Sunday, December 4, 2016

A review for Broodmother Skyfortess, a LotFP adventure by Jeff Rients


Broodmother Skyfortess is a Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure module crowdfunded around 2012, together with a score of other modules (in a very bizarre way of crowdfunding stuff in Indiegogo). Given the time I had already forgotten about it and was pleasantly surprised when my PDF link arrived. Then I opened my file and became completely and utterly thunderstruck. Jeff Rients and Ian MacLean outdid themselves here. Totally! Jeff, through his blog, sells Broodmother Skyfortess as the “the most awesome adventure ever” in what I take to be an obvious sarcastic tone, but I’m afraid he’s fucking right. This is awesome! Broodmother Skyfortess is a gonzo take on the famous flying castle with giants trope. By gonzo I mean nonsensical although in a very consistent fashion (if this make sense at all). Broodmother Skyfortess not only delivers on its absurd premise but pumps it over 9000! And it does that supported in two fronts: really GM-friendly content and art/layout.

Tornados not included!
But first let me give you my adventures parameters. LotFP is famous for been infamous with its approach to adventures and GM advice. Many of my all-time favorite LotFP modules are master pieces of crazy ideas and fair (but completely pitiless) challenges – stuff like Death Frost Doom, Thulian Echoes, Qelong and The God That Crawls. All are amazing products, but also quite intimidating. Not the kind of thing you can readily drop in a campaign. In many aspects, the best LotFP material is similar to the best Call of Cthulhu scenarios – you have to study them and adapt them carefully. They require real work on the part of the Referee to be used to their full potential and will probably change your campaign forever. At the other end of mine adventure spectrum you have the DCC RPG modules. They’re masterpieces of gaming (dungeon crawling) material, with an amazing amount of original stuff in just a few pages. However, most of the DCC RPG modules can be played after a quick read (and they’re damn good for that). Until today I have never seen a middle ground… that is, until Broodmother Skyfortess.

Broodmother Skyfortess has the LotFP Weird Fantasy feeling (you’re facing fucking half-shark, half-elephant centauroid giants!). However, Broodmother Skyfortess also have the DCC RPG “GM-friendly” use. It’s hard to read this module and not start running it immediately. And to give Jeff Rients a bonus, the book is filled with spot on GM advices. In fact, Jeff doesn’t lose time and gives you only what you really need to run Broodmother Skyfortess, while also providing lots of ideas and advices on how to twist it, change it and make the best of its material (all in a direct, humorous and engaging tone). C’mon, we have a random table for weird visions with a “Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion” entry and a grimoire with references to Tlön and Borges. I’m in love with this stuff! A little warning: don’t let this mislead you, this is still a LotFP module – except lots of nudity/genitalia, gore and devilish monsters.

No Sanity stats in LotFP so they have to let the reader crazy.

The first part of Broodmother Skyfortess opens with the giant flying fortess, its bizarre and alien (Sharkanado-style) denizens. There are only seven giants described, but they’re more archetypes than full characters – all easy to adapt and you don’t have to worry with checking backgrounds in order to adapt them to your campaign. And that’s the genius of it! Jeff doesn’t lose time with maps, lots of rooms and stuff – he gives you only the important bits and key locations, presented with lots of flavor. He also gives you variant options to “reskin” this adventure – going from fallen angels and mutants to Kirby-like Space Gods! And that last part is one of things that really makes Broodmother Skyfortess unique – the module open each chapter with brilliant colored art in homage to classic comics (many times satirizing other games and literary sources). It’s outstanding!

Awesome!

Broodmother Skyfortess uses a special (and very light) rule approach that makes giants scary but more genuinely faithful to most sources. After all, this is a LotFP adventure and not a Pathfinder “Supers” game, where PCs can wrestle with storm giants like they were just high level orcs. Jeff also gives you traditional stats if that’s what you want (there are even D&D/Pathfinder stats).

The PDF has 173 pages and almost half of it is the Appendix. Here we get a selection of articles from Jeff’s blog (maybe as an apology for the adventure taking so long to come to light). This is solid material, with excellent advice on running OSR adventures, dealing with random encounters, carousing, creating campaigns etc. It almost a second book inserted in Broodmother Skyfortess.

The module closes with simple but very evocative maps of the flying fortess.

I can’t stress how fun and entertaining has been reading this thing. I’m really digging for a chance to use it in at my table and I believe that’s the best proof of a product’s quality. If you have a chance, grab this!