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People of Pembrooktonshire
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/10/2017 07:52:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 44 pages, with about 1/2 page being devoted to the editorial, leaving us with 43 1/2 pages of content, though it should be noted that the pdf is made with the assumption of A5 (6'' by9'') booklet-size. I printed out 4 pages on a given A4-sized page. While this is possible, I only recommend this option to people with good eyesight - the pdf is crammed to the brim with text and thus, my dead tree iteration became somewhat strenuous to read. If in doubt, print it out regularly.

While intended as the companion book to the "No Dignity in Death"-adventures, the content herein is useful beyond the confines of OSR-publications and frankly, can fit into pretty much any game, from GUMSHOE to Castle Falkenstein to traditional fantasy.

So, in order to talk about the content of this pdf, we have to talk about Pembrooktonshire. The eponymous location is a settlement, isolated between labyrinthine hills, noted for being remote and the source of absolutely superb craftsmanship. It is also pretty advanced, compared to most fantasy settlements, with printing press and the like existing in it. Conversely, it is not haunted by evil monsters or the like, nor is it routinely ravaged by dragons, tarrasques and similar critters, thanks to the secret (nope, not gonna spoil that here - it's cosmetic and easily replaced anyways) of the surrounding environs.

It is still my contention that it represents perhaps the most succinctly depicted hell-hole I have read, settlement-wise, in all my years of GMing, perhaps because the satire this represents is cutting, precise and delightfully dark. Let me elaborate: Pembrooktonshire is not a bad place to be for adventurers per se, but the eponymous people that live here render it horrific to me in a most palpable manner: This pdf depicts the most camp, hilarious and at the same time nightmarish depiction of tradition and "proper" behavior I have seen in any roleplaiyng book ever.

Pembrooktonshire is governed by a complex set of social rules from which the PCs, being outsiders, will always be excluded; laws and pretty much name and everything else are, somewhat like a dark comedy of manners meeting a dystopian suppression apparatus, exist to benefit those with the proper name, family tree and status - i.e. not you and me. This level of codification of behavior extends to nomenclature, public face, religion and commerce. If you've grown up in a status-conscious environment or ever felt ostracized by a clique of your peers - this is that, the quintessential high-school clique you are NOT part of, blown to the n-th-degree, coated with the lacquer of a pseudo-Victorian obsession with etiquette and doing things comme il faut.

Sounds horrifying? Well, yeah, it is - not in a blood-and-guts-way, but rather in a subdued manner that slowly grows and grows, as the PCs inevitably wait for the fall-out...which may never come. If this sounds grimdark to you - it's actually not. Why and how? Well, at the same time, pretty much EVERYONE (and I mean EVERYONE) in this supplement is a ridiculous caricature of camp, often hilarious adventuring potential.

Let me give you an example: It would obviously be improper to purchase fur abroad, so what's a good Pembrooktonshire lady to do in light of the absence of the dangerous animals that would yield such goods in the vicinity of the town? Well, Anthony Alford, the furrier of the town's answer is simple: Rats. Squirrels. Chipmunks. Stray kittens and dogs. Yes, the ladies will parade these around town, claiming their value as exotic pelts. No, he has no idea how to work with actually valuable fur. There would also be the bored corn farmer, who has built a gallows in his field, reasoning that, as soon as it's there, it'll be sued sooner or later.

There is a nod towards Delicatessen in here; there is a prodigy-level sculptor here...though all his works look like him to non-Pembrooktonshireans. There is a delusional child who thinks he's invisible. Some members of the great families have a standing bet on driving a local trull insane. There is a butcher whose wife at least provides 4 kids...and his funds are running out...and there would be a lamplighter, whose sarcasm is constantly interpreted as truth, granting him the reputation of a sage.

In the absence of proper sources of oil, troll blubber is used by one enterprising businessman...but if it is, against advice, stockpiled, it spells a recipe for regenerating disaster...Basically, each and every of the NPCs featured herein has his or her own angle that often manages to blend the surreal and camp with the darkly hilarious. Think of the cadre of NPCs herein as this NPC your PCs have developed a fondness or dislike for due to an almost surreal quirk of personality or some way in which you present the guy; the NPC that suddenly becomes more important in your game than it should be from the default book. Each of the NPCs herein has the potential to be just that guy or gal - laden with adventure-potential galore.

