Monday, April 20, 2015

Referee Book PDF Now Available for Free Download!

no, not the new Ref book, you silly goose, the old Grindhouse version!

Mainly because bloody hell this new one is taking too damn long and there hasn't been any Ref book available at all during the time of LotFP's greatest expansion period.

(never claimed I was a good businessman, just that I publish good stuff...)

So yeah, here it is.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

All the Monster Books Ever Made Are Now Bullshit

Patrick Stuart & Scrap Princess' Fire on the Velvet Horizon and Rafael Chandler & Gennifer Bone's Lusus Naturae have redefined the monster bestiary for role-playing games and have basically made every single other such book boring, backwards, and useless.

The problem with monster bestiaries up until now have been that they fucking suck. Threatening, room-filling, world-building examples designed to make adventure construction and antagonist-presentation easy peasy for the beleaguered game master. "Here are some stats and an ecology, now populate your campaign world and adventures with challenges!"

Nevermind the sins of taking "things man was not meant to know" and giving them stats right there in the rulebook for everyone to read. For fuck sake.

(Also, it's hilarious that people consider adding Cthulhuesque monsters and mindset to a fantasy campaign breaks up the monotony and old-fashionedness of the usual bunch of D&D monsters and their tone... considering that Lovecraft predates Leiber, Vance, Moorcock, and Tolkien. We're so fucked in our brains, collectively, for four decades now. It's amazing that in a lot of ways we're just now breaking out of this shit through books like Velvet Horizon and Lusus Naturae and it's the supposed "stuck-in-the-past reactionary," "not open to new ideas" OSR scene doing it. "it" being adapting ideas explored in 70s and 80s genre cinema and writing, but hey, we're still ahead of you stuck-in-the-20s-through-60s mental dinosaurs, for sure!)

Forgetting the faux-anger and hyperbole for a moment... these things really do piss on every other bestiary I've ever read, from great height, to the point that all these other books are goddamn useless. You'd better be a goddamn fresh-off-the-turnip-truck-never-actually-played-before GM to ever have the idea of a monster in your head already and need to look up the stats in a book. Because if in your mind you already know you want there to be a Protein Polymorph in Room 4b in the dungeon you're making or running RIGHT NOW, you already know why you want it there and what it was supposed to be accomplishing so you don't need the official digits at all because that's always the least-important part of any monster.

... and this truth is laid bare by the fact that Fire on the Velvet Horizon doesn't have any stats. There isn't a game mechanic in it that I've noticed. It's just text about monsters. (Bonus Utility: it's just as much for the game-you-love as the game-you-hate.)

"But how will I know how to balance encounters with the creature for the PCs in my group if there are no stats?" you may ask. My answer to anyone who would ask such a question is, "Please drink bleach. Lots of it. Right now."

So how good is this text about 106 monsters that nobody's ever heard of? Well, my first impressions of Patrick Stuart's writing, and even first dealings with him (another PS & SP book is in production right now for LotFP), is that he resides in an institution somewhere, spending most of his time in a padded cell wearing a straightjacket under heavy medication... from which he somehow escapes every night, spitting out unswallowed pills that were hidden in the flap of skin he'd carved into the top of his mouth with a tooth he'd pushed out with his tongue, to break into the administrator's office to type out his understanding of the world and its denizens onto his Google Drive account (password: OHGODHELPMEPLEASE) and then to its final publication space... where we all then mistakenly interpret it as RPG material.

Or, as I said recently after receiving this book, "For pure evocation and feeling, Patrick Stuart is the best writer in RPGs right now."

To sum up... it's fucked. Which is what monsters are supposed to be, when you strip away math-based engineer-nerd or snooty-ass narrative-seeking lit-crit views of RPGs and their concepts and design, yes?

Mission accomplished.

A word about Scrap's art... now my own tastes in art veer towards the realistic, you-are-there styles. Nightmares made real. But Scrap's style doesn't allow reality to ever get a foot in the door. Reality made nightmare. It complements the text perfectly, taking you out of reality to realms you've never imagined existed rather than being the least bit helpful in making any of these nightmares relatable to you-sitting-there-on-Planet-Earth. This book isn't made for your gaming convenience, it's trying to help your game.

