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Monday, April 20, 2015

Commentary On The Free LotFP Referee Book (old Grindhouse Edition) From Lamentations of the Flame Princess For Your Old School Campaigns

Since reading that the LoFP Reference Book ( The old Grindhouse Edition) was available for free download. I've been drowning in the blood soaked gore of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg system goodness.



Reading through the Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Reference book today has been a tricky and skin crawling experience. This book for me at least is part manifesto, part stereo instructions for an old school rpg game,  and part advice column wrapped into a weird joint by its twisted author and shoved into my brain pan with rocket. And at the moment its free. So its generous author has opened up this book in all of its grind house goodness and pushed it across the table to you. But I can hear your spare thoughts rattling through the wires of the interwebz and trickling across my hooked in spine to the collective unconscious at my back brain. Surely this book can't live up to the hype that surrounds it. But that's where your wrong. For while we're waiting for the latest edition of this book let's dive into exactly what this is. While the LoFP Referee's book only clocks in at ninety eight pages, it presents its audience with a step by step set of guidelines for being a better Dungeon Master. And it does this with wit, style, and a sense of never talking down to its audience. James Edward Raggi IV takes you through all of the processes of LoFP from the introduction to a complete introduction adventure at the end. This book should be sitting right next to your copy of the LoFP rules and magic book. 