One more thing: While never explicit and generally PG 13, this does skirt some dark topics and probably should be used with care when playing with sensitive kids.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills, art-less 1-column b/w-standard - this is basically text sans graphic elements or the like, with names and occupations bolded for your convenience. The file comes with a b/w-cover artwork that doubles as a back cover, so yeah - printing it out and using it as an envelope works. The pdfs, both cover and actual pdf, come in two iterations - one for the standard US-letterpack paper-size and one optimized for European A4-paper. Nice! Not so nice would be the fact that the pdf has no bookmarks. If you want to use this, you better print it out.

It's hard to properly contextualize the dark humor that suffuses this collection. Delicatessen would be one frame of reference, obviously; but more fitting would be some of the non-protagonist characters from the classic Brazil...or, if you're familiar with the British series "Little Britain" (early seasons) and "League of Gentlemen" (not, not the extraordinary ones) - that would hit the nail on the head. Perhaps it's the environment I grew up with, but this rural nightmare, this anti-villanelle and the snide look at the characters of Pembrooktonshire feels, in spite of its almost surreal accumulation of horrific things that could happen, as one of the most amazing collections of NPCs I have ever seen. Basically, just adding one of these surreal characters as an adventure hook to any settlement should keep your PCs busy for a while. As such, the pdf has maximum scavenging potential and makes good use of its system-neutral presentation.

If you combine all of these grotesque characters and use them in one town...well, then you'll probably have the at times most disturbing, but also most hilarious collection of weirdo-NPCs you can think of. The pdf can also be pretty educational in the hands of the right GM. If a player has never suffered through an environment of rigid etiquette and exclusionary practices (or was always on the other side of the fence), then this may well present a superb, satirically overcharged insight into how it works. My own experience of the book was basically that of a collection of NPCs that conveyed the same notion as the camp British series or Osamu Dazai's Ningen Shikkaku, though in the latter case in an infinitely less depressing manner.

But perhaps I'm over-intellectualizing this book. What you have to know is this: This little pdf contains a treasure-trove of absolutely amazing, weird, sometimes disturbing, sometimes tragic, sometimes comic characters that often are all of these things at the same time. How a few lines of text manage to evoke this level of concise oddity stands testament to James Edward Raggi IV's talent.

It is my firm conviction that, even when not using the modules, this remains a handy book to add spice and peculiarity to any drab settlement. I adore this book, more so than the minimalist presentation and annoying lack of bookmarks made me deem possible. This is excellent and if you have a stomach for twisted, dark humor and scathing satire, this will deliver in spades. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
People of Pembrooktonshire
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No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/10/2017 07:49:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of 3 loosely-linked modules clocks in at 38 pages, front and back cover are contained in a separate pdf and so are the 4 pages of maps and the 2-page handout (more on that below). It should be noted that the page-size assumed would be a5 (6'' by 9'') and that you can, provided you have good eyesight, jam 4 pages on one A4-page when printing this out.

All right, so, the 3 modules herein are set in the capital letter ODD town of Pembrooktonshire; while the companion-book depicting a gazillion of weird and strange characters is not required to run these, it does add to the general experience...but also, by virtue of the strength of the NPCs, can put the PCs of trail - so an experienced referee is required in such a case. Speaking of which: The pdf is very much a pretty sandboxy affair, which means no read-aloud texts or the like. This is obviously intended not only for experienced referees, but also for experienced groups. Indeed, one could argue that novices will not get what makes these modules unusual.

Situated in the backwater Pembrooktonshire, mired in the ostracizing behavior towards anyone not "proper" (Read: Anyone not from a long line of distinguished local families.)common here, PCs are wont to be subjected to in the xenophobic place, the PCs will begin their exploits in the Last Stop Inn and already notice that the townsfolk consider e.g. running around armed and armored to be problematic. Oh, and if the town's guard is not enough to reign the PCs in, a wandering Knight of Science is in town, including his entourage. these guys are basically monster hunters with a self-importance that will make most paladins blush. While hardliners, they nonetheless represent kinda-good guys.

Yeah, and that is pretty much as far as I can go sans diving headfirst into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! So, it is my contention that these are pretty much post-modern adventures in that they subvert and systematically negate assumptions and preconceptions of players, with entertaining results, fulfilling thus the aspect of 4th-wall-engagement. This is not yours truly over-intellectualizing these, mind you: The introduction pretty much already states as much.

