Green Messiah (2021)
Kelvin Green (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Lvl ??? (C’mon man. Level requirement this stuff. 2-4?)
During my sojourn to the 2022 January Wallowvanganza over at Falsemachine, where people were so distraught at having only a single lawn they went so far as to lower themselves to the status of moderate intelligence (what shame! such indignity!), I caught a stray comment by Kelvin Green where he informed us that he thought he was bad at what he did. This is incorrect, said I. Kelvin Green is average.
Is there shame in being average? In delivering work that people find enjoyable but that is not considered to be high art, or ‘madly innovative’ or visionary? Should he have marxposted more so a benevolent Ennie judge would have slapped a Judges choice on Fishfuckers? I should hardly think so. With that in mind, let’s check out his latest effort, the titular Green Messiah, a farcical romp in 1630s Sussex featuring a super-powered alien plant boy, a giant tree, man in black references and magic plants.
There’s probably a comparison I could do with Rob Kuntz’s Garden of the Plantmaster but today we are having Lotfp for dinner so let’s just dig in. Green Messiah is at the higher end of Green’s work (still below Forgive Us, his best work), loaded with fun ideas but utilizing sufficient organization so that it gives the GM something to work with. It’s still on the light side organization-wise but it works and there are enough moving parts to add some gameplay in between the chuckles. It is also spiked with puns and written in a conversational style, but it’s light enough that an initial readthrough should cement the three factions in one’s head, with highlighting on individual locations and creature entries allowing for sufficient differentiation.
So! Alien space plants landed in Sussex in 1624, leaving a single survivor, who is raised by the (take a drink) the Clark Household. Now the space-vegetable man is 6 years old, and intent on taking over the world with alien fauna. A giant 400′ tree is visible in the heart of Sussex. A band of opportunistic bandits wants their loot back, it happens to be buried on the site of the Giant Tree. And then a religious cult shows up that things Robert Green is Jesus Christ. Aaand a rival adventuring party from the Royal Horticultural Society. The village inhabitants have been replaced with alien carrot-dopplegangers. The Green Messiah awakens! Enter the PCs!
Green Messiah is a strong example of a silly adventure with plenty of crazy ideas that mostly work. The Green Messiah is fairly weak (2 HD only) but he can inhabit the shape of any carrot-doppleganger within 8 miles Agent Smith style, and he is invulnerable while in contact with plants or the ground. A weakness, X3 style, good idea. The shapechangers will probably attempt to replace the PCs. You can eat your own clone and get some sort of benefit from it. The rival adventuring party is clearly a thinly veiled Man in Black Ripoff. The Tree is surrounded by a non-euclidean hedge (not a dungeon sadly, we get a teeny tiny one below the roots), inhabited by lambent mutant badgers and carrot men. It’s memey, its not terribly complex but it’s fun.
I think an opportunity is missed to reward some clever investigation by making it possible for the PCs to bypass some of the bullshittery in the hedge-maze or find the weakness of the Green Messiah by using, say, Speak with Plants on some plantlife that is poorly disposed towards him. As is Kelvin considers the use of the Speak With Plants spell but makes using it in the maze rather useless. I think a missed opportunity? I see some opportunities to ‘punch up’ the script, by suggesting, say, a course of action for the agents but unlike, say, the high-concept More Then Meets the Eye, we are given ample material to work with. The GM is going to have to figure out when to introduce the various factions but their starting locations are noted so this should not be overly challenging.
I am warming up to the scenario. It’s charming. There’s good treasure but only the bandits know where it is and they will be savy and attempt double-crosses and other shenanigans. Alternatively, you can cart off a weird alien ship pod. I also appreciate the open-ended nature of the scenario, as killing Robert is bound to be very hard and destroying the giant fuckhueg tree is also going to require considerable effort (though knowing PCs, it will inevitably involve fire or Gunpowder, how much barrels can I get for d6*500 sp?). The conclusion of having to climb a 400 feet tree to do battle with the Green plant-god ensconced in it’s ligaenous crown, while having survived the various obstacles placed in one’s way would actually be fairly satisfying. ‘Muh Jaqkeying’ yes, the hedge should have been a full fledged dungeon yes, and so on but this is fun stuff.
