@Edgewise, nice, I think the best part of B/X-likes is that rules are simple enough to understand the implications of changes you might do. Do the same to, say, 4e, and the whole thing unravels. smile

Actually, here's a concept I came up with and haven't tested yet, but I kinda like:

- Single xp chart for all classes. (afaik Jim did this in the playtest doc)
- Saving throws as a combination of ability and class bonuses, as opposed to specific progression charts. (eg. "Fighter at the 5.th level has +4 class bonus to magic saves")
- HD limited at 4. (because fuck superhero pcs that's why, and that's still a shitload of HP)
- HD comes from Con, not class; You re-throw all HD at each level and take the larger HP. (Jim did this in the playtest doc, and I like it.)
- WFRP class abilities, no skills for non-specialists. Get a level in specialist if you want some... and...
- Multiclassing: at each character level (see xp chart) you decide which class to level.
- Saves come from class levels cumulatively: A 3. level fighter(1) - magic user(2) gets 1. level fighter + 2. level magic user save bonuses.

@ElectricPaladin, I think this depends on what RPG means to you and your party. If you need to discuss consent beforehand, then LotFP might NOT be the right game for you. (That said, my personal opinion is that the only role-playing that needs that should at least involve lots of rope and a single-tail...)

I'd feel uncomfortable refereeing for a party where harm to the characters translates into (unwanted) psychological distress. As for "yea my fighter could really use a manly scar", that's not me either, not even in Conan-esque power trip gaming..

This is not a bug, it's a feature. Nothing to see here, move along.

Goblinshenchman wrote:

To my mind, there is a place for monsters like orcs in RPGs, they are like the Storm Troopers in Star Wars movies. They are the canvas that makes the big baddy like Darth Vader look better.  If every Storm Trooper was a Darth Vader then where do you go from there?  Likewise, you can't have a comedy that is one punchline after another, and where each punchline must be funnier than the last.
PS – Dragons do give me joy!!

I think you may misunderstand the prime reason for the absence of henchmonsters. Why do you think the soldiers of Sauron are pig-faced, decaying hunks of pure evil? Why do you think the Stormtroopers wear identical armor and masks? It's to make them non-human, faceless and fair game for extermination.

Orcs are monsters not in a sense of "evoking horror and dread". They are monsters in a sense of "unworthy of mercy or compassion". When was the last time you experienced horror and dread from an orc (in a way that stemmed from it being an orc as opposed to a human savage or robber)? Probably when you first read the Hobbit when you were 11 or something.

In fact, having orcs makes the situation far LESS horrific and dreadful, as it removes the horror of murder - turning it into, well, pest control.

LotFP monsters are monsters in a sense of "oh my God help me, how can such a thing even exist", and "I shall never be free of the nerve-gripping terror from what I have seen", and not in a sense of "my lawful good paladin procerds to go from hut to hut, killing them all... WHAAT,  come on, they are just orcs".


(3 replies, posted in LotFP Gaming Forum)

Speaking of which, I've recently spent some bored minutes watching cold war nuclear test footages. I think we often forget just how magnificent and terrible nukes are - most people tend to associate them more with painful 1950s cheese. A thermonuclear explosion is quite literally "summoning the Sun upon Earth"...

I'm wondering how it could be integrated into a weird adventure without being cheesy.


(3 replies, posted in LotFP Gaming Forum)

I had an idea while reading Dying Earth and pondering the "Vancian" magic of D&D variants... The idea is not so much from Vance himself, but from Terry Pratchett, who apparently sought to lightly parody Vance's floridity... (I must also mention Jim and his magnificent Owls as an inspiration.)

So how about this...

Spells are alive. They are a form of life parasitic to the human mind or the written word.
They are not created by magicians. They are discovered, either in other magicians' spellbooks, or in drug-addles nightmares.

Some spells are tame, such as the much perfected Magic Missile. They are like reliable beasts of burden. But many of them are feral, and in their own right, quite intelligent! A powerful mage is often walking around with a quite literal demon (or two, or three) seething in his brain, waiting for the right moment to wrest control from him.