As the PCs enter the fray, the daughter of the prestigious local bookbindery, known primarily for the Bumblebee Bandit romance-novels (a complete list of which are provided -and the handout sports a hilarious drawing and excerpt from one), has been found murdered in the aftermath of her wedding -and the local travelling folk have been summarily rounded up for execution. Thing is: While a romanticizing lot and not "proper" according to the asinine views of Pembrooktonshire, while deliberately depicted as suspicious, the module proceeds to undermine this stereotyping process: For one, the characters depicted, including the fine Pembrooktonshire quasi-nobility and the knight's retinue, as just as suspect on closer inspection...and indeed, when engaging in this bit of brief and none-too-complex free-form investigation, the PCs will, if they play their cards right, unearth the Bumblebee Bandit obsessed squire of the Knight of Science as the true culprit for the murder. More than the relatively simple plot and its ticking clock, the module serves as a nice way of establishing the Janus-facedness of the local population.

Module #2 further builds on the previously established sense of estrangement the players and PCs should by now be experiencing. Titles "The Great Games", it is centered on a rather strange local tradition: The most esteemed families have young couples chosen to compete in a series of weirdling competitions and while being chosen to participate is pretty much tantamount to retaining one's family's high standing in local society, winning is not something people look forward to. You see, there is a threat of death in each of the games and only the males participate. The first male to die (which can, should the referee require it, be determined randomly) is deemed to be the winner - and his bride is moved up to the nearby mountain-range, as a tribute to the local dragon. The increasingly ridiculous and lethal games are depicted herein, yes - but PCs will probably not participate in them, considering their lack of social status. Indeed, sabotage will probably be on the mind of quite a few groups to stop this barbaric practice...but ultimately, a bride will be chosen for the dragon, be brought into the windswept mountain range, where a massive blast of flame heralds the dragon's presence...only, it's been dead for ages.

Investigating the cavern, the PCs will find a makeshift alchemical, stationary flamethrower. All those sacrifices...have been made to a dead dragon, incapable of claiming them. Instead, the hidden overlords of the mountains ( a nation of isolationalist, xenophobic dwarves) has maintained the ruse to keep the locals out of their territory. The brides, so far, died from exposure or the dangers of the mountains...not the hungry teeth of a dragon. Now here's the thing: The PCs can actually save the bride, but must tread lightly: Pronouncing the truth to Pembrooktonshire will result in war between the dwarves and the locals...so yeah, the actual "meat" of this module happens in its aftermath and the depiction of the strange festivities. Granted, this may make the proceedings feel a bit like a prolonged cut-scene and stymie players...but again, this is by intent, cultivating basically a notion and awareness of having to wait for the right time to do the right thing.

Adventure #3 would be the first where PC-death is actually likely: "A Lonely House Upon a Lonely Hill" has an organic lead-in via the strange proceedings of module #2; if the PCs seek to find the truth of the mountains and dig hard in Pembrooktonshire, they will hear about one Konstantin Kuznetsova: Adventurer and agent, he supposedly found riches, namely a diamond in the hills, only to vanish due to the anger of the spirits (of whose existence the PCs will be, after module #2, not be convinced) - he was last seen exploring the haunted O'Shaunessy manor - and arriving there will put an intriguing conundrum before the PCs: Supposedly, the region is geologically stable, but there is plenty of steam arising from the crags of the house and itself - enough, in fact, to render communication inside impossible. Inside, it's hot, steamy and the house is a wrecked ruin...though inside, the PCs can find a picture of Del Murrow O'Shaunnessy and his elven bride. Del Murrow has since moved away, but after the sudden death of his elven bride, the area was supposed to be haunted. Guess what? It is.

