Thursday, October 1, 2015

Judge's Guild Thoughts & Dave Arneson Appreciation Day Homage

So it's Dave Arneson appreciation day and to tell you the truth I've been pretty conflicted about putting fingers to keypad. Blackmoor means a lot to me and Mr.Arneson still to this day doesn't get the amount of recognition that he deserves. So here are some of my thoughts & opinions about this gentleman game designer and wargamer.


I'm trying to first think about when I heard about Dave Arneson. It was through Judge's Guild's Guide to the City State (1976), this was the real deal perhaps one of the greatest fantasy cities that came out or at least that's how it appeared to me when my father's friend from the RAF told me about it. Blackmoor came into my life in upstate New York from the Judge's Guild. I was six at the time and it was all about Kiss, Radio Shack, the Spiderman television show, etc.,etc. It wasn't until a year later that I played or watched my first game of original Dungeons & Dragons. I have very mixed emotions about this because its sort of like writing about something that has always been a part of my life. Arneson, Bledsaw, Gygax, were names that were as familiar to me as my uncles or cousins. Gary Gygax gave us Greyhawk but my hat has always hung in Blackmoor. I lost at least a dozen characters in Tegal Manor, two hundred and forty rooms of haunted house horror as a dungeon crawl. Areson gave my dungeon master the perfect setting to put this haunted hall of horror and gonzoness.

Its only recently that I've acquired a fine scan of this book and come to appreciate its brilliance at what it does. A tight, tense, and well put together urban setting with lots of potential and its been beloved by fans for years. Dave Arneson was very, very, good at what he did and was a damn good game designer way, way, ahead of his time in lots of ways. We lost Dave at sixty one back in 2009 & by God I wish I had taken the time to get to know the man more. I've written extensively about my debt to Judge's Guild but not Mr.Arneson. For me these games are not simply about wargaming or another game of D&D, these games instantly forge friendships between people that last twenty years or more. There's very little that can replace the feeling of getting together with friends and family slinging some dice and breaking the hold of an evil overlord, vile villain or slaying a monster. There are three things that come to mind when the name Dave Arneson is spoken ; one that's its alright to mix in science fantasy & fantasy elements together, two that play is key to the interaction of PC's and cooperation rules the day in parties of adventurers and the three the world of Blackmoor. A setting of free wheeling almost any can happen and probably will. I love the Blackmoor setting with its science fantasy roots and inclusion. The Temple of the Frog was and is a great adventure; it remains a favorite.

Personally I think that sixty one was way too soon of an age to be taken from us but we have little to say in such matters. I wish Dave Areson could have seen the rise of games such as Dungeon Crawl Classics and Lamentations of the Flame Princess as well as other clones that not only use but reveal in the gonzoness of play that he used so frequently. But alas all we have now are the memories, stories, and debt that we owe to Mr. Arneson. So I raise a glass to your memory sir and a life well played. May you find your place at the table of those who have passed and sling some dice with other greats. Thanks for all of the wonderful games and adventures, the halls of Blackmoor resound with your greatness and echo with your creation. Salute to you sir.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Review and Commentary On the Free OSR Horror Rpg Adventure - Come to Daddy For Your Old School Campaigns

