Lamentations of the Flame Princess
|Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Adventures|
|RPG published by
|Rule System||D&D Retroclone|
|Authors||James Raggi IV, Zak S.,|
"The key is to make sure the cruelty is fair, and in this case I have attempted to do so by making sure it is the players that must trigger catastrophic events."
- – James Edward Raggi IV, AKA that DM who has no idea what "fair" means and who believes every road must have rails.
Lamentations of the Flame Princess is a grimdark retroclone made by James Edward Raggi IV. It started out as an Elizabethan version of Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons, but moved in the direction of historical fantasy as the author's interests inevitably changed and he was dumped by his girlfriend, who was incidentally the inspiration for the eponymous "Flame Princess" (which'll give you an idea of what to expect). It's most well-known for the little mini-adventures with art that looks like it came from a Cannibal Corpse album that no one buys from the shelves of your FLGS; they come chock full of gloom, doom, horror, and NOPE! mixed with copious amounts of the absolute worst DM practices of a bygone era. You know, the ones that make for interesting reading but always seem to cock up royally when you try to play them?
So What's It About?
LotFP would probably be a shoe-in to fit all your horror-style metalhead retroclone needs, if not for the fact that the creator was such a smug, unlikable cunt. Seriously, he's basically the result of a dangerous experiment to distill all the worst aspects of /tg/'s neckbeardy nature into a single individual, while filtering out all the likable charm and class and replacing it with the lingering bitterness of a douchebag who can't move on from a bad breakup, and his superior, insulting tone and free-floating resentment seeps into everything he writes. Without fail, the adventures he writes begin with like five pages ranting about how much he hates people who prefer other games and systems, people who prefer his game and system, people who treat tabletop RPGs as ways to have "fun" and enjoy themselves instead of SRS BSNS, etc. On top of that, most of them are either deliberately designed to be cruel jokes for the DM to play on the players ("Death Frost Doom," "The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time"), or just plain unfun exercises in torturing them for daring to think they are the main characters rather than the DM ("The God That Crawls," "Death Love Doom"). Virtually none of them have "winning" scenarios attached to them, just to drive the point home. He also likes to make cheap meta jokes with the module titles, content, etc. - often while including elements that violently punish any players who have the temerity to make their own.
Of course, there is a certain kind of player that finds this sort of unfair, trial-and-error, Tomb of Horrors bullshit to be part of the game's charm. If you can filter out the Raggi, it's not unplayable.
Why Do People Buy It?
It has really good supplements.
No, that's pretty much it. While the modules tend towards garbage, the settings therein have a lot of interesting ideas behind them, with a good mixture of gonzo and grim. Vornheim and its anachronistic spires and gangland battles across a vertical playground. A Red and Pleasant Land with its confusing, macabre four way war between vampiric nobility on a giant chess board in the dreaming lands that may or may not be dreaming of you, maybe. Veins of the Earth's take on the Underdark, where player characters will trade legendary artifacts that whole campaigns could be based around for moldy bread and a half used candle. And for all his faults as a human being and a designer, Raggi the businessman has some generous-ass terms for both third-party publishing and any authors willing to print with him.
Additionally while Lamentation may not be the D20 system it is darn close to it. Same system of rolling a D20 and trying to get over the result. These means that if you were mad enough to try and work some of the setting ideas, you can fairly easily run it with a traditional D&D system even converting some of the actual creatures to D&D, though it would take a bit of eye balling the stats to get something roughly similar and playable.
Between that, the high production quality of the printed versions, and the massive amounts of system neutral tables for generating your own weird shit, Lamentations limps on.
Because of the generous business terms, LotFP has a huge "stable" of authors. About half are written by Raggi himself. These share some consistent themes, which you'll see in a moment. The rest are put up by a rotating rogues' gallery of guest authors; they're where a lot of the more creative work gets done.
"Adventures" written by James Raggi
- Better Than Any Man: A group of adventurers is sent to a town during the Thirty Years' War to root out rumors of witchcraft before Gustavus Adolphus burns the place to the ground. A cabal of ladies have taken over with the aid of monsters from beyond space and time. They probably die, and a level 17 Magic-User gets killed by Swedes. Better than most of his other work, by virtue of being pretty good at historical horror and weirdness, and also given away for free.