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I've got a history with this book and its a tale worthy of almost walking away from rpg's all together. I had a fanzine writing project tank and that takes a certain amount of strain on a writer's confidence.  Then here comes this book and its like having a friend show up and take you out for a beer. It sits you down and starts spinning out tales to you about well the ins and outs of running old school adventures. By the time I was hip deep into the 'What is a referee' chapter this line struck me -'Being a Referee is like being an artist, a manager,an accountant, and that crazy old guy that lives in the park that everyone avoids because he’s always talking to himself, all in one.Although hopefully you won’t be talking to yourself. At least not while anyone is listening'. So this book is pretty much wall to wall advice by a friend and fellow DM whose been there. He's been the guy trying to get his crap together to run in fifteen minutes and while he's not going to let you cry on his should he's going help you get your crap together and give you the guidelines for everything from how not to be a dick to getting it to work.  The rules chapter is basically LoFP short hand and these are crib notes for the game as well as having the balls to present it right in front of you.  
The Weird chapter is part primer on the splatter punk heart of LoFP and some guidelines on presenting the weird elements of not only LoFP but other horror and OSR games. This is a nice down to Earth chapter with some solid ideas in the background. Again with style and some actual common sense. 
The Adventure chapter is actually like a mini adventure construction set and gives a step by step set and kit of guidelines for DM's. This is all done in a down to Earth manner and with a no nonsense approach that makes this chapter easy to digest and with an internal sense that the author has been here time and again. There are are several pieces of solid game advice that can save you a ton of time and energy if you read them. As with all things these may vary for you.  Everything from adventure set up to trap placement is covered here with all kinds of ideas put into the mix and then some. Also this chapter gives some insight into the ideas that perhaps published adventures should be bend, folded, and mutilated as the dungeon master sees fit.
The campaign section not only gives the generalities that were outlined in the adventure chapter but expands upon them and then goes into the who, what, and where of the weird world of LoFP or should I say your take on it. An interesting thing about this chapter is the fact that gives some great insights into some of the choices that the author would go on to make with the LoFP line of products and the peudo historic world of the game. And some of the advice in here would be applied to adventure modules such as 'No Salvation For Witches'. Some of these pieces of advice can easily be used for your own worlds and campaigns which simply highlights the usefulness of this book from the stand point of any old school campaign.
This brings the pdf right into the NPC section which has lots and lots highlights from the generation, use, abuse and exploitation as well as one very important highlight of opinion. The difference between NPC's and monsters. The use of the NPC as antagonist of the party is clearly outlined right in this chapter very clearly. This chapter dovetails right into the backdrop  of the chapter on Monsters.  Monsters here are given a whole lot of thought by Mr. Raggi and are clearly outlined with lots of care and take down in their use, placement, and general menentence as old school campaign adventure generator. There are reasons for their being a non standard LoFP Monster Manual. The advice in this chapter is something that I think that every horror rpg DM should read. Especially Raven Loft DM's and this chapter clearly touches on one of my all time pet peeves with that setting. Namely that the weird and monsters should be incredibly special and treated with kid gloves. More is and has always been less.
One of my all time favorite chapters from this book is the Magic Item section, for not only does it have solid advice for the generating of these treasures, artifacts, and rare adventure motivators but it even includes a solid magical relic generators that can be used to randomly create thousands of horrific bits occult nastiness to get things moving in an adventure. Possibly one of the best chapters of the entire book and well worth the price of admission alone.
The Other Topics chapter is a catch up,round up, and agony aunt chapter for DM's to get a handle on running, recruiting players, and have an over all flow of the LoFP rpg system. There are several bits of solid and well thought pieces of advice in this chapter. This chapter leads into one of my other favorite bits in the Referee book, the What Else Is Out There. This is a chapter that does a whole bunch of adding and using LoFP with other OSR retroclone systems. This chapter is filled with nifty little conversion notes on using and adding elements and playing pick & choose with these retroclone systems. The fact is that Mr.Raggi has made some solid decisions regarding his opinions on how his system, classes, and fiddly bits fit with the other retroclone systems on the market. Again this is actually some very useful stuff from an OSR perspective. All of the high notes of the OSR are hit from Goodman games to Goblinoid and everyone else in between.
The final chapter is actually the LoFP basic adventure a Stranger Storm, which for a basic adventure puts the PC right into the deep end of the whole LoFP spectrum. The adventure does a fine job of taking the entire contents of the Referee book and put it into practice during play. Here is one adventure that lives up to the weirdness that is talked about throughout the book. No lie about this adventure because many of the later products to come out for LoFP princess share the pulpy and weird elements found in this adventure.  This one follows the familiar LoFP patterns and there might be a PC death or two before this adventure is played out and investigated or is it survived with LoFP.
The final pieces throughout the book are the handy reference charts and let me tell you that these things are damn close to being invaluable when your running the damn game. All of the basics are covered in these.
In conclusion this book is one of the best pieces of download investment that you can make if your interested in old school horror or pulp gaming. This book itself could be thought of as an almost anti D20 manifesto because it really puts the OSR edge of LoFP right against the vein of adventure design and old school ideals that this rpg system does right in my opinion. This book has so many pieces of practical and down to Earth advice that it remains one of my all time favorites. Grab a copy and get back to playing a fun game at your table. Five out of five in my humble opinion. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Commentary On Using Isle of The Unknown By Geoffrey McKinney For Your Old School Campaigns


islebanner

I've seen review after review of Geoffrey McKinney's Isle of The Unknown most negative, some positive and some completely missing at least for me the point of the adventure location. This is definitely one of those books that I need to have a physical copy of and its on the 'to get list', that being said I've read and reread the pdf over the better part of six months of time. And its an interesting location to play around with in a DM's head space. See one thing I've learned over the years is to read rpg review but make up my own mind about a product especially on the utility of said product. Such is the case after reading various reviews of Isle of The Unknown. 
This isn't a regular hex crawl at all but like many other McKinney's efforts assumes that your going to look below the surface of it. There are reasons why the the Isle contains 330 unique challenges and locations, including over 100 new monsters and dozens of spell casters with unique abilities.  
This isn't simply a hex crawl or mini campaign as it's a unique mythological and symbolic journey through the  weird & twisted downfall of a civilization told through the encounters of the isle.  

There's a major SPOILER over HERE



Isle of the Unknown has a completely different feel to Carcosa, the isle itself has lots of potential as an adventure location with opportunities for the PC's to become enmeshed in the background of the adventure location that it is.  The adventure location is absolutely relentless and presents chimerical monsters time after time along with odd park like decadence and its cast of weird mages, priests, and horrors.

