Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: Mischievous Monsters

If you don't know who Simon Forster is, you should.  He creates fantastic maps, adventures and he is an overall cool dude.  A few weeks ago, Lulu did one of their big coupon deals and I picked up a few books that included Mischievous Monsters.  I've been a big fan of Simon's from way back, but I couldn't remember him releasing this adventure.  I mentioned something to Simon about his lack of pimping this adventure and his reply was, "That Mischievous Monsters is old and nowhere near as good as it could be now, which is why I don't tend to promote it."

With that statement I should add to the list of Simon's qualities, he's full of shit.  I just finished reading Mischievous Monsters and this adventure is excellent.  I've read Simon's other adventures and I enjoy the way he constructs the scenarios and the simple mechanics he applies to add to the experience of the adventure.

Let's get some of the regular stuff out of the way.  It is a low-level adventure compatible with the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy RPG.  Which means, it adapts to any OSR system with a small bit of effort.  I bought the print version, paperback, digest-size, 28-pages long, and a left and right justified single-column.  Good sized font which makes for easy reading.  The cover is a default from Lulu with an inset picture.  There is no other art in the book.

Onward, to the adventure.  A simple premise, the party stays at The Dancing Donkey Inn with some other folks.  During the night, stuff gets stolen.  The layout is very nice, a roster of who is staying at the inn is given in a simple table form so referencing is easy.  Above, I mentioned simple mechanics that add to the experience of the adventure, here's what I am talking about.  During the night when the thieves are thieving, Simon provides a simple table of what happens, what turn it happens and the chance of the party waking while it's happening.  This simple mechanic at the beginning of the adventure can change the course of the adventure in many ways.  I dig this kind of thing.

Everyone in the morning is boo hooing that they lost their stuff and ask the party to get it back.  A great role-playing opportunity.  There are rewards to be had,  all simple, but useful.  This is a trait I enjoy about Simon's adventures, his adventures are understated.  Hyperbole is tossed in the bin. 

Another simple mechanic Simon has employed is a simple timeline.  Depending on how fast the adventurers react to the situation, things are moving in the background.  There is a countdown, this adds tension to the situation.  Because the players are unaware of these behind the scene activities, it will make certain 'happenings' unexplainable and mysterious. 

The meat of the adventure is when the party attempts to retrieve the stolen goods.  The things the party encounter and how the adventure unfolds are very cool.  I won't go into too much detail because you just need to get a copy yourself.  At the end, there is a great little magic item that has a history and makes sense.  It's not just a randomly rolled item cookie-cuttered in.

In the back of the adventure are three new monsters you'll run in the adventure.  Again, Simon makes this section very usable with a random table of treasure and items they might carry.

Lastly, the map.  I got to know Simon by his maps.  The map is fantastic!  He's got an overall map with three connected cutaway maps included and in one glance you can reference all four maps.  It works well with the adventure.

Overall, I think Mischievous Monsters is a great adventure and glad I added it to my collection.  This is one I can see running.

The paperback version of Mischievous Monsters can be gotten at Lulu for $10.78.  The PDF version is all yours for $2.36.  I would tell you to buy the PDF, but put it towards the print version.  It is a handy adventure to have in your arsenal when running a campaign or a one-shot for the evening.

Well done Simon.