If you have some sort of experience with REALLY nasty critters, you'll know what to expect and gulp. Confined within the grounds, the spirit of Shelagh Cori O'Shaunnessy still roams - and she's a friggin' banshee. Yeah, at that level. Turns out that shutting off those REALLY loud valves throughout the mansion may NOT be a good idea. In fact, finding and returning her wedding ring from the ill-fated spelunkers in the caverns below the complex only has a 33% chance of fixing the banshee-haunting...and may even strengthen the dread entity, depending on the roll of the dice and the cruelty-level of the referee/desire for further adventures - in any ways, the exploration of the grounds very much feels like a REALLY nasty survival horror experience. Oh, and guess what - that steam? It comes from the dwarven city below's primary forge...these guys are who broke the deal with Del Murrow and poisoned the elven lady...or, well, you could make that an entry to hell or any other strange place - the module focuses on the experience of getting through the experience alive and potentially ending the grisly haunting.

No matter what happens, chances are that inquisitive PCs, provided they survived the death trap that is module #3, will either want to leave the place asap...or really unearth what's going on...so a referee has his/her work cut out.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills, 1-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports several nice, atmospheric pencil-drawings. The cartography for locations where it becomes relevant is serviceable, though no key-less versions are provided. The pdf (and its cover-file, map-file and handout-file) come in versions optimized for both US-letterpack and A4-paper-standards, which is nice to see. Unfortunately, the pdfs have no bookmarks, which renders electronic navigation annoying. Print these out.

James Edward Raggi IV's trilogy here can either be an absolutely phenomenal experience...or a total dud. More so than many comparative modules, this trilogy requires a deft referee with some experience. It's not that the modules are hard to run, mind you - quite the contrary. It's that the little peculiarities require some serious GM-panache to pull off: Number 1 requires the flexing of one's acting muscles - it works perfectly, but only if you manage to depict all factions in the same, high-strung manner. #2 requires the referee to engage the PCs over a couple of days wherein they are basically witnesses to proceedings as grim as those in the classic Wicker Man. Finally, #3 is just EVIL.

Which brings me to the next component: These modules are intended for veterans. They deliberately take tropes of the art of adventure-crafting and flip them on their head in various ways. In short, the enjoyment of these modules stems in part from knowing the meta-conventions of adventure-structure and being surprised by how they are twisted here. Adventure #3 can, and probably will, kill at least one character, possibly more - but at the same time, it is clever in doing so and may see jaded veterans actually applauding the demise of their characters. Hint: If you can't take a character-loss, then this is not for you. If you can, though...and if you're jaded, cynical and bored by many of the narrative conventions employed again, and again, and again...then this will be a breath of fresh air, particularly when combined with the absolutely brilliant "People of Pembrooktonshire"-sourcebook and the horrible and strange folks therein.

What I'm trying to say is that gamers and referees that only know "new school", who want CR-appropriate challenges, who want a clear three-act-structure, will probably not find this to their liking.

Then again, if you're looking for something different, a change of pace, a series of modules that requires flexing of your GM/referee-muscles, if you're looking for something that's actually hard to survive and complete successfully...then this may well be worth looking into. More so than most modules, though, I can see these going horribly wrong in the hands of referees not up to the task...or for groups that just aren't used to something as evil as adventure #3.

Personally, though, I had a total and absolute blast playing these 3 modules. Call me RPG-hipster, but oh boy was it rewarding to see the WTFs on player-faces once again, on hearing the laughter during module #1 turn slowly into a growing sense of unease over the course of subsequent sessions. Ultimately, the module all are one-trick ponies; they all have this one twist - it's an excellent one every time, but that means they can be hit and miss, depending mostly on referee-prowess to deliver their punchline, if you will...which is why I'll settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars. Only you referees out there may decide where the modules fall for you and your groups...and while personally, for me as a private guy, I'd round up, the lack of bookmarks does hurt this a bit, which is why my official reviewer's verdict will round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides
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LotFP Rules & Magic Full Version
by Thomas R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/09/2017 11:08:51

I've kind of fallen in love with LotFP. It's not so much the rules, though I'm certainly not complaining about them. It's the vision of a twisted journey into a history where witchcraft is real, and demons might eat your soul. There's really nothing quite like it.

Having said that, it's definately not for everyone. If you have a particularly weak stomach, it's not for you, and I wouldn't reccomend trying a game with any group who aren't fully comfortable with each other, as the modules can go in some pretty dark places. But I feel very happy that this product exists, and it's definately my favorite old-school RPG.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
LotFP Rules & Magic Full Version
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Blood in the Chocolate
by Chelsea K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/31/2016 15:57:31

Best Lamentations adventure for beginners and new players!

