Review: Forgive Us
by Ramanan Sivaranjan on March 08, 2014
I really like Kelvin Green’s Forgive Us.1 The module is well written and looks like it’d be fun to play. The thing is, there are lots of adventures I could say that about. Almost everything LotFP puts out is well written, at the very least. In my mind what makes Forgive Us really stand out is its smart use of page layout and illustration to effectively present the adventure.
The early modules from TSR are pretty terrible when it comes to something you could use to actually run a game at a table. It’s insane how dense they are. I find them hard to read leisurely. I can’t imaging flipping through them in the middle of a gaming session.2 Lots of DMs I know re-write them to make them easier for play and to help them memorize the key parts of the adventures. Most adventures I buy today continue to ape design choices made in the 70s and 80s, by people who probably were constrained by the printing technology of the time and their own knowledge of graphic design.
Green on the other hand has clearly thought about what this adventure would look like printed in a book. There are no wasted two-page spreads. Maps for relevant sections of the adventure are presented alongside their keys. Each map is illustrated with a level of detail that lets Green avoid overly verbose room descriptions. The heavy lifting is done by the maps. That’s not to say the module is bereft of any words. There is still a fair amount of writing, but it’s more useful and interesting than tedious description. Each section of the lair is discussed at a high level, with a mix of pertinent backstory, information, and jokes.
So, all of that said, you’re probably wondering what the hell this adventure is about? Green summarizes things thusly:
Forgive Us is the main and largest adventure, and is the closest to a classic dungeon crawl. The dungeon in this case is the lair of a gang of thieves, abandoned after an unlucky encounter with mutant shape-changing monsters. Said mutant shape-changing monsters are still there when your players arrive. Although the format was inspired by the Marienburg articles in White Dwarf – back when it was good, etcetera – in terms of plot it’s more or less John Carpenter’s The Thing mixed in with John Carpenter’s Escape From New York; I hope one of your players is Kurt Russell.
Who doesn’t like the Thing? That’s a rhetorical question. The adventure is an exploratory puzzle. How you explore the lair is pretty open ended. Because much of it is locked up, part of the adventure will involve tracking down keys or breaking down doors. There aren’t too many monsters to encounter, and I think many could be avoided by smart players. The adventure feels very much at home under the LotFP umbrella.
Forgive us is the 2nd module I’ve received for participating in the LotFP crazy summer adventure kickstarter bonanza thing. Thus far I’ve been quite happy with the results. If you’re going to ship late, it helps that what you ship is really good.