So, it's been a long week at work, and I need to unwind. Obviously, the best way of writing this is to write a one page summary post of a truly terrible adventure that I downloaded from DTRPG just because it was cheap and looked awful enough for this thread. I was not disappointed. Herewith: Blood In The Chocolate.
Blood In The Chocolate is an adventure for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the old-school D&D game that gave us the classic adventure Death Frost Doom reviewed by Rulebook Heavily.
Have you heard of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? If by some weird stroke of fate you haven't, it's the story of a bunch of children - including Charlie - who are led around a bizarre chocolate factory by a mad old man named Willy Wonka who employs a staff of racist caricatures called Oompa-Loompas, in which all the children except Charlie misbehave in some way and suffer horrible fates but not really ("She'll be burned to death in the furnace!" "Well, possibly yes, but actually I think that particular furnace isn't lit today..").
What you're more likely to be blissfully unaware of is that Charlie has also been co-opted by a fetish community, thanks to its inclusion of Violet Beauregarde, a girl who obsessively chews gum and who eats an experimental piece of gum without permission and ends up inflated "like a blueberry". Apparently, inflation to ridiculous size gets some people all excited. When I saw the back cover of the book, which talked about the characters having to face "their own melting, inflating, or poisoned bodies", I immediately got the feeling that this could be another Witch Girls Adventures, in which the author not-so-subtly works their own fetish into an RPG.
Well, I was wrong about that. It's not at all subtle. It's not even not-so-subtle. The adventure actually contains a scene where a person inflated into blueberry form is gang-raped by Oompa-Loompas.
So, right. We kick off with a background section, which has a whole bunch of unoriginal stuff to say, in long-winded fashion. Basically, there was an aboriginal tribe in Peru called the Aphayay Aliyu who grew cocoa trees. Five random Mayan magic-using shamans turned up, attacked the tribe, and were killed because caster supremacy apparently isn't a thing in fiction. Their magic infected one of the cocoa trees, turning it into a huge magical tree called Old Growth, which created cocoa with weird side effects that warped the tribesman. It was also addictive, so they kept eating it, and even worshipped and made sacrifices to the tree. Then, a businesswoman-turned-explorer called Lucia De Castillo turned up, was mistaken for a goddess by the tribesman (oh god, yes, you read that, I share your cringe) and got the idea of transplanting the tree into Europe in order to sell the addictive chocolate after "removing the degradation it might cause". I have no idea how she knew she could do that.
Actually, the introduction to the adventure states that the reason Lucia's so rich is that she's selling chocolate in the form of sweet and creamy bars, rather than as a bitter powder for making drinks - essentially, she's duplicated the real-world 1847 invention of chocolate bars but done it several centuries earlier. The only problem with that is that to make chocolate bars you don't need weird addictive cocoa from a magic tree. Essentially, she went off on this grand adventure and it turned out to be practically nothing to do with her actual successful business. We are told that Lucia is "an evil business woman who enslaves those weaker than her because she truly believes she is better, and causes pain and torment because it delights her. Every PC death is a personal victory for her". But there's nothing at all in her background about why she'd so directly evil. And remember that she removes any negative effects from the magical tree's cocoa before selling the chocolate. Still, um, she's doing something evil to get the PCs sent after her, right?
No, actually. The lead for the adventure is that the PCs are hired by merchants to steal stuff from the factory. They'll get 200 silver for a sample of her beans, 100 for her chocolate liquor, 500 for her recipe, 100 for any secret ingredients, 500 for a map of the factory, and 10000 if they can take over the entire factory (which means killing her). So the PCs are literally breaking into her factory to cause havoc for money, and potentially just killing the owner because someone else would rather own the factory. Yet Lucia's supposed to be the evil capitalist. Ew boy.
The factory has three floors; the main floor, the basement, and an upper floor that's just Lucia's bedroom. It's assumed that the PCs are coming to the main entrance near the docks where shipments are regularly offloaded. The adventure tells the GM to roll for what kind of shipment is coming in when the PCs come by: most are things being traded for chocolate, but on a 6, the shipment is: "slaves/test subjects for silver". There is, um, rather less consideration given to what happens if the PCs observe this and then tell the authorities that, um, holy shit, the chocolate factory is slave trading. Other than that, there's a few random guards to sneak by, and the shipping manager Karl Weiss. He'll talk to the PCs, but doesn't know anything about what goes on inside the factory, and Lucia pays him well but that she's a "bit frightening". Anyway, let's get to the meat: when the players actually get into the factory.
