Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Contest Time!


The players are exploring a strange pyramid that is clearly alien (and they now think is some sort of zoo).  They walk into a room with stars and a solar eclipse depicted planetarium-style far above their heads and in the middle of the room is this god, speaking to them.  Three of the players pass language checks and understand that it is speaking in the language of the Aztecs:

"Do you choose Life or Death?"

"Uh...we choose LIFE!"

"Your wish is granted."

All players must now make saving throws as the god disintegrates into light and flows into the eclipse.  All of the male PCs pass, and the single female PC fails. The result is a pregnancy near the end of the first trimester.

What is the deal with this baby when it's born? What happens?

I will include all of your suggestions on a giant table and roll to see what happens to my poor player's character. The person who I roll will also win their choice of one of these prizes (shipped to wherever you want):

The Undercroft #5
The Undercroft #6
Fire on the Velvet Horizon

I'll start with some of the obvious suggestions:
1) It's the antichrist (The Omen, House of the Devil)
2) A cult wants the baby (Rosemary's Baby)
3) The baby is alien in nature and will burst forth violently (Alien)
4) It's an exact clone of the player character except it will be exactly half their size.
5) It's an exact clone of the player character except it will be double their size.
6...


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Playtest Document 0.1

If you're a fan of LotFP and don't have this yet, you should join the Pembrooktonshire Gardening Society and order something from the webstore.  (Maybe check with James Raggi first to make sure there's more documents left, but you should probably still do all those things in the last sentence even if he's run out!)

The purpose of this post is not to give you a complete rundown of the new playtest rules.  I assume they were printed with a limited run and not released in PDF for a reason, so I'm going to respect this and only call out a few things here and there.  This is also not a review or analysis of the playtest document.

The purpose here is to provide some suggestions and resources for using these rules.



First, I made a "no frills" character sheet.  This uses core LotFP rules + new playtest rules.  I stripped away all my house rules, and left large "notes" sections for things we need to track as we go:


Next, you should buy Wonder and Wickedness.  Perhaps the biggest change in the playtest rules is how magic is used.  The magic system is very similar to what is presented in Wonder and Wickedness, and it will make your life easier if you just pick up this book and use the spells within rather than trying to convert all the LotFP spells over.  I did a mix of both with my group, but more and more am just relying on W&W for the spells.



W&W is pretty awesome, and seems to be designed with LotFP in mind.  On the other hand, there are some peculiarities.  For example, the table of contents lists page numbers where you can find spells, but there are no page numbers in this book!  The spells are organized by Specialities, not alphabetically (or by level, since there are no levels), making it difficult to find any spell quickly.  Then, the spell catastrophes are in their own section rather than with the spell they're associated with, so you have to dig through more numberless pages to find them.  Finally, to determine spells randomly, you have to roll a d56.

I hardly ever write in my books, but here's what I did to fix this:



First, I went through and numbered all the pages, making sure that everything matched up to the table of contents (it did) and then I added the page numbers for the catastrophes to the ToC, as well as the Spell Index, and put stars by the page where players need to go to roll randomly for spells.


Here is the spell selection page.  Rather than roll a d56, players roll two d8s.  The first determines the specialty, the second determines the specific spell.  If the player rolls a 7 on the first d8, they instead roll a d50 for one of the magic items provided in the back of the book.  Only the player who starts with this item can use it, so when they die, its power is lost.


The next change that you have to deal with is that Read Magic no longer exists.  Instead, Magic-Users use an ancient, dead language to write their spells in their books.  The idea here is that it makes it harder for other Magic-Users to decode them.  The playtest document is sparse in terms of how this works mechanically in the game.  

So, assuming the way languages are gained in the base game (roll a d6 plus your language skill +/- any modifiers) most people are going to be getting a -3 to their languages roll, which means it's unlikely you'll know the language already.  So, it takes time to research the language first, and then decode the spell (the playtest rules do note that it takes time to figure out the spell even if you know the language due to the idiosyncrasies of how each M-U records their spells).  I would say a successful "Know Languages" check cuts this research time in half?  Or at least gives the reader some clues about what the spell is...

Anyway, I created a generator that includes actual ancient, dead languages for you to use. The instructions are in the document itself.  The coolest thing is that the original source included subgroups and families, so you can give the player a bonus if their own dead language happens to share a family or subgroup with the language they're trying to decipher.



Finally, I want to call out a specific part of the rules because we found them confusing at first:

"Weapon Damage

All weapons will now do 1d8 damage.  However, Armor will count double against Minor and Small weapons, and half against Great Weapons and Polearms."

The semantics are a bit confusing here because in D&D everyone has an armor class, so the above seems to imply that you double armor class, which would make an unarmored person almost unhittable with a dagger (their AC would be 24).  But LotFP tends to present things in terms of "unarmored" which is 12, and then Armor provides bonuses.  Although, the armor doesn't actually provide bonuses, it provides a flat "AC" (like leather gives one an armor of 14).

