Frog God Games is doing a series of Indiegogo campaigns for short print run adventures. Now I haven’t backed all of them but I did back this one and it’s pretty cool.
Like I’ve said before it’s tough to rant about an adventure without spoilers but I shall attempt to do my best and note I’m going off the Swords & Wizardry version.
Encephalon Gorgers on the Moon is for 7th to 8th Level characters. There’s a good mix of things for the characters to do. It’s not really big enough to really call it a hex crawl more of an exploration of a couple of areas. The basic hook is that strange things are happening deep in the forest and the characters are supposed to find out why. There’s a few suggestions for getting them involved. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be too hard to get the characters interested. So yep there’s some investigations for the PC’s to do too which also means some interaction some NPC’s. So the investigation and exploration aren’t too hard. They’d just have to follow bread crumbs. It’s not really that challenging but could be fun. That’s the very basics of it.
The tone of the adventure is where it gets interesting. It’s weird in that old pulp fantasy way without relying on the shock and ewe factor to make interesting. Heck, one of the mysteries is “What’s up with all the cats?” Let’s face it if there’s a Druid in the party, animal based mysteries aren’t that hard to solve. It does also have it’s share of eldritch alien monsters and their kin. This is where the characters run into the bad things. Like I said no spoilers but, just read the title again. There’s some major travel in store for the party. And that’s where things get interesting and alien. This part of the adventure has the real homage to the weird fantasy genre. Alien monsters and environments make it interesting. Now, I will admit there’s a lot of reskinning of things with tentacles that eat brains. But that’s OK. They are presented in their own way.
One of the other good things is that there’s lots of ways you can end the module. Not just beat the bad guy. Maybe you don’t. Or maybe you the party goes around exploring an alien landscape.
So yes. Overall. I’m pleased with it and am glad I back it.
You can find Encephalon Gorgers on the Moon on DrivethrRPG or on Frog God Games own site.
It’s been so long since I’ve done anything with Swords & Wizardry. While it’s been my favorite of the clones, I just haven’t had a chance to back to it. Sure I’m Labyrinth Lord now but I still miss Swords & Wizardry.
It probably has to do with the thing I have about tweaking rules and Swords & Wizardy is prefect for it. Enough crunch to cover the bases but still really flexible. And the rules aren’t built like a Jenga Tower. You know what I mean. Change one little thing and the whole game system collapses. Plus it’s easy as hell to convert all sorts of modules and resources into. Yeah, I know I’ve said all that stuff before.
But I’ve also go a hankering to do another setting. I know it’s weird. I’m already working on The City here at the blog. Don’t worry more to come on that. It’s one of those crazy things. But I want to do something more. As both an experiment and exercise. So we shall see.
It’s not I don’t have enough projects. But then I’m just whining. Oh, well. Food for thought, folks. Cross your fingers.
Last month Frog God Games ran a contest for fan reviews. I did a couple and did garner some Frog Bucks to spend. I’m still shopping. The Blight was on my list of things review and I just didn’t have the time fully delve into it. But as luck would have it, I just did have some time and dove right in and wish I had done so earlier. Now, if you’ve follow me around social media I’ve mentioned the idea of mixing The Midderlands, Tegel Manor (which I backed), and The Blight. That idea still stands. One more disclosure for this rant. This is based on the 5E version of The Blight and I’ll only be talking about the Campaign Guide. I had grabbed it and a bunch of other really cool stuff from a 5E Humble Bundle.
Let’s start of with a general overview. So what is The Blight. It’s grim/dark, horror, gritty urban campaign location, namely the City-State of Castorhage. It’s mean and cruel place and it’s big. The campaign guide places the population at about 3.8 million. That’s roughly the size of Los Angeles. Not only is the city big so is the book. It clocks in at 890 pages or so. No easy feat reading this thing in PDF form. Castorhage is physically and morally corrupt. Countless alchemical experiments and a lot of sewage have polluted the the main river. The royal family is decadent and insane. To add to this already warped setting, there’s the Between. A nightmarish dimension that can sometimes be accessed through mirrors or other reflective surfaces. And to keep with horror theme sometimes the Between just pops up in those places.
