Friday, June 1, 2018

Frostbuy: The Lost City Review — More Like a Lost Half a Block

After a hiatus of about 2 years, Sharp Mountain Games and John Fredericks is back with a new module for Labyrinth Lord, Frostbury: The Lost City. His past modules were centered around a town called Adela, this is based around a hobbit (or halfing) shire. I've always thought that halfling adventure were very under represented, if not quite non-existent, but they offer a lot of opportunity for Wodehouse style absurd humor with country people acting silly. (E.F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia series is another good example)

Alas, this module is not like that. Instead it reminds me a bit of Ramsey Campbell's Inhabitant of the Lake meets Star Frontiers, although not fully developed. Essentially the PCs are hired to find a lost halfling, one who is adventuresome and has not come back from visiting a nearby ruined city by a lake. Both lake and ruins are reported to be haunted and avoided by the halfling community.

Although it's advertised has having a "home base", the "North Shires", this actually just consists of 3 halfling characters, one of whom directs the PCs to the father and sister of the missing halfling and they aren't even given a description. After taking on the mission to find the wayward sibling, the PCs make their way to the ruins unmolested. This is a bit of a change from the author's past modules, where there were generally 2-3 encounters on the way to the adventure site.
The ruined city is surprisingly linear for a ruined city. Essentially it's just a rectangular slice of it and the PCs are presumed to start at one end of the slice and make the way towards the other end (by the lake). There are only ten encounter areas, 5 of which have some sort of combat. The first two are essentially nuisances, a new monster that likes to steal things and a lonely witch and her clay men. Next up are some zombies, but the last two involve the villains of the module — worm men. They look and have the powers of the Sathar from the Star Frontiers game. Which is kinda neat, actually. Worm people seem kinda obvious but seem to be lacking in D&D or any clones.

Besides the worm men, there's also a monster that likes to steal, the "graablik", which seems to be a 4 armed pac-man anda new magic item, which is not terrible useful, a crown of content(ment). When you put it on the wearer is content. It seems to be a joking reference to The Big Lebowski, but having only seen it once, it doesn't do much for me. The rest of the module is full of pre-generated characters, though just stats, no personality or anything.  No tokens, which I don't use, but are in most of his other modules.

Like his other modules, it uses his own hand drawn art, some of which is good, some of which is a bit silly looking (though that might be by design). He's also used randomly a couple of old pieces of pulp art that don't seem to fit the product and clash with his own art style.

Besides being kinda short, the module is also rather easy for the stated levels (4th-5th). The only monster that is a challenge is the aquatic purple worm being summoned. But even then those are fairly easy to kill because they are slower than most PCs (unless someone doesn't have magical armor) and thus the PCs can just pick them off from a distance.

I've found his previous modules to range from great (the Lunar Library) to sort of meh. This falls on the latter end in terms of execution, but it's something that provides a good deal of inspiration to flesh out. However, I tend to buy modules so I don't have to flesh stuff out.

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