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Better Than Any Man
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/02/2014 03:32:30
This PDF disables scroll bars using Reader XI on Windows 8.1

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Better Than Any Man
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Tower of the Stargazer
by Christopher T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2014 22:11:03
I've run this once so far and will run it again. It's very nice for new GM's (which I'm not) because of the elaboration of WHY things are what they are and some deeper explanations of how things work. If this had come out in the late 70's instead of B1, it would have been much easier to assume my eventual role as a perpetual DM.

The adventure itself is sort of like Dungeon Quest. The deeper you go and more stuff you try to mess with, the higher chance you have of not making it out. There are very difficult choices to be made in the tower, and during our one play, half the characters died based on those choices. In every case, there are clear warnings that something bad could happen in certain areas so no one minded too much. I would say as a starting adventure to get players used to the tone of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, this is better than The God That Crawls while the latter actually has a better chance of character's surviving, it doesn't feel like it since it's once huge trap.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tower of the Stargazer
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Death Frost Doom
by Sean C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/26/2014 13:21:48
The module "Death Frost Doom" should be exalted for its ability to conform to a number of different rule-sets. It's true that there's limited combat and the majority of the adventure is creating a setting, but that doesn't make it bad. I don't think that I would use this module in order to create a haunted setting that the characters would then have to trudge through for weeks on end, but rather a little one-shot. I used D&D 5th Edition to run this module with some players who haven't played the new rule-set. They grasped the concepts of the skills because DFD likes to set things up to be found and I ended up creating lore for people who just wanted to know more about certain set pieces more than the ones with detailed explanations.

As for changes to the module that I made: I ended up throwing in a small zombie horde (because who doesn't like those generic fights right?) to get the characters more experienced in the combat system of the new rule-set, but if you're playing with players who are familiar with the rule-set you're playing, I don't find any reason to change this module.

I couldn't finish this review without giving large amounts of props to the writer of Death Frost Doom. James Edward Raggi IV did an excellent job of making a module that gives the GM tools. He writes in these minute details for a good GM to use to his advantage, but even somebody inexperienced is provided with enough to understand what is meant by everything in the module. The way Raggi wrote DFD is almost like a conversation that he's having with the GM. He answers questions the second that they come up, he prefaces everything by giving you a viewpoint to better focus your proverbial GM lens, he even digs little holes for you to fill in with your own flare. This is truly a module that is meant for collaboration between Raggi and the GM rather than something that Gygax would write (not that there's anything wrong with box text and rigid settings. I grew up on that).

tl;dr-
This is a malleable module that works with a variety of different rule-sets. There won't be many changes that you'll feel are necessary unless they're specific to a campaign you're already running. The writing is respectful to the GM and provides them with more set pieces and descriptions than will ever come up in one session.

p.s. There's a small formatting issue when printing directly. The margins are like 2 inches so it makes for a LOT of pages when there isn't actually that much in the module. This ended up being around 30 pages printed. It provided one session's worth of material. My Gygax module in the same binder is 12 pages and provides about four sessions worth of material. It's a small issue that's hard to fix, but I recommend copying what you will use from the pdf into a notebook so that you don't kill too many trees or whatever.

p.p.s. I FORGOT TO MENTION THE WONDERFUL DUNGEON MAP. Okay now I'm done. Enjoy the module.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Death Frost Doom
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No Salvation for Witches
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/08/2014 14:26:33
Originally posted on: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/09/05/tabletop-review-no-salv-
ation-for-witches-lamentations-of-the-flame-princess/

Back in August, Lamentations of the Flame Princess ran an IndieGoGo campaign for an adventure entitled, No Salvation for Witches. You might have seen an interview I did with James Edward Raggi IV and Rafael Chandler about it. The campaign ended on August 25th and ended up raising 8,328 Euros. With 665 backers (so close, I know!) that meant the average was 12,52€ per book. That’s a pretty great when you realize that the project was a “Pay What You Want Campaign,” meaning you could get the book for a single Euro if that is all you wanted to throw the company’s way. Well, the PDF is now out and I’ve been sent a review copy to add to my ever growing horde of digital LOTfP adventures. I have to say I enjoyed NSFW a lot – moreso than Thulian Echoes, but not quite as much as other 2014 LOTfP releases like Scenic Dunnsmouth or The Doom Cave of Crystal Headed Children, but it’s still a fantastic adventure sure to delight longtime fans of Lamentations of the Flame Princess