I spent part of my day reading through one of the most brutal and well done free adventure I've seen in a while. Come to Daddy is written & mapped Anders Hedenbjörk Lager aka dawnrazor) and superbly illustrated by David Lewis Johnson and Jim Magnusson.If you are looking for an adventure that crosses over the bounds of Lamentations Of The Flame Princess rpg system turf and then backs up to finish the job then this is it. For those of you who don't think that an OD&D style game adventure can cross the same bleak and weird turf as the original Hills Have Eyes film. Think again. You haven't met the Rodbrok family, a more twisted group of mutant cannibals you are not likely to meet and they're very hungry. But there's more going on here.
Grab It Right Over HERE
Come to Daddy_B&T_pic
The basic plot goes something like this:
In Come To Daddy, the characters end up in the clutches of a most evil family of crazy viking mutant cannibal killers and their weird monster creations in the middle of a frosty nowhere
The place is also haunted by the souls of some of their unfortunate victims and full of lethal traps for the unwary. And this is just the tip of the ice berg. There's some very dark and lethal stuff going on here at the home of these people. We're given a thumb nail view of every member of this twisted family and this adventure taps into the dark and lethal vein of the OSR with some surprisingly entertaining events.
This adventure has a wholly deeply disturbing Lovecraftian vibe echoing throughout it, we get a ton of new material in the form of monsters, spells, items, and more. But its the way that the adventure sets up the party and then proceeds to take apart piece by piece the flesh and marrow of the whole of any expectations. This adventure is perfectly aimed like an arrow at the heart of the OD&D or LoFP crew of players and it does an exceptional job of showcasing its old school horror ghastliness in the middle of the winter woodlands of your campaign. This material could be placed anywhere across the board in an ice choked part of your setting and world. This adventure is a mini campaign into itself that echoes such films from the 80's as 'The People Under The Stairs', the original Hills Have Eyes film, some of the dark slasher and jungle cannibal  films of the 70's, and 80's. And there's a ton of back material that's been included in this adventure to pad out, create squeals, and add a ton of Lovecraftian depth to the entire adventure combo pack. There's everything here to keep the horror of the place going for weeks. There's lots of fiddly bits and pieces to have at least three or four weeks worth of material to keep the party going. There are some notes on conversion between editions but given the depth and the way this is written this adventure makes a solid hit to take the PC's straight into Texas Chain Saw territory via the writing of HP Lovecraft in a pseudo historic setting of the DM's choice.
This is not an adventure for the faint of heart or the easily offended, there's blood, guts, and body horror galore. Not to spoil the surprises but this one is like the Manson Family Christmas special via a faux Viking picnic with death metal blaring in the background. The type of material that Ravenloft could hint about but couldn't show because the Satanic Panic button people would have been on the phones of the local television stations yesterday.
Now with all of that hype there's a few things to go over, the adventure is free but there is also a map pack and the free pdf. The map pack is not only necessary but perfectly well made to be able to support this horror laden mutant horror  ride from Hel. And believe you me its worth the download.
But is it playable? Yes with the right group of players this thing should be a blast and it could easily be used for a wide variety of retroclones. The top choice I would have to use this sucker with would be Lamentations of the Flame Princess given the wide array of blood,guts, & gore and then possibly Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. There are several reasons for the latter choice as well. Given the demented feel of the the Rodbrok family and some of the dark forces at work in this adventure. AS&SH is a good choice because of the bleak feel, weird atmosphere and over all horror of the adventure. There's lots of perspective for a very brutal adventure TPK for this adventure.
Believe it or not the module also has a very weird vibe that could be used with Fantastic Heroes and Witchery rpg system. The dark and robust nature lends itself to that game as well. But all of these retroclone systems would require a bit of effort to easily convert it over to your favorite retroclone of your choice. But is it worth the download? Hell yes it is, if your a horror rpg fan whose delicate sensibilities deviate to the dark side of the spectrum in a balls to the walls solidly done and decent horror adventure in the old school tradition then grab this adventure and get to playing! Five out of five with a solidly unnerving and darkly creepy adventure. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Review & Commentary On Vacant Ritual Assembly Issue #3 From Red Moon Medicine Show For The Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Rpg System or Any Old School Campaign

