Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Reading 'Something Stinks in Stilton'

The year is still young, but I'm confident in saying that Something Stinks in Stilton will be the best dairy-based D&D adventure of 2016. It may also be one of the best adventures for any systems with any subject that I read this year.

Officially published as the eighth issue of The Undercroft, Something Stinks in Stilton is written and illustrated by Oli Palmer with editing and layout by Daniel Sell. Anxious P delivers a cover that perfectly captures the grotesque weirdness of the adventure. Designed for low level player characters and set in the early 18th century, Stilton fits very well into the LotFP family of products, and I would even go as far as to say that it is a quintessential adventure for the game, encapsulating everything that makes LotFP different than other versions of D&D.

Something Stinks in Stilton is an investigative adventure and it excels at guiding the player characters forward without removing any sense of agency. There are many little moving parts and characters for the players to interact with, each gently adding more depth to the mystery. There isn't so much detail that the referee will be overwhelmed or that the players will feel railroaded. I think that this investigative mode is what makes LotFP different than any other D&D clone, and this is something that the game has tried to get right from the beginning with adventures such as No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides, but I haven't seen it so well realized until this publication.

Daniel Sell's layout should be commended for adding a significant degree of functionality to the adventure. He has printed key words and phrases in red and bold text, making it pop from the page. Although this isn't a new practice in the world of RPGs, he did do a remarkable job of picking the perfect words to highlight. They draw the referee's eyes to the specific place on the page to get more key information on the fly, rather than needing to pause to scan the entire page.

The content of the adventure is weird and fucked up and really quite funny. I don't want to spoil anything here but I do think that any player who experiences this adventure will forever be leary of any food or livestock they encounter for then on.

For 2016 one of my resolutions is to not run any published adventures, but rather make them up on my own. Reading Something Stinks in Stilton makes me question this decision because it has all the things I was missing from published adventures: a functional layout, a cast of fun and strange NPCs, and a great plot hook. This will likely be the first game I run in 2017.

You can buy a print copy of Something Stinks in Stilton at Daniel Sell's store. You can also get the PDF at RPGNow.com. I got my copy as part of my subscription to The Undercroft, something I highly recommend getting.