The adventure’s acronym is NSFW and it’s very fitting. Right off the bat the cover had a naked levitating lady (Okay, she has a sash, but all the naughty bits are visible, which is why this review isn’t show the naughtiest art. It was that or putting the piece behind an age gate. We have so many young Pokémon oriented children that read our site after all). The artwork is fantastic, but there’s a lot of gore and genitals in it, so obviously, this is not the gaming piece you give to seven year old Billy (Or Jack Chick) and say, “This is what tabletop gaming is all about little dude!” As well, the adventure is a very open ended one meaning a DM will have to fill in a lot of blanks, take detailed notes and pay close attention to where everything is in this adventure, but also adhere so some sort of internal clock as the adventure must be finished in twenty-four hours (game time, not real time). The preface does warn you that this is far from a low prep adventure so like small impressionable single digit aged children, No Salvation For Witches should not be someone’s first ever adventure to run as they will most likely be in over their head, disappoint their players and feel a bit down in the dumps for a slight period thereafter. NSFW takes a decent amount of work to make it work right, much less as the author intended, so you might want to pick up the adventure to read several times over before you even think about running it. Sure, the complicated nature of the adventure means only a small percentage of gamers will appreciate this, and even less will run it, but those that do manage to pull of NSFW, which find it a very memorable adventure, even if all their characters die horribly (which is like because hey, LotFP!).
So what is No Salvation for Witches about? Well, it’s about a well-meaning motley crew of women trying to enact social justice in 1620s England due to the Price Revolution where hyperinflation and population booms decimated the pocketbooks of the lower and middle class. What, you didn’t study about this in High School or College? Shame on you. Anyway, this coven of women take over a priory and enact a magical ritual meant to make the world a better place. In doing so she has made contact with…something alien and unfathomable that is enhancing the coven’s power and making changes to the local landscape (and lifeforms) happen. Of course, this creature being so alien that that descriptor does not do it justice is not a native English speaker and so something gets lost in the translation. Doubly so because humanity does not make all that much sense to this life form. So good intentions but LotFP equals all sorts of crazy crap that will no doubt pose a threat to the PCs in the adventure, primarily in regard to shortening their lifespans.

The adventure is very much an open-ended sandbox. The only restriction is that once players enter the sphere in which all this organized chaos is occurring, they will be unable to leave. So they can’t just flee to France after being nearly nibbled to death by a school of undead fish. As well you do have the time constraint to keep track, but players will be unaware of this fact and it won’t hinder their exploration of the area. Really most of the adventure once you have entered the sphere is simply exploration and figuring out what gruesome threat to life and limb awaits you in this neck of the woods. In some ways the adventure is a more people friendly Tomb of Horrors because death is everywhere, but it’s also quite social and willing to have a nice talk with you, make you a cup of tea or offer to go on a woodland walk before massacring you. At least when you die in NSFW you can say the unspeakable monstrosities than butchered you were more polite than most.

For most of the adventure you’ll be trying to find your way into the abbey without being replaced by a psychotic clone of yourself than erupts from your skin. This involves finding three McGuffin spheres that are in locations offering challenge and disembowelment. This is pretty pat and almost generic in concept but it’s the challenges, NPCs and antagonists that really make the adventure more than just another fetch quest based adventure. There are interesting goos, people with hideous things living inside them, witch hunters and more. Once all that is dealt with, you have to get inside the priory and see the horrors that await you there. Evil monster babies, nuns who vomit up sentient blood thingies with a taste for horseflesh, conjoined spouses, a troll abbot, horribly deformed people and of course the coven that caused all this to begin with. The adventure will then end in one of two ways: The ritual is stopped or the ritual is successful. In either case, every PC might be dead at the end of the adventure or some might live. This is LotFP after all, so character death is as guaranteed as something like Call of Cthulhu or Dungeon Crawl Classics, so don’t form emotional attachments to that sheet of paper full of stats and your handwriting. Each ending is pretty interesting its own right, and so even if the PCs fail to stop the coven or even all die horribly, they will (more than likely) enjoy the ending that occurs.

Besides the adventure, No Salvation For Witches also contains fourteen pages devoted to “The Tract of Teratology” which may or may not come into play within the adventure, based on character actions and/or who they encounter. More than likely it won’t unless the GM really pushes it on players and perhaps they should because for the GM the Tract is a collection of random tables for them to roll on. What is all the randomness for? Demon summon of course! There are eighteen different d100 charts which, when combined, will provide a ritual for summoning a demon and all the necessary stats. The creature could become an ally to the PCs or a mortal enemy. It’s all in the dice! Let’s take a look at one I rolled up specifically for this review.

