Monday, September 7, 2015

Review & Commentary Tales Of The Scarecrow For The Lamentations Of The Flame Princess rpg System & Other Old School Campaigns

Grab It Right Over

One of the things that the latest OSR dust up has reminded me is that there are so many great Lamentations Of The Flame Princess titles and I'm not going to go on and on about how wonderful they are. Instead, I'm going to concentrate how absolutely nasty they are. Tales of the Scarecrow is only ten pages long but its the sort of situation adventure that happens unto itself and your adventurers. I've had the adventure for two days and after tossing and twisting in my mind after reading plus doing a bit of research and reading some of the reviews I can honestly say that its very good at what it does. Its a trap waiting for adventurers to happen upon it and spring it.

  Try and imagine a pseudo American EC Tales From The Crypt comic through the lens of  James Raggi's  Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg. That's how Tales of the Scarcecrow feels to me reading though it. This adventure could be inserted into any old school campaign being run between beginning of the 17th century right up through the the early-to-mid 19th century. Personally, this adventure feels like a love letter to the original Stephen King Children of the Corn  set after all of the kids have vanished and only the demon remains.  Sort of. The similarities end right about with the cornfield though and the monster.
There is something distinctly early America about Tales From The Scarecrow the names, history, etc all have an American flavor to them. The artwork, maps, and set up are very evocative and well done for the product. Basically all of the events within Tales are a one act play sort of an adventure, all of the events taking place within a valley that can easily be inserted anyplace into a campaign. There is a feeling of almost but not quite timeless dread that hangs around the adventure and it almost feels as if it might be inserted between adventures for PC's who are high off of their latest triumphs with gold and glory.  There is a farmhouse in the middle of a field of corn, and then things get interesting. PC's are going to have to deal with Donner party interesting sort of way.

In point of fact I've read through a friend's copy of Tales From The Scarecrow; I have been wanting to do something with the adventure location for a long time now. The abandoned farmhouse could be made timeless and multidimensional to serve as a bridge gap with other times and places why should only regular LoFP parties have all of the fun. This adventure takes the usual Lovecraft tropes uses them and then puts a slightly different spin on them by allowing PC's to make their own mark on the location including their own deaths if necessary. This makes the crossover factor something that can go up by a factor of ten.

For example some of the back history of the farm and the LoFP magic items are steeped readily enough in their own mythology to allow them to have the entire location slip into a timeless other dimensional 'someplace' enabling PC's from a Red and Pleasant Land, No Salvation From Witches, or Scenic Dunnsmouth  
This is especially true of Scenic Dunnsmouth which provides a great random generation tool kit for its location, town, inhabitants, etc. The cornfield, house,etc. of Tales of the Scarecrow could all be set within its own section of the world of Scenic Dunnsmouth given a bit of clever DM slight of hand work. In point of fact this is exactly the sort of a task that Zzarchov Kowolski designed for Scenic Dunnsmouth. This can take a short ten page adventure and roll it out into a memorable campaign of epic proportions.In point of fact the monster from Tales of The Scarecrow can easily be back linked into Scenic Dunnsmouth to create a thread of dread throughout. A technique I've stolen from HP Lovecraft and Stephen King.

But, but what about more monsters and horrors between adventure locations? Fear not my friends, you can easily generate a quick three or four horrors with No Salvation From Witches, or Lusus Naturae to generate your bizarre and weird victims of circumstance. Keep the killing level down and amp up the melted face factor though for encounters and victims. Basically this style of LoFP game campaign is a short, overland weird wilderness adventure with some dangerous and fantastic elements to it ripe for expansion into a full blown campaign. Do I think that Tales From The Scarecrow is worth getting? In a word and for the price? Yes, yes I do.

Using Tales Of The Scarecrow
For Your Old School Campaigns
Personally, I love to make adventures my own deal with them in terms of campaign use and actual play. Tales Of The Scarecrow is just such an adventure. By making the adventure location isolated and easily inserted into a campaign the author has made this a great cross over point for PC's from all kinds of OSR games. Take for instance Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea, the PC's are traveling through a war torn landscape and in the distance of the heat, sweat, and combat worn setting is a farmhouse surrounded by a cornfield.The trap is sprung on another unsuspecting group of fools.

This is a part of the beauty of this adventure its easily transported and backdoored into your old school campaigns. For another example is Rpg Pundit's Dark Albion, here during one of the many conflicts upon this war torn War of the Roses alternative Earths the PC's see the strange farmhouse in the distance and demonic horror of the farm house continues and so forth.

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