A friend of mine tonight at a local gaming hole told me about an OSR sort of retroclone inspired by Lamentations of the Flame Princess & Swords & Wizardry called Crying Blades. Specifically he told me about an interesting 'pay what you want' adventure that I might want to checkout called The Tall Witch.
The plot sounds simple enough;'A mysterious witch is about to be born and threatens the local community'. Sounds simple but I was surprised & kinda shocked that this little adventure came out in 2017 but passed by my OSR radar. The layout is very nicely done & it clocks in at a well filled out twenty seven pages. The actual plot is a bit more sophisticated;
"According to the local legends, the Tall Witch is reborn every 333 years in this place; reborn of a single large egg, daughter of a sea-serpent and a devil. She’s born already adult and trained in the arts of witchcraft. The Tall Witch is a symbol of destruction and despair for the local population. When the Tall Witch is free to roam this county, farm animals turn savage, cultivated fields fill up with wild trees and bushes, the youngest disappear in the woods to live a dissolute life of unimaginable sins, and the oldest give in to their bestial lusts or desire for revenge... and chaos ensues. "
The artwork isn't bad at all & over all it feels like a straight up inquisitior or investigative occult adventure framed module. Even though 'The Tall Witch' adventure is meant for the Crying Blades rpg I can see this module working very well with many traditional OSR games or campaign settings. The Crying Blades system uses some interesting variations on the traditional Dungeons & Dragons style gaming system ideas; "The game introduces a few innovations, such as a random talents system for the various classes that replaces abilities, three different equipment-systems (one based on a die size, one on numbered slots, and a traditional one with weight-per-item).
It uses regular attributes checks for actions, and Saving Throws linked to attributes, with some class-modifiers.
Combat is faster than usual: a single d20 roll determines (using the traditional AAC) both if the character hits the monster, and if the monster hits the character. This reduces the number of rounds where both would miss.
Sorcery and clerical blessings do not require to memorize spells but use a simple count to determine how many can be cast per day.
The leveling up system is simple and all classes need the same amount of XP per level. Sorcerers and Clerics, though, need to pay XP to improve their power-matrix and to acquire new spells, thus their leveling-up process is slower. Multiclassing is allowed, but severely limited."
The Tall Witch has already been born & its up to the PC's to close in & seal her fate; " The local priest has already identified the location of the egg: at the base of the cliff south of the village, there’s a large, white rounded rock. It looks like a rock, but that’s the egg. The villagers will provide pikes, axes, and any other similar tools. But the egg must be for sure guarded by other malignant entities.."
Over all this isn't a straight up slaughter fest but a thinking man's adventure. The Tall Witch feels like a Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure & affair. But it could just as easily be run in a Dark Albion or Lion & Dragon Rpg campaign.
I know that this adventure isn't going to be to everyone's liking but the occult elements are very well done & there's enough meet on the bones of the Tall Witch. I can see running this adventure as a part of Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne stories based in the back quarters of the mundane (for Smith) province in medieval France. Two of CAS's stories that reflect the dark underbelly of the Tall Witch for influence would be Mother of Toads (1934) & The Enchantress of Sylaire, (1941). These stories mirror many of the themes of The Tall Witch.
The loose style & passion of Davide Pignedoli's writing & design of this adventure a snap to adapt into a relatively dangerous & horror filled evening or multiple session of OSR play. This isn't the traditional OSR adventure but one where the PC's are going to be deciding their own fate. This one might end with the characters killing themselves off by their own stupidity. There are some twists & turns in this adventure which could challenge even the most jaded of old school palettes. I think that the Tall Witch adventure is worth your time & your OSR taste for a well thought out & dangerous adventure!
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