 

I've used Isle of the Unknown time and again as ship wreck location for Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. This location is a perfect addition to the lost shores of a small inter dimensional plane or as simply another location within the Hyperborean oceans. Because of the quasi Minoan background of the Isle, this location makes an excellent stand in for a lost Atlantis. This is a product that brings a lot to the table but its an incomplete product in the fact that it assumes that the DM is going to pour more effort into it to work the product into his campaign. Should the PC's survive there's plenty of high weirdness to add into the fray.
Dungeon of the Unknown adds even more high level weirdness to the Isle, located in hex 2214 of the Isle of The Unknown. The dungeon is a two level location based adventure that features clues and history of the Island's past. And one of my all time favorite monsters the six sample Goop monsters and a random generator to make even more.
The location of the Dungeon of the Unknown makes it a very interesting location to gate in the PC's. Given the highly bizarre nature of the place the dungeon is a nice choice to begin events on the isle. 


File:Lastman Odysseus and NausicaƤ.jpg

This dungeon is part of a greater location based adventure campaign but its a decent way to introduce the PC's into the Isle of the Unknown campaign setting. Using this dungeon the PC's are going to get a taste of the greater elements that await them on the Isle and they may have a better survival rate. This dungeon isn't as deadly as some of the hex crawling efforts found in Carcosa and that's fine.
In point of fact I think that the Dungeon of the Unknown makes a better stepping stone into this end of the LoFP system and it can be used to mix in parties from AS&SH as well. Its not that its any less deadly or more so but this dungeon makes things a bit more manageable for mixing and matching parties together. Give a group of PC's a few common enemies and watch them blend together quickly. This module will allow you to do that as a dungeon master to plug into the ancient horrors that lurk beyond the threshold what we laughingly call reality.



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One thing I've learned from reading through LoFP adventures is that manifestations of magick, gods, etc. into our local space time continuum is never a good thing. These ancient powers bring with them raw power on an alien scale that our little ape brains can't really deal with let alone our flesh.  Treasure, relics,artifacts, etc. are simply the remains of trinkets that pass away as the survivors try and gather the jangled wits and intelligence of these brushes with the hellish unknown and unknowable that swirls just outside our universe.

File:Satyr and Nymph by Konstantin Makovsky.jpg

Time, space,energy, etc are pretty meaningless in these locations just off the edge of the map and so this is why products like Isle of the Unknown continue to grace my table. What you bring to them is exactly what your going to get out of them. This is one of the continuing lessons that Lamentations of the Flame Princess has brought home time and again. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review & Commentary On The Idea from Space From Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rpg System And Your Old School Campaigns


 So the Idea From Space is being sold as a low level dungeon romp with the PC's caught in the cross fire between two 'gods' and trapped on an island. Sounds simple doesn't it but this a Lamentations Of The Flame Princess adventure. And one that put's the PC's right into the cross fire of the divine essences of the story.
The adventure has elements of a surreal grind house film combined with bits and pieces of western mythology that were hinted at but never covered in your high school classes.

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Here's the basic outline according to the Drivethru rpg blurb:

Idea from Space, The (Print + PDF)

Xaxus is a creature of pure thought. Manakata is a being of raw power. On an island at the edge of the world, they transform human proxies to act on their behalf. And they war. 

Now it’s you on this island, caught in this battle. Will you remain who you are? Can you? 

The Idea from Space is an adventure suitable for low-level characters for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing and other traditional role-playing games. 

