Furthest Farthing’s Frog Pond of Existential Ennui (system neutral)
This supplement is essentially an experimental one-page adventure with supplemental material on the back – it comes in two iterations, one with a black background, and one with a white background that’s more printer-friendly. The two versions are not identical in content, though – both have different “back covers”/second pages – think of this as 3 pages of content.
Now, first things first: This is a horror adventure, ages 18+, and prominently features themes of suicide. If the “existential ennui”-header and the “the Gardens of Proserpine”-quote at the top weren’t ample clue, the module also explicitly provides another warning. Two thumbs up for that.
Anyhow, the module works best as a kind of village backdrop and metaplot adventure beyond others – it is surprisingly effective when interspersed into a campaign making liberal use of Raging Swan Press’ Village Backdrop-series. Just saying…
While a surprisingly solid b/w-map is presented, it doesn’t have a scale or the like and is pretty small, providing essentially just a theater-of-the-mind style context for you.
The module sports no stats, but actually doesn’t need them, because it does something pretty clever (and fun). The version with the black background sports an experimental poem by Lauren Dove (“Ash Cycle”; If you like bleak and experimental poetry, you might well enjoy this. To provide a brief excerpt:
Punkwood soot, still
Burned stuck onto his
Pressed into your tongue
The choking taste
Watches you writhe
No, I enjoy edgelord/lady-ish poetry and beat-aesthetics, so I appreciated this. It’s highly subjective, though.
What’s not subjective is the second page of the printables-page.
But in order to discuss it, I need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
Only referees around? Great! So, Furthest farthing is a little, bucolic thorp, beset by crippling melancholy. The 12 poor inhabitants (all characterized with a brief sentence or two) will all succumb to suicide, due to the malign influence of a black star that feel, fist-sized, near the pool. Whenever a day passes, there is a 10% chance of a target succumbing to severely depression. Each NPC has 1 – 3 checkmarks before existence wears them down and they succumb. The only long-term solution for this mysterious affliction? Well, turns out that a giant, immobile and very hungry frog is guarding it – and the closer you get to it, the more it grows, allowing you to enter.
Inside, the energy conduits inside must be severed, but are guarded by The Thing With The Ten tentacles….which can’t be slain. You see, page two of the printable-pdf is actually a mini-game handout. The Ten Tentacle Thing can attack through the Black Star’s interior,, and you print out that page: On it, you can see the tentacles, and make a kind of border around with a few cuts. Then you roll inside of this handout, and when you hit a tentacle and cause enough damage (or just hit at all – this is system neutral), you sever the tentacle at that part, allowing you to easily mark it off. It’s a fun, unpretentious idea to make the obligatory tentacle-thing fight in many a weird fantasy/horror module more fun.
As an aside: If the above seemed weird to you, I have a picture of the assembled handout on my homepage – see above. I SUCK big time at anything arts-and-crafts-related, and, well, even I managed to assemble it. Feel free to laugh and point fingers at me. 😉
Editing and formatting are good for an indie production. Layout adheres to a 3-column vertical standard, with the printable pdf being sufficiently printer-friendly. The pdfs have no bookmarks, but need none at this length. It’d have been nice to get a version of the map sans labels, or for VTT-sized.
Evey Lockhart’s little excursion to Furthest farthing is a nice offering: It isn’t a mind-blowing revelation or anything, but it is experimental without compromising immediate table-use. You can run this with 5 minutes of prep-work, if you so choose. The mini-game reminded me of dungeon fighter, which I certainly appreciated. While system neutral and probably intended for OSR-ish contexts, it’s also sufficiently easy to adapt to more complex games: With brief statting of the antagonists, using the module for 5e or PFRPG is pretty simple – extra points if you use Everybody Games’ fantastic “Microsized Adventures” for a PFRPG-version…but that’s just a recommendation.
All in all, this is surprisingly and refreshingly unpretentious for a module that features poetry; it is bleak and dark, but also rewarding. Oh, and it’s PWYW. And for that? Seriously worth a tip! As such, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded up.
You can get this experimental little file here on OBS!
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