Lamentations of the Flame Princess

edited July 2010 in Story Games
I was browsing around reading some stuff by Ron Edwards in relation to S/Lay w/ Me, and stumbled across a number of blogs related to the Old School Revival/Renaissance. I grew up playing 2nd edition D&D, so a lot of this stuff is close to my heart, and after thousands and thousands of words about weird fantasy, 70's illustrations, the moral majority fucking things up for us, and titties (along with pussy and cock n' balls -- go early gaming art!), I found this:

Lamentations of the Flame Princess

It's apparently the name of a publisher AND the name of his newest game -- a box set retro D&D clone. Does anyone know anything about this? I read about it on the Playing D&D With Pornstars blog, but that's the only significant source of outside information I could find.

Do people know about this? Is it cool? It looks really cool. I want it to be so cool!
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Comments

  • Oh, it will be cool. I ordered it the moment it went on sale. However, it's not here yet, so I'll be able to respond in full once I get it in my hands and play it. I've read the playtest document, and it certainly looks to be a very good spin on classic D&D.
  • edited July 2010
    I'm gonna go ahead and preorder it myself--it's supposed to start shipping in three days and I have poor impulse control.

    Edit: preordered! Excitement go!
  • I'm also eagerly awaiting my pre-order. The cover painting alone is worth the price for me!

    James Edward Raggi IV, the writer and publisher has previously done a number of modules for old-school D&D/retroclones, and my understanding is that the motivation behind LotFP: RPG is that he wanted a retroclone ruleset to accompany his modules for sale in Finland/Europe, and decided to create his own rather than import Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord or some such in order to (a) have a more complete product line and (b) put his own aesthetic spin on it.

    He's known for his intriguing take on "Weird Fantasy" which is an interesting mix of "Weird Tales" pulp and D&D. That is to say, not gonzo weird, but rather disturbingly singular weird elements in a generally prosaic setting. I have his first module "Death Frost Doom", which is a fascinating version of the classic "evil house in the woods" horror template. It's fascinating to me, because while it is written to be used with OD&D style rules, in many ways it could be run completely system-less. The first part of the module features essentially zero opposition of the fighty sort, being rather events and puzzles that wouldn't engage a typical D&D ruleset mechancially. Then when the players unleash hell, as they will almost certainly do unless they are utterly incurious, the opposition is so overwhelming that fighting is an almost pointless choice, and fleeing or bargaining are really the only options (again not really engaging an old school rule set).

    At any rate, I'm very eager to see what JER's aesthetic does for the standard retroclone product. I'm sure if you've already been reading his blog, you checked out the photo report here from someone that already has their box. I'm intrigued by what might be in the "tutorial" booklet. This is the first OSR rules product that I've seen that really seems to have as a goal being usable by someone who isn't already steeped in the "what this is all about". I'd like to see how it goes about that. And boxed set as a package is super evocative for me, so even if I never use the rules per se, I expect to mine it for tons of inspiration.
  • edited July 2010
    Wilhelm--I feel the same way about the aesthetic. I bought it based on nearly that alone--but OSR and retroclones as concepts are exciting to me as well. And the art is great, and Jesus, it's a box set, how many of those to we see anymore?

    Anyway, even if I don't play the hell out of it, I expect to get a lot of ideas and inspiration from it regardless. It looks really ace! At the very least, I will convince my girlfriend to check it out with me and hopefully turn her to my designs. I wanna game with all my favorite people, dammit, not just the "nerds" or however you want to categorize us, I use the term lacking a better option. New blood!
  • Posted By: framweardAnyway, even if I don't play the hell out of it, I expect to get a lot of ideas and inspiration from it regardless. It looks really ace! At the very least, I will convince my girlfriend to check it out with me and hopefully turn her to my designs. I wanna game with all my favorite people, dammit, not just the "nerds" or however you want to categorize us, I use the term lacking a better option. New blood!
    Agreed!

    Also, "Lamentations of the Fire Princess" is one of the sweetest RPG titles *evar*.
  • I love this exchange over on Dragonsfoot:

    serleran: Why the name "Lamentations of the Fire Princess?" That is not a title that makes me hungry to buy or play, sorry to say... if there is some reason, then maybe I'll consider it.

