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Don't Walk in Winter Wood
by Lars L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/10/2016 14:00:45

Nice, to the point. Minimalistic horror. Reminds me of Dread and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Walk in Winter Wood
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Don't Walk in Winter Wood
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2016 10:48:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This game clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of credits/thanks/reference, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? The simple answer would be that this is a cooperative, narrative, rules-light HORROR game set in a vaguely colonial setting in the United States. Society is one of rough and closely-knit, often isolated communities. Superstitions run wild and even well-meant belief may seem barbarous to us. Transportation is still mainly defined by equestrian means and print books are rare and expensive. AT night, it is still candles that are used to pierce the dark. Against said backdrop of, quite literally, dark times, there is the village. On its east side, there is the Winter Wood...and pretty much everyone agrees that its strange, unseasonal cold is not natural. The perpetual fog, its nature as unexplored and the people going missing - all of these mean that it is a place usually not visited.

Children grow up with folklore pertaining said dread wood - the first would be supplemented by Indian legends, underlined by e.g. The Algonquin Legends of New England, and war chiefs may still haunt this place. Similarly, the cowardice of erstwhile settlers may have brought the ire of a woman scorned, deprived of her husband upon the place - strange, legless apparitions and vanished women do not bode well...

The sad tale of Nelly Anderson supposedly has her taken by a strange crone of clouds and changing eye-colors; the purported Roe Witches, caught, according to statements, in some pagan rites and thus executed, replaced with effigies...deer with wolf-like, sharp teeth...and then there would be the soothsayer Caleb, who averted calamity from the village, only to give his life...consorting with a strange trophy...

Within the forest, there is a hole, which may lead to hell...and there was a strange tendency and occurrence of a grave robber paying dearly for his crime. A strange, horribly mutilated, perhaps undead bear, Scarfang...and, of course, wars and skirmishes among the colonial powers have also cast a dark shadow on this land. The chittering tress and a tale of cannibalism and, purportedly, eternal youth...and Mr. Buglesuede...the grey wolves and the dread meadow in the midst of the foreboding woods...oh, and those ghosts on the Indian hill... it is not wise to thread where so much darkness gathered...

The village does have a series of entries pertaining folk wisdom: Red thread around the throat of women does supposedly cloak them from evil. White grass supposedly kills you, inciting horrible hunger; doors are warded with iron nails or crucifixes and there is a secret sign to ward versus evil...of pagan origin, some belief. Similarly, the burial customs sport silver coins under the tongue and separate paths are taken home after burials. Of course, children's games are about dares here...but is it smart to recite the rhyme about the women of Roe?

So this would be the basic set-up - complex, evocative and suitable dark. How do you play it: Well, you have two types of players: The Walkers, each of which controls a single character. The second type would be the Watcher, who is basically the GM of the group. You need one six-sided die per player and some sort of object you can use as tokens. That's it. Regarding atmosphere, a dark place, slightly cold, is obviously ideal.

Character creation is dead simple: Make up a name, concept, motive - there you go. As a default, actions are described in the past tense and 3rd person, thus making it akin to the cooperative telling of a story. Whenever a character comes across something frightening or harmful, he hands the walker a cold token. Entering the wood nets you cold token #1. To determine whether you encounter something and for conflict resolution, the basic system is easy: You roll the d6 and compare it to the cold tokens you have: If you roll more than the cold tokens held, your result may become less pleasant - in short, this does mean that things escalate further, increasing the pace in the latter stages of a game. Upon gaining 6 or more cold tokens, you are taken out. And that's it. As simple as can be, right? Yep, but also deceptively efficient.

The game continues to provide a section on building proper scenarios for the game - these steps are simple and contain the notion to build a premise, then the woods, mood and climax of resolution. Sound advice regarding the generation of folkloric fear (subtlety is king, my friends, and so is the rule of omission) bespeaks an obvious knowledge regarding how to run evocative horror. (Fyi: A solid b/w-conceptual map of the area's provided.)

