Death Frost Doom
|Death Frost Doom|
|Module published by
|Rule System||Lamentations of the Flame Princess|
|Authors||James Raggi IV|
"I’ve personally only run this adventure, both in its combined finished form and its original separate parts, for characters 3rd level or less. However, I suspect the main issues will remain challenging through sixth level, and there is one reason: At 7th level, spellcasters gain the ability to speak with plants. While it may be unlikely that players think to use this at its most opportune time, doing so effectively turns this adventure into a mapping expedition in an odd location rather than an adventure where participants will stare death in the eye. Even without that concern, when one gets to the higher levels, the ability to stand and fight becomes a viable, survivable option, and by the nature of the foes I would expect this to be terribly unexciting to play out."
- – James Edward Raggi IV, seen here actively trying to get the DM to run the campaign in a way that leaves the players no chance of success, and considering battles, exploration, looting and shit to be "unexciting".
Death Frost Doom is a module for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, written by James Edward Raggi IV. The adventurers will explore a cave that was used as a place of worship by an evil cult long ago. They will also die, either due to a death trap or boredom.
As you read this module, you may notice that the ideal scenario for the players is to enter the dungeon, don't interact with anything or try something out of the ordinary, pick up whatever treasure lie here, and get out immediately. Indeed, this is all part of the masterplan of James Edward Raggi IV to punish player that would dare having fun. On the other hand, if they try anything foolish, like say using their character in the way they are supposed to be used, they will meet certain death, despite the author claim that "there are multiple means of escape once those events are triggered" (a lie).
|This article contains spoilers! You have been warned.|
A long time ago, an evil cult has taken home on top of a mountain. They are long gone now, but the place is still haunted. The adventure begin with the party hearing about it, and deciding to investigate.
The first part of the module is the actual trek to the house that serve as an entrance for the cult stronghold. The second part is the inside of the house, and the third part is the cave beneath the house (the actual place were the cult members were doing their thing).
The first thing the players meet is an old hermit who watches over the graves of the cult's victims (they were mostly children). Closest thing to a normal nice NPC the author has made in a long time. He tries to convince them to move on, with many dire warnings, then with non-lethal-but-desperate force if they persist, running away in terror if they keep on pressing on rather than be at ground zero to what he suspects might be coming. Directly by the graveyard too is a magical well of "fuck you" that looks and seems no different to any other well and is perfectly functional. The water also seems perfectly normal and it's only if you drink it that you learn it applies a permanent debuff that causes nearly half your nights to no longer count as rest at all (and in the case of spellcasters, cannot regain their spells if they suffer the ill effects), that sure seems reasonable.
The stronghold has a magical drug sitting in one of the rooms. Should the players be dumb enough to pop it in their mouth they make a roll on a d100 table. In an uncharacteristic move for Raggi, some of the results are positive. But it's a double fake-out, because they will walk away from the stronghold with crippling drug addiction.
The underground are a realistically laid out catacomb (minus the screaming faces) that is loaded down with risk free treasure. One that pretty much is risk free. Yay. Also cursed treasure that gives you permanent disadvantage on your attack rolls, no save. Yay. The stuff's also set in an area with an organ that has the "deadly yellow mold" inside of it, which of course you find out by playing it. Doing this results in everyone either nearby or in the entire room to test vs poison or die, because it wouldn't be Raggi without TPK's handed out like a normal DM hands out loot.
Finally, after all the bullshit (and there's a shitload of it that isn't even mentioned here, like needing to save vs spells or be unable to receive magical healing ever again), you meet a plant making that creepy noise you've been hearing since you entered. The plant bars forward progress, and trying to get past in physical body will destroy it. If the plant dies, within a few rounds, every corpse on the mountain arises as a zombie and tries to kill the party, and there are tens of thousands of the fuckers. Also, turn undead doesn't work on them because fuck you. It's about here that the "realism" of the dungeon's layout kind of breaks down, since the rest of it's built around the assumption players will trip the undead trap and doom everything.
The plant also occupies an area with a pit that has warm air rushing out, and then cooler air rushing in. If you drop something heavy enough or sharp enough into the pit, or cover up the pit, or climb down the pit (and it's a long fuckin' way down), the inexplicable giant sleeping under the mountain wakes up and tears it apart as he climbs up. You instantly lose. Everyone dies, no saving throw of any kind allowed, and all the dead come back as a bonus on top of this because the plant dies even if you found some way to bypass it or asked it to move, though his awakening will at least destroy most of them.
