[Review] Asterion (Lotfp); Maze of the Minotard

[Adventure]
Asterion (2021)
Kristopher Carosella (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Levels 1


Jesus christ. So you’ve been out of it for a while. You had a meltdown, people are basically taking day-jobs slandering your name on the internet, your prize buck got cancelled and he made himself so disliked everyone basically went along with it and you shit yourself. You pull a strategy straight from an 80s winter sports movie which miraculously fucking works because deep down people love you, and now you are in limbo. It’s the second Act of the movie, you are at your lowest, your team got dealt a crushing blow. The coach is yelling and spitting in your face. Your girlfriend, which by now is just a sandbag and a bucket with several extremely sticky holes stabbed into it, looks upon you with dismay upon her painted face. You have to show the people that you still got what it takes. You look upon yourself in the grimy mirror with cracked fist markings, nine-inch nails plays in the background. This is the story of James Raggi IV, erstwhile lord of the OSR. We are goddamn rooting for you James, but shit like this is not going to win the war.

Foreword.

I suppose you think I’m about to break down how you should run games or tell you about
how I can’t perform sexually because I’m uncomfortable… man fuck that! Not this Ref! I get it in and I
could give a shit less how you run your games.


Deep sigh. Dissapointed shaking of head. Sharp stabbing pain in the frontal lobe. Maybe someone else wrote the foreword?

Asterion is an 11-page “Adventure” featuring the titular Minotaur, the Bull of Minos. One full page describes the origin story of the minotaur. It’s the myth of the minotaur. You know it. Re-iterated. The adventure as described should essentially be a Funnel in the labyrinth where you kill the minotaur. Everyone is given sword, shield, spear, two torches. Supplementary monsters are half-human half-minotaur hybrids from the captives the Minotaur fucks. Could be good.

It should be a funnel, but they handled it abstract. Why? Why do you do this to me? Anyone, literally anyone with 1 hour of free time, can write 20 fucking edgy encounters on a random D20 table. The idea is that you move through the maze abtractedly, with 1d4 portals between each encounter having a cumulative chance of being ‘grabbed by a bull calf’ and either killed, eaten or dragged to Asterion with no further explanation. I guess if I am charitable this would be an encounter with the bull Calves? Sample encounters :

1……..Shit: bull patty. 50% chance purple bioluminescent mushrooms are growing out of the patty. The shrooms produce a purple light and can either be used as a candle or eaten (if eaten, they trip balls!!)

15……Madman: a short corridor enters into a room, and there’s a madman in the middle who raises his hands in the air and begins laughing maniacally. In his hands is a huge homemade double-ended dildo, with two human penises flanking about a foot of thick intestine. The penises seem to have a bone shoved in them to keep them stiff, and it’s all crudely stitched together. If the party is familiar with the story, they might recognize him as the craftsman who has lost his fucking mind in the Labyrinth. In his madness, he has turned into a dom, and yes, he’s dressed like a leather daddy with chains and metal studs as well, because why the fuck not!. All around him are other sex toys he has crafted out of the flesh and bones of tributes. Currently, there is a nude, young, handsome man, probably a tribute, tied into a swing from the ceiling, gently rocking back and forth; ball rope is wrapped of thick intestine. The penises seem to have a bone shoved in them to keep them stiff, and it’s all crudely stitched together. If the party is familiar with the story, they might recognize him as the craftsman who has lost his fucking mind in the Labyrinth. In his
madness, he has turned into a dom, and yes, he’s dressed like a leather daddy with chains and metal studs as well, because why the fuck not!. All around him are other sex toys he has crafted out of the flesh and bones of tributes. Currently, there is a nude, young, handsome man, probably a tribute, tied into a swing from the ceiling, gently rocking back and forth; ball rope is wrapped tight around his swollen, purple nuts, and he has a “horse-tail” shoved up his ass, which is really just a femur with long human
hair glued on. Oh, yeah! And a ball-gag. There is also a large wooden box with a Gimp chained inside (see below). If the madman notices the party, he will ask them to try out his new toy; if they decline the offer, he will go into a fit of rage and then rush the party, swinging the massive dildo around his head as a weapon.


The Mad Craftsman: Armor 14 (like studded leather), Move 140’, 2 Hit Dice, 7hp, double-headed dildo (like staff, requires two hands) +1, 1d4, Morale 7.

The Gimp: really a Fighter, but he has been broken. Armor 14 (like leather, full-body Gimp suit), Move 120’, 4th Level Fighter, +5 to whatever attack it might make with a weapon, Morale 4.

20…...Secret room: the King had this section of the Labyrinth built just for him. In the center of the room is the Wooden Cow the craftsman constructed for the Queen. The room has barrels and crates around the walls (I don’t fuckin know what’s in them! Again, just make some shit up!!). If they stay hidden long enough, another secret door opens up, and the King will come in. He will strip down naked and climb into the Wooden Cow. A few moments later, guards bring in the Majestic Bull

And so on. You wanno do edgy? There’s a long history of Lotfp doing edgy. Towers Two is edgy. Death Love Doom is edgy. They are, also, more or less well-crafted adventures. Even Kiel dont’-look-at-my-browser-history Chenier’s Night at the Oompah-Loompah-Rape-A-Torium tried to at least cover up his fetish under some dungeon dressing with actual gameplay. It wasn’t good but he did try. You are presenting this material, which is already of dubious quality and relies on shock value frankly, but you are leaving the actual design work in the hands of the GM. My problem isn’t that you made a room where you see King Minos getting plowed by the Sacred Bull (which you didn’t statt btw), my fucking problem is that this isn’t an adventure. I have to plunk down 11 bucks for a shitpost?