The entrance lobby is a small room with a huge painting of Lucia as a goddess on one wall, and hand-shaped coat hooks on the south wall. Examining the coat hooks reveals that they're actual human hands set into the wall and painted gold, and a placard above them reads "The price of thievery". Speaking of thievery, there's also 90 silver worth of coats hanging on the hooks for free. However, if the PCs try to steal the painting, a blast of gas is released, and the players must save vs Poison (there's no Detect or Disarm options listed) or get their first experience of this adventure's big gimmick: the Random Disease Table.
The Random Disease Table is what this adventure makes you roll on whenever you screw up, or generally, whenever it has any excuse to make you do so. It contains the various afflictions that are caused by poisons in the factory derived from the non-cocoa pods of Old Growth. You roll d8, and get one of these:
Noxious Berry Curse. You spend 1d4+1 munites with your skin turning blue, then 10 minutes swelling up to as wide as you are toll, which will burst your armor, reduce your speed to 10', and give a penalty to attack. After 10 minutes like that, you swell up even more to the point you can't do anything, and if that isn't resolved in 12 hours, you explode - and the juice you explode into requires everyone nearby to save vs Poison or suffer the curse themselves. The only cure is to be "juiced", either by the other PCs squeezing you (!) or by the juicing machine in the factory, and even this only turns you back to regular size and suspends the symptoms for a while.
Yep, this is the fetish one. Pretty much everything in this adventure is just intended to provide excuses for the PCs to become subject to this. It's even the only disease that has any significant number of specific uses in the adventure, whereas the others generally only come into play if they're randomly rolled.
Taffy Skin Disease. For 10 minutes your limbs start to stretch longer and longer, and then 10 minutes after that you're a walking pile of taffy. Oddly, all this does is to double your encumbrance and give you an extra 5 foot reach at the cost of -1 to hit.
Terrible Swells. Your voice gets squeaky for 1d6+1 minutes, then you swell up into a 10x10 sphere which floats towards the ceiling. Your armor bursts off your body, you get -2 to attack, and you're a balloon now. This is the first of several hints that this game is based on the 1971 musical film version of Willy Wonka, since this refers to a scene which was added into that version.
Rock Candy Skin. Blood red sugar crystals spread over your body and clothes. They reflect the light (which gives a stealth penalty) but they actually protect you for one hit - -2 to hit until they are actually hit for the first time, after which they smash. You can still take your clothes off, but any new clothes or armor you put on will have crystals form on it too. The flavor text says this also makes your skin itch, but there's no other penalty.
Irresistable Smell. This is.. well, totally ridiculous. After 10 minutes, everyone near you - including other PCs - must save a save vs Magic or try to eat you! They may do nothing but try to eat you, inflicting 1d4 damage with bites, until you're dead or the smell is masked by some other strong scent you put on.
Brittle Throat Disease. After 1d4+2 minutes your vocal cords get encased in nut brittle candy. The book specifically says that the player is now forbidden from speaking as their character. If you screw up and speak, you get stabbed in the throat by the brittle for 1 point of damage, and particles of the brittle are blown at whoever you were speaking to, who then have to save vs Poison or catch the same condition themselves. We do love things that are defined in OOC terms, don't we. The cure is to glug down a gallon of scalding hot liquid (!!) which causes 1d6 damage, but fully cures the disease.
Chocolate Vomit. After 1d8+1 minutes you have to make a save vs Poison every minute or vomit acidic chocolate over the nearest character, or yourself. This ruins all non-metallic clothing and armor.
Uncontrollable Craving. For 2d6 minutes, any time you see chocolate you must save vs Magic or eat it. After that time is up, you have to save vs Magic to do anything but eat chocolate if it is available. The book notes that you will eat until you explode given the chance, but no rules for when this happens. It also has a specific footnote that "any weight gain caused by this chocolate consumption is permanent and cannot be lost". Taking it literally, that presumably means that even starving yourself won't make you lose the weight.. which presumably means you can never starve after this.
