Horse-Fondlers of Greater Aione (2018)
Levels 1 – 4
When Kent initially approached me to be the first to review his module, I was skeptical to say the least. The mere mention of Kent in anything but the vilest curses provides a platform to literary and philosophical crimes of a nature and magnitude so obscene that even those who cast out the offending speaker are irrevocably tainted by association, condemned to spend the rest of their days fruitlessly wading through Zak’s Google plus threads looking for “proof” or playing in Chenier’s epic level Ponyfinder campaign.
However, his appeal was so candid, his bearing so humble and his plight so desperate that I could not find it in my heart to refuse him. I challenge each of you to resist being moved by his forthright message of hope, love and humility.
I write to you in desperation and pay well-earned tribute to the exquisite firmness of your buttocks, which are in every way superior to my own flabby buttocks. I realize now that the many times I have called you a faggot were merely the envious tantrums of a very stupid boy. I had my fun, but in the end it did not matter. Your Red Prophet Rises has won the adoration of Gabor Lux, whose swarthy embrace is the sole object of my most feverish desires, whereas what few wafts of material I have emitted from my crusty orifices over the years have provoked only scorn and derisive palm-chuckles. I humbly entreat you to review my new module, which is the culmination of twenty years of gaming, writing and reading fantasy literature, in the hope that your sage commentary may help me win Lux’s heart.
Horse-Fondlers of Greater Aione is a 248-page mega-adventure by Kent which features an expedition into the unexplored wilds of Witchland and Affryq and eventually the legendary Aione megadungeon in a quest to find the princess S. Kaz. It is an immensely complicated and challenging work to review but I found that I gained many valuable and worthwhile insights along the way.
The first thing that strikes one as one wades through Horse-Fondlers is its gorgeous cartography. One can gaze onto these charts for hours, counting the many star-shaped crevasses within the circular mountain rages that dot the plains of Higher Affryq. After a moving dedication by Kent, where he writes what appears to be a 15 page angry love letter to Tao of Alexis that I cannot cite for fear of violating the wordpress terms and conditions. Suffice it to say, the prose is both forceful and richly sensual, dripping with frustration, self-loathing and enraged desire.
The book proper begins with house-rules. This takes up almost a third of the volume (the Appendix N takes up another third), and almost too dense to go into. As Kent informs us, all his friends have Science and Math backgrounds so no rule system is ever “truly complicated.” I was impressed by the ‘fantasy literature” rule, which states that all actions must be stated in Eddisonian prose to gain a much needed +3 bonus to seduction, grappling and poetry rolls against authors of at least level 6 . Also of interest was the “I’ve had my fun” rule, which allows players to gain a reroll on any of their attack roles against a hated enemy if they have faced him and fled at least one time before, cackling with the mirthless laughter of the damned. By far the most controversial will be his revamping of Lotfp’s travelling system. Based on a popular Irish pasttime, adventurers of at least literary levels 9  may “encourage” their mounts to feats of heroic endurance. The precise mechanism is unclear as a key image file, described as KentEncouragesHisMightyStallion.jpg triggered various antivirus warnings and could not be opened (though he assures me it is displayed on many websites online).
Of interest too are the dozens of custom classes. Tried and true staples of the adventuring genre like the fighter and the magic-user have been stripped out in favor of custom classes from Kent’s home campaign, each a unique character from fantastic literature like Columbo, Brandoch Daha, Za’akier genital crusher and Stuart. Kent is also very emphatic that no character “originating from Affryq” can ever reach above “author level 2” and must always be of chaotic alignment.
The premise of the adventure is simple yet profound, pulled off with an elegance that only a master of both poetry and mathematics could muster. The fair Princess S. kaZ has been kidnapped by the nefarious Bog Ogre and taken to the Abode of Pree, there to suffer an eternity of lewd fondlings and obscene caresses.
The wilderness component of the adventure is quite fascinating. The region of “High Rainbowland” offers a plethora of obelisks, spires, towers and occasional encrusted pits to explore, set against a backdrop of rose-gardens, art galleries and dingy iron-age nightclubs. The natives of this benighted place of decadent beauty and immaculately furnished houses brimming with sensual ne-touché-pas are all afraid of the crevasses, clefts and ravines outside the region, which they avoid at all costs for risk of catching disease.
The subsequent dungeon proper is a lot weaker. Almost nine-tenths of the dungeon is spent describing the “androgynous beauty, almost boyish” the “flat-chest and lean, supple limbs” and hair like “the many-hued comb of a rooster in heat” of Princess S. Kaz. While I found the cartography to be excellent as always, the dungeon design was equal parts frustration and inspiration. Each door could only be opened by quoting a specific line from Shakespeare’s most famous work and I doubt even veteran DnD players have been exposed to the movie enough to remember obscure bits like these:
” Verily, I entreat thee trust me my Lady, if I doth say there ist caviar in the hills, thou bringeth the crackers”
“I shall let fate decide thy treatment. For if the bailiffs do not seize thee, the Other Families of the Han surely must. Do as thou wilt, Father, but this instance, none shall be imprisoned within the Gaol for thee.”
“I must apologize profusely oh Romeo, but thou must surely perish!”
There were some interesting design elements. The room with reality-altering stink-fungus that could only be bypassed by wearing a frilly dress was very well done, while the room the entire party must crawl halway into a hole and “wait what happens next” was a little tasteless (but still appropriate for Lotfp). Overall, I think Kent’s writing could use some more fleshing out. I feel his ideas are better then any other ideas in the OSR but they could be refined a bit more, perhaps if he would read a bit more broadly he would be able to deliver a truly groundbreaking work like I did.
Nevertheless, it must be stated the finale, where Brandoch Daha must tie ribbons in his hair, prostrate himself before princess S Kaz and delicately kiss her handsome, fine-boned feet was very moving and I have seldom seen its like in an OSR product of this nature.
Lest I forget, the product is BRIMMING with interesting magical items, from enchanted four leaf clovers, the potion of Black Bush to the mystical “Bag of Morons” that plays a critical role in solving the adventure.
Horse Fondlers of Greater Aione is an impressive achievement, perhaps even groundbreaking. On both a design and a cultural level its impact will be felt for generations to come. I think the problem is that the OSR has too many gamers and gamers are not writers. In Horse-fondlers of Greater Aione topics that were once consigned to dingy lockerrooms, murky stables and the darkest chasms of the inner soul are brought into the open for all to look upon in astonished horror. Kent writes of the love between man and equine with a deep, heartbreaking intensity, and while I cannot find it in me to countenance his base and repulsive desires I can at least admire the bottomless wellspring of creativity that flows from them. Easily the best, most artistic and most literary product that has come out of the OSR in a decade. 10 out of 10.
 Kent spends the entirety of the book obsessing over the hierarchy of authors, citing such luminaries as Homer, Chaucer, Salvatore and Cervantes from Soul Calibur as the inspiration for much of his campaign setting.
 K.J. Anderson, Goodkind, Shakespeare, R.Jordan and Brooks are all cited as examples.
 The Stuart character can only advance in levels if carves a small wooden figurine of Brandoch Daha and prances around it for several hours and keeping it in its mouth until it emits a greyish enchanted fluid which acts as a potion of super heroism. The game places odd emphasis that “Kent must be present” during this event, but refuses to specify any further.