungus. Lazy ass shit

      • System matters. I’ve gotten pushback for saying that; but it’s true. Yes, certain things are universal across the spectrum of adventures; but different games confer different capabilities upon their characters, which alone makes a big difference. In D&D, disfigurement is reversible, neutering the sense of permeance body horror requires. Short of this, system agnostic implies little work to convert, a difficult promise to keep given the volume of systems currently available…

  4. samurguybri says:

    No one in my hexcrawl campaign would go here. The would see this thing, see a horrible monster in the entrance and nope the fuck out of there. Why would there be any treasure in a skull to compel gold=xp gamers with? It could be a way for characters who are trying to get OUT of a deep dungeon could end up in and have to survive to emerge into the light of day.

  5. Reason says:

    As DM if I’m building a sandbox or seeding some adventures imc, I guess you put a legendary treasure or macguffin of the moment in there, if you want to run it.

    I’ve never found system agnostic to be that big of a deal. You presumably know the system you want to run it in pretty well so can eyeball any HD/HP quirks pretty easily and even on the fly. There’s nothing in the preview there to gauge if it’s especially egregious or not. I can easily interpret “a ridiculous amount of HP” in 0e as 100hp for low/mid levels or in 5e maybe 300 (I guess, only played it a few times).

    Seems to have a little bit in common with Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine – which may well be the better adventure, by the sound of it.

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      Right. “I put the next piece of the Rod of Seven Parts there” is the old DM trick. Or the Oracle of Ashattery or whatever. I feel like the smaller dungeons, though, force fights, which make balance an issue, and then you’ve also got to worry about … and so on and so forth. Not that its a deal breaker, but it raises other issues also

    • 3llense'g says:

      As others have pointed out, system agnostic is easy as long as it’s some flavour of D&D, but converting to some Basic Roleplaying variant or Powered by the Apocalypse thing is a different matter, I assume.

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