Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zak S: A View

Zak is a scary smart dude.

He is smart. I suspect smart all-around in life, but my main contact with him is concerning gaming matters. And he writes some of the smartest stuff I've seen in gaming. Go to his blog and read it for yourself. His Vornheim book (which I published) won a technology award at a primarily video game-focused convention, for crying out loud. and just you wait until you see Red & Pleasant Land.

He is scary. You don't want to get into an argument with Zak. He is a pitbull. If your argument is sloppy, or if you claim something to be true but cannot back it up with real evidence, he will eat you alive. With his big, sharp, nasty pitbull teeth. Bite by bite, strip of flesh by strip of flesh. You're fucked.

I mention this because there have been accusations flying around lately, after the recently released D&D 5e material credited him as a consultant. (He revealed his hiring as a consultant, and most of the people making the recent claims knew he was hired as a consultant, TWO YEARS AGO. Why the furor now?) They say he's this-ist and a that-phobe. People make accusations, but funny enough, the evidence just never seems to show up, but the people making the accusations are the ones that have in the past argued with Zak, and argued badly, and got sent away tail-between-legs.

And to my eyes, that's what this is all about. Zak is a Dumbassist. If you are a Dumbass, Zak will expose you and humiliate you with extreme prejudice. He will not treat you with the polite and condescending pity that most people will when they discover you are a Dumbass. He won't stay silent for the sake of being pleasant or for the common peace, because I think to him, "pleasant" is a condition impossible to achieve in the presence of Dumbasses. He wants Dumbasses to smarten up and no longer be Dumbasses, or he wants them to go away.

And this is indiscriminate. No matter your color, your creed, the status of your genitalia, your preference for other peoples' genitalia, or your physical condition, Zak will pull you like a weed if you are a Dumbass. He's a walking Protection from Dumbasses 10' Radius spell.

Dumbasses can't figure this out (no shit, they're Dumbasses!), and figure there must be some other reason for Zak's behavior. So then, the parade of horseshit allegations that are almost never examined, never questioned, just accepted as true because Dumbasses are herd animals.

If you read an article criticizing (or downright blasting) Zak, see if they did actual research. See if they show their work. See if they speak of actual incidents and actions or if they just refer to vague, unspecific claims of behavior. See if they allow you to look at the sources for what they are talking about to allow you to make up your own mind. See how they respond to you if you ask questions about their version of events, or ask for any evidence of claims.

Then ask Zak about the issue. See if Zak can back up his argument with sources, see if Zak can point to quotes and context and full links (or at least transcripts) to allow you to make up your own mind. See how Zak reacts to questions concerning his view of events. (Warning: Ask in good faith, and be prepared to answer questions in return - Zak will want to figure out if you're a Dumbass or a reasonable human being if you engage him in conversation.)

Then decide if claims are being made because wrong has been done, or if claims are being made because Dumbasses have had their feelings hurt and think they can get some cheap and easy revenge. Or if the truth lies somewhere in between, or if it's something else altogether.

The main thing is, don't believe me (Zak makes me money, I'm biased!), don't believe anyone. Do the research and then make up your own damn mind. Not just about Zak, but about everything, and everyone.

(you can comment on this post here)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thulian Echoes PDF Now Available!

Zzarchov Kowolski's Thulian Echoes adventure is now available in PDF form! You can get it from RPGNow or the LotFP Webstore.

(If you're wanting just Thulian Echoes right now, I recommend getting it from RPGNow to avoid the minimum order fee from the LotFP store.)

(The print version is exclusive to those who bought it as part of the Ref book campaign last year.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Doom-Cave Pay What You Want PDF + ENNIES judge voting.

LotFP's 2014 Free RPG Day release is now available as a Pay What You Want PDF! Download it for free here, then decide for yourself if it's worth paying for, and if so how much.

Also, the voting for next year's ENNIEs judges is happening here.

The following candidates mention LotFP in their pitches here:

Kiel Chenier
Annah Madriñan
Robert Monroe
Doyle Taverner

Harald Wagener obliquely mentions LotFP as well.

So if you want ENNIES judges of a more cultured and refined taste, those are good people to vote for.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Did you hear that Zak S was a consultant on the new edition of D&D? Did you hear that a free D&D basic rules PDF was released last week, and he's credited in there?

To celebrate the achievement, we've made his Vornheim PDF Pay-What-You-Want over on DriveThru/RPGNow until the World War Three episode of Doctor Who airs here in Finland! (15:10 Finnish time Wednesday)

Vornheim, if you didn't know, is the award-winning RPG supplement that details both the city of Vornheim (featured on the webshow I Hit It With My Axe) and a plethora of tools to make running improv city adventures a breeze!

Vornheim won the 2012 IndieCade Best Technology award!

