Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reviewing The OSR adventure - Deep Carbon Observatory From False Machine Publishing For Your Old School Campaign

There are some rpg adventures that get under your skin in a weird and slightly horrid way, there have been a few of those over the years. A few of the Kult rpg line of adventures, maybe one or two of the Lamentations of The Flame Princess adventures, and then there's Deep Carbon Observatory. Supposedly for the OD&D and Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg retroclone system. This adventure seems to have a pretty nicely done David Lynch style plot hook:
The adventure takes players from a town devastated by an unexpected flood, through a drowned land where nature is turned upside down and desperate families cling to the roofs of their ruined homes, hiding from the monstrous products of a disordered world, through the strange tomb of an ancient race, to a profundal zone, hidden for millennia and now exposed, and finally to the Observatory itself, an eerie abandoned treasure palace, where they will encounter a pale and unexpected terror which will seek to claim their lives.
Written by author/designer  Patrick Stuart,  &  with art by  Scrap Princess
Grab It Right Over HERE 

I received DCO as a gift from a friend because they were convinced that this adventure was good enough to buy it for me! Well, I took a look at the PDF and its amazing how right they were! Not because they got it for me but because it's weird, strange, and wants to be taken home and run by a DM! The epic scope and  weirdness of this ninety two page adventure disturbs me too the core. But I can't quite put my finger on what that really is!??
I'm trying right now to put into words what is it about this adventure that disturbs me? Is it the dark flooded setting with the furiously weird and explosively black and white artwork of the vile villains,  monsters,etc. that seems to want to crawl off the page by Scrap Princess? This is artwork that is unique to its artist and it only adds to the stand out quality of this adventure. The odd and somewhat terrifying circumstances that the PC's find themselves in during the events of the adventure? Or is it the the fact that things go from bad to worse to weird in this module and then David Lynch 'Eraser Head' levels of oddness and danger that just goes from bad to alien. This adventure is like if a bunch of 80's body horror movies and David Lynch decided to make love during a flood and the resulting progeny became an OSR adventure. This adventure unfolds like an onion with lay upon lay of unresolved and dangerous mystery set amid the rain soaked and rain slicked ruins of this thing. There is a sense of urgency and brooding mystery hanging over the events of Deep Carbon Observatory that make this an adventure that DM's will have to fit into their own campaigns. This isn't an adventure one simply picks up and runs, its a labor in bleakness wrapped in the horrors of the circumstances the PC's find themselves in.

The cover reminds me of an unfolding insect from its chrysalis and this adventure unfolds the same way with events of the PC's old world developing and being washed away in a sea of horror and high weirdness. The writing is tight, the plot well done,and the artwork is dark, brooding, explosive and matches up with the material found in the adventure. I don't want to spoil this adventure for you but with the right group of players this one could well be a ton of fun. Scrap Princess brings home the artwork with a weird manic and highly strange style that suits the material. Note that this is a thinking man's adventure, not in the sense that it requires a certain sense of high drama, it does but in the fact that it requires the DM to do a lot of the heavy lifting for running her. This is a module filled with heavy duty and dangerous adventure locations, dire adventure events, horrid circumstances, and more flavor then you can shake a stick at. There is a sense of despair and horror though that hangs over the entire module but the right group of players could have a blast with this adventure. The 10.00 price point might urk some people but given the material and how its laid out with the artwork, the writing, etc. I can see the point. This may be a DYI adventure module buts its one with a sense of humor, horror, irony, and intelligence about it that doesn't take its audience for granted. But is it good? That's hard to say in regular D&D or retroclone rpg system terms because this isn't a standard module but a module with some incredibly complex events and encounters going on in the background even as your party faces down the events of DCO is at once disturbing and weird, because as I'm reading the pdf the sky is dripping down with rain and history. You see in 1955 my home state of  Connecticut suffered one of its worst disasters so far the flood of  Nineteen Fifty Five! Many of the things that are described in Deep Carbon Observatory happened. My mom, grand parents, and relatives described the flood and some of the weirdness that happened during it. Unknown things floating by their homes, weird sounds, and odd occurances during the events of the flood. Like I said Deep Carbon Observatory gets under your skin and you find yourself reading it and its despair getting into your system.

Just in case your wondering about the Flood of '55 and what caused it? The flooding was caused by the rains from two hurricanes -- Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane. On August 11, Hurricane Connie swept through the East coast—missing Connecticut, but bringing about 4 to 6 inches of rainfall to the state on August 13. Hurricane Diane came through the following week. The path of Hurricane Diane came closer to Connecticut, after soaking up waters from the Atlantic Ocean.
To run this module I think that Lamentations of the Flame Princess is one retroclone rpg system ideally suited for DCO and ultimately a perfect vehicle for the weirdness, events, and circumstances of the adventure. But any OSR D&D based retroclone would work with some shoe horning and a bit of imagination. The module is perfectly flexible to accommodate a great many old school game styles. But I digress from the weird and awesome that is Deep Carbon Observatory, the events of the adventure will pit the PC's against not only their circumstances that they find themselves in but the horrors of the events of the adventure and the adventure itself. The Deep Carbon Observatory is in fact an adventure location within the module itself but where and how it appears is part of the surprise. There are so many things happening within this adventure and to the PC's that its weird how very well things,events, and circumstances flow. There's a ton of random chart action thrown in as well but that's a part of the charm of these OSR DYI adventures. Care and planning went into this one as well. From what I can see this is a well done and well thought out adventure that will appeal to great deal of DM's to inflict again and again certain parts of DCO and the ways that it can be used.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.