Review: Scenic Dunnsmouth
by Ramanan Sivaranjan on March 22, 2014
Scenic Dunnsmouth by Zzarchov Kowolski was released a couple weeks ago. It seems to have been in the works for ages now. It’s a location based adventure taking place entirely in the mysterious town of Dunnsmouth. What sets it apart from modules of yore like Village of Hommlet, The Veiled Society or Against the Cult of the Reptile God is how its town is described: it’s generated randomly. Scenic Dunnsmouth is a book about how to make an adventure in scenic Dunnsmouth.
The module is broken up into several sections that outline the town and its inhabitants. You determine the contents of the town by rolling some dice, which will indicate the homes of families and perhaps other places of note. The NPCs that inhabit the town are determined by drawing from a deck of playing cards. As such, 52 families from 4 larger extended families have been described. This section of the book was very reminiscent of Village of Hommlet. Each home is described with a little detail, always mentioning where the jewelry is hidden, where weapons might be stored, and what the various family dynamics are within the home. Unlike Hommlet, the people of Dunnsmouth are a lot more twisted and terrible on the whole. The town may have some additional special locations or people present, depending on how the dice fall. There is a lot of variety in what might turn up. It’s all creepy and weird and in line with what you would expect from a module from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. When I tried generating a random town myself it took a little over 15 minutes.
During the generation of the town each home can become corrupt in some way I will skip discussing because that might be a spoiler. (Can you spoil a randomly generated adventure?) I will say that while none of the writing in the book is particularly gory or gratuitous, I found these extra descriptions hard to read because they were grossing me out in a way I didn’t think descriptions of ████-people would. Outlines of what the resident serial killer is getting up to also move the module firmly into LotFP territory.
The book itself is quite nice, similar to the recent softcover adventures from LotFP in its presentation: perfect bound, rough matte paper, etc. The interior art is two tone: the extra colour is used really well. Jez Gordon has done a wonderful job with the art and layout of this book. I had originally thought the layout of the NPC section was a bit spartan, with one family described per page, but it actually makes looking up who is part of the town a breeze. If you have the PDF you can also just print up the pages that pertain to your town. It’d be straight forward to generate your own mini-Dunnsmouth booklet. It’s nice to see some extra thought going into how these things are laid out: they aren’t just books, they are meant to be used to game with.
Scenic Dunnsmouth is a very strong release for LotFP. Along with Forgive Us, I think it really showcases how to run an RPG game in the ‘real’ world. If you have been waiting for someone to write a really creepy Village of Hommlet look no further. (Now we just need a randomly generated creepy moat house.)