Last week, in Season 3 Episode 8 of the RPG Circus Podcast, we talked to James Raggi about Grindhouse Edition of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Before that show, he was nice enough to send us a copy to prepare us for the show as well as to review. Since we done the show, it was time for a review.
One of first things you will notice about the product is the fact it's small. I think that's a selling point, This is something you could easily throw into backpack, luggage, or messenger bag (which is why I use for my gaming stuff). The books are about 7 inches by 9 inches. It bit of odd size, but since the printing is done in Europe and I'm an American, I'm not really familiar with the International Paper size standards.
There are three books in box with around 350 or so pages.
One of the more interesting pieces in this box set is the Tutorial book. I assume that the person reading it doesn't know what Role-Playing Games really are. For experienced people this seems like a waste of pages, but the truth is that things like this are needed. Hell, there is a D&D 4ed for Dummies book. I think this tells us something. It tells us there are people that want to Role-play but don't know how because the rule books themselves don't really tell you anymore. Why do you think the old Red Box was so important to so many gamers. It was where they learned to Role-play. I think my absolute favorite thing about this book is the essays on recommend reading authors. All too often we see a recommend reading list and we don't know anything about a certain author. Here James Raggi has put together some of recommend authors and written a short essay about each. This gives those reading them an idea about the author and the type of stories that they have written. I think this wonderful. All to often, I meet people who don't quite know who Jules Verne and H.G. Wells was.
In the Rules and Magic Book, you will find the rules. They are based in many ways on the older versions of D&D. Here will find where race does equal to class. Still James has his own spin on all these things. I think one of the ones I liked after giving it some thought was the rouge/thief class to specialist. I think this more accurately describes the class. After all most of the players are not common thieves. Hell anyone of any class/race could be a thief. All you have to do is still. Here the specialist takes on a more natural role of an adventurer with a wide range of skills to do just that. You will also not find hundreds of spells in this book. Not to sound lame, but most players can't remember all those spells and what they do. Here the choices are limited by varied. Something I think a new player could easily grasp while old players could instantly absorb and then move on to actually Role-Playing instead of looking up Spells and what they do. This is the only book that players will need to reference. Hell, just the summary charts on the back of the book enough for most people. One last note, I like how most weapons grouped into the Great, Medium, minor, and small categories, with those categories saying how much damage is done. I think this just makes for faster reference. Players can then also choose weapons based on what they think their characters would carry rather than based on the damage differences between a two-handed sword and a great axe, Here both weapons would do a d10 as they are both Great Weapons.
Finally, there is the Referee book, It's much smaller than the Rules and Magic Book. There really are not that many rules in this book. It mostly tells you how to be a Game Master and things you have do. It gives advices on NPCs, Adventures, Maps, Cultures, and even has an adventure. What you will not find in here is a list of monsters, instead they offer up rules on how to make the stat's you need for Monsters. I think Tim Kask would be proud, having once played Tim Kask at GenCon. I can say he was very much into creating Stuff on the spot without the need of rule books. Even if you don't like the idea of no monster stats, I think the monster section is a good read just for a different point of view.
So, your wondering, should I spend my hard earned money of this thing? Even if you never play LotFP, I think there is much to get out of simply reading the rules. However if you do that, I think you would be missing out on a lot. One last thing, while one could say that LotPF is "old school", I don't think so. While it has many elements of so called "old school" , It is a modern game with influences from games that James Raggi liked. Those games just happen to be what people call "old school"
If you want to pick up a copy of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, you can order it from the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Online Store.