OSR, Review, roleplaying, RPGs

Review: Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom

I’m back once again with the last of the GenCon exclusives that Lamentations of the Flame Princess put out this year: Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom. Let’s find out if James Raggi really can put the fun into fungi!

250057What you get: This booklet is the longest of the GenCon exclusives, coming in at 44 pages. The cover features some pretty psychedelic art, while inside the first page consists of front matter and there are 13 pages of full-page art, leaving a grand total of 30 pages of gameable content. Available from DriveThruRPG for $7.99 (about £6.23).

SummaryBeneath the Earth, under a Subterranean Sun, is a realm of ambulatory toadstools, scheming and machinating and living their cute little toadstool lives.

Sometimes, they explore the surface.

This book gives all the details of these underworld interlopers in order to enrich your not-in-a-Mushroom-Kingdom campaign.

Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom: “Putting the Fun in Fungi!”

Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom is a mini-bestiary of fungoid creatures designed to spice up your OSR game. According to James Raggi, it results from part of the long-awaited Referee’s book for Lamentation, in which a section on how to build a sandbox style adventure uses the Mushroom Kingdom as an example. The book is chock full of Mushroom Mans, as James refers to them, and sundry other animated fungi, as well as plenty of random tables, psychicdelic effects, adventure seeds and so on.

The Good: For just short of 8 bucks you get a good number of creatures here. Eight different colours of Mushroom Mans (reminiscent of the colours from the races of men in Carcosa) and nine different types of flora and fauna native to the Mushroom Kingdom lurk within the pages, in addition to the Mushroom King, who brings all tribes of Mushroom Mans together, and the Great Tumor, an example of when spores go wrong.

All of the creatures are flavourful and follow the theme of the book nicely, especially the Toadstool Turtle mounts, Bumbleshrooms and the cattle-like Mooshrooms. While at first, the Mushroom Mans all seem pretty similar, with minor variations based on their colour types (e.g. Red Mushroom Mans are faster and get +2 initiative; Black Mushroom Mans are wizards etc.), it is the random effects that they can cause when eaten as a mycelial treat that make them interesting. Of course, there is a downside to sampling multiple Mushroom Mans in a 24 hour period, necessitating a roll on the psychicdelic effects table. This can result in anything from the ingestor becoming invisible and unable to touch anything (including their equipment, which simply falls off them), to a random limb falling off and running away. Hilarity ensues!

The book also provides a neat way for all these bizarre creatures to make their way into your campaign world. Essentially, this involves Mushroom Mans tunnelling up into a dungeon the players are investigating and this portal to the Mushroom Kingdom spewing out spores into the campaign world, with the result that any of the creatures may then become manifest. This may be herds of Mooshrooms, or could result in an organised attack of Mushroom Mans headed by a Mushroom King, or even a Great Tumor, which warps everything around it.

There are also some thoughtful additions in the form of four types of Mushroom Kingdom treasure for your players. These range from the Golden Mushroom, the innards of which are highly valuable, to the Mushroom Pod, a sort of bipedal fungoid vehicle with a flameproof cap and highly flammable innards. Tying the whole thing together is Professor Finkelfunkel, a character who studies the Mushroom Kingdom and who can either help the characters prevent a mushroom incursion, or feed them false information, depending on how he reacts to their actions.

The Bad: The book is well laid out, well written and the art is suitably thematic to stand alongside the text. There are one or two grammatical and layout mistakes, but none stand out to the extent that they detract from reading. Overall the book is pretty dang good! However, it is very, very silly.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. It will fit in great with a gonzo campaign and even has a place in throwing a curveball into a more serious campaign. It reads incredibly well and interspersed between all this silliness are some more grim Lamentations style. It’s just that I cannot see myself using this in my own campaign. So I will say that one should bear in mind that this supplement is pure gonzo before buying it.

The only other issue I had with the book was the spelling of some things. You’ll have seen me refer to the Mushroom Mans (not men) and psychicdelic effects. Both have obviously been chosen for flavour purposes, but I could not help being jarred everytime I read them. I suppose that’s why these spellings were chosen, as they fully fit the flavour of the book, but for me, they were a distraction.

The Verdict: Overall then, Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom is a neat little book. It is packed with some fun, gonzo content that should spice up any campaign with some fungoid craziness. So, James has succeeded in putting the fun back into fungi! However, be warned that this supplement is pure silliness, though there are definitely some ideas and creatures that could be mined for more serious campaigns. It is still a slight step away from the more grim Lamentations products but still fits in with its weird aesthetic.

Style: 4

Substance: 4

Overall: 4

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