The pdf also features ready-to-play scenarios, which focus on saving a girl from a witch's curse, strange lights in the woods (love that one's antagonist(s), but won't spoil it here; there's also a gory take on a classic creature's haunting from American mythology; there are foolish kids, seeking to steal totems..The sample scenarios with their details mean that, basically, you can just take this pdf and play sans any preparation.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column standard in b/w and the book is intended for A5 (9'' by 6'') in size, so you'll rather have a booklet-style offering. The pdf's artwork is thematically-fitting photo-montage-ish artwork I enjoyed. The pdf has 3 rudimentary bookmarks, but I'd strongly suggest printing this out - navigating this in its electronic iteration can be distracting and none too comfortable.

Clint Krause, with additional material by Daniel Bayn, Jason L Blair, Rafael Chandler, Jeremy Keller, Daniel Moler and Jason Morningstar, has created a ridiculously simple, amazing little game that shows that horror needs no vast rules. This game is simple, works amazing as a means to show non-roleplayers how amazing RPGs can be, understands its genre and generates a truly evocative, disturbing atmosphere. The fact that you can play it literally with one die, if you want to, makes it a perfect companion for urban exploration or trips in the wilderness...or spontaneous games on days like Halloween, amidst the darkness... You can explain the rules in less than a minute and a watcher who has read this book (and has a good memory) can literally run the game without a book! Handing off, deliberately, slowly, a cold token can be nerve-wracking and the various ideas presented should carry a ton of games.

This is as simple as it gets and as efficient as it gets. This understands proper horror. An awesome, inexpensive little game - 5 stars + seal of approval. Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #5
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/11/2016 14:41:53

Right out of the gate Red Moon Medicine Show continues to impress me with their Lamentations of The Flame Princess fanzine, Vacant Ritual Assembly issue #5 which is going to be the last one for awhile now. At least until Klint Crouse and his crew decide to do another issue. So let's dive right into the pdf of this issue. This is a pretty jam packed issue with lots of factions and content the pdf is perfectly timed out to use and drop right into the deep end of your Lamentations games.

Issue #5 Includes:

New Artwork from Jeremy Duncan, Aaron Hamric, Olli Hihnala, Sean Poppe, and Xolis

Koster's Knob: A ready-to-use halfling village by Judd Karlman.

Weedwise Wizarding: An accounting of the Knob's more popular strains of pipe weed. New "Pipe Arts" skill.

The Ritualist: A new LotFP character class framework by Kathryn Jenkins.

Unholy Inversion of Hope: A grimdark, psuedo-Catholic religion from my campaign.

The Sineater Wolves: A heretical order of lycanthropic monks. Rules for lycanthropy.

On The Raggi: An interview with James Raggi IV, author of Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

This fanzine is like a shot in the arm of old school Pre code horror comics fun and games for a Lamentations of the Flame Princess blended with a fine coating of David Lynch and Mario Bava splatter punk sensibilities. This is followed by a ready to drop in Halfling village for your campaigns and its a quality adventure setting piece. I don't want to spoil it but its very nicely done. Weedwise wizarding is that herbal gardening and popular pass time of the Halflings including new skills, strains, and high weirdness for LoFP this is another thing that Dragon Magazine sort of hinted about. But here the adult pass times of the Halflings are revealed. The Ritualist is a welcome addition to the pseudo historical and Gothic brand of adventuring of LoFP but could work in other old school OD&D style games. There plenty of room here to twist and bend this class to your home games to make it work but I liked what I saw. The Unholy Inversion of Hope is a shot in the arm and a very grim and nasty piece of pseudo Catholic styling of a religion. The piece drips with lots of potential to be a giant factional pain for characters and PC's. There's also plenty of fodder here for further NPC's and adventure hooks. These are guys your going to love to hate.

