A quote from one of the item descriptions sums up this module’s theme nicely:
“There are so very many sparkles, and it is pink. It has tassels. Really this is just the most obnoxious looking sparkly [thing] you can picture a 6 year old ballerina wanting… [it] require[s] uttering black tongues of ancient days. This would be more imposing if all the dots and umlauts were not drawn as little pink hearts.”
Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess is kind of ugly and a little unpleasant to read – but short, tight, and mechanically solid. Inside you’ll find a Gonzo fairy-tale hellscape tailor-made to fuck with your players for a few days. It’s also usable as a Hallowe’en-themed short-shot, or a tournament module. Is it too gonzo? Without getting into Big Spoilers, if you’d seriously consider running a module with a My Little Pony character as a BBEG, your campaign can handle it.
Value? If you like to occasionally feed the /b/tard in you and/or screw with your players, it’s definitely worth it. Otherwise.. well, it runs under $5 US, and it’s a remarkably unsettling little piece of work. What have you got to lose?
Out-of-box, this is a solid module with everything you need to play right at your fingertips. It doesn’t actually need the (admittedly crude) maps, and the entire thing is basically system-agnostic while still being more than skeletal. The only things you’d need to cross-reference to other books while playing are spells on the few casters in the module, although one of them would be an admitted headache to adjucate were the party stupid enough to enter combat. It’s a fairly robust design, but it’s still going to be completely inappropriate for some groups.
Gingerbread Princess does get a slight utility ding because it’s not completely pick-up-and-go. The text lacks any helpful cues for a speed-runner, and some of the explicatory text is shoved into the back of the module. Few of the NPCs are named or given more than cardboard cut-out motivations. You’ll have to read it through at least once to get a good feel for where everything is hiding.
Modularity and Adaptability 7/10
The backstory “requires” Halflings, but honestly you can stick any minor ethnic group in and it does just fine. The other changes required to transplant it into your world are almost entirely name-swaps, given the overall content, although you’ll have to situate it next to some Deep Dark Woods.
The basic creature encounters are portable, but work better if the entire “Woods” concept is swapped instead of any individual component. Indeed, the entire thing is basically two major areas, each thematically pretty self-contained; either one is workable in isolation, but hard to break down further.
The spells within are.. interesting. They’re highly-themed, and one of the only times that I’ve seen a product offer unique spells of a level other than the First. On the other hand, three of the five are just not the kind of thing that 99% of wizards would use; the other two are more portable variations on common spells.
Saccharine arsenic. That pretty much sums it up. The encounters are uniformly proper Weird, with the angry drunk being my personal favorite. Some of the art helps the feel along, looking like the fever dreams of the aforementioned six-year-old ballerina, though it’s inconsistent at times (see below). One of the illustrations is actually quite inappropriate for its context*, however, and breaks immersion in what should be a “Big Reveal” moment.
*It’s your first encounter with the seriously Weird and fucked-up part of the module in-game, but the illustration is utterly mundane and therefore misleading.
The unique encounter table helps add flavor to the module as well, and I’d be remiss in not mentioning it. Basically, the party’s alignment and time of day alter the possible encounters in a smooth and elegant way. There are genuinely good, conditionally good, and purely atmospheric encounters, with a few that are Bad to INCREDIBLY BAD depending on how you react.
PC engagement 7/10
Starts off kind of “meh” – “King offers money to armed assholes to fix one of his fuckups”, before taking a left turn into “Oh Christ, what have we gotten into this time?”. There’s enough greed-fodder and entrapment to keep them going. And for this module, not wanting to go back in is the bloody point. They won’t, trust me.
Again, however, the flat NPCs hurt the module. Scarecrow has but one well-developed NPC. Gingerbread Princess has two decently-developed villains, a few well-backed monsters, and a hilarious NPC at the beginning and end – and then an entire village of cardboard cutouts and robotic monsters exactly where the PCs are most likely to engage in actual interaction with said NPCs/monsters.
Treasure Engagement 9/10 if you’re a gonzo DM and your players are clever. ~5/10 if you or they are not.
Largely but not entirely “Hellaciously Dangerous Joke” spells and magic items. God help your campaign world if the PCs manage to steal some of the ancillary monsters’ equipment, or successfully seduces the above-mentioned drunk. There are several non-obvious treasures that are hard to move but rewarding as Hell, provided the PCs can hang on to them, and magic items worth the having from some.. unconventional sources.
Traps and Puzzle Engagement N/A.
There aren’t really any, other than “trapped in an alternate reality wat do?”. The decisions about how they may leave are on the shoulders of the DM, not the PCs (as opposed to Scarecrow, where the main puzzle has multiple solutions depending on player choice), so there’s no real problem-solving aspect.
The module has many spelling and grammar errors – usually minor, but annoying: still, nothing’s bad enough to affect the module’s utility. Likewise, there’s some very inconsistent and/or stilted writing within (see the quote above).
The front cover is a lovely, moody Cynthia Sheppard piece. The internal illustrations are generally decent, but one key illustration (as mentioned above) is wildly different from the text description. The maps are crude and unkeyed, with extensive copy/pasting. Granted, they aren’t really even required for the module, but it’s still disappointing compared to the company’s usually high quality.
The graphic design, however, is a complete clusterfuck.
Several sub-sections are set off by titles in a highly-incongruous font (Juice ITC, a stretched-out modern “peppy” font, also used on the cover); the tables are in a different font and format (sans-serif compared to the semi-serifed fonts used nearly everywhere else) than the rest of the book as well. The monster’s names and spell levels are in a fifth font, but inconsistently presented. The book breaks without warning from a single-column format to double-column for the same content (spells), and then goes back again.
Ultimately, Gingerbread Princess winds up looking like it was cobbled together out of 2-3 original documents, by different authors, and not subsequently edited for consistency. Again, it’s not bad enough to keep me from using the module, but it does make it less pleasant to use.