If you want monsters as abrogations of reality and not monsters as comfortable interpretations of shit other people already made up in formats already established decades past, Fire on the Velvet Horizon is your book.

... fuckin' hell, maybe I should have talked about Lusus Naturae first, because that's a hell of a thing to follow.

Because Lusus Naturae is perhaps the opposite of Velvet Horizon. It has stat blocks (for LotFP, yay, but that means also fully and readily compatible with your favorite class-and-level rules variation) and game mechanics, a clean layout, neatly written text, and the art has definite lines and in general you can always tell exactly what the fuck is going on.

It's written by Rafael Chandler, which means all of the things which signal "not family-friendly" content, like nudity (including full frontal, male and female), plenty of gore and other body horror, Satanic imagery, and a grand sense of playfulness with it all -- dead baby humor included.

104 monsters here, and they're all presented in a useful and convenient format: this is what they are, this is what they do, and this is what they want.

You might wonder how Lusus Naturae compares to Chandler's previous "old school"-focused monster book the Teratic Tome, there are the technical differences (LotFP-branded instead of OSRIC, in full color, smaller physical size for ease of handling), and then there are the thematic differences: Teratic Tome offered full-on variations of D&D monsters (Demons, Devils, Giants, various undead, kobolds, slimes, etc.), with encounter tables and the standard setup. Lusus Naturae, while most of its monsters could have individually fit into the Teratic Tome, doesn't have any of those elements. It'll mention a halfling or gnoll here or there (booo! hisss!), but it works within its own mythologies and contains things that just wouldn't fit into your standard old-school bestiaries (the modern-day supervillain that's been time-transported, for one...) and abilities which would just be considered unfair under standard gaming practices such as being able to make daggers rain from the sky in numbers enough to kill thousands of people, widespread weather effects, plagues, magnetism on a regional scale, one monster with hundreds of hit dice that steps on cities, and effects eabled by phrases like "This is effectively carte blanche to toy with the characters."

The difference between this book and Velvet Horizon is that you can get your head around this book's monsters as it relates to actual people and things on this Earth. There are a couple of "chimeras-but-using-different-animal-combinations" which at first seems ordinary, but when you actually see a turtle-shark-eel-mera and read its description it is something new. And a hand-with-fingers-growing-out-of-it is instantly recognizable and far more wrong than that description states. Same with the nose-with-noses-growing-out-of-it monster. Things also get strangers, of course, as there is a monster with a physical form of a "riot of color," and the amalgam creature formed from the combination of cylindrical sci-fi weapons turret and tentacle monster is something you're not likely to have thought of.

But whether more relatable or not, these are monsters here to horrendify and kill, to be disruptive to the lives and activities of player characters and generally make sure that even if they survive the encounter, they are never the same again.

Monsters in concept and practice, and never mere playing pieces in a game.

The concepts of the monsters are a bit more grounded than Velvet Horizon's monsters which, for examples, believe they can read the sky's mind and are so stealthy that they might not exist at all. Also different is the focus of the writing, as Lusus Naturae writes from the perspective of how these monsters' ambitions will bring them into contact and conflict with the game world and the player characters within it, whereas Velvet Horizon just talks about each monster on its own terms, and how their activities might actually impact a game or come into contact with player characters is almost incidental.

Basically, Lusus Naturae is very much more likely to get used in the way people conventionally use monster books than Velvet Horizon, but on the other hand that conventionality means it's not quite as mindblowing.

All I know is that reading these books and seeing how words and art collide is that I'M BEING LAZY IN MY OWN CONCEPTS, and I will correct that and strive to meet the standards these books set. Even if I fail, I will become better as a result of trying. They'll help you fail too.

Buy them, you cheap fuck.

(comments can be left here)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

LotFP Webstore News

'allo all...