The ritual involves lashing a person to a giant wheel and beating them with a cudgel or some other blunt object for one to two hours, or until all the limbs break. As well, you’ll need to burn Three longspoons of white crystalline arsenic and the victim’s esophagus. Doing so will get you a twenty foot high elephant whose tongue has serrated hooks at the end of it and who gives off a strong scent of eucalyptus. It is helpful towards PCs, has 5d8 Hit Points, an AC of 14, has two attacks of 1d3 each, a movement of 60′ and a morale of 12. It also gets a +1 to hit. That’s not a bad spell or ally, now is it? Sure it requires the horrible torture and eventual demise of a peasant but they’re an NPC. They might as well be wearing a sign that says “Orc.” Of course, there is a bit of a catch. The creature has a compulsion to force two people who love each other to fight to the death. Doubly unfortunate, the caster must be one of the two fighting while the creature watches and if they fail to do so, said ritual participants will vomit up blood for 1d4 damage. Of course the creature is only around for a day before vanishing silently, so it’s a small bit of pain to endure in exchange for a giant meat shield.

As you can see the Tract is a lot of fun for the DM, although maybe not as much for the players. It’s worth picking up No Salvation for Witches just to introduce this book to player sand watch them use it over and over until they are the cause of their own demise, Deck of Many Things style.

Overall, NSFW is a lot of fun to both run and play. Like a lot of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, this adventure is NOT for everyone and the levels of gore, nudity and the like could turn off some games rather than entertain them, so you’ve been warned. Fans of the product line will fine this a fine addition to their collection and may even kick themselves for not backing the Indiegogo project. You’re going to want to be a GM with a good deal of experience under your belt to run this but if you can pull this off, you and your gamer buddies will have a lot of fun trying to make it out of this one alive.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
No Salvation for Witches
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Qelong
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/31/2014 16:56:02
If you're looking for an oriental-themed world with a nasty twist, this is it. In a war between two celestials, an object of immense magical power has fallen, and not in a good way. Leaking magical energies, not only do archmagi want the power, but it has mutated and devasted the entire land -- and awakened another god, as well. Horrible creatures have arisin, civilization has broken down, and terrible magic seeps over the countryside. Refugees... mutated creatures... magical devastation... pockets of oriental and occidental city-states... the occasional sanctuary... the followers of a snakelike demigoddess... Qelong is packed with adventure seeds for a GM to develop.

However, that may be the problem. For GMs looking for low-prep adventures, Qelong isn't it. Most of material is presented in the conventional "two lines of description and a big stat block" format, with random encounter tables for wilderness areas. With many of the scenarios involving humans and other intelligent creatures, the GM will have to develop a situation which can't be solved with combat alone. The ideas in this setting are fantastic, but require a fair amount of work to develop.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Qelong
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No Salvation for Witches
by Joel B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/31/2014 09:29:42
No Salvation for Witches (or 'NSfW', which is appropriate) is a new adventure for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP) role playing game, written by Rafael Chandler. It is a full color, hardcover book of 68 pages. My review is of the PDF version.

LotFP prides itself on being "Weird Fantasy" and that is very true of all of the adventures that I've read so far. I'd actually also add "Horror" into that description, because they are full of uncomfortable, troubling and often grotesque concepts and imagery.

Overall Impression

This is a nice looking product. The text is well formatted and conversational in tone, the illustrations are beautiful (even if they are often disturbing) and the layout is easy to read. The only exception to this rule is that occasionally, for no discernable reason, the book switches from a 2-column layout to a single one. In a printed form, this isn't a big deal, but on a tablet or smartphone, it interrupts the flow a little. That's just a minor quibble, though.

I like this kind of adventure: it is more of a sandbox / event, with plenty of detailed locations, events and NPCs which are all moving and advancing despite the player characters' involvement.

One warning, though: there are plenty of old-school "GOTCHA!" moments that can completely change, maim, deform or destroy the player characters. If I ever get a chance to run this, and I hope that I will, I'll probably change those events a little bit, or make some of them reversible at least.

Sections

The Table of Contents is well laid-out, and each chapter is a clickable shortcut (surprisingly, I've encountered many PDFs that don't include this very basic functionality). Like the rest of the book, it is very easy to scan and read.

There's a Preface, which outlines the author's goals and the adventure's style. He states quite clearly that this isn't "grimdark" it's "glibdark". I found that amusing. There definitely is a crazy, death-metal feel to this one. I also like how the author explains the core idea behind this campaign and the importance of an established time-limit.

