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!

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