Vornheim won the Golden Crown Award for Best Supplement for a Role Playing Game... FOR THE WHOLE DECADE!

Vornheim won the 2011 DieHardGameFan Award for Best Campaign Setting!

Vornheim was also nominated for the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming shortlist in 2012, and was also an honorable mention for the 2012 ENNIE Award for Best Aid/Accessory!

Don't believe in stuffy awards? Well listen to what fellow industry professionals have to say about Zak:

"...hearing what human garbage like Zak S has to say can provide useful context."
- Paul "Ettin" Matijevic, moderator

"Folks, seriously. This hobby's already bad enough. It's no big surprise when someone like Zak S or James Raggi or whoever else does these kinds of things, they're open about how toxic they are."
-Brandon Schmelz (Fünhaver Games)

"(Fuck Zak)"
-Tracy Hurley (Former Wizards of the Coast D&D Columnist)

"I say this as someone who actively hates Zak (something I don't say about many people), like I really think he should self-eject from this planet."
--Fred Hicks (Evil Hat Productions)

You can't buy better endorsements than those, so head on over here and Pay What You Want for Vornheim!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Free RPG Day: This Saturday June 21st! LotFP is Participating!

This Friday is Free RPG Day, where you can go into a participating game store and get brand new RPG stuff at no cost to you. A list of participating publishers is here.

A retailer locator to find the nearest participating location is here.

LotFP's free adventure this year will be The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children, a strange little 36 page dungeon adventure designed to confound and amaze. So go down to your local game store and pick up a copy and buy something or two from the store - it's why they pay money to get the free stuff to draw you in the door.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

First Snow Sale!

Yep, it's Midsummer week here in Finland, and we had a spot of snow. Seriously.

So it's time for the annual First Snow sale. This time out... if you order a T-shirt from the LotFP Webstore, the shipping on your entire order is FREE when you use the coupon code SHIRT! We will ship such orders ECONOMY CLASS.

We have for the Flame Princess shirt L, XL, and Ladies XL remaining, and for the Alice shirt S, M, L, XL, and Ladies S, M, L, XL remaining. Supplies are limited.

(We have less than 40 Carcosas left, so you might want to grab one of those too if you're getting free shipping...)

(also remember that the listed price includes VAT; if you live outside the EU, the price will be dramatically lower once you log in.)

OFFER EXPIRES 5pm Finnish time Wednesday the 18th! It's a 24 hour sale!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New LotFP Webstore Shipping Policy

'allo all...

LotFP's lifeblood is customers ordering directly from us. And I say "us," because while officially LotFP is just me, the fact is that every author and artist and graphic designer I work with is paid out of the money you spend on LotFP books and PDFs.

But postage rates rise every year (sometimes twice a year!) and that makes mail-order more and more difficult to afford for our customers, especially as LotFP's catalog grows and we add more hardcovers to the production schedule. I say enough is enough.

As of right now LotFP is capping shipping rates.

Nobody will pay more than 10€ for Economy/second class shipping. I'll eat any remaining cost in the hopes that customers will add more books to an order knowing that doing so won't cost them a penny more in shipping. We can both win that way. (There is a maximum weight of 1900g worth of stuff that can be put into this class of shipping, over that and it becomes a parcel.)

Priority/First class shipping will be capped at 20€ for EU customers and 25€ for non-EU customers. Non-EU customers' rates for tracked shipping and large parcels will be capped at 25€.

Shipping to Finnish addresses remains free.

If you see something in the store that's not consistent with the new policy, let me know at so I can get it fixed.

And please spread the word if you're so inclined.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

LotFP's 2014 Convention Schedule

The conventions I'm hitting for the rest of this year:

May 30 - June 1
UK Games Expo in Birmingham, England.

June 13 - 15
NordCon in Hamburg, Germany

July 25 - 27
Ropecon in Espoo, Finland

September 13 - 14
Tracon in Tampere, Finland

(Unconfirmed December Date)
Dragonmeet in London, England

I'll have a vendor table at each of these events, so you can come say hi, spend money, chat, rant at me for my late crowdfunding stuff, whatever.

Also looking for other European conventions (or non-European, if you're willing to pay airfare. :P) for August, October, and November...

(you can comment on this post here)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thank You Göteborg!

This past weekend was GothCon XXXVIII (yes, they've had a gaming convention there since the 70s), and LotFP rolled in as it has the past few years to sell sell sell.

This time though, I decided to do the Pay What You Want thing. I had good success with that in the UK this past year, and it was time to bring that to Scandinavia.

The result?

I had 433% the number of separate transactions I did at last year's GothCon. 278% the gross sales.