I found this adventure via Tumblr and loved the premise. It's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but for fantasy roleplaying games.

This adventure is so much easier to read and use than most other adventure books. All the chapters are color coded, and every dungeon room entry has a miniature map of the room, so it's easy to describe at the table. It also comes with cheat sheets in the back of the PDF, which need to become a default feature in all adventure books!

The art is a perfect mix of colorful, cute, and gruesome that fits the adventure text so well. The cover is just the beginning. There's also a huge walkthrough map in the back of the book. It's worth the price of the book alone!

I haven't played many other Lamentations adventures, but I know they have a reputation for being really deadly and difficult. Blood in the Chocolate is definitely NOT deadly if the players are smart and careful. Almost none of the eight poisons and curses in the adventure kill characters outright (except the blueberry one, which can be deadly). Instead, they slow the characters down and turn their bodies against them, making combat and escape tougher, but more interesting. Suddenly normal activities like climbing up a wall or fitting through a doorway become puzzles to be solved. This is seriously the best part of the adventure. We ended up using one character, who was inflated like a balloon, to float across a chocolate river and carry us away. Another character, who was melting into taffy and was covered in sugar crystals, used her stretched out limbs to hold onto the rest of us. It was a blast!

5/5 Stars! This has quickly become one of my favorite adventure books!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood in the Chocolate
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Broodmother SkyFortress
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/26/2016 18:58:12

Broodmother Skyfortress is chock full of great content. Not only do you get all the gonzo content that will take your party to a floating fortress filled with the craziest creatures in the known multiverse, but you also get a ton of stuff that you can use for your existing or new campaigns! To top it all off, you get all of this in a beautiful package full of great art. You can't go wrong if you like over the top, mutated giantish things wrecking your world. Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Broodmother SkyFortress
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Green Devil Face #3
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/19/2016 09:19:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the Green Devil Face magazine clocks in at 15 pages, the first page of which would be devoted to editorial + introduction, leaving us with 14 pages, so let's take a look!

Alfred John Dalziel begins with an interesting pool that regrows lost limbs - but, in the case of anything but a neutral adventurer, the limb has the opposite alignment of its owner, which may result in confusion. It is also suggested to make the save potentially penalizes, depending on the amount regrown. Yeah, call be cynical, but been there, done that.

Andreas Davour has a neat, sadistic little trap: A harmless room, non-descript, really, with a treasure chest in the middle. Inside are coins...but if you open the chest, the bottom slides away and opens to a grill of lava, which proceeds to heat the coins to searing levels. Two issues here: A) Coins made of precious metals melt pretty quickly and B), no suggested damage values or even general guidelines are provided - I am aware that this is pretty much the standard for the series, but I'd honestly have appreciated some guideline here.

The next trick by the same author would be the hypercube of doom: In an alcove is a small altar, made of cubes: The altar folds in upon itself when sufficient pressure is applied. "Make something up" - yeah, sorry, that doesn't really help me. No damage suggestions, no effect suggestions - just an opaque (and not in a good way) idea.

Andreas then proceeds to provide a relatively solid trap: A big room, mostly with some murky water, illuminated by some hazy flashes: In the middle of the dark room, a tank is precariously balanced on top of unstable poles. The tank contains electric eels. PCs will be in for a shock. Haha. Solid, in comparison to the former two.

James Edward Raggi IV is up next with "The Great Golden Ball": Somewhere in the dungeon, there is a huge pit, huge enough to not be able to see the other side. At the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions, chains are bolted to the floor and lead over the pit. Above the pit, anchored by the chains, is a golden ball - weightless, that will rip itself free sans the support of all chains and fly upwards...indefinitely. Actually attempting to get this treasure will potentially get PCs killed...and they'll only have themselves to blame. Pretty cool!

His second contribution is a nice twist: You have a cavern, incredibly life-like hooded adventurers with hauls of treasure galore turned into statues, and a chained woman with strange upstanding hair...who actually is not a medusa, but rather a harmless, dressed up damsel, forced by mastermind xyz to behave as though she was one. Oh, and add giant snake. Oh, and the pretrified persons? Those actually ARE medusae...so de-petrifying them...bad idea. Their treasure also is a ruse, obviously.

Nasty set-up for a BBEG: Throne + lever. Flip the lever and all but safe zones start getting nasty spikes. Safe zones are subject to silence. Simple, but effective.

