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The Undercroft #4

Well first off can I stay that the print issue comes with a rubber stamp of authenticity. I am all for rubber stamps so that makes this issue automatically worth getting.

Over half this issue is given to a scenario that takes the story of the  Jimi Hendrix Experience and transplants it to Civil War-era London. One huge running joke on British rock it reminded me a lot of classic Warhammer scenarios. Jimmy Hendricks has a demon-possessed guitar (a gag that manages to stay just this side of Robert Johnson's crossroads myth) and while its bringing him fame and women now trouble is just around the corner.

This is the kind of thing you either love or hate and I think its funny and does enough work to imbue the pastiche with a bit of drama. I have a soft spot for this kind of nonsense and the scenario is fantastically illustrated.

The remainder of the material is not likely to make you change your mind about the issue as a whole. There is a nice alternative points build system for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. A nice idea but also a little odd since LotFP is mechanically broken for the sake of recreating  a certain kind of gaming experience. Bolting on flexible modern rules systems to against the whole spirit of the game.

The rest of the material is given over to monsters. Smother is a monster around an idea rather than a monster expressing an idea. It's beautifully illustrated but lacks proper game design or allegory.

The second piece is on Dream Trolls and is more characteristic of the Undercroft's brand of fantasy whimsy. A mixture of childhood fears, ancient legends, madness and dream logic the monster is as equally unplayable as the Smother but by tapping into deeper mythical foundations provides an interesting dream horror that doesn't drawn on Lovecraft for once.

Undercroft #4 is a beautiful gem of a zine that genuinely captures the best freewheeling spirit of the original wave of zines but brings modern art production values and sensibility. Its quirkiness and whimsy marks it as something quite different from its peers and its well worth forking out for the paper version for the genuine old school experience.