Monday, January 16, 2017

A Review Of Vacant Ritual Assembly Issue #6 Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rpg System & OSR fanzine From Clint Krause & Red Moon Medicine Show

This afternoon I was so glad to get a copy of Vacant Ritual Assembly Issue #6 from Clint Krause & Red Moon Medicine Show via email. Vacant Ritual Assembly is part OSR fanzine & part useful love letter to the Lamentations of the Flame rpg system. The reason that I was overjoyed is that its been a long while since we've seen quality of this level. VRA is a Weird Tales OSR style zine that plugs right into the actual Gothic aesthetic of LoFP. Clint Krause & company are not simply authors & designers they're actual on the ground players who are using all of  VRA's material at the table. This makes a big difference when it comes to the quality of the material.

A good example of the type of material that I'm speaking of is  The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem. 
This is a solid OSR style adventure with some really great weirdly dark adventure material that can be dropped who cloth into an LoFP style game or straight into a Gothic B/X Dungeons & Dragons game. If you haven't picked it up I suggest you check it out.

Now let's dive right into the disturbing & more then slightly off kilter world of Vacant Ritual Assembly issue # Six  filled to the brim with even more of the OSR madness that the Red Moon crew is known for.  First up is an effort by Klint Krause  with Grigoro’s Wonders Untold (pgs 4-7) is a traveling medicine show NPC deviants,freaks, mutants, lovable demons, fairies, & a huge variety of NPC's, magic items, & adventure opportunities galore. Each of these NPC's is fully developed with weird histories, background, & really nice details to be dropped right into your game campaigns. These folks are well done with lots of dripping ichoric background.
From Dunnholt It Rises (pg 8-15) is both an adventure waiting to happen & a campaign mini event.  Kathryn Jenkins  writes a thundering VRA horror themed adventure that lives up to many other Lamentations
island adventures with her own dark and abiding twists. This is an adventure that will have PC's needing to stop a campaign level event & the horrors that follow in its wake. This one could be used as a Call of Cthulhu Fourteenth Century period adventure as well.
The Gallows on Heretic Hill  (pgs 17-19) puts a brand new faction with a horrid twist right into the background of a campaign with several score weird bits that will have players guessing & pulling them deeper into the world of Heretic Hill.
A Light in the Black (pgs 20-21)  connects up with another aspect and faction of the Gallows on Heretic Hill with several twists of their own. These folks are very well done & have the feel of something that crawled out from the darker aspects of Ravenloft without the holding back that one would expect from that era of TSR adventures. Dark and twisted material without the usual thud & blunder efforts of some 'horror'.
Death Planted the Esther Tree   (pgs 23-37) is a dark,haunted house crawl  adventure by Kreg Mosier that ties into the Driftwood Verses material's darker and deeper down into the setting's weird bits. Well done but use with caution.
The Grimsly Hill Cherubs (pgs 38-  39) is a thumbnail  NPC profile/preview  for the upcoming book Undertow. Imagine if Norm Bates & Lord of The Flies had kids; well this would be those NPC kids.
The Lathnos Sugar Cane Crop  (pgs 40-43) is by Anxy P. & presents a horrific adventure encounter that is one part Brazilian mythological cane sugar weirdness & two parts Heart of Darkness blended in a blender set on eleven.
Emmy Allen: Of Wolves and Winter rpg fame  (pgs 44-51) is an interview with Emmy Allen, author of Wolf
Packs and Winter Snow that is not only decent but dives deeply into one of the OSR lights and the creative process behind not only the games but the deeper aspects of the game world. Emmy Allen's blog Dying Stylishly is well worth checking out.   It has lots of content for Of Wolves & Winter as well as deeper insights into not only the game itself but her choices as a writer/designer.

So is Issue Number six of Vacant Ritual Assembly worth getting? Well in my humble opinion absolutely, for the Gothic or OSR horror themed player or DM its well worth the price of admission. The material of VRA is an original take on Lamentations of the Flame Princess & it takes the game in a slightly different direction then most of the day to day Lamentations stuff I've seen. There's a far more dark fantasy & Weird Tales feel to  VRA then many of the other Lamentations efforts I've seen over the years.
In fact many of the adventures, encounters, etc. from this issue could be used with not only other OSR games such as Dark Albion or other retroclone systems. I can also see using it for other games such as Call of Cthulhu or even Dungeon Crawl Classic's Gothic adventure supplements. That being said I don't know if VRA could be used for a game such as White Wolf's Vampire Dark Ages or another WoD period product. I think that the tone, subtleties, & uniqueness of Vacant Ritual Assembly would be lost in the wash of game setting details  of World of Darkness. 
The thing about Vacant Ritual Assembly is rather unique tone, style,and content that is uniquely its own and belongs to its authors. I give issue number six five out of five for original content and sheer incredible OSR originality.Vacant Ritual Assembly Issue #6  should be available sometime tomorrow when its released to the general public! So grab a copy! 


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