Review: Better Than Any Man
by Ramanan Sivaranjan on July 23, 2013
Lamentations of the Flame Princess ran a Kickstarter campaign several months ago in order to get a new adventure printed and included as part of Free RPG Day. Their goal was to get a minimum order of the adventure printed so they could participate in Free RPG Day, with stretch goals letting them make bigger and bigger print runs. They ended up hitting their big goal of being a Platinum Sponsor of the event, alongside Frog God Games and Paizo. This Kickstarter was interesting because getting the actual printed adventure wasn’t one of the rewards. The logistics of printing and shipping the module to Kickstarter backers as well as the people running Free RPG Day was too costly. Instead rewards were PDFs or print copies of four new modules from LotFP.1
My first stop on Free RPG Day was The Silver Snail, a comic book shop here in Toronto. They were running some Pathfinder games for Free RPG Day that had already started when I arrived, and simply giving away random bags of RPG stuff to customers who asked about the event. I ended up getting a copy of Better Than Any Man this way.
Better Than Any Man is a mammoth module. It’s more or less a mini-sandbox campaign. It’s bigger than almost everything else LotFP have put out thus far. There are several adventure sites for the PCs to investigate, several towns to explore, and an invading army to deal with—or not. The over-arching ‘hook’ is that a group of women sorceresses calling themselves the Seven have taken over the town of Karlstadt. Of these women, the one who calls herself the Mother has more sinister goals than the rest. She is hoping to revive the Insect God, and is using the current chaos to mask her true intentions. The module describes the town of Karlstadt in detail, has a pretty fantastic (and inspiring!) countryside encounters table, and several adventuring sites related to the Insect God cult, which all lie beneath a place called Goblin Hill. The two main places to explore are an ancient shrine to the Insect God and the headquarters of the cult. There are three additional locales discussed in the book: an abandoned farmhouse now home to bandits; an ancient mound now home to a creepy magic-user; and a magical tower with an infinite number of levels. There is a ton of stuff to play with in this module.
Better Than Any Man was meant to showcase what LotFP is all about, and here it clearly a success. The book features everything you’d expect to find in an LotFP product: sex and violence, cannibalism, some dudes dong, magic items no one will want to use, monsters you probably shouldn’t fight, etc, etc. It also highlights the more recent changes to the line: the implied setting for the module is a bizarro version of Europe, circa 1631; demi-humans and humanoid monsters aren’t to be found, though their former existence is implied; there are some brief rules on guns. The book is a great example of what your typical LotFP module is all about.
If you missed Free RPG Day Better Than Any Man is now available as a PDF. The PDF version of the module is in many ways nicer than the print version: it’s less dense, with large chunks of the book being set in a bigger font and in a single column; there is a pretty extensive appendix at the back that collects a lot of useful information from the module; and it’s full of hyperlinks that let you jump between sections. There is really no good reason not to get this book.
This isn’t uncommon if you look at Kickstarter projects outside of the Games and Tech sections, where the thing you are funding might not be something that will be mass produced upon completion of the project. This project felt more in line with art or film projects where you are funding a common good. Later on in the project James Raggi decided to do a second print run in Finland that he would ship to backers if they were interested in buying the module. ↩
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