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!