Friday, 28 September 2012

Playing it Wrong

At the moment, we’re playing Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP). And we’re doing it wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Why? Because we’re using the core mechanics of LotFP and playing classic D&D with it. That isn’t what James Raggi wanted, is it? But it is a compliment.

The core mechanics of LotFP are D&D made elegant. I love them. The combat rules (this is the game that converted me to ascending AC), the streamlining of weapon options, the d6 adventuring rules, the rules for spell research and the creation of magic items… and the Specialist! A classic D&D Thief that doesn’t suck! LotFP is the version of classic D&D that I want to play. But I want to play classic D&D with it. I want the tone of the Mentzer Basic/Expert sets mixed with some Brit-fantasy to darken the mood. But it’s laughable thinking that a dash of Titan, a pinch of Lone Wolf, and a sprinkling of Warhammer will ‘darken’ a game when LotFP provides the possibility of mis-casting a Summon spell and have a party compelled to genitally mutilate each other? Actually, the mis-casts of the Summon spell are BRILLIANT. But they’re not part of the game that I’m after at the moment.

I’ve got my Rules Cyclopedia on my table as we speak, and my BECM (never did get I) books sit in a box alongside my collection of Gazetteers, modules, and assorted classic D&D accessories. But RC/BECM (or Labyrinth Lord, which I use as a proxy to avoid having tea poured all over my precious, precious RC) it isn’t exactly the game I want to play either. It lacks the elegance of Raggi’s system, and it’s power scaling is all wrong. 36 levels?! Back when I began playing D&D I had the Basic and the Expert set, and that was the system. 

So my house rules try to use LotFP to play D&D. All classes increase in attack bonus (though much, much more slowly than the Fighter. Not every monster is a unique Cthulloid entity; we’ve got Kobolds and Goblins, Trolls and Treants. The spells are mix of LotFP (Raggi’s interpretations of the classic spells are often extremely well done) and classic D&D (well, actually, for ease of reference at the table, I’m relying on Labyrinth Lord quite a bit). And I’m using D&D Treasure Tables – a mechanised Experience Point system that runs on loot demands a mechanised loot allocation system. In other words, I’m doing Raggi a terrible insult, stripping away the deliberate and consistent tonal qualities of LotFP to leave myself with the skeleton of the rules.

I'm worried about tea? It looks like they'll fall apart of their own accord soon enough...

The thing is, I appreciate the tone that Raggi strove for when writing Lamentations of the Flame Princess. It’s something that I’d be happy playing as a player. Strangely, it’s a game that I'd probably be happier playing that running. But right now, we’re dungeon delving and monster bashing. And, when you end the first adventure with a character blinded by a SPITTING COBRA, and three characters (a serious head wound, two fingers severed, and a broken leg)  needing lengthy spells of recuperation thanks to some FIRE BEETLES (oh, and Chris Kutalik’s Death and Dismemberment table), you know that you’re not playing too light and breezy a game.     

Oh, and of course, the Rules and Magic books for LotFP are available free. They're art free, but if want some cutting edge art criticism, try HERE. God knows what I'll do with my FOUR Rules and Magic hardcovers when they arrive (thanks to the Indiegogo campaign), but I'm looking forward to the Ken Hite adventure. And Kelvin's.


  1. To add to 'things what I do like' about LotFP mechanics: the encumbrance system.

  2. I play it wrong too, and since I'm writing an adventure for it, that's sort of an official endorsement. Or something.

  3. I'd say you're both playing very right. The mix in the post reads like a lot of fun.