- Death Frost Doom: A group of adventurers ventures into a disbanded cult's ancient stronghold. They probably die and/or cause a massive zombie apocalypse. (Or leave, there's nothing really keeping them there until they've passed so many red flags that even the most genre blind of PCs will get the hint). Includes a bonus mini-adventure involving a tower that is also a seemingly-fun dungeon that is also a big trap full of Bad Things.
- Death Love Doom: A group of adventurers investigates the estate of a wealthy family which has recently gone missing. What follows can best be summed up as Raggi's performance of the Aristocrats routine. They probably leave in disgust, or die. Solving the problem is impossible, as the entirety of the plot has already happened offscreen when the PCs show up, keeping it from happening again requires real-world psionics.
- Fuck For Satan: A purposely-generic adventure to save some missing kids is derailed by an unrelated, bizarre dungeon full of traps and monsters that are either silly (a trap that forces you to void your bowels, then fight your own turds, a literal dick monster) or just lethal screw yous (doorknobs that inflict permanent stat drain, no saving throw, a monster that rages about content in previous LotFP modules). They probably die, but if they actually do ignore the bait and stay out of the dungeon, an astral being that hates the DM as much as the DM hates the players gives them power over him. They will probably then encounter a second unrelated, bizarre cult involving gay orgies and a second literal dick monster (who is just as confused about what's going on as the players probably are). The kids were actually eaten by a bear, which has a 1/10 chance of showing up each day but is otherwise not probably found by actual player action. Funny, if juvenile and meta.
- The God That Crawls: A group of adventurers is kidnapped and thrown into a maze full of forbidden artifacts and a deadly monster for reasons that may not make sense. They probably die. Explicitly for "breaking" groups that feel like they can deal with any monster the game throws at them. See the gallery for a pretty typical run-through.
- No Salvation For Witches: English Civil War SJWs are trying to remake the world under a magical dome of plot bullshit. Also, the Thing is wandering around and a lot of people are dying horribly. The party gets involved, and they probably die. Treasures include the local abbot's porn stash and a magical dildo you can steal from a horribly-deformed child bride. Look in the wrong peephole and you call the Tyranids.
- Green Devil Face #1: A group of adventurers are recruited to battle thinly veiled versions of people the author doesn't like. They probably die. Pointlessly.
- The Grinding Gear: A love letter to Tomb of Horrors and a relatively lighthearted module after the never ending line of gloomy GM dickery. Note that we just described a Tomb of Horrors-alike as a lighthearted break from GM dickery.
- The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time: A group of adventurers gets word of a bizarre structure in a secluded valley that warps reality around itself. They'll definitely be very confused and probably wish they were dead by the time they get there. By the time they leave, at least one of them will almost certainly be worse than dead, and the rest will be even more confused. And if they try to wander off partway, terrible things happen to force them to come back.
- Tower of the Stargazer: A group of adventurers tries to get into a paranoid wizard's tower. They probably die or leave empty handed just as the adventure is beginning.
- Vaginas are Magic / Eldritch Cock: Raggi attempts to make a new magic system composed entirely of metal song titles and fucked-up miscast results. There are a couple decent spells tucked in amongst the silliness and edge.
- Tales of the Scarecrow: The party gets trapped in a cornfield, and the player that comes up with the best/most deadly finale for the adventure wins XP. Which they will promptly lose because trying to leave wakes up the unkillable tentacle monster under the house, just as said deadly finale comes true, meaning, you guessed it, they probably die.
- Going Through Forbidden Underworlds: Basically the plot of Doom save that it takes place in a tiny 7-room deathtrap. Theoretically allows you to plane-jump. It just isn't safe, controllable, or particularly interesting. Bonus points for being a paid print product, yet having less content than any of the free
KickstarterIndieGoGo bonus adventures.
LotFP-Published Adventures by Other Authors
Most of these have small house-rules supplements in the back, system tweaks, and other bonus content.
- Blood in the Chocolate: Kiel Cheiner mixes Willy Wonka and his Magical Realm. Which is apparently midgets gang-raping fat lesbians in knife wounds.
- Towers Two: Originally a fairly straightforward module where two wizards are dueling with their bands of pretty-boy soldiers and pig-faced orcs, with the "twist" that both of them are evil. Notable for being half-written by the frontman of GWAR, then taken over and made vastly grosser by a fanboy after his death. Includes "death-fuck" magic.
