Saturday, September 8, 2018

Rub It Review: Lamentations of the Flame Princess

I scored a copy of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic book a few years ago.

This is a good game. It's deliciously good. I know from listening to +James Raggi in an interview that he created the game merely as a tool or a means to an end. He wanted to publish awesome, evil looking RPG books and he just felt like having a rule set of his own to link them to would be best. And he was right about that.

I have to talk about this game as both a game and a book.

The book is about 166 pages in A5 format. It's a hardback. It has color illustrations and black and white illustrations, all of which are quite good and evocative of the sort of post-medieval horror that LotFP game books shoot for.

This is a beautiful, evil, lovely book. The cover by Cynthia Sheppard is pitch perfect. The binding is incredibly good and the whole god damn thing just feels right in the hand. I'm a guy who prefers full size books, mostly due to a combination of nostalgia and due to my 47 year old eyesight. But this is perfect. The layout by Mattias Wilkström really delivers the goods. When you open the cover, you get blood red endpapers on which are printed in white text a list of equipment and costs (in silver). The red papers at the back of the book print various useful tables, such as saving throws. Very nice.

Raggi does not waste words. There is no introduction, no forward, and indeed no comment whatsoever about what you are getting ready to read. After the table of contents, you are instructed on how to roll ability scores. And you're off to the races.

Like most OSR core games, this one has no explicit setting. The setting is merely implied. It is fantasy. It is D&D. It is also post-Medieval, and there is a section of the book where a few pages describe early firearms to help set that tone.

The system is core OSR. It has ascending AC, five categories of saves, XP tables, hit dice, and so forth. Unlike most clones or quasi-clones, this one has a skill system. It is a very simple one. You have nine skills, including bushcraft and stealth. Everyone has a 1 in 6 chance of success. Some characters, such as the Specialist (thief), can allocate points to improve their skills.

There are some clever bits to this game that I love, including the Specialist. But also, I love that really only Fighters get better at fighting. Everyone else doesn't. So go suck an egg, Cleric. Famously, this game creates the only first level Magic-User spell I know of that requires 9 pages to describe: Summon. What a great spell. It feels like a super compressed summary of Raggi's famous Random Esoteric Creature Generator. I bet having this spell makes games... weirder.

All in all, the core book delivers a tightly packed and concise RPG system you can use to run any D&D module or other OSR style adventure in a sharp little package. Although I find Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells to be preferable for sword & sorcery gaming (at least by impression, I haven't played it yet), LotFP is hands down a winner for S&S gaming as well.

Get it. And then get some of those delicious adventure books/sandboxes to go with it, such as +Zak Sabbath's A Red and Pleasant Land (another lovely damn book).