The Fenworthy Inheritance Review
An Adventure Written, Illustrated, and Edited by Simon Todd
The Fenworthy Inheritance is a love letter to pulp era fiction. More than that, it is also a fine example of the GORE rules in action and does more than a little to support that system. For those unfamiliar, the GORE system, or Generic Old School Roleplaying Engine, is a retro-clone of the BRP system that is by Chaosium. The first thing I will mention is, Simon Todd manages to explain the entire GORE system and how it operates in just 5 pages. So even if you have never played a single Chaosium game, you can play and run this adventure. This kind of knocks my socks off. So if the premise of this adventure sounds interesting, you can safely pick it up without the need of a rulebook.
The premise of the adventure is a group of acquaintances and friends (the players) take a leisurely drive to holiday in Dartmoor. Along the way, they experience car trouble before making it to their destination, Whitehorse Farm. It is here the adventure begins and the tone of it slowly becomes more dreadful. The pace that is set through exploration and investigation by the players certainly has all the hallmarks of a Lovecraftian tale. Whitehorse Farm is within the environs of Fenworthy and this is the primary area where the story unfolds. Long ago an ancient elemental force, not quite evil and not quite good was imprisoned beneath the surface. Even dormant and in prison, it leaks its foul presence into the surrounding countryside.
Many civilizations are able to see the power but never guess at its origin. It is not until 1854 that a being capable of tapping into its reservoirs of power came. Lydia, a witch of some power, ensorcells the mind of a visiting British lord and comes to Fenworthy as his bride. It is not long before she has made her own group here and with the power of this ancient force performs rites at certain local ruins. Her husband upon returning breaks up her group, and impregnates her before leaving to return to Turkey. Lydia gives birth to the lord’s son while secretly plotting her husband’s demise. She ensures her husband dies but not flawlessly leaving letter proof of her complicity. Lydia dismisses her staff and restores her coven but it is not long before she has to answer for her crimes.
The adventure hooks
This is the introduction to this adventure, however, do not let it fool you for a moment. This tale has so many turns and twists M.Night Shyamalan would be giggling with glee. The adventure takes place in the roaring twenties in England and features real-world locations and quite a few historically accurate stories as well. A comprehensive history of the region is given, and the fiction of the module is cleverly interwoven. The players are quickly walking into the bizarre, as strange animal tracks, a young girl’s grisly murder and strange locals covering up the death pose disturbing questions. Why do the police insist on brushing them off. Local stories of Bucca (earth gnomes) abound and strange stone circles attract more than dust and moss.
A lot of the plot requires the players to be actively hunting for clues. I do have the concern that if your players are not used to sleuthing you may have to do a lot of prodding to make that happen. Fortunately, Mr. Todd gives a lot of different behaviors to choose from for his NPC’s. In one case a man runs but if he is caught he relays the information they need. If instead, he gets away they encounter him in a different spot to get the information. Unlike typical dungeon crawls, much of this adventure hinges on players using abstract thinking. I highly recommend having them watch a Hitchcock movie or something Vincent Price prior to playing in this module. It is that kind of mindset that is necessary. Ultimately the players must race against evil machinations of a man born of scorn, the endless plotting of an elemental force beyond the scope of man
The artwork is good throughout the Fenworthy Inheritance. Mr. Todd interweaves real 1920’s photographs with his art style that strongly reminds me of Stephen Gammell. I think the black and white photographs really add to the authenticity and believability of the scenario. The paper quality is decent, but I have to admit I have two personal issues that may or may not be selling points for some. I dislike anything that is spiral bound and I do not like when things are odd sizes to where they will not fit on some bookcases. The modules measure about 11 3/4 inches tall. Spiral bound notebooks with repetitive use have pages stick or tear at the rivet areas and that I dislike as well. Overall, that is certainly not worth skipping this excellent offering for. The maps are clean with great organization and easy to follow.
Where can you get it?
The Fenworthy Inheritance reflects a touch of Lovecraft, a pinch of Bloch and a LOT of originality. It is a refreshing take on dreadful horror and is sure to leave your players with a few memorable moments. You can currently purchase The Fenworthy Inheritance and other Montidot Ltd products at DrivethruRPG and be sure to check out the author’s blog. Simon Todd discusses and showcases some of his artwork and projects there.
Until Next Time,
Keep rolling them bones,