Category Archives: Legacy D&D

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Lamentations of the Flame Princess–A few thoughts

Recently I picked up the new hardcover version of Lamentation of the Flame Princess’ Rules and Magic book. Even though I have read the rules several times over the last few years, I took the opportunity to give it another look. I have stated several times before that LotFP is one of my favorite D&D retro clones, and today I want to share my reasons with you.

Weird Fantasy
LotFP is advertised as “weird fantasy”. But what the heck is weird fantasy about? Basically it’s fantasy combined with elements of horror. If you ever read one of Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane stories you get a good idea of what to expect from LotFP, especially if you set your game into an early modern age. The hardcover edition actually includes rules for early firearms and armor used in that period. LotFP gives me a similar vibe as the old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition.

Low or rather less flashy magic
The magic in LotFP feels a bit different from vanilla D&D. A lot of the spells are less flashy and overall magic feels more like a dark art performed by a few instead of something which is present on every corner. Summoning is a dangerous affair. If you mess up, the thing you just summoned into the world, rips of your arms and legs and returns to hell with your soul in tow. Ouch! In LotFP magic is dangerous and mysterious. If you’re fed up with standard high fantasy settings this is a very welcome change.

Skill system
Most D&D retro clones (and early editions of D&D for that matter) use skills for the Thief class only and use a percentile-based system which doesn’t really fit in with the other mechanics (at least in my opinion). James Raggi IV has taken the system, turned it into a d6-based one and applied it to all the classes. Now every character has a certain chance to Tinker, Climb, find secret doors, etc. but only the Specialist class may improve these skills. This makes a lot of sense to me and it seems to work quite well.

No superpowered heroes
In vanilla D&D characters become extremely powerful over time. And to counter that the GM has to come up with more and more powerful enemies every time. The high availability of magic weapons and armor only makes things worse. In LotFP characters don’t improve that fast. The fighter is the only class which improves its base attack bonus over time and magic items are extremely rare and always come with a cost. But this also means that monsters don’t need to have ridiculous stats in order to be any challenge. The way LotFP is designed, even a high level character is in danger when confronted with too many enemies – even low level ones.

Different but still familiar
Even though LotFP feels different from other D&D retro clones it’s still familiar. If you have played any D&D-based game you can easily pick up and play LotFP. Adventures designed for other D&D variants can easily be modified to be run with it.

Conclusion
Lamentations of the Flame Princess is perfectly suited for any game set into a pseudo-European early modern age game with low magic and horror elements. Would I run a Forgotten Realms game with it? No way! What about Ravenloft? Hell yeah! I’ve also considered using LotFP for a game set into the Warhammer world. Or you could probably just as easily use it for a game set into the aftermath of the Thirty Years War. In my opinion LotFP is more than “just” a D&D clone, but a game which harkens back to the days of yore while taking things into a fresh and new direction!

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I’ve got Old-School on my mind

During the last months I’ve been throwing a couple of ideas around what I could run next. At the moment I still have a XCOM-inspired game and a Fallout game to finish. Both are run using Fudge and worked quite well.

For a small local convention I planned to run a game of Barebones Fantasy but then I decided to discard this idea in favor of Lamentations of the Flame Princess? Why? It’s not because I generally prefer LotFP over BBF. I just noticed that no one offered an old-school D&D game at this day. And I just got the awesome hardcover version of LotFP’s Rules and Magic book. Then I remembered that my copy of the LotFP Boxed Set contained a copy of the adventure “Tower of the Stargazer”. So it was settled. The Stargazer runs “Tower of the Stargazer” at the local con. Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Happy 40 D&D

Happy Birthday D&D!

A Sunday post, “Inconceivable!”, to quote a certain Sicilian of movie fame. I’ve put this post together for the very special occasion today, the 40th anniversary of the publication of Dungeons & Dragons. The event has been reported by regular media outlets and by many industry insiders and enthusiasts. There is even going to be an Ask Me Anything session with John Peterson writer of Playing at the World. The information is on the picture below…

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 I’ve had a close relationship with the game for most of my adult life. I’m only a few months older than the game, and even if I came to the game years later, 12 years later to be exact, the game introduced me to a pastime and passion that has been a constant for two thirds of my life.

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I saw the meme above a couple of days ago on a social media site and immediately identified with it. I might not have been there at the beginning, but among the games in my community I’m among the older. Ok I know Sammy, Tato, Tony and Piwie have seniority, but I’m one the older demographic of local gamers. Funny thing is I was there when the original Nintendo came out. I got a console the Christmas after I started playing D&D. I was also lucky to have a computer when young since my mother worked for IBM and I played a lot of early computer games. These days I play very few electronic games, but continue playing role-playing games weekly. Why did I become a tabletop gamer and not a computer/console gamer?

Friendships! D&D offered a social aspect that other games did not. I know that’s not the case with modern games, that thanks to the Internet modern MMOs and consoles gamers interact in ways we could not imagine in the 20th century. Way back then, getting together with my friends and imagining new wonderful worlds was much more powerful than any game we could play.

We played the Legend of Zelda, and adapted the world for a D&D campaign. That was the magic of the game. D&D and the industry it created influenced my life not just in the friendships I forged, but in the skills I picked up, thinking on my feet, improvisation, speaking in public, communicating effectively, it improved my reading and writing.

D&D has influenced out culture, our entertainment, and all those newfangled electronic games the whippersnappers play these days, they are the inheritors of D&D. So respect your elders!

I may not play D&D anymore, but I play Pathfinder, and that’s close enough. When D&D Next, or whatever it’s called, comes out I will more than likely pick it up. D&D is still iconic, what many people think of when you mention an RPG. The brand is obviously valuable to Hasbro and they seem poised to spread its presence to various media. I wish them luck, and continued success. Thanks to Gary Gygax and David Arneson and all the other visionaries who were there at the beginning, to all the creators and publishers who continue to work on the hobby, and to all the Game Masters and Players that keep the spirit of D&D and all PGs alive. Here is to 80 more years, at least!