Towers Two (2016)
Dave Brockie & Jobe Bittman (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Level 4 – 6
Man my search engine hits are going to take a turn for the worst. Towers Two is an adventure for 4-6 characters of levels 4-6 by the lamentably deceased Dave Brockie, lead singer of GWAR and posthumously finished by Joe Bittman (Dungeon Alphabet). I think Lotfp is officially finished. Not in the sense that it will die, because it won’t, but in the sense that it has produced what I believe to be the most gleefully tasteless, intelligently stupid and intentionally vulgar and puerile module that ever was and probably will be. And its pretty good.
The backstory is almost 2 pages but everything gets used so I can live with it. Towers Two takes place in the seaside village of Mlag. The Lord Javon has passed away, leaving the village at the mercy of his two warring heirs, the perverted necromancer Razak and his band of shit-eating and bumm-fudging Pig Men and the drug-addled and pudgy Zal and his homo-erotic Palace guard. For decades the conflict has raged on and just as the PCs enter the stage, they prepare for a decisive blow. But all is not as it seems and other, even grosser, powers are at work.
Towers Two is a module in the ancient style, providing you with a location with interesting shit, rampaging monsters and NPCs with different objectives that can be interacted, plotted or otherwise meddled with. There is no fixed objective and the PCs are expected to gleefully get in on the action, which I approve of since there is plenty of stuff going on.
The first drawback of Towers Two that I must get out of the way before everything else is the way the information is conveyed. There is A LOT of text. This module will require careful preparation before running it. Though it does provide information on the major factions before play commences, there is a degree of interconnectedness and multiple resolutions that must be absorbed if the module is to be run without it turning into an incoherent mess (although perhaps that is the idea). Critical information is sometimes doled out in room descriptions and though there is the odd referral to other sections on the whole the information must be teased out of the text like a splinter in a fat, scurvy-laden lion’s rectum. As a point in the module’s favor, all random encounters involve factions from the general area, so you get a semi-firm grasp of the players before you dive in.
Stylistically Towers Two is a gleefully colorful farce, a shit-covered two-finger salute that tackles the subject matter in the most garish and vulgar fashion imaginable to create an atmosphere of ironic sleaziness that is actually rather amusing. You can’t help but roll your eyes and laugh at the almost unstoppable Giant Dragonfly known as the Back-breaker, the Pigmen and their game of King of the Bucket (don’t ask), magic items that look like bio-organic sex-toys and the eldritch Loi-Goi, a buried space jellyfish that corrupts the surrounding area by sticking tentacles in the buts of its victims. Nowhere do you get the clinical detachment of Carcosa or the unpleasantly visceral body-horror of Death Love Doom. It is impossible to take the disgusting aspects of Towers Two seriously, and therein lies the genius of its presentation.
As I said this place is a location for adventure and thus there is more going on besides the feuding brothers. The beach is haunted by the repulsive lamprey-like eloi and their Starfish minions. The village of Mlag huddles in terror against the depredations of the Back Breaker. Feral Wild Pigs roam the area. The ancient saltworks are haunted by what is essentially the Salt Vampire from the old star trek episodes. A clan of incestuous cannivals. The list goes on. All of it is gross, but also weird, creative, distinct and memorable.
Same goes for the village of Mlag. The adventure is not overly concerned with what barn goes where and how many polearms are in a chamber, but instead just gives us the important structures and factions. NPC factions in the village have motivations! And things going on! Ferd, the Craster-esque innkeeper of the Slippery Slope, has a deal with a band of Pig Men bandits on the slope to waylay travelers. “The Old Whore,” runs the inn with him but secretly plots his death. She is planning the ritual sacrifice of one of his infants to awaken the statue of Lord Raglar to cleanse the region of evil! NPCs have opinions and designs and attitudes towards other NPCs, making the region feel lived in. All Important NPCs carry a Khaza stone, a sort of magical cellphone device that can be used for remote communication/prank calling!
Same goes for the titular Two Towers. Everything is gross and puerile but it also makes sense. Both factions are holed up and battle for control over undercellars that connect the Two Towers. Both brothers will attempt to enlist the party to kill (and hilariously castrate) the other brother. (Zar actually provides the party with a trapped chastity belt meant for a plot to trap Razak into having buttsecks with one of them, severing his cock). Zar has prepared barrels of gunpowder to blow up the tower, BUT THE EXPLOSION WON’T DO THAT. Complications upon complications. Nothing feels painted by the numbers.
