No Salvation For Witches (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Cost: $9.99 (PDF)/Pay What You Want (Limited Edition Hardcover)
Page Count: 68
Release Date: 08/29/2014 (PDF)/TBD (Physical)
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
Back in August, Lamentations of the Flame Princess ran an IndieGoGo campaign for an adventure entitled, No Salvation for Witches. You might have seen an interview I did with James Edward Raggi IV and Rafael Chandler about it. The campaign ended on August 25th and ended up raising 8,328 Euros. With 665 backers (so close, I know!) that meant the average was 12,52€ per book. That’s a pretty great when you realize that the project was a “Pay What You Want Campaign,” meaning you could get the book for a single Euro if that is all you wanted to throw the company’s way. Well, the PDF is now out and I’ve been sent a review copy to add to my ever growing horde of digital LOTfP adventures. I have to say I enjoyed NSFW a lot – moreso than Thulian Echoes, but not quite as much as other 2014 LOTfP releases like Scenic Dunnsmouth or The Doom Cave of Crystal Headed Children, but it’s still a fantastic adventure sure to delight longtime fans of Lamentations of the Flame Princess
The adventure’s acronym is NSFW and it’s very fitting. Right off the bat the cover had a naked levitating lady (Okay, she has a sash, but all the naughty bits are visible, which is why this review isn’t show the naughtiest art. It was that or putting the piece behind an age gate. We have so many young Pokémon oriented children that read our site after all). The artwork is fantastic, but there’s a lot of gore and genitals in it, so obviously, this is not the gaming piece you give to seven year old Billy (Or Jack Chick) and say, “This is what tabletop gaming is all about little dude!” As well, the adventure is a very open ended one meaning a DM will have to fill in a lot of blanks, take detailed notes and pay close attention to where everything is in this adventure, but also adhere so some sort of internal clock as the adventure must be finished in twenty-four hours (game time, not real time). The preface does warn you that this is far from a low prep adventure so like small impressionable single digit aged children, No Salvation For Witches should not be someone’s first ever adventure to run as they will most likely be in over their head, disappoint their players and feel a bit down in the dumps for a slight period thereafter. NSFW takes a decent amount of work to make it work right, much less as the author intended, so you might want to pick up the adventure to read several times over before you even think about running it. Sure, the complicated nature of the adventure means only a small percentage of gamers will appreciate this, and even less will run it, but those that do manage to pull of NSFW, which find it a very memorable adventure, even if all their characters die horribly (which is like because hey, LotFP!).
So what is No Salvation for Witches about? Well, it’s about a well-meaning motley crew of women trying to enact social justice in 1620s England due to the Price Revolution where hyperinflation and population booms decimated the pocketbooks of the lower and middle class. What, you didn’t study about this in High School or College? Shame on you. Anyway, this coven of women take over a priory and enact a magical ritual meant to make the world a better place. In doing so she has made contact with…something alien and unfathomable that is enhancing the coven’s power and making changes to the local landscape (and lifeforms) happen. Of course, this creature being so alien that that descriptor does not do it justice is not a native English speaker and so something gets lost in the translation. Doubly so because humanity does not make all that much sense to this life form. So good intentions but LotFP equals all sorts of crazy crap that will no doubt pose a threat to the PCs in the adventure, primarily in regard to shortening their lifespans.
The adventure is very much an open-ended sandbox. The only restriction is that once players enter the sphere in which all this organized chaos is occurring, they will be unable to leave. So they can’t just flee to France after being nearly nibbled to death by a school of undead fish. As well you do have the time constraint to keep track, but players will be unaware of this fact and it won’t hinder their exploration of the area. Really most of the adventure once you have entered the sphere is simply exploration and figuring out what gruesome threat to life and limb awaits you in this neck of the woods. In some ways the adventure is a more people friendly Tomb of Horrors because death is everywhere, but it’s also quite social and willing to have a nice talk with you, make you a cup of tea or offer to go on a woodland walk before massacring you. At least when you die in NSFW you can say the unspeakable monstrosities than butchered you were more polite than most.
For most of the adventure you’ll be trying to find your way into the abbey without being replaced by a psychotic clone of yourself than erupts from your skin. This involves finding three McGuffin spheres that are in locations offering challenge and disembowelment. This is pretty pat and almost generic in concept but it’s the challenges, NPCs and antagonists that really make the adventure more than just another fetch quest based adventure. There are interesting goos, people with hideous things living inside them, witch hunters and more. Once all that is dealt with, you have to get inside the priory and see the horrors that await you there. Evil monster babies, nuns who vomit up sentient blood thingies with a taste for horseflesh, conjoined spouses, a troll abbot, horribly deformed people and of course the coven that caused all this to begin with. The adventure will then end in one of two ways: The ritual is stopped or the ritual is successful. In either case, every PC might be dead at the end of the adventure or some might live. This is LotFP after all, so character death is as guaranteed as something like Call of Cthulhu or Dungeon Crawl Classics, so don’t form emotional attachments to that sheet of paper full of stats and your handwriting. Each ending is pretty interesting its own right, and so even if the PCs fail to stop the coven or even all die horribly, they will (more than likely) enjoy the ending that occurs.
Besides the adventure, No Salvation For Witches also contains fourteen pages devoted to “The Tract of Teratology” which may or may not come into play within the adventure, based on character actions and/or who they encounter. More than likely it won’t unless the GM really pushes it on players and perhaps they should because for the GM the Tract is a collection of random tables for them to roll on. What is all the randomness for? Demon summon of course! There are eighteen different d100 charts which, when combined, will provide a ritual for summoning a demon and all the necessary stats. The creature could become an ally to the PCs or a mortal enemy. It’s all in the dice! Let’s take a look at one I rolled up specifically for this review.
The ritual involves lashing a person to a giant wheel and beating them with a cudgel or some other blunt object for one to two hours, or until all the limbs break. As well, you’ll need to burn Three longspoons of white crystalline arsenic and the victim’s esophagus. Doing so will get you a twenty foot high elephant whose tongue has serrated hooks at the end of it and who gives off a strong scent of eucalyptus. It is helpful towards PCs, has 5d8 Hit Points, an AC of 14, has two attacks of 1d3 each, a movement of 60′ and a morale of 12. It also gets a +1 to hit. That’s not a bad spell or ally, now is it? Sure it requires the horrible torture and eventual demise of a peasant but they’re an NPC. They might as well be wearing a sign that says “Orc.” Of course, there is a bit of a catch. The creature has a compulsion to force two people who love each other to fight to the death. Doubly unfortunate, the caster must be one of the two fighting while the creature watches and if they fail to do so, said ritual participants will vomit up blood for 1d4 damage. Of course the creature is only around for a day before vanishing silently, so it’s a small bit of pain to endure in exchange for a giant meat shield.
As you can see the Tract is a lot of fun for the DM, although maybe not as much for the players. It’s worth picking up No Salvation for Witches just to introduce this book to player sand watch them use it over and over until they are the cause of their own demise, Deck of Many Things style.
Overall, NSFW is a lot of fun to both run and play. Like a lot of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, this adventure is NOT for everyone and the levels of gore, nudity and the like could turn off some games rather than entertain them, so you’ve been warned. Fans of the product line will fine this a fine addition to their collection and may even kick themselves for not backing the Indiegogo project. You’re going to want to be a GM with a good deal of experience under your belt to run this but if you can pull this off, you and your gamer buddies will have a lot of fun trying to make it out of this one alive.