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Thulian Echoes
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/29/2014 10:55:40
Wouldn't it be easy if you knew what was in a dungeon before you went there? Knew all about the tricks and traps that awaited you... (and I don't mean by sneaking a look at the GM's notes or reading the module he intends to use!).

That's what this adventure sets out to offer, sort of. Naturally it doesn't work out quite as easy as you might think.

The whole thing begins when the party finds a journal of long-lost adventures... and get to act it out with a bunch of pre-gen characters before they actually go there as their regular characters. Will knowing their way around this admitted death-trap of a party-munching dungeon help them any?

A bunch of pre-generated characters and NPCs are provided, then it's on with the adventure, take 1, somewhen in the distant past. Things done in the past influence the now, which is modelled by the use of keywords that are set (like flags in computer code) as a result of certain actions or inactions during the fictional visit, the one being played through to simulate reading the book. Well, nobody goes role-playing to read books, they want to, well, role-play.

For each location, there are two descriptions. The first is how it initially appears, the second is how it appears now, when the real party go there themselves.

There's a large map which manages to give a 3D rendition of the dungeon layout on a single sheet. There's a lot of weird stuff there and part of the deadliness stems from the fact that things are so odd - there just is no logical way to deal with them all. At least, not the first time around. Whether the party will do any better the second time, when they come as themselves... well, I suppose it's possible. If you want something truly weird in your world, this might just be what you are looking for!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Thulian Echoes
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The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children
by Christopher G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/28/2014 16:58:00
Forget that the publisher gave the printed version of this adventure away for free at game stores on Free RPG Day. Forget that they're essentially giving the pdf away for free here (Pay What You Want.)

This is a solid adventure, not just a solid adventure "for free."

The reason that I keep coming back to Lamentations of the Flame Princess for adventure-fodder is Mr. Raggi's drive to do something different and engaging, and I'm not talking about the "shock" value that a lot of sourpuss reviewers seem to be obsessed with. The draw of Doom-Cave for me, as with so many LotFP publications, is that the basic assumptions about mechanics in D&D are called into question, and are circumvented in playful, engaging ways.

For instance, many D&D players have resigned themselves to drawing up dungeon maps with the space available on a standard 8.5"x11" sheet of graph paper, with very few new permutations or configurations still possible after 40 years of continuous box-drawing. In Doom-Cave, Raggi took the basic idea of teleportation portals and slides/pits from the original game, and added just a slight twist to it in the way that characters move around this map. Hallways don't intersect in the ways that players will expect them to, and it will take a very clever group of mappers to figure out exactly what's going on. The upshot is that expectations will be subverted, and a little bit of mystery is reintroduced to the game.

The titular Crystal-Headed Children take run-of-the-mill monsters and tilt them on their heads. Forget the moral question of whether players are willing to kill children, since
1.) That's what most panty-waist reviewers will get hung up on, even though the adventure doesn't REMOTELY require the PC's to kill any of the children in order to be successful, and...
2.) Any DM who has a problem with them being kids can just reskin them to be goblins, or kobolds, or Republican candidates, or whatever anyway, and...
3.) Their game stats are the more interesting aspect of them as a monster regardless of what they look like.
I won't spoil what's so special about the kids as monsters, but it seems every bit as innovative and fun to play out as the monsters presented in last year's "Better than any Man" adventure. And those were some WEIRD monsters, mechanically and fluffwise. Again, the players won't know exactly what's going on with the kids unless they start hacking away at them, in which case the PC's will deserve everything that they get.

The dungeon itself is a fun crawl, and the apparent "villain" of the piece, Wiki, will be a grand NPC for any DM to roleplay. His motivations, as well as those of the Crystal-Headed Children, are not cut and dried like the typical evil humanoid races of bog-standard RPG's. There's nuance to them, and a grey area that provides a playground of delights for any creative DM to mess around in.

In short:
It's a solid dungeon crawl, it's got unique monsters with bizarre stats, and the players will really have to work for it if they want to discover everything that's going on here. I highly recommend that you have a blast with this adventure. I know I am.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children
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The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children
by Joshua B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2014 08:27:14
"The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children" pales in comparison to some of the other adventure module offerings from LOTFP, including last years far superior Free RPG Day offering, "Better Than Any Man." Why? With Doom-Cave, the author (and not for the first time) has produced something that, while creative and a decent read, doesn't strike me as producing a quality tabletop experience. Too many of Mr. Raggi's modules, including this one, seem like they would be better suited as short fiction in a collection of weird tales than as RPG adventures DMs and players are actually expected to use effectively.