We finally decided that the difference between the armor rating and unarmored is what is doubled or halved.  So if the party is fighting a monster with an Armor of 18, the person attacking it with a dagger would hit on a 24 (18-12 = 6, 6*2 = 12, 12+12 =24).  The person attacking it with a Polearm would hit on a 15 (18-12 = 6, 6/2=3, 12+3=15).  I'm not a fan of doing this calculating as a Referee whenever the players are fighting something, although Raggi does indicate these calculations will be on the character sheet if they are used in the final version.

Also, I wasn't sure how to handle monsters attacking players in this regard, but Raggi clarified online that monsters just use the traditional rules (or whatever is indicated in the book the monster is in).  So they would use various damage dice, ignore the halving and doubling rules, etc.

Let me know if you have questions or if there are other resources you'd find useful to run LotFP using the new Playtest Rules.  I love researching and making stuff!


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lamentations of the Flame Princess - Unofficial FAQ

I've been playing LotFP for a few years now and see some of the same questions pop up.  I love helping people out (in fact, the community in general seems pretty supportive), but I thought it might be easier to have a place where some of the most common questions are answered. Questions are arranged in a logical order, so the greener you are, the closer to the beginning you should start.

If you're new and have a question, don't hesitate to ask!

If you're a veteran and disagree with an answer, or have more to add, please let me know!

Your question may be answered by the man himself at the About section of the official LotFP website.

I will update this page as needed.


Where do I get the rules?


Go to the front page of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess website.  You will see some cool art, the most recent news, and (to the right) a list of free downloads:

Free No-Art LotFP Rules & Magic PDF


This is a no-frills PDF of the rules.  You will know exactly how the game is played, but it won't necessarily give you a feel for the flavor of the game, except, let me point you to a few entries:

"Select Alignment" - in most D&D games, I think alignment is virtually meaningless.  In LotFP, it has specific game effects, and the descriptions here give you an idea of what this game is about.

The "Fighter" and "Magic-User" class descriptions point to the sort of people that populate this world.

Finally, check out a few of the spells, namely: CLONE, HOWL OF THE MOON, STRANGE WATERS II, and especially SUMMON.


Free 2011 Edition of the LotFP Referee Book PDF


If you're brand new to role-playing, then you can read this whole book.  If you're interested in James Raggi's unique take on Refereeing, then you should also read the whole book.  If you're just looking specifically for how to run LotFP, but are otherwise an experienced Referee, then I suggest checking out "The Weird" and the sections on "NPCs" and "Monsters."

The most commonly asked question is: "What are the rules for monsters?" because these rules are not in the Rules & Magic book.  They begin on p.49 in this book.


Rules & Magic book (hardcover, full color)


This is a great book.  High quality, beautiful art, and definitely worth owning.  The art conveys more of the world and feel of LotFP than the no-frills PDF version.

There will be a 2nd edition eventually, but this is many years out and this edition was just recently reprinted, so the longer you wait, the less time of your life you've spent owning this book.  The best place to get it is directly from the publisher, but you may also find it at a FLGS, Amazon.com, Noble Knight Games, and PDF downloads are always available from RPGNow.com.






How is LotFP different from other old school games or D&D?


LotFP is part of the OSR (Old School Renaissance or Old School Roleplaying) and is probably most similar to Labyrinth Lord (ie, "Basic D&D.")  This means that LotFP is compatible with pretty much any product made for D&D or by OSR publishers/authors.

That said, LotFP does have a different feel than most other D&D and OSR games:

-It assumes an Early Modern Era setting.  This is one of the most ugly times in human history: firearms are prevalent, people are exploring the world, killing each other in wars, conquering lands and killing its people. While there's still a sense of  mystery, there's also the beginnings of modern society.

-It amps up the weird, horror, and sci-fi aspects of fantasy role-play, while turning the fantasy way down.  Most interactions are with humans.  There are not elves, dwarves, or halflings living in cities with humans.  There are not dragons terrorizing lands.  Most monsters will be unique (tending toward Lovecraft more than Tolkien) and most modules will feature a fair amount of grimdark, humor, and/or gonzo.




Where do I get monsters?


The free Grindhouse Referee Book mentioned above provides some advice on making up monsters.  I also highly recommend the following books:

Slügs! - This was given out for Free RPG Day and the PDF is available for free. It only contains one monster type, but there are 16 wildly different variations of this monster.

Lusus Naturae - Right now, this is the only monster book made specifically for LotFP.  Each monster is original and unique and most can be used as an adventure seed in and of themselves.

Fire on the Velvet Horizon - This monster book is made for OSR games in general, and features no stats for the creatures!  It is pure fluff and description.  Like Lusus Naturae, each monster is original, unique, and is an adventure seed all by itself.