Effective immediately, LotFP is no longer selling PDFs from its webstore. You can find the full PDF catalog over at RPGNow. (Don't forget several of our releases are behind a "mature content" filter so they aren't visible if you're not logged in and have set your account to see such content.)

There are several reasons for this decision:

  • Fluctuating Currencies. It's one thing if the dollar gets strong and suddenly LotFP Webstore prices are cheaper than your local game store on print items, because after you factor in shipping time and costs it's not a big deal. However, this does make a difference in PDFs when all you had to do was compare two prices in your web browser and then pick the best one. I can't undercut my outside vendors (they get pissy and rightfully so) and I'm not going to constantly adjust PDF prices to keep parity between myself and other vendors.
  • The whole "minimum order" thing. Some of the cheaper PDFs, after Paypal fee was factored in, were really delivering worse returns (in some cases much worse) than letting RPGNow take a 30% cut, so I instituted a 'small order fee' which applied to orders under 5€. I thought it would encourage people to just add another PDF to the order and everything's OK, but what actually happened was that people seemed to be OK with paying a penalty fee which in some cases was just as expensive as the PDF itself! I felt guilty.
  • LotFP's PDF sales through RPGNow are more than tenfold greater than what I sell direct anwyay, so why am I worrying about any of this?

(The whole "VATMOSS" thing doesn't really factor into it, by the way. It's an extra couple hours setup and some yearly maintenance to keep up with a bunch of different VAT rates, and less than a half-hour's extra effort a month for reporting. Not that big a deal when you're already up to your ass in VAT reporting every month.)

Print purchases through the LotFP store will still include PDF downloads.

And as always, if you buy the physical version of an LotFP release anywhere, we will send you the PDF version when you send us proof of purchase.

Friday, March 27, 2015

FREE SHIPPING Sale on the LotFP Webstore!

We've hit 1000 followers on the LotFP Facebook page, G+, and the G+ Community all in the past 24 hours. So to celebrate...

Coupon code 1000YOUNG at the LotFP Webstore will get you free shipping worldwide as long as Idea from Space, Scenic Dunnsmouth, Qelong, Tower of the Stargazer, Fuck For Satan, Forgive Us, The God that Crawls, The Monolith from beyond Space and Time, or The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children are part of the order. You can add other items to your order and still get free shipping as long as the order includes at least one of the listed books. The coupon code will expire MONDAY MARCH 30 2015 10am FINNISH TIME.

(When ordering, the place to enter the coupon code pops up after choosing a shipping method, ALL ORDERS USING THIS CODE WILL BE SENT ECONOMY CLASS.)

I we can move 1000 books in this sale, then I will hire Scott Dorward to do a major project called (tentatively) William Shakespeare's The King in Yellow.

Scott has done stuff for Call of Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu, Trail of Cthulhu, he does the The Good Friends of Elias Jackson podcast, and he does tons of "I wear no mask" and  "We have all laid aside disguise but you" and "when Attract Fish Goes Wrong" posts on G+. He first came to my attention in 2013 when I saw his material in the ToC adventure The Final Revelation, and his bit was the most unfair and vicious thing I'd ever seen in a game book, eclipsing Hite's contribution to Monolith by a fair bit. I've been bugging him to work with me ever since.

However, he needs a hefty advance to put this project, combining two of his great loves - Shakespeare and Chambers - to the top of his priority queue. He's got bills to pay and other offers on the table. My money is tied up in things already in production.

So lets get this done.  Fill out your collection with no shipping costs, make my wife happy by clearing some space out around here, and lets get another big project rolling in the process.

Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"Raggi Promotes Nazis"

So a few days ago, I found out that Varg Vikernes (seriously, read that link before continuing if you don't know who he is) is active in gaming and game-blogging. I posted about that here.

He thinks Basic Fantasy is the best version of D&D and has said he likes OSRIC. He has his own video blog, G+ page, and he even published a role-playing game last year.

