Review of Blood in the Chocolate

Kiel Chenier’s 17th Century tongue-in-cheek horror adaptation of Road Dahl’s classic about a chocolate factory is a splendidly disturbing adventure for Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP).

Parodies of the subject matter have been done to death (ie, the Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy etc…), but this one remains fresh to me because it subverts so many expectations:

  • yes, of course the stand-in “Oompah Loompahs” are essentially slaves, we’re over that, but exactly who (or what) they’re slaves TO is a departure from other satires.
  • yes, the proprietor of the factory is a disturbing, selfish creature, but here we have a completely non-whimsical sadist who’s truly selfish and greedy for regular human reasons.
  • yes, the food can transform people, punishing them for their selfish flaws. But here the transformations are full-on body horror: stuff that I’d be reluctant to throw at my players’ characters.

Look and Feel and Usability

It’s a pretty booklet with vivid cartoony artwork, which is entirely appropriate given the subject matter: innocence with a slightly twisted edge. The illustrations represent actual events, characters and places featured in the adventure, which is always appreciated.

Each chapter has a different coloured background which aids in flipping through the book to find something. None of the watermarks or imagery inhibited readability.

The PDF has a clickable index. Always glad to have it included.

My favourite feature was the high level summary of the contents of every room. This is incredibly useful and amazing. Great thought was put into this document.

Structure

We’re given a nice bit of background and historical context. To me, that’s important because it grounds the weirdness into the semblance of reality. After all, if everything’s weird, nothing really is. The charm of this module depends greatly on the players’ campaign setting. I would not use any LotFP modules in High Fantasy worlds. Well, maybe in a G-Rated world of pristine cleanliness. But otherwise, I’d use something more relate-able and “real”.

We’re given a nice backstory to the villain who is refreshingly evil for banal reasons: she’s not a misunderstood, tragic figure, nor possessed by otherworldly demons. She’s just an asshole.

The module has nice, simple keyed maps of every room and corridor. The room descriptions are vivid but not overburdened with fluff. Everything is easy to grasp and understand.

Themes

The introduction makes a note that there are plenty of psycho-sexual themes in this module. I agree, but they’re applicable to male and female characters. The twisted horror is gender neutral.

As mentioned earlier, there are lots of body horror themes. These are typically inflicted through many traps and weapons that inflict awful diseases. Many have permanent effects if they don’t outright kill someone.

This adventure is gross and bizarre, but clever and fun. Hard to imagine, right?

As with many adventures for LotFP, this one rewards player (or character) cleverness and ingenuity. Charging in pistols blazing is a bad, awful idea.

There are several explanations for different outcomes, based on what the players do. There’s even a direct hook to another popular LotFP module, if you want to go into that direction.

Unlike some other punishing horror adventures, this one has many possible riches and rewards for adventurers who survive and thrive. They might even take over the factory itself and retire (but only if they accept the ethical dilemma of inflicting terrible diseases upon humanity).

Conclusion

This is a very well-written adventure module. There are may different options and ways for the GM to handle it. It is efficiently and elegantly laid out and would be easy to run. A fun, but bizarre and revolting adventure that will surely be memorable for both players and for their characters.

I recommend it.

You can buy it here at DriveThruRPG