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.