I absolutely love the Sin Eater Wolves! Finally some decent rules for Lycanthropy and a heretical order of monks to boot! I'm a werewolf kinda guy and and this faction really hits the spot. There is enough adventure meet on the bones to really bring these guys home and with a bit of work they can be a perfect addition to a Red and Pleasantland campaign. Lots of adventure fodder and further bits of wonderfulness to add into any old school OD&D style game. This for me was one of the highlights of issue five. Another interview with James Raggi and a nice in depth piece on the creator of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I honestly have to say that Full Moon continues to produce some of the best pieces of gaming material for Lamentations outside of official releases from Raggi and company. Five out of five stars for a very well put together fanzine that you can use all kinds of horror related LofP or OSR games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #5
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The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2015 20:08:28

The anachronism... it burns. This location reads/is mapped like a mansion out of Jane Austen, not something for the LotFP timeframe, let alone something that'd work with any sort of typical OSR renaissance/medieval/ancient fantasy.

On a more minor note, the spatial relation of the eight levels and dozenish outdoor features is left to be inferred from the details of the keys, which end up unclear. It could have used a half page or so describing the overall arrangement of the spaces, which would be a reasonable replacement for the wasted "blank page to track monster hit points". The second-lowest level has a layout that reads like a d&d convention, rather than having any clear relation to the narrative reason for the existence of that level. There's also a completely unexplained mystery in the second-to-last location (#50); there's no motivation, no viable cause within the bounds of the module for why that event happened 10 years ago or presents itself to modern explorers in the way it does. This reeks of authorial laziness.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #1
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/07/2015 22:29:49

Vacant Ritual Assembly is an OSR (primarily Lamentations of the Flame Princess) focused ‘zine published by Red Moon Medicine Show. They are done in B&W and provide a mixture of house rules, inspiration, adventures, maps and interviews.

Issue 1 starts with some house rules and recommendations for inspirational reading/ viewing/ listening. Next is the ghoul market, where all sorts of interesting (and occasionally distressing) items are for sale, two of the inhabitants of the market (the Skinsmith, who rebuilds flesh, and Vespero the Antiquarian, a fixer) are described in greater detail. A handout for Vespero’s shop in the market is provided as well. A petty god, Luminari, Lady of the Golden Lamp, gets a brief but evocative description. The adventure locale of the drowned village of Brahnwick is presented with maps of the area and surviving building. An interview with Chris McDowall, author of Into the Odd is included. And it concludes with a map and blank key to Greycandle Manor.

Overall, a good collection on interesting resources and you can sample it inexpensively as it is Pay What You Want.

All of the issues of VRA have interesting and inspirational material, while light on rules they provide a wide range of old school wackiness and adventure which should be usable in any game (though requiring a bit more work to adapt to something like Pathfinder).

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #1
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #3
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/07/2015 22:26:37

Vacant Ritual Assembly is an OSR (primarily Lamentations of the Flame Princess) focused ‘zine published by Red Moon Medicine Show. They are done in B&W and provide a mixture of house rules, inspiration, adventures, maps and interviews.

Issue 3 starts with an introduction, table of contents and recommendations for inspirational reading. Most of the material in this issue centers around the wilderness of the Dragon’s Trench area (the history behind which is quite delightful) including several organizations (heroic and villainous), multiple places to explore, new monsters and a full dungeon in the Grand Vespiary. An interview with Rick Saada, programer of the roguelike Castle of the Winds 2 concludes the issue.

The Legend of the Dragon’s Trench provides a lot of potential play either as straight exploration adventure or a major part of a campaign setting. It is a very fun read and many strange ideas to be used or adapted.

All of the issues of VRA have interesting and inspirational material, while light on rules they provide a wide range of old school wackiness and adventure which should be usable in any game (though requiring a bit more work to adapt to something like Pathfinder).

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #3
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #2
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/07/2015 22:25:48

Vacant Ritual Assembly is an OSR (primarily Lamentations of the Flame Princess) focused ‘zine published by Red Moon Medicine Show. They are done in B&W and provide a mixture of house rules, inspiration, adventures, maps and interviews.

Issue 2 starts with n introduction, table of contents, recommendations for inspirational reading/ viewing/ listening. The resources begin with a table of names, then a simple astrology table for characters. Then we arrive at Dretcher’s Bay, where monster crabs are hunted among underwater ruins and strange creatures prowl, an excellent place for adventure and treachery (with two maps). An article on the Oarsmen and their unique ability to travel along with a random table of woes that drive them on follows. A short adventure, With Thine Eye Beheld, introduces a crazed cyclops-worshiping family cult, appropriately disturbing. Lastly, an interview with Greg Gorgonmilk about his Dolmenwood project wraps up this issue.