Sometimes you can crawl into a game designer's head and get a glimpse at what's going on at their table with clues as to what direction their taking their campaigns. Vacant Ritual Assembly #3 is now available and its one of my favorite Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Rpg fanzines out there. This is the zine that help me to loosen up with the  LoFP system  and take the game as it comes. The Red Moon Medicine show group of authors and designers headed by Clint Krause continues to impress me. There is an echoing them of down and dirty homegrown Lamentations horror in this issue and issue three echoes with it throughout.
Take one part Robert Howard's Beyond The Black River, mix in the fevered imagination of an obsessive LoFP fan, stir generously with 80's and 90's cinema swords and sorcery fantasy, mix in some dark material of the darkest magick , and perhaps you might get this issue of VRA. But I doubt it.
This issue reads like a temperate mix of Deliverance, Cannibal Ferox (1981), 
and Conan with a healthy dose of its own brand of insanity presented as a personal campaign setting.
Here's what you get for four dollars!
The Legend of Dragon Trench: Is the big adventure location for this issue and covers a wide gap of material including  Hex map, encounter table, rumors, NPC stats, site descriptions, and more. This is perhaps one of the best thought out bits of adventure campaign material and its a very dangerous area at that which will challenge and test adventurers to their limits.

Knights of the Dragon Clan - This knightly order are the guardians of the Dragon Trench and its environs. These are not the squeky clean paladins of OD&D but an order of adventurers,warriors, knights and survivors who are dealing with frontier life in a very dangerous world. Think Conan and company dealing with the Picts in Beyond The Black River with a LoFP twist, the Romans in ancient Britannia or the forces during the French and Indian wars in upstate New York. Life on the edge of a knife blade for your adventurers with death a hair's breath away.
The Thundercloud Druids - This is another faction with deep ties to the Dragon Trench rife with possibilities for adventurers. The Thunder Cloud Druids are the guardians of the Crystal Crater and masters of a twisted type of flute magick.
At night in the wilderness of this setting the head hunting witches of the  Tales of the Timberwives are detailed and these ladies are devious, dangerous, and wholly without mercy.
 The Grand Vespiary - This is one of the more unexpected adventures I've seen in an issue of VRA, it details a wasp cult that will leave adventurers changed forever or dead in equal measure. Its well done and very fiendish in what it does. And this is one of my favorite bits of the whole issue.
The final bit of this issue is Rick's Moving Castle an interview with the creator of the cult classic video game  Castle of the Winds  Rick Saada. A nice interview with one of video game classics masterminds and authors.
So far this is perhaps one of the most personal issues of the fanzine Clint Krause and we really get to see inside his head and his own personal campaign. This isn't a bad thing at all, we really get a sense of what's ticking off the boxes of the home game of the author and his crew at Red Moon Medicine Show.
And its an interesting glimpse into the creative process for one of LoFP's more dynamic fanzines in a community of gamers that continues to bring some of the best OSR material to the table.  This issue isn't for those looking for a simple set of hack and slash locations, these are adventure locations that could be used for many years to come in an LoFP or OD&D campaign.
But is all of this useful? Well, that really depends upon your personal taste in gaming. Personally I would say yes and buy this issue based solely on the strengths of the author's writing on his subject matter. Vacant Ritual Assembly each issue has threaded some very deep waters and this issue goes even further into a region that is rife for potential adventures. Personally I would break out my copy of Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad . 
This is exactly the sort of vibe that echoes through the Dragon Trench, a wilderness adventure location that is at once weird and dynamically different to take adventurers on a journey into the weird, pulptastic, and strangely different. That being said the locations that are detailed are easily used with other retroclone systems and that's part of the beauty of  Vacant Ritual Assembly issue three. There are so many things that can be done with this material and issue three is rife with old school gaming goodness potential. Do yourselves a favor, go and pick this issue up ASAP, its well done and well worth the money for the Lamentations of The Flame Princess rpg system or any old school system for that matter!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Death Frost Doom Adventure For The Lamentations of The Flame Princess rpg Writing by Zak Smith and James Edward Raggi IV Part II Death By Frost Review

Death Frost Doom is an adventure that literally draws you into the center of its world like a black hole of wintry death. This is a place that has gone beyond the pale of mere myth and legend into a world of all its own. And the adventurers are drawn up into the module's magick and malevolence. This is a horror movie starring your PC's and the situations described are ones with an internal world all their own. You've just stumbled into the world of Death Frost Doom. 
                                                          Grab It Right Over 

So what the hell is it about DFD that is so intriguing? The writing, the plot, or construction of the adventure or perhaps Zak Smith's writing? Maybe the artwork? None of the above really. There's an internal mechanism of menace to the adventure that makes it part investigation, part dungeon crawl, and part monster menace all rolled into one package.