The Metamorphica - I cannot recommend this book enough.  In addition to allowing you to create interesting monsters and NPCs, it has 1,000 mutations that you can use to give player characters boons or curses.  Insanely useful.

Teratic Tome - by the same author as Lusus Naturae, again, it features an array of original, unique monsters.  It is statted for OSR games in general, and has a slightly more fantasy feel than the above books.

The Random Esoteric Creature Generator For Classic Fantasy Role Playing Games And Their Modern Simulacra - This book was written by the creator of LotFP.  It is basically a system for creating unique monsters.  Since it pre-dates LotFP, the stats are for OSR games in general.

The Monster Alphabet - This book definitely veers in more of a fantasy direction than LotFP, but it's great for making those fantasy monsters more interesting.

If you want generic fantasy monsters, you have many options.  You could pick up any old D&D monster book, or any of the OSR monster books (Labyrinth Lord, for example), or, you could just make up the stats yourself.  Most of the generic monsters would be statted like a human, but differ in appearance and behavior, or have some ability that's heightened.

There will be an official LotFP Monster book coming out with the new Referee book, as well as a new way to generate monsters.





Is there an official campaign setting or order that I should play the modules in?


In short, NO.

Most newer modules (especially the soft covers) are set in the Early Modern Era (in the mid 1600s) and could all easily make up a campaign world (this is what I am currently doing).

The older modules, however, have more of a fantasy feel and take a bit of tweaking to fit with the newer modules.

Then there are some releases that seem to be stand alone, or don't connect with the Early Modern Era, such as: Carcosa, A Red & Pleasant Land, Vornheim, The Seclusium of Orphone, Isle of the Unknown, and Towers Two.

I do have some suggestions for getting started if you plan on using modules to run LotFP, and you can get started right now without spending any money!

First, go to the link above where you can access the free downloads from the LotFP web store. Download: The Grindhouse Rules, Better Than Any Man, and Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children.

Read through Better Than Any Man first, then Doom-Cave, then in the very back of the Grindhouse Rules, the adventure called "A Stranger Storm."  Decide where the Doom-Cave will be on the map in BTAM.  Decide where the players will be entering this area, and start with A Stranger Storm as your first adventure.

A Stranger Storm is a great beginning adventure because it's short, and it teaches both the Referee and the players how to play a true LotFP game!

These three products alone should provide many sessions of gameplay, and once you're ready for more, go to the LotFP webstore, become a Gardening Society Member, and start picking up some great books!

I've created, and update with each new release, a spreadsheet of all official LotFP publications HERE.




What's the best module to run for a Con?


Opinions will vary on this, of course, but my suggestions are below.  These are in order from "Best for a Con" to "Less Best for a Con."  I prioritized in print books over those that are only available as PDFs.

Tower of the Stargazer - this module is self-contained, and does a great job of bridging the gap between LotFP and D&D.  It has just enough D&D that new players can access it easily (and be successful) but it's definitely LotFP and will highlight these differences for new players and GMs. There is virtually no downside to running this at a con other than its popularity and the chance that someone at the table has already played it.  I highly recommend using Jenga in place of chess for the ghost that challenges players.

The Monolith from Beyond Space and Time, The God that Crawls - both of these are excellent, self-contained modules that would fit in a con slot perfectly.  However, they are both a bit more complicated to run.  The Referee would need to be experienced and prepared for odd situations that might come up, and the players will find themselves in situations they wouldn't ever expect from a traditional RPG.

Forgive Us, The Idea From Space,  Qelong - all good fits for a convention.  They are lesser known, so fewer people have played them, but they also all stray a bit in various directions from "pure LotFP" (an arbitrary thing that I just made up).

Death Frost Doom - it would fit well as a con game, but this one feels like it would be better to play with an ongoing group.  If you only ever run con games, go for it,  But I'd probably save this one for a campaign and run something else for cons.

No Salvation For Witches, Death Love Doom, Fuck for Satan, The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children- all of these are self-contained and a good size for a con, but may be a bit too much for a convention game with strangers.  They all have violent and/or disturbing sexual situations, so you'd want to make sure you were completely comfortable with running them and the players are adults and also comfortable with this.

Scenic Dunnsmouth, Land of the Lost, Carcosa, Vornheim, A Red and Pleasant Land, Isle of the Unknown - could all work as con games, but would require more upfront work from the Referee.  You need to understand how the books work, be prepared for an expansive hex crawl (which for a con could also feel a bit aimless - sometimes it's nice to have something that's more self-contained) or you need to create stuff in advance.

Sometimes you want some back up "filler," like if the players leave the adventure site too early, or complete what they need to do and leave.  The following are short, easy prep adventures that you could have ready to go:

A Single, Small Cut
Tales of the Scarecrow
The Magnificent Joop van Ooms
Better Than Any Man (this is actually a large book, but it has numerous adventure sites, hooks, and encounters that you could pull out and use.)

