The Pale Lady (2015)
Zzarchov Kowolski (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Level ??? (estimated 1-3)
I’m starting to dig Kowolski’s stuff and I’m trying to find out why. Is it the irreverent humor scattered about the works? The thrill of playing mad professor DnD? Is it that brevity is the soul of wit? My inability to easily piece together a likely Appendix N? Is it the breeziness that nevertheless allows him to create fairly short and tight adventures? The way my heartbeat goes up and my breathing intensifies when I hear his name mentioned in the parlors and theaters? Fuck If I know. Kowolski is my current brand of OSR and that is what I am drinking tonight.
The Pale Lady is a short, location based adventure. At 12-pages, its set-up is roughly similar to Gingerbread Princess but it’s execution is what excites. We begin with a GOOD HOOK. The Pale Lady is an evil faery queen that steals children. Her domain can be accessed through the heart of the woods. A single survivor manages to escape to civilization and knows the way to enter her domain, which can only be done during the Equinox. As the adventurers interrogate the poor, castrated thing, they learn there are other children there. The Pale Lady Might also be in possession of a rare cosmic artifact, one of the Words of Creation itself. The nuns offer a substantial reward…
Super-dense hook. Great. Offers plenty of incentive for folks with all manner of motivations. And we are off.
The location itself is just that. It is a self-consistent, bizarre demi-plane inhabited by the Pale Lady, her hideous Rabbit-thing servitors and about sixty children that must toil in the fields, planting flowers that makes up the diet of the Pale Lady. It gets interesting because of the structure. Players can decide to be the heroes and rescue the children, which will require force and going up against the Pale Lady, a formidable opponent. But the module gives the ability to bargain with the Pale Lady; a night with her (which ages one rather quickly) may be traded for spells, a handful of children (better then nothing) or access to her collection of sorcerous artifacts. Naturally she will give birth to more disgusting rabbit-men afterward.
The Artifacts are interesting. A mirror with a bound demon that will answer truthfully any questions put toward it in exchange for the sacrifice of a firstborn son. It claims the Lady is Lilith and it is Lucifer. I don’t think most players will go so far as to sacrifice children for their game but this is nice flavor.
The Word of Creation, locked in impenetrable and unbreakable adamant, is a far more interesting artifact and fuddling around with it has some interesting, if grisly side effects. Fuddling around with it has the potential to unleash a new complication in the already benighted campaign of the GM, for which I salute thee.
Pale Lady is about as large as it needs to be to do what it sets out to do. Create a set-up that allows for a multitude of solutions and interactions, add danger and a risk/reward mechanic. Its fantasy aesthetic is suitably bizarre for an Lotfp game but does not veer into outright silliness like Gingerbread or post-BtAM Raggi. A nice, simple module that does a decent job at invoking a suitable sense of weird and wonder. 7 out of 10.