There's a nice quality of high weirdness and depravity to the events of DFD that give the DM plenty to work with. And if played correctly with a solid group of players will have them experiencing something akin to Evil Dead part two and some dark twisted European fairy tale on steroids. Adding to mix is the cover art (in color) was done by Yannick Bouchard and the black and white interior illustrations, cartography and design were done by Jez Gordon.  All of those seem to add to the total feel of the adventure and it can be added straight into a pre existing LoFP campaign with little issue.  Heck this could be added straight into any horror themed campaign. There are reminders and echoes of old Gothic European, Romanian, and Russian  legends in DFD. This is adventure that Ravenloft wouldn't have the balls to pull off, and yet the horror elements bring some new stuff to the LoFP. There is a totally new take on the undead in this adventure that has some very cool implications for your LoFP adventures if you decide to take this option on board your campaigns. Lots of miliage of this adventure if you decide to adopt some of the ideas, mythology, and high weirdness that lurks between the pages of DFD. As a frame work to me at least this adventure has a ton of potential to take your adventures in some dark and dangerous directions!
This is an adventure that pulls heavily from the legendary roots of its own mythology and deals with its encounters as a series of events set in motion with balance and terror all in one. Something that really well done horror movies try to do. But be warned this is a horrific module that can and will wreck PC's if dumb decisions are made.

So is Death Frost Doom worth the price of admission? Yes I not only think so but I actually one of the essential LoFP books because of the way that it handles the game's material. This is a solidly dark and disturbing read,run, and rabble through the underbelly of the Lamentations universe for characters. I'd put this adventure high on the list of runs for a mid level group of LoFP adventurers. Five out of five for a reinvention of a fantastic adventure. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Death Frost Doom Adventure For The Lamentations of The Flame Princess rpg Writing by Zak Smith and James Edward Raggi IV Initial Impressions

I own and ran the first Death Frost Doom years ago and was both shocked and surprised to see a completely revised and expanded version of Death Frost Doom. But I spend a good part of the early morning going over this adventure.  These are my initial impressions of Death Frost Doom.

I approached James Raggi IV for a copy of this pdf about two days ago and downloaded it prepared for something of a total party kill adventure. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a stone cold horror adventure done in the round robin way of isolated Heavy Metal album covers and European myth & legend. Where as the first Death Frost Doom was a scattered tapestry of horrific elements, Zak Smith has rewritten the entire adventure from the ground up to weave every morbid facet of this adventure as a whole. And its done very well. The cover art (in color) was done by Yannick Bouchard and the black and white interior illustrations, cartography and design were done by Jez Gordon. These elements are all done very, very, well. From just a look over of the material we're plunged into a peusdo European world of horror and twisted dark mythology with an entirely new take on the undead. 
Grab It Right Over 