Another useful collection of bits and bobs with Dretcher’s Bay useful for either a quick adventure locale or as part of an extended campaign.

All of the issues of VRA have interesting and inspirational material, while light on rules they provide a wide range of old school wackiness and adventure which should be usable in any game (though requiring a bit more work to adapt to something like Pathfinder).

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #2
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The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2015 04:20:27
http://dieheart.net/stygian-garden/

Clint Krause from Red Moon Medicine Show has impressed me in the past with his weird OSR fanzine Vacant Ritual Assembly (reviews here: http://dieheart.net/?s=vacant+ritual+assembly). The issues are creepy and strange and full of inspirational material for a small price. It’s one of my favorite zines and definitely worth a look if you like spooky old-school stuff.

Now he has written an adventure: The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem is a module for Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP) and similar retro-clones. A haunted house and its surroundings serve as a location for a creepy venture for low-level characters. Apparently this was a Kickstarter which was funded successfully in early 2015.

Please note: I received a review copy of the softcover print and a PDF from the author. This is a reading review, I haven’t played the module. And it contains SPOILERS!

First, let me say that I am not familiar with LotFP. I neither have read the game nor any adventures that were written for it. Thus, I can’t compare it to other works which are geared towards the European 17th-century horror feel of the game.

Having said that, with The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem Mr. Krause manages to convey a tone of strangeness and baroque bizarreness which should be in tune with LotFP. This is where this product shines and which makes it different from standard EDO-fantasy. The color of this module is mostly evident in the descriptions of the monsters. Many of them sound like they sprung from a faerie nightmare: the gigantic Grandfather Toad, Archer Cherubs made from stone, a plant called Stranglecreeper, the Marble Knight, acid-spitting Gargoyles and more. Still, there is some humor to be found in the forgotten manor: shitting goats, buzzard dandies or cheeky statues.

The product starts off with an introduction of Abelia Prem, a noblewoman who was obsessed with finding the mystical Stygian Rose but who suffered from dementia in her last years. There is a rumor table to get the players started.

The adventure consists of three main locales: the Manor itself, the Grounds and the Stygian Garden.

The book is organized according to these locations. There are several maps with map keys and corresponding entries. The maps look modern and are easy to read. They are of a more digitized aesthetic and not so much of the old-school variant (i.e. the maps of msjx). There is also a very nice illustration by Todd Gamble of the Manor Grounds which gives you a good overview about the locale. To my delight, there is also a player version so you can show that to your table without spoiling anything. At the end of the book, there is a separate bestiary which repeats the monster stats and also a page for tracking monster HP. That’s very nifty. As a nice gimmick, the product closes with an In Memoriam where you can write down PCs that died. I also like the appendix with Abelia Prem’s plants. The map entries are well written and I like that the author used bold text for important bits (monsters, items, points of interest). It doesn’t save you from reading the module carefully, but it doesn’t look like you’ll accidently slip too much GM information in most cases.

Where The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem falls short for me is its logical progression which is probably due to the premise of being location-based. In most cases, PCs will start roaming the Manor as an entry point and then continue through the Grounds to the Garden. You can leave out locations but for closure you’ll presumably progress/crawl till the riverbank (A -> B -> C). Personally, I’m more a fan of modularity but a location-based module has physical restraints.

My next criticism ironically goes into the opposite direction: There are some “shortcuts” which will bring the PCs faster to their goal but which will make them miss out some of the most interesting sites of the adventure (at least if they don’t double back and explore everything).

On the other hand, what I really like about the ending of the module is that there are different possibilities about the river and the rose, it doesn’t need to be the river Styx and there doesn’t need to be a Stygian Rose. Mr. Krause included a simple table to roll on or you can decide.

