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.
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[5 of 5 Stars!]