Akseli Envall presents the Zigzag Path of Doom, which is actually a square sequence of rooms, wherein lethal traps describe the eponymous zigzagging path of maiming, mayhem and death, which makes sense in particular for lived-in-dungeons that require a creature to have an easy way to access a treasure vault etc. Solid!

Caleb Jensen's contribution...rocks: The PCs happen upon a mummified corpse, warning them of the red stream. They hear mewing. They see a dire wolf seemingly attacking wild horses...and then realize that it is actually frolicking with them! The source of the mewing are Mer-fish, adorable piscine kittens. All's well as long as you don't have riding animals. Such beings will be enchanted by the adorably annoying kittens. Those wearing leather will potentially be spit upon by the kittens, cursing them and forcing them to basically become the annoying kind of die-hard vegans that screams "Murder" (here: literally) when anyone nearby eats meat and even vomit. Yeah, that'll go rather well in a quasi-medieval fantasy world...

Settembrini brings us a weird puzzle room - in the best of ways: Two strange basins with weird waters, some tools...and the option to grow Gelatinous Oozes - something that, once the PCs have discovered and survived, may become an interesting, if unreliable weapon.

Chris Weller's Swallow of Summoning is basically a magical swallow that can convey your messages and force those that listen to them to heed your requests....which is a nice idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout is no-frills b/w-1-column sans graphical elements and you can fit 4 of the pages on one letterpack or A4-page, if you print them out and don't mind relatively small fonts. The cartography, where present, does its minimalist job. Front and back cover are contained in a separate pdf and the issue comes with versions optimized both for US-letterpack and European A4-sizes, which is neat.

This collection of encounters is generally an interesting one that features some nice ideas...though frankly, I was somewhat less blown away by this one, especially in comparison to the first two GDFs. The tricks here are more common and there is a good chance that veteran GMs may have pulled off one or two of them already, which does diminish the appeal of the magazine, at least for me. While certainly not bad for the low and fair price-point, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars on this one, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Green Devil Face #3
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Blood in the Chocolate
by Sean P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2016 10:39:46

So good. The information is clearly laid out and easy to read. A wonderfully creative adventure that I cannot wait to run. Jason Thompson's art 100% sold it for me on this one, and been a fan of Kiel Chenier's blog for a while too. This was an instant buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood in the Chocolate
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Broodmother SkyFortress
by Sean P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2016 10:34:45

An absurd amount of content for the price. And it's all good! It's all very useable! Great writing, too. A lot to unpack. Recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Broodmother SkyFortress
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Broodmother SkyFortress
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2016 10:31:04

Originally review posted at www.tenkarstavern.com

Look, I have this habit. Its a bad one. I generally pick up all of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess releases even if I know I'd never run them. Fun to read. Total party killers by nature, at least for the past couple of years. Maybe that's too broad a statement, as the party killing aspect is certainly a +James Raggi feature, but its not always as strong when he hires other authors.

Still, unusable or not, LotFP releases are always top notch in presentation, art and readability. Broodmother SkyFortress is no exception to that, except it is an exception. Not only is it playable but its a great resource beyond the adventure presented within. How did that happen? Simple. +Jeff Rients .

Jeff gives us an adventure that might not be world shaking, but is certainly a major campaign event that your players should want to stop. And yes, you need a campaign world, because terror, death and destruction falling upon towns and cities your players have connections to just makes the adventure stronger.

I really like Jeff's approach to Broodmother SkyFortress - tight enough that the storyline is easy to follow, loose enough that you can flex it to the needs of your players / campaign world. That is always a trick, as most adventures are written for a certain campaign world and setting, even if that is never actually said in the adventure.

In a way, its an Adventure Toolkit with a set theme. There is no "this is how this plays out." Jeff asks questions. You provide the answers. No two groups will see this play out the same way. Can the location withstand attack by giantish bludgeons and hurled boulders? Will it be completely smashed or mostly damaged or relatively unscathed? Charts are the core of this adventure. Heck, there is so much here that you could easily use the charts provided to seed other adventures down the line.

I can see the build up to this adventure take months of real life, weekly gaming, before the players know what's going on and how they can try to stop it. Its like fishing, and with enough play in the fishing line your party should get hooked and hooked well.