The fact that I have dared linked to these things is considered some sort of moral crime in certain corners. Nevermind whether I agree with what's linked or not, merely acknowledging their existence is somehow a bad thing.

I said "Varg is OSR." No moral weight there, just a statement of fact since he's apparently into retro-clones. Because, really, there is no gatekeeping in this hobby. No committee, no approval process. Just be into this sort of game and that's all it takes. That works great for underrepresented demographic groups, nothing stops them from getting involved and showcasing their work and views and being part of the whole thing. But that means people we don't like, that have personal views we despise, are here too.

And boy oh boy did people think that was awful. "Raggi promotes Nazis" became a thing. Some of the usual suspects took great delight in the fact that I was talking about someone known for their racist views and didn't fall all over myself to mention how bad that is. Just talking about what Varg said, without feeling the need to talk about things that Varg wasn't saying, is seen as an endorsement not only of the thing that is being said, but apparently of all the stuff he wasn't just just then too. Because I didn't disavow it all while talking about this other thing that has nothing to do with any of that.

Someone mentioned this over on the RPGSite (in a thread about unreasonable outrage, someone pops in more outrage, good job, chief). They asked me:

"I cannot understand why you would endorse such a person. and please don't tell me it's not an endorsement. can you honestly say that you believe your post won't increase sales for his game?"

My answer:

It's a book. Books are not to be treated as dangerous or forbidden things.

If someone can get something out of it, more power to creator and customer I say.


Seriously. I posted about this last year when I bought a reissue of Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse. An album that has a convicted murderer and a convicted church-burner performing on it. Read that post here.

The most important thought from that post:

I used to be like that, when I was younger. "Oh no this person did this and said that! We should be more respectable!" and I made myself think it made a difference as far as the music on a disc. It was an immature view, doing nothing to stop creative flawed people from being either creative or flawed, but sure stopped me from enjoying great work.

So if Varg makes a game that somebody enjoys, he deserves whatever benefits are due from that, just like any of us.

But yeah, trusting my readers to have actual morals and philosophies and perspectives that can withstand being shown things without priming them about what I think, trusting them with their own thoughts as they read stuff, that's "promoting a Nazi."


Take David Hill, frequent troll and infrequent RPG industry doofus, who tweeted this:

Oh look at that, my saying "Varg is OSR" because he owns and likes some OSR games becomes Varg is a "proud" OSR guy, a "big" OSR guy, and he's got an "OSR game" that's sold three whole printings!

Oh no, how horrible those OSR people must be! OUTCAST! OUTCAST!

For fuck's sake. Now somebody you consider undesirable liking something means that thing is itself a bad thing?

Like if Hill found out that he uses the same brand of toothpaste as Varg, would he switch brands for fear of catching racist teeth or something?

And Varg's game isn't OSR. Look at the intro videos on the Myfarog website. It simply isn't. And the "three whole printings" sounds like a big deal until you do your own research and find out that each printing equals 100 books. The threat seems smaller now.

But I'm not shitting all over it so that's an endorsement, yes?

And then there's this shit:

Notice this idiot doesn't actually talk about what's being talked about, doesn't engage in the discussion or even acknowledge the actual discussion on any level, but simply considers the existence of the discussion as "gushing." This is just creating noise and bluster and trolling. "Stirring up controversy" indeed. While also linking the original video that I did, spreading this evil filth himself just as much.

But he's told you what you should think about it as he did it, so it's all OK!

But then all this "Nazi-endorser!" accusations and the resulting hoo-ha led me to say:

Can we please not shit up the post about the racist game designer with a bunch of shit about the people that are actually making gaming worse?

I'm not even being facetious there. He does his own thing, doesn't crap up or crap on anyone else's things, and the reviews he gives are thoughtful and articulate and gimmick-free.

The guy most known for his criminal past and his strange views is doing this whole "being a gamer online" thing a hell of a lot better than most of us.

Because Varg Vikernes isn't hurting gaming. He has no influence, he's not trying to have an influence, on your favorite game or how you play or what you decide to write about gaming on the internet. He's not giving anybody a hard time about how they game or what they write. He's just doing his own thing.

