Bud’s RPG review – Lamentations of the Flame Princess by Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Bud’s RPG review – Lamentations of the Flame Princess by Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Hello and welcome to Bud’s RPG review where
I give my thoughts on roleplaying games, card games and board games. Today’s review is Lamentations of the Flame
Princess: Weird Fantasy Roleplaying for OSR by Lamentations of the Flame Princess. OK – first a bit of history. First released
in 2009, Lamentations of the Flame Princess is a 168-page small format hardback book that
focusses on a dark, retrograde system with an atmosphere of the supernatural being strange
and rare. It uses the OSR ruleset as a base of play, and has been described as a lean
B/X system. The book is rated 18+ as it contains explicit content. Right to the cover. Here we have a frankly
beautiful piece by Cynthia Sheppard that in all honesty doesn’t really tell me anything.
Is this the Flame Princess? OK – to the inside. As explained earlier,
this book is rated 18+ so stop now if you are easily offended. The first thing we are greeted with is price
lists – the kind you would usually find in your typical fantasy setting, and we move
past the table of contents and onto the first section – character creation. Stats are rolled in a fairly standard manner
with modifiers you would expect to see, as are the hit points. It’s worth pointing out
that only Fighters get a +2 attack bonus at level 1, and an additional +1 at each level
thereafter. We have some discussion on the three alignments – Lawful, Chaotic and Neutral
and the alignments don’t show a particular affinity towards Evil or Good – all Clerics
must be Lawful and Elves and Magic Users must be Chaotic. It stresses that those that are
touched by magic are Chaotic, and that many who are wish that they were not. It then goes through the usual steps of starting
money and possessions, through the eternal dilemma of choosing a name and then straight
into the classes with Cleric. Clerics receive spells of levels 1-7, and roughly follow what
you would expect them to in terms of HP etc. Fighters begin with the best combat abilities
of all of the classes, and is the only one who improves these as they go up in level. Magic Users differ greatly from what you may
be accustomed to in OSR, most notably in their spells selections – more on that later. They
are seekers of power and knowledge that consider no price too much to pay. They can cast spells from level 1-9. We then have the Specialist. These are essentially
skill-based explorers that gain points that they can allocate to skills, and can make
Sneak attacks. After this we have the Dwarf. They are a dying
race that were once the most powerful people on the planet. This decline has left them
spiritually shattered. They live a joyless life of work that numbs their brain and they
don’t even breed anymore. This, however, is a generalisation. As with most things there
are exceptions to the rule, and there are those dwarfs that strike out into the world
to live and are often the type that become adventurers. In most other ways they are exactly
the dwarfs you would expect to see. And then we have the Elf. Their civilisation
has fallen into decline, but they are accepting of this fate with grace. Some see mankind
as their natural successor. They are magical creatures that are also trained as fighters. We also have Halflings. They are generally
a happy and contented people that usually live up to the stereotypes associated with
their race. Halfling adventurers are those that have left their homelands in search of
adventure and fortune. After this section we have some equipment
lists which are generally standard fayre for a fantasy setting and then it moves onto the
rules of the game. It is in alphabetical order, and starts with architecture, climbing and
doors and gives a basic roll that needs to be rolled to achieve the relevant action.
It has some discussion on Experience Points and levelling up, Foraging and Hunting and
even Getting Lost. Of particular note here is the rules on damage. At zero HP, the character
is helpless and at -3 they are mortally wounded and will die in D10 minutes – no healing,
magic or otherwise can prevent this. At -4 death is instant. No exceptions. There are
straightforward rules to cover the likes of Falling, Poison, Starvation and even Sleep
Deprivation. It covers Healing, which is fairly slow. Languages are based on cultural similarities
– ones that share common ancestry are easier to understand amongst one another when compared
to more exotic languages. It has straightforward rules for Movement
and Encumbrance and also covers all of the thief-type skills such as Searching and Stealth. In this game, a round is six seconds long and a turn is ten minutes long, whereas a segment is one second long. Finally it covers Tinkering and
Traps. I have to say, I feel that the rules have a lean ruthlessness to them. The book then completely shifts and goes into rules around Maritime Adventures. This includes in game stats for various vessels and rules
for water conditions, crew and encounters at sea and how to deal with waterborne chases and combat as well as damage to vessels. It has the stats for various weapons and also
rules for boarding vessels. Following this we have some notes and fees
for the various retainers you can pick up, including Alchemists, Physicians and even Slaves. It also gives information on what exactly having these people around will give
you. Hiring retainers is covered, as well how loyal they will be to you. There is a section on Property and Finance
which talks about how to manage property, including upkeep costs and taxes and it even
covers bankruptcy. After this we have encounters. Here it details
all of the rules for fighting, spellcasting and movement. It covers the likes of holy
water and oil and even has pursuit rules. It also has a section on unarmed combat. Following
this, we have a number of colour plates that take in the adult nature of the game, gruesome
or sexual as they are, they are all beautifully realised. Some of them are a bit disturbing,
yet again re-interating that this game is not for the faint hearted. It then goes into
specific rules for Clerics, including spell casting, writing scrolls, creating holy-water
and spell research. Everything is pretty simple and it doesn’t nuance it too much. We then
have a similar section on Magic Users, which also includes potion creation, and staffs
and wands, which also talks about recharging them. There are rules on libraries and laboratories,
