The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile (OSR)
This little module clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/how to use, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So, this module is a horror-comedy centered on a rather unique adversary, the eponymous Velkis the Vile. The module uses LotFP (Lamentations of the Flame Princess) rules as the chosen OSR rules-set, and may be converted to other OSR games with relative ease. An important note: While the module could be easily slotted near or in other complexes, it works by far best when the players have a history with Velkis and actively seek out the small complex depicted within. The respective locales do not come with fleshed out read-aloud text (with one exception), and spell references are not italicized and instead use an alternate font – not ideal, but better than nothing. On the plus side, referees do get some nice pieces of advice for running this and its unique villain. As for level-range…basically, there is none. This module could potentially be run for pretty much any level, and there is a reason for that.
It should be noted that this supplement does require a somewhat experienced referee to run properly. You’ll see what I mean by that below.
But in order to get into that, I need to go into the SPOILERS. Potential players of this scenario should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only referees around? Great! So, Velkis is known as the undead man, and sometimes as demon or worse; as an asterisk’d section lets us know, this’ll make him break out in laughter. The penmanship here is rather neat, making the section surprisingly fun to read, even before we get to what makes Velkis more unique than being just an undead magic-user. The fellow is tall, gaunt, wears a red toga – and has no spells. His stats note 6 HD, unarmored AC and a paltry attack that doesn’t kill the target, but instead renders them docile and makes them shamble to his lair, becoming (statted) servants of Velkis. Here’s the thing: When Velkis speaks, folk listen. Why? They have no choice. On a failed save, the target is compelled to fulfill his requests…and there is no duration to this. The compulsion can only be shaken by Velkis being killed. This would make him a nigh-unstoppable monster, but thankfully for all involved, Velkis is stark, raving mad, his enunciation riddled with loopholes and ramblings. The pdf freely acknowledges how dreadfully effective he could be, were he sane, and features 12 sample utterings.
In combat, he can make 2 requests per round – at any time, even if it’s not his turn! Velkis does not leave footprints, and doesn’t drip when made wet. When Velkis is killed, he respawns in his boudoir at half HD for 24 hours – and his dead body does decompose.
Which brings me to the second component: The second half of the module is devoted to a 5-room mini-dungeon, with the map in full-color, a grid – and the map is generally player-friendly, lacking the annoying immersion-breaking numbers. The map has no scale noted, though. We get a description of the lair’s exterior, an open grave in an untended cemetery. At the bottom, there is a cleverly hidden wooden door – and this leads into the inside. This also is the only part where we get a brief read-aloud text. The first room has an interesting opening mechanism for further progress, one that, uncommonly for LotFP, potentially causes Constitution damage. Deeper inside the lair finds a nauseating, unnatural light and a dead tree that oddly, sports rotting, withered apples, surrounded by the slain – the tree is magical, dangerous, and nourished by blood, so the PCs better be careful!
In the torture chamber, the PCs may well rescue a rather horribly injured man, who may not be all he seems, and beyond that, a massive amount of nooks and crannies hide undead creatures, giant centipedes. Here, we once more have 12 surprisingly detailed nooks that include invisible chests or scroll cases. Finally, the PCs will find a horrible study, where Velkis scribbles books in blood, full of insane ramblings. Books and the horrid sights here can help find the way to perhaps get rid of Velkis. The section also allows clever PCs to piece together a new level 3 magic-user spell, namely exsanguinating palm. Beyond that, we get a QIE (Questions I Expected) about handling Velkis and attempts to destroy the fellow. Suffice to say – it’s not easy. And yes, I could have spoiled how you can defeat Velkis…but I won’t do that here in the review. You’ll need to get the pdf to find out!
Editing and formatting are very good on a rules language level, good on a formal level. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, and artworks are hand-drawn, nice and b/w. The cartography in full-color is nice, though I would have loved to see a one-page, larger version that could be used with VTTs. The pdf, surprisingly for its brevity, comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Nick LS Whelan’s little module/villain was a pretty amazing surprise. The supplement may not look like much, but Velkis is a really creative and novel villain that should be absolutely amazing, particularly when he’s used time and again, when he’s allowed to establish a rapport and reputation with the PCs and players. The module is unique, deadly (a few save-or-dies may well happen), but these do make sense in the context of this supplement; these are based on risk-reward, as in the better modules out there. Oh, and one more thing – this is Pay what you Want. This is pretty awesome, and honestly, I was a bit surprised to see that this was the author’s first published module – and I hope to see more of them! Considering the PWYW-nature and all, I rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. Definitely worth leaving a tip for, and Velkis’ unique angle makes this potentially interesting for non-OSR-games as well.
You can get this cool mini-adventure here on OBS for PWYW!