Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine (2014)
Logan Knight (www.lastgraspgrimoire.com)
Levels 1 – 2 (est.)
Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine is perhaps the grossest little adventure I have ever seen. Its every page is filled with wet, cloying, reeking corruption that oozes, trickles, vomits forth or wafts.
No great pilgrimage into cyclopean halls of ancient, terrifying civilizations long gone. Instead a grotesque little odyssey into a claustrophobic maze of slime, offal and rot. Almost every room description involves sensations beyond sight and hearing, making the adventure feel intimate and visceral. Like so:
Smells like stomach acid and salt, it’s freezing, your hands are shaking, the soft,
slipping sound of releasing bile reverberates around the walls and into your skull.
There are no inns or old men offering great rewards for mighty deeds of arms. Instead you encounter a wizard with no spellbook, the only survivor of an expedition sent by the Alchemist Unraga Praag, to gather the cysts from the Feathered Swine. It is best to sedate the creature first, for removing its cysts might cause it to wake, and it is fearsome and monstrous, though slumbering. The syringe was lost inside with the others. 100 sp per cyst.
No Orcs or Griphons or champions of the lost and the damned. Instead grotesque things that were once men, infested and transfigured into cancerous worm-like antropophages. Some of them were once part of the expedition. Some of the expedition members are not dead yet but will soon wish they were.
There is no Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter. Instead the cave starts out innocuous and like a good atmospheric horror adventure it foreshadows before revealing all too much. The cave is nonlinear so it is certainly possible to fall in the middle of the titular sleeping place of the feathered Swine or some other farther location if you are not careful. The cave is filled with narrow passages, crevasses and branching side passages.
If you get infected by the Worm Things you could lose a limb, maybe more if you are cowardly. Amputation is your best option. This is no valorous quest against evil. This is a grotesque descent into the weird and the disgusting.
Forget the promise of Gold and mighty blades, radiant as the dawn. The treasure in SPOTFS is truly of the weird. A grotesque armor that bonds with the wearer and sustains and nurtures him, reminiscent of the armor of the Berserk from the manga of the same name. You cannot take it off. A bizarre sea pearl that grows in lustre, size and value the longer it is kept out of water but that holds tiny crabs that grow to monstrous size in proportion to the size of the pearl. Wizard spells cause grotesque phobia’s of one’s own body or twist and distort the physical or mental form in hideous ways. One draws a nightmare from the body of the target and clothes it in his ruined flesh.
If you reach the Feathered Swine it is risky to take the Cysts even if you sedate it since a failed dex or Int test will expose you to the fluid within, possibly infesting you with the same stuff that made the Worm Tumours.
The language of SPOTFW is almost perfect for what it is trying to achieve, the exact opposite of Ghoul Keep and the Ghoul Lands. Short evocative description communicates only the bare necessities and paints a picture in your mind.
Sleeping Place is pretty simple but there is almost no fat. It’s all meat. In 11 rooms you get yourself some natural hazards, nonlinear exploration, treasure, terrified and mutilated survivors, grotesque scenes of bodily corruption and horror, mercykilling and a grotesque climax that incentivizes pushing your luck. By the end of the adventure I would be surprised if everyone retains their limbs.
We get a nice variant rule for light sources that renders their duration somewhat variable and some type of bomb that is extremely risky to use but is also likely to be extremely effective.
It’s not merely descriptions. The illustrations perfectly convey the canker-ridden deformity of the inhabitants of the Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine.
I don’t know if you could throw this into the default Historical Europe setting for Lotfp because of its extreme weirdness and assumptions but there is really no reason you couldn’t and its more of an assumed setting anyway.
I can rant on about minor trivialities but in honor of the author I shall compose this review in short, evocative sentences.
Pros: What glorious grotesque imagery. What wonderful Weirdness. What short descriptions for a place so hideously attractive.
Cons: Not for the faint of heart a place so repellent. Not for the whimsical a place of such starkness. Not for the glory seeker these sordid bowels of corruption.
Sleeping Place is, like many a 3rd party Lotfp adventure, even stranger then its titled cousins. It’s good but damn funky. Its terrifying but sort of simple. A niche of a niche. However, if you are that niche, you are going to have a ball. Like sex with the ex, its disgusting, short and potentially infectious but hypnotically compelling all the way. 7.5 out of 10.
This thing is PWYW so check it out and give the guy some sheckles if you run it and like it: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/133404/Sleeping-Place-of-the-Feathered-Swine