Full disclosure, Oli Palmer is a friend of mine who has, in the past, posted session reports of The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence on his blog. He asked me to review his new adventure, Something Stinks in Stilton, which is suitable for old school fantasy RPGs like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Dungeon Crawl Classics, D&D, and so forth.
Be that as it may, I'll be as unbiased as possible in my assessment of his 32 page scenario available here via DriveThruRPG.
The scenario is set in the 1700's. Here's the hook: there's something strange about the new and amazing cheese coming out of Stilton. There are several avenues for bringing PCs into the fold, which is helpful.
There's a healthy-sized backstory, but it's not just skip-able flavor text. Events leading up to the adventure's present is interesting, fantastical, and horrific. Yes, like the most representative of LotFP scenarios, this one is also weird, dark, tragic, but also mildly humorous. Fantasy-horror can be done in a variety of ways. This is not Ravenloft, nor is it medieval Hellraiser.
It feels more like a dreary (in mood, not execution) British detective story set just before the renaissance period. In fact, it reminds me of that weird BBC comedy series The League of Gentlemen starring Mark Gatiss. Just bizarre rural folks with stuff wrong with them, like there's something vaguely Lovecraftian tainting the local water supply. That's the kind of vibe I get from Something Stinks in Stilton. Interesting, though not generally my cup of fantasy tea.
The overall layout is bare bones utilitarian. Important bits and pieces of text are highlighted in red, which is a nice touch because those words and phrases draw the eye and help navigate the text when actually running it. I wish there was more artwork, though.
There's a random table of rumors, which is useful. As is the timeline on the night of the PC's arrival at Bell Inn, the initial location. There are a few other locations and people to be investigated before exploring the inn's basement.
One of my favorite things is a section towards the end titled, "Help, the PCs decided to..." This section is for the GM, helping them cope with players who decide to do something unanticipated in the general scenario text.
Unfortunately, there's not much in the way of magic (save for the singular aspect of this scenario) or monsters to fight. And don't expect any fancy treasure. So, any irritation that you or I might have with the low-fantasy / high-tragedy aesthetic is the same problem we face with such RPGs as Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Great risk for a paltry reward amidst odd goings-on and heartbreak.
As a GM, I can't imagine feeling pumped up about running Something Stinks in Stilton - or any LotFP "adventure" (though there are a few exceptions). I mean, I get it... but I don't get it. Sure, there's an obvious appeal to try something counter-intuitive and off-beat, but I just couldn't imagine myself putting a group of gamers through one of those deadly and depressing scenarios more than... say, once a year.
To sum up, if the LotFP style is your thing, then I can confidently state that you'll probably enjoy Something Stinks in Stilton.
Reviewed by Venger Satanis