Assuming the players left the painting alone, they have a choice of two doors: one leads to a meeting room and the other to a corridor. The meeting room has a meeting table, a bar with some regular alcoholic drinks, some chocolate samples on a cart, and three more paintings of Lucia, all of which have the exact same trap as the one in the entry chamber. If the PCs want to eat any of the chocolates, they're just Lucia's regular ones, so they don't do any harm, but they are addictive. Eating one means a d6 roll, and on a 6, the character must save vs Poison. If they save, then the next chocolate eaten requires a roll of 2d6, then 3d6, and so on. Failure triggers the addiction, which gives a feeling of "itchy skin, dry mouth, and tugging at the back of their eyeballs" and -1 to all d20 rolls until they either eat another chocolate or go cold turkey for a week.
Oh, but wait, did I say the chocolates were harmless? Well, they're not. That business about removing the negative effects from the chocolate isn't 100%. The characters also have to roll d10 per chocolate eaten, and on a 1, they get to roll on yet another random table of random effects:
1 - Your skin goes brown.
2 - You can't stay awake.
3 - You break out in pimples and take -3 Charisma.
4 - You gain 1d10x10 pounds of fat instantly. (Groan)
5 - You become suggestible and must obey direct orders.
6 - Your skin starts flaking off, making you vulnerable to fire and heat.
7 - All your teeth fall out. (-1 Charisma)
8 - Your bones get fragile. (+1 damage from blunt attacks)
9 - You bleed out of your eyes. (-1 penalty on ranged attacks)
10 - You.. oh god. Really. Am I going to have to type this? You.. bloat up and constantly fart out of all orifices, giving everyone near you -1 to their rolls.
11 - You fall in love with the next person who looks you in the eyes.
12 - The GM tells you you're taking half damage from all sources, but you actually take damage normally.
And all of these are permanent. Really. Really. Remember, half the point of this adventure is that Lucia is super successful and thousands of people eat her chocolate. I think that if it had an occasional side effect of making you bleed out of your eyes forever, someone would have noticed that by now. For god's sake. And these are the chocolates Lucia puts out for the people she's meeting - who are supposed to be there. The adventure does try to hedge its bet on this by saying that it only counts for "chocolate consumed inside the factory" but it's not clear how this changes anything.
The meeting room has another door coming out further up in the previously mentioned hallway, which is papered with designs of exotic fruit. If for some bizarre reasons the PCs decide to lick the illustrations, they taste like the fruit, and do no other harm. I have no idea what kind of PCs randomly lick the walls of buildings, but hey. There's a door leading to the guest quarters and another small door which is locked. "Picking the lock or breaking the door" immediately triggers the dreaded Random Disease Gas trap. And yes, that happens even if you successfully pick the lock, and again there's no detect/disarm roll, so unless the PCs have somehow gotten the key by this point (Lucia has it) they've certainly been hit with that table by now.
The guest quarters are fairly ordinary; a couple of small sleeping areas separated by hanging curtains, and some wardrobes, in which the PCs can find some dresses and an opal brooch worth 250 silver which belonged to the Countess of Somerset who was a huge fan of Lucia's chocolate.
So, there's now no way forward except for the trapped door. Remember, you can't avoid that trap, so every PC who didn't make their save now has a random disease effect. And when they crack it open, they find the Chocolate Room straight out of the 1971 film. Giant chocolate river with bridges across it, bushes yielding mints and chili plants, and a waterfall to the west and a tunnel to the east. There's a second tunnel behind the waterfall and a boat anchored near the eastern tunnel, with one human sized seat and some thin benches too small for people. The chocolate itself is scalding hot, 10 foot deep, and does 1d4 damage to anyone immersed in it. Of course, there's a good chance that one of your PCs is already trying to drink the river, either because of chocolate obsession or because of peanut brittle at the back of their throat. Eating the chocolate has the same "eating chocolate in the factory" effect that applied to the ones in the meeting room.
There's a couple of doors leading off here into other hallways, and the top of the waterfall flows through from an opening in the wall. If a PC wants to squeeze through the opening - which does involve being immersed in the chocolate - then they end up in a room where 20 Oompa... um.. Aphayay Aliyu pygmies are turning the paddle-wheels that feed the waterfall. There's nothing else there (except from another door into the same hallway) so all the PC needs to do is to not annoy the pygmies.