    JimLotFP: It's the name I've been publishing under since 1998 (started as a heavy metal zine). Doesn't have much to do with the content.

    serleran: That's actually more cool than if it had something to do with the setting material.
  • I got a copy of this last week and have had the opportunity to play a couple of sessions already, so I have some familiarity with the work. The short of it is that LotFP is a heavy rewrite of the Mentzer red box edition of D&D. The game has been radically changed in tone: magic is rare, good and evil ill-defined, society clearly post-renaissance instead of medieval, fantastic elements are separated from the mundane civilization, creeping in the dark corners of the world. The changes in rules are less fundamental, but they're all positive from my viewpoint; I especially adore the fact that only fighters get an ascending to-hit bonus, as this blows the typical sort of monster arms-race out of the water. The game assumes that the player characters will sink the riches they gain by adventuring into the civilized society by becoming land-owners and manorial lords; unlike traditional D&D, this is not a medieval society with plentiful frontiers, so setting up your own barony is not as likely as buying a title and becoming a chancellor of the court or some such, insofar as endgames are concerned.

    I should note separately that the spell lists have been completely rewritten. The names of the spells are sadly the same old technobabbley ones, but the contents are often much more exciting than they used to be: most spells seem to include nice little choices and secondary applications and risks, all the better to increase flexibility and the sense of mystery. Much superior to most D&D spell lists I'm familiar with. As an example off the top of my head, Raggi's elemental-summoning spell allows the magic-user to bring forth an elemental from a classical element by tricking spirits of the nether realms into occupying suitable material. However, he can only do this once per element per day (can't trick them the same way twice), and if his concentration is broken during the spell, the elemental will turn on him. Both of those facts have clear implications for play. I don't remember this sort of flavour in the equivalent D&D spell lists, they tend to be much more utilitarian and perfect for the wizard.

    My estimation is that this is the best version of old school D&D on the market at this point, at least if you like the same things I do: challengeful adventure, lethal stakes, simple and streamlined rules, randomness, a setting that makes sense and strictly neutral refereeing on the GM's part with no hand-holding, balanced encounters, guaranteed protagonism or such. The production values are strictly indie-level, but then I don't care about that myself. Not all rules are the way I would play them, but that couldn't be otherwise anyway; I might think to myself that this is just 80% of the way to the peak performance in this paradigm, but Raggi's game is on paper while my own houserules are just in my head just like a million other GMs', so that's all speculative and meaningless in comparison.

    The negative bits I've noticed are that the game lacks monster and magic item sections, and its writing-work is not as good as it could be. By the latter I mean that to my eye as an editor and writer it seems that the thing could've been organized and structured more - there are great swatches of text with little in the way of captioning, tables are often off from the positions they're supposed to be in, important reference information is not usually off-set in any useful way and so on. It's really not a problem for a serious practitioner who's going to be reading the booklets proactively, taking and leaving stuff and constructing their own mental models of how everything works, but it's definitely not pretty, either.

    The two adventures that come with the game are excellent, by the way - Death Frost Doom used to be my favourite adventure from Raggi by a wide margin, but Tower of the Stargazer gives it stiff competition by being its complete opposite, with reasonably fair challenges, fully stocked dungeon and lots of interactive bits; like DFD the adventure is well-thought out in fictional terms, as we've come to expect of Raggi: no funhouse elements here, it all fits together as flavourful fiction. Weird New World is a more challenging work, and I'm not sure if I could use it without establishing groundwork with a 1+ year campaign first, but if I could get there this would be gold-standard stuff as well.
  • Thanks, Eero! That's got me excited to play this.
  • It seems I forgot to explain the nature of the rules changes in comparison to Mentzer. The rules are heavily streamlined - not as much as you'd expect out of something I'd make, for instance, but almost so. As an example of this, all character classes tend to only have one class feature instead of the idiosyncratic lists of minor and major effects that come in at different levels; "Turn Undead" is simply a first level spell instead of being a separate class feature, for instance. Demi-humans (which are classes here) still get a bunch of weird abilities such as improved chances of determining the slope of a corridor, but for the most part the rules emphasize elegant clarity. Monster statblocks are so simple that the stats can be assigned on the flight, practically speaking.

    So - lots of changes in the actual rules crunch to make it more streamlined and easy to remember and get into, but nothing that would actually seriously change the spirit of the game; this feels a lot like the Mentzer edition, which is just fine for me, as that's the one I know best.
  • Holy crap. Thanks for that run-down, Eero. That sounds awesome.
  • So are [American] people buying this from his site and getting it shipped from scandinavia? Troll and Toad seems to have the box set for preorder for $50 instead of 50E, which is a significant discount, but it's listed as "preorder" with no real information on when it's expected to ship...
  • Those of us who just can't wait placed direct orders. However those who are willing to wait can probably do significantly better on price & shipping via North American resellers (I believe IPR will have it as well). According to Jim's blog, his initial vendor orders are going out this week. Of course, I assume it'll be surface freight, so at least couple weeks to show up on this side of the pond.
  • Wow, that does look really cool.

