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Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Early Access

Curiouser and Curiouser?: They Came from Karnstein’s Cabinet of Curiosities! Reviewed

They Came from Beyond the Grave! They Came from Karnseins Cabinet of Curiosities! (Onyx Path Publishing)Game Title: They Came from Beyond the Grave! – They Came from Karnstein’s Cabinet of Curiosities!

Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing

Author: Matthew Dawkins

Artists: Durwin Talon and Brian LeBlanc

Year: 2022

Genre: They Came From Beyond the Grave! horror roleplaying supplement

Pages: 10 pages

Price: $1.99 in PDF at DriveThruRPG

They Came From Karnstein’s Cabinet of Curiosities offers players and storytellers a new set of tropes in the form of a creepy curiosity shop, its terribly curious proprietress, and a sampling of strange objects sure to send players to their grisly fates.

At the heart of Karnstein’s is a great idea that’s also a classic horror bit: that picking up the wrong trinket at the wrong place at the wrong time might well doom you. It helps to expand Beyond the Grave into both earlier and more modern horror periods; if you want to run your own version of Cabin the Woods, this is the supplement for you. The descriptions of the various objects give a nice sense for Karnstein’s voice allowing you to drop her in and repurpose her in whatever campaign you might be playing. Likewise, many of the objects themselves have one-shot worthy backstories.

The humor in Karnstein’s will either be hit or miss, depending on your tastes. While most of the artifacts have something of interest, something that opens a path for narrative, one is —without exaggeration— just a sex toy. A joke about not having a flared base isn’t followed up with a clever subversion or a riff on the dangers of sex in a horror movie or even something twisted on the dynamic of pleasure/pain; it’s really just a fancy box for a vibrator.

Karnstein’s interior art is in keeping with the horror motif, but its cover leans more heavily into the sexploitation elements of late 60s and 70s horror cinema, especially with its nipples and allegorical bodily fluids. Again, your mileage may vary here. Sex and horror have long been intertwined, but while some may chalk it up to a genre-appropriate homage, others will find it tasteless. Either way, it doesn’t seem to be rooted in the content of the text itself.

Karnstein’s Cabinet offers some fun new hooks, but it’s not necessarily a must-have even for fans of the series. For storytellers who’d like the official rules on swapping artifacts for Tropes, it’s a fine addition (and, at $1.99 an exceedingly low risk investment), but otherwise, there’s a deeper well of inspiration to be had elsewhere, even from the other releases in the series.

Sami Yuhas

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    Our Summary

    Curiouser and Curiouser?: They Came from Karnstein’s Cabinet of Curiosities! Reviewed

    They Came From Karnstein’s Cabinet of Curiosities offers Storytellers a creepy shop and a selection of its cursed contents to drop into their very own horror movie. Karnstein’s Cabinet offers some fun new hooks, but it’s not necessarily a must-have even for fans of the series. For storytellers who’d like the official rules on swapping artifacts for Tropes, it’s a fine addition (and, at $1.99 an exceedingly low risk investment), but otherwise, there’s a deeper well of inspiration to be had elsewhere, even from the other releases in the series.
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    About The Author

    Writer, gamer, and necromancer bard (at least in D&D). Sami focuses primarily on board and tabletop gaming, with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy, as well as worker-placements and co-op titles. She prides herself on the ability to overthink world building in games, and cites a three post manifesto on the costuming of XCOM 2 as among her greatest nerd achievements.

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