The secondary hallway from the chocolate room has plain, unmarked walls; is dirty and grassy, and has a single pair of double doors, through which lies the greenhouse. In which the horror awaits.
It's a large domed greenhouse where the Old Growth tree has been transplanted. The pygmies have their village here, a collection of 50 huts made out of cocoa bean pods. The pygmies only speak their own language, although some know a little bit of Spanish. There are 20 pygmies in the village, and 10 pygmies cutting cocoa pods - and poison pods - down from the tree. If any of the PCs try to pull any of the poison pods off the tree, they must save vs Breath Weapon or roll on the Random Disease Table with any grace period on the effect reduced to zero. There are also 3 giant mosquitoes buzzing around the tree, who pollinate the tree, and from time to time will lay eggs inside one of the pygmies in order to reproduce themselves...
.. And just to the south of the tree are 5 stone sacrificial slabs where a random person with Noxious Berry Curse is being "cut into by 2d6 pygmies and fucked".
Actually, that's not quite true. There's only a 1 in 3 chance of that. There's another 1 in 3 chance that three people are tied up being bled to death while 2d6 pygmies are having sex with each other while covered in the victim's blood, and a 1 in 6 chance that there's a female guard with Noxious Berry Curse being prepared for sacrifice. If it happens that the pygmies are raping an inflated victim, a PC who joins in might win some trust from the pygmies.
The pygmies aren't immediately hostile, but if they do anything against the tree, the mosquitoes, or Lucia in their sight, they attack the PCs with blowpipes (groan) with poison darts that inflict Noxious Berry Curse (GROAN). If any PCs get inflated, they roll them over to the sacrificial slabs ready to be "used" for the next orgy. There's also a Chieftess, who is ridiculously fat, carried around on a palanquin, and doesn't have a blowpipe, but can cast a few 1st and 2nd level spells.
Assuming the players got through that crap (and it's worth mentioning that the only thing of interest to the PCs there would be the cocoa beans on the tree, which can be taken from later along the production line), they can get into the Northmost corridor, which is where the bits of the factory that actually function as a factory are found. First, there's the roastery and cocoa mill, which is staffed by 30 pygmies and so hot that any PC has to roll 1d6 each round they're in the room or lose 2 Con, cumulative. Milled cocoa nibs are carried through a conveyer belt in the corridor, through a room full of pipes and flows (with 20 pygmies and also metalworks so close to each other that PCs who don't crawl have to save vs Breath Weapon or take a point of damage from brushing up against it. If they roll a 1 on the saving throw, their hand gets caught, trapping them until the hand is hacked off. Yay) The pipes end up in the creamery, where 10 pygmies work together stirring milk and sugar into the chocolate liquor and separating the cocoa butter. The resulting mixed chocolate is dropped into the chocolate river. South of the corridor leading to the village is the Packaging room where the pygmies take chocolate from the river in the Chocolate Room and pour it into molds to be set into chocolate bars, then packed into crates. There are 20 pygmies in the room.. but every other round the GM has to roll 1d6, and on a 1, a random pygmy gets their arm squashed in one of the presses(!). This room also has some external doors to the loading dock. Presumably these would be opened when a chocolate shipment arrives, which should give the PCs an alternative route into the factory, but they never bothered mentioning it at the start of the adventure.
So, apart from the weirdness with the pygmies and the river (which is totally pointless), Lucia has a perfectly ordinary chocolate bar factory which would work fine with regular cocoa and has no need to use weird magical chocolate that debilitates 1 in 10 of the people who eat it. Also, there's no mention of what part of this machinery removes the negative effects from the cocoa.
Also off the packaging room is a storeroom full of, well, associated stuff that the factory needs to use - plus staircases to the lower and upper levels, and the body of a thief riddled with blowgun dart wounds. The thief was carrying 23 silver, a mirror, a garrotte, and their attempt at drawing a map, but interfering with the body in any way causes it to crumble to dust and trigger a Random Disease Table roll for anyone in 10 foot with no saving throw. Yay!