and this is followed by spell lists for both clerics and magic users. The lists have some
interesting modifications. Firstly, the Cleric list is missing any spells
that reveal alignments, and also there are no spells that restore the dead to life. The Magic User list has some equally interesting
modifications. There are no what you would consider “blasty” spells – no Fireball, Lightning
Bolt and almost all of the elemental damaging spells are missing. The list seems to have
taken a lead from what you may consider “classic” magic – it is based mostly around Divination,
Illusion, Enchantment and Necromancy, and the likes of Wish is completely gone, but rituals are very important. Those
elemental spells that remain are largely utility in nature, such as Move Earth, Stone Shape
and Passwall. The spell descriptions are given a treatment that suits the setting well.
Animate Dead, for example, gives corpses and skeletons power that allow them to move and
act in a mockery of their former existence – they will interpret any instructions in
the most destructive and violent way possible, preferring to attack those they knew in life, and Cloudkill now literally summons the smoke from the fires of Hell. It’s all very evocative. There
are spells that I have not encountered before such as Bookspeak which, when cast and a book
is touched, animates a mouth on it and the Magic User can ask the book questions about
it’s contents. Useful stuff. Now, I was reading the spell descriptions thinking to myself
that the author had been clever in creating the atmosphere that the game world has – one
where magic is dangerous and rare. This continued as I was reading them until that one moment.
The moment I came across the spell Summon – and then my opinion changed. Summon is a spell which entails the Magic
User ripping a hole in reality and pulling out energy that interacts and warps our reality. The spell has Six steps. Step One involves the Magic User deciding what type of creature
they would like to summon – the HD cannot be more than twice their level. Step Two has
the Magic User making a saving throw vs Magic – a failure means something more powerful
than intended comes through. Step Three determines the creatures form and powers – these are
rolled on the tables here. Step Four determines the number of powers it has based on it’s
HD. Step Five has a domination roll from the caster vs the entity. Step Six are where we
examine the domination roll results. This is where we see if the Magic User controls the entity, is controlled by it or if it even goes on a rampage killing anyone and anything
within sight. It also gives some random results for rolls that are tied. It then moves onto
the abstract forms that creatures can take which includes such madness as the Referee
and player swapping roles, with the player continuing to run the game and the combined
sum of man’s apocalyptic fears streaming through the portal between worlds. You really have
to read them to believe them. And then realise that this is a 1st level spell. After the spells we have a glossary of terms and this is followed by game rules on firearms, medieval armour and some various equipment such as gunpowder barrels and artillery. Lastly, we have information on the character sheet. The dark atmosphere and gory disposition that
seems evident in the pages of Lamentations of the Flame Princess will definitely not
be for everyone. The rules seem bent on making life difficult for the players, which some
will welcome, whereas to others it will be anathema. They have an almost ruthless simplicity
about them that leaves no room for maneuver. The classes are interestingly done, with Clerics
having an almost puritanical bent and Magic Users sitting on a fine line between power
and annihilation. Elves and Dwarfs are two sides of the same coin, with one accepting their fate and the other pretending it isn’t even happening. Fighters are the only class that
actually gets better at fighting, making them all the more deadlier, and the skill system
is boldly simplistic. The art throughout the book is absolutely superb with each picture telling a story that you would like to hear. This is not at all like the original D&D that Gary
Gygax and Dave Arneson first put to print even if it wears similar clothes. Lamentations
of the Flame Princess is danger and temptation wrapped into one, that takes D&D roughly by
the arm and leads it down a dark and brutal path. There is no coming back from death here. Magic is perilous and has effects beyond the confines of your character sheet and imagination.
My only real criticism is that, at least in this book, we are not given a world to play
in. Lamentations of the Flame Princess came highly recommended by many gamers that I have
spoken to, and in all honesty I was wondering what all the fuss was about, but having read the book I completely understand the reasoning. Many feel that D&D has become too soft; too difficult to become truly threatened and in some ways this is addressed here. I look forwards
to reading more books in James Edward Raggi IV’s grim microcosm of D&D. I give Lamentations
of the Flame Princess a 9/10. If you enjoyed this review please make sure
to hit the thumbs up, subscribe to my channel and check out my other videos. Also, if you
are interested in buying this product, I have put some links below. Lastly, if you enjoy
what I produce here, then maybe think about supporting me on Patreon. Bud out.

13 thoughts on “Bud’s RPG review – Lamentations of the Flame Princess by Lamentations of the Flame Princess

  1. If you liked the core rules, the adventures are where the system really shines. Some of them are a bit hit and miss, but ones like A Red and Pleasant Land, Vornheim, Broodmother Skyfortress, and Veins of the Earth are mind-shatteringly good. Some of the best RPG books I've ever seen. Also, there's a really cool app here that lets you automate the whole Summon spell: http://summon.totalpartykill.ca/

  2. LotFP is one of my all- time favorite systems. It puts the bite back into D&D and adds an interesting twist. You have to enjoy, or at least tolerate the author's voice, but that is not a problem for me. Thanks for this fair and informative review. I would like to see more on OSR products if you share the interest.

  3. Oh hell yes brother! I thought I could just add guns and Basic D&D ethos to 5e but I need to switch to this permanently.

  4. Outstanding review. I hear there are no magic items, which is fine, that wouldn't sit with the bleak outlook but are they're any critters or are referees supposed to lift them from other OSR/original games?

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