By Markus Schauta Gazer Press LotFP Levels 3-4
Given the amount of fungus in the LotFP setting, fungicide is clearly the most valuable treasure.
On behalf of a secret society, the players search for an ancient relic that is said to be hidden under a dilapidated Templar courtyard in Nordhausen. In the musty tunnels, below, they find the remnants of the cult of Baphomet, brought from Jerusalem by the Templars centuries ago. However, the demon once worshipped by the Templars is not what it seems. The dread idol hides otherworldly dangers, and what once evaded the flames of the Inquisition still awaits the return of its savior deep below.
This 108 page digest dungeon adventure uses around fifty pages to describe a multi level dungeon with about seventy rooms. This is a pretty good dungeon, with interesting rooms and encounters and a map that well supports play. One of the best things for Lamentations published in many years now.
You’re sitting in an inn when you hear a gunshot from upstairs. Frank just shot himself. His diary is probably open on the table in front of him, detailing an item in the forbidden Templar catacombs under the town. In you go to face grave robbers, a fuck ton of rats, a few baddies, and the titular son: a fungus infestation and associated thrall. This is a real deal Lamentations style dungeon … the first we’ve maybe seen since the very early days of Lamentations. A touch of history, some low-fantasy vibes with a few permanent magic items and several one-use items, and an enemies list of mostly realistic shit. The fungus trope is a little over done these days, but, whatever; it’s a real Lamentations dungeon for those of you sick of the mini-dungeon or countryside plots.
It doesn’t have the strongest start. The dungeon doesn’t start till about page 38. Up until then we’ve got backstory and support information for everything under the sun. This gets a little tedious at times, but, you can always just skip to the dungeon. Mostly. There’s a section or two on creatures wandering about in the dungeon (that goes on too long) that is useful. Other than this, it is essentially appendix information appearing instead up front. The rumor table is nice. The town description is decent enough, even if the starting inn does overstay a bit with its many NPC’s (seven?) They are all well described though, as is every NPC in the adventure. A little personality, a few bullets on wants and flaws and you’re done. Nice format for them. And, I suppose those seven NPC’s do have their place, in creating problems for the party up front or opportunities for them later on. It’s just a little thick, but, also, easy enough to ignore what you don’t want I guess. Perhaps a little more focus in this area would have been nice, in grouping them better toward the ends they provide so you can ignore as wanted.
But, yo, Bryce, what about the dungeon, proper? A solid affair, gentle reader.
The maps here are ok. Visually interesting, varied, with some objects and obstacles on them, such as rubble ro crawl over. It’s not going to win any Exploration Dungeon awards, but, also, it’s not the simple garbage that plagues the hobby these days. It does have a somewhat vaguely “Realistic” look to it, in the way that hallways and rooms abut each other. There’s something … claustrophobic? about it. Maybe it’s the doors and such. Or, more technically, the passages between rooms. Rubble blocked to crawl over, or bars to bend with the help of a winch. Levers and trapped doors. It’s got that vibe of a closed off dangerous place.
Formatting is decent. Bullets with sharp little terse sentences to describe things. It does get a bit long in places. Or, rather, Long for DIgest. I think that had this been a traditional 8.5×11 then the formatting would have worked better with the occasional burst of longer text. The sad devotion to that ancient digest religion has not helped you conjure up the most cognitively accessible data tapes. I can also more than quibble with the amount of text in the “front appendix” required to run the dungeon well. And, there’s the occasional mistake, like a mirror rooms with stats for things you see in the mirror … which I guess means you can step through it? Maybe I missed something. But, whatever. You can definitely run it. And the descriptions are at least Bryce Average in their ability to conjure a good room image. That beats 90% of the shit out there. Combined with a decent assortment of treasure … and, maybe, I should touch on that more. There’s a decent amount of mundane treasure. I might call it of the trinket variety, and Iliked that a lot. Decently described and unique. A nice variety of coins and jewels held inside of other things to bring the more visceral description to life.
Interactivity is good here. I’ve recounted even the rubble to crawl across, or a hidden tunnel to slog through (a sewer that, miraculously, doesn’t suck. Because it’s only a couple of rooms and ruined.) Mirrors, creeping terrors, tomb robbers, and a lot of traps, both of the trappy trap kind and the room hazard kind abound. Lots of puzzle-like things and even one very classic puzzle at the end.And it’s all done without the usual gimping that goes on. Sure, shash that fucking wall down; there’s no two dozen wishes keeping you from doing it.
I like this kind of a lot. I was all ready to hate on it, based on the cover and title. And, then, on the length of the preamble. But, the actual dungeon is a really good job of exploring an ancient tomb/catacomb. Or, rather, making you THINK you are … appearing to be historically accurate and realistic while not actually being so … and instead being actually fun. This one is getting a Best. I don’t run the LotFP variety of low-fantasy, but if I did I would absolutely be using this. It’s a better LotFP adventure than the vast majority published by LotFP. And not just because it’s a dungeon.
This is $15.00 at DriveThru. Preview is eighteen pages and you get to see the dungeon encounters. A very good preview.