First off, there isn't any reason for you to not throw a few bucks at this project since it's Pay What You Want.
Yes, if this is your first time hearing about this campaign, you can pay whatever you want to get a full color, hardcover, 64 page book (and its PDF). Okay, further clarification, the minimum is 1 Euro (about $1.32) and you do have to pay shipping (about 5 Euros). But if you're smart, you'll be picking up one or all of the other 4 books that are being released at the same time and that shipping won't matter much.
So, this book must be some piece of shit that the publisher just wants to get rid of? Or it's a marketing gimmick and will basically be a half-assed advertisement for the company, right? Obviously, something good can't be practically given away for a few bucks. If it's not being sold at a standard rate, there must be something going on here, eh?
Well, the thing is, James Raggi is kind of nuts. He put out a 96-page book for Free RPG Day. Google "review + Better Than Any Man" and you will see how much people love that adventure that he gave away for free. He did it again with Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children. I'm here to tell you that NSFW is worth the 20 Euro that I chose to pay for it. (Yes, I could have paid 1 Euro, but I paid 20...)
What is it?
Well, it's actually hard to describe. It's sort of like taking a historical fiction short story about witchcraft, mixing it with the most excellent horror movies you've seen, and creating a sort of mini-sandbox/adventure arc.
Have you run Death Love Doom? Were you sad when your players took one look at the first twisted victim and booked it out of there? Well, imagine Death Love Doom except the players can't run away.
So in this book, you've got a setting, including a map, a few villages, a woods, and the area that's central to the story (The Priory). The players will walk around, exploring these locales, running into horrorshow after horrorshow.
You have a variety of NPCs. All of them are terrible. Very few of them want to purposely hurt the PCs upon first meeting them. That means the PCs can take sides, help various NPCs (who are still terrible people, remember), and make decisions that affect everything that's happening around them.
There is treasure to be gained, much of it risky, all of it interesting, most of it cursed. One example is the Tract of Teratology, a sort of mini-summon spell combined with a mini-Esoteric Creature generator.
There is innovation here in how the events of the story unfold. Many things depend on the actions of the players, however, the players could cower in the woods and just let everything happen around them. Both cases result in something happening in the campaign world. And while I think some LotFP adventures can end with a complete unraveling of the world (requiring a reboot), in this case, it just permanently alters the political landscape in a way that will have far-reaching effects. It doesn't end the campaign, it just changes it (in possibly a more interesting direction, actually).
Some random thoughts:
There are Easter eggs here. Do you like it when Lloyd Kaufman makes a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy? Or how Vince Vega and Victor Vega seem to exist in the same universe? You might enjoy the hunt here, too.
There are many women central to the story. And they're hardass. Think Death Proof, You're Next, Descent. This module passes the Bechdel Test and subverts the Male Gaze in an interesting way.
All of the art and maps are amazing (and useful). You might be reading about something horrific and are struggling to comprehend how awful it might look, and then there it is, right on the next page, ready to haunt your dreams.
There's an isometric map (I love isometric maps), there's a player handout (I love player handouts), there's plenty of sweet tables to determine random effects, a variety of interesting ways that characters can die (or a variation of such), and there are multiple opportunities for players to come up with what happens to other player characters (which many groups will enjoy, especially mine).
|NSFW - get you some!|