Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TL;DR RPG: Lamentations of the Flame Princess

TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) RPG is a series of reviews that aims to present a clear and concise description of core elements of a game with the intention of helping people choose the right game without needing to read an entire rulebook.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Author: James Raggi
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Genre: OSR Fantasy, Horror

A Basic/Expert D&D retro-clone with unique death metal and weird fiction flavor.

Best for an old-school exploration game that focuses more on surviving encounters with the unnatural and unholy than killing hordes of kolbolds.

Material Requirements
Full set of polyhedral dice, character sheets, pencils, Rules and Magic book.

Characters are uniformly defined by the six classic attributes of Dexterity, Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. The scores of each attributed results in a modifier that influences most every other stat on the character sheet.

There is a short list of skills but they are limited to special dungeon-delving related actions such as Opening Doors.

Magic is the Vancian style of fire and forget.

Non-Human races are separate character classes.
Characters advance in level by gaining experience points. Experience points come in the form of killing monsters and recovering valuable objects from dangerous locations.

Task Resolution
Most non-combat actions are dictated by common sense. Actions related to the few skills that appear on the character sheet are resolved by rolling a d6. A success is a score equal to or less than the number of points in that skill.
Some spells require the character to perform a saving throw to adjust the effect of the magic.

All attacks are performed by rolling a d20 and adding in the appropriate Attack Bonus. A successful attack is equal or greater than the target’s Armor Class. Damage is calculated by rolling dice specific to the weapon and then subtracted from the target's Hit Points.

Expansions and Supplements
There are many adventures and sourcebooks published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess, most of which of exceptionally high quality. As an OSR system, almost any D&D product can be used with LotFP without much thought.

The Referee's Book is currently undergoing a revision but will include rules options, monsters and advise on running a LotFP game. However, it is not at all required to play or run the game.

Other Comments
Although LotFP is marketed as being a horror game that happens to use rules based on B/X D&D, the game is essentially just a rewritten version of D&D. It can work just as well for high fantasy as it can for horror.

This game has one of the best character sheets out there. Everything a player would need to know is one the sheet and presented with most of the math already done.

Rules Weight: 2/5 
Most of the rules are very straightforward and do not micromanage characters. In terms of D&D simulacrum, LotFP is almost minimalist in its approach to the rules for classes and skills.

Fluff Weight: 1/5 
Magic-Users and Clerics will need to be familiar with the rudimentary cosmology and Vancian magic, but there is no setting fluff that all players need to buy into.

LotFP Official Site
LotFP on

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

TL;DR RPG: Enter the Shadowside

TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) RPG is a series of reviews that aims to present a clear and concise description of core elements of a game with the intention of helping people choose the right game without needing to read an entire rulebook.

Enter the Shadowside
Author: Marco leon
Publisher: FableForge
Price: $4.99 for PDF
Genre: Supernatural Horror, Modern

A rules-light approach to supernatural horror gaming with innovative mechanics and open-source sensibilities.

Best for modern supernatural horror with an emphasis on narrative over dice rolling.

Material Requirements
Twenty-sided dice, character sheets, Jacob’s Ladder print-out, a ruler or other flat edge.

Character’s are defined by 16 different attributes, skills, and items. If they have been bonded with a spirit, they also have paranormal skills. There is no pre-defined list of skills, so characters can have any skill that is specific enough to make sense at the table.

Task Resolution
Players find the sum of a relevant attribute and skill scores, along with any bonuses from items or narrative situation. This sum is the Might of the action attempt. The Might is then compared to the Difficulty of a situation on a chart called “Jacob’s Ladder.” This will produce a target number that must be met on a roll of a twenty-sided die.

Attack and damage rolls are calculated just like any other roll, using the Jacob’s Ladder chart with various attributes as the Might and Difficulty of the rolls. The difference between a dice roll and the target number represents the damage suffered. Character death is up to the gamemaster’s discretion.

Expansions and Supplements
There are currently three thin splat books for some of the organizations in the core setting. These books include fluff and new spells. Especially useful for players interested in those organizations and affordable at $1.99 a piece.

Other Comments
There is a Belief Points system that players can use to influence dice rolls and use magical powers. Points are generated when succeeding in difficult tasks and lost when failing easy tasks. This encourages smart use of skills and abilities.

The game’s creators are very open regarding to development of this game. Everything from new rules to fluff is created and discussed at /r/shadowside.

Rules Weight: 2/5
Although the character sheet can look like a wall of numbers, it’s very easy to figure out how to uses all those numbers. Using the same rolling mechanic for every action should be very easy for players new to RPGs.

Fluff Weight: 3/5 
While not nearly as demanding as the World of Darkness line, Enter the Shadowside does come with a built-in setting that does require some investment from the players. Even if a game ignores the organization and metaplot, the magic system still requires players to have a good understanding of the game’s cosmology.


/r/shadowside on reddit
PDF for purchase at

Monday, June 16, 2014

Instant Old Kingdom Tabletop RPG

Below are instructions for making an RPG based on Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series of novels.

  1. Take Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
  2. Clerics are now Charter Mages.
  3. Magic Users are now Free Magicians.
  4. Grab a good chaos corruption chart and make Free Magicians roll on it if they fail a Magic save any time they level up.
  5. Set game in the Old Kingdom, during the 20 year period before the events of Sabriel, so things are extra shitty and chaotic.
  6. Run A Single, Small Cut. That bell is now one of those bells.