Sunday, January 28, 2024

LOTFP Review: The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero

This capsule review will have spoilers.

Here's some boring facts about the book up front to avoid diving right into the spoilers.  The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero (henceforth referred to as "4C" for the rest of this review) is 26 pages, with Kelvin Green doing the writing, art, and cartography, as he is known to do.  It's 26 pages and you can get the PDF here: 4C on DriveThruRPG - where apparently it's a gold seller.  Okay, have we given the spoiler-averse enough time to bail on this review?  Good, let's get into it.

4C is a revenge piece about an implacable undead hunting its murderers.  From the back cover:  Five men went to war.  Four men returned.  Now something is burning them to death.  We learn that the five men found a treasure cache during the war; after a disagreement over the treasure, the four murdered their compatriot and buried him in a shallow grave, then returned home with the loot.  There are several ideas on getting the players involved shortly after the time the first murder happens, and most of the adventure takes place in the environs of the small German village of Schwartzfuß where the players will get to put on their best Scooby Doo impersonations and unravel the mystery.  The village is briefly described, with a focus on a few key NPCs and some red herring side plots.  Like many books in the LOTFP canon this is meant to take place in the 1630's in and around the 30 Years' War.

As I was reading this, I kept thinking about 1980's horror movies like John Carpenter's The Fog with its theme of vengeful dead (in the case of The Fog, they are drowned lepers betrayed by the villagers).  In the afterword Kelvin relates The Fog was indeed a primary influence for 4C.  In the movie The Fog, the undead are terrorizing the town of Antonio Bay on the 100th anniversary of its founding and the event that drowned the mariners.  The original The Fog is a low-budget movie but I think it's held up well, highlighting the uncomfortable fact that many of our settlements or historical founders (hello, America) committed horrific things we've either suppressed or forgotten.  At the same time, watching an implacable foe exact revenge on "innocent" generations removed from the original crimes is also unsettling.

From that perspective the targets in 4C are less sympathetic (they're the actual murderers, not some distant descendants).  I don't believe it's mentioned, but there could be an opportunity to place the first murder or appearance of the revenant on the anniversary of the crime or murder pact, tying it to some kind of auspicious date where old crimes resurface to plague the living.

I suppose I've said enough about this one. There's no dungeon to be found here, so let's take a moment to acknowledge the wags who'll gripe about a Call of Cthulhu style horror investigation published for a class and level D&D style rules system. I'll conclude by saying I liked the premise and the set up of this one and will consider using it, perhaps in a future LOTFP campaign placed in the Holy Roman Empire.  By now I believe there's a critical mass of official and unofficial LOTFP adventures set in Germany.  Nor would it be hard to transplant it to ye olde England with the aid of a name generator, so we may not have to wait for a future campaign after all.

Thanks for reading.  As I work backwards through the LOTFP catalog our next visit will be to The Obsidian Anti-Pharos.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, this one works wherever there has been a recent war, which is pretty much everywhere in the 16th and 17th centuries.

    Thanks for the review, kind as always!