Sunday 18 August 2013

Impressions: LotFP Rules & Magic Hardcover

I recently received a copy of the Rules & Magic hardcover of James Raggi's Weird Fantasy RPG. I'd skimmed through the free (art-free) PDF version in the past, but, obviously, now owning it as a physical book, I wanted to give it a proper read through. I'm sure almost everyone reading this is already familiar with this rule book, so this won't be an in-depth review. I did however want to write a little something about it, and point out a few things which stood out to me, and my overall impressions. I've only completely read the rules section of the book so far (the magic section still awaits), but I did read it in its completeness, "cover to cover", without skipping over any bits like "oh yeah, whatever, I know how to roll ability scores".

Bullet list ahoy:
  • I really like this rules set. It strikes a delicious balance between cleaving to tradition and adding its own little twists. A lot of the twists added are in line with my own philosophy and taste. I could definitely envisage running a campaign using these rules.
  • It was fun to actually sit down and read an RPG rule book straight through. I seldom buy new rule books. I'm a massive proponent of Labyrinth Lord / Basic D&D, which I know like the back of my hand, so only ever skip around in the books to look things up.
  • The prose is written in a style which is at once very clear and very atmospheric. A job well done. I would guess this is at least in part due to the fact that this text has gone through several (2? 3?) editions by this stage.
  • Having said that, I did notice a couple of editing / proof-reading errors. (One unfortunately in the first couple of pages, which set me on edge a bit.)
  • The firearms appendix at the back is super useful. A lot of research has obviously gone into it, but it presents game rules which seem easy to use, without getting too bogged down in historical realism. I would definitely allow firearms if I were to run a game with these rules.
  • The art is of a very high quality, and does a lot to convey the kind of atmosphere James is trying to promote. There are a lot of black & white pieces scattered around, which have a nice slightly sketchy quality to them, with some pleasant use of thick black lines. In the middle there are a bunch of gorgeous colour plates, most of which I'd seen before -- I guess from following James on G+. I must say though, I was very surprised to find them all clumped together in the middle of the book. This struck me as odd, but I can only assume it was due to some technical reason as part of the printing process. I'd been expecting them to be distributed through the text, like the colour plates in the AD&D 2nd edition books were.
  • The one picture I didn't like is the one of the elf -- too silly.
  • The book itself, it goes almost without saying, is also of very high quality. I'm really glad I waited for a hardcover version of this to come out.
As an addendum, I also read the important bits of the Open Game License. You know, those 2 pages of tiny text at the back of most OSR stuff. I was delighted to discover the following:
Open Content: All text not specified as Product Identity.
Product Identity: All images, graphics, layout design and the LotFP and Lamentations of the Flame Princess names.
So that means that the entire text, apart from the use of the words "LotFP" and "Lamentations of the Flame Princess" is Open Game Content, and can thus be used in other OGL products (or used as a basis for house-ruled versions of the game). Kudos to James!

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Link: The Book of Miscellaneous Spells

Via a google+ post by Peter Fröhlich, I just came across the marvellous looking Book of Miscellaneous Spells.

I've only had a quick skim through it, but it looks like there's some really nice stuff in there. Apart from the different approach of not presenting new classes, it reminds me a lot of my own Theorems & Thaumaturgy. Especially in the way the book's development is described in the introduction:
"This supplement started life on June 19, 2011 as a spell posted in the Workshop Thread on the Dragonsfoot Forums. The first spell posted was Lighten Load (not my best work, but I've included it from a sense of sentimentality). I would probably never have taken the next step, pulling together a compilation, if winemaker81 (Bryan) hadn't put the concept in front of me. In many ways, he deserves a lot, if not most, of the credit for this. I had no idea at that time that a single spell was going to lead to the crafting of over 150 spells."
Compare that to what I wrote in my introduction:
"...the seeds of this project were planted several years ago, when I'd just started playing old-school D&D again, in the form of AD&D 2nd edition. I began writing some spells to fill out two of my favourite schools of magic: necromancy and dimensionalism. Shortly afterwards I discovered the unstoppable explosion of creativity that is the Old School Revival / Renaissance and began to share some of my creations. The positive feedback I received from the community inspired me to write more, and more, and more spells... and now here you are with this book."
 Definitely worth checking out!

Sunday 11 August 2013

New Vivimancer Spell: Nature's Secrets

A little taster of what I've been working on recently.

This spell is basically a mixture of the druidic commune with nature and the magic-user's contact other plane, with some vivimantic flavour and twists.

Nature's Secrets
Level: 5th
Duration: See below
Range: ½ mile radius per level

This spell grants the vivimancer the ability to interpret information from the subtle whisperings of plants, fungi and creeping creatures of the undergrowth. The spell may be used in two ways, as follows.

Firstly, the caster may gain mundane knowledge of the area within range. One fact per caster level may be gained, from among the  following subjects: the ground or terrain, plants, minerals, bodies of water, people, general animal population, presence of powerful unnatural creatures, or even the general state of the natural setting. It takes 1 turn to cast this version of the spell.

Alternatively, the caster may delve deeply into the alien intelligence of the natural world in order to receive advice and information on any subject. The vivimancer may ask as many questions as he wishes, and will receive answers in the form of riddles or cryptic statements with a 75% chance of containing hints at the truth – the vast and subtle intelligence of the natural world is so radically different to human intelligence that straightforward answers can never be obtained. Each question asked in this way carries with it a risk of insanity, as the caster opens himself to the inhuman mind of nature. A saving throw versus spells is required, with failure causing the caster to be afflicted with a form of insanity lasting for 1d4 weeks. The saving throw is penalized by -1 per question asked beyond the first. This process takes one hour per question asked.

It is known that some vivimancers drive themselves into a state of permanent insanity through seeking deep knowledge of the universe in this manner.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Ix -- The Metamorphs of Hul Nostra

Hul Nostra, city of metamorphs (see Ix campaign map).

This city's proximity to the mutoid wastes has caused a variety of unusual human-variants to arise. These make up approximately 30% of the population.

Pandrogynes: Sex changes on a periodic cycle, usually over the course of a year. Male -> hermaphrodite -> female -> sexless -> cycle restarts. If a pandrogyne becomes pregnant during its hermaphrodite or female phases, the sexual cycle pauses until the child is born.

Bimorphs: Have two distinct forms, usually both the same sex. Change between forms is voluntary but takes 1d4 days. Drugs exist which can accelerate this transformation.

Monoforms: Beings whose bodies adapts to match that of those around them, over a period of several weeks. Monoforms living in mixed company attain a kind of in-between or average state of those around them. Settlements consisting purely of monoforms are made up of identical individuals, and are sometimes mistaken for clones. When in the company of a single individual, a monoform can eventually achieve an exact mimicry.

Phagomorphs: Those who take on the appearance and characteristics of the beings they consume, by genetic absorption. Phagomorphs typically die young, as they develop non-human physiology which is unable to support their bodies. However rumours tell of specially trained (and carefully nourished) sects of phagomorphs engineered to exhibit powerful animalistic traits.

Changelings: An extremely rare form of metamorph -- one which can change its form at will. True changelings are valued for their talent as spies and assassins. Changelings are unable to reproduce, and thus cannot be deliberately bred.