(That does include the people who didn't give a shit about LotFP, but saw that I was selling d30s at my table. I guess d30s never made it to Sweden. They are some sort of exotic fetish item, apparently. Sold a decent number of those. "What do you use these for?" My answer to one guy? "Generating a random number from 1 to 30." I mean... that sounds snarky, but it is the truth.)

The psychology of Pay What You Want in person for physical goods throws people for a loop. Many people simply can not process it. I have all the regular retail prices for my goods on the back of the Pay What You Want notice so people can calibrate expectations. I tell people "I expect you to give yourself a discount and trust you not to rob me blind."

I suppose the approach only works if you're printing in bulk (and thus have some copies to potentially burn) and if you're able to still smile and thank a customer for their business when they give you two bucks for a hardcover book just because they can. (That's usually someone quite young...)

However, this is the third convention I've done with Pay What You Want, and the result has been the same: Many more customers, and more than doubling the money collected from the previous year.

I also tried another experiment: Crowdfunding with convention sales. I set an overall sales goal (9000kr), where if we hit that goal, everyone that had paid 450kr gets a copy of an adventure being released next year. We smashed that goal here (and I only owe 11 people an adventure for the trouble!), and I'll be taking the gimmick around the convention horn. It is my hope by the end of this year that this extra convention boost, the entire adventure will be paid for simply by a portion of increased convention sales, including paying someone to write it if my own writing efforts continue to be as slow as they've been. So get ready in 2015 for Queen of the Ivory Coast...

(One guy that'll be due this adventure ran off before I could collect his email address - if that's you CONTACT ME.)

(you can discuss this post here)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Demons in My View (Guest Post by Rafael Chandler)

From the lightning in the sky

As it pass'd me flying by--

From the thunder, and the storm--

And the cloud that took the form

(When the rest of Heaven was blue)

Of a demon in my view
-- Edgar Allan Poe

About thirty years ago, I fell in love. Horror movies and fantasy RPGs -- these were my passions, and they remain so to this day.


Naturally, these interests fueled one another. Demonic maniacs like Freddy Krueger began to influence my gaming style.

Think of it -- as an LotFP Referee, you are all-powerful, like Krueger in his dream-world domain. You present the player characters with horrors, and they are subjected to nightmares and torments. Perhaps they die in agony; perhaps they escape. Yet, in the same way that Freddy is vulnerable, and can be bested, it is also possible that your own plans and pawns can be struck down (temporarily) by clever players. That's part of the fun, after all.

A good Referee is like the unstoppable psychopath in a slasher movie.

Of all the RPG books I own, bestiaries are my favorites. I love a good monster collection. I've no patience for creatures like unicorns or blink dogs, though; they're always re-imagined as sadistic predators in my world.

Small wonder that I wound up a Lamentations of the Flame Princess enthusiast.

Today, I still derive inspiration from horror movies. The following flicks are excellent fodder for your LotFP game.

Martyrs -- A young woman takes revenge on the people who tortured her. Or does she? Of all the movies in the New French Extremity, this is my favorite (narrowly edging out Inside for the top spot). Looking for violence, torment, and horrific revelations? The delivery of the narrative in this flick is terrific.

The Descent -- A group of women go spelunking. They find something down below. I've used many of the set pieces during dungeon crawls and cave exploration sequences. Excellent details that you can lift for your game, and terrific sound design.

[REC] -- A group of people trapped in a dangerous place? Sounds like a lot of the games I've run. This movie's level design is top-notch -- characters go up and down the stairs at the center of this apartment building, and each time they do, the situation is altered dramatically. Absolutely terrifying film.

The Mist -- Ordinary people in a small town are menaced by entities in an unnaturally dense fog. This is a story about human monsters: fools, fanatics, and angry mobs. Don't let anyone spoil this for you: the movie is good, and the monsters are all splendid. That's all you need to know.

The Host -- One of my favorite monster movies of all time. Armed with metal poles, burning oil, and a longbow, four people explore a subterranean lair in order to defeat a giant monster. As adventure scenarios go, it's perfect. Powerful action, dreadful scares, and none of that Cloverfield jive — this is a monster movie with guts.

So where does this all take me, thirty years down the road?

I'm working on a new monster compendium for LotFP. I've already contributed 50 monsters to the Referee book, but there are more -- a few derived from the myths and legends of my Peruvian ancestors, the rest dragged from the cesspool in the back of my mind.

This new bestiary is called Lusus Naturae (Latin for "Freaks of Nature"), and it's predictably vile.

The project funded on day 3, and with 72 hours left in the Kickstart, we're quite close to the stretch goal of full-color.

Do you like your monsters to be merciless and horrific?

Does your dungeon crawl (or city adventure, or random hexcrawl encounter) sometimes resemble a slasher movie?

If so, then this might interest you.

Stay metal.


-- Rafael Chandler

(discuss this post here)