And even if he did have an influence, even if he did a gaming thing that inspired many to follow in his footsteps like Burzum did in metal, that still doesn't mean anything. You can go to an Iron Maiden show or a Napalm Death show and somebody's wearing a Burzum shirt and who gives a fuck and the mail order catalogs are full of shitty one-man-band black metal but that doesn't stop you from getting Blind Guardian in a normal store and enjoying that.

As always, metal shows the way.

Other people are trying like hell to have power over your gaming though and they'll use any means to get that power and they won't let things like dishonesty or hypocrisy or their own bigotry get in their way.

"We can do better" indeed.


I had a conversation with Zak about this and I think this bit is useful:

Zak: The main thing is anything you say will be used against you by Jussi Andri and David which may not be a big deal to you but this morning one of my trans twitter pals was like "Ok, so I heard that Raggi guy was promoting a neo-Nazi". So....just know you're feeding the trolls like a peach pie with bacon bits here.

Me: That this heavy metal boogyman that's had this weird legend grow around him the past 20 years isn't all that different from people in the gaming scene is interesting and worth talking about.

And not having that discussion because I'm worried about what those people will make of it means they win.

That shit is tiring though, always playing CYA for the benefit of the people who'd look through your trash for proof you really do like the wrong things.

Everyone always having to assert their moral position talking about everything from Rosemary's Baby to plastic bags. It's white noise for actual communication.

And people will take comments out of context as they like ("Varg has his own OSR game") so it's pointless anyway.

I'm surprised I haven't seen someone trying to say that Patton Oswalt is awful because he was talking about Mein Kampf and acting like it's OK to read it.


Yeah, I talk about Varg and what he says without tripping all over myself to condemn him and that's bad, but whisper campaigns, that's all on the up and up.



And let's talk about this "convicted murderer" thing. The image of the ex-con.

I have to tell you, I was a pro-death penalty guy before I moved to Finland. A real "lock 'em up and throw away the key" kind of guy.

But things just work better here as far as crime and punishment. A "life" sentence is just 12 years in Finland (longer over in Norway, although Varg got out in 15 years, and had shorter leaves from prison before that), which does seem insanely short to me for some crimes. It's not a perfect system by any means, but it really does seem the "treat convicts as people to be fixed and put back in society" approach works better than the "let the prison-industrial complex treat convicts like animals and be OK with prison being rough hell and even if they get out their life is forever fucked because they're an ex-con" thing going on in the US. The US, the "land of the free", has the second highest or highest (depending on how you read the statistics) per-capita incarceration rate of any nation on the planet. That's no good.

When I mention that Varg is a convicted murderer, to me that's trivia. I'm not passing judgment anymore, because judgment was already passed by proper and qualified authorities on this matter decades ago. Euronymous' family and friends might very well still be pissed and can't blame them for that, but all anyone else has lost is whatever music Euronymous might have made these past 20+ years. Maybe that's a great loss for the greater world. Maybe not. Varg lost the prime years of his life sitting in cells for not allowing us to find out.

But still, people calling themselves "progressive" stoke that Fox News-style outrage and take a hard-right stance on crime and punishment when it's convenient for them. And that's precious.


Varg's view on race? Yes, an ongoing concern, but is it really at all relevant when he talks about Basic Fantasy or any other game that he didn't write?

But maybe you're curious about Varg's game and hey, there's a copy in your local library so you can read it. (libraries around here have RPG stuff, how's your local library?) Maybe it does have racist stuff in there. Maybe not. (I haven't seen it so I cannot say either way.) Even if it does, reading it doesn't transfer racism to you. Maybe you even like parts of the game. Maybe you adapt a die mechanic for your own purposes. Your new purpose isn't racist just because you took a way of rolling dice from a text that has questionable content, for fuck's sake.

You know how people say "It's OK to like problematic things"?

I'm telling you, it is indeed OK to like problematic things, and it's OK to like problematic things without always needing to furrow your brow and act really concerned while you're liking them or when you're talking about them.

