Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Lamentation of the Flame Princess - Rules & Magic ("Hardcover" Edition)

The latest printing of the LotFP rules has the publisher breaking from their tradition of compact box sets with a beautifully designed hardcover. Largely this is the same rules that appears in the Grindhouse Edition, with the exception of an overhaul to the layout and the addition of rules for early modern firearms and armor.

At this point I feel that there are enough reviews of LotFP as a game that I don't need to go into much detail in that regard. However, I do want to reiterate that this is an excellent game. I would go so far as saying that it is the best retroclone on the market. The changes that it makes to Basic Dungeons and Dragons are all excellent and greatly improve the game experience. When I run a game of "D&D," even with elves and dragons and magic wands everywhere, I use LotFP. It's just a good game.

Also, LotFP has the best character sheet I've ever seen. Everything a player would need to know is displayed clearly with no mental math and no rules memorization. Other game publishers can learn a lot from these character sheets.

If you want to see why this is such a great set of rules, even for high fantasy games which it is not intended for, check out the free no-art version.

So is the art worth paying $5? Definitely.

LotFP gets a lot of attention because of the art in its products, especially the core books. The art alone is the reason for the 18+ warning on the cover and has caused quite a bit of controversy. I have some mixed feelings about the art because I feel it draws too much attention away from the rules and presents the game as specifically a horror game. I know that's how James Raggi, the creator of LotFP, runs his game, but the rules do not demand any specific setting or tone. That aside, the artwork in this book is amazing. Many of the pieces from the early editions return and other less evocative works are replaced with art that better captures the weird fantasy vibe.

The way that the artwork is integrated into the layout is also spectacular. When reading the no-art version, keep in mind that every large block of white space is filled with something awesome in the full version.

The major addition to the rules is the appendix for early modern firearms and armor. These rules clearly are the product of diligent research and playtesting. The price of the book is worth it for these rules along, as they go so much further than reskinned crossbows. The artwork is also essential for this appendix as if gives you a crash course in early firearms, complete with detailed illustrations of these awesome but wholly unfamiliar weapons.

With this edition I really think LotFP has established its place as a leader in the OSR movement. It's a testiment to the quality one can expect from the publisher and a beautiful packaging of my favorite old-school ruleset.

You can buy LotFP Rules & Magic in PDF at RPGNow and in print at the LotFP store.

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