Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: Death Love Doom

That link will give you the low-down.  Jez Gordon of Giblet Blizzard turned down the illustrations (Kelvin Green did them instead) because of the graphic content.

And then Zak Smith posted this spoilery thing, and yeah, it's a messed-up gorn module.


I bought it because James Raggi has been pretty consistent in the quality of his stuff, and he didn't disappoint.  The hint lies in the Author's Note, wherein Raggi concludes:
That’s how horror works in make-believe. Take real world pain and fear, and add fantasy bullshit. Use your life’s pain to make some gaming fun. Isolating past trauma and treating it as something to mention only with the greatest reverence gives it far more importance in life than it should have. What better way to show dominance over one’s painful past than to present it to others for purposes of amusement?
Well said.  This tale, you see, has a point.

Death Love Doom is a tragedy set in London, 1625.  It's a love story gone sour, as those things are sometimes wont to do.  With a minimum of adaptation, it could be set anywhere, although setting it in a London that will see the coronation of Charles I and a major plague outbreak within the year is genius and hardly an accident.  It's a fairly standard haunted house setup with body horror trappings.

As written, the setup assumes (and works best with) classic D&D murderhobos: wealthy merchant Erasmus Foxlowe hasn't been seen in several days and no activity has been noted at his manor, the Bloodworth Estate.  There hasn't been enough time or activity to move, so obviously, all his stuff is still in his house.  Anybody looking for quick cash might want to take the opportunity to loot the mansion, which is just remote enough to avoid prying eyes.  If the PCs don't get there first, robbers will likely loot before they do, so time is of the essence.

As for the adventure itself, it's fairly concise, being largely a description of the grounds and the conditions therein.  It presents several classic Raggi Weird Fantasy tropes, such as backhanded treasure (things that have drawbacks and benefits such that they are still worth something, but require a little more intelligence to utilize) and the overwhelming temptation to leave.

But that's always a problem for an adventurer, isn't it?  How far are you willing to go?

As with many Raggi modules, there is a lot of lethal stuff here, but that's not the point; there's really only one thing that provides a huge combat threat to most parties, and even it is hardly insurmountable.  It's the psychology of the adventure that's the point.  Unfortunately, that's also the challenging part of the adventure — I'm not sure for what sort of group I'd run it, because I know there's grotesque stuff that wouldn't be appropriate for all players.  Trigger warning and all that jazz.

As usual, Raggi created a module which strives to change the characters.  By and large, he succeeded.

Also, rather unsurprisingly, astute observers will note several connections between this adventure and Death Frost Doom.

Addendum: When Kelvin Green responded, I realized that I didn't talk about the layout!  It's pretty standard — two column, the usual (I'm guessing A5, but since I don't have a physical copy, I can't speak for that).  Pretty much the quality one would expect from Lamentations.  The art is minimal, but appropriate.  The cover is a simple title page with a large sigil of the Dead Sign front and center.  Inside are a few samples of Green's simple line art.  It's stark (the word naked comes to mind), and there isn't much of it, but that's a good thing — all the pictures depict the house's grotesqueries, and if there were too much of it, it would be a distraction.  It really captures the feel of the adventure. If you liked the art in the Grindhouse edition of Weird Fantasy Role-Playing, and if you liked the art in Carcosa, you'll like this one.


  1. That sounds amazing. I want to play, squickiness be damned!

  2. What is the intended level range ?

    1. Good question. The module doesn't say, but if Raggi's other modules are any indication, the default answer is "low." Probably in the 1-3 range, although you could certainly run it higher. High-level parties will breeze through the module, but still have to deal with the aftermath.

  3. Thank you for the review! It's not the kind of thing I've done before, and at first I thought he'd mistaken me for someone else, but people seem to think that it worked out.

    1. It totally did. I read a review saying that the book would've been too much if the illustrations had been more realistic, and I think it was a solid choice.

      It was horrifying without being too graphic.


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