Visually, the product is finely put together. It’s a neat softcover with 24 pages in half-letter size (pocket sized, feels most similar to A5). The cover looks neat although I’m not sure who the lady is supposed to be. Perhaps Abelia Prem in younger years? The interior artwork (black & white) is also impressive.

tl;dr

Altogether, The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem is a compelling module with a very good setting and tone. I’m not sure if I can judge this objectively because I already have a high opinion of Clint Krause from reading his previous works. I have some minor quibbles but nothing severe. Depending on how much the PCs want to explore and how many random encounters you want to throw in, this should give you and your players several hours to sessions of fun. For what it’s worth, I totally recommend this product even if you’re not into LotFP (like I am). While it’s a bit eerie, it doesn’t try to shock or disgust you but lures you in with its strangeness.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #4
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/30/2015 03:23:29
http://dieheart.net/vra-zine-four/

This 22-pages-magazine is written with Lamentations of the Flame Princess in mind and thus contains weird and gothic horror stuff. I’m a subscriber of the zine and so far I have been impressed by the quality of the work.

The zine begins with an editorial, a campaign update of Krause’s group and some media recommendations (i.e. the From the Vats adventure by Gavin Norman).

The Abstract describes a strange drug den hangout with some weird occupants.

ALBERTUS CROWE Crowe is the charismatic leader of the Severn Circle, a fraternal order of occultists and mages who lurk throughout the realm. Crowe is the author of an influential grimoire entitled The Last, Most Glorious Fuck, a controversial sex-magic autobiography […] For me, this was mostly a fun read and nothing I could use immediately at the table.

The next item is the gem of this issue: The Lotus Eater, a small adventure inspired by Rafael Chandler’s Narcosa setting book. This is a great plug-in module as the players will be transported into a parallel realm. There is a hook which draws the players in and then they can encounter strange things in The Domain of the Cruel Lotus Czar. There is the Smoke Wolf who resides in the a sporest (spore forest) and the Godhead Citadel, a small dungeon within a stone head. So strange! The dungeon is a bit static but all in all, the adventure is pretty neat. I like how the players can cleverly incorporate background information into the solution to this quest.

Next up is a guest post from Anxious P. called The Oolai Cloth-Skins and Dragon Blackhide Bastards which describes the strange mystical practices of the Oolai People who weave fabric onto their children which give them special powers. Interestingly, the author provided a method for the PCs to get access to the cloth-skins, too as there are shunned practitioners who sell their services to foreigners.

Another strong entry is Furious Gods, a small hex map with three barbarian tribes. They worship entities like a Ghost Ape or Impalor, the Armored Death, a giant dinosaur triceratops (!). The Gnashmaw tribe keep velociraptors as cattle (?). There are guidelines for playing as one of the barbarian tribes and stat blocks for the trips and their champions.

Finally, we have an interview with David McGrogan. He is the mastermind behind Yoon-Suin, an oriental old school setting book (which is genius!). The interview was interesting to read because he explained how Yoon-Suin came to be, about game prep, about how he writes and more. I really find McGrogan’s view on world-building fascinating perhaps because it aligns a bit with my own.

TL;DR

Another great issue of a weird old school fanzine. There is a lot of inspirational material as well as things you can use in your campaign. Again, this is for those of us who like grotesque and eccentric stuff. If you like straightforward fantasy without gonzo elements this might not be your cup of tea.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #4
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #4
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/27/2015 12:53:23