Kelvin Green, through various side-bars, offers suggestions of spicing up or otherwise modifying the standard formula (by having, say, one of the Agents replaced with a Carrot-doppleganger), actually covers the wrap-up of the scenario (including a Green Messiah victory and an alternate ending), provides a somewhat (?) playable Carrot-Doppleganger character class for the more unhinged GM, offers an appendix N, a lengthy table of mutant fruit effects and manages to invest the whole with a sort of gleefull enthusiasm that is hard to ignore. About half of my Lotfp games have been one shots and this one would be a blast, though I suppose that if you follow my campaign model of just-stringing-together-a-bunch-of modules-in-1630-Europe-and-giving-them-branching-paths you can thrown this into wherever you throw Doom Cave of the Crystal Headed Children, provided they go to England and they do not join the Thirty Years War.
There is a sort of baby dungeon underneath the roots of the tree which again is a good impulse, though I must confess it feels a bit empty, the NPC retainer Geoff and any replacement PCs notwithstanding. On the other hand, you did get the random encounter frequency right (also known as basic competence), and phosphorescent rats or tree-men are good stuff.
I think the scenario would be easier to GM if there was a sort of standard response or a table of when the Green Messiah takes heed of the players and when he starts to interfere. Likewise, some default course of action for some of the factions probably would have punched it up. I find the amusing, conversational style of writing acceptable if combined with bolding and critical information is highlighted accordingly, although the frequent allusions to the PCs as bloodthirsty psychopaths (not untrue!) did grate a bit at the end.
This is a charming bit of tomfoolery, worth its asking price for those that were in the market, and I must confess I did immediately purchase Green’s Terror in the Streets subsequently to reading this one, curious to see whether it would be equally charming. I feel Green does a lot of meme adventures but his best work is still the WHF inspired Forgive Us. Maybe Terror in the Streets will be more along those lines? I don’t know if material like this is sufficient for Lotfp to regain its prominence, but with this entry it is certainly not losing ground. I am waiting to find something that will daunt. A strong entry from Green, eclipsing his earlier Fishfuckers. Kudos for avoiding the temptation of doing Plantfuckers, Robotfuckers and Childfuckers.
A zesty ***.
16 thoughts on “[Review] Green Messiah (Lotfp); Lean, Mean, and Beta-Caroteen”
Sounds promising. Is the weakness to put the Green Messiah in a student household, so it dies of lack of water and light? When you feel you need a reward, I think you should review X3 Curse of Xanathon. That should be hilarious.
I think I would describe Kelvin Green as capable, rather than average: he can design a module you actually want to buy and play. Certainly the main adventure in Forgive Us is strong, nearing four star quality, with some nice WFRP style parody. I am looking forward to your review of Terror in the Streets.
Your sometime host Aaron the Pedantic also seems to to doing some Lamentations reviewing, and whilst looking for these I stumbled on you discussing 5e paladins. Very amusing. Buccaneer Paladins?
Capable is fine with me. As long as it’s clear he is at the middle, competent but not spectacular. FU is good stuff!
That stream sucked, honestly. The topic was kind of vague so everyone just sort of rambled. I was able to fit in more jokes about Orc genocide then usual but on the whole it wasn’t great.
Yes I don’t think the topic was the sort to inspire profound thought. Once you have said: (i) the player needs to accept some strictures on the character in exchange for the cool powers; (ii) the further you dilute the archetype of a holy warrior from that inspired by sources like the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, the less useful it becomes; what
else is there to say? I liked the banter about Pirate Paladins whose bailiwick is the edge of peoples’ bathtubs.
Wish I had enough money to buy this as well. Seems like a good one of the lot.
So wait a minute… Kelvin Green posts on Patrick’s blog that he thinks he is bad at this stuff, while his last adventure is called “Green Messiah” and the Drivethrurpg Product text calls him (the author) the Green messiah?
Cool powermove dude 🙂
Gotta take a look at this someday… sounds acceptable 🙂
In my secret headcanon Kelvin Green is some sort of Kaiser Soze secret Sigma male and he was posting that sarcastically while flexing and checking his NFT portfolio but the unfortunate reality is that he might genuinely think this. January has half the fucking OSR moping and moaning with lack of sunlight.
I was tempted to leave a comment on how I quit smoking, worked dead end jobs to slowly build up my resume so I could go from a useless degree to a promising career in IT and this year has seen me gain more views, a house, I’ll probably get married and put out more stuff then ever but what is the use? The older I get, the more I see that tough love, with occasional understanding and compassion, is the way to go. All this wallowing, it is not seemly.