There's more stuff in there, like a big spider, a couple traps that really fuck up anyone who reads anything they see out loud, and at the end an ancient vampire who wants the players to drag his sarcophagus back to civilization in exchange for helping them escape the zombie horde, assuming they get to him. But all in all there just isn't a lot other then wandering in the dark unless the party's being mobbed by a functionally-limitless army of living dead. Most players will either give up due to boredom or trigger the zombie apocalypse and drop an undead bomb on the campaign setting. Because if there is one thing GMs love, it's one shot modules making the entire rest of the campaign about them.
Unless, as the module itself notes, you've got a druid around who can politely ask the plant to move out of the way, preventing the zombie apocalypse and allowing the players to raid the rest of the dungeon in peace. Though, as the entire thing is designed as a bit of a "fuck you" trap, there's not much left once you've already scavenged heaps of gold off the corpses and then moved on. As mentioned in the topquote, Raggi asks the DM's who run this campaign to do this module before the players have the ability to ask the plant to move, making it impossible for the players to end the module without awakening the zombie horde and fucking up the entire campaign. If there's another thing both DM's and players love, it's buying a module and learning the only way to win is not to play it, and that playing it 'correctly' is boring as shit. Raggi also notes that in his three playtest sessions for the module, all three campaigns ended up being railroaded into failure, so he considered it a job well done.
For some reason there's also an alternative entrance to the dungeon that's supposed to be nearly impossible to discover (and that players would need to spend in-game weeks searching for unless they speak to the dead, which has its own dickery) that bypasses the vast majority of the dungeon (including the dead rising) and nearly all of the danger, to serve as an exit once the party trips the trap.
The module ends with an account of just how many goddamn zombies the party just reanimated, and that the surroundings are probably fucked.
There is then a small bonus adventure.
Small bonus adventure
There's a tower, built by the same evil cult that keeps showing up in all the author's work. It is explicitly designed as a screw-you trap to kill adventurers. They get pointed there by a conveniently-placed treasure map and key.
The door is guarded by an intimidating looking but feeble and tired old creature, which keeps being resurrected to continue this charade unless someone throws bless on the thing that contains the final boss. The door is actually a shapeshifting monster that attacks and devours anyone who doesn't have the key.
From there, the rest of the dungeon spins a yarn about a princess in the top of the tower, and how wealth, glory, and princess booty awaits one who deliberately strips off all his gear, throws it in a suspiciously-full bin loaded with what looks a lot like the gear of many previous adventurers, and then walks past the creepy, well-armed bone golem guards (because Raggi gives them all the advantages of being undead and also makes them immune to being turned) to the top of the tower. One at a time, in single-file only please.
Naturally, as all but the most-dis-embrained have probably gathered from the incredibly-obvious signs that others have gone through this rigmarole before, and the profusion of rats that keep getting mentioned who must have some kind of food source, it's a trap, and the sarcophagous on the top floor, surrounded by broken glass (too much to have come from the fallen chandelier in the room with her) so anyone walking up to it will make lots of noise, contains a wight who attacks anyone that opens it, gets automatic surprise if they're somehow dumb enough to buy into this trap, and drags their souls off to be tortured by a dark god for all eternity when she kills them. The only way to prevent everything from restoring itself after they leave even if the adventurers figure out they're being played and kill everything is to bless her sarcophagus after killing her.
All corpses are dumped behind a curtain, where rats eat them to bones, then carry their shinies off to dark masters, who put the key and map somewhere in the world so the cycle goes on.
Also, if you try to grappling hook into the top-most floor without braving the door, it's not connected to the rest of the dungeon, and is actually a zone of magical darkness filled to the brim with sharp objects that slowly grind anyone who falls in into bloody rat chow unless he can make a couple thematically odd saves and has enough hitpoints to survive climbing out.
The ending then sarcastically notes that the tower contains no actual treasure. Why a DM would want to send the players on a mini-adventure where there is no mystery (as it's made incredibly obvious very early on) and no reward is something you'll have to guess for yourself.