Let’s do a little run down of the book itself. Like I said, it’s huge. It starts off with the usual overview. This can be most easily summed up with the Seven Prayers of Castorhage and the Seven Unspoken Prayers of Castorhage. Basically, the rules and philosophy of the city. One for the low born and one for the powerful. For Example: Only the wise know how to use the dangerous curse of magic, and only a fool would tamper with it./M agic is power, and power in the wrong hands is folly. Only those of high caste know how to use it wisely; the lowborn who dabble with it must be taught a lesson and cleansed as an example to others.
Next up are people. Some of the more important NPC’s as well as options for player characters plus quirks, and new equipment. Then we have a GM’s section with advice and suggestions on how to run the Blight. And there’s even more material about places and people. One of the interesting things about Castorhage is that there gods and Gods. Let me explain. The gods aren’t really gods. They walk around and inhabit the city. They don’t have real religions but they do have cults. They way the are presented in the book I’d call them urban legends to place blame or find cause for any mysterious or horrible thing that might happen. For the 5E version, they really missed the boat on this one. I feel that the gods would make great warlock patrons but alas nothing was written up so GM’s would be on their own.
Then there’s a whole section on the Between. Like I mentioned a nightmare dimension that personally reminds me a bit of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. But that just maybe me. I don’t want to say too much on this part since I feel it’s a good venue for GM’s to throw in some mystery and exploration in an otherwise urban based campaign. But it is detailed as basically it’s own world. Oh yeah and the Between can corrupt characters and so on. Nasty stuff.
Then come a huge bestiary. I’m seeing why this book is so long. All sorts of new and interesting monsters as well as some of the major NPC’s. Oddly enough, enterprising GM’s will find a few other player character options like the Undying. You’re only sort of undead.
Then there’s a very small section of inspirational random tables and then the books goes into another more detail breakdown of each of the districts of the city. There’s a ton of information and detail about these districts. It’s not as crazy as City-State of the Invincible Overlord but still there’s a lot. Almost too much for your average GM to digest and remember.
Finally, there’s an adventure path, The Levee. I don’t want to put any spoilers but looks pretty good and if you want a sneak peak of what it’s like then stop by and listen to Swords & Misery, an actual play podcast.
So what do I think? Overall, pretty god but it doesn’t mean there a few problems. First there’s a few editing errors that make the 5E conversion seem almost like an after thought. There’s a few places where the explanation of crunchy is worded more akin to the Pathfinder rules rather than 5E. Like I said before, there’s lots of information and I fell it wasn’t always presented in the most efficient fashion leading to page flipping and head scratching till find another bit of information to tie it all together. Also, some of the NPC’s have powers or abilities that are mentioned in the fluff text but not even mentioned in the stat blocks. For example, one powerful NPC “borrows” the skin of an underling when needed. Yeah. Nasty stuff. And I suppose I should mention that if you aren’t ready for a decadent, horror-filled setting then just walk away. Also, going through the setting if you are the type to doesn’t like the Cantina Scene type set up then you may just house rule the extra races and racial options out. However, I would say this, it all seems to fit without seeming forced or “let’s just make sure that any player can play whatever they want”. There may be prices and/or consequences based on the character’s race or class.
Do I still want to run it. Hell yeah. But I’ve got some thoughts on that.
5E: While the version I have of the Blight is for 5E. I just don’t feel the game as written doesn’t play well as for a horror/grim dark setting. There would have to be some house rules. Sure all the races are ready made but there’s nothing about Tieflings which fit well and would have their unique problems in the city IMHO.
Swords & Wizardry/White Box/Old School Essentials/OSR: This could be done with little or no conversion and only some minor tweaking. I know there’s a Swords & Wizardry version available but it’s so easy to convert into Swords & Wizardry. There’d me minimal house rules plus there’s is much good old school stuff out there it would be easy to find other tools that would fit. Now, I can’t mention the old school games without thinking about Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The vibe fits almost perfectly but there’d still be some tweaking. The real gem in LOTFP is the spell list which could be easily substituted for the original or vanilla lists.
Dungeon Crawl Classics: Lankhmar This already give a set up for running urban adventures with a more Sword and Sorcery flair. Conversion would be a little more difficult and then there’s the fact the magic can get really swingy. So that would be a consideration.
Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells: It’s no secret that I love this game. It’s rules light and very easy to convert into. It would work great. If you want to add non-human races then that might take a little work.
Zweihander: I admit that I haven’t played this yet but I do have the PDF. And it would work danged perfectly. It’s fits great with the tone and atmosphere of the setting. There are a couple of problems. First, it would be a pain in the butt to convert all the monsters and NPC’s. I’d also be faced with teaching the group a whole new game system.
I’ve rambled long enough on this. I haven’t brought it up the gaming group yet so we’ll see what they say. We’ll see what happens.
This week’s episode is up!
I go in a lot of different directions in this episode. A little rant about communities (again). The main rant which is all about adventures are guidelines too. So change that stuff game masters. Make it your own. Sadly, there was no gaming this week due to puppy illness. (She’s better now.) And of course another reading from the Little Brown Books. This week I finish up the monster section in Volume 2: Monsters and Treasure. And a call in from Tim “Gothridge Manor” Shorts. Support his Patreon. He’s a cool dude.
And here’s the Episode.
So things are changing on the blog and the podcast. First on the podcast. Head on over to Anchor and give it listen. Subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform. With the el cheapo plan I can’t embed it yet. But I’m working on it.
And in case you are wondering. I talk about changing up games and so on. Any way more tech stuff and game stuff to work on. Keep those dice rolling!
This week’s What’s Cool Wednesday is another of the OSR Anchorites Mark Wallring. He’s new to the scene (as far as I know) but he’s kicking out some good stuff. I like the “evolution” of various monsters through the editions. So check out his podcast, The Yawning Owlbear.
Florida, bless your heart.
And nothing caught my eye on Drivethru. Maybe I’m getting picky.
So Frog Games wants reviews of their stuff and I’m more than happy to oblige. I’ve already professed my loved of the Encounter Decks and I’m sure other folks have posted about the usual suspects like the Tome of Adventure Design (which I do have and love). But I wanted dig deep and way back to ancient module that resurfacing in my mind. That is none of than the Black Monastery. This is an old (2011 or so) module and one of the first Frog God products that I bought. So with that in mind, it does hold a special place and there’s other reasons that it’s bounced back on my radar but more about that later. And I will do my best avoid any spoilers.
So what’s The Black Monastery? Well, it’s an adventure for characters 7th to 10th level. There’s a little wiggle room on this and there’s even some advice on adjusting it to the level of the characters. It’s basically haunted/cursed monastery thanks to the heresy and bad things that original monks did. So it’s creepy and “deserted”. To add to the feel (while there’s a normal style wander monster table) there’s the Strange Noises and Ghostly Effects Haunting random tables. While these alone don’t have anything to threaten the party, it will set them on edge and start looking for things that may or may not be there. Additionally, there’s some special (optional) rules on how magic works within the Black Monastery.
There’s a wide variety of monsters and encounters within the Monastery. There’s standard monsters that you’d expect in any dungeon and since the place is cursed and haunted, the party will face all sorts of undead and demons. Throw on top of all that some puzzles and just plain interesting encounters. Remember I said no spoilers but one room is labeled as the Goblin Urinal. That may make it sound all tongue and cheek. And there’s plenty of places for a GM to interject their own brand of humor and horror. And monsters well there’s some new one’s (at that time) plus some takes and unique variations for more familiar monsters. I know this is vague but like I said. No spoilers.
Now there a couple of downsides. The main thing is that’s it’s an old module and therefore only available for Swords & Wizardry and Pathfinder (5E Edition please? Hint. Hint.) The other the place is big not quite megadungeon size but still big and there’s almost too wide a variety of monsters. But that’s something easy for any DM to work around.
There’s a reason that this one popped back on to may radar. See I told you that I’d say more about it later and here we go. Tegel Manor is coming out soon and The Black Monastery is some cool that could be thrown down the road from the Manor. Heck, I’ve had the random idea of throwing in Tegel Manor, The Midderlands, and Frog God’s The Blight into creepy campaign.
So there you go. An “old” module does deserve a second look and shouldn’t be forgotten.