The Setting explains things quite well and succinctly. There's some history, but not too much, as well as a brief description of the main location and its surroundings. Like many of the LofFP adventures, this one also takes place in 17th century Europe, which I like a lot! This section is only a single page and so it isn't overwhelming: it's easy for the Game Master to grasp and absorb.

The Backstory is similarly short and sweet, confined to a single page. It explains why things are the way that they are without overdoing it. If I ever finish any of my own written adventures, I'll take a lesson from Rafael Chandler and use this method.

The next chapter focuses on the leading characters: the main "antagonist", the alien thing that is behind everything and the main cronies. I probably liked this chapter the most: just enough information about each character (history, description and motivations), short stat-blocks and some illustrations. My only complaint is that there isn't an image of the main villain (yes, she's on the cover, and I suppose that's enough...) Her cronies, while they get a gorgeous full page group portrait, do not get individual images next to their descriptions. Again, not really necessary, but a few of them were not easy to spot in the group "photo" (others were easy, like the one with facial scars and the one in full armor).

There's just enough information about these characters (her 5 assistants) to make them interesting without going too far. My main gripe is that nothing is done with them at all in the adventure itself. We know where they are, but not what they're up to. All this effort went into making each of them have unique and rich backgrounds and I doubt that any of that will ever come up. So, my assumption is that all of the background detail or fluff in this chapter is just for the GM's amusement. I was amused and entertained, I admit.

The next chapter is about the mysterious Spheres that appear in the land. They're pretty interesting, I must admit (and WEIRD). Their presence is a bit of a puzzle and there are some key clues for the heroes to find that will help them figure them out (and what they do).

Again, they are another element of GM "Gotcha!". Without any clues, some of them will really mess around with the player characters. Brutally, even.

Locations is the next section of the book. There are a handful of interesting places to encounter and explore. What I like about them is that they all have events that are drawn towards the climax. There's a good dose of horror and strangeness at each.

Reading the PDF, it was a bit clumsy to flip back and forth to the map to find out where everything was in relation to each other. I'm a bit of a simpleton in this: I need to constantly check a map to grasp everything. I think that I would have like to have a small visual or map in each location chapter for reference.

Next is the big chapter on the main location of this adventure: The Priory. This is where everything happens of great importance. Lots of weird and horrific stuff to discover and interact with. Great stuff! Even if I never get a chance to run this adventure, I'd want to use this location in some other campaign.

Lastly is the creepy Tract of Teratology, a demon summoning tool kit (a collection of tables that you can roll on or just choose from). The most horrific part of this section are the Ritual types, each involving gruesome human sacrifice. Really grotesque: I was actually relieved to get to the parts that generate the summoned monster. Tentacled horrors with human faces and a crab's body I can handle: sawing people in half while they're alive is much harder for me, I admit.

There's a lot here to work with: you can create literally THOUSANDS of different kinds of creatures: their appearance, powers, their scent, their personalities and their compulsions. Really cool stuff. I'm adding this to my library of random tables, for sure.

The last two pages are maps and floorplans of the various locations. Very nice illustrations. Everything in this book has top-notch production values.

Conclusion

This is a well produced and well written module. Even if you don't run the adventure as-is, you'll get a lot of great material (locations, monsters, events etc...) that you can transplant into your other campaigns. The Demon Ritual Summoning section (Tract of Teratology) is also a really cool and useful tool.

A warning, though: there's a lot of gruesome material in here. This book, like most of the LofFP library, is not for the faint of heart or easily upset by occult and body horror. For all its strangeness, this is horror first, pure and simple. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing: it's just something to consider.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
No Salvation for Witches
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No Salvation for Witches
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2014 00:18:48
I became interested in the Lamentations adventures after its epic Free RPG Day "Better than Any Man" adventure. I'm happy to say that, while No Salvation for Witches (guess what the acronymn abbreviates to) is smaller in scope, it's much more manageable for GMs to run (less prep despite its warning it's not a low-prep adventure), yet has the same play qualities that attracted me to Better.

No, not the shock and gore (although it's in No Salvation, too). Both Better and No Salvation place an event in medieval history as an key part of the story. In the case of No Salvation, it's the horrible effects of hyperinflation, brough on by The Price Revolution (no, I haven't heard of it either and it should have been taught) on the lowest classes. Both have strong motivated characters, who happen to be persecuted women, who want to make their world a better place. Both have their "Road to Hell" NPCs doing the Wrong Thing for the Right Reasons. And both have their utterly alien entities present in the adventure. No gods as personifications of man here!