Everything in this module echoes so far the charm of a romp through the darkest corners of imagination with bits of Lovecraftian adventure throughout out the first couple of pages. To get into the ins and outs of this module is like looking at a horror film with a subplot that runs through it in a smart and very well way. There is the feel of European legend here mixed in with horror films then set on high and poured into a setting waiting to spring on the PC's. And I'm not talking about a total kill straight out of the gate. Instead what we're looking at is an adventure that takes full advantage of the horror tropes in well done but different way. Ways that actually fit into a wide variety of old school quasi- historical backgrounds and setting for which Lamentations of the Flame Princess is well known. This adventure can not only seamlessly fit into the back space of existing campaigns but can be used to generate entire local sub spaces for such. The adventure elements add an entire sub mythology and myth to the adventure. This is something that Zak Smith has done before as an author and designer. I see this all of the time on his blog but to see it done in an adventure using the old Death Frost Doom material is something else entirely.
Straight up this is a very well done adventure and I'll get more into it in the second part. My intial impress is that not only can this adventure work for Lamentations of the Flame Princess but I would use this adventure for other old school rpg's as well. I'm thinking here of OD&D with a dark horror theme or even Cthulhu Dark Ages. The conversion would be quite painless and easy to accomplish. Death Frost Doom is an adventure of supernatural horror and intrigue with a veneer of OD&D. This is not a light weight adventure but one that needs far more attention then it has been getting.  Please remember these are only my initial impressions of the adventure.  But for those DM's already running a LoFP campaign who bought the original adventure, go back and grab this one. This is a completely different animal then the first adventure and be prepared for that. More coming up in part II. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review and Commentary On The Gnomes of Levnec Adventure From Zzarchov Kowolski For Your Old School Campaigns

If your looking for an adventure with gnomes, high weirdness, a great sense of humor, and plenty of room for customization. The Gnomes of Levnec might just be for your party of warriors, wizards, and adventurers. 
Grab It Right 

I went to Zzarchov Kowolski with one thing on my mind, gnomes. This adventure incorporates gnomes but not in the traditional sense but in the weird humor of old school gaming. The Gnomes of Levnec is one part outdoor adventure, two part dungeon crawl, and a whole little mini sand box of gaming adventuring with a twisted humor slant to it. I don't mean that this is a jokey unplayable adventure, rather its a twisted romp with a wry and twistedly strange sense of humor about itself. Levnec is actually a very interesting little setting, with the slightly familiar and the oddly twisted existing side by side. Your adventurers are thrust right into the deep end of the adventure. And the adventure is well worth the money, this adventure would make an excellent and more then slightly twisted adventure to run with OD&D, Swords & Wizardry, or Lamentations of The Flame Princess. In point of fact I love to run this adventure as a low level introduction to the world of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. In only sixteen pages the author establishes the setting, adds in a number of interesting NPC's within the adventure locations, adds a real plot with some minor hooks for adventure continuation, and ties it together with a witty yet interesting device or two.
There are some nifty random tables in this adventure that add to weirdness factor of piece without taking your PC's out of what's going on. This adventure knocks the traditional out door adventure on its ass and does it with style. A style that has a unique view point on gnomes, spells, magick, and a ton of weirdness at its heart. And uses these elements with a sense of the morbid and strange. But it does it in a completely awesome way. Repeatedly!
If your expecting hack and slash dungeon crawl fest, this adventure isn't for you. If you want an adventure with plenty of DYI old school OD&D adventure with plenty of Twin Peaks style high weirdness this might be the adventure for you.
This adventure has some nice maps, great diagrams, and I love, love, the art in the adventure piece because it suits the adventure rather nicely and set's the tone for this darkly whimsical adventure.
 The Gnomes of Levnec provides the DM with a handful of locations in the village, and there's plenty of room to add more in except for the gnomes are waiting to screw with adventurers. And yet they're still more going on then is hinted in the general outlay of this adventure. In fact the plot will have your adventurers crawling around the woods in no time flat and getting lost. In fact their's a rather nifty random table for that. The adventure is going to take PC's into the woods, twist their perceptions around, and then leave them feeling more then slightly disturbed. This is a perfect adventure for a short set campaign adventure that can be dropped right into the background of an existing campaign and yet leave the PC's feeling rather particular about the gnomes that are featured. Which in my book is a good thing. Five out of five because this adventure ticks so many boxes. Dark and more then slightly twisted, great maps, easy set up, deployment ,and a great weekend adventure to keep the PC's weirded out and more then slightly disturbed.  This adventure is a five out of five in my book.

