Friday, April 6, 2018

Foul and Deep and Poopy

Let's talk for a second about the term 'Fatberg', shall we?

I can do that. I'm a dad. I can say 'poopy' and without irony and it's totally fine. I say to normal adults all the time "HEY MAN I GOTTA GO POTTY BE RIGHT BACK" before I even understand what is coming out of my mouth. It's a byproduct of fatherhood, and I hope that one day it will pass. I would never say SHIT at my house unless my kid was asleep since, excuse me!, that's a potty word.

A disclaimer, here. I kept hearing about the Barrowmaze a couple years ago. I guess I'd been out of the RPG scene for a long time, maybe 12 to 15 years depending how you reckon it. I was looking for PbP forums to get back into it, sort of low-commitment. Heh! Don't let anybody tell you that PbP is low commitment, by the by. Anyway, I stumbled upon Daniel Bishop's Barrowmaze PbP and quickly found I had little knowledge of the system (DCC) and not nearly enough time to stay on top of it, and so I found GeePlus and thus was history. I wouldn't have found DCC without lagging behind in Daniel's game, and so I shelled out the squibs for a PDF and haven't been impressed like that since maybe the first time I read my AD&D1e DMG!

I have a soft spot for DCC, and Daniel Bishop's stuff. There. I coulda said just that and been fine.

I picked up "Both Foul and Deep" which appeals to the "Underground Explorer" part of my brain. I think when we think of adventures in sewers, we think of "Big Trouble In Little China", the escape from Ladyhawke, and the only other examples I can recall are like C.H.U.D. and some really awful scenes in Aliens Vs. Predator II, and maybe I guess the climax of "IT" by Stephen King. For those, it's drippy water, narrow walkways, and rats. Lots of rats. There's an Indian Jones sewer scene. A lot of CRPGs start with Rats in Sewers. Elder Scrolls: Arena. Lots of Neverwinter Nights freebie modules (i think the sewer steam tunnel set was one of the better ones). I think that we ROMANTICIZE the fantasy sewer, oddly enough, and think that it's a good place to have adventures. We're probably REALLY thinking of the Catacombs of Paris and London and Rome when we think about sewer adventures, when in reality a sewer crawl would be awful, wet, cramped, and torturous. I think this may be the first product I've ever seen that really addresses just how much SHIT you'd find and how sick you'd get if you are so bold and rather let's say FOOLHARDY to go into the sewers of any medieval metropolis, fantasy or no (in reality, I don't think we really had sewers until the early part of the modern era, like maybe late 1800 's early 1900's).

There is a lot of poop in this product. A lot of feces. A torrent of shit. A river of shit. A lot of slime, sewage, and disease. Plenty of awful monsters that have poopy abilities and none would be a good way to die, and all of them would probably not be fun to fight. There's some rationale for having humanoid/human encounters in the sewers - really everybody and everything else you meet down there are likely to be desperate and murderous or at least have the potential for it.

There's a brief adventure/starter with some novel encounters, a couple of dozen new monsters (terrifying owing to their ferocity and filthiness),  also a DCC Patron at the end. I would bond a PC to the Patron Squallas just to drown an enemy in an extradimensional river of shit just one time.

The production values are high, the writing is intelligent and terse, and the Carrion Moth and the Phantom Gentleman are worth the reasonable price of admission. The question remains: how would I tempt the PC's to enter into the accurately-rendered shitty environs of the sewers of say the 3e Ravenloft undercity of Paridon? Poop smells bad! Poop in a toilet smells bad! Poop in the open smells bad (I drove by Tijuana once, I'm just saying)! Poop on the inside the endless world beneath the toilet probably also smells bad!

Fatberg. Look it up!

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