Tom Cadorette is listed as Editor? HEY TOM. FAGGOT. HAVE HIM DRAW A MAP NEXT TIME. Look at a room like this:

17……Mosaic tiles: tiles fill the entire room, silver like a disco ball, with a multitude of colors dancing in them. If the room is entered with a torch, save vs. Magic or be dazed for 1d4 rounds as the room appears to light up and spin around like a disco ball.

And then you figure out this room only makes sense if you have a real location with a random encounter frequency so that there is a chance of monsters coming in while you are dazed. Or maybe you can lure creatures back here. Use the map against them and set some sort of ambush. Some sort of chokepoint. Yeah! Instead fucking nothing. No treasure, no magic, no secret doors. Torches and light sources are theoretically accounted for but time is fluid and time between encounters is not measured or described. Hammer away at things and watch gross sex stuff. If you run out of rooms or whenever you are fighting one of the far superior Minotaur Hybrids and it moos BLAMMO a fight with Asterion that you can’t plan for, can’t do anything smart with, you could maybe join him and eat human flesh I guess (which is a good impulse). Even if you win, you are probably dead.

Then you get into the monster descriptions (lavish 2 page spread), and the Bull Minotaurs, which have 4 different attacks. Why so much detail when everything else is so stripped down? So the combat would be more exciting? Is Lotfp a detailed tactical combat game with multiple attack forms? Or is it a B/X clone with influences from CoC and WhFRPG?

Listen, I get it. Lowbrow entertainment has its place. I like 80s action movies, fastfood, Hobo with a Shotgun, Enter the Ninja, japanese Tokusatsu and Psycho-Goreman. You want to make an andrenaline fuelled slaughter-fest that you can spin up in no time, run in an afternoon, everyone puts peyote in their absinthe and then everyone goes home and jerks off to Cannibal Corpse songs or whatever it is the Degenerate market segment does post-game. But you have to put in the work. Go full on DCC funnel, everyone gets 3 randos, no backstory, dump them in the Maze, give them a chance to get out (as written death is all but inevitable), figure out a way for people to apply some sort of intelligence to improve their chances of success (otherwise you are not making a game you are crafting ‘an experience’) and if you are going to make light sources a thing then make sure there is actually a chance of running out. Maybe there’s an opportunity to lure away the Minotaur-hybrids and then trap them somewhere or whatever. The point is, something that isn’t throwing dice at eachother and screaming at the top of your lungs while Minotaurs are having oily gay sex in the background (only 50% of the funnel should be solved in this fashion). I’m sure you can do something clever with obscene puzzles requiring you to find a switch in the front of a brass bull and you can only enter in via the rear and then the trap is that you are stuck while a well-endowed iron bull golem enters or whatever. This is what a lifetime of internet does to a man. I understand intuitively the wave-length you are tapping into and tell you you are scratching the surface.

It’s not like it’s impossible to do something good in 11 pages. A single small cut anyone? Tales of the Scarecrow anyone?

You wanna get back up? Make something that is good. The OSR is a wasteland, there’s less coming out and most of it is as crap as ever, maybe more. Your biggest competitors are a swedish catpissman afraid of invisible nazis that caters to emotionally unstable teenagers that stink up itch.io with crayon-color cries for help in module form and a doorstopper retroclone of Warhammer Fantasy run by a sociopath that has no reason to exist now that Cubical Seven has the actual licence. You know how to make and edit a good adventure. You’ve done it a dozen times before. Bryce, a man who literally reviews everything, doesn’t even look at your shit anymore. There’s third party Lotfp shit that came out last year that is great. The setting works, the concept works, the fanbase is dedicated, so what is your fucking problem? I talk to your fans sometimes. Intelligent, dedicated, real-ass motherfuckers. And then this fucking slop.

I’m going to give Lotfp a do-over and count this as a Shitpost in module form. Don’t fail me again.

*






22 thoughts on “[Review] Asterion (Lotfp); Maze of the Minotard

  1. Amen! I love LotFP, but I’m already tired with of this kind crap. I like gore, I like edgy, I don’t care for polictial correctness, bud this is NOT PLAYABLE It’s getting harder and harder to buy new booksfrom Raggi because of this kind of Bull*** I almost bought this on release. I’m glad I pirated it before to see of what it was really about. Your review sums it up perfectly, thanks.

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  2. You put a fucking labyrinth in your adventure and then don’t include a map. I simply don’t understand it… is mapping so tedious these days? Instead there’s some strange “navigating the labyrinth” mechanic with rolls and such stuff… which only serves to completely screw up the exploration and tactical aspects of the game and leaves the whole group hanging in some nebulous limbo state of “where are we?, Where are we going? and how long is this going to take?” IT kills not only ressource management.. but nearly every other grander tactical and meaningful decision you could make.

