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Friday 12 April 2024

Friday Fantasy: A Gift for all of Norway

The land of Norway is one of mountain ranges and fjords, and according to legend, one of the mountain ranges is not at a mountain range at all! Instead, it is the body of a Jötunn, Hrungnir, who has been lying sleeping ever since he was killed and thrown out of Ásgard for being a very bad guest and threatening his hosts, whereupon his body turned to stone and formed the mountains! In the many centuries since, Norway has since changed, not least of which was the widespread adoption of Christianity and abandonment of the Old Ways. Not every Norwegian has abandoned the Old Ways though, and there is a cult whose members believe that they can be restored. The cult believes that when Hrungnir was killed by Thor, his mighty hammer, Mjonir, knocked a piece of the giant’s heart free that also fell to Earth. If the Heart of Hrungnir is restored to the mountains where the Jötunn is said to have fallen, the cult believes that a great gift will be bestowed upon the people of Norway. Only recently has the cult found the Heart of Hrungnir once again, in the possession of John Ostergaard, a London merchant, as part of his Cabinet of Curiosities. However, as the cult begins to make threats against him, John Ostergaard discovers that the object of the cult’s attention has been stolen!

This is the set-up for A Gift for all of Norway, a scenario for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The Player Characters are hired by John Ostergaard—perhaps at the recommendation of The Magnificent Joop van Ooms—to recover the Heart of Hrungnir. He is a hard, but fair bargainer, and will tell the Player Characters that he believes a recent acquaintance, Francois Arquette, stole it and is taking it to Norway. The Player Characters, of course, will follow in its stead.

A Gift for all of Norway really begins with the Player Characters standing before a cavern entrance on Hrungnir’s Peak. Once they enter, what they discover is a series of caverns, initially connected by a single, often convoluted tunnel. In places, the tunnel walls want to open and digest the Player Characters, oozes float around waiting for the opportunity to attach themselves to intruders, and there are signs too, of others already having passed through the caverns. The long tunnel connects to a bat-infested cave and another lined with sticky vines. The dungeon is actually quite long, but consists of a very few locations. In fact, bar confrontations the strange creatures to found within the caverns and the tunnel connecting, and perhaps cultists dedicated to restoring the Heart of Hrungnir to its rightful place, proceeding through the dungeon is very quick and the Player Characters could be in and out within an hour or two’s worth of actual game play with the Heart of Hrungnir in hand… Except…

Well, there is an ‘except’ here, and it is very much a big ‘except’ and a very small ‘except’. It also hinges on the fact that the legends are true, that Hrungnir’s body really did fall to the Earth and form a mountain, and that part of his heart is missing. What this means is that the tunnel and caverns the Player Characters are travelling through is his partly ossified alimentary canal. Now adventures in which Player Characters penetrate and explore the body of some gigantic beast or even a god, are a known design choice such that they have become almost a cliché in their own right. In general, the Player Characters find a way in via the mouth or nose or ears, but not through the anus. A Gift for all of Norway is, of course, written for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying, so using the rear entrance was a given.

Anyway, the Player Characters will find the Heart of Hrungnir very quickly. Then they have a choice. Go home, return the Heart of Hrungnir to its ‘rightful’ owner, and take the money, or give it to the cultists or perhaps explore further and see if there is any truth to the cultists’ belief that a great gift will be bestowed upon the people of Norway if the Heart of Hrungnir is also restored to its ‘rightful’ owner. What that gift is, is left up to the Game Master to decide, but the inference is that whatever it is, might have been good for Norway during the age of the gods, but in modern day, Christian, Norway? Not a chance… Thus, taking the money is the good choice, whilst being overly curious is the wrong one. Which all begs the question, is that it?


Physically, A Gift for all of Norway is well done. It is well written, the descriptions are good, the artwork fine, and the maps excellent.

A Gift for all of Norway combines a number of elements common to Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying. One is the consequences for the Player Characters if they are too curious. The other is a big, stompy threat that will probably unleash hell upon the surrounding countryside, and in most cases those scenarios have been a combination of entertaining, clever, and amusing. Unfortunately, A Gift for all of Norway is none of those. It is not that the scenario is bad per se, and it is certainly not a case of the scenario being presented badly, but rather that A Gift for all of Norway is not really sufficiently interesting or atmospheric to entice the Game Master to want to run it. At best A Gift for all of Norway is a sidequest that could have severe consequences for Norway and the Game Master’s campaign, but if it does not, the effect is underwhelming.


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

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