These plague years count double, that’s for sure. Hope you and yours are well.
Probably true. But ones headcanon is just better sometimes 😛
And people are capable of a suprising amount of self deception when it comes to such matters.
Patricks post resonated with me more than it probably should have… but you gotta go forward.
“The older I get, the more I see that tough love, with occasional understanding and compassion, is the way to go. All this wallowing, it is not seemly.”
Spot on, spot on. Soldier on, keep your true friends close, a hard truth is better than a sweet lie and deeds speak more than words.
[Me and mine]
The wife is fine, the kids being 5 and 3 respectively are basically indestructible balls of manic energy and I’m smack in the middle of the ascend back to “normality” (or whatever passes for it these days)
Had a mental breakdwon september last year, spend 6 weeks in a psychiatric hospital, then another 6 weeks at home, then went back to work, then quit work and applied at university.
So I’m basically in the middle of turning my life around 😉
But I don’t regret it and am hopeful for a better future… and that I may publish something, someday… at least this way Aaron will stop nagging me 😛
Sorry to hear that you have been having a tough time. Good luck with University. I am looking forward to Shell of Telvion, whenever it appears. You have talent.
There are only two certainties in life: Malrex demanding your module, and taxes.
Heavy stuff, glad to hear you got through the end. I hope the university will help you achieve what you want to achieve. You are a smart guy, you’ll get there.
I think I was close to a burnout when I tried doing recruitment, not good, like something inside you just snaps. Glad I do something better now.
There’s some sort of fine line where you bust someone down but you don’t crush them. It is true that displays of sympathy are easy, while confrontation is hard.
Aaron nags because he cares. If your publisher is good they will nag you.
Hey, Prince, long-time reader, first-time commenter etc etc
First off, don’t be a dick. You just had to weigh in under False Patrick’s blogpost, which had nothing to do with RPGs, just so you can put his RPG work down. Everyone (or at least everyone not bloated with self-importance) has their moments of self-doubt. Let the man speak about it. He was not being histrionic like some of the Twitter drama queens/sacred crackpots.
Second, I question the philosophical underpinnings of your continual review-score revisions. Are you running a review blog or a best-of-all-time blog or a living document enumerating your RPG canon? Is a review blog whose review standards and yardsticks change this often truly living up to its stated mission? (There is a reason why most dedicated review outlets have a policy to never revise a review or a review score.) Are you turning into one of those AD&D Fundamentalists, forever worshipping at the feet of GaGy’s dessicated corpse? Are you reserving the ***** tier for his work with others’ is being consigned, at best, to a temporary visit to that tier before being busted down? Do you truly think that so few of the gems of the OSR can offer the same or better depth and richness of play that GG could churn out in the 70s and 80s? How will your next change of mind/stylistic preference/game system affect the scores here? etc etc
First: My stance on Patrick’s rpg-work is well-documented. If he wants to be legend-tier he needs to learn systems and play his own games more. His post most certainly covered his rpg-work directly, he stated that he used some apocalypse world abstract shit when prelapsarian Patrick would bother to engage with the game directly. I don’t feel sympathy for this sort of elitist commiseration extravaganza (I am normal boohoo) and it actually drags other people down too.
Second: A reviewer whose stance is not refined with gained insights is not worth reading. My yardstick for what is excellent work naturally grows as I ascend further into the listings, so my concept of the best and the worst grows with it. The review score is a summary, useful as a comparison. I am not greatly bothered about things in the centre, or 2 stars and 3 stars, but a 5 star rating represents my platonic ideal. I don’t even award it to all the old classics. So some form of consistency at the top is a good thing. I have changed my rating scale exactly once, and have changed my mind on…a few entries? It’s not that I have changed my mind on so many works, it is that my horizons have been broadened and my standards have been raised.
Am I turning into an AD&D Fundamentalist?
No. I like a lot of Gary’s work and recognize it as supremely well crafted when compared to many modern works, but I still have some OSR work in the listings that I consider worthy of superb status. Stonehell, Gardens of Ynn, Better then Any Man, Many Gates of the Gann, In the Name of the Principle! Carcosa etc. etc. I have a page titled Reviews that you can read that lists them. My stance is that there has been meaningful innovation since ye olden days, but a lot of knowledge has been lost.