While playtesting has allegedly occured, I suppose we are left to believe that the test groups enjoy an RPG session that will often consist in large part of the PCs pushing inscrutable buttons and then rolling on random table to see to what degree they are reward or screwed. In fact, after a point, this entire module starts to bog down under the weight of random tables that are either non-sensical or so beyond the knowledge of anyone without the module in their hands, that you wonder what the purpose is served by the PCs even exploring this cave complex.

I'm all for bucking the hidebound conventions of typical fantasy RPG settings and trying something creative and unique (though those who love this module probably don't believe that by now!). This module certainly achieves that, especially with the intriguing initial setup. But if the product degenerates into a theater of the bizarre where PCs and the dungeon they explore just become a machine for (dubious) black comedy, then I'm out.........just not for me. If that's your thing, then you might very well rate this product differently.

Really I just feel this module, while creative and possessing good production value, just isn't well designed as a module leading to a good play experience. The humor also fell flat for me, though I certainly didn't find it offensive, shocking, or worthy of any kind of censorship. I just didn't find it funny; PCs hacking down hordes of children and strange dudes screwing alien machines just seems like a very puerile sort of humor. That's fine, but I needed more than that to make up for the poor adventure design. Maybe you'll feel differently.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2014 03:21:58
Another example of the game design theory of, "if I use enough f-bombs and try to be 'edgy' they won't notice how mediocre (at best) this module is."

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/21/2014 06:16:05
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/26/tabletop-review-lamenta-
tions-of-the-fame-princess-the-doom-cave-of-the-crystal-head-
ed-children-free-rpg-day-2014/

2013′s Free RPG Day saw Lamentations of the Flame Princess take part with their controversial release, Better Than Any Man. As the back of this year’s release mentions, several stores banned or outright hid the release for their customers. I can confirm this as one of the stores I went to did just that. However, even a Pikachu loving fool like myself walked away extremely impressed with Better Than Any Man. it was a top notch solid affair from beginning to end and it walked away with our “Best Free Release” in the 2013 Tabletop Gaming Awards. This year, LotFP is back with a new adventure that is actually one of the zaniest, cruelest and funniest release they have put out yet. Born of spite and black humour, The Doom Cave of the Crystal Headed Children is exceedingly cutthroat, extremely lethal to any character that enters it (probably best as a one shot if you are at all attached to your characters) and there is a good chance you will be massacring double digits worth of four year old as if they were goblins or orcs in some of those other fantasy style role playing games. You’ve been warned.

So not only does the adventure have one of the weirdest and most honest titles I’ve seen for a recently released adventure (Go OSR!), but it also has a great story hook. Characters enter a village where over 100 madwomen claim to have given birth to a small blonde boy named Andrew four years ago. All of these Andrews are different people mind you – it’s not the same one kid. Crazier yet, the mothers all know the different Andrews but no one else in the village knows what they are talking about and can not remember these women ever giving birth to children similar in name and look all at roughly the same time. Also, these women were quite sane up until recently, so what the hell happened? That’s why games have PCs – to figure crap like this out all while gaining an excuse to murder and pillage!

This story hook of course brings characters to the doom cave where they will indeed encounter many children with crystals embedded in their craniums. Surprisingly, this is one of the more mundane things in this adventure. You will face crazy button that will do anything from improve your stats to give your character incurable cancer via severe radiation poison. There are possible alien abductions or the extinction of all life on the planet including bacteria. Heck, both may happen in your play through. As such, I reinforce my earlier comment in this review that The Doom Cave of the Crystal Headed Children is best played as a one shot unless you are pretty much born and bred on Dungeon Crawl Classics or LotFP and thus have learned not to invest any emotional ties to your characters at all for they exist only to die in horribly unspeakable fashion. At the very least surviving characters will end up with at least some stats switched around and having to live with the stigma of being a child murderer – even creepy semi-automaton test tube baby ones.

