Continuing my week of +Venger Satanis posts here is his next big one.
The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence
Described as weird fantasy/sci-fi/gonzo, I also wondered if it was a subtle jab at "The Big Purple".
Let's start of with the easy stuff. Yeah, some people are likely to get offended by this adventure. That's not a bug, but a feature, as we say. Typically anything done either to purely offend or go out of it's way to push an agenda is going to suck. I get the feeling here that this is the sort of game he plays all the time. The art is still more "Heavy Metal" than it is "Hustler" and there is a solid 80s vibe to reading it all. Please keep in mind this aesthetic when reading; it is a guiding principle that fits the art and the game design. I think in someone else's hand it would have come off as crass or even as complete shit, but VS owns this. There is an honesty here that can be respected.
This book is a campaign book/hexcrawl/sandbox. The PDF is 110 pages and packed. It would make for a gorgeous looking book and it would sit nicely on my shelf with my other books circa 1983.
VSd6: This is a new mechanic introduced for skill checks/ability checks. He mentioned it has been influenced by 100s of other d6 based mechanics and you can see that here. It is an interesting system and provides some nice dramatic elements to the game, but not something I am planning on using myself.
Darker Secrets: This book also brings over the "Dark Secrets" idea/tables from Demon Slayer. So in some respects you can use this book as a means to "beef up" the Demon Slayer adventure, although you don't really need too. Though adding in the changes to magic that this book does might be fun.
The Monk: This campaign guide also features a Monk class. It is not too far from the AD&D1 standard, though not as much detail is given.
We get into the islands proper and are given some background; 20,000 years of background to be precise, but only in a couple of pages. The interesting bits happened in the more recent past including turning the "Purple Islands" into a penal colony. Yeah, no jabs here at all...
There is a lot going on with these islands and the worship of the Great Old ones is just a small part of it. The wording of the monsters, settings and even location is basic or even vague enough to allow you to put this anywhere. It feels kitchen-sinky enough to fit into places like Mystara (which has a little bit of everything anyway) but focused enough to give you hints that is part of a much larger world. Though I do like the appearance of the Shiny Demon and a preview of "Alpha Blue".
There are pop-culture references galore here, and it is very obvious that VS pulled out every bit of fantasy, sci-fi, euro-sleaze horror and 70s metal he had at his disposal and threw it into a blender with plenty of purple dye. It could have turned out to be a horrible mess, but it doesn't. Instead we get a ton of options spread over three islands.
I have to point out, don't play this as a single adventure. The purpose here really is not to clean out the island, but to explore it. It's a great place to strand some PCs after an ocean-going adventure.
At the end of the book we are given new spells and new magic items.
In the Afterword VS mentions that this product should not be used in isolation. I agree, again I think that this would make for a great semi-tropical island in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The mythos are similar enough, or at least enough to fit together. The only thing that would make it more perfect is if this book could be printed in 7.0" x 8.5" format to fit in my AS&SH box.
Not sure where or how I want to use this yet, but I know I really want to.