A devotion to its own puerile aesthetics make this adventure work. Degenerate NPC after degenerate NPC has its own attitudes and distinct personality. A female body-builder is the strongest wrestler of Zar’s homoerotic Palace Guard (they wear armor that exposes their oiled abs and the tower is repete with locker rooms, wrestling competitions and other such foolery). Razak’s teacher in the dark arts is a perpetually drunken Gnomish illusionist that sleeps in a chest. A spindly mystic from the distant East runs the jails of Zar’s tower and creepily molests the malformed pig-things that are imprisoned therein. Turgarg has bet Mung ‘Hummers for life’ that he cannot eat an entire bucket of shit!
There is, of course, a third faction at work. In the cellars and the network of caves lies (besides the undead Lord Javon, still grieving over the death of his sickly wife) the lair of the Loi-Goi. In a nod to Shub-Niggurath, a grotesque amoeboid pool is constantly spawning eyes, hands and dicks. Horrific fleshweaving entities spin these into grotesque new forms. And you can enter the pool, swim deep into the pool, fight off waves of its servants and fight the Loi-Goi itself (good fucking luck) or even use the barrels to blow it up in what is probably the most metal encounter in the entire adventure, save one!
The final dramatic reveal upon the death (and dick-severing) of one of the brothers is like the cherry on the cake. A masterstroke of puerile banality. The twins were rectally connected at birth, and no simple surgery could sever this conjoining. When one of the twins dies normally, he is absorbed into the anus of the other. The twins are a single being, periodically shifting from anus to anus and from Zal to Razak as time goes by. Only severing the penis of one of the brothers breaks this cycle, causing the two to fuse into a grotesque abomination spewing forth unending tides of blood and urine and flowing up and down the tower where the PCs must now battle it in the silliest and awesomest (I don’t care if its not a word) Final Showdown ever created. Fucking slow clap for Brockie and Bittman.
The monsters are really well done. Grotesque Pig men, weird lobster-like zombies (the Voiden) that vomit-forth their prolapsed insides, a Bear Pig, a creepy Eloi Queen, the list just goes on and on. Unique abilities, great appearance, absolutely terrific. Nowhere do you get the idea that Brockie & Bittman did a by the numbers encounter, every entry is calculated for maximum sleeze (and arguably maximum gameplay). You can practically hear GWAR playing in the background. If you are going to do something you should at least commit to it fully and without reservation and Towers Two is nothing if not fully commited.
What else? Mundane treasure is mostly disappointing and very weak (one of the only elements of the adventure that is mostly lacking in originality). 1000 sp worth of gemstones and coins and so on. The magic items are (of course) characteristically bizarre with the introduction of the appropriately titled Deathfuck magic items; Creations of the Loi-Goi which look like bio-organic sex toys (and pretty much function the same way only with more murder). Each Hit dice of slain creatures adds a point to a sort of reservoir, which may be spent on regaining hp, spells and, most importantly, mutate the wearer in grotesque ways. If this power is used too often the mutations become permanent and the wielder gradually turns into a rampaging murder/rape monster with shrunken genitals and under the control of the Loi-Goi.
This thing is…119 pages of PDF, which includes the original manuscript of David Brockie before he passed away. It’s a bit long-winded at times but still chock-(or make that cock) full of content. As far as I could tell, the vision of the original author has been delivered with masterful precision.
Uh shit. The Art. I always forget the art since I process it mostly on a subconscious level and don’t give it any thought but the garish, grotesque art-pieces is actually perfectly well suited to the subject matter and manages to convey the proper feel. Tongue/dick out, two-fingers up, achieving escape velocity on a stratosphere-bissecting torrent of bloody diahrea.
Pros: Unique and distinctive. Lots of faction play. Very tight design. Good monster use. It’s fucking awesome. Genuine sense of entertainment.
Cons: Information is not always clearly conveyed and therefore prep intensive. Shit/murder/rape aesthetic might not be for everyone.
Final Verdict: For all its punk-rock offensiveness and corporophagical obsessions Towers Two is actually incredibly tightly designed, seldom wasting an opportunity for fun or interaction and provides the GM with a neat (if gross) little corner of the multiverse to have awesome adventures in. It’s a really smart guy pretending to be really dumb. Great job guys. 8 out of 10.