Reading a spellbook is never a riskless endeavor, as a feral spell might decide to JUMP into your brain - especially if you are not yet trained to handle one of its scope! (Save vs magic, or all your spell slots are occupied by a single instance of a, say, 9th level enchantment. That has its own ideas about what it wants of you. It may be useful. It is definitely dangerous.)

Feral spells cannot simply be forgotten to make room for new memorizations. They grab and pinch your brain and refuse to let go. You have to write them down (create a copy of them) to be able to forget them without casting.

Summon is ALWAYS feral. Most spellbooks have multiple instances of Summon written up, for virtue of most magicians not wanting to cast it.

EDIT: One more addition. An important one. Costly material components, special conditions and painstaking preparations are not necessary for the mere casting of a spell - they are necessary to control the forces thus unleashed...

King Truffle IV wrote:

To be perfectly honest, I've always been suspicious of this approach.  I think it sells the natives of the Americas short, "othering" them to a sometimes extreme degree.  Their cultures are as rich, ancient, decadent, and noble as anything in the "Old" World, and it has just always struck me as a kind of laziness to replace them with stock demihumans of a more or less unified culture.

Nothing personal towards you, of course.  Just my general  impression of this idea in principle.

I agree wholeheartedly. Instead of the rich cultures of America, you get "swan barges". Bad trade

Also, I might incur the label of being a "SJW" by saying this, but quite literally de-humanizing historical cultures is highly offensive to my tastes... It's like, I don't know, an alternative history setting where the nazis are set to exterminate hobbits and elves. Highly tasteless.

Miihkali wrote:

Elegance is subjective, but I perceive it as the lowest needed amount of rules, exceptions, and rolls. It is simple to check the amount of dice from your sheet and then roll and pick the lowest or highest result... But it is even simplier to check which die to use and roll just once.

Design is always a compromise between simplicity and functionality. smile

Using a single die will always result in a flat distribution of probability. Using modifiers will always result in a simple shift in that flat distribution, making previously impossible results possible, and previously possible results impossible to attain.

If, as Jim expressed, one wants a system that always allows for a positive probability on all possible results, but shifts the probabilities around, one simply cannot make do with a single die.

Miihkali wrote:

As for the probability machine you linked above, yes, it is easy to use, but I personally want to be able to comprehend probabilities inside my head instead of checking them from a table or something like that.

That is a good personal argument, but hardly an objective one.

The only time you really need to comprehend the exact probability distributions is when you are designing a game (including die throw mechanics), or writing random tables. And you can perfectly afford using a computerized tool to help you in those specific cases.

And as I pointed out above, there is an inevitable compromise to be made between simplicity and functionality. You'd prefer simplicity to reign supreme. I think there is room to add some functionality without sacrificing actual ease of use (ie. how much work and tedium it is to actually play).

Shockwave wrote:

"Cutting Tolkien out of equation" isn't good move IMO as Tolkien is part of the OD&D equation - no matter how hard some people try to deny it and claim otherwise.

I never said he's not part of the equation. I just said I prefer to have him out of it. wink

Honestly, while I love the Hobbit for what it is (though I do think Farmer Giles of Ham surpasses it in certain aspects), and read Lord of the Rings many times when I was a teen, I dislike his simplistically Christian worldview, and am quite irked by the unending recurrence of his disfigured image in modern fantasy.

And his mutated legacy is guilty of something even more horrid than endless reiterations of the journey of naive farmboys through a world of peril. It's the assassination of fantasy itself, the total extirpation of wonder. Tolkien was able to make orcs and trolls look truly horroristic, especially in Moria; and to make elves truly wondrous... but he was the only one who could do that. Pseudo-Tolkien fantasy lacks soul. It lacks imagination. It lacks, well, fantasy.

Add to this that in the world of gaming, Tolkienic tropes evoke a genre that is completely foreign from the picaresque-like adventuring that makes role playing games truly fun, and help give rise to the "story-driven adventure", bane of all tabletop gaming.