One thing I've noticed about each and every Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure? Each and everyone is a unique product and very dangerous as well as interesting to the PC's involved. There's a certain amount of high weirdness involved here and your player characters are going to be sucked right into the middle of  the situation. Now believe it or not 'The Idea From Space' is a solid pulp style romp of an adventure with the players sucked right into the middle of a sword and sorcery situation from the darkest corners of some mad pulp writer's wet dream. The idea here is that we have two divine essences making war with each other in a ritual style game of  reality. The players get dragged right into the middle of this trying rescue  the Duke of  Santiago  whose family has been shipwrecked on the island.
The worshipers of Xaxus   a creature of pure thought  whose worship by the original natives of the island was ground to a halt by a meteor falling from the sky. This was Manakata the god of strength,another creature of alien essence and the history of the adventure goes into the backdrop of these two deities. Or is divinities a better word? If their is one thing about alien gods that I've learned from reading LoFP adventures is thus; gods are not something you want to encounter in real life. This isn't Clash Of The Titans or the benevolent gods of TSR's Deities and Demigods, these two 'gods' are alien things in the pulp tradition of Weird Tales. Xaxus & Manakata use the islands inhabitants as finger puppets and what's worse their hell bent on playing out their drama play with your PC's center stage. This plot point is something that I eluded to earlier. There are even bits of adult themed alien bio technology and worse lurking in the background.
The Idea From Space plays with a pulp notion that gods incursions into our world are never,ever a good thing. The author does a great job of taking this one central element  of a plot hook and expanding the hell out of it into an adventure with some real potential for the right group of players.
 


The inclusion of the Duke of Santiago and his family into the plot is rather brilliant as it places the entire back drop of events into a clever bit of real world history. This places the events of The Idea From Space someplace at around the early 1500's. This links play up right into the heart of the pseudo real world history of a Lamentations campaign. That being said there's no reason not to take this adventure and back link it to other Lamentations products such as Isle Of The Unknown or the Dungeon Of The Unknown. The very pivotal nature of the deconstructionist adventures that Lamentations of the Flame Princess presents allows a DM to back link adventures between adventure set pieces such as the Idea From Space. There isn't a reason in the world why you couldn't have a group of Roman adventurers stumbling onto the events of the island presented in the Idea From Space only to have the same island show up later with a different group of adventurers. But this is one of the exciting things that Lamentations adventures do is to present a piece of mythological adventure locations and then allow a DM to use it as a lost land in their games. This is exactly what The Idea from Space is a puzzle piece adventure with some dungeon crawling, solid maps,plenty of weirdness and perhaps if the PC's are very lucky they'll survive. But will they be forever changed by their experiences on the island? 
One thing about the island and contents presented in The Idea From Space, namely that there is some adult content here.I'm not talking about the ideas that this adventure presents. At its essence the Idea From Space reminded me of Clive Barker's 'In The Hills, The Cities'. In that story from the excellent Books of Blood volume one, two gay lovers get caught up in the path of a two battling cities which have been created from the strapped together bodies of the citizens of two cities in Yugoslavia. This brilliant story presents the idea of religious rites that have happened since time began and the tragic results that occur. The people who are strapped into the giants are dying and their gore as well as essence becomes a part of the bodies that make up these giants. It wasn't the erotic nature of the story but the revelation of what makes up the very nature of gods, giants, and other monsters.  The Idea From Space touches on that very idea that alien divine natures are something to be experienced but the question is really will your party survive? Will they be changed by the experiences and if so can they ever go back to their societies? Or will they be marked forever as outlaws, adventurers, and outcasts living on the fringes of 1500's Lamentations of the Flame Princess society while gods, monsters, and others battle?
About 60% of the ideas presented in The Idea From Space could be gutted out and recycled into a traditional sword and sorcery OD&D style campaign. The idea that the island presented in the Idea From Space is the only place that these two alien gods has met is simply ridiculous. You could take the essential parts of this module and transport it to say Hyperborea or any other weird sword and sorcery local. Much of this can also be done with Robert Howard tales as well or Lovecraft or any other pulp writer. Yes, this is how many ideas this title has spawned in my mind. 
Do I think that the Idea From Space is worth the five dollar download? In a word yes! The whole adventure reads like a kit of ideas, the maps are very well done, and I had a blast visiting it. And its marked for me to run this one. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review and Commentary on Vacant Ritual Assembly #2 From Red Moon Medicine Show For The Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Rpg System or Any Old School Campaign