As an aside, although written for LotFP WF, Bloodmother SkyFortress is easily run with any of the OSR rulesets in circulation. Play what you want, how you want to. Its what the OSR is all about.

Beyond the adventure, which is the first 90 or so pages, we have 80 or so pages of tables and articles from Jeff's blog, going back years. It really is a "Best of Jeff" selection and is well worth the price of admission on its own and I don't say that lightly. Sure, you could read through Jeff's blog and read through years of excellent posts or just grab Broodmother SkyFortress and have the cream skimmed for you, ready for you to consume, or read.

I'm a backer of this crowdfunded project. Money in, amazing content given in return. I am happy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood in the Chocolate
by David W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2016 02:20:14

Another high-quality nightmare from Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

As a Referee, you'll enjoy running this. This is a very well designed module, on all fronts: the presentation & layout are excellent information design, the story itself has great historical-fantasy verisimilitude, and it's filled to the brim with some highly creative weirdness from the mind of Kiel Chenier. I felt ready to run it after only a quick skim, something I can't say about most modules at all.

There's minimal prep needed, if any is needed at all. There's a solid and simple "hook" to get a party involved, and although it takes place in a "real enough" historical Europe you could drop this into any Fantasy campaign just by changing a few names. There's even a thoughtful "Conclusions" portion, in case anyone survives. The superb "cheat sheet" style reference pages in the back of this should also become an industry standard.

It all involves exploring one fully-mapped and very well described location, and interacting with the people and things inside: an infamous chocolate factory. The factory itself is a funhouse of horrors, with plenty of opportunites for unforgettable death, destruction, and mayhem throughout. The fact that players will catch that this is all a riff on Charlie and the Choclate Factory right from the start means that the ensuing madness will be even more memorable, and a few elements of the adventure very directly play with this.

The bonus "illustration map" is wonderful, and depicts a step by step journey through the factory by a group of Adventuers, along with the numerous misfortunes that befall them. They have a 25% survival rate (give or take, depending on how you look at it). If your group is comfortable with grotesque candy-infused violence and hideous character death they'll have a great time playing this, and if you're looking for a one-shot that players will never forget this is absolutely a must-buy.

The rampant body horror and morbid black comedy is clearly the main attraction here, so make sure you're interested in that sort of thing before you dive in. There's a couple bits sexual content as well, but if you think you or your players might find that too objectionable it's all easily modified into something else, or simply left out entirely (You could actually replace all the "orgy" stuff with some kind of variation on a performance of the oompa loompa song, come to think of it. You'll see what I mean.)

Overall, a great module. If it's your kind of thing it simply begs to be played.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood in the Chocolate
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Blood in the Chocolate
by Zedeck S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2016 00:21:06

Would be fun to play this with a bowl of Cherry Ripes on the table. A big, never-ending bowl.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood in the Chocolate
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2016 20:55:00

This module not only is fun and clever, but easy to use. Seriously, there are some really nice reference bits in the back.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fuck For Satan
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2016 12:53:15

Brilliant and hilarious. I don't want to spoil the many surprises of this module, so I won't go into detail, but this adventure will warm the blackened hearts of even the most sadistic gamemaster.

Of course, if you don't think its funny when PCs get tormented, then this probably isn't for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fuck For Satan
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LotFP Rules & Magic Full Version
by Brandon M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2016 12:05:49

Lamentation of the Flame Princess is my favorite modern interpretation of the B/X ruleset. The rules per se are coherent, streamlined, and sensible, and cover oft-neglected topics such as retainers, property, and magical research. Nearly every awkward aspect of the "original" rules is reinterpreted gracefully (the Specialist class in particular comes to mind). The writing itself is flavorful and rarely dry, but on a first reading it can occasionally be unclear how a particular game mechanic works.

The PDF is beautiful and has a very readable layout. The bookmarks are well done, and a few pages at the front and back collect tables for convenient reference. The font size is larger than in most "competitor" products, so the book's 176 pages are not as dense as most—this is a feature for me, since that page count would otherwise be quite long for a B/X-inspired rulebook with no monster list. The artwork is of variable quality but is generally very good, although you may or may not appreciate the frequent gore and occasional nudity in the subject matter.

