Review: The God That Crawls
by Ramanan Sivaranjan on August 27, 2013
The God That Crawls was produced at the same time as The Monolith Beyond Space and Time, both products resulting from a crowd funding campaign run early last year. The God That Crawls is a much more traditional module. There a church. Underneath the church is a labyrinth full of treasure. Guarding that treasure is a monster: The God That Crawls. This being Lamentation of the Flame Princess, things are so neat and tidy. The God That Crawls is one of the smartest takes on the dungeon crawl I’ve read in quite some time. This review is full of spoilers.
The module opens with some backstory about the church and the creature that lays trapped below it. Like most recent LotFP modules the adventure takes place in a fictional version of Earth. This module takes place in 15th Century England. Of course, you can drop that dressing easily enough. The players will probably end up in the catacombs below the church, because that’s what players are about.1 Once in the dungeon they’ll need to find a new way out because the way in will be barred to them. There is only one monster stalking the halls of the dungeon in The God That Crawls, and that would be the titular God That Crawls. The players will need to avoid the creature while trying to escape with as much treasure as they can carry.
The God That Crawls will be a challenge for any party of low level characters that attempt to fight it directly. Though easy enough to hit the monster has plenty of hit points and can regenerate a few hit points per turn. The creature moves quite slowly, so fleeing the beast when it is encountered is going to be the party’s best bet. So, for the module to be interesting and terrifying DMs will need to handle a couple things I suspect most everyone hates to deal with: time and encumbrance.
There are two ways suggested for tracking the monster in the dungeon: the first is simply to track exactly where the players and the monster are located; the second is to make random encounter checks each turn that change based on the parties actions. In each case, you need to be mindful of where the players managed to move in a turn at the very least. (I think it’s probably easier to track things exactly rather than run the God as a random encounter, since for that to be interesting you need to know roughly where the players are located anyway.) The module will be more fun if you are also tracking when torches are spent and rations are eaten. If players aren’t careful they can end up trapped underground without light or food. I haven’t played a game of D&D where the rations on my adventure sheet have mattered at all, or where I feared I’d run out of torches before the adventure was done.
LotFP has pretty great rules for tracking encumbrance. I’m not sure if most DMs playing LotFP games are better about keeping track of how much junk their players are carting around. In this module it seems particularly important to pay attention to how encumbered a player is. If the players are loaded down with treasure fleeing the God might prove too difficult. This is the first module i’ve read where the encumbrance rules are called out specifically as a way to ratchet up the tension.[^2] Players will need to decide if they want to lug around that extra treasure, or stay nimble so they can flee from the God when he jumps them.
One more thing that’s been on my mind with this module is using it as a board game without a board to teach people about dungeon crawls. In this game the goal of the DM is to kill all the players, while the players need to flee the dungeon with as much treasure as they can. (You could ignore all the atypical encounters that are mentioned in the book.) I think you could run the whole adventure only using a handful of rules from the LotFP game: basic combat, fleeing, pursuit, encumbrance, and movement. I’m sure you could generate similar style crypts randomly if you wanted to run the adventure again and again.
If I have one complaint about this module it would be its cover, which is really boring. And that’s really about it. This is genuinely great module. I read through the book and I instantly wanted to grab some people and play it: sadly my wife and toddler don’t play D&D.
Well, most players. I have played the occasional game with people who don’t actually seem interested in doing any god damn adventuring. Why are you playing D&D? ↩
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