Usually I tend to stay on the mainstream side of RPG reviews, but occasionally I walk on the wild side with a product from Lamentations of the Flame Princess or some other dark supplement with a distinctly mature feel. It’s been a while, but Venger Satanis reached out recently to have a look at Liberation of the Demon Slayer (LotDS).
What did I find? Well, this one is definitely meant more for adults (for art mostly and a few encounters) but there are some very cool ideas within the pages of this old school adventure. Designed to be system neutral but with a solid early edition D&D feel with some intriguing rules variations that might work in other systems as well. Many of the changes would easily work with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG with very little work, if any. Among my favorite mods are the addition of exploding dice for damage, some guidelines for a more free-form magic system, and a simpler method of level progression.
Once you get through about 12 pages of campaign notes, you dive into the adventure itself. The design hits me as deceptively simple and a bit Machiavellian. A group of zero- or 1st-level PCs are supposed to go into a cave system to retrieve a legendary weapon. But it’s never that easy, is it?
The world reminds me a bit of a cross between the setting of the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game, the realms of the many modules for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and parts of Conan the Barbarian’s world. Snake men. Sorcery. Demons. Devils. And there’s a consistency to it I all I really appreciate. Devils are lawful. Demons are chaotic. Sorcery is bad for time/space barriers. And when these forces mix, bad things are bound to happen. I feel sorry for the inhabitants of the world for they must live nasty, brutish, and short lives far too often!
The adventure itself feels like a bit of a cross between Carcosa (Lamentations of the Flame Princess) and the Temple of Elemental Evil. But even without the mature content, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. There are plenty of twists and turns as well as nasty things waiting in the dark (and a few waiting in the light) ready to take on the PCs. I heartily recommend you have a few characters ready to go should the first set not get too far.
The maps from Dyson Logos are beautiful (as all his maps are), but I have to admit to getting a bit confused while reading some of the text describing map locations. I think I took a left turn and ended up in Albuquerque when I left level 1 instead of arriving at level 2, but I eventually got the car turned around. Even so, there are plenty of creative encounters from top to bottom… from traditional critter encounters and traps to Mata Hari-style meetings, wandering monsters, and environmental issues. Tons of variety to keep things interesting on both sides of the GM screen.
Look-and-feel-wise, LotDS follows a traditional two-column layout with a mix of full, partial, and quarter page images throughout. Art quality varies but was quite good overall from the cover to the interior. My one complaint is the font size for body text. It would have been much easier to read on my tablet if it was a bit bigger, but I’ll blame that on my failing eyes and trifocals.
Though I’ve been playing RPGs for 30 years, I strongly suspect none of my characters would make it to the end of this adventure. It’s seriously deadly (in a DCC RPG funnel kind of way). But would I have fun along the way dying in many horrible ways? You bet!
If you’re looking for a challenging adventure with some adult themes, Liberation of the Demon Slayer should have plenty to keep you happy. I look forward to seeing what Venger has in store for the next adventure if this was just the introduction to his world!
For more about Liberation of the Demon Slayer and Venger’s work…
- … check out Venger’s blog for his latest work.
- … check out Liberation of the Demon Slayer and whatever comes next at DriveThruRPG.