A Review of Obscene Serpent Religion

Cover: Obscene Serpent ReligionThe first thing that I noticed about this book was that the author’s name (Rafael Chandler) was written in that typically awesome yet hilariously illegible Black Metal font. I chuckled at this because it was pitch-perfect. From the product’s description on DriveThruRPG:

Inspired by the sound of black metal

So I knew that I was in for a treat.

Obscene Serpent Religion is a 32-page “mini-supplement” for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP) role playing game. It has many black and white illustrations. My review is of the PDF.

Like many of its kind, this supplement is deeply seeped in the weird, the grotesque and the sinister. It is definitely not a product for everyone, just like how Hellraiser and the Holy Mountain aren’t for everyone (in that they’re well made and well written but they’re very disturbing and challenging).

There’s a lot of whimsy in this product, despite the somewhat sinister subject matter. Lots of little jokes for the reader. The artwork is nice, although a few pieces were clearly better than others – while they all used appropriate subjects, some felt a bit amateurish. But that’s also kind of appropriate for OSR games, if you know what I mean.

The main function of this product is to create a Snake Cult. This is particularly useful for many different settings—and it helps that most of the tables are more about cool descriptors rather than mechanics—so I could see using this for fantasy, Lovecraftian Horror or even for stuff like Dark Heresy or any other darker Sci-fi, modern or fantasy offerings.

This book helps you determine such things as:

  • the Cult’s “Way“, which is sort of their core ideologies. Even though this can be determined randomly, I’d personally apply all of them.
  • the Cult’s Goddess, which draws from various worldly mythologies and superstitions. Very cool stuff here.
  • Tenets, which are the main goals of the Cult (eg.: kill all Ophiophages – look it up)

There’s a ton of flavor in these sections. Even though everything is Snake-centered, you could use this book for inspiration for any kind of cult activities. There’s just so much useful stuff here that can generate mysteries or conspiracies. The one section on “Quests” that enable members to rise in rank could be used alone to create conflicts for characters to investigate. Warning: some of these are very grim and disturbing.

The rest has very interesting subjects like Sacred Sites and Powers to make the cult more menacing. The last part has useful rules for quickly generating NPC cult members and story hooks to get things going.

Summary

I found this to be a very useful supplement that will go into my folder of inspirational generators and tables. There’s a lot of good, if sometimes disturbing, material in this product that can be re-used many, many times. The writing is easy to read (once again, very conversational) and it hits all the right notes for this kind of horror.

I recommend it for GMs who like to run games that involve sinister cults, whether they be modern Call of Cthulhu games or Sword and Sorcery. Frankly, you could use this product with any game system you wanted!

You can purchase the PDF of Obscene Serpent Religion on DriveThruRPG.