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

Friday 14 June 2024

Friday Fantasy:

One of the richest silver mines in the known world stands dormant, its workers having downed tools and gone on strike. The miners refuse to work because they say that the mine turned on them after they dug a shaft too deep, killing several of their number, and trapping others. The owner of the mine has ordered the guards to force the miners back to work, and may even hire outside muscle—that is, the Player Characters—to assist. This, though, is only one of the reasons why the Player Characters might want to visit one of the richest silver mines in the known world. Others might be that they simply want to take advantage of the standoff to mine some silver for themselves, a child needs rescuing from the mine, the local justice of the peace has posted a bounty on outlaws said to hiding in the mine, a rival to the mine owner wants the mine shut down, going into find the trapped miners, and so on. All of these can be combined, mixed, or matched to motivate the Player Characters into investigating the mine at the heart of Meanderings of the Mine Mind. This is an introductory scenario for Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Designed for low Level Player Characters, it is not as necessarily lethal as other titles from the publisher, but it is no less weird.

Meanderings of the Mine Mind is, like other releases for Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying, set in the roleplaying game’s default period of the seventeenth century, the early modern era. This makes it easy to adapt Meanderings of the Mine Mind to other retroclones, but there are historical elements in the scenario—the appearance of Neanderthals, Romans, and Nazis—which are unlikely to fit every Game Master’s campaign world. Once past the standoff between the guards and the striking miners, the mine itself is actually quite small, just eight caves and tunnels. Each is decently described with the details of any NPCs and particular points within each area, either an item or particular location. Where there is a particular location in a cave or tunnel, they are not marked on the map, despite the organisation of cave and tunnel suggesting that they should be. This is not helpful, especially given that the scenario is designed to be an introduction to Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying. Plus, it means that the maps feel empty and bland.

In exploring the mine, the Player Characters will discover the missing miners often in strange situations and also a series of strange tableaus, one from the deep past, one from the more recent past, and one from the point of view of the Player Characters, the future. These consist of a band of Neanderthal hunters trapped by a cave bear, a surprisingly mundane Roman orgy, and a band of World War 2 German soldiers led by a member of the SS. What connects them are location of mine itself and its caves, and its true nature as well as the source of rich seams of silver that run through it. The shafts that have been dug into the bedrock of the mine and rich seams of silver that have been mined from that rock turn out to be tunnels bored into the fossilised remains of a great ancient spawn from the stars and the silver the highly conductive nerves that thread through the creature’s brain in its last dying moments. Moments that last aeons… As the miners smashed their picks into the sliver nerve-seams, their blows reverberated up and down their length, triggering synapses, and causing the alien star mind to pulsate and in its death throes bring memories past and future into their weird realities.

As an adventure, Meanderings of the Mine Mind is quite small, consisting of just eight locations, so whilst it is a very rich mine, it is also a small one. There is mention of a second level to the mine, but this left up to the Game Master to develop. One issue with there being a second level is how it is possible for the upper level to flood as the text suggests. It may well be better that there is a chance of the Player Characters being swept by the waters towards the lower level or simply the whole adventure being shifted to the lower level. One big feature of the adventure is the ‘What Happens When A Silver Vein Is Tapped?’ table, which provides numerous random and weird effects such as a Player Character becoming irrevocably attracted to another alien god after an erotic vision or losing a spell or e memory. Another feature is more traditional to Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying, and that is, ‘meddle at your peril’. The Player Characters are likely to blunder into situations, attempt to resolve them, and discover that their meddling has only made them worse… There is the chance that this will happen more than once and potentially shorten the scenario. Similarly, blundering about is not necessarily going to resolve the whole situation in the mine, though it is likely to be more entertaining.

Apart from the issue with the maps, where Meanderings of the Mine Mind has a problem is in addressing one of the motivations for exploring the mine—mining for silver. There is no suggested value for the amount of silver that the Player Characters could dig out and no suggested value for how much they might raise from selling it. This is compounded by the inclusion of a ‘diamond encrusted pickaxe’ which enables a miner to dig out ore without triggering the weird effects that would otherwise happen if using normal mining tools. It serves an obvious purpose in terms of the Player Characters’ exploration of the mine, that is, countering the effects of mining the silver with ordinary tools, but otherwise it sticks out in truly anomalous fashion.

Physically, Meanderings of the Mine Mind is cleanly and tidily laid out on notably silver, grey paper. Even the illustrations have an eerie metallic quality to them. That said, the book does need another edit.

Meanderings of the Mine Mind is an interesting twist upon the ‘giant body as dungeon’ adventure in which the Player Characters penetrate and explore the body of some gigantic beast or even a god. The twist being the brain being explored rather than the body and the brain still twitching and convulsing with sufficient life to make its memories a reality. Which all fits the tone and style of a Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying, but whilst there is some inventiveness to the adventure, in places Meanderings of the Mine Mind is underdeveloped and not as fully realised as it could have been. Which means that the Game Master will definitely want to make some adjustments before running it.


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.

No comments:

Post a Comment