Post by Sophia

What do you need to know?

Vacant Ritual Assembly is a brand-new OSR zine by Clint Krause from Red Moon Medicine Show. The PDF is Pay-What-You-Want at Onebookshelf, the print version costs USD $ 4 with worldwide shipping(!).

So, what's the deal?

The zine stems from the author's own Lamentations of the Flame Princess-campaign. That means that the content is usable with most old school games.
Overall, the material is influenced by LotFP's weird tone so depending on your campaign world it will fit in right away or only might be useful as inspiration.
The first issue of VRA has some interesting stuff. The Ghoul Market introduces a thematic way for your players to spend money. I like this idea because of its strange flavor: there are ghouls (of course!), spider demons, undead slaves and the Skinsmith.
The Skinsmith is a demon that can resurrect you from death for a price and some creepy side-effects.
Vespero the Antiquarian might be the most utilitarian entry of the magazine. In the end, he is some kind of fixer for unusual items and can be a quest-giver, too. The illustration by Sean Poppe is really nice as well.
Furthermore, there is Luminari, a firefly goddess and Greycandle Manor, a simple map of an estate where you need to fill out the map keys/contents yourself.
VRA also features a location based adventure called Brahnwick is dead. It is placed inside a flooded village and has some escaped mad inmates from a sanatorium and a lake monster. It looks like a nice macabre run.
The issue closes with an interview with Chris McDowall about his new game Into the Odd. This was a fascinating read as I am excited by this game.

Look

The zine comes with 22 pages of content in black and white. The illustrations are very good except one which is just a rough doodle. The maps are made professionally with Adobe Illustrator. They look modern and are easy to read. The layout design is solid: font choice, use of tables, block text etc. are good.
The electronic version has no bookmarks but with 24 pages total that's not a necessity. Nonetheless, I would appreciate it.
The paper quality of the print version is a bit flimsy but for $4 I can't really complain.
All things considered the production quality is astonishingly high.

The Good

The material is interesting and weird. The quality of this new zine is good. It's a free PDF (with tip-jar, pay-what-you-want) and a cheap investment if you want to have the print version. I am very happy about the low price point. As a European I'm used to sorrow when it comes to shipping costs from the US.

The Bad

If you don't need the strange and creepy in your adventures there isn't much to use right away. VRA clearly shows its roots from Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

The Ugly

Nothing really. Take a look at this, it's a cool thing for your old school needs. It is a worthwhile investment if you like strange things in your OSR game.


Links:
Vacant Ritual Assembly Direct Link to the PDF (aff) Lamentations of the Flame Princess Into the Odd