Lamentations of the Flame Princess

LotFP T-ShirtSo with Pathfinder and I no longer an ‘item,’ I’m on the market again. I don’t think I’ll ever make the same kind of commitment to another system. But then, nobody ever anticipates the day that special game comes along, do they? And as it happens, I’ve had my eye on Lamentations of the Flame Princess for awhile.

I actually don’t recall when LotFP first came on my radar, but my first distinct memory of the game is the fear in my fellow adventurer’s eyes when our GM announced that we was running “A Raggi module.” (as in a module written by James Raggi, creator of LotFP). It took me a few months to get around to purchasing the game, and when I got it in hand I was immediately impressed with it, before even reading a word. Multiple books, printed character sheets, and a full set of dice were included in my $35 Grindhouse edition of the game. What’s more, the art is gloriously imaginative, provocative, and NSFW. I don’t think I ever realized how much the tame-ness of most RPG sourcebooks bothered me until I found this book which was actually willing to engage with me as an adult. To depict all of the violence I so gleefully describe to my players.

Upon reading the books, I was profoundly disappointed. Not because the books were bad, but because I saw many of my own ostensibly unique ideas had already been published by someone who managed to come up with them before I did. I thought I was going to be so very clever someday when I released a game system, and the GM’s Guide was largely just a collection of essays on GMing, rather than a collection of charts and numbers of limited usefulness. I thought my system would be so much easier to understand with expansive examples of play–though even I wouldn’t have been so bold as to fill an entire book with them!

I don’t love everything about LotFP, of course. The magic research / magic item creation systems seem to be more trouble than they’re worth. Some spells are so dangerous to use that I don’t know if I’d ever be willing to cast them. The idea that only fighter’s advance in combat ability has a certain appeal, but I worry about how it will affect play as adventurers start to reach mid level. And call it a nitpick, but I’ve never liked games which measure movement in feet. My ability to perceive distance is not good, so saying a character has a movement of 120′ means nothing to me.

But for every con, I could list a half dozen pros. And two pros in particular make this game worth it all on their own. First, the rules work. And second, these are among the most lightweight rules I’ve ever seen. More lightweight than any of the other old school games I’ve encountered. And that’s good, because it gives me so much more room to tinker and expand on my own, which is what I love to do anyway.

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11 thoughts on “Lamentations of the Flame Princess”

  1. Yeah, i’m a big fan. The Grindhouse set is probably one of the better box sets available for learning how to play RPGs too, strangely enough. The tutorial book is great and the GM book is extra great. The only thing holding it back in that regard is the artwork is probably not going to appeal universally.

    1. I’m really quite sad to see the Grindhouse set go. The new hardcover looks lovely and everything, but I actually prefer the smaller sized books that come with dice.

      As for the art, it’s certainly not universally appealing. But I’ve always had a distaste for universal appeal. It’s boring. Besides, if you’re working on OSR style tabletop RPGs, you probably don’t care much about universal appeal anyway! =P

      1. Don’t get me wrong, I love the art, but it makes it tricker to recommend the book for 10 year olds, despite the fact it’s probably the best intro to RPGs currently in print.

        I’m looking forward to the new books. They are still going to be A5, so I suspect they’ll only be a little bit bigger. The current books feel a bit fragile with the super soft covers. Also the layout is much nicer in the new books.

        But yeah, I really love this box set. (Long ass post on this topic: http://save.vs.totalpartykill.ca/review/lotfp-grindhouse/)

  2. As someone who is relatively new to the OSR movement, Lamentations of the Flame Princess is easily one of my favorite games. I love the simplicity of the rules, how easy it is to digest the rules and figure them out, and I love the attitude delivered through the art and the modules made for the game (Better Than Any Man being one of the best modules I’ve read in a long time). LotFP is near the top of my list of games that I need to run sometime in the near future.

    1. Better Than Any Man stands as one of the two most important game books I own at the moment. So much to learn and digest, it’s thrilling.

  3. You should run some LotFP for us. I wouldn’t mind switching out now and then during our standard monday time if you want to have a captive audience.

    1. That’d be great. Give me a week or two of warning for when you’d like a little break, and I’ll make sure to have a game ready.

  4. You mentioned that you started after talking to a stranger in Fantasium. That wouldn’t happen to be Fantasium in Federal Way, WA?

    1. It absolutely is Fantasium in Federal Way, WA. I love those folks. They’ve been very good to me over the years.

      1. Then there’s a pretty solid chance I was that random guy. I was spending a lot of time in the shop that summer, and Pathfinder was definitely my mainstay at that time. Small world, eh?

        On topic, I think Lamentations is brilliant. The Grindhouse set is everything I could want from an RPG and your review is dead-on how I felt about it when I found it.

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