- Forgive Us: Tight, brutal little pastiche of Aliens by way of Warhammer Fantasy. Cultists find a Nurgle idol, possession and tentacles ensue. The treasure room has some neat mechanics.
- England Upturn'd: Odin is fucking with the English Civil War, Evil Prince John is a liche trying to take over his idiot descendants, and the drow want him back to torture him forever. Has a fairly cool take on the alignment system based on religion and politics, though the execution is lacking.
- Isle of the Unknown: An astonishingly generic hexcrawl, which is put together almost entirely with random generators. The Zodiac wizards are the only really interesting thing in it.
- Scenic Dunnsmouth: One of the best things to come out of the entire mess that is LotFP. Uses a dice-drop to create a map, then the values of the dice to generate a quick metaplot and set the power levels/treasure of various set NPCS. A quick playing card deal assigns the rotating cast of NPCs from 56 available households/characters. Then you just have to steal the Time Cube from Schrodinger's Spider-Cult while dodging an insane serial killer. Like the card generated plot from the original I6: Ravenloft module, or the modern re-interpretation on steroids.
- Broodmother Sky Fortress: Giant evil shark-elephants drop out of the sky and attempt to blow up your campaign setting. The players are encouraged to steal their ship. Tries to be full of 90's 'tude, just comes across as a bit desperate.
- The Cursed Chateau: Haunted house adventure. A jaded demon-worshiping mage traps you in his funhouse and wants you to amuse him. Very much the Hammer Horror counterpart of Castle Amber.
- Thulian Echoes: When Titus sacked Jerusalem, (70ce), he made off with a load of silver, and the players go on a classic dungeon dive to get it. The twist is they are working off the notes of failed party of adventures, so the game starts with the players running the dungeon with a set of premade characters, with there actions providing information to the 'real' characters about the dungeon's traps and hazards, which is objectively a remarkable clever idea that's rage-inducing nonetheless, because it has to be associated with Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
- Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess: Halflings and an evil Pony Prince imprison the party on a demiplane of diabetes-fueled horror. If you're lucky, you can make wishes that the DM will then fuck you over on!
- Vornheim - Turning a city into an adventure, with rules for creating floorplans and buildings on the fly.
- A Red and Pleasant Land - Vampire Alice in Wonderland. Utterly random, but a good way of spicing up your horror campaigns. Weird obsession with virgin blood and children in wells.
- Veins of the Earth - Why spelunking is bad for you. Monsters introduce range the gamut of "Unplayable Garbage" to "Will invade the next Underdark campaign you run". Includes cave exploration, hypothermia, rules on light ("fuck your Darkvision and actually act like you're in a cave" basically) and cannibalism rules, because Lamentations is gonna Lamentations. Also has a very complex but useful cave generation system that its creator made to be easily ported to other systems, so if you're looking for a way to make the Underdark more interesting it's a good source. Also, crazy hate elves. Also, also, has a spell to summon a vampire lawyer.
- Frostbitten & Mutilated - Black metal amazons and witches, primordial archetypal animals, and horrible giants in a frozen waste. It's like they wrote an RPG setting based entirely off Immortal lyrics. Probably better taken in pieces than as is, but has an interesting idea with a time loop mechanic for its overall campaign story. Three witches want to summon a big demon, but need to be in one place, the Dim Fortress, to do so, and don't know where that is. So they set up a time loop so that the last month is repeated forever, until the cycle is broken by adventurers who can give them their chance to summon the demon.
- World of the Lost - African Space Alien fantasy sandbox. With dinosaurs and ice age predators. Some Expedition to the Barrier Peaks stuff, if the ship ruined half a continent.
- Quelong - Fantasy Laos with an apocalyptic-war-in-progress in nearby nations slowly ruining the place. Everything, including the water and food, is laced with poisonous Aakom. At low levels it inflicts a vast assortment of debuffs that get worse the more poisoned you are. It also screws with a spellcasters magic,gave an inconvenient uncontrollable magic and if you die while poisoned will come back as a zombie when you die so the players are on a ticking clock. Goes for a Heart of Darkness / Apocalypse Now flavor.
- The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions - Several half-baked attempts at wizards' towers, with the tables to make them. Simultaneously too vague to use as-written, and too specific to use more than once or twice on your own. Much like England Upturn'd, it's a cool idea sabotaged in the execution. The author also constantly repeats himself and inserts page breaks like a panicked sophomore confronted by his first 15-page essay.