Miihkali wrote:

While the basic idea is nice I don't really like the idea of rolling multiple dice and choosing best or worst. It is just not... elegant.
Having multiple dice rolled and one choosed also makes it difficult to calculate the probabilities.
Well, I don't really like having multiple dice rolls. Rolling just one dice is much simpler. Even rolling several dice and totaling them is better than choosing the best or worst from several rolls. And having multiple different dice is always cool.

Elegance is entirely subjective...

As for complexity, I linked a perfect tool for the job above.

And in fact, choosing the best or worst n out of a number of dice yields the most beautiful probability curve. Essentially you can adjust the mean deviation and expected value while maintaining postivie probability across the entire setof values.

Not to mention that choosing the largest or smallest takes zero time and has almost zero chance of error, while totaling is both time-consuming and error-prone.

Miihkali wrote:
JimLotFP wrote:

Not only thought about but long ago decided: Demi-humans and Clerics will go in the appendix, firearms to the main portion of the book, and Cleric spells folded into the MU spell lists.

Would there be lawful Magic-Users? Or do you have to be chaotic in order to heal someone? Will there be (non-magical) first-aid if clerics are eliminated?

Good question. I remember an interview where Jim talked about clerics being sort of anti-magicusers. Is this paradigm going to shift as well?

littlemute wrote:

Howdy.  I would have all in between adventures be NON- magical, non weird, with no monsters at all.  These are there for the contrast and to show the players that they are, in fact, incredibly special in the game world since they can level up (and have) and almost everyone else is a zero level human.

My personal preference is more of the Bledsawian approach, with 2nd-3rd level being "average", but I see what you mean.

littlemute wrote:

If you intersperse with non-fantasy stuff, when they get to the weird or supernatural-- tear the shit out of them remorselessly.  No quarter.  In the adventures they have the most to gain (levels, gold, magic items) so it should have the most risk.  I've only had a TPK in the God that Crawls and that's because my players were stubborn and drunk.

Heh. That sounds like a good idea.

Starting from my post on the demi-humans in historical campaigns, I wrote up an entire essay on an alternative presentation / flavor text for the three DnD race-classes.

My approach essentially centers on the idea of "faerie" as a base principle of Chaos, and finally cutting Tolkien out of the equation. I hope you'll like it.

The pdf on Scribd

vfults wrote:

This may not be mathematically balanced, but my players like it and it cuts down on gm bookkeeping.  Saving throws are by the book with the multi-classed character using the best saving throws of his two classes.

Best throws at class level or best throws at character level? (Eg. does a Fighter 2 / Magic-User 3 use the best of the Fighter and Magic-User throws at 5th level, or uses the best of Fighter 2nd and Magic-User 3rd throws?)

Speaking of taking the largest / smallest of a pool of dice, I've recently been looking into dice roll probability graphs, and other geeky game design stuff... and found THIS here:
Troll dice roll probability calculator

It might be known to everyone, or it might be new, anyway it's very useful in determining the effects of dice rolling mechanisms. Taking the largest of a pool significantly reduces the mean deviation of a throw. If a single die is picked, then the highest probability will be the highest result, while if the largest n dice, (like the 3 largest of a pool of 6), the result is a narrower bell curve skewed to the side.

Syntax examples for the calculator:

Least die of 2d8: least 1 2d8
Largest die of 2d8: largest 1 2d8
Largest 3 dice of 6d6: sum largest 3 6d6
And so on. smile There's also a documentation but it's quite massive. You can simulate entire combat actions and see the probabilities of outcomes.

vfults wrote:

I like the core mechanics as is and wouldn't want them to change. However, I've house ruled that non-specialists get a skill point every third level to spend as the players desire.  It lets the players have a bit of an oomph but it's not enough to diminish the Specialist.

Somehow I like the idea of Specialists being able to "specialize" in fighting among other things better... It just feels like the better compromise for my engineer brain. wink Say, an Attack modifier per 2 (or 3?) skill points, to a maximum of 6.

vfults wrote:

I also allow 3rd Edition style multi-classing.