Aside from the children, The Doom Cave of the Crystal Headed Children is pretty much your standard dungeon crawl in layout, form and function. It’s the specific encounters and NPCs that truly separate this adventure from the pack. For example, you don’t really have an end boss or bad guy behind the story hook. You have a guy who fucked around (literally) with strange alien doo-dads. He doesn’t really seem like a bad guy, even if he has a super villain laugh and an army of toddlers. Most bad guys destroy and murder wantonly in these fantasy games. Wiki Dot Pod…is just kind of there doing his own thing for the most part. Sure he THINKS he should rule all that he surveys, but he’s pretty content sitting and staring at a big crystal all day.

As well, there aren’t a lot of monsters or antagonists to fight in this adventure. Well, aside from the crystal headed children, but you might not end up fighting with them. They might actually become quasi allies or guides to the dungeon for your team. Unless of course, your players stick sharp things through soft things that scream and bleed first, and converse second. Then they have to deal with an army of tiny kiddies bent on their demise. No, for the most part, players will be killed by their own greed and curiosity. Death or painful maiming is in nearly every room, but it will only be encountered if characters do stupid things like explore or examine the cursory details of their surroundings. As this is a RPG, this is most likely the course of action people will take and thus their characters will die in manners ranging from a dungeon collapse caused by a sailing ship to being wiped from existence by an omniscient alien jellyfish. My personal favorite is when a character becomes The Crystal King and discovers that with great power comes a nigh permanent headstand. Treat The Doom Cave of Crystal Headed Children as you would the Tomb of Horrors in the hands of a GM who does copious amounts of hallucinogenics, because the effect WILL be similar.

Overall, I absolutely loved this adventure. It’s a very dark and funny piece. In fact, I kind of felt like I was playing HOL rather than LotFP during my time with this piece. I think it’s best kept out of the hands of young children though due to mature (and gorey) themes and gamers that treat our hobby as SERIOUS BUISNESS with no room for mirth. For everyone else, this is a terrific oneshot that really highlights how bizarre and macabre Lamentations of the Flame Princess can be. It’s such a crazy piece that I can see it polarizing some gamers, especially those new to the hobby who might walk away worrying that every adventure involves ejaculation, encountering Jesus Christ and having your feet transmogrified into those of a pachyderm. Would I play this adventure again and run it for friends? Damn right! Would I give it to someone completely new to tabletop RPGs? Oh my, no.

I do feel that The Doom Cave of the Crystal Headed Children was by far the best release for Free RPG Day 2014 which gives LotFP that honor two years running. Even better, if you pick this up, there a link to not only download last year’s Better Than Any Man, but also the core rulebook (sans art) for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. That’s insanely awesome and makes hunting down this adventure all the more worthwhile. I can’t wait to see what LotFP has for us next Free RPG Day as this is one area where they definitely put all the other competitors to shame.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
by Chris M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/09/2014 16:20:47
I bought this product for 2 reasons.

1) I've heard so many good things about Vornheim from a bevy of blogs I follow and whom opinions I respect, I figured it was about time I purchase the pdf. I'm glad I did as I was not disappointed by the content. The book is chock full of inspirational ideas and story nuggets perfect for any fantasy campaign.

2) I wanted to show my financial and moral support for "Zack Smith" who authored this work. To let him know he's not alone in the gaming community in his disdain towards the SJW's (Social Justice Warriors) and Cultural Marxist who constantly attack him and seek to control discourse in the on-line RPG community. Keep on fighting the good fight Zak.

First they came for the Simulationist Gamers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Simulationist Gamer.
Then they came for the Tactical Combat Gamers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Tactical Combat Gamer.
Then they came for the Old-School Gamers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Old-School Gamer.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Gwarh

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
by Anders N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/08/2014 03:37:14
It's rare to find a product this evocative; I've only done so a few times before. It combines inspiration and a touch of odd with soo much utility. It'll be one of your best friends at the table. It's sad that it's out of print right now, because I would really love a physical copy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/08/2014 03:07:27
If you search the words "city guide" on drivethrurpg.com you can find everything in this guide that is even remotely useful from other people who can write in a coherent style.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
by Jeremy F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2014 21:37:15
Vornheim is a fantastic toolkit for building a decadent fantasy urban sprawl campaign. This short book packs a mighty wallup!

