Interview and Exclusive Lamp's Light Sanitarium: A Horror Sourcebook for 5th Ed. with Matt Corley

Is your gaming table ready for Victorian horror using Dungeons & Dragons 5e rules crafted by one of Kobold Press’ designers? Matt Corley takes the time to discuss his first Kickstarter (but not his first game), Lamp’s Light Sanitarium. As well, he shares an exciting exclusive preview to his dark setting and adventure.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): Your Kickstarter is not for the normal Dungeons & Dragons 5e setting. What is Lamp’s Light Sanitarium?
MATT CORLEY (MC): Lamp’s Light Sanitarium is a 130+ page sourcebook and adventure that has everything you need to inject horror into your 5e game. The five main sections of the book are below:

  • Lamp’s Light Sanitarium is detailed in 6 beautifully hand drawn maps (the asylum covers 40,000 sq ft) and every room in the facility is described in detail to aid the DM in making the sanitarium come alive to her players.
  • Adventures and Adventure Hooks – two complete adventures, half a dozen story arcs, and adventure hooks spread throughout the book
  • The NPCs – a dozen new NPCs including patients, orderlies, and alienists
  • New items and monsters – items and creatures unlike any you’ve seen before
  • Optional Sanity rules – These rules enhance role-playing, create challenges for the players, and bring more color to your game. There are expansive tables for transient, short-term, long-term, and indefinite madness, describing the narrative and mechanical effects of the character’s mental status. The sanity rules are designed for use as additional crunch and/or to drive play narratively

EGG: I think the question many readers will have is when does this setting take place?
: That is an excellent and fair question! The art and setting is gothic Victorian with steampunk elements and would fit at home in any campaign that includes those characteristics. To make the supplement easier to incorporate into your game there is a chapter that will include specific suggestions on how to use Lamp’s Light in currently published settings from WotC [Wizards of the Coast], Kobold Press, and Frog God Games. The sanity rules, of course, can be easily incorporated into any 5e game regardless of setting.

EGG: Not to say 5e cannot be horror, but many fans hear “horror” and think of CoC or WoD or other systems. Why does 5e make sense for this project?

MC: In a few words, because 5e is a great system that has a huge following and instead of asking your players to learn a new system why not just use what you already have? WotC explored horror in Curse of Strahd and Lamp’s Light continues down that path. In Lamp’s Light I build on the existing framework, that you already know and love, to enhance the roleplaying experience and add challenge to your game. I also acknowledge and accept that this is still a game of heroic fantasy. That’s what sets 5e apart from those other games and why I wrote Lamp’s Light.

EGG: Your Kickstarter pitch leads with a trigger warning. How dark will this project be?
MC: It deals with mature subject matter, namely mental health and the abuse that is sometimes committed against the mentally ill. The faculty at Lamp’s Light actively experiments upon their patients and the treatments administered are by and large not humane. The descriptions of those treatments, and their side effects, can be graphic. The treatments and situations found within Lamp’s Light are inspired by real-life events, treatments, places, and people. We’re all fighting our own battles and some of the situations in Lamp’s Light may hit close to home. Much of the horror element is suggestive and implied; the DM can easily adjust to for her group if they want to keep the setting but downplay that aspect. All that said, there are no instances of sexual violence, and there are no instances of children being harmed. For me personally, those are two things that I do not wish to write about.

EGG: If you’re talking to a horror RPGer, but not a D&Der, what’s the pitch to commit them to Lamp’s Light Sanitarium?
: How would you like to have a fighting chance against the horrors that you’re facing? You’ll still bear the scars, physically and mentally, of those battles but you have the opportunity to be the hero that limps off into the sunset (and possibly into the asylum) when the curtain closes.

EGG: For those that do not recognize your name, you’re not a new creator. What other projects have you worked on?
: I have been writing professionally since 2012. I began as a columnist with Jiu Jitsu Magazine and wrote for them for 3 years. A few years ago, I decided to shift my focus to gaming and reached out to Kobold Press with a few pitches and I’ve been working with them ever since. I am the lead designer, and wrote much of the new content for, Kobold’s recent Kickstarter, Tales of the Old Margreve. My next release with Kobold Press will be a book in their Deep Magic series, and most recently I’ve been added to the team working on Brilliant East, a worldbook set in Midgard. You can also find articles I’ve written on the Kobold Press website.