    Classic…. I have seen this before… but can’t for the love of me not figure out where.

    Actio -> Reactio… Decision -> Consequence…
    That’s how it should be… because this way you can have tactical actions… and informed decisions… risking something, gaining a payoff…
    Instead… you roll some dice and stuff happens and nothing you do or decide really matters… what an experience.

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  3. If we are going into Astron-6 land, kiddies, then Father’s Day is more Lotfp than Raggi’s +2 Two-Way Leather Dingus wielding minions. And The Void is just about as OSR as it gets. Psycho Goreman is more like a highly variant Cha’alt after an epic diversion thru H. R. Pufnstuf’s alimentary tract. Turbo Kid is Retro Gamma World (while I’m unsure that it is part of Astron-6 or just Canuck Fun) Still waiting for that Turbo Kid sequel.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You had me larf out loud with the Oompa-Loompa joke. good times.
    I agree this is heavily diluted weak sauce.
    Will you allow the reprobate another chance? … of the recent batch of new stuff, there might be gold in them hills (ie 2 from Kelvin Green and one from Alex Mayo?).

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      1. With that title, Wight Power could have been amazing.

        As it is, it should be half as long and twice as good.

        Sadly, it’s none of those things.

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  5. quoting:”ah what the hell, I’ll throw this up.

    Thing is, if you go back to the Why I Published series a couple months back and take a look at the Asterion entry, you’ll see that I don’t even substantially disagree with a lot of what he’s saying here. I just had a different reaction to it all.

    But I’ll also quote a commenter in another thread about this review: “I think I would be more accepting of his opinion if Asterion was the only the release for this period. It very obviously wasn’t and honestly is too silly to be indicative of what he he says it is.
    He’s welcome to his opinion about the scenario itself, but he moves on to use it as example to blow things out of proportion.”

    Asterion isn’t The Direction of LotFP, but I hope there will always be something along the lines of an Asterion coming out every now and then.

    (trivia: when ‘social media managers’ were running this account, they were instructed not to post Prince of Nothings reviews on the official LotFP accounts… there’s something about the way he writes that seems a bit… personal I guess, rough to read when you’re the subject, even when the review is positive. I used to do something in the same ballpark, although not nearly as well, when I did reviews for my metal zine, and those were the days when I got plenty of nasty emails from fans and musicians and “concerned” phone calls and even record label publicists leaving nasty messages on my answering machine and I even got a death threat once, although while that person warned me to be careful about what I write or else I’ll get my throat cut, he did neglect to tell me what exactly I’d said that was so wrong so it didn’t change anything. And every time I got any of that kind of response, I’d be overjoyed, I played that death threat to so many people as a way of bragging. All the anger would make me think “yyeesssss, right on target!”)”

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    1. James gets it.

      People have indeed been emailing me about certain facebook meltdowns, but the tone is gleeful rather then threatening. I don’t mean that your entire run is indicative of this shit (I mean I fucking hope not), I mean I jump in here after a year, read a module, and its immediately garbage tier. This is the impression I get right? Do you think a customer trying out your stuff is going to give you the benefit of the doubt?

      Asterion is my first entry back after a year and it immediately sucks. But I did say I’d give Lotfp a mulligan, so Courtney Campbell review soon.

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      1. I get your point. And this one is like the cheaper one of the lot. So if someone just want to see what lotfp is about, it is reasonable that they choose it instead of the deluxe overpriced hardcovers. But for the good or the worse, Asterion was blocked on Drivethrurpg, so at least the pdf crowd is spared from that.

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  6. I guess what really grinds my gear about this is that D&D’s most stripped down form is a game about navigating a maze. The Minotaur myth is a foundational text. Hell, “a unique monster is chasing you through a location” is the LotFP formula.

    So the hesitancy on actually building a 20 room maze, properly jaquayed to allow for players to stumble into danger unexpectedly, with some pursuer mechanic for the minotaur just reeks of laziness.

    This is why OSE and Mork Borg are eating LotFP’s market share. OSE modules, while not as graphic, actually give you your maze to play in. Even if they aren’t as good as some of ye olde LotFP stuff they’re an actual module, and classy enough that you can pull it out without looking like a creep. And Mork Borg might be just aesthetics, but those aesthetics have been turned up rather then just taking a picture of some royalty free classic art and sticking a censor bar on it.

    Lamentations is dead.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. An RPG-Sage once pronounced, RPGs are just like pop culture. In that vein, LotFP is a label. Like Motown. Have the producers changed? Has production changed? Have the artists changed? Is the studio equipment different?
    Maybe the band needs to get back together? Or is it lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Your biggest competitors are a swedish catpissman afraid of invisible nazis that caters to emotionally unstable teenagers that stink up itch.io with crayon-color cries for help in module form and a doorstopper retroclone of Warhammer Fantasy run by a sociopath that has no reason to exist now that Cubical Seven has the actual licence.”
    First one’s MB but what’s the latter? Zweihander?

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