Ok, I was going to post this one much later but word has gone out that Lamentations is having some financial troubles. They may be on their way to making their goal to stay afloat but we’ll see for how long.
There’s a lot that can be said about Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Way more than I’m going to rant about here. But there are still some good points and bad points that I’m going to mention. For the TLDR version: A solid core game that’s been outweighed by its own controversies and shock just for shock value.
First off, the game itself is solid. Basically, your standard classes and races with a few tweaks here and there like the Fighter is the only class whose Attack Bonus improves and the Specialist (Thief replacement) is the only one who gets better at skills. And speaking of skills it uses a simple x in d6 system. There’s even a pretty easy encumbrance system. Plus some new spells and variations of ideas on existing spells. So that’s the good part. The core game is fully usable and takes a few of the tropes into new and interesting directions.
A lot of people are put off by the graphic art. I mean really graphic. I’m not but I can understand the “Ew!” reaction that many folks have. But there are some free art-free PDF’s legally available over on Drivethru here and here.
I thought some of the early adventures; A Single Small Cut, Scenic Dunnsmouth, and Weird New World; were pretty good. But as time wore on the adventures became more and more one-way death traps or shock just for shock value. You know sort of like Spinal Tap, “The shock goes to 11.”
Now, you can’t think about Lamentations of the Flame Princess without bringing up controversy. In hindsight, it seems that controversy and shock value were the marketing plan. There’s always been some sort drama surrounding the game. It was the art. It was personalities. Or something. Back in the days of G+, it seems like there was one every month or so. IMHO, all the drama and the “Shock Factor 11” adventures just wore out a lot of the fan base. I know it did me. So I pretty much stopped paying attention to it.
And there’s one more 800 pound gorilla out there. The now infamous Ref Book Indiegogo Campaign. Yes, I backed it. That was like 7 years ago. The last update on the campaign was in February and with the recent financial problems, it might be another 7 years if at all. Of course, a lot of folks are a bit pissed considering all the other stuff that’s been published. Crap, he had the money to make promotional buckets. Yes, buckets… You might be able still get one. No Ref Book but you can have bucket.
I admit that’s it been a long time since I really looked at anything by Venger Satanis. I admit that I really liked the early stuff like Liberation of the Demon Slayer, Revelry in Torth, Three Swordsmen, and The Baleful Sorcerer of Tsathag’kha. I was luke warm on The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence and Alpha Blue just wasn’t my thing. And I pretty much didn’t pay attention after that but I kept hearing interesting things about Cha’alt over on Swords & Stitchery so I figured, what the heck? Why not? I need something weird and different.
How can one describe Cha’alt? Well, it’s a gonzo, science fantasy, post apocalyptic and just plain weird. It’s all over the place. There’s weird eldritch things all over. There’s pop culture references here and there. And it’s easy to the influences of earlier works especially he Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence and Alpha Blue. Most importantly its an alien world and not your standard stock medieval fantasy land. Now there are places where it does overboard like with the pizza delivery guy. I like injecting humor into my games but maybe it’s just the way my brain works. I want to interject my jokes or one’s that fit whatever is happening at the game table.
There a couple things I really like. First, there’s more Character Options and more option is always useful. There’s Mutations (but then careful what you ask for since this could be bad), there’s a simple cybernetics system (if the PC’s get the money), and most importantly interesting Elves. There’s six kinds of elves who are native to Cha’alt and that’s a breath of fresh air.
Another great thing is that there’s a ton of new monsters, wasteland gangs, and just plain weird encounters and NPC’s. Once again, something cool that I can use no matter what setting I’m running at the time. And if you’ve followed the blog for any length of time then you’d know that I’m a big Swords & Wizardry fan. The stat blocks are very similar to those of Swords & Wizardry. And even more bonus, they are presented in a very clear, efficient, and easy to read manner.
Final Thoughts: At the very least, it’s inspirational. I’ve had the idea to do another home brew campaign world that’s more weird than Zoong. Something that’s got more a more weird fantasy vibe with a little bit science fantasy mixed in for good measure.
You can grab up Cha’alt over on Drivethrurpg.
I’m not doing this any particular order but I think Labyrinth Lord is the next best place to go on these rants. So what can I say about Labyrinth Lord? Like most of the retroclones, it’s so similar that adventures, monsters and characters really need no or very little conversion. I’ve had the PDF’s (which you can get at Goblinoid Games for free.)for a very long time. I did back the Kickstarter that gave us Advanced Labyrinth Lord with is the “basic” and Advanced Companion combined into one book. And like I said it’s damned good game and it follows closely to what classic D&D is like. I do have one major complaint about the book and that’s the organization of the spell section. It’s alphabetical but by class. So you turn to a page in the spell section and unless you have the spell lists memorized pretty much then you might not know if you’re in the Druid or the Cleric section. I know it’s a relatively minor complaint but it still annoyed me. And if you want a little more detail about its legacy check out the Wikipedia article.
