Let's get back to looking at the Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LOTFP) catalog - the next book is called Bee-Ware! Note: there shall be spoilers. It's been a few weeks since I reviewed Magic Eater. I took a few weeks out to see a lot of Grateful Dead music at live venues (Dead & Company) with 30,000 of my good friends. It was great fun. But now it's time to take off the tie-dye shirts and birkenstocks, put away those good vibrations, and dress up like black-clad edgelords and dredge up some angsty LOTFP feelings. Let's see what Bee-Ware is all about.
Bee-Ware is about honey, and mead, and a bunch of people that just want to be left alone in their insular village of Ambersham to brew and sell their really good mead. They're hippy libertarians, live and let live - the type of people who'd have Be Kind bumper stickers (Bee Kind) on their VW vans. Maybe the Grateful Dead universe and the LOTFP universe aren't so far apart. I'm not feeling the edgelord from this one.
However, the bee-kind folk of Ambersham do have a dangerous secret… they are all shape-changing bee-people. Beecanthropes, if you will. They can transform from dour zero level bee keepers and farmers into 4HD player killers wielding terrifying save-or-die poison stingers. There's a lot of villagers, and they're all very deadly - except if they use their stingers, they die as well, just like real bees. Murder isn't their preferred option.
That's the essence of the adventure - Bee-Ware is a setting about a remote village full of deadly monsters that don't want to do any monstering. The players can make an alliance with the leader of the bee people, they can go into business together, they can try to burn it all to the ground, or they can explore a ruined house near the village and discover from whence the bee people's power emanates. There is a trapped, extra-dimensional swarm entity in the ruined house, which empowers the village leader and through her, the bee people. The players can assemble spell-fragments recovered from within the ruined house to make a spell that can banish the swarm entity and de-power everyone. The inside of the ruined house has a fun 1970's Dr. Strange vibe - a blend of Kirby dots, Ditko astral spaces, and weird geography.
|These two monster hunters are ready to wreck your plans!|
There are a few wrinkles to the adventure. There are two bona fide monster hunters camped out near the village, certain that there is skullduggery afoot in Ambersham. They can easily be played as psychopathic murder hobos (ie, holding a mirror up to the typical player party) and can be excellent triggers to disrupt whatever sensible course of action the players choose. There are also a few anti-social villagers who can act as spoilers too. Lest I forget, there is a local franchise of the Dog & Bastard tavern, and Geoff has managed to be imprisoned in Ambersham as well (if anyone out there is collecting all the Geoffs - and why wouldn't you be? - you'll need to plan a trip to Ambersham).
Bee-Ware is 50 pages. The art and writing is by Kelvin Green - which means there are plenty of jokes and puns. For instance, one of the monster hunters is Rimsky Korsakov… also the name of the composer of Flight of the Bumblebee. I'd like to say Kelvin's use of puns is improving, but as we all know puns aren't mature until they're full groan.
I do like this adventure quite a bit. It presents a curious locale and situation, with open-ended options, and is easy to put into a sandbox setting to ferment into something sweet. My overall sense of Kelvin's style is to present scenarios that strike a balance between horror, comedy, and fiasco, which is a great aspiration for our D&D style games, so I'm predisposed to liking adventures such as this. As usual for latter day LOTFP, it assumes a 1630 pseudo-historical setting (17th century England in this one) but there's very little in the adventure module that would need to change to transpose it to any bog-standard fantasy setting. Like "Magic Eater" from last review, this one is an unqualified keeper - I'm recommending it. You can grab the PDF over here at DriveThru: Bee-Ware!
Next up, we'll take a look at "Just a Stupid Dungeon" by the legend himself. I'm using a LOTFP checklist to go from the most recent publications backwards, so there is another book on the list with the high-falutin title "Beware the Mindfuck!" that wasn't available on DriveThruRPG. (Shocking they wouldn't carry that one). So we'll have to forego being "mindfucked" for now. Use your imagination about what you could be missing. We'll settle for plumbing the recesses of a "stupid dungeon" instead. Bee seeing you.