Red Moon Medicine Show continues to impress me, issue #4 of Vacant Ritual Assembly is one of those small press fanzines that I think is essential for the table. Vacant Ritual Assembly is for the Lamentations of The Flame Princess Retroclone rpg System. Fanzines are fast becoming one of my favorite ways of getting innovative and cool retro adventure and game material into the hands of fans quickly and with a real handcrafted feel. Clint Krause is a genius and a bit of a mad man with his crew of players, artists, and co. they bring a third wave OSR sense of adventure to their efforts. This book gives a feeling of wanting to incorporate the material right into a campaign right now! This is some of the best stuff to come down the pike for Lamentations besides the efforts of Mr. Raggi and his writers/designers. First up you've got 'The Abstract: The strange denizens of an occult drug den.' , this place could be in San Francisco via 1890 or 1900 if the place was spun through the Twilight Zone and then put through the lens of a David Lynch film. Yet, its perfectly suited to drop into any old school campaign. Wonderful stuff right here and very nicely done with some great details. The bonus is the next piece, an adventure encounter that can take players from your regular LoFP game and drop them straight into Narcosa! The Lotus Eater: A complete adventure that takes the PCs into the drugdream of Narcosa to explore the domain of a cruel lotus czar. Believe me this little encounter is worth the price of admission alone. This will take a group of adventurers and put them on Narcosa center stage with no muss or fuss. Seriously this will grab them by the throat and kidnap them to the setting. Not rail road, not a whip around adventure but a simple and direct adventure encounter with some imagination. Then we're launched into an article that is one part National Geographic on acid and one part oh my God what the hell are they doing? "The Oolai Cloth-Skins and Dragon Blackhide Bastards: A guest article by Anxious P, which covers the bizarre flesh-sewing practices of the Oolai people." is one of those weird pieces of greatness that you'll want to drop right into the back end of your campaign so you can have your adventurers going what in the hell did we get ourselves into. "Furious Gods: A Primal Rage-inspired article describing the dinosaur godbeasts of the barbarian territories" is the whole reason that I grabbed this issue. Giant dinosaur god beasts to throw into your Carcosa adventures or your lost world LoFP material. Clint and co are very impressive at what they do with a low cost and high octane way of moving adventurers into situations that are bizarre, strange and complete mind #$@ s at the same time. This is the OSR material that you'll wonder how you could do with out. Vacant Ritual Assembly continues to set high marks over and over again! Seriously grab this material for your old school campaigns because man it doesn't get any better! Five out of five! Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery Want to see more reviews and original material like this one. Subscribe over at http://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #1
by VE P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2015 00:22:10

Neat little zine for horror fantasy. Packed with great ideas. Definitely picking up more of these.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #1
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The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2015 09:14:11

I received a copy of The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem from the folks at Red Moon Medicine Show, if you've never heard of this adventure nor Full Moon Medicine Show then you don't know what your missing. Klint Crouse is a damn fine writer whose OSR drug of choice is the Lamentations Of The Flame Princess rpg system. Klint's module is engaging, challenging, and damn fine in what it does. The book is wonderful, its well put together, the artwork echoes the weird adventure locations that are presented in the book. Red Moon Medicine show ran a very successful Kickstarter for this adventure a few months ago and once again I'm late to the party on this one. We always hear about the negative Kickstarters well, let me tell you that this is exactly what the Kickstarter program is for. Producing weird and wonderful unique adventure modules for the OSR. There are three things that this module does well :

It presents an adventure location with its own rules and consistency as well as reasons for existence. This module echoes many of the current Lamentations design philosophies and yet wraps back around to the early LoFP modules as well. You can easily drop this place into a country or small town campaign or urban setting. This module drips with atmosphere as good as the nicer Ravenloft or old school modules. Jesus the maps are gorgeous. I'm both jealous and amazed at Red Moon Medicine show's creativity. Because the way that this module can be plugged into a campaign and played with is amazing.Take one twisted fairy tale and then let the folks at Red Moon Medicine Show get a hold of it and you end up with something like The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem. So yeah, blah, blah, it's excellent but is it actually playable? Well as a matter of fact its not only playable but it's a non rail roadie adventure location that can be dropped right into the back half of your old school campaigns. See the garden and all of its environs are just waiting for adventurers to stumble upon it. There are is a table of rumors in the back of the book that would allow adventurers to get themselves neck deep into the action of The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem. The module has all of the components that I've come to love about LoFP adventures. The utility of them, and The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem is no different in that regard. You see with a bit of work this adventure could be back ported into a wide variety of OSR systems. One nice thing about The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem its a self enclosed and encompassing within its own parameters. The locations are perfect for any level of party because this adventure is about investigation,adventuring, and the weird. The weird is present throughout the Garden and it doesn't care about your adventurers or their foolishness. Its got its own thing that its doing within the garden and its going to drag you into its clutches kicking and screaming.