You should not expect this to be Encyclopedia Vornheim. It instead provides a skeletal framework and palette on which you can layer, via the tools in the book, your version of Vornheim. Its a bit of a Frankenstein's monster, tethered to the wire table, storm brewing, waiting for the bolt of lightning to ignite the life within.

Having already had a physical copy of this book, I wanted a PDF copy as well. The physical book is amongst my most treasured RPG books. It is a reliable source for inspiration, not because it is a complete setting, but because it evokes a richness of setting that could never be fully explored.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
by Eltup E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2014 17:29:50
the only remotely useful parts are already free blogposts on the dude's website

I guess I'm not a table junky, and I find the content mostly unimaginative tween's first black metal style garbage. Tried using it in play but it's more cumbersome and less interesting than anything I made up on the spot, especially with the trite and juvenile assumed setting and terrible art.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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A Single, Small Cut
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/16/2014 07:18:02
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/05/16/tabletop-review-a-singl-
e-small-cut-lamentations-of-the-flame-princess/

A Single, Small Cut is an adventure for Lamentations of the Flame Princess by author Michael Curtis, who I normally associate with Dungeon Crawl Classics. He’s written some great adventures for that system like Intrigue at the Court of Chaos, The Old Gods Return, and The Sea Queen Escapes. He’s also the author of The Chained Coffin which is currently on Kickstarter and smashing through stretch goal after stretch goal. Since I enjoy his stuff it and it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a LotFP release, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone with this one.

A Single, Small Cut is a short little adventure than can be played in a single session. The PDF is eleven pages long, but only seven pages are the actual adventure. The other four pages are the covers, the title page and a map. The adventure is mostly text. Mechanics only show up in the form of three antagonist stat blocks and a large side bar about the adventure’s MacGuffin. This means you can easily convert A Small, Single Cut to other fantasy games if you prefer, but the flavor and atmosphere will remain LotFP style weirdness no matter what you convert it to. The adventure is designed for six Level 3 characters, but the text does say you can adjust it to higher or lower levels if needed. So all, in all, A Small, Single Cut is a pretty flexible adventure.

In many ways, A Single, Small Cut is about the hypocrisy of religion and a look at how many zealots become the very thing they hate, if not worse. In this case, we have the Order of Kites who have pledged to stamp out heathens in the name of the Church by any means necessary. The leader of this order used a small red bell to summon an extraplanar creature known as The Corrector of Sins to the world. Yes, it’s pagan magic that probably invokes a demon, but hey – there were horrible pagans to uproot and eviscerate! Upon the leader’s death, the demon summoned by his bell was no longer able to be controlled, so it was buried with their leader and left undisturbed for decades (although how did they put the Corrector back after they realized it could no longer be controlled).

This is where the adventure starts as well as where the PCs come in. A magic user and his band of rogues have discovered the whereabouts and powers of the bell and have decided to claim it for their own, not realizing it no longer functions as it did all those years ago. To get it, they are willing to murder the entire congregation of a local church. Unfortunately for everyone involved the Corrector of Sins has special abilities related to humanoid corpses and is pretty ungrateful to the band of baddies who have summoned it to this plane anew. Can the PCs stop both a cadre of mortal evil doers as well as a being beyond mortal comprehension? What ensues is a three way dance of chaos that players will be lucky to survive.

The adventure, as I have previously stated, is a short one. It can easily be played in a few hours or less. Most of the experience is combat related. You get a short set up of talking heads at the beginning of the piece (which I suppose could become extremely long and drawn out depending on the group makeup, but it is unlikely) followed by madcap violence as each of the three sides tries to do away with the other. Honestly I think there is more story in the backstory setup than the adventure itself, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As the adventure is so short and straightforward, it can definitely be used to introduce people to the LotFP rules-set. There are several plot threads left dangling at the end of the affair thanks to the amount of back story provided. This means curious PCs and enterprising GMs can probably create a few adventures from the aftermath…if anyone survives the experience, that is. The entire affair is a lot of fun and has some definite macabre comedy moments, such as what happens when if the players find the bell.