Where do I begin with this second issue of this great fanzine for the Lamentations of The Flame Princess Rpg system. Issue #2 has possibly enough material to qualify as a mini Lamentations campaign into itself. The second issue has some very strong article that fit right into the backdrop and setting for Lamentations. As a fanzine this Vacant Rituals is sort of like finding that really weird zine in the back of a comic shop, your not sure what the hell it is but you know its got to be something really cool and completely off the wall. But its also high quality and usable off the wall material for Lamentations. 

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Issue #2 comes on strong with some very nice optional rules, a collection of adventures, some weird Lobstermen, and lots semi aquatic goings on. 
Artwork from Ryan Sheffield, Abigail Larson, Anxious P, Sean Poppe, and Xolis.
d66 Name Table: This is the kind of table that your going to want to use to name your characters in style. Sort of the Robert E Howard baby name chart for Lamentations adventurers. 
Birthsigns: A d12 zodiac table to add in the PC creation process that has a definitive Hammer horror feel with add ons for your PC's. 
Dretcher's Bay: Imagine if your characters are caught between the claws of three lobstermen sea captains and the power and adventure opportunities. 
Carcinology: Anachronistic diving suits, weird cults, more lobstermen, and giant crab gods. There's lots of potential in this adventure situation. 
The Secrets of Acray: Strange ruins, underwater adventure opportunity, and all of it on one page. 
Oarsmen & Their Woes: Guest article by Anxious P! which includes some Moorcockian plane jumping opportunities but with much more LoFP slant on this group of sorts who travel the dimensions but there is a high price for their plane hoping favors and services. 
With Thine Eye Beheld: A cyclops cult and the weird Lovecraftian cult of inbred weirdos who worship these strange and weird beings. 
Interview with Greg Gorgonmilk: Greg talks Dolmenwood, Drunes, weed, and writing. Greg Gorgon Milk goes into his latest about Dolmenwood and its environs, weed, more weed and writing. 

So for a second issue this fanzine presents a complete and compact Lamentations jump off point for a complete mini campaign. This issue has style and quite a solid bit of substance. The material is well written, surreal, and utterly useful. I can honestly say that this issue would make a really weird and highly entertaining campaign. I've enjoyed the run of this magazine so far and the quality of the writing and systems that are behind this one are completely useful and utterly insane in a good solid OSR vibe. Can I see myself using this material? Yes and is it worth the price of the download? In a word I've got to admit that I can say,a solid five out of five stars. Perfect material to run a Lamentations game. Grab a copy of this magazine, some friends, and get right to playing today. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Children of Tekeli - A New Lovecraftian Monster For Your Old School Campaigns


The madness and monstrosity lay in the figures in the foreground—for Pickman’s morbid art was preĆ«minently one of daemoniac portraiture. These figures were seldom completely human, but often approached humanity in varying degree.
Pickman's Model H.P. Lovecraft 