Sure, the gore and shock are there. Particularly, the color and detailed illustrations have less the dread of horror, as they often "show you what the monster looks like", as it were. However, GMs can use this as a playing aid, by describing and not showing the horrors, and letting the players create the terror in their own minds. The art is by Jason Rainville, and I highly suggest looking at his other work on his website.

Speaking of horror, it's often difficult to run a horror fantasy RPG, because the characters can often blast and hack their way through a problem. However, with No Salvation, the almost X-Files encounters present off-balancing situations with terrible consequences. Several scenes start off with a case of science fiction strangeness, plainly telling players that someone's changed the rules, and good luck not setting off a chain reaction that ends everything.

The adventure ends with a magic item random generator, ostensibly for ritual employing tomes to summon other beings, but useful as a random ritual generator, and random demon attribute generator.

Shock and gore aside, it's a shame that more adventures aren't written like this: motivated NPCs, historical backdrop, and fantastic situations. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Single, Small Cut
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/28/2014 00:26:14
A Single Small Cut is a short one-session scenario in which our heroes stumble upon Something That Went Wrong. Evening's falling, the party sees a church, and they find themselves encoutering some not-good folks who are in over their heads. The scenario is perfectly fine for generic fantasy roleplaying, but lacks the trademark "torture-porn" of other Lamentation adventures. The scenario could serve as a McGuffin for your later adventures, as the party may end up aware of a magical item that needs to be dealt with. Although designed for six 3rd level characters, it can be altered for higher and possibly lower PC levels. Given the importance of the magical item, I would reserve it for at least third level. The scenario does have an interesting backstory that doesn't fall into the usual generic fantasy adventure cliches, but, like too many dungeoncrawlers, this backstory doesn't affect the gameplay.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
A Single, Small Cut
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Death Love Doom
by Christopher B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2014 19:41:20
Caveat emptor: this is not the scenario it's advertised to be.

It's technically well-constructed, I'll give it that.

But calling Death Love Doom a "haunted house type story" is grossly misleading. It's graphic torture porn-style horror, which is not what most "haunted house type" stories offer. Mind you, I'm a huge fan of horror; very little shocks me, so my negative review isn't stemming from offended sensibilities or the like. But based on the description, I expected a mature-themed Stephen King-style scenario; I was not expecting a gouge-your-brain Clive Barker-at-his-most-offensive scenario. My low rating is, therefore, less about the quality of the product than it is about the marketing copy incorrectly defining the type of horror presented herein.

Basically, I give this product three stars for the scenario itself (nothing stellar, but it's serviceable) and one negative star for it being horribly misrepresented.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Death Love Doom
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Forgive Us
by Martin K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2014 14:05:09
This is one of the more better modules for LotFP. While the players may not be able to fully understand what is going on and what they are seeing, there is a solid and clearly defined backstory, which explains how the situation came to be. Because of this, players are actually able to accomplish something, as their explorations help them to find more pieces to piece together the larger picture, even if it will remain fragmented and possibly leave quite a few open questions.
This is Lovecraftian Fantasy roleplaying as it should be done. Solid, but nothing outstanding or particularly remarkable.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Forgive Us
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The Monolith from beyond Space and Time
by Martin K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2014 14:00:31
While there are a couple of ideas that could potentially be worked into something good, the content of this module is just a bunch of random junk with no sense or meaning. And it clearly isn't concerned with even pretending that there would be any. It is not meant to make sense and you're supposed to just shrug as the players are staring at you blankly, having no idea what's going on. Mystery and revulsion are great things in an RPG, but to be effective the players need to be under the assumption that there is something going on that is following a pattern they do not understand. But in this case it is painfully obvious that there isn't anything that could be understand, because there isn't any pattern at all. At the very best the GM could try to keep a cold face and ask the players to trust him, that there is something going on, but it's so weird that they most likely will get only a very fragmented and distorted image. Which would be okay, but in this case that would be a blatant lie. And that's just bad game design.
It's interesting to read, but for using it in a game, it's just plain useless. It's decent literature, but a very poor game suplement.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Monolith from beyond Space and Time
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Thulian Echoes
by Jeremy F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2014 07:51:46
Below is the TL;DR version of a review I posted at http://takeonrules.com/2014/08/03/thulian-echoes-by-zzarchov-
-kowolski/

Zzarchov is crafting adventures that are more than backstory, set encounters, and random encounters. In Thulian Echoes, Zzarchov focuses on the knowledge transfer of in-game information to the characters by way of the players playing different characters.

I found the adventure inspiring and interesting. I both want to run the adventure and take the procedures and work on my own. So for my purposes, Thulian Echoes is a resounding “must have”.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Thulian Echoes
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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!]
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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