I received a free copy of Curse of the Lost Memories from Griffon Lore Games in order to write this review. For those interested, this product is available from the authors’ store at a price of $39.99 (printed copy) and $19.99 (digital copy).
This module represents the first chapter of an extensive and complete campaign: Chronicles of the Celestial Chains. This does not preclude the possibility of playing it as a standalone adventure or as part of a homemade campaign. Two versions are available: one for D&D5e and one for Pathfinder, but the content was created to be easily adapted to other systems, too.
I had the opportunity to speak with the creators of this work and it became abundantly clear that the project was born in the best way, that is from the genuine passion of a group of players; players who wanted to take the adventures they’d enjoyed across years of gaming sessions and set them down in black and white. And there isn’t a single paragraph of “filler”; each element is described with love, so the protagonists can engage with it right down to the fine details.
Walking around the Kingdom of Lothmar
This attention to detail is noted first of all in the original and engaging plot. The campaign takes place in the Kingdom of Lothmar, a vast territory born from the aforementioned years of gaming. As a result, every corner of this place has a story behind it. Lothmar isn’t a substance-less facade, beautiful only on the surface. There are even difficult-to-find places full of character! If this may seem a difficult balancing act, but don’t worry. Every location you will visit in Curse of the Lost Memories is broken down into various facets, together giving you a complete picture. History, inhabitants (with related stat blocks), secrets, factions, and social situations. The history of the kingdom is summarized and recapped at the end of the book, thus making it easier to tie important places to important events of the past (no specifics here, no spoilers).
In the Curse of the Lost Memories, each character is tied in some way to the past of the kingdom. After meeting, they all have strange memories of some of the events that shaped part of this territory. These seem to focus on the aftermath of a terrible demonic invasion. The only problem is the PC’s never participated in those events, as they occurred more than a century and a half ago. Thus, they understand that perhaps together they can unravel the secrets behind these memories of the past. They will experience many vicissitudes along the way, visit fascinating places and meet charismatic characters. All this occurs in a fluid and dynamic way, in spite of the fact it is a pre-made adventure. The PC’s actions have a very real impact on the game world. In this way the variable outcome of the many quests provides opportunity for great immersion.
The protagonists of Curse of the Lost Memories
But who are these characters? I will not reveal too much about the “lost memories” (no spoilers), but they are special. There are some guidelines for some pre-generated characters, and ideas for creating new ones. There are very few limitations on character generation, aside from the exclusion of a few races that are out of context. We note the the creator’s intent, not to restrict too many possibilities and finding an excellent balance between authoring adventure plots to offer and allowing their free exploration.
Character creation follows the normal rules, with a couple of small additions. First, everyone gets bonus skills, for free. Everyone also has good infiltration skills and this underlines the fact that Curse of the Lost Memories wasn’t created to be a succession of fights, rather, it rewards different approaches. In addition to the skills, each player must choose a “boon”, an advantage given (in some way) by those fragments of memories that distinguish him/her. This, however, translates into advantages which, in my opinion, are much too potent and almost overshadow features painstakingly gained by earning levels. +20 on Wisdom / Will saving throws? Too much, even after a pause to properly consider the context.
Finally, this campaign seems to be focused on creating long-lived characters the players can become attached to, in order to be able to play them in a comprehensive and satisfying way. To reflect that (and for necessities of plot), when one of the protagonists dies, they mysteriously awaken near a specific tree, returned to life …. The reason? You must play to find out! In any event, there are penalties to prevent the abuse of this mechanic.
A presentation full of professionalism
Qualitatively, this manual is very good. Functional and beautiful in structure, adequate font, perfectly suited color palette and excellent first impact. Navigating inside is simple and pleasant, thanks to a professional, classic (two-column) and intelligent layout. The materials feel durable and pleasant in hand. Also the solid, hard cover itself conveys an impression of good value.
The illustrations are also beautiful and accompany the paragraphs well, giving life to their contents. They are images created specifically for this manual and that shines through. Even the many and very useful maps are very well made. The only flaw in my opinion is the color choice; to be honest I would have preferred them slightly clearer, in order to facilitate their consultation. Let’s face it, they are still very beautiful; it’s just my personal taste. The most important of the maps are also available for purchase in digital format, so you can easily use them in online games or conveniently print them to play live.
Final thoughts on Curse of the Lost Memories
In general, this adventure left a very positive impression. The professionalism that distinguishes it is truly noteworthy, so much that it can keep up with some of the products of the bigger RPG publishers. Compared to them, however, it seems to me that, while they do not spoil the gaming experience, the work isn’t as well balanced. Graphically it is very beautiful and I’m sure you will feel the need to browse it just for its own sake.
In conclusion, I am very satisfied with Curse of the Lost Memories.
I recommend it to anyone who appreciates deep, immersive campaigns, intent on rising above being just another massacre of monsters. This doesn’t mean that the “action” is missing, however. On the contrary, the balance between role-play and action is simply very well thought out. The story is original and not trivial, something not so common recently. This product is proof that even lesser known publications deserve our trust, deserve a fair read through.