LotFP is certainly a practical choice with regard to OSR compatibility, but it intentionally does not emulate the original ruleset as closely as Labyrinth Lord emulates B/X or OSRIC emulates AD&D. For philosophical reasons (as I understand it), the rulebook omits lists of monsters and magic items, which means that you may need to find those descriptions and stat blocks elsewhere if you plan to play modules written for similar games such as LL—and if you're planning to write your own content, you must be comfortable creating those stat blocks or importing and adjusting them from elsewhere.

For all LotFP has going for it, I can't feel that it has something of an identity crisis. As the description on the official website disclaims, LotFP is written to be a game about "weird fantasy" (i.e. horror fantasy set in the early modern or late medieval periods), but the rules themselves do very little to support this—a notable exception being the nine-page description of the Summon spell and its horrific Lovecraftian consequences. The dissonance between the game's mechanics and its presentation is, in my view, its largest fault. If you can look past that, then you have a very solid system.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
LotFP Rules & Magic Full Version
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Green Devil Face #2
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/28/2016 11:17:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of the Green Devil Face e-zine clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page editorial/introduction - the cover-artwork and similar shenanigans is its own pdf...so what do we get this time around?

Well, something rather different - not a dungeon, but rather than that, trap-rooms! The first would be the eyes of Parsifur and Dunsane, penned by Kent. It should be noted that the following contains SPOILERS for the traps/encounters herein - only referees should read further.

...

..

.

Okay, so the first room is shaped like a cathedral and is EVIL: A troll thing, friendly enough, wants to paint the characters...and when he does, the character is imprisoned in the painting and replaced with a simulacrum loyal to one of the wizards. The encounter also allows for dungeon-exploration and various, truly devious means of dying, including some metagame challenges - I won't spoil more, considering the chance that players may still read this, but it is truly nasty and made for the most experienced of roleplayers. Like it!

There also would be a doppelganger room by Akseli Envall that features a very real threat of infiltration of the PC-group and a distinct symbolism...still, I have seen this trick before...a number of times, to be exact. The same author also has another one - which is significantly more interesting: Tar. Mummies. Silence. Darkness. Portcullises. Oh yes, this is nasty! A nice water-themed surveillance room of traps is also provided.

Brian "Trollsmyth" Murphy provides a nice take on the magical holding cell and Jeff Rients features "the incredible pedestal", a truly amazing and nasty, complex multi-layers trap that is absolutely amazing and will make them feel like magical safecrackers. Mr Rients also has a take on the magical giant chessboard...and it's okay, but no way close as awesome as aforementioned pedestal.

James Edward Raggi IV also has a couple of ideas - the skull with a gem in its mouth and potential uses for it...which is okay, but didn't blow me away, basically boiling down to "It's a time-waster" with some none-too-inspired alternative uses. More interesting would be the hallway, wherein things cease to exist and the lever that literally only frees the monster...but it's like the red button: Someone will need to pull it...right? Finally, he has a cool idea: pool, logs inside, rungs at the ceiling...piranha inside the water. Sounds straight-forward? Well, what about superheated rungs? Sticky or illusory logs? Oily ones? Yup, some seriously nice sadism going on here!

The final trap would be crafted by Wayne S. Rossi players will loath: A nasty idol that charms PCs into feeding it their hard-earned gold! Yeah, they will grumble, but it is a nice one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills b/w-1-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. As a courtesy to Europeans, there are versions of the pdf optimized for A4 as well as those optimized for US-letterpack format. The b/w-cartography provided for the more complex rooms is basic, but functional. As a somewhat unfortunate layout decision, after each entry, the rest of the page is empty - so if a given trap/encounter only takes up 2/3rds of a page, you're left with some serious blank space, something I'm not the biggest fan of, as it eats more paper when printing.

Kent, Akseli Envall, J. Brian "Trollsmyth" Murphy, Wayne S. Rossi and James Edward Raggi IV have crafted some delightfully sadistic traps herein...and that for a more than fair, low price-point. The gems that are herein justify the more than fair asking price of this little pdf and can work well in games beyond OSR gaming if you're looking for some really devious material to challenge experienced players. Considering the more than fair asking price, I can definitely recommend this little pdf, even if not all traps/encounters reach the level of challenge and awesomeness the more sadistic ones do. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Green Devil Face #2
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