And it's certainly OK to talk about something without always needing to act like the fucking Gestapo is watching and judging your moral fitness.

Because if we can't talk about things without worrying about that, then we can't really talk about things at all.

(you can leave comments here)

Monday, March 16, 2015

LotFP Spring 2015 Convention Schedule

GothCon (Göteborg, Sweden): April 3-5

Ropecon (Espoo, Finland): May 15-17

UK Games Expo (Birmingham, UK): May 29-31

NordCon (Hamburg, Germany): June 12-14

LotFP will have sales tables at all these events, selling not only all of our in-print releases, but also copies of the Undercroft zine and the in-print titles from the Lost Pages imprint.

Monday, February 23, 2015


36 items have been accepted:

Antikythera Mechanism
Binty Ball
Bone Puzzle Key
Bracelet of the Hydra
Brittle Calendar
Brush of Fading Light
Cocoon of the Space Spawn
Cornucopia of Flesh
Crystalline Weft
Cube of All Flesh
Egg of Etruscia
Fauchard's Crown of Infamy
Friendly Tea Set
Gemini Scissors
Invisible Hook
Liguori Torc
Melding Gate
Pistol of Wits
Prodigy Machine
Ragged Painting
Ring of Extrinsic Worth
Saluber Amminiculum
Siphon of Dreams
Skull of Saint Amphibalus
Stone of Xastur
Sweet Wine of the Insect Queen
Tablet of the Parcae
Testicular Sinister of the Monorchid Christ
Three Faces of Truth
Treeheart Shovel
Twinning Glass
Vial of the Truest Scents

If you submitted one of these and have not received my email, you need to let me know, either by email, or on G+, or Facebook, wherever. Not all of you even put your names on your submissions so I can't hunt you down if, say, your email got bounced back to me!

To the hundreds of people who submitted items that aren't on this list, I do apologize for the breach in etiquette but individually writing rejection notices would be a gigantic time sink and I'm not going to do it.

Just because I didn't select it for the Ref book doesn't mean it's bad or ill-thought out, just not what I'm looking for right now. I do encourage you to submit items I didn't accept to the Undercroft Zine, which is an independent LotFP zine that pays for submissions:

Comments can be left here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dear Gnome Stew

Dear Gnome Stew,

I wake up and I log on and my G+ notifications are bombarded with this article. I haven't read any of the other comments people have made about it yet, I just want to let you know before breakfast that this article is ridiculous.

Hey, article author:

1- It's not because MONEY you goof. Maybe once upon a time it was. But this is the age of internet porn, and there is no picture on or in a game book that's going to sell any copies simply because titties. People interested in arousal and wank material have an infinite treasure trove of far more explicit material available to them.

2- For an adult human being to worry what a random stranger in line at a store thinks of them is pathetic. Just pathetic.

Because, incidentally, judging a random other person in line at a store because of what they're buying is completely pathetic and their judgments do not deserve validation.

But Uncle Jim is here to help. I'm assuming you're a straight guy (90% chance to get it right, I like my odds), Mr. Authorman, with this advice. Go to your local "adult" store. Buy some lube, a dildo (or butt plug or anal beads or something of the sort), and a gay porn DVD. Go up to the counter and not only buy these items, but think of a question to ask the cashier so you interact with someone while buying these things. Maybe "Will this lube wash off this butt plug with simple soap and water?" Nothing too complicated. Make an effort to make eye contact when you speak to the cashier, and speak loud enough to be heard clearly.

There shouldn't be any shame in that. Not for anyone. But even if there are some jitters there, once you've had that experience, then any purchase you make in a game store should be no problem no matter how awful the product may be.

3- Author's worried about what his family thinks? Like there's some discomfort discussing the issue with them? Don't tell me the author is broadcasting to the internet his feelings about RPGs and their presentation but he doesn't communicate even this much with his family?

Take these lame-ass emotional "but FAMILY!" appeals out back and chuck them into the dumpster.