I really enjoyed this piece. It’s definitely a weird and memorable adventure and highlights the strengths of both Curtis’ writing style as well as the old school mix of cruelty and bizarreness that is LotFP. With a price tag of only two dollars, fans of either DCC or LotFP will definitely get their money’s worth out of this purchase. Again, the adventure should be playable in an hour or three depending on the troupe’s play style (Hack and slash Vs talking heads). Whether you want to play a session but don’t have enough time or are looking for something short and sweet to showcase what LotFP is all about, A Single, Small Cut is an excellent option you should strongly consider.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Single, Small Cut
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A Single, Small Cut
by Rob M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2014 08:14:54
A short but effective encounter, perfect for when your PCs inevitably need to get to a church for healing or curse removal.

A Single Small Cut is not so much an adventure as it is an extremely detailed description of a particularly sinister magical item and the shambling monstrosity that it summons. Simple and to the point, this will likely take an entire game session to resolve, but would require minimal prep by the Referee.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Better Than Any Man
by Jim M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/14/2014 23:36:45
Although I am not a big fan of LotFP overall, I found BTAM to be well written, if gory, adventure. Despite the claims of many, the adventure is really just an "against the evil cult" plot line. The quasi-historical setting and the invading army as time pressure device are both interesting elements that help make the story feel a little different. The former may be unique but the latter has appeared before. The BDSM/torture porn aspect is a little heavy handed and overdone but that is pretty typical of LotFP.

So what are the good and bad points? In its favor, the adventure is well constructed and the production is good, with excellently drawn illustrations and maps. I plan on using it pretty much as written with the exception that I will be putting it in a more medieval fantasy setting. If you scratch the surface, it is easy to see the basic bones of the plot and that the Thirty Years War setting is just a frame that can be adjusted at will. Interestingly, many of the individual encounter areas, particularly The Infinite Tower and Goblin Hill can easily be removed and used by themselves in other places, making the adventure even more useful.

On the downside, if you aren't into the gimp/dominatrix vibe, it's a little hard to eliminate some of the content but certainly not impossible. Jumping into an orgy to get info is just one example, I also feel that, considering some of the supposed influences, the adventure is lacking in terror. There is nothing in here to terrify characters (things that go bump in the night) even if there is plenty to horrify them (severed body parts and bloody disemboweled corpses).

Final thoughts: Honestly, BTAM represents a huge amount of usable content for free (unless you want to pay). Just don't leave it lying around; some people just wouldn't understand.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Better Than Any Man
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LotFP Rules & Magic Free Version
by Jim M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/14/2014 21:44:16
Let me start by saying it's free! Download it for curiosity, if for nothing else. Check out the 1st level MU spell Summon. If you are feeling generous, download the full version for $5.
I won't go into a review of the mechanics of LotFP, as others have done that well enough, both here and elsewhere. As others have pointed out, it's basically a D&D B/X retro-clone. LotFP is well written and has nice production but is otherwise pretty standard. There isn't even anything particularly "weird" about it.
The areas that separate it from other RPGs are it's style and tone. The authors seem to have a greater than average preoccupation with sex and violence. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy both sex and violence in my RPGs, just not together or in such prevalence. LotFP feels more S&M/B&D than weird fantasy and if that's your thing, go for it. For me, it's a little much and seems to be bloody just for the sake of being bloody, not for any particular purpose. It does fit a particular, if small, niche for hyper-violent games. It's sort of a genre in and of itself. It occupies the same position in the world of RPGs as Norwegian Viking Black Death Metal does in music: Some people really love it, most do not.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
LotFP Rules & Magic Free Version
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Forgive Us
by Jonas M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/28/2014 13:45:11
Forgive Us feels like D&D adventure that would have collided with Call of Cthulhu adventure. So it is pretty much perfect for LotFP or some other roleplaying game that does grim and perilous adventures well. I could imagine this as good scenario for The Savage World of Solomon Kane RPGe or WHFRP. It would be interesting to see more from Kelvin Green in role of designer and not as illustrator he is no doubt already familiar to many.

If you like old Warhammer adventures like Death on the Reik or the sort of material that appeared in White Dwarf back when it roleplaying game magazine you might like this.

I can not comment on quality of the conversion notes as I am not familiar enough with the system they are for.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forgive Us
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