One of our 6-Pack Adventures, pick-up-and-play adventures designed to fill 2-4 hours of play and containing everything you need.
- Battle Map
- Pre-generated characters
- For longevity you can use the tokens and the map for anything else you care to do and the adventures should be fairly easily adaptable to fit into your existing campaign if you want.
Buy it HERE
Or in HARDCOPY here.
Barnet is a famous and talented hairdresser in London below. She's a plastic-fantastic lovely with an enormous and breathtaking beehive hairdo and the greatest in 60s fashion. She's considered unapproachable to most in London Below, one of the great beauties of the whole underside around the world and a woman who is more interested in hair than men, women or... 'misc'.
Lord Lepus of the down-on-its-luck Hare Court has his hopelessly romantic heart set upon Barnet even though she is completely out of his league. He has no wealth to speak of any longer, his nobility is diminished and his talent is really only for begging money, not for wooing. He'll need help in a Cyrano de Bergerac style and that's where the players come in. About all Lepus has left to trade is his small estate which may make a good basis for an ambitious group of characters looking to make a more permanent mark on the underside. He's willing to give it up, if they can get him into Barnet's good graces.
They may try any number of ways to get through to her for him, extolling his virtues, poetry, presents but really all Barnet cares about is hair and 60s fashion and getting something wonderful that fits in with those criteria is how they might get through to her. What would really, really, really win her over though would be reconciling her with her estranged and distant sister, Fair Barnet (or Barnet Fair). A woman as beautiful as Barnet herself but an avatar of the other half of the 1960s, the bare-foot, flowers in your hair, flowing golden natural locks and long, flowing dress type.
Barnet Fair left London below to go and live in Brighton, which has a small underside of its own. She lives in a beach hut, a permanent fixture of The Brighton Fringe and she is doted on and lusted after by Hove, a blue-skinned giant who spends his days hurling things back into the sea. Or just into the sea if he doesn't like them. His love for Barnet Fair is unrequited and painful to him and he won't want her to leave. Not that Barnet Fair wants to leave anyway. She and her sister had a terrible falling out in 1967 and she's grown to hate her sister despite her hippy sensibilities, as only sisters can.
It'll take a while and some heroic wooing attempts before Barnet will let slip about regretting falling out with Barnet Fair and only then can the characters try to bring Barnet Fair back and win over the lovely Barnet.
Of course, the problem then is that the fickle Lepus falls head over heels, immediately, for Barnet Fair.
Barnet is tall and beautiful, painfully sarcastic and extremely strong willed. Her tongue is extremely sharp and she is completely tactless, able to destroy someone’s self image with a single ill thought out remark. Her ﬁngers are slender and extremely nimble and she is a legend of
hairdressing and fashion, albeit with a tendency to the kitsch.
Lord Lepus is a hopeless romantic and desperately poor. Despite this he knows he is blue-blooded and retains a small estate, even if it is run down. He still carries himself with noble bearing even though the only way he can keep himself going is through his mastery of high class panhandling. Lepus has a knack for jumping, up to fifty feet at a time.
***Hove is an enormous, massive, incredibly strong man, a brute with uncommon power and almost impervious to pain. A master brawler he has long been the guardian of Brighton's underside and his accuracy and distance at throwing are legendary. Accurate to a fault when he does throw things, or people, he has the knack of the seven league throw.
Vipers in the Nest is a relatively straight interpretation of the Shadow World with lots of violence and taking the mick out of the way the games it is parodying tended to be played.
An Xpress adventure for 4+ players.
Buy it HERE
Prisons are under used as a setting in any fictional medium and that is a crying shame. One of the secrets to the construction of a good drama is trapping your Characters. There is no better way of trapping your Characters than locking them up!
Though somewhat under used the set up has created some really good stories. Not just the American stuff most Roleplayers would be familiar with but throughout the English speaking world shows like Blake’s 7, Porridge and Scum have used the claustrophobia of prison (or in Blake’s 7’s case a ship full of escaped prisoners) to great dramatic effect.
As a fan of the prison setting it gave me great pleasure to read Abandon All Hope by Dominic Covey and Miguel De Dios. It is an American game by American authors who, by the list of inspirations, may not even be aware of the British prison or trapped settings. It does however feel like a cross between Porridge (yes there are some funny bits), Blake’s 7 and Red Dwarf with a side order of classic American supernatural horror in the Lovecraft vein.
Anyone who’s read any of my Shadow World stuff knows I have real trouble taking supernatural horror seriously however as it was prison set I was willing to give Abandon All Hope the benefit of the doubt.
So how does it fair? Is it a veritable Grouty, a conniving Fletcher or just the prison bitch?
Let’s find out!
The story of the Prison Ship Gehenna is neatly albeit briefly explained in the opening few pages. It’s a typical rise of dystopia story that we’ve all read lots of times before yet it is, I believe innovative in who it is that takes charge after the interplanetary nuclear war that destroyed the old ways is concluded.
The Panterran Meritocracy is not particularly political or even religious. Its sole concern is its own strict moral code. No reasoning behind this moral code beyond the maintenance of order and everyone just getting along.
Not so much Mary Whitehouse or Jack Chick in charge as their pushy offence culture left wing secular equivalents. Not sure which is worse to be honest? In either set up I’d be screwed!
Anyway I kind of like this stylistic choice. Takes it away from the usual frothing loonies and instead points out the supposedly “reasonable” side of offence culture is just as bad.
What I would have liked more is a little more clarification on specific points. Is homosexuality a vice offence for example? Within the Panterran Meritocracy set up it could go either way. I understand the desire to “play it safe” a bit but making a firm decision on the controversial stuff makes for a more coherent setting view.
