Review: A Red and Pleasant Land
A most intriguing supplement, set in “the Place of Unreason, Voivodja.” Just pop through a looking glass and take a quick cup of tea with the Mad Hatter, but look out for the Red King, a blood thirsty ancient vampire who constantly battles against a colourless Heart Queen, who bathes in the blood of her foes when not playing croquette.
Some women, some men and most children know that dreams leak. A lifetime of thinking it that way in your sleep can make a drawer on a drafting table three or four inches wider on a side.
But there are longer lives than ours. And longer dreams.
There is a Red King, and he is terrible and he is tall. He wears a red crown. The long red years have made him strange and he hides from the sun, sleeping, his strange dreams making unseen days stranger. Sleeping, he dreams of ruin and of distortion— of an Antiland, reversed and red.
When he opens his red eyes in the red night there is his red land: it is inverted, rigid, and wrong.
There is a cruel Heart Queen: she is in a different castle and she is on a different mountain and she sleeps in a different wooden box but she is also hiding and dreaming. She dreams into being a world unending, unbeginning, with wonder and murder, disruption and unreason.
And melancholy green gardens. And it is there now. And hers.
Their home is called Voivodja but it has other names now: The Land the Gods Refuse To See.
Zeu Orb. Orb Dumnezeu. Isten Vak.
The Place of Unreason.
-A Red and Pleasant Land p.7
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass meets Gothic Horror. The entire world is anther plane of existence, but one who’s rulers reach through and affect other worlds.
Using the ‘Lamentations of the Flame Princess” rule system. A system compatible with earlier editions of D&D, 2nd edition and earlier, as the system uses THAC0 (To Hit Armour Class 0).
‘A Red and Pleasant Land’ is epic in proportion for its rather small book size. The book contains ideas, and tons of tables. You wont find stat blocks of creature or others, but instead fantastic art, and ideas to take forward into any game. In this regards it reminds me of AD&D’s Dungeon Masters Guide (1979), which was full of great ideas, advice for running a game, and all kinds of tables. Even though the original DMG (1979) only had 238 pages, it was full of everything! Even the modern 5th edition DMG (2014) doesn’t seem as robust as the first edition – but then it isn’t building the framework for role-playing games as we know them today.
The original Dungeon Masters Guide (1979)
A Red and Pleasant Land
I see ‘A Red and Pleasant Land’ on this level as one of the first things in the book is “How To Use This Book” (p.8):
- Use the book as written – as a campaign setting or location within an existing campaign
- Take from the book what you want or need – disregard the rest
- Read the book and not use anything
- Murder something with the book.
It would be easy to say that the main point of this book is to call upon things that are “weird”, “Surreal”, and allow you to game in a “bizarre” world.
Some favorite tables in ‘A Red and Pleasant Land’:
Guests of any Bishops, they are all randomly invited creatures from across the planes (p.46).
The powerful magics of the Hatter, who “has tremendous powers over-and difficulties with-time” (p.52). You be its a random time event table that the Hatter has for powers!
Adventure Hooks (p.148): a table of 20 quick ideas for an adventure. Some inspiration and imagination may be required.
There are even tables that you roll on… as in items are chosen by where the dice land – ON THE TABLE! These tables are for random generated Forests, Gardens, and Interior’s (p.166- 168).
Video: Questing Beast. A Red and Pleasant Land: Old-School D&D Setting Review. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e88wIcwy3J0