Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The Idea from Space
What is it?
The Idea from Space is a low level adventure written by Simon Carryer for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. It is set on a tiny island off the coast of South America (near Tierra del Fuego, Argentina) in the Early Modern Era (mid 17th century). As someone who likes to run LotFP adventures as close to "canon" as possible, I appreciate the real world setting. However, there is nothing in the adventure that forces this setting upon the Referee (e.g., the events aren't tied into the history of Argentina or depend on 17th century technology or knowledge). Therefore, this placement only helps and doesn't hurt. Additionally, there are a variety of hooks for the Referee to get their players to the island, which range from accidental to party choice.
This module is a riff on the classic dungeon motif where there are two warring factions and the players can choose one or the other as allies. A history for the Referee is provided, both on the development of the island, the two factions, and on the events leading up to the party's arrival. There are ways in which a party might aid either faction without fully joining, but most likely they will find themselves "all in" with one side or the other (and in at least one scenario, unwillingly). The factions are appropriately weird, and both provide unusually interesting opportunities for PCs. The ramifications of joining either side will likely carry on into future adventures, although nothing here is campaign-breaking.
The bulk of the book details the island, which is ripe for exploration. There is a Random Encounters table (which is unique in that it isn't just a list of monsters), a few areas of interest around the island, and then the two "towers." Each area is detailed and provides a variety of unusual tricks, traps and encounters (plus treasure) for an exploring party. Those familiar with LotFP adventures will more or less know what to "expect" out of this (in that, mostly everything is unexpected). Those new to LotFP will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of freshness and "whoa!" moments. Also, some or all of the party might die if they are not careful and/or lucky.
There is no story arc here, it is an above ground "dungeon" for a party of adventurers to explore. That said, there is so much of interest here, including compelling NPCs, that I challenge any group to leave this island without having told an epic story.
The art and layout here is satisfactory and efficient, although I would say not as stellar as some of LotFPs other releases (like A Red and Pleasant Land, No Salvation for Witches or Death Frost Doom, but those are pricier hard covers). I will say that it's refreshing to see a few pictures of nude men in an industry typically reliant on the male gaze (although LotFP has always been good at subverting this). The maps are all excellent.
The PDF is good; there aren't any bells and whistles, but if you only use PDFs it stands on its own. I do have two gripes:
-For some reason only the last map links back to the descriptions. None of the descriptions take you to the map, and the other maps don't have this feature. That it doesn't work everywhere makes the fact that it works on one of the maps superfluous - you might as well just print all the maps.
-The map of the two towers is spread across two pages and is done in an unusual way - it looks awesome in the print copy. In the PDF, however, being split across two pages makes it harder to work with. It would have been nice to have this spread be one of those special pages that are combined and placed at the end of the PDF.
If you are a fan of Lamentations of the Flame Princess already, then this module will not disappoint. If you are considering your first purchase, at this price point you could buy Tower of the Stargazer or Fuck for Satan. I would recommend Tower of the Stargazer first, then this module, then Fuck for Satan. (I believe that Fuck for Satan is more interesting for LotFP veterans than newbies.) That said, if you want a cool island adventure or already own and enjoy Tower of the Stargazer, then this fits the bill perfectly.
Actually running the adventure?
If you are not running the implied setting of the publisher, you will need to do some minor prepwork: like changing the name of the island location and NPCs, and you may need to mix in some demi-humans if they are prevalent in your game world.
The presentation is like most LotFP adventures in that each section is written to inform the Referee, not to be read to players. So if you are able to read a couple paragraphs quickly and distill this to players, you're all set. Otherwise, you may need to read through and take short notes: what do players experience when approaching the room, what do they first see when entering, and what do they find when investigating further?
Also, if you haven't already, you should totally watch Slither.
[More to be added after I've run it!]
Beneath the Ruins is another adventure that features the "two warring factions in a dungeon" motif but I wasn't able to easily identify others. Does anybody know of some? If you do, please list them in the comments. (I'm pretty sure Gygax made a famous one and I'm ignorantly missing it as a reference...)
Do you know of other modules, supplements, sourcebooks, or OSR-style games that could be used to easily populate South America with more adventure sites once the players finish up on the island?