    I can't recall how skills worked way back in OD&D. Was it a percentile system? Can you tell me how the skills work in LotFP? It's all on a d6, from what I see on the sheet. Does everyone get skill points, or is it just the Specialist?

    I'm very curious!
  • The skills work under an unified system - in Mentzer D&D thief skills used percentages while things like the elven ability to detect secret doors used a d6 roll with "X/6" notation. Raggi's changed everything to run off the d6 notation and changed all skills so that any character can try them at the sucky 1/6 odds, thus clearing up the question of whether a non-thief can ever "find trap" or "climb" or whatever - it's an explicit principle that all specialist (thief, that is) skills are always things that other characters can do also, the specialist just does it better. Specialists are the only characters that get extra skill points here, that's their thing - they get four to begin, distributing as they please, and then add two per level.

    Personally I must've absorbed some slightly different habits than Raggi in running this sort of game, as I find it somewhat difficult to remember to use the skills, and I lament the low odds they give to non-specialists in comparison to Ability checks (which would be my own go-to solution without any rules to the contrary). Then there's of course the obligatory issue of mechanical aesthetics - I don't see what "X/6" has over a simple dice pool, which would give decreasing returns and more humane starting levels in-built. (Probably just a habit of not having lots of dice around for dice pools, that's pretty common with hardcore D&D gamers.) Of course it comes as no surprise that I don't see the point of dragging minor bits like detecting new stonework along for the ride in an otherwise streamlined system - that's exactly the sort of stuff a GM would judge on case-by-case, it was suspect to make it a default dwarven ability to begin with as far as I can see.

    Also, it's sad that Raggi didn't add an ability for "Lore" - I can't imagine how I'd make do without something like that in my style of GMing, and it makes perfect sense for a more bard-like specialist to have that skill for those all-important info-dumps that just might save a party.

    Those are nitpicks, though, just the sort of stuff that goes into the 20% disagreements I have with Raggi's system - of course the new system is much superior to the percentage mess in Mentzer in all the ways I appreciate.
  • Yeah, I see what you're saying. I was always a fan of not rolling for most things relating to a thief's skills -- if you want to disarm a trap, you should tell me how you do it. If you want to find a trap, tell me where you're looking. Etc. I only fall back on skills when there are instances where a) a player forgot to do something like check for a trap b) the player doesn't care to roleplay it out and we just want fast, neutral resolution or c) things like climbing and general searches, or checks that I want to make to determine whether or not something happens (a secret door notices, an ambush detected, etc). I'm sure there are more situations where I used skills, but my point is that I use them situationally. :D

    I noticed three stealth skills, though -- Stealth, Stealth Indoor, and Stealth Outdoor. Is that just an artifact of the universal skill system requiring even racial abilities to be the same? I assume Halflings get a bonus to Stealth Outdoor and Dwarves maybe getting a bonus to Stealth Indoor while Specialists and maybe Elves just get a bonus to the general Stealth skill?
  • Very neat, it sounds very awesome to me. I just hope I can find a copy when it hits the U.S
  • Thanks for that breakdown Eero, very thorough and objective from someone who clearly has some expertise on the subject. I have to say the implied setting and the endgame idea of buying a place in upper society sounds very appealing to me. It sounds like it might lend itself to campaigns with an emphasis on social and political conflicts yet still in a fantasy context.
  • Eero, I agree with you almost completely. I tend to move towards that kind of streamlining when I run B/X, and make good use of Ability checks. I rather like Raggi's simple skill system, though, and I think it's in-line with his idea that characters should only get good at what they do (fight, or use magic, or have skills), but that all characters should have at least a low chance.

