Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom (2018)
James Edward Raggi IV (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Before we kick off FTL-februari in earnest, here’s a little transition piece. James Raggi wrote a thing, it sucked. Here is the autopsy. In invite you to play this song on repeat for maximum impact.
Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom by James Raggi is a 46 page non-effort based off the hypothetical sandbox area in the lukewarmly anticipated GM’s Guide for Lotfp. Since Raggi has decided to replace the Mushroom Kingdom with one ‘more suitable to canon Lotfp’, we are stuck with his sloppy seconds. Even James Raggi kind of admits it will suck:
And thank goodness. Does anyone actually want to spend entire sessions crawling around a mushroom kingdom? Of course not. Especially not when it’s easy enough to have all the cool parts of such a place extant in your campaign without having to actually game out first contact with the cradle of fungal civilization
Yeah who wants a hexcrawl when you can just have a cut-n-paste transcription of some silly Mario inspired monsters instead amirite?
I say 46 pages, but 20 would be more accurate. With a full page drawing every 2-3 pages and numerous tables or pages that are only half filled or have additional art work, SoTMK comes across as padded up the wazoo. The art is…ugh
Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom is best described as a
Wet Blanket bestiary with an adventure seed coating. To prevent all that tedious exploration and discovery from taking place, Raggi recommends you just have a tunnel open into a dungeon somewhere and have that tunnel spawn 1d10 creatures every day like some sort of 50s B-Movie.
The main Inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom are the 8 different colors of Mushroom Mans (James calls them this). Their culture has no distinctive features beyond the fact that its tribal and their psychology is described as “alien” which saves the Raggi from having to come up with anything that is actually alien or has to make sense. The one thing that separates Mushroom Mans from other such Humanoids is that you can eat them.
The random mushroom effects, vaguely reminiscent of the random button effects from Doom-Cave of the Crystal Headed Children, are fairly well done from a game-play point of view and incentivize players to kill and eat mushroom mans. A psychedelic effects table that kicks in at a failed saving throw after consuming more then one dose of Mushroom mans per day serves as a balancing factor. This aspect is relatively well-implemented if almost cartoonishly silly, with player characters having to poop fully grown mushroom mans, or lava shooting out of someone’s head like a volcano, damaging equipment and people around him but leaving the character in question entirely unharmed. Has Raggi gone senile?
Each tribe of Mushroom mans has its own special ability (i.e Black ones can all cast random spells, Red Ones Go Fasta (+2 to initiative and +50% movement rate) and a list of d8 effects when you consume them, relating to their special ability.
The rest of the bestiary seems to almost form some sort of silly if functional eco-system which would almost be impressive if not for the fact that as written, this never comes into play as the creatures are merely vomited forth 1d10 dudes at a time. There is little to explore. Various stupid monsters such as Toadstool Turtles, Moo-shrooms, Bumble-shrooms (mushroom bees which are a vital component in the Mushroom Man reproductive process), Mushroom Fly Trap and the Mushroom in Mushroom Man’s Clothing  are introduced, but no way is provided for them to interact. The MiMMC feeds exclusively on Mushroom Man’s, making it an interesting environmental feature, but as written there is little opportunity for any of this. You should have made it a hexcrawl dude!
Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom is all the more dissapointing because there are hints of good writing littered throughout it. One of the most dangerous predators is the Undead Butterfly, a hideous parasitic virus that reproduces in Mushroom Mans and turns them into zombified horrors, and its a genuinely disturbing creature. The Mushroom King, a three-headed creature constantly in contact with other mushroom kings across reality, is a genuinely interesting monster with abilities that change every round ah la a Final Fantasy boss. Its a terrific little bit of writing that stands above the rest like a sour thumb.
The passive agressive Professor FinkelFünkel shows up to add farce to what is already pure farce. If you are nice to him and don’t laugh at his ridiculous name and adress him respectfully  he will share his super mushroom tea with you, if not his tea will cause debuffs.
There is a Shrieker variant that drives off Mushroom Mans but causes organic creatures to start masturbating…sigh
Hive-mind Cows, a phenomenon reminiscent of the House from Sterling Lanier’s excellent Hiero’s Journey novel and some mushroom related treasures like a bi-pedal mushroom vehicle, statt-altering mushrooms, exploding mushrooms, it has all the coherence of an NES game.
If desired, players can take the roles of Mushroom Mans with a fully playable 2-page class that is included in the back of the book. Mushroom mans have a set of alien characeristics like not having to breathe, random hit point progression (the laziest way to differentiate your character class) and a bizarre ability that is pretty interesting. Each level after the first the Mushroom Man gets a random color. The Mushroom Man can bestow this buff upon himself or other characters by taking a bite (and taking damage). It’s a weird little class but I dig it.
Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom fails to impress more for its lacklustre execution, counter-intuitive structure and bizarre tonal dissonance then its premise. Its structure fails to capitalize on many of its elements, rendering what little background the creatures have vestigial. An ecosystem is turned into a random monster spawner. Possibilities for interaction are removed, there is no point, no reason.
Bereft of even edginess to sustain it, Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom is little more then a joke with no punchline. Raggi is just trolling us at this point. The enigmatic Myconid is regressed back to its primordial antecedent: a stupid fucking mushroom man. To succeed beyond wildest expectations while goofing off, that is the sublime art. To wallow in a pit, cackling and pointing as you eat your own faeces screaming ‘ITS A JOKE. ITS ALL A JOKE,’ is nothing. I want high adventure and weird horror, not a fart joke. 3 out of 10.
If you want to check out a wackily creative adventure with psychedelic mushrooms and other such tossfiddle, I can recommend the vastly superior, infinitely more playable, but still critically flawed and poorly edited Monkey Business.
 And I will fully admit I cracked a smile at that
 Somehow this seems the height of Raggi-ism. To be confronted with an obvious farce but then to be forced to act as though it were a serious thing.