The Children of Tekeli are ape like cannibalistic humanoids prone to destruction,rapine,destruction, and incredible acts of horror and they have secretly been with us since the very beginning of our evolution upon this Earth. Ages ago they were called the Shaggoths, named after the protoplasmic horrors who served the Elder Things in ages past. They call themselves 'The children of Tekeli' and were created by the Elder Things in one of the long forgotten cycles of Earth's ages past. The children served the Elder Things during the Age of Mammals when their masters were in sharp decline, they destroyed the last Atlantian colonists  that had come back from their colonies on Uranus. They added their magick power, their gene pool, and forbidden technologies to their own damned heritage. This act occurred near the Black Forrest of Germany and even today is remembered through the collective unconsciousness of humanity. 
The Children of Tekeli carved out a massive empire through the under Earth touching upon all corners of the world that we know. These mad beast like thing's rise to power was chronicled in the so called Grey Necronomicon chapters  penned by Abdul Al Hazard. 
The Children of Tekeli are cannibalistic, brutal, dangerous, completely amoral and capable of the most heinous acts imaginable. They are the inheritors of both Uranian forbidden technologies and the foul alien sorcery of the Great Old Ones from the ancient days of Lemuria and Atlantis. Their vast underground former empire honey combs throughout the world of man. They are completely distinct from Lovecraftian ghouls and the Morlocks of H.G. Wells, though they share many characteristics with both species and are distantly related.
File:Caricature of the Laocoon group as apes.jpg
The Children have vast underground empires beneath the Earth and they are both long lived as well as partially undead in nature. The number between thirty to fifty million and use humanity as both a stable food source and a secondary gene pool. They have vast underworld complexes and hidden lairs behind our own world's facade, it is known that they employ undead minions to record daily activities and strange details of our own world. The tribes of the child have contacts and cults throughout the world and employ thousands of dedicated minions who often help them kidnap modern men and keep vast slavery rings. These activities stretch back thousands of years into the remotest epochs of the past.

The Children of Tekeli
Frequency : Uncommon 
Number Appearing: 2-8
Armor Class: 5
Move:14"
Hit Dice: 7
% in Lair 20% 
Treasure Type : O,P,Q
Number of Attacks: 3 
Damage : 1-4/1-4/1-8
Special Attacks: Rending 
Special Defenses: Nil 
Magic Resistance : Standard 
Intelligence: High
Alignment: Lawful Evil 
Size : L (7'+ , Very Broad )
Psionic Ability : Nil 
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil 

The Children of Tekeli attack humans and have a very heavy appetite for human flesh, they have supernaturally keen senses of hearing, smell, and keenly developed infrared sight for their nearly light less environment. They are only surprised on a roll of one. If the child strikes with both claws it does an additional 1-8 hit points of rending damage.
For every 1d30 children there will be a wizard or priest of at least third level or higher. These black hearted and evil damned souls choose spells from the Gray magic schools and the black lists of spells. These monsters are subject to all forms of attack but are immune to sleep and charm spells. The children may be turned by priests and other religious types. Circles of protection will keep these horrors at bay.
File:Skull of Ape Man thought to be man's ancestor. Wellcome M0001150.jpg

Many cults across the history of mankind have had dealings with the Children of Tekeli and the monsters could be encountered anywhere. In the past the race has had several incidents of activity in the Black Forrest of Germany during the 'Thirty Year War' and have had connections to many of the witch cults of the area. 
The Children also have incredibly complex Earthworks in the New Amsterdam colony in the New World and have have several under Earth tribal warfare incidents with Drow, Elves, and Ghouls in the New England area as well. Several skirmishes with other legendary New England monsters has also happened. These affairs have become a part of occult myth and legend. 

Artifacts & Magick  of the Children of  Tekeli 
For Your Old School Campaigns 

The Children of Tekeli make extensive use of the schools of necromancy, summoning, and many other of the blackest arts of magick and dark occult power.
Rods of summoning often will have the 'contact other plane' spell bound into them. Wizards who have gotten a hold of these items have often found them to be very dangerous indeed. Demons, devils and insane things from Outside our mundane world are often summoned. Usually such items have eight or more charges roll a 1d8 to see how many charges remain.

