Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Friday 15 December 2023

Friday Fantasy: Faecal Lands

Faecal Lands is quite possibly the dirtiest book published for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay. The simplest description of the book is that it details a pocket dimension for use with that roleplaying game, or indeed any Old School Renaissance-style retroclone—and this is true. Which it does. However, the very nature of that pocket dimension and what it contains is certain to make every player, every character, and every Game Master recoil in a combination of horror and disgust. And seriously, if any of them react differently, you should be worried. So be prepared to be disgusted at the content of this book and even be disgusted at this review, because such a reaction to either is perfectly understandable. If though, you have no desire to read further, whether because of the warnings given so far or because even the title hints at too much, that is also understandable. Faecal Lands is definitely not a book for everyone and it is definitely difficult to quite work out who Faecal Lands is actually for. So last warning then…

Faecal Lands, published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess, is written by the publisher and creator of The Midderlands setting and the author of the highly regarded The Staffortonshire Trading Company Works of John Williams. It details a pocket dimension where all of the worlds’ excrement and urine are dumped. This is the Faecal Lands of the title, a brown-stained, stench-laden mini-world consisting of hills and valleys of compacted excreta cut through by lakes and rivers of urine. Here swarms of Bloated Shit Flies go in search of corpses to feed on and implant eggs that will hatch into Bloated Shit Fly Maggots; the black serpentine Egg Collectors burrow in search of the eggs laid by the Bloated Shit Flies, often herded by Excrement Golems; Pisscatore, demonic angler fish hunt in the lakes, even waddling ashore to pull corpses into the lakes; Faecal Goblins, the creation of Dreadmaster Balayoch in the Flatulent Pits, conduct tunnelling and other menial tasks; and Lord Faecius, twelve feet tall, sits on his throne of compacted ordure in his tower of compacted dung from where he rules his domain as the white juice of Bloated Shit Fly eggs dribbles down his belly… The Faecal Lands are home to various other demons too, typically the excretory analogues to the demons of Dungeons & Dragons, and even a Faecal Dragon.

In addition to all of these monsters and a size character for all of them, Faecal Lands describes several locations, as well as how to travel and survive in this rancid region, suggests ways to bring the Player Characters there, lists two hundred encounters and plot hooks, and explains how the Player Characters can escape their poopy prison and gives them several means to do so. So, the question is, how do you use Faecal Lands? As written, the Player Characters find themselves in this dimensional dung heap, either through reading the wrong tome, suffering a curse, being punished by a demon, or similar things, and have to find their out of the pocket dimension. Thankfully, the Faecal Lands are small and their options limited, but exploration will discover ways through which they can make their escape—and even a potential ally!

Physically, Faecal Lands is well presented and easy to use. Especially if you like shades of brown (and yellow). The artwork cannot be described—for the most part—as anything other than grotty, but the maps are unsurprisingly decent given the identity of the author.

So the other question is, how would you even use Faecal Lands? Well, definitely not as a one-shot, probably not somewhere to take the Player Characters intentionally, and unless your players have the strongest of stomachs, not somewhere to spring on them and their characters unexpectedly. Yet there are ways of using it. The contents describe a hellish pocket dimension where demon lords banish others as a punishment and if you can have Hell in your campaign, why not Hell for the hellish and the demonic? It could exist in a campaign and maybe never be visited, just hinted at in dark tomes and whispered about in furtive conversations between demonologists, demon hunters, and demon-worshipping cultists, as one of the nastiest places imaginable, a hell for other demons. The Player Characters might hear about it, know of its existence, and so, in way, at least be slightly mentally prepared when they end up in the Faecal Lands, whether through a miscast Teleport spell, reading from the wrong book, being cursed, or being punished by demon for reneging on a deal…

Faecal Lands is an unpleasant book and undeniably and intentionally so. It is not unusable though, and the book is well done, but whether a Game Master actually would use it is another matter. It would take a strong stomach as well as a good reason to do so. Ultimately, the appeal of Faecal Lands, let alone its utility is limited, probably extremely so. As to the author, who knew he had a book, let alone a setting like this, in him? Well, now he doesn’t.


DISCLAIMER: The author of this review is an editor who has both edited titles for Lamentations of the Flame Princess on a freelance basis and edited titles for the author of this book on a freelance basis. He was not involved in the production of this book and his connection to both publisher and author has no bearing on the resulting review.

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