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Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Lamentations of the Flame Princess

by Monday 18 July 2016
LamentationsOfTheFlamePrincess-fullIn July 2016 we presented the Bundle of Lamentations, featuring James Raggi’s weird-fantasy RPG Lamentations of the Flame Princess. With a heavy-metal attitude and explicit non-work-safe illustrations, LotFP presents a sinister and horrific twist on fantasy gaming. A Lamentations adventure grinds up player characters and cauterizes souls. But for fearless gamers who are over 18 and have strong stomachs, the Lamentations line embodies some of the hobby’s most imaginative work from leading designers.

LotFP-Baker-SeclusiumOfOrphoneThough Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing is a tight retro-clone of B/X D&D — with stricter movement and encumbrance systems, for reasons explained below — LotFP‘s merciless attitude comes out of heavy metal, Clive Barker, and the ultra-violent supernatural thrillers of Dario Argento: Anything goes, wild as hell, go for the throat. You could call it “horror fantasy,” but this isn’t about werewolves or serial killers. LotFP is largely about forces from beyond our awareness causing great distress. Some might describe it as “sick.” One review struck the right note: “This adventure has torn open a slime-laden murder-blunt-trauma hole in reality’s sky and poured in the awesome.”

Designer James Raggi explains: “The inspiration for LotFP is the basic belief that the life of an adventurer is a hellish thing nobody sane would want — full of danger and violence, with no real home, no real family, no certainty, ever. Think of the classic RPG adventure form: You’re going into some dark hole with a sinister history, fully expecting to encounter deathtraps and supernatural monsters and all sorts of things that want to kill you and probably eat you, and you’re doing it for some money. Or ‘glory.’ In real life we get pissed and dream of quitting our jobs when our bosses want us to sit at a desk for an extra hour, and our ‘glorious heroes’ are the people that are victims of the most and worst gossip, and bloody hell this is all terrible. So let’s drop the pretense of being noble heroes doing things for noble reasons and just spotlight the fact that ‘adventures’ are terrible, life-ruining traumatic experiences. And my love of heavy metal and horror movies provides wonderful inspiration for making them so. That’s LotFP.”

LotFP-Blatt-EnglandUpturndLamentations has become notorious in the Old School Revival community for this unforgiving ethos. Many fantasy RPGs establish dungeons that are supposedly dangerous (“no one has ever returned”), and then the player characters waltz in and kill everything. But LotFP dungeons are seriously dangerous — as in, “You’re Definitely Going To Die Down Here, No Really.” Touch something the wrong way and you’re hosed, or sometimes you trigger an apocalypse. As with Luke Crane’s Torchbearer, even ordinary logistics can do you in. Remember how the LotFP system emphasizes movement and encumbrance rules?

LotFP-Maliszewski-CursedChateauIn a metagame sense these doomed journeys teach players caution. They’re “nega-dungeons”; they exist for the purpose of you not going there, and if you do, you’ve already lost. A place like this can help your campaign. As Evan Jeshka wrote in a November 2014 entry on this blog, “Welcome to Death Frost Doom, Now Turn Around and Go Away“: “It adds grit and verisimilitude, and reminds you you’re in a world that exists for its own purposes, not to feed you experience and treasure.”

We’ve presented many Lamentations titles in our past Old School Revival offers, including A Red & Pleasant Land, Death Frost Doom, The God That Crawls, Qelong, The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time, and others. This offer’s only duplicate from past collections was the single most famous Lamentations title, the spectacular city-design supplement Vornheim.

LotFP-ZakS-VornheimThere were nine titles in our Weird Starter Collection (retail value $52), all presented as DRM-free .PDF ebooks: LotFP-Chandler-WorldOfTheLostThose who paid more than the threshold (average) price also got our entire Historic Bonus Collection with seven more titles (retail value $52) that show LotFP‘s fascinating takes on world history:
  • World of the Lost (retail $10): A breathtaking 180-page hexcrawl and time-crawl by Rafael Chandler (Pandemonio).
  • The Magnificent Joop van Ooms (retail $4.50): A Renaissance Man in 17C Amsterdam who brings cosmic weirdness to the world.
  • The Cursed Château (retail $7.50): James Maliszewski’s venerable haunted house in an expanded deluxe edition.
  • Scenic Dunnsmouth (retail $10): A rotting swamp town with two dark secrets, and an innovative dice-and-cards system that makes it endlessly replayable.
  • The Squid, the Cabal, and the Old Man (retail $7.50): The 1685 war between Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke, told with a bloody twist.
  • England Upturn’d (retail $7.50): The English Civil War, Lamentations-style.
  • Forgive Us (retail $5): 1625 was a plague year in Norwich. History tells us it was an outbreak of the Black Death. History is wrong.
That’s a US$104 value for a price less than Troma Studios pays for a quart of theatrical blood and a few intestines. Ten percent of each payment (after gateway fees) went to the charity selected by Lamentations designer James Raggi, The Myositis Association.