Down the stairs lies the basement - or the PCs could get here by riding the boat along the chocolate river, although the underground tunnel is completely dark until it pulls up at a south dock. The adventure specifically says that any player who quotes any of Willy Wonka's lines from this section of the film causes the boat to lurch forward, and every PC on the boat must roll a 1d6 and fall into the river on a 1. Because, you know, anyone who's pointing out your extremely clever and subtle reference deserves to ruin things for the whole group. If the PCs follow further along the chocolate river, it loops around until it reaches the paddle-wheels operated by the pygmies who run the waterfall, which means it's completely pointless other than to provide the boat to the basement. If I recall, in the film it was explained that because they made a huge variety of chocolate products the river was a handy distribution system for raw chocolate, but here they only make one thing.
Downstairs there's the boiler room (which has the same heat penalty as the roasting room and 20 pygmies, only these ones attack on sight). Then there's Lucia's lab, with 8 bubbling cauldrons and a northmost wall with chains and 12 sets of shackles bolted to it, and - in the east corner of the room - a wooden crank vice with a woman inside who's swelled up to blueberry size thanks to Noxious Berry Curse (gee, it sure is odd that none of the NPCs in this adventure got any of the other diseases, isn't it?) The crank vice, as you might guess, is the juicing machine. Lucia has been feeding her berry poison, juicing her just enough to keep her exploding, making cuts in her body to extract the juice (for some reason), seeing what happens when someone has the Berry Curse for a really long time, and, um.. "sexually torturing her, using Hilda's bloated, helpless body for her own twisted pleasures."
Any players with Noxious Berry Curse can use the juicing machine to reduce the symptoms, and they can also juice and free the trapped woman, who is a thief named Hilda Copperplate who'll help in exchange for rescue. She'll hint that there's something important in one of the cauldrons. If the players are daft enough by this point to examine the cauldrons, they get another misery roll:
1-5: as soon as it's looked, at the cauldron boils over and splashes acid on anyone in 5 feet;
6: hazelnut chocolate that gives you Brittle Throat Disease;
7: blueberry chocolate that gives you (groan) Noxious Berry Curse;
8: actual properly made chocolate which doesn't give you anything other than the "eating chocolate in the factory" penalty;
9: a white puffy condensed milk monster that reaches out of the cauldron to touch PCs with a scalding pseudopod that melts body parts on a failed save vs Breath Weapon;
10: an exploding herb liquor that deals 2d6 damage in 5 foot;
11: a proper sample of chocolate liquor, which is what the merchants might want;
12: a substance that reduces the speed and debilitating effects of any of the diseases by half.
Finally, there's a prison with a couple of cells, with two children held prisoner crying and wailing for help. Ah, we must save these poor children, mustn't we? What kind of evil PC would leave crying, desperate children, chained up in a cell? Well, apparently the kind of PC who wins this adventure. Both of the children are affected by upgraded versions of Random Diseases that activate after 1d4 more rooms are explored and become instantly contagious to any PC that comes into contact with them with no saving throw.
I really hope you don't roll Irresistible Smell for either of the children's Random Diseases, by the way. I can't imagine there's a group in the world where the GM would be able to remain behind the screen for long after telling the players that they have to make a save or else attempt to eat the children they just rescued.
So, how about upstairs? There's three flights of stairs, leading up to a door locked with a set of ivory piano keys. Playing the correct song opens the door; Lucia knows it, and Hilda overheard Lucia humming it, so she also knows it. Prying the door open or playing the wrong piece more than three times will trigger yet another Random Disease Table poison gas trap. To open the door, the PCs must play Greensleeves; playing the Marriage Of Figaro will disable the lock completely; and playing any song from the Willy Wonka film will instantly release Noxious Berry Curse gas affecting all characters in 5 feet with no save. This is presumably the adventure equivalent of Knights of the Dinner Table's Dave having the PCs attacked by 100 orcs because one of them pointed out that the dungeon had the same layout as his house.
The only thing to be found upstairs is Lucia's quarters, and the only thing of interest to be found there is her safe. Picking the lock.. oddly, does not trigger any sort of disease based gas at all, but does cause a vial of sulphuric acid to destroy the recipe book inside. Apart from that book, there's also 40,000 silver worth of trade bars (assuming the PCs can carry the heavy bars out), 5000 silver and a bunch of contracts for shipping chocolate. The recipe book can be sold, or if the PCs take over the factory, they need to have the recipe book to continue making her chocolate. It's not clear why, since the pygmies seem to do all the actual work and they know what they're doing, but hey.
