Friday, June 25, 2010

Some Information About the LotFP RPG

So I'm working hard to get the LotFP game into stores. But I'm also making sure the product itself is uncompromising.

The game has a ton of tutorial and explanatory material in the hopes that new people can be reached, but the core customer base is still likely to be the old school crowd who was happy to basically drop out of the industry and embrace fan-made products.

Now I'll admit that I'm a horrible salesman. I've got a few fans who are going to order this as soon as it's put on sale, but what I'm really counting on selling this product are the reviews and talk that will result when those few receive their boxes, and when the contributors receive their copies and start raving about it.

Yes, I expect them to be raving about it.

This product isn't going to be successful because it gives you something new and indispensable that you've never seen before and can't live without. It's another simulacrum. Compatibility is the goal so how much can I screw around with things? Yeah, innovation in encumbrance, big selling point there, right?

This product is going to be successful because it's going to be the coolest friggin thing that anyone's laid eyes on this year in addition to being a fully functional game.

Part of me wants to go silent on the updates and how things are going and not give out any details because I want people's eyeballs to pop out when they open their box because they're surprised at all the cool stuff in it. Just announce it as ready when it is and let word of mouth carry it.

The other part of me realizes that's a great way to be stuck with a great many boxes clogging up the apartment forevermore.

So I thought I'd talk about a few of the little unique elements that you'll find in LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing:

Extensive "how to play" material. There's a whole Tutorial book dedicated to the subject. The Referee book is a how-to guide as well. The two included modules will continue the lessons. At first I was using the Mentzer Basic set as my format guide, but I think I've gone far beyond that. I think anyone reading the material in this box will get it so much better than I or many other people who got into gaming with a random purchase rather than a mentor ever could.

The Example of Play is not a boring-ass fake transcript of perfectly behaved players and a suave Referee walking through a sterile example of the rules in action. No, it's a fake transcript of the way people really play when things get heated. My editorial volunteers are split in their opinions... some think it's an awful thing that will turn people off, and some think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. I do believe the Example of Play has a bigger page count than the rulebook does, but who knows how that will end up in final layouts. What I do know is it will be talked about, and maybe even argued about.

The Rules book is the shortest of the 4 main books (Tutorial, Rules, Magic, Referee), but admittedly that's only because the spell lists are in their own book.

There is a full section in the Referee book giving cross-compatibility information across the clones, by name. I'm somewhat surprised everyone gave permission for that. :) I also advertise several companies making other games and supplements in this section, so any hypothetical newcomer to the scene who picks this up in a store will be shown the way to so much more than just what I have to offer.

In my game there are: No standard monster lists. No standard magic items. No setting. Those are all things that I think should not be standardized. There is extensive advice for making your own setting, magic items, and monsters, but anyone picking up my game is going to be instructed to have a DIY attitude to use it to its fullest. I think modules are an important part of the hobby for both shared experiences and for variety in an individual campaign, but I don't believe for a second that pre-published material should be the entirety of anybody's campaign.

(OK, I fibbed. There are scroll, staff/wand, and potion creation rules, so I guess the most standard of magic items are in there. But there's no table of completed examples, and no Sword +1 type things.)

And I think you'll be pleased with some of my layout choices. I'm not fancy at all, but I think I'll be doing a couple of things that enhance the convenience and usability of the game during actual play. This is a box set with books that aren't available separately, and I am taking advantage of that fact. I am also using the format of the box to its fullest. There will be little details to be found even when everything in the box is removed.

It's coming...

8 comments:

  1. "There will be little details to be found even when everything in the box is removed."

    So the box itself serves a game function? Wow, that's awesome and efficient!

    On a box related side note, the cover image haunts me in my sleep. I don't know if I should thank you or curse you for that, but it haunts me in my sleep. :)

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  2. I'm one of the people who will buy this the first chance I get. Don't think I'll help with reviews and such but I'll have a group of 5 college kids playing it immediately.

    "I think anyone reading the material in this box will get it so much better than I or many other people who got into gaming with a random purchase rather than a mentor ever could."

    That's a bold statement and I like it! Is the tutorial book going to be something that will be available outside of the box set?

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  3. You are taking a big risk old