Of course, you could adapt pretty much anything to a con game.  Although, the one I wouldn't recommend even trying, unless you were able to do a two day event and get the same players on both days, is Thulian Echoes.  It is an excellent module, but you basically have to run it twice and rarely can you pull this off during a con.





Are there any communities dedicated to LotFP?


Why, yes, there are!

There are the official forums.

You'll want to follow James Raggi (the publisher of LotFP) and his official Lamentations of the Flame Princess account on Google+.

There are also multiple unofficial G+ communities:
Lamentations of the Flame Princess - an unofficial fan community
LotFP NSFW Inspirational Art
LotFP Fan Group
OSR - Old School Roleplaying

Facebook:

LotFP (official)
Deliberations of the Punk Duchess (fan group)

There are dozens and dozens of blogs.  I've linked to many of them under "Good Company."


What other products exist for Lamentations of the Flame Princess?

First, here is the official list of third party products made for LotFP ot the official site.

These authors/websites offer numerous products that I think work well with LotFP:

Everything by Zzarchov Kowolski fits great with LotFP.  He occasionally incorporates some fantasy elements (like Gnomes and Halflings) but they're always strange enough to work.  In fact, they work better if these fantasy creatures are not an everyday occurrence in your campaign world.

All of the Psychedelic Fantasies line are great.  Most of these modules are dungeon crawls, but they're all quite odd and fun.

It's also worth checking out the stuff at Lost Pages, especially Wonder and Wickedness.

Everything Rafael Chandler does is awesome.  For LotFP specifically, check out Bad Myrmidon, Narcosa, Obscene Serpent Religion, Slaughtergrid, Teratic Tome, and the Roll XX books.

If you want a distinctly more fantasy feel while using LotFP rules, you could also pick up the stuff from New Big Dragon Games.

Here is a list of books that I recommend for LotFP:

The Dungeon Alphabet
Palace of the Silver Princess (a reimagining of the old module by OSR contributors (including the publisher of LotFP)
Castle Gargantua
Slumbering Ursine Dunes
The Caves of Moreau County
Grandpappy Cromdar's Whizbang Zoo!
Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine



Coming Soon:

Music, movies, and books that go well with LotFP?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Screen From Beyond Time and Space

Even though I'm looking forward to the new Referee's screen from the LotFP Hardcover Referee Book campaign, I'm a little afraid that I might not use it.


I've been slowly relying on my laptop more and more.  Aside from having quick access to the hundreds of PDFs I own, I've been working on the ULTIMATE REFEREE SCREEN.

I'm using OpenOffice Calc to create a spreadsheet.  It started off as basically a way to keep track of LotFP compatible modules, including hooks, appropriate PC level, and where I've placed it in the campaign world.


I was already using Google Maps as a way to keep track of locations in the campaign world (using the Early Modern Era real world).  Of course, I also have access to links and other generators that I might need.  All players have a link to a player version of this google map that only includes things they know about based on rumors or discovery.  This way they can plan where they want to go next.


I soon added another tab to my spreadsheet that includes 1000 seafaring encounters. (Note: these are all entirely cut and pasted from other blogs.)


Recently, I realized that I wasn't using monsters from all these cool monster books I've gotten (Lusus Naturae and Fire on the Velvet Horizon, for example).  So, as I read through them, I enter notes on the spreadsheet.  What really makes this useful is being able to sort alphabetically, by book, or by "tags."  I can quickly find a monster that would be in a city, in a swamp, or will be wandering almost anywhere.  I can throw out a few clues to the players and while they reflect and discuss, pull out the book and re-read the full entry.


This is when I started to realize that I could get rid of my binder altogether and started putting everything in this spreadsheet.  Next is my NPC screen.  It has various charts for NPC creation, the reaction table, and hyperlinks to PDFs that I can reference for random NPCs or snag a name.

Next up is the combat screen.  It includes weapons, body hit chart for critical hits, actions that can be taken during combat, etc.



I've added the critical/fumble charts from Green Devil Face #5, items, etc., and next will be working on adding my settlement generator.  One of the great things about this system is that as people post cool stuff on G+, I can just look it over quickly, then hyperlink it in my screen for use later on. 

I've also created a document that includes info about each PC, ordered in the way they usually sit around the table, known NPCs, and important things for me to keep track of. (I found I was forgetting this stuff b/c it was scrawled on notes all over the place or scattered throughout my journal.)

Note that we had three PC deaths last week, so some data is missing!


I do still play with my moleskin journal to track what's happening from session to session, and I also always have the print copy of whatever module I'm running.  But, it's much easier to manage things having just those, instead of two other binders packed with shit that I always forget about anyway.

I'm interested in hearing suggestions and great ideas for other ways to better use a laptop while at the table.