Wand Sebkay Daressy.png

The Children of Tekeli have extensive tunnels systems that blanket the Earth and have access to several technologies of the Great Race of Yith as well. This includes devices for traveling to alternative dimensions and different planes of existence. There are several Prime material planes where the Children of Tekeli have come to rule the world as their numbers have grown to invasion force size and they have swarmed across the planet. These individuals often use unusual energy weapons that do 3d6 points of damage with a range of some 30 feet, they can be used one handed and have about 8 shots before needing the energy cells replaced.
The Children of Tekeli have extensive colonies surrounding several Antarctica islands hidden within satellite blind spots up to the present day. These colonies were active through the early Seventies and may have served as a landing point for the alien allies of the Child. There is speculation that these alien allies may be servants of the soul of the Outer Gods Nyarlathotep and have aided the various tribes of the Children for more then four thousand years. There have been reports of a hybrid servant race which passes among mankind unseen. These individuals gain +3 to intelligence -1 on wisdom, and have an almost animal like cunning, they often serve as assassins,scouts or spies for the Children. These hybrid spies may be found anywhere across the face of Creation and report back to their masters from time to time as needed.
The Children it is known also operate in several alternative worlds including far into the future after several post apocalyptic events. There is even evidence to suggest that these horrors operate far into the future when Earth's sun has expanded and has turned into a red dying star. But there is rumor that this is only mere speculation.
Several orders of knights and crusaders have made it their life's work to eradicate the Children of Tekeki but so far their efforts have been all for naught. 

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Review and Commentary About Vacant Ritual Assembly #1 From Red Moon Medicine Show For The Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Rpg or Your Old School Horror Campaigns

 

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 So I'm always late to the party and when it comes to fanzine doubly so, issue number #2 of Vacant Ritual Assembly is already hitting the stands and I'm just learning about the zine now. Its sort of like an underground zine that back  in the late 90's would have hit the streets if you were into the sort of dark and weird that is Lamentations of  the Flame Princess all in one fetid place. So what the hell is it? Well here's the owner to talk about the zine.

Reading through Vacant Ritual Assembly is sort of like turning into an OSR indie horror movie at about four A.M. and coming into the middle of the movie. You stay up to watch it, you know your enjoying it but you just not sure what the hell you just saw but you enjoyed the hell out of it.
This zine has everything that I loved about old school horror gaming with a dangerous Lovecraftian sensibility and none of the pretentiousness of other BS rpg stuff. It simply presents a solidly done horror OSR kick in the head. Besides some dangerous and weird artwork. Vacant presents some actual useful content for Lamentations of The Flame Princess in an easily digestible form.
The Goblin Market is actually one of the best setting set pieces of the zine. It presents a small Lovecraftian ghoul colony who trade with the living, the damned, wizards, and madmen all in one place under a chapel. Very dangerous and deadly wares are traded here but your PC's will never be the same.
The Skin Smith - This is the sort of demon who can do resurrections and alterations to your PC's but man the horror factor is very high. 
Vespero the Antiquarian is the sort of guy whose business ideals and interests intersect with those who do business with macabre and weird. The guy however can be down right nasty and could be a dangerous NPC as all those who are in a LoFP campaign can be. 
Luminari, Lady of the Golden Lamp is the sort of minor goddess who can make things very interesting and downright weird for a set of PC's. She's exactly the sort of a goddess who you want to use as part of a one shot adventure.
Brahnwick is Dead: one part adventure and one part throw your PC's into a flooded town inhabited by madmen and with weird occult bits happening around their ears. 
An interview with Chris McDowall about his new opus Into the Odd. Shrugs I'm here for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess material. If your looking for more information about Into the Odd then this is your interview. 
Greycandle Manor: An abandoned manor on the edge of town, which makes a perfect side encounter for use as a location between Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventures. The PC can be used as is and used just to make the PC's very,very, nervous or filled with those NPC's you've been itching to use. 
Go grab this issue right now and get cracking with the material as part of a horror themed campaign. This is a tight,tight, well done fanzine.



Using Vacant Ritual Assembly
As Part Of Your Old School Campaigns 

Vacant Ritual Assembly is the sort of a fanzine that replaces so many things that have been missing from OSR horror gaming for a while. It presents a bunch of actual usable elements and dares you to put them into your games. There's no manifesto simply a whole bunch of well assembled parts to install into a Lamentations campaign. 
The ghoul market frame work is the corpse from which everything else is hung and that is part of the form and focus. This issue really pulls everything that I love from the Kult rpg and puts it in one easily useful package. 

