Friday, December 16, 2016

Product Review: Blood in the Chocolate

For: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
By: Kiel Chenier
Cost: 19.25 Euro  print+pdf
$7.99 pdf

Sometimes the stars align just right.  In this case it was that my daughters discovered Willy Wanka and the Chocolate Factory and in that wonderful way kids do have been wanting to watch it again and again, just about this time LotFP released Blood in the Chocolate.  As I’m a glutton for punishment the local market has been having a sale on Milka bars- so my life has been awash in chocolate as of late.
First and foremost Blood in the Chocolate is “inspired by” the work of Roald Dahl (or perhaps more accurately the film my kids have been watching).  The quotes are because it IS NOT a D&D adventure that apes the story you know.   It is far far darker. 
The Chocolate factory deals very little with the production of chocolate.  We see the river where it is mixed, and plenty of experimental rooms of whimsy, and find that despite being a chocolate factory Wonka is in fact very diverse in the realm of candy and confection production. 
Blood in the chocolate on the other hand pays a slightly more realistic approach to chocolate production.  Other confections are ignored, however much of the factory is just that- a factory.  Although a pre-industrial age setting, it brings all the fun of “The Jungle” to the table top.   Grinding gears and molten chocolate are a subtle danger at nearly every turn (well, subtle until your scarf is pulling you closer to the gears, or 3rd degree burns on your hand and face from trying to drink the stuff like the kid in the movie did…)
The best part of the whole thing is that as weird and twisted as the adventure can be, it is all done with subtlety.  There isn’t any obvious encounter- no monster to fight when you kick down the door.  You do have a villain and a mob of fanatical followers though, so things can go south very quickly.  Of course they can also go south if you are nice too.  If for some reason the players completely ignore the adventure it can still have it subtly affect the game as others are affected by the rare side effect of the chocolate.
Unlike Wonka where punishments were doled out to children who needed to learn a lesson, here you almost root for Slugworth to win.  The punishments are doled out indiscriminately (i.e. the players, but hey, the probably broke and entered, and are at least contemplating theft if not murder). And the factory owner of this place, is not spritely or clever, she is mean, vain, and evil.  So then again, perhaps everyone gets what is coming to them after all. 
They layout of the book makes it easy to read, the art is fantastic; complete with a walkthrough of a possible outcome in the .pdf version. 
And yet… it feels like there is a little something missing. 
With the sheer number of mini-minions in the factory, it would have been nice to have some non-combat encounters included with the little guys.  As is they occupy the entire factory and they just seem a bit dry, sure goblins don’t get exposition in adventures either, but these guys are at least pretty benign and possibly helpful as long as the factory owner isn’t directing her wrath at you (then be warned, you could easily end up the victim of blueberry gang bang rape). 
This can easily be solved by a bit of planning on the storytellers part (and really how often do goblins get exposition?)
This adventure is a definite module to pick up though, the familiarity that probably every player has with Willy Wanka makes the changes off putting enough to instill a good sense of creepiness (even without the ferryboat ride) for your players and still be entertaining. 

Like Most LotFP adventures the setting is pretty harsh, and even a party that gets through with no casualties will more than likely come away with several scars (mental and physical).  

1/26/17 update

I came across this and it pretty much captures everything I imagine this module to be:

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