    And aside from him having some very interesting, and original, ideas, the damn thing is hella sexy. That is absolutely the game I want to pull out and show off to my friends and say "this is what we're gonna play..." and then I leaf through my Carcosa box set for adventure ideas.
  • Posted By: framweardI noticed three stealth skills, though -- Stealth, Stealth Indoor, and Stealth Outdoor. Is that just an artifact of the universal skill system requiring even racial abilities to be the same? I assume Halflings get a bonus to Stealth Outdoor and Dwarves maybe getting a bonus to Stealth Indoor while Specialists and maybe Elves just get a bonus to the general Stealth skill?
    That's the intent, I understand. Halflings get 5/6 in hiding outdoors and 4/6 for hiding indoors, while everybody else uses the general hiding skill, is how I understand it. Just a lot of clutter for a marginal exception insofar as I'm concerned.
  • Posted By: IgnotusSo are [American] people buying this from his site and getting it shipped from scandinavia? Troll and Toad seems to have the box set for preorder for $50 instead of 50E, which is a significant discount, but it's listed as "preorder" with no real information on when it's expected to ship...
    From what he's said on other sites, he has been working on US distribution options but they are not shipping out yet. Noble Knight is the one that jumps to mind but I can't remember which other distributors will handle it. If I can find out more I'll post it here.
  • The direct orders shipped yesterday! :)

    Anybody wanna start up a chat or play by post game?
  • I seem to remember that Noble Knight is getting a substantial shipment, and another one will be going to IPR. So the game'll be available in the US soon enough without having to order direct overseas.

    As for play by Internet... man, I'm sort of tempted. I'll have to think about it, I couldn't do it without getting serious about it - would have to think up a lot of stuff about how to execute it with flair.
  • That would be SO cool. I've been reading and reading and reading and I really want to play some OD&D-inspired stuff.
  • For those waiting for it to hit US distributors: "I expect to start seeing LotFP stuff stocked in US webstores by the end of next week." -- http://lotfp.blogspot.com/2010/07/update.html
  • Raggi posted a link to this on his blog, but here's a Spanish rpg website that reviewed the game. Its got lots of pretty pictures of the box and its contents. I'd say he just raised the bar for old school publishing.

    Part 1

    Part 2
  • I'm excited about this, thanks for posting about it here. It would have gone under my radar otherwise.

    Just a nitpick:
    Posted By: framweardJesus, it's a box set, how many of those to we see anymore?
    Lots, actually! Doctor Who, Freemarket, Empire of Dust, Dragon Age RPG and WHFRP 3 are a few boxed set rpgs that come to my mind as having been released recently. The box is making a comeback I think.
  • Posted By: TeataineI'm excited about this, thanks for posting about it here. It would have gone under my radar otherwise.

    Just a nitpick:
    Posted By: framweardJesus, it's a box set, how many of those to we see anymore?
    Lots, actually! Doctor Who, Freemarket, Empire of Dust, Dragon Age RPG and WHFRP 3 are a few boxed set rpgs that come to my mind as having been released recently. The box is making a comeback I think.

    Hehe, right after I posted that I thought of Freemarket and WHFRP3. I had hoped no one would call me out. =D
  • It looks like you record your skills by filling in the pips on the d6 images on the character sheet. That makes me smile.
  • Posted By: John HarperIt looks like you record your skills by filling in the pips on the d6 images on the character sheet. That makes me smile.
    It might sound a little silly, but those like d6 images with the blank pips were sort of the tipping point in my decision to buy the game. I couldn't figure out which retroclone I wanted to use and then I saw the LotFP character sheet and in combination with the sweet-ass box art, I decided to buy it.
  • My box landed last night. It's chock full of evocativeness! Speaking of things that make you smile, here's the first paragraph of the Tutorial booklet:
    There's this imaginary world, see, and you've got this character that is "you" in this world, right, and things happen -- you find yourself in some situation, and you have decisions to make. What do you do? And there are consequences for your choices, maybe good, maybe bad, maybe a little of both. There will be another decision to make soon. What do you do?
  • This thread is useless without AP.

    :D
  • Posted By: rafialMy box landed last night.
    HATE JEALOUSY HATE

    That shit better be on my doorstep when I get home.
  • Anyone know if there will be copies at GenCon?
  • Posted By: John HarperAnyone know if there will be copies at GenCon?
    I think Jim said at some point that they wouldn't make it to Gencon or something like that.
  • Reading a review here I noted this:
    At first glance, the most revolutionary thing I found in the rulebook was an indexed character sheet that references the pagination of the relevant rules. This is a remarkably straightforward and effective way of quickly making the game understandable to newcomers – it seems like a small thing but why hasn’t this always been the way game developers do it? Simple but brilliant.
    I hope this idea will be stolen by a few designers.
  • Posted By: Eero TuovinenPosted By: John HarperAnyone know if there will be copies at GenCon?
    I think Jim said at some point that they wouldn't make it to Gencon or something like that.

