So, I've said time and again that I LOVE the Lost Lands from Frog God Games. I've loved the setting since it was revealed in various D20 Supplements over 10 years ago. I've recently talked about it here. I love their house game, Swords & Wizardry in all three of it's wonderful flavors. I've even gotten some combat house rules for it published in Goldenrod Guides, A Guide to Combat (published by Open Gaming) which is now also available right here at Drivethru RPG. I like +Matt Finch and I like +Bill Webb. So, it should come as no surprise that I'm promoting another great product from these guys. This one, however, really feels like home to me.
When I got into roleplaying games D&D, both Basic and Advanced were at the forefront. There were definitely other influences there, as well. Chief among these was Games Workshop's "Old World." I probably first saw it through the lens of the Milton Bradley version of Heroquest, but it grew on me quickly. I loved the entire grimdark feel it had. I loved ideas that they wrote about in modules like "The Enemy Within" and "Something Rotten In Kislev." I loved the idea of Realm of Chaos and the Cults that were hidden right in the heart of The Empire itself! Artists like Gary Chalk influenced my D&D games as much if not more than Jeff Easley or Larry Elmore (who was splattered over half of every cover TSR put out in those days.) This grimdark world gave me a love for fantasy that felt like it. Every one of my cities had a dayside and a nightside filled with thieves guilds and shady transactions. That brings me around to the latest Kickstarter in the Lost Lands product line: The Lost Lands: Borderland Provinces.
The cover of the setting book looks like it could be "Greyhawk Dark" and that in and of itself isn't a bad thing. But the second book and the description being given to The Lost Lands setting is really where it's at. Take a look at this cover.
That, is the "nightside" I was talking about earlier. Couple that with this description, as taken from Matt's latest blog entry, "Dark Medieval" Fantasy in the Borderland Provinces :
What do people mean when they talk about “Dark Medieval” as a way of describing the Borderland Provinces, or the Lost Lands, or Necromancer Games books? At a surface glance, the world looks fairly traditional: there are elves, there are halflings, there are wizards … what’s the big deal? How is that “dark?”
Basically, Frog God Games offers a “film noir” version of escapist fantasy, in contrast to Tolkien’s epic and folkloric approach to the same genre. Our adventures tend to have lots of horrific elements underlying the apparent reality, which is why you’ll often see us saying, “All is not as it seems” when we’re talking about the Lands. Where the Forgotten Realms have a strong tendency toward high fantasy and heroism, our world is a bit … well … ickier.
One of the strong themes of the campaign is that beneath the civilized veneer of things, there is actually a seething mass of rot, evil, heresy, and supernatural threat. Again, “all is not as it seems.” The Borderland Provinces campaign book, as a supplement, has more focus on the actual veneer than an adventure book. What does the “normal” world look like when I’m not in one of these dungeons? So there is a lot of material about culture, history, trade, and government that would be a bit boring if it weren’t for the fact that it’s written in a way to best drive the game master’s creativity about what kinds of adventures arise from that context. And of course, it also reveals a lot of information about what’s beneath that veneer, a peek into the aforementioned seething mass of rot, evil, heresy, and supernatural threat.
The Adventures in the Borderland Provinces book, of course, is all about the dark underbelly and nothing about the veneer. I'll have more to say about that book later.
This has high appeal for me. This sits very well with what I like in my fantasy. I've liked it in the other Lost Lands products, but this seems like it may very well become my favorite. Plus, they're putting it out in the three big D&D flavors, 5th Edition, Pathfinder and (my favorite) Swords & Wizardry/OSR! What are you waiting for? Follow the link I have above and let's make this thing take flight!