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. 

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