4- If a woman wants to dress in a particularly attractive manner, or take a job where they do so, they should be free to do so and everybody should be fine with it. I happen to know for a fact that women blessed with fine genetics and/or who put the time and effort into themselves often like people to notice. Maybe I know this because I don't feel any more uncomfortable talking to them than I do any other people. (unless I'm intending to ask them out on a date, but that's a bit different and not what we're discussing, correct?)

There is something very, very wrong with you if you fear the judgment of strangers for the fact that you are speaking to a woman who isn't dressed as you'd hoped.

5- The examples given in the essay were published OVER TEN YEARS AGO.

(Not to mention of all of Avalanche Press' ridiculous porny covers to choose from, the fairy supplement is the one where it's not particularly out of place; if anything that fairy is overdressed. Are you really calling for sensibly dressed motherfucking fairies?)

Yes, you address that these products are old, but your reasoning just makes you a coward, Mr. Authorman. You want the satisfaction and backpatting that comes from publishing an essay showing your moral "superiority" and sensitivity to "important" issues, but you don't want the bother of actual contact, conversation, debate, or argument with the people making the things you don't like. Convenient.

This aesthetic choice is as valid as any other. You don't like it? Support people doing something else. There isn't a something else out there that you like? MAKE IT. There are no barriers to entry in this field and if you think there is an underserved market out there, go get it and reap the studio apartment (larger with a roommate!) rewards that provides.

Mr. Neagley, get some self-respect. It is absolutely pathetic and uncool for a bunch of aging and/or ugly fucks who can't bother going to the gym to pretend that there is something wrong with physical attractiveness. You're one of these people trying to create this Orwellian "Beauty is Ugliness" mental trap for us and I will have none of it.

I hope LotFP and other publishers with the balls and the ovaries to just create without limits shame you and the people like you right out of the hobby - or better yet dislodge that 10' pole you've managed to get stuck up your ass - so we can get on doing what we do without the prudes, morons, or censors feeling like they matter or have any power whatsoever to influence us.

Keep fiction and fantasy reckless, and if at all possible, dangerous.

(Comments may be left here.)

PS. No shit, I bought these albums yesterday down at the local record store and the person that pulled my order was a young blonde girl and it was so uncomfortable that while she recorded my order as fulfilled in their system, we and the other cashier there had a laugh about some guy that tried shoplifting records earlier in the day.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dissection of a Rejected Magic Item

Still doing the Magic Item Open Call for the Ref book.

Some people have requested more about what I consider a "good" or "bad" (well, "unsuitable", really) magic item. Because theoretically the magic items should be quite varied, posting a good item or two isn't going to be helpful because I'd say "Like that, but different enough to not remind me of it!" (plus I'm worried it would end up being the best of the bunch which would mean when people got the book it'd be all downhill from there...)

But throwing up a bad item to be taken apart has its own issues. There's the not-insignificant chance that people will really like it and I'll just look like a dick for saying "mmm, nope." Also, who the hell is going to appreciate me taking their rejected entry and basically using it as a punching bag publicly?

Zzarchov Kowolski!

"This item is really based on LotFP alignment and levels, so I probably won't ever use it for anything if not LotFP so I don't mind it being used as a teaching cadaver."

So, here's Zzarchov's item, cut and pasted from his original email:

Mace of Pazuzu
This item is a metal rod and four serrated flanges, crafted from a shiny grey metal with a sickly purple shine in the dim light. The flanges are covered in intricately flowing geometric designs with inlaid copper. It has no grips and suffers a -1 to hit in combat due to the lack, though with some tar and leather this could be fixed.
It has been used as a weapon for some time by a number of cultist nuts and petty warlords from central Asian villages. While you can kill someone with it, it is somewhat similar to swinging an expensive camera around by its strap and smashing it into someone's nose.  This is a key to an ancient vault belonging to beings from parallel dimensions to our own,  natively sharing only our dimension of height and treating time as width.
The item is warm to the touch and emits low levels of harmful radiation, secretly causing cancer after being held for two hours times the wielder's constitution score. The cancer will be fatal in 5 years.  Every additional 2 hours x con score, more tumors form and the time until death is halved. Anyone who suffers broken skin from the mace has a % chance of developing cancer equal to the amount of damage they received from the blow (with a 5 year death frame the first time, and halving each additional time).
This is not its power.  It can unlock a door that exists in multiple places at once.  Any magic-user casting detect magic while holding the key will be able to sense a door within a few yards and seconds away.  If the key is moved to that location it will unlock a vault of knowledge gaining everyone with a chaotic alignment within about 1200 miles a d4 levels.  Any neutral individual in range will lose the need to sleep and will be unable to feel empathy (becoming sociopaths).  Any lawful beings will disappear for the d4 result years before re-appearing in their relative position to the planet (having experienced no time loss).  The individual who opened the door will lose the result of the d4 x their level from their hit point total.  If they are reduced to zero hit points or below their mind is obliterated.
Or you could just beat a werewolf to death with it and then wonder why your hair and teeth keep falling out.  Your choice.

My response (probably a bit rushed because I'm trying to get through these and I still haven't responded to over 50 entries):
Problem with this item is it's very easy to predict how it will effect play. Pretty much nothing PCs do will make any difference, their interaction with it was determined when they chose their alignment.
I think something a bit more interactive would be better.

I'm getting a lot of items like this. "There's this thing which if it's activated STUFF HAPPENS!" With some of the items, the stuff that happens is rather boring, and with some of the items, the stuff is not boring, but still "STUFF HAPPENS."

The first problem here is that the item's arc in play is completely predictable. A Referee introducing this item in play must absolutely be OK with the big effect the item has, and expect it in the campaign, because it really doesn't do anything else. (I'm ignoring the cancer effect in this explanation, because it's a simple "trap" and effects which happen over years are unlikely to really impact actual play.)

So the mystery, the anticipation, on the Referee's end is just down to a binary outcome: Activated? Or Not?

If players find out what this item is and how it works, they too have had all the mystery wiped away and it's all down to Activate? Or Not?

There's no real interactivity. There's at most two steps. "Do the players find out what this thing is?" and "Do they activate it?"

The item needs to retain a sense of mystery and unpredictability. Referees deciding to place one of these items in their campaign should not have a good handle on its impact. From the Referee's standpoint, even knowing every word of the item's description, there should be no way to anticipate what will happen when an item is in play.

This item? Everything that happens is effectively pre-ordained. Once the "door" is opened, the effects are set and uniform based on decisions made at character creation. The only question is whether the user dies or not.

The second problem here is the question... is the effect fun and exciting enough that a Referee wants these effects to trigger? The ideal is an item that inspires the Referee to introduce the item just to see what happens! I know I'm in danger of losing my "authority" by asking this question, but does anyone reading this want to subject their campaign to this effect? A 1200 mile radius is HUGE. HUGE. This is effectively throwing your existing campaign out and having a whole new setting. Sometimes you want to skate on that dangerous edge, but sometimes you don't.

Anyone here want every inhabitant in their setting for over a thousand miles in every direction either hopped up on power, or becoming Patrick Bateman?

So, yeah, didn't accept this one.

(There was recent discussion about NSFW, and I just want to say that in my mind, Woolcott completing her ritual results ultimately in OUR REAL WORLD. Sure, it's not happening very quickly, but an entity like the Progenitor isn't going to quibble over years vs. centuries. No great upheaval necessary if that's the way you want to play it.

There's the great freeze caused by the Cerulean Slime, but that's a different issue - you have to go through a fair amount of effort for pretty much no reason to achieve that sort of issue, plus it takes long enough that something could be done.)

Now items appearing in adventures by myself and others will reflect principles contrary to what I'm asking for the Ref book, but I think there is a difference between an item that's presented in the context of a greater adventure and an item presented as a stand-alone representation of what LotFP items can be.

(comments can be left here)