Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Whimsical Flair of Frog God Games (Adventure Spoilers Ahoy!)

Rappan Athuk, Slumbering Tsar, and Tome of Horrors on display at Gen Con

As I mentioned before in a previous post, there's a third party publisher by the name of Frog God Games known for bringing an old school flair to more modern editions and Pathfinder.  Their best known works are highly acclaimed, yet hover outside my normal price range when it comes to sourcebooks.  For my birthday I requested several of their best known works as wish list presents, and now I own some of the company's best work.

The sheer length of such books means that I'm far from completing even one of them, but I skimmed through them as I'm wont to do.  Even early on in my reading I spotted several amusing things which one wouldn't ordinarily find in most gaming sourcebooks.  Although far from a satire, I get a carefree feeling from the writers, that sprinkling little bits here and there into a game to lighten the mood can do wonders for differentiating their adventures from all the others lining the shelves.

I am far from complete in my search, but as I read my new tomes (Rappan Athuk, Razor Coast, Slumbering Tsar Saga, & Sword of Air) I'll be keeping a list of such tidbits, both here and on the Paizo thread.  In case you can't tell, I'm reading Sword of Air right now! :)

Rappan Athuk

Here Lies drnate29, 762-813: The dungeon entrance proper has a large graveyard preceding it, many of them rather new. There's a one-page listing of obituaries bearing the names of players, backers and play-testers, including more than a few titles which can only be Internet handles.

Banana of Holding: The Banana of Holding is one of several new magic items, which can be found as randomly-generated treasure in an underground jungle temple. It is much like its bag counterpart, except slippery when on the ground.

16 Trolls, 1 Jug: One of the encounter rooms is titled 16 Trolls and a Jug of Alchemy. The encounter is pretty much a horde of trolls with a buried Jug of Alchemy as one of the treasures. This very encounter is referenced in the introduction about the old days of whimsical dungeon design, when a dungeon's ecology didn't need to make sense.

2,000th time's the charm: the final and most dangerous level of Rappan Athuk, the sanctum of Orcus himself, has never been reached in 25 years of GMing and playtesting.

Razor Coast

Nothing yet!

Slumbering Tsar

There's a party in Orcus' pants and everyone's invited: The Hidden Citadel dungeon is a giant statue in the shape of the demon lord of death, with named portions separated by body parts. The Lap of Orcus had a financial and entertainment district, including many taverns and an S&M club among other things.

Sword of Air

"I can be the monkey, but you have to drive the train:" the first picture in the book is a monkey on a runaway train, accompanied by a little essay on player agency vs. railroading. I like where this is going.

Joe Platemail: Various FGG books made references to Joe Platemail, usually as an example of how heavy armor might be a liability in certain environments. Turns out that Joe was a real PC in the author's old group games. He was an extraordinarily lucky Fighter with abysmally low mental ability scores. He survived where many others failed by the luck of the dice, but finally met an ignoble end of the hands of his own armor, drowning to death as he found himself unable to swim in heavy metal.

On page 47 of Sword of Air, Joe Platemail III has Pathfinder stats. He's a 20th level Fighter with an 18 in Str/Dex/Con and 3 in Int/Wis/Cha. The text points out that the GM is encouraged to make his legendary luck an actual thing, in that deadly attacks and traps always seem to affect people near him instead of the man himself.

Hillbilly Dragons: On page 53 detailing the wilderness environs, there are two rival families of dragons, the Hatfields (green) and McCoys (blue), trying to claim territorial dominance.

Ewww! On page 60 under random encounters for the Barrier Hills, entry 74-76 on the dice is "something yucky from the Southern Wasteland."

Cuddly and Deadly: The Stoneheart Valley is notable in that the genuine monsters of the world are mostly in dungeons and strange places, and not typical wilderness areas. Due to that, the most common random encounters tend to be mundane animals and humanoids. There are game stats provided for "Fuzzy Forest Creatures" such as deer, rabbits, and squirrels, while the "Still Fuzzy Forest Creatures, but Predatory" includes lions, badgers, bears, and wolves.

That ain't Yogi Bear's Friend: a roving warband of Orcus on pages 62-64 are a vile assortment of folk said to be kicked out of Rappan Athuk for being too Chaotic and Evil. One of the villains among their number is Boo Boo the Ettin, an otherwise normal member of his species.

Tastes great at 0 hp: On page 67 there is an entry for giant catfish:

This encounter is with 1d4 giant catfish. As always the creatures are hungry, lazy, and delicious if deep fried in a skillet with some cornmeal and served with some hot sauce.

Halfling Master Race: On page 69 there's an encounter location with a giant egg-shaped obelisk with an ancient language detailing the creation of the common races. Humans from clay, elves from grass, etc, yet no mention of halflings. There's some graffiti written in Halfling claiming that said race was made from the best parts of all the others.