The solution of the Meritocracy to its “moral collapse” is to export its entire prison population on colony ships bound for deep space, the first of which is the Gehenna. This resonates with me and my recent research into Transportation as a punishment in the 18th Century. I can totally see it working in a Science Fiction setting especially when you can automate the guards as with the Gehenna’s Custodians.
There is plenty with this set up to run a decent game on its own but... oh no Covey and De Dios insist on taking us to Hell... LITERALLY!
Okay fair play... like all good horror writers they never specify if it really is the Biblical Hell rather they describe it as an alternate dimension populated by beings that feed on Guilt, Despair and Insanity.
This is supposed to be the Prisoners’ story however and to the Prisoners they are in Hell and Demons are after their souls!
As I said the supernatural bit can be done away with if you prefer but personally I like the idea of beings like these demons haunting a prison. It’s a veritable banquet for them!
Overall though it doesn’t go into great detail the setting is thought provoking, evocative and above all captivating. A real achievement for the pair of them!
This is where Abandon All Hope falls down in my opinion.
I have two main areas of criticism. The first isn’t particularly valid for a general audience as it is simply a personal bugbear of mine: The fact that multiple die types are needed.
Maybe it’s because I started with Paranoia and nWoD rather than the more traditional entry game of D&D but I really can’t stand the use of multiple die types. I find it needlessly fiddly and rather irritating in that there are more specialist polyhedrals to lose to my natural clumsiness.
As I said that is a personal preference, maybe you like that in your games, I don’t. What I’m sure you all like in your games though is clearly presented and laid out rules.
I’m not going to mince my words here the way the rules are presented is confusing and lacks the logical process I’ve encountered in most other books. Roleplaying Games can, at times, seem very formulaic but they are so for a reason. The formula works for getting across the rules in a concise manner.
Whilst most games devote a few pages or even a whole chapter to explaining the core mechanic Abandon All Hope relegates it to a sidebar in Character Creation.
There are also inconsistencies from the later chapters to the earlier chapters as to whether a higher dice type is a good or a bad thing and although Character Creation is well explained and the Armoury well stocked (with justification as to how dangerous prisoners got hold of such deadly weapons) it’s just the core mechanic presentation that lets the whole thing down.
It is a crying shame because from what I can make out of the system it is quite sound and I am particularly fond of Guilt, Despair and Insanity as game mechanics that influence the manifestation of Demons and Psychic Powers.
It remains disappointing that it wasn’t better explained though.
This is where Abandon All Hope redeems its lack of mechanical development. Gehenna feels like a proper prison. So often in artistic work prison is sanitised to be more palatable. Not here! They’re not so tasteless as to put in an off colour joke about showers but you really get the atmosphere of dangerous criminals and non conformists thrown together and struggling to survive.
The supernatural element doesn’t jar with this at all, connected as it is with the key psychological effects of prison life. As I explained I didn’t quite get the rules but from what I can tell the Guilt, Despair and Insanity mechanics are an aid to establishing the atmosphere rather than a stick to ram it down your throat as it can be in other horror games.
Overall the Atmosphere of Abandon All Hope is spot on its setting and a real inspiration to those who want to write their own prison games.
Artwork in Abandon All Hope is reminiscent of old White Wolf stuff but without any of the corniness associated with some of its publications. This may seem a bit “old school” for a game with a brand new system but then again so is a brand new system with multiple dice types so go figure!
As a Setting Abandon All Hope has a lot of potential and for all I’ve whined about the System having reread it again and again for the purposes of reviewing it I’m sure with better presentation it would be an awesome game for some groups.
Alas not mine but I’m sure there are groups out there who’ll love it.
Diversity is one of the best aspects of the hobby. Even when it gets on your tits!
A supplement for Courtesans: Sex and Society, Weird and Wonderful expands the game into science-fiction and fantasy settings as well as the world of 'sexy vampires'. Packed with rules and twists you can bring to your more conventional courtesans, W&W lifts the game out of the historical ghetto and back into fantasy land.
You can buy it HERE
Or in HARDCOPY
All 4 Blogs have been seriously revamped including stickied header posts rather than the links being at the top (they’ve been moved to the side.) Header images of the History Farce title pages have been shrunk and will likely be replaced by banners at some point in the future. Each blog also has an embedded YouTube Trailer. This includes an extended trailer for Tough Justice, a brand new trailer for Shadow World and a teaser for Doxy. For the trailers click the headers to go to the blog home!
Why should ladies be the only ones to gold-dig and exploit people? There's a whole lot of 'gentlemen' who can gold-dig, work as 'escorts' or can simply prey upon the emotions and needs of wealthy widows, spinsters, career women and others who are keen on getting a little male attention. Ladies will buy their gentleman callers presents of course, but to truly make a mint from a lady friend a 'gentleman' must make up a series of woes or excuses as to why he needs money. It's a little more subtle and cruel than what courtesans do but is, really, essentially, the same thing.
- Obviously, the characters are going to be male - or at least mostly male.
- Use the male (admirer) physical attributes rather than the female ones for the characters.
- Professions: Actress = Entertainer. Professional = Gigolo. Fallen Lady = Gentleman Bastard. Schemer = Schemer. Goldenheart = Philanthropist. Upstart = Blackguard.
- Instead of a 'House' you have a 'Club' where the gentlemen meet to compare notes.
- Instead of a Landlady you have a 'Mentor'.
- Admirers become 'Lady friends'.
- Archetypes: Fop = Bon Vivant. Saviour = Soft Heart. Student = Naif. Lover = Romantic.
- Occupations: Keep any that seem like they work, otherwise the lady friend is a 'widow of' or a 'wife of' the rolled occupation.
- Rather than the Cyprian Ball the 'season' ends with Pan's Feast, a great dinner at the club which is the one time only that women are allowed on the premises and gentlemen compare their conquests and enter into drunken debauchery.