Thursday, August 3, 2023

LOTFP Review: Curse of the Daughterbrides

I could stop the review right there.

Take an unhealthy dollop of Craster (the incest guy with all the daughter-wives from Game of Thrones), add in the involuntary suicide theme from M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, and a couple of birds flipped from the FU Guy, and you get the gist of Curse of the Daughterbrides.  If that's not your jam, you can pass on this one.

However, I subjected myself to reading it, so I'll soldier on and share an actual review.

I've read and played a fair number of Call of Cthulhu scenarios, as well as derivatives like Trail of Cthulhu and Delta Green, and there exists a slice of horror scenarios that force the players to make terrible moral choices to forestall a greater horror.  There are yet other scenarios that strip the players of agency at points - maybe they become unreliable narrators or monsters themselves.  Curse of the Daughterbrides establishes such a situation, in media res, that combines both motifs - terrible choices and a looming loss of agency.  It is a genre removed from the tropes of agency-based D&D and the expectations of fantasy gaming and sits firmly in the horror genre.

The situation is a fiasco… a bothersome wizard (Neythan Liddicoat) discovered the creepy incest guy (Daveth Nancarrow) and his entourage of off-putting "daughterbrides" in a village.  Nancarrow carries a curse and prophecy that drives him to breed with his offspring, and the curse has made his weird daughter-wives resistant to magic.  When the meddlesome wizard manufactures a spell to kill all the Nancarrows, it backfires on the villagers instead , who go on a horrific spree of killing themselves in gruesome detail.  Enter the players, visiting the pastoral and remote village of Dammell Green on festival day, and discovering the collateral damage that recently unfolded.  The player characters will get infected by the curse if they explore the village, and then become aware that coming into proximity with another sentient being will trigger the player character's own deaths by suicide.  Revelers and festival goers from the surrounding countryside continue to meander towards the village, creating existential threats for the players.  The only way to survive is to kill or drive off anyone that tries to approach, before they get too close.  It is a grim situation.

By default, there is no way to break the curse.  The scenario is meant to be a one-shot that kills all the characters (a TPK) after the players witness scene after scene of vivid self-inflicted death, until they eventually succumb to their own bleak fate.  The author (James Raggi IV, publisher of Lamentations of the Flame Princess) describes it like this - "Just a shit situation to get stuck in the middle of, and not much hope of getting out of.  Suffer."  In case some callous referee wanted to add this to an ongoing campaign (??), he does provide some optional ideas on how to break the suicide curse.

If you're in the market for a no-win scenario with a gruesome subject matter and themes of incest, well then this might be an adventure for you.  I'm sure there are fans of the horror genre that would find this one a rollicking good time.  There are bleak movies that embrace moral horror and hopelessness, and there's a precedent in other game systems of bringing that experience to the tabletop medium.  There's a certain liberation during Call of Cthulhu scenarios when the players know everyone is doomed, and they try to do the best job possible anyway, in the face of certain death.  Ultimately I'd characterize this scenario as a genre-bending art piece unlikely to have utility in most traditional agency-based campaigns, but might find an audience amongst such horror devotees.  Any Delta Green/LOTFP cross-over players out there?  That would be a strange Venn diagram.

This is not a hefty book - it's 24 pages, describes a small village where all the citizens have killed themselves, and provides background information on the Wizard Liddicoat and the Nancarrow Clan.  Despite the short length I found it a tough read - the death scenes of the villagers are numbing, and the incestuous daughter-wives are off-putting.  The author, James Raggi, writes an introduction where he shares how traumatic elements of his personal life found expression in the scenario.  I hope he's in a better place in his life now.  To the extent a written piece can convey the artist's emotional message and act as self-therapy, this book seems successful in that regard.

Would I ever run this one?  It seems unlikely.  I'm not planning any bleak horror games, nor have cleared the subject matter (trigger warnings) with any players.  If I were to run it, I'd make the suicide curse run out by sunrise the next day - I like the idea of the "dawn of a new day" wiping out lingering malign enchantments.  Could the players survive the long night?  Both Liddicoat and the Nancarrows would be targets for the surviving players to clean up the mess.

Hopefully this review gives you some advance warning on the type of game where this could work.  It's available for $4.99 here at DriveThruRPG: Curse of the Daughterbrides.


  1. Okay with self-therapy. But why would someone else care, let alone spend money on it? This just convince me to never touch a LOTFP product. I don't like gimmicks.

    1. LOTFP has 90+ books, including a few of the best adventures ever written for the OSR. Citing one author's intro to a fringe piece seems like an odd reason to boycott the product line, but LOTFP has managed to put out plenty of books that put people off - you are not alone. I will eventually get to all of them - the good, bad, and ugly.