How exactly do you do that without replacing major part of the system? Given the quite different XP and saving throw progression charts for each class...

After reading a few adventures, articles, and deciding that I really want to set up a group to play LotFP with, I am struck with a bit of, well, uncertainty. As in "okay, here's all this delightfully horrible stuff, now what am I supposed to do with it".

As Zak S. explained awesomely in an older post, the best DnD campaigns should be like a picaresque, with interesting heroes tumbling from adventure to adventure, and becoming even more interesting as a side effect, or dying in an unceremonious and sometimes funny way.

My uncertainty comes from the fact that all LotFP adventures I've read so far are extremely heavy, extremely weird (or should I say "fucked up"), and make a TPK an extremely likely occurrence. Not that I'm complaining, but if this is all the characters - and thus the players - ever see, it becomes commonplace. And I'm not sure if it should become commonplace.

However, I am at a loss about what could comprise the "filler episodes" between occurrences of major crazy.

In a DnDesque fantasy world, I'd just throw minor dungeons and semi-weird magicians in their way, some robberies, some exploration that yields strange artifacts that only hint at fucked-up things (instead of throwing them in the players' face), etc. And then drop the nuke.

In a semi-historical setting, I'm not sure how that would look. Fighting regular human robbers, and looting perfectly regular castles of regular corrupt noblemen under the veil of the night might be too unfantastic, but adding magic without the seriously weird and fucked up feels like watering down the "weird", and just getting some random historical fantasy.

How do you guys handle this?


(216 replies, posted in LotFP Gaming Forum)

Hey smile

I'm Daniel, currently living in NYC, but originally from Eastern Europe (Hungary). smile - I loved the geographical references of A Red and Pleasant Land to bits wink "Garden of Pests" is utterly unbeatable -

I'm 34, a software engineer, and at the university, like all geeks and nerds, I used played a lot of ADnD. wink My gaming life however started when I was 13, with a Hungarian RPG called MAGUS, which is best described as a rather mediocre, rules-heavy and extremely awkward cross between ADnD and BRP, whose creators represented everything that is damnable about "story-based" and "realistic" gaming, and the decline of Oldschool and sandbox styles... smile

I haven't really gamed for about 10 years now, but got involved again recently, because who knows. One day I was bored and decided to have a look at some old gaming-related haunts on the Net, and was pleasantly surprised to see that an entire ecosystem of awesome games has sprung up, and in a flavor - "oldschool" - that I have never encountered before (except in vitriolous articles about how "dumb" it was supposed to be).
(EDIT: I think it's worth mentioning that maybe the strongest influence that got me interested in gaming again was the awesome and unimitable Melan - Gabor Lux - with his incredibly colorful S&S settings and adventures.)

And well, I found that I love the idea. I have always preferred Sword and Sorcery to Tolkienese high fantasy, and I really enjoy these evocative and strange worlds to explore and monsters to kill (or be killed by in exotic ways). smile

The immediate pull of LotFP was the absolutely beautiful and elegant rules system. I've yet to see a DnD-like that is so well thought out. And well, once I started reading some adventures, I decided I like "weird fantasy" as a tone - I'm still not sure what I want to do with it as a referee, mind you, but I like it. All of us humans have some seriously weird and messed up shit sitting somewhere in our brains, and it's great fun to share some of it.

Hey Jim smile

I'm a new fan of your work, so it's a bit of an outsider's viewpoint here...

JimLotFP wrote:

* Also thinking that by expanding the skill list a bit, we could give Fighters and Magic-Users some skill points to play with while also giving Specialists more points so it's still their thing without maxing the existing skills up faster. Very unsure about this one because it makes NPC statting more complicated and I want to avoid that.