Now, what about Lucia herself? She's the one and only wandering monster in the adventure. She's accompanied by 4 pygmies visits every area on the Main Floor, spending 10 minutes in each, then goes down to the Inventing Room on the paddlewheel boat to work for 5 hours, then returns to her quarters to sleep. She's a 3rd level fighter wearing chain armor, a rapier, and carrying 2 pistols, and also carrying (of course) a vial of Noxious Berry Poison. She's also wearing a talisman that halves her aging rate, keeps her healthy, and makes her immune to diseases and poisons. If it's taken off her, time catches up with her and she instantly withers into an old woman. And, as the adventure specifically mentions, she instantly gains 200lb in weight.
It's worth bearing in mind that there's the possibility the PCs meet Lucia in the very first room. Since there's nothing in the adventure that improves the PCs combat potential or weakens Lucia, there is absolutely no reason not to fight her there. Killing Lucia enables the PCs to potentially take over the factory, but there's no other real reason to.
Let's look at those goals again. 200 silver for a sample of her beans - they can get that from the greenhouse or from the production line. 100 for her chocolate liquor, which can be gotten randomly from the inventing room or just from the production line. 100 for any secret ingredients - but there aren't any, unless you count the magic beans, in which case it overlaps with the earlier one. Given that there's 340 silver worth of loot available in the entrance hall and guest bedroom without the PCs having to do anything, if the PCs are actually targeting any of these goals they'll hopefully realize they're not worth the bother.
500 for her recipe, which means breaking into her office and picking the lock. 500 for a map of the factory - I have no idea how the merchants would verify this, but given that the players only need to briefly look into each room and then run, it doesn't seem too unreasonable. And finally 10000 if they can take over the entire factory, which means killing Lucia and then opening the safe without setting off the trap, and also assumes that they are OK with the idea of being paid to assassinate a factory owner just for the crime of being successful (remember that no-one outside the factory knows about the pygmies or the weird diseases).
Just in case there wasn't enough, the book ends with.. a walkthrough comic. I've never seen anything like this before. It's a blown-up version of the adventure map in cutaway 3D with narrative boxes describing a sample playthrough of the adventure. It would actually be pretty awesome if this were literally any other adventure. Here's what happens:
Eight PCs pull up to the docks. They cast Charm Person on Karl Weiss, who gives them the keys to the factory (which he isn't supposed to have), then the fighter shoots Karl in the head and the other PCs rush into the factory while the Wizard tries to dress up as a chocolate customer and gets ignored. Three of the PCs eat the chocolate samples in the meeting room; one gains 40 pounds and the other two fall in love. Meanwhile, one of the other PCs attempts to steal the portrait in the entrance hall and gets hit with poison gas. The fighter breaks the lock off the Chocolate Room door, and they walk through it into the factory. While exploring, the other PC who ate the samples has their teeth fall out in the liquor vat and is beaten to death by pygmies.
Meanwhile, one of the players has gotten Taffy Skin, and another's skin is turning blue. They arrive in the greenhouse just in time for the start of an orgy, while the other two PCs start to vomit chocolate and attempt to drink the river. While in the river, two of the mosquitoes swoop down on him and implant him. The fighter shoots his pistol at the mosquitoes, thereby angering the pygmies who pincushion the vomiting PC with arrows. He promptly runs for the doors and dies of exposure in the woods.
The wizard casts a spell on the inflating PC to make them even bigger and rolls them to block the doors out of the greenhouse to keep the pygmies at bay, and the remaining players head downstairs, and start to kill the pygmies in the boiler room when one of them turns into a bubble and floats against the ceiling. They release the condensed milk monster just as Lucia arrives, and the fighter promptly kicks the milk monster's cauldron into her, dumping her into the chocolate river (um, hang on, isn't the talisman supposed to "keep her healthy?"). The remaining PCs free the two children and then use the ballooned character as a lift tied to the boat to lift them through the ceiling! Yay! Two PCs survived and escaped, they didn't achieve any of their goals, and the two diseased children will spread Lucia's bizarre diseases to innocent people in the city. Yes, it specifically says that.
I don't really know how I can conclude this. I don't know who would want to run or play this. I don't know why it exists. I sure as heck don't know why DTRPG put it on the featured list.