EGG: You’re the Lead Designer on Kobold Press’ Tales of the Old Margreve. Can you give a quick rundown of that project and how it’s progressing?
: We had an incredible Kickstarter run! Funding ended at just over $105,000 (with a goal of $15,000) and we’re moving along to get the book out to all of our backers in April. Design has been completed and now we’re working on playtesting, art, editing, and layout. It’s an incredible project and I couldn’t be more proud of it.

EGG: This is the first Kickstarter under your name, but not your first RPG project. What inspired you to dive into the world of crowdfunding?
: It all began with Tales. The folks at Kobold and I have been working on getting the KS going for months, I learned a lot (I’m still learning to be honest) about KS, and I began to feel more comfortable with the idea of crowdfunding. The other thing that really drove this decision is that I wanted to have incredible art in this book. I’ve enlisted a lot of amazing artists and I felt that a KS is the best way to ensure that they’re compensated for their time, efforts, and creations. Virtually all of the funding is going to art, editing, layouts, and maps. The final product will be a book you’ll love to flip through and have at your table.

EGG: You have some exclusive content to share with our readers. Tell us what you brought?
: I do! The cerebri mimos (aka The Spike). One of the more recent inventions of Dr. Orson Renwick, Chief Alienist, of Lamp’s Light Sanitarium. This item is illustrated by the talented Samantha Darcy (Twitter: @65thvictory) Enjoy!

Cerebri Mimos (aka The Spike)

Wondrous device, very rare

The most recent creation of Dr. Renwick, the Cerebri Mimos is a work in progress and produces a variety of results in those subjected to it. The device is, in essence, a small spike with a reservoir and needle that delivers liquid directly to the brain of the patient.

Dr. Renwick is the only person capable of successfully ingrafting the device. The device permanently deceases the subject’s Charisma by 1d4 points, and no magic short of a wish or heal spell can reverse this loss. While under the effects of the device the user makes all Intelligence based skill checks and saves at disadvantage. The user can activate the device as a bonus action. When activated, roll on the table below to determine the effect, which lasts 1d6 rounds. After the device is activated, refilling the reservoir requires a full action. When the effect ends the user is stunned until the end of her next turn and must succeed a DC 14 Con save or gain one level of exhaustion. If the result of the Con save is a natural 1 the user is reduced to zero hit points.

Due to the strain the device places on the body it can only be used a number of times equal to the user’s Constitution modifier (minimum 1). She regains all uses after a long rest.

d12 Effect

  1. The infusion causes you to sweat profusely with no other apparent effect.
  2. You immediately enter a mindless rage. All melee attacks are made with advantage and you have a +2 bonus to damage with melee weapons. All thoughts of defense are discarded and attacks against you have advantage.
  3. Your psyche has changed to something alien. You have advantage on saves against spells from the enchantment school of magic.
  4. Your metabolism is boosted to supernatural levels. Your speed is doubled, you have advantage on Dexterity saves, and you gain 1 additional attack per round.
  5. Your body is continually fortified. At the beginning of your turn you gain 1d8 temporary hit points.
  6. Your muscles seize up and become leaden. Your speed is halved and you are no longer able to make reactions.
  7. The infusion renders you unconscious.
  8. Your Strength is increased by 4 and your Dexterity decreases by 2 as your muscles strengthen faster than your body is able to fully adjust to.
  9. You dissociate yourself from reality and are immune to fear effects and the frightened condition.
  10. You are wracked with unimaginable pain from a migraine and are stunned.
  11. You gain vulnerability to slashing weapons due to thinning of your blood.
  12. Roll twice, ignoring subsequent rolls of 12.
EGG: For fans interested in your Kickstarter and to learn more about you, where can they go?
MC: The best place to find me is on Twitter, my Facebook page, Saturday Morning Scenarios, and on Kickstarter. I welcome messages, Tweets, questions, and comments. It makes my day to interact with someone that’s enjoyed something that I’ve worked on.

The Kickstarter for Lamp's Light Sanitarium: A Horror Sourcebook for 5th Ed. ends on Wednesday, November 28 2018 9:32 AM EST. To support it, click here.

This article was contributed by Egg Embry as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
Egg Embry


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