Sunday, November 5, 2023

LOTFP Review: Galileo 2: Judgment Day

Let's establish something right from the start - this is mostly set up as a one-shot adventure designed to evoke a vibe that blends slasher horror and a little dark humor.  The player characters are ostensibly deep in debt to the Inquisition, destitute and working off their debt by carrying out surveillance against a man under house arrest - the famous scientist Galileo Galilee.  They watch his villa day and night, until one evening they see him fleeing into the night, disguised poorly as a nun.  They're faced with a crucial decision… do they recapture Galileo, or use his escape attempt as a chance to ditch their post and loot his wealthy villa?

Unbeknownst to the players, Galileo's villa has hosted a prison warden for the past several years, a merciless automaton created by the Church and equipped to use the voice of Galileo's oppressor, Pope Urban VIII.  When you are a fictionalized version of the Church, of course you can invest untold sums into manufacturing a weird science robot to torture enemies of the state.  The scenario kicks off when Galileo has zapped the mechanical terror with a kit-bashed device to give him time to escape.  If the players explore the villa looking for loot, they'll need to deal with the automaton as it reawakens; if they head off into the night in pursuit of Galileo, the automation emerges from the villa to track them through the woods and into the nearby city.

The meat of the scenario involves chase rules and the tactics and capabilities of a powerful opponent with a series of pro-wrestling style finishing moves and a sadistic streak.  Depending on whether the players loot the house or hit the road with Galileo, there are opportunities to introduce bystanders and similar 3rd parties to get in the way of the automaton and allow it to demonstrate its killing potential.  As a 9 HD terror, it's probably a death sentence if the players assume they can beat it without wearing it down, luring it into water, getting it to fall from a high place, or some other clever environmental tactic.  (Galileo used an electrical device in his basement to zap it, so players looting the villa may also chance upon that device).

That's about it for this one.  If you believe your referee style could create a suspenseful adventure portraying a ruthless automaton with the voice of Pope Urban VIII relentlessly pursuing the characters, while executing deadly wrestling finishing moves with panache and showmanship, this could be a fun one shot scenario.  Even in the realm of dedicated horror games, there aren't too many scenarios that capture the "relentless killer" vibe, putting this in a rarified spot.

So what do I think about it?  Well, I don't typically run convention games or one-shots, so I'm probably not the ideal target audience.  I do think a creative referee could integrate this into a campaign without too much trouble… its 1637, Galileo is a brilliant scientist under house arrest, and he may be in possession of books or knowledge a typical group of early modern LOTFP adventurers (or their patron) could require, necessitating a side trip to Florence and a mission to evade the spies of the Inquisition and secure a surreptitious audience with Galileo.  It could be like a heist or infiltration adventure that transposes into a slasher horror.  It's a short scenario and would probably get done in a 2-3 hour sitting.  There are a few thousand XP available for looting the villa, and a similar amount in payment for helping Galileo escape.

Galileo 2:  Judgment Day is available in hardcover (40 pages) at the LOTFP web store or PDF over a DriveThruRPG.  It's written by Bradley Anahua (a LOTFP rookie) with art by Charlie Gillespie.

The Automaton

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