    Yeah, BOOBIES ON COVER = NO GEN CON.
  • Is there any retroclone material or publication that has the classes that Metzner and other included in the various boxes and supplements? I'm looking to find OD&D versions of the paladin and druid, mainly.
  • Knockspell #1 has James Malezewski's take on the Paladin for OD&D. Brave Halfling has a pamphlet that offers another. I'm sure there are more lying around.

    I can't think of any 0e druids off the top of my head, but you could probably easily adapt stuff from Labyrinth Lord (Basic/Expert retroclone) or Dark Dungeons (Rules Compendium retroclone). Especially check out the "Advanced Edition Companion" book for Labyrinth Lord.
  • Posted By: Caesar_XThis thread is useless without AP.

    :D
    Ok, I'll see if I can get a game put together for us in the next week or so.

    My copy landed (direct order) this past Thursday. Still working to get time for a detailed read. Overall, I think it's a great package. The Referee's Book has no rules - just Jim's guidance and ideas - which is awesome.

    I really find it charming, and am enjoying.

    I think the biggest potential downside for some buyers might be the that the box cover (and rulebook cover) art is not carried through in the book internals. I don't have an issue with it myself, but it's not - say - a Dresden Files Rpg pretty throughout. I could see a disconnect if someone expected that hot LotFP box cover to be reflected on every page.

    I also now want a heavy cardboard miniGM screen replicating the artwork...
  • I just got my copy today. Very fast shipping, considering I didn't pay for the fast shipping (and a book once took three months to reach me from Liverpool!).

    This game looks really cool. The skill system and encumbrance rules look simple and easy to use, and the combat options are a nice touch.

    There is a very funny joke in the Tutorial booklet at the top of page 50.
  • Aw, I didn't pay for fast shipping either I haven't gotten mine yet.

    What US coast do you live on? =D
  • West coast of Canada, actually!
  • Oh, whoops. Dunno why I assumed a US coast. Neat!
  • Hey, you got the coast part right.
  • Posted By: jprussell
    Also, "Lamentations of the Fire Princess" is one of the sweetest RPG titles *evar*.
    For my ears it sounded like, "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya", not the most metal-est thing imaginable.
    Posted By: bouletReading a reviewhereI noted this:

    At first glance, the most revolutionary thing I found in the rulebook was an indexed character sheet that references the pagination of the relevant rules. This is a remarkably straightforward and effective way of quickly making the game understandable to newcomers – it seems like a small thing but why hasn’t this always been the way game developers do it? Simple but brilliant.
    I hope this idea will be stolen by a few designers.

    This idea was already "out in the world". I remember seeing a game that had a character sheet in the middle of a two page spread, with arrows leading to boxed explanations in the outer margins.
    (Chaosium's Elric!?)

    And I very fuzzily remember a game that had the pagination references directly on the sheet, in a very light grey.
  • Does Apocalypse World do the pages on the character sheet thing?

    Also, I have a soft spot for these kinds of games. I'm so tempted to order my own box, but my rule has recently been "Don't buy it unless you've played it and have a group that'll play it".
  • Posted By: Mark CauseyDoes Apocalypse World do the pages on the character sheet thing?

    Also, I have a soft spot for these kinds of games. I'm so tempted to order my own box, but my rule has recently been "Don't buy it unless you've played it and have a group that'll play it".
    The booklets do, I think. My Call of Cthulhu 6th edition does the same thing that Dirk mentions. There are two pages with the sheet laid out and arrows pointing to outlining boxes explaining parts of the sheet. Trail of Cthulhu also has an annotated sheet. Mouse Guard has rule references directly on the page.
  • The Swashbuckers of the 7 Skies character sheet has the appropriate page number in the rules marked. This is helpful.
  • Posted By: Mark CauseyAlso, I have a soft spot for these kinds of games. I'm so tempted to order my own box, but my rule has recently been "Don't buy it unless you've played it and have a group that'll play it".
    Have you played either edition of Basic D&D? Do you have a group that will play Basic D&D? Because LotFP is Basic D&D with better rules for thief skills and encumbrance, some variation in spells, better equipment lists, ascending armour class, and some combat options (like parry).
  • Posted By: JohnstonePosted By: Mark CauseyAlso, I have a soft spot for these kinds of games. I'm so tempted to order my own box, but my rule has recently been "Don't buy it unless you've played it and have a group that'll play it".
    Have you played either edition of Basic D&D? Do you have a group that will play Basic D&D? Because LotFP is Basic D&D with better rules for thief skills and encumbrance, some variation in spells, better equipment lists, ascending armour class, and some combat options (like parry).

    Now you're really making me think about it. Darn it!
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