I’m sure reading Jaquays will improve my understanding too, I don’t know if it will alter my ratings, I don’t worry about that too much. You can read my reviews to get insight into what makes a good adventure, or as a buying guide, or as a creator seeking to improve, or for entertainment or as a topic to spur discussion in the comment’s section.
Thanks for a patient and thoughtful reply to what was, admittedly, a rhetorically overheated comment.
[Your comment on Patrick’s now-deleted post]
I still think that you should have sat this one out. Sure, the post was a drag but it was really only tangentially related to RPGs (the AW point was more about demonstrating burn out than anything else). Sitting on your hands just seems like the polite thing to do. It also better preserves the impression of reviewer objectivity that gives your writings credibility. But you do you.
I did not do a great job explaining myself originally. I conflated two different complaints I had. First, changing the review scores. It’s normal to learn and change your mind as time passes. I would not, however, retroactively change the scores. The occasional article stating how you would rate those modules differently if you were reviewing them today should suffice. Going back and re-tagging them and changing their scores in the “Reviews” page does not seem consistent with the proper ethics of reviewing (again, something that’s crucial to your credibility). It is possible no one else cares about this. So be it, I still wanted you hear it voiced.
The other one was the Gygax thing. I have little in the way of objective reasoning for why that bothers me. Perhaps, I wouldn’t have cared if you didn’t simultaneously demote a number of spectacular OSR modules. And I can’t stand the dyed-in-the-wool grognards who seem convinced that progress is unnecessary as the perfect system and the perfect modules have already been written. Such a view would basically invalidate the need to review anything new. I am not saying that you are one of them. Just thinking out loud why I felt the need to complain about the Gygax invasion of the 5* tier.
Anyway, keep up the good work and all that. Despite my comments, I really do enjoy and appreciate your efforts to educate and entertain us. Maybe that’s why I cared enough to comment.
Hello again Mr. M.
I admit my first instinct was anger, but prudence has taught me to ignore that impulse and I am glad I did.
He actually deleted it? Interesting.
I should leave him be for a long time. This marks a second time I flew off and we do not have the same tolerance for that shit I think. Real life intruding into gaming is not a good thing.
My objectivity stems from my ability to appreciate and evaluate objectively work from people I dislike or hold in contempt, not my ability to be even-tempered.
I think the difference is subtle but it would suffice. I’ll actually take you up on that. That’s a good suggestion.
It can feel like an invasion, but that maybe marks the division between old OSR and new OSR. I keep hearing about militant Grognards that only care about the old stuff, but as far as I can see, these people are a complete fringe, but this idea of the Grognard has permeated the OSR mindset. On the other hand, the current OSR is very removed from its origins, and you do not have the same continuity that existed before. Raggi, Malesewski, Lux, Mckinney, these are guys that are very familiar with the old stuff, so their work builds on what came before.
A lot of the OSR stuff coming out today doesn’t even know, and worse, has no interest in knowing, the legacy of the game. They see themselves as OSR, and beyond rules light material, they have no knowledge of the techniques and theories of the old ways. That is something I seek to rectify. The finest DnD is a continuation of what comes before.
Good advice. A great day to you and yours!
Thanks for the review, Prince. I’m happy you (mostly) like the adventure, and your comments are (mostly) fair.
(I think you undersell the weird fruit random table, but I suppose it is only an appendix.)
I’m pleasantly surprised you liked it enough to buy Terror in the Streets, and I hope it lives up to your expectations. It had a difficult birth, that one.
Again thanks for the coverage. One day I hope I can get four stars out of you. 🙂
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Hahaha the conditionals in the parentheses, they are boring into your soul.
I liked the random fruit table but it is a sort of curiosity, I understand you have put much effort into it but I am curious how much of it the PCs would actually eat after the first try, most of the effects are quite deleterious after all.
In all honesty, I think you have probably improved since Forgive Us, especially considering the later adventures therein. The first outing was very tight and I am predisposed to like serious fantasy more then anything with pop-culture references in it so there is that to consider. Green Messiah is more complex, there are some good ideas that translate into fun gameplay and there is something riotous and crazy about the whole that is infectious. I have good hope you will do a similar, if not better job with Terror in the Streets.
Take care man, don’t knock yourself, you do good work that people enjoy.
A suitably exaggerated tale of the trials and tribulations of bringing Terror in the Streets to publication is now expected.