Everything in this issue is perfectly focused and useful for a Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign. Fact is that I can see using this material in a number of OSR horror games and still coming back to raid this material time and again. That my friends is utility. And that's what makes this product utterly useful in my mind. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review and Commentary On Spellbook Games Inferno Bestiary, Second Edition For Your Old School Campaigns.


Way back in the 90's or so I bought a pack of Judge's Guild modules back in the early 90's and among them was Geoffrey O'Dale's Inferno module. The module has been with me on and off for the better part of thirty years. This was actually a requiring of the module from the early 80's. For me the module offered a nice alternative to the well known and admired Ed Greenwood Dragon magazine module. Geoffrey O'Dale's Hell made quite the impression on me. And in some ways continues to. 
Growing up on a steady diet of horror comics with Warren, Skywald,Marvel, D.C. and many others. Hell was the ultimate wilderness crawl. Reading through the module and going to a Roman Catholic grammar school didn't turn me off in the least. In point of fact this module was responsible for me reading Dante's Divine Comedy in its entirety.   But the module has far more to do with horror comics and Dante's Inferno then it has to do with Christianity at all. In fact the module is very, very deadly and it took every ounce of energy and skill to survive it.
Inferno always gave Judge's Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord series of modules a very deadly razor's edge  of darkness to their adventures. Sure everything looked pretty funny with evocative covers. But your adventurers could end up in the pit with a cursed scroll, magic item, crossing the wrong entity or god. The ways to get their were myriad but there were very few ways of getting out much less surviving. 
I ran an entire campaign for about two years in the pit. The PC's couldn't return to Earth at all, Hell changes characters if they survive. 
Which brings me to my recent brushes with Spell Book games, Geoffrey O'Dale never really left gaming per say. I saw an issue of 'Fight On' magazine where the circles for Hell were completed. This brings me to Spell Book games, which is Geoffrey's company that has taken the original Inferno concept and turned it into an entire campaign setting by itself. This is an entire line of AD&D first edition style products with an eye to providing a line of weird and dangerous adventures set in a Dante style Hell complete with a whole array of demons and devils. These are highly detailed Gazetters and adventure books set in the Pit itself. They really have a style all their own and detail some very nasty adventure locations within Hell.
The Inferno Bestiary is a complete overview of all of the demons and devils of the adventure modules as a stand alone product. Just page after page of demons,devils, and monsters free from any baggage at all.
This makes them perfect to drop in and run with your old school games. This is especially nice for an AD&D first edition style game where you need a monster to add into a old school adventure and just want something dangerous, diabolical, and out & out mean.



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According to the Drivethrublurb:
Spellbook Games releases the Second Edition of Inferno: Bestiary.  This edition includes all of the monsters and creatures from the original Bestiary, including more than 70 unique Devils from the Inferno Hell, plus more than 200 additional new creatures created for the Portal to Adventure rule set. This Bestiary includes more than 750 total entries.  This edition particularly fills a gap in the Portal rule set in that it includes an extensive collection of aquatic creatures.
As an old school DM this is nice book for constructing my own Hells and peppering them with new and incredibly diabolic monsters. The book is on the expensive side but it does its mission quite well.
If your not sure if this book is for you then there is a no cost solution you can take a look at in the form of the free 
Diabolic Denizens book that's available from Spellbook games.
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With the Diabolic Denzins book you get an overview of the monsters, stat block, and much more for free. You can kick the tires, look into the demons and monsters. Get a feel for the product and much more.

The 
Inferno Bestiary, Second Edition does exactly what it says on the tin and provides a whole swath of monsters completely background free and concisely mapped out for you to use in your old school games as you see fit. The creatures are hideously dangerous and incredibly nasty with a complete eye towards ripping your PC's apart and coming back for more. Personally I can see me using some of these in several old school campaigns. I give this a nice solid four out of five and look forward to checking out more of Spellbook games material in the future.