Friday Fantasy: Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds

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Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds is one of four short scenarios for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay released by Lamentations of the Flame Princess at Gen Con 2018. Written by Zzarchov Kowolski, the author of the highly regarded Scenic Dunnsmouth, it is like several other scenarios from the publisher, set in the early modern period of the opening decades of the seventeenth century. It is designed for relatively low-Level characters, but ones with a few adventures under their belt. Their involvement in the scenario should come about because an authentic magical scroll has become into the party’s possession, because the party’s Magic-User—or the party in general—has an interest in otherworldly or extra-planar travel and hear about the success of a rival researcher, because the Church desperately needs someone righteous to strike at an unholy venture, because a strange portal has been sighted in some ancient ruins, or because one or more members of the party has fallen foul of the Inquisition and in return for absolving them of their transgressions, it has a mission it wants them to do. Unfortunately, that mission is regarded as being all but suicidal. For whatever hook gets them involved—they read the scroll, they follow in the footsteps of the rival researcher, they accept the Church’s mission, they go through the portal, or they accept the Inquisition’s assignment, the player characters will end up on the shores of Hell.

The background to Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds involves the planned proselytising of Luigi Marino, a Jesuit priest, but not of the New World on the other side of the Atlantic, but of other worlds! His researches into ancient and dusty tomes have led him to believe that there are other worlds full of heathens just waiting for him and others to bring them the Word of God and that by establishing a bridge in Hell, he can open portals to other worlds from there and so initiate a programme of off-world missionary missions. This is with the covert support of the Papacy despite the blasphemous nature of the project and the researches involved. So far, Father Marino has managed to import the means to construct a citadel in Hell and open the first portal, but nothing has been heard from him or the rest of his team for over two weeks. It is at this point—whatever their means of getting there—that the player characters arrive in the citadel.

Amounting to no more than fifteen locations, the citadel is really a cross between a military base and religious research centre. It has a library and a laboratory, a dormitory for the troops, a chapel (of sorts), and being a portal research base, areas for disembarkation and embarkation. Each is described in some detail, but for the most part these are abandoned and scarred or occupied by strange abominations which defy both faith and science. These abominations are signs of something that will only become readily apparent should the player characters be foolish enough to sleep in the citadel, not that Hell is necessarily toxic to them, but rather that they are toxic to it, and should they sleep, their nightmares may be made real and their flesh may merge with that of another, be it another player character or another creature. Another danger is if the characters use telepathy, although the scenario does not give reason for them to do so.

The outcome of Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds will depend very much upon the hook used to get the player characters involved. If sent by the Inquisition, they will accompanied by three Jesuits who will keep an on them; if sent by the Church, they will be accompanied by a larger team and a lot of gunpowder; and if they have arrived for their own motives, then they will be on their own. Problematically, the scenario does not really support these, or indeed, any outcomes—it is all set-up with no pay-off. Now the set-up and the hooks are good, and easily mixed and matched by the Referee so that the player characters might be accompanied or followed by opposing church factions for example.

Yet what next?

What happens if the portals are activated? Where do they lead? There is potential here for a campaign to go off in a very different direction, but that possibility is not even addressed. It is as if there is a whole chapter waiting to explore this, just not in the book. And the fact that the player characters are only visiting Hell surely invalidates the scenario’s title. As obvious as the title is, Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds, it is not necessarily appropriate because nobody actually goes ‘through’ forbidden other worlds, only ‘into’ them.

In addition to the complex, Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds details several monsters and magical artefacts. Some of the latter, like the Robot Arm and the Cosmonaut’s Gun give the scenario a Science Fiction feel despite it being set in the early 1600s. One omission is the lack of demon stats, the Referee being advised to create her own using either the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay or the recently re-released Random Esoteric Creature Generator. Surely this adds unnecessary work to the preparation that the Referee already has to do to run the scenario?

Physically, Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds is a slim volume. The full colour cover is excellent, but the internal artwork, by Scrap Princess, may not be to everyone’s liking. The writing is generally good, although an edit is warranted in places.

Essentially, Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds is Doom meets Stargate in the seventeenth century. As daft as that sounds, it actually works, and in places is fairly atmospheric and a little creepy, plus its set-up—or set-ups—are excellent. After all, what band of adventurers has not fallen foul of the Inquisition, especially if they are adventurers in a Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay game? Unfortunately though, the scenario is all set-up (set-ups) and never follows through on it (them), but if a Referee wants to develop her campaign in a whole new direction, Going Through Forbidden Other Worlds might be the starting point.

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