Personally, the one thing (beside your quite unique tone and approach) that made LotFP stand out for me from all the ODnD and B/X clones was the highly elegant way you separated character roles. The Fighter fights, the Magic-user uses magic, and the Specialist, well, has skills. If I want every class to have skills, I'll play 3e or OSRIC. wink

I do feel that this extremely "walled" system makes it harder to create characters whose in-game abilities reflect the way they are imagined. If you are tempted to ease up on this, I suggest you should add multi-classing rules.
Currently the biggest hurdle in using multi-classing rules is handling the saving throws in a fair manner that doesn't turn the game into an exercise for Certified Public Accountants.

Also, I personally believe that overbloated skill lists often take something away instead of adding it. For one, with too many character stats, people tend to assume that it's their stats that should be playing instead of them. ("- I search for traps. {diceroll}" as opposed to "I have a close look at the doorway, looking for cracks", "I carefully probe the ground a few feet ahead with my staff", or "I pour some water on the ground and see if it seeps in between the slabs", etc.) In a discussion, I've read an oldschool enthusiast once mention "systems where a character needs a skill not to wet their pants". It's easy to get there, unfortunately.

JimLotFP wrote:

Witch-Hunter: Because thinking of the accompanying illustrations the Fighter has to go to Alice because she's the murderous one. The Flame Princess was originally designated as a Specialist but that doesn't seem right since she was conceived as a Solomon Kane type character. So there's the Witch-Hunter, with the concept being a kinda fightey character whose main thing is being magic-resistant.

I really like this idea.

What I'm not entirely sure about is what archetype I'd most like to see it represented as - a Conan-like hardened warrior slicing up horrors and carving out a kingdom of Men, a holy warrior standing with God against the hordes of darkness, or an anti-wizard, an initiate of the occult who turns against Chaos while being still deeply interlinked with it. I guess it could be any of these.

JimLotFP wrote:

Conquistador, basically the explorer-type. ("Explorer" itself being dishwater-dull as a name - legacy naming is useful because everyone recognizes it and little explanation is needed, but if you're adding something, don't let it fade into the background... Buccaneer might work?). Basically a fightey outdoorsey type, or a non-magical Ranger type ("Ranger" as a name being really being the wrong tone for the game).

I'm not entirely sure about this one. It doesn't feel like it adds anything new, beside maybe an extra stat of Bushcraft in exchange for worse progression in combat stats. I think if you did the multi-classing, this would become wholly redundant.

While not strictly an answer to the question, my personal preference about demi-humans on an Earth-like world is to simply make them fae - weird beings rather unusual to be seen anywhere near human settlements. This means that simply being an elf (or a halfling) can end with being burned at the stake by a rather inflamed mob of villagers.

Some specifics...

Elf: They are obviously faerie. The Sidhe / Tuatha de Danann archetype. Mound folk. Fair ones. I personally dislike "all-knowing illuminati" elves. I'd stick with faerie folklore, affinity with the seasons and phases of the moon, sexuality and sadism, walking around naked, messing with humans, you got it. Give them magical cantrips related to the season (like making flowers bloom in the spring, a small amount of water freeze in the winter, etc.)

Halfling: While I understand the role Tolkien invented them for, I never thought it meshed well with anything beside, well, Tolkien. But hey. If elves are "mound folk", then halflings are doubly so. If elves are faerie nobles, they are faerie commoners. The wee people. Like stealing stuff from humans, playing pranks, and having lots of gold and food around. Super material, and quite petty. Tend to prefer green clothes and fancy hats.
I'd also replace Bushcraft with Sleight of Hand as their Skill. (This goes for Tolkien halflings and Hickman kenders too. Bilbo was quite a natural burglar, but a real crappy woodsman.)

Dwarf: A lot less Tolkien and a lot more Wagner. Schwarzalben. Nibelungen. Not so much wide and burly as steel cable thin and ten feet of solid stone strong, crooked, shriveled, sooty and ugly. Creeping and tunneling below the skin of the Earth, mining and forging in the neverending dark. Proud and vain beyond description, but with reason. As good craftsmen as they are warriors - even the gods have to fear from them, in both aspects.

Also, faerie folk tend to have a rather bad relation to human religion. I'd make all demi-humans Chaotic, and give them all weaknesses against holy water, the sound of churchbells, and similar stuff.