Using The Gnomes Of Levnec 
With Your Old School Campaigns 

This isn't my first romp with Zzarchov Kowolski and I've read through his Pale Lady adventure which is a killer effort for the Lamentations of The Flame Princess rpg system. The Gnomes of Levnec isn't even in the same ball park as the latter adventure but the element of the mythological weird is none the less right there in this adventure. A sense that the 'unreal' of the fairy tales of old is right in your face screaming at you. 

Levenec might be used with the Pale Lady in a neighboring valley or other isolated spot along some of the trails. The idea that the truth behind the myths and legends is even weirder then we're expecting or want to know about. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Convent Of Saint Leona - Tonight's Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Actual Play Event

File:Ruined Convent (Coptic) near Philæ (1890) - TIMEA.jpg
So tonight I had an entire adventure worked up for the Lamentations Of The Flame Princess rpg to go run over a friend's house to take a break from writing up stuff for the Fantastic Heroes and Witchery game campaign of mine. My buddy picks me up tonight but I got in the car without the majority of my books except my LoFP rule book. While I was panicking I resigned myself to my fate an thought about seeing a video that James Raggi did at a some point last year. F#$k You episode number #3 on You tube earlier in the day. One of the things in the video is Jame's opinion on the book 'Stealing Cthulhu' and how there isn't a single mention of Lovecraftian ghouls. So that was my rift and I went with it. 
  The PC's in tonight's game were veterans of Napoleon's campaign in Egypt,and this adventure concerns the French army being pushed out of Egypt by the British .The PC's were a mix of Fighters of fourth level and better with a wizard in their as well. The adventure consists of a hostel owned and operated by a group of nuns and the PC's figuring out that all is not well with the nuns. There is a plague sweeping the city and the PC's are caught within city limits and the nuns are offering kindness and a bed but not all is as it seems. People are going missing in the night. And the PC's are down and out veterans who have very little in the world. The adventure was humancentric as well. So there was very little set up time.
During the night one  of the PC's awakens in the inn/hostel to see a pair of yellow dangerous eyes flashing in the darkness. The PC followed the trail left in the dust by two strong and very dangerous creatures who dragged a man into a pit in the ground in the courtyard of the place.
There was very little light and the moon rolled over head as the clouds broke once in a while illuminated the courtyard.

File:Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart.jpg

The PC a fighter named Henry L'Court spotted a group of strange half starved beings and failing a wisdom  he assumed were beggars speaking with one of the nuns. There was something very inhuman about the nun. Something about her in the moonlight that made Henry pause shutter with horror. And then he saw the faces of the beggars. They passed the nun a bloody haunch of a package and he saw the tell tail signs of a person's arm and shoulder. He backed away very slowly and kept to the darkness going back to his room and to awaken the others. At this point the players faced a  dilemma of not having any weapons or equipment. The came up with a plan to check the room of the missing man having traced down the poor victim's whereabouts. The abode was well paid for and appointed. They found some spoils of war hidden within. Shot and pistol, a few swords, and a knife or two. They took the weapons and something more. The British officer had taken some other spoils as well. A preserved human head in a jar and the thing was 'alive'. This stopped the game in its tracks for a moment. ( The head was the preserved head of a wizard and had they taken to long things would have gone from bad to worse). The party put the thing back in its hidden panel within the trunk where they found it. They also found a pile of  strange coppery gold coins which they took.  And they left almost running into a trio of weird half ghoul bandits!

Then they heard voices in the hallway of the hostel. And they got their first glimpse of the inhuman things stalking through the hallways going from room to room. As they were checking on room the party bolted and hidden in the shadows. While hiding behind a tapestry the party discovered a hidden door. And a hidden stairwell leading down into the depths of the ancient stone pile. 

We had to end the game there because it is a work and school night for the players as well. To be continued this weekend! 

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. 

Grab It Free Right
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


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 Nausicaä.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.


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.

Grab It Right

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. 

Grab It Right 

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 preëminently 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
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. 

File:Jolantha 3 by John Bauer 1907.jpg

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


 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.

Available Right Over

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.
Right Over

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.

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.