We know that the Gardens easily work within the confines of a Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign but where else could this adventure work? You place The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem within a retroclone game like Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea but would it work there? Yes, the adventure location & grounds could be placed in behind a waterfall in on the other side of the river Yys. The adventurers stumble upon it and mayhem ensues. This adventure should stand on its own, as an adventure location it deserves this and its mechanisms should continue to work on a number of levels the contents should give you a clue what's in store for adventurers. Yeah, I don't want to go into too much detail on some of the adventure elements in the Gardens but its sufficient to say that the Red Moon Medicine crew hit the high points in this adventure. This one has plenty of potential in spades of actually back fitting it into any OD&D game that flirts with the weird but I can tell you that hack and slash players are going to ruin it for the rest of the party. This is a bit of a thinking man's adventure not boring but there are several twists and turns that are going to do the players for a wee bit of thinking. This also means that the weird elements could be adapted to other retro or near clone systems. Yes that's right kids many of the elements in The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem could be used in a Dungeon Crawl Classics game campaign with the focus on the type of weird tale that Red Moon Medicine show is famous for emulating. In the end do I think you should grab this module? Umm yes in spades because I'm very proud to have it on my shelf and on my table. The adventure's author summed up best some of ideas and design philosophies of The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem. Abelia Prem was one very twisted lady. Happy exploring adventurers. My best advice is to pick this one up now! five out of five for writing, production values, and overall twisted OSR value. Want to know more? We've got more information here http://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/2015/09/unboxing-commentary-on-stygian-garden.html Eric Fabiaschi Sword & Stitchery Blog



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #3
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2015 00:36:14

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! Eric F Sword and Stitchery blog



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #3
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #2
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2015 13:07:11
http://dieheart.net/vra-zine-two/

Vacant Ritual Assembly is a fairly new OSR fanzine by Red Moon Medicine Show. Aesthetically, it takes inspiration from Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP), so it tends towards the weird/gothic/horror tone. The first issue was a pleasant surprise for me as it was choke-full with interesting material.

When I read that issue, I felt the need to put on some Metal sounds. Somehow that fits, you can’t skim through a zine like this listening to radio tracks. It is full of strange stuff which makes it a great read for me.

There are some utility items like the tables. I especially like the birth sign random generator. Every sign gives a stat bonus and has some suggested personality traits. Therefore, it’s a neat way to flesh out a character.

Dretcher’s Bay is a top-notch broad-strokes setting/adventure kit. It’s a fishing village which is governed by three entities called “the Captains”. One of them is a mancrow! There are a new giant lobster-like species called Nephroids, archaic diving suits and a dolphin sorceress (in The Secrets of Acray).

The Oarsmen teleport you anywhere for a price. The article by guest author Anxious P is well-written and the idea of the Oarsmen is a nice one for sure. They are a bit creepy but can be used by the GM if he wants to help to get the party anywhere else (like teleportation).

The adventure With Thine Eye Beheld is a short dungeon crawl with a cyclops theme and with a little twist. The author describes it as: “The Hills Have Eyes + the Westboro Baptists + a cyclops cargo cult + a cool magic gem”.

Last, you have the interview about Dolmenwood.

The Dolmenwood project is comprised of several books that describe an out-of-the-way tract of wilderness where pagan and prehuman powers lurk. Look’n’Feel

It’s 22 pages of material + cover. The artwork is pretty cool. While not everything is on a professional level (it’s a zine I don’t expect that) it nevertheless is very flavorful. I just love the village illustration and the drawings of the Nephroids. The cover also conveys the tone of the zine very well. Layout, typography and maps are nicely done, good production value. Unlike other fanzines, VRA doesn’t use a cardstock cover which makes it feel a bit flimsy. I don’t think it’s an issue, especially for the considerably low price of 4 bucks worldwide, but it had to be said.

TL;DR

Like issue #1 I appreciate this zine for its weird and interesting shit. I’m not sure if I ever use anything of it, but I had much fun reading it. Especially Dretcher’s Bay, “the Captains” and Nephroids are great. Additionally, much of the content is very useful, especially if you like the surreal vibe of LotfP. Definitely worth a look!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #2
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #2
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2015 00:54:23

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. 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.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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