Now I have ran a campaign using Labyrinth Lord. I called it my classics campaign. The party started with Keep on the Borderlands and went thru several classic TSR Modules (including Curse of Xanathon, The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth) and ending with the Tomb of Horrors (which the party gave up on). Overall the players loved it. Yes, there were a few complaints about how it wasn’t like more modern editions but folks got over it and enjoyed the game.
And here’s Part 1
Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!
It’s a perfect time to sit back and do a little reflection considering all the crap that is going on. So for me, I want to go back and look at some of the old OSR stuff that’s been influential with me and throw in some extra notes and thoughts since so much time has passed. It seems so long ago and so much has changed.
I know I’ve told this story before but it’s the best place to start. How exactly did I catch the OSR bug? At the time, the gaming group was playing 3.5 and along came the train wreck of 4th Edition and we switched to Pathfinder. And we played Pathfinder a lot. As time progressed, I got more frustrated with it. We’d spend so much time plotting out movement, spell effects, and figuring all sorts of rules minutia rather than actually playing the game. It really hit home with me when I literally was using a spread sheet to keep up with all the various bonuses for my character. It was just too much and started searching the Internet and that’s when came across all those wonderful retroclones and other goodies. I was amazed at just how much was out there and while so much of it was different, it was largely still cross compatible.
IMHO, you can’t really talk about the OSR without looking back OSRIC. OSRIC really opened the doors for all of the games that followed. While it was intended as sort of an old-school SRD, it’s still playable. Sure I’ve got the PDF but it’s something that I rarely if ever use in a game. It’s handy for reference or even a little research. Remember, I did say that it was playable and there’s folks out there who still play it and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And to put bluntly, even if you’re playing something with a different label, chances are it still might be pretty close to OSRIC.
With all that being said, OSRIC does deserve a very special place. It really was the game that started a renewed interest in old-school gaming.
I backed the Indiegogo campaign and I’m glad I did. The Indiegogo had the option for all three decks and right now I can only find what I believe is Volume 1 on the Frog God site. But as you can see, there were three decks. A generic one. One geared for dungeons. And one for wilderness.
So what exactly are these decks? Well, each card has a little bonus or perk for a character. Bonuses, do-overs, confusing an opponent and so on. If you’re familiar with the Savage Worlds Adventure Deck or the Pathfinder Plot Twist Deck then the Dirty Tricks deck is basically the same thing. And yes I have both of those.
The Savage Worlds Deck is perfect for Savage Worlds. And the Pathfinder Deck is great for Pathfinder and 3.x. So if you playing Fifth Edition, or any retroclone then well those decks don’t exactly work. Savage Worlds is a completely different game system (duh). And well Pathfinder is Pathfinder. There’s enough similarity between most retroclones and 5E that the decks will work. So they are pretty edition neutral. Oh and there’s some pretty funny quotes on them too.
Now let’s look at a couple of cards:
Jump Back Kiss Myself: Re-roll a failed Saving Throw
It’s Only A Flesh Wound: Take only half damage
I Know Something You Don’t Know..I Am Left Handed: +2 To-Hit and Damage for 3 Rounds
You’re Going To Shoot Your Eye Out: Missile attack blinds opponent for 2 Rounds.
You get the idea. And what are the rules for using these cards? There are none. It’s up to the GM to decide how they are used at the table. Maybe every player gets a card. Or they only get a card if they do something cool. Or roll a Nat 20. Do NPC get cards? That’s up to the GM too. And that’s when they become real Decks of Dirty Tricks. Personally, I’m still bouncing around ideas how exactly I want to use them. Maybe like I mentioned before. A card for every player at the beginning of a session and then an extra card if they do something cool. And I’ll probably think pull a few for NPC use. Insert evil snicker.
These cards add other layer of randomness that can happen during an adventure. While it put strain on the GM’s well thought plot, it will drive stories into completely different directions. And I think it’s good think. I kind of like when the game reaches out to both the players and GM and throws some crazy out there. You know sort of some of the craziness of Dungeon Crawl Classics.
Heck match these up with the Hireling, Encounter, and Treasure Cards, you can have a crazy session with little prep (but a whole lot of improvisation).