By Markus Schauta Gazer Press LotFP Level 1
Autumn 1631: Germany is plagued by the Thirty Years’ War. Bruckstadt has so far been spared, neither mercenary bands nor epidemics have reached the little town on the Katzbach. The inhabitants attribute this to the protection of St. James, whom they honor every ten years with a festival. In 1631 it should have happened again, but the explosion of the town‘s powder store buried the entrance to the saint‘s tomb. The saint, the citizens are convinced, will therefore no longer hold his protective hand over Bruckstadt. Count Reuben Wolfsgrau is now looking for volunteers to find another way to the tomb of St. James. A way through the Roman catacombs, where dangers lurk from beyond the grave.
This 104 page adventure details a few regional sites of note, with the main attraction being a five level dungeon. Dripping with flavour, organized well, it’s an excellent return to the lamentations that Lamentations has seemingly abandoned. A great achievement in the genre of almost-realistic dungeon crawling.
Fucking A man, this dude gets it! When I see an expensive product, or a long one, I sigh internally. My experience with both have not been good. But this thing (and, maybe, my recent forays in the depths of my Wishlist) has made me a believer! This is a Lamentations adventure of the Old Ways. No tricks, just a good time! Human centric, some undead running around, a werewolf, vampire, “stone spiders”, its an adventure, and dungeon, out of folklore. Never a funhouse but rocking the interactivity like few other things.
I don’t even know where to start.
So, the town, I guess. It’s DRIPPING. The guesthouse, where you’re likely to stay, is run by a shrew. How do w know this? “No magicians or heretics!” Plump, bossy, loud voice, hates cats, and devoutly religious. Fuck yeah! I can run that! The party is in for a good time when they stay here! Or, at least, I, as the DM, am in for a good time. 🙂 Oh, also, she loudly scourges herself every night. Fuck me man, THIS isthe atmosphere of thing. Imagine the party beng woken up buy this, investigating, and then quietly creeping back to their rooms … Things seen cannot be unseen. 🙂 I fucking love it. And this thing does this over and over and over again! The gravedigger? One of this notes is “Always surrounded by a bulk of cats, which he loves. When he dies in d4 days from hemorrhage, the cats will eat from his corpse.” None of that fucking high fantasy Forgotten Realms Drizzel Durdan shit in this! This fucking thing does life with a snark that is PERFECT for the fucking party to wander through.
Beyond a base of operations, the town serves as the springboard for several minor adventures. In attempting to learn more about the crypt, you learn what has happened recently, follow up on it, and get some clues on leads to pursue. All relevant, all interesting, and all presented very naturally. None of the fetch quest or de rigeuer investigation shit that we see so often in other adventures. No, here it’s all integrated. The town, as a resupply, is married perfectly to the town as an investigation source, which is married perfectly to the sites in the surrounding region, as a source of information and items for the crawl, which all prepares you for the main event: five levels of dungeon.
It starts strong, with some bandit-like folks on a lot of the first level. Are they bandits? Maybe? Yes, for sure. But, also, they fit in well and there’s this air of … naturalism. Maybe they just want an entrance fee to get in/past them. Not the usual sort of bandits in a dungeon, but some that fit in well, What if they were just living there, and you wanted to walk through someones living room? You’d expect that, maybe, they would charge you, right? And be a little hostile and possessive of it? Nevermind that they are squatters … .and, of course, there’s more going on than meets the eye.
Cannibals, undead, all sort of fun to be had in these catacombs, on your way to the crypt and the showdown with St James. Interactivity is strong. Not just fights. Not just talky talky. Quandaries. Things to do. Ways to explore. Sacrifices to be made. A stake in a corpses body? Dare you pull it out? Statues to worship, and traps to fuck with. Traps that usuallyhave some clues about. A dungeon, and encounters, that are not arbitrary but one in which the players get to push their luck and dare to explore more, for more rewards.
And such rewards! A great amount of unique magic items, the skulls and talismans and books of old folklore come to life! A death mask, with real rotting teeth, that lets you turn invisible! Oooh! Sign me up!
“Gnarled willow to which the head of a horse is nailed. The wood sweats red liquid dripping from the branches” Uh, yeah, so the atmosphere is quite strong here. Great evocative writing, terse. Just the seeds of an idea, with some mechanics attached to it. All you need, really. Maybe its role as “Translated from the Germanic” shows a bit, with the writing being a little less evocative than I would prefer, but this is no “big chest” adventure. Sparkling gemstones and golden cups with giant brown-black spiders standing motionless in a puddle, water dripping from a vaulted ceiling on to its shiny wet body. It’s all supported by a format that is decent, using bullets and bolding and whitespace pretty effectively. It’s a little busy and gets close to being TOO dense, but manages to handle things well in the end.
This is a GREAT dungeoncrawl! A perfect little thing to maybe start a campaign with. With a timer. And the usual CONSEQUENCES if the party fucks it up. This sthe grim and gritty human centric dungeon of your dreams, full of the flavour of Darklands, but turn up just a little more.
This is $14 at DriveThru. The preview is eleven pages and does an EXCELLENT job of showing you the format and encounter types of the adventure. What to expect, both in format and tone.
I concur, this rocks. It is interesting to see the difference between Lotfp as interpreted by James Raggi and Lotfp as interpreted by his fans, who always seem to be more interested in the earnest weird fantasy parts and seem to care less about the silly stuff.
“[…] it’s an excellent return to the lamentations that Lamentations has seemingly abandoned. A great achievement in the genre of almost-realistic dungeon crawling.”
Serious question: What other LotFP modules fit in that description? The catalogue is huge, and the ones I’ve read are quite psychedelic…not very realistic at all.
Thanks in advance.
Strict Time Records Must Be Kept
Isle of the Unknown
No Rest for the Wicked
Just a Stupid Dungeon
Zak Has Nothing to Do with This Book
Menagerie of Exiles
Better Than Any Man
Adventure Anthology: Blood
Tower of the Stargazer
I’ll chime in to @Tarkus and say I’ve run and enjoyed Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine, God that Crawls. I’d say they fit into that category. Also Hammers of the God- but I haven’t run that yet (been running in Hyborian Age setting, no demi humans).
Tower of the Stargazer and A Single Small Cut also played really well at my table. But I’m not sure they fit into your query.
Thank you all! Didn’t know some of them.
That pink skull needs forehead botox
Having read the preview, which according to the review is exemplary of the rest of the adventure, I am surprised this was picked for “The Best” here. It’s less combat-heavy than it seemed at first glance but the interactivity feels light for me. The NPC backstories are edgy for the sake of edginess rather than informative for running the NPC. The map in the preview shows a 5-room barrow that is completely linear. Without example encounters from the barrow to convince otherwise, it looks unappealing. The d6 random table for what the NPCs are doing when the PCs enter a room seems no use for encounters that look like they will take place once and never again.
The examples and details in the review are more interesting than the ones in the preview. But I am skeptical that they aren’t just the best elements of the adventure with little else to recommend it. I would have liked more details to justify this as a “great dungeon crawl.” The review and the preview leave me unconvinced.
“would have liked more details”
This is everything that’s wrong with normal D&D reviews though. I still remember the bad old days when regular nerds would “review” a product and just go through it telling us everything that’s in it. That’s not a review, it’s an index at least, and taken to it’s full conclusion sometimes it’s just a restatement.
Bryce can be wrong, sometimes he is, but I still “trust” his reviews, for a very loose definition of trust, precisely because he’s not trying to diagram everything for us.
I always feel very gay when linking to my own stuff but for Saint, I might risk it. It’s Caverns of Thracia for Lotfp
Our gaming club is having a great time with this. Sure would like to see more solid material for LotFP.