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Friday 23 June 2023

Friday Fantasy: The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero

Konrad Spiegel is dead. Burned to a crisp, a gold coin in his mouth. It is the strangest thing to have occurred in the village for Schwarzfuß for many years. Jakob Falkenartig was a friend of Konrad Spiegel and fears he will be next, so he wants to hire some bodyguards. The otherwise feckless Bürgermeister Lorenz Künstler wants something done about the situation, as long as it does not involve him, and so hires an errant band of adventurers to do the job for him. Then, of course, there is the matter of the gold. Who has enough gold to leave in the mouths of dead, burned bodies? These are all reasons for the Player Characters to get involved in the events in and around Schwarzfuß. What they will find is a village fearful of what will happen next and who the next victim will be and who the perpetrator is of this terrible crime is. This is the set-up for The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero, a short scenario for Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay. Like other scenarios published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess it is set in the game’s default early Modern Period, this time following a war, the suggested year being 1630 and the war being the Thirty Years’ War. Written by Kevin Green, it is another of his ‘village in peril, but only the Player Characters can save the day’ scenarios, but on a much smaller scale.

The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero is essentially Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four adapted to the seventeenth century, a fantasy roleplaying game, Germany, but with added flames and less monkey and more The Terminator. Not literally, but the antagonist is an unstoppable killing machine. Actually, the author actually states that the scenario’s inspiration lies in John Carpenter’s The Fog and Kelly’s Heroes, which is all well and good, but since his opinions and tastes in films have proven to be suspect with previous scenarios for Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay, he may not be entirely, or indeed, at all, accurate. The author’s taste and opinion with regard to films aside, its set-up is simple, flexible, and easy to use, whether that is the retroclone of the Referee’s choice or another setting or even another roleplaying game. The most obvious of which would be Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

The village of Schwarzfuß is not described in any great detail and instead, the scenario focuses on the victims and where they live, the antagonist, and the few NPCs of any note in the village. Most of the NPCs receive a half page of description each, whilst the three remaining victims several pages each, being accompanied by details of where they live, including very nicely done floorplans of their homes. Each of the three remaining victims is very different in personality and the Referee will enjoy portraying each one of them as well as the other NPCs. The venerable, but crotchety old monster hunter stands out as the most fun to roleplay.

Much of the scenario is dedicated to suggested ways and means of dealing with the nigh on unstoppable monster threatening the three victims. It includes faking the deaths of the victims as well as actually cutting to the chase and the Player Characters killing them themselves, and everything in between. There are lots of options discussed here, essentially covering most of the solutions that the players will think of and there is even a suggestion for the Referee to substitute a non-supernatural option if she does not necessarily want her Player Characters facing an unstoppable flaming monster or she wants to run a Scooby Doo-style scenario.

Physically, The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero is very well presented and written. The artwork is decent, but the maps are excellent.

The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero is a short scenario. In fact, it could be run in a single session and even as a convention scenario, though it would be unlikely to last more than two sessions. Its set-up is simple and its plot, well, not exactly original, so what matters is how well the plot is done and how well the plot is supported, and to be fair, The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero does a good job of handling both. The result is that The Curious Conundrum of the Conflagrated Condottiero is a decently presented, well explored, if familiar scenario that is easy to prepare, easy to run, and easy to adapt.

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