Though 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.”
Lamentations 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?
In 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.
There were nine titles in our Weird Starter Collection (retail value $52), all presented as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
- Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic Full Version (retail price $5): The complete core rulebook by James Raggi of weird-cosmic-metal fantasy. Includes the introductory adventure Tower of the Stargazer (retail $6).
- Vornheim (retail $9): The brilliant city-design kit by Zak S (A Red & Pleasant Land, Maze of the Blue Medusa). Previously presented in our first Old School Revival offer, November 2013.
- The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions (retail $10): A system for building wizard towers by D. Vincent Baker (Apocalypse World).
- Thulian Echoes (retail $7.50): One dungeon explored twice — first in the ancient past, then again a thousand years later.
- The Pale Lady (retail $5): Zzarchov Kowolski’s expedition into the realm of an evil fae queen.
- The Idea From Space (retail $5): Trapped in an island war between a muscle-cult god and a memetic alien entity.
- A Single, Small Cut (retail $2): A stomach-churning encounter in a church crypt by Michael Curtis (Stonehell Dungeon, The Dungeon Alphabet).
- Tales of the Scarecrow (retail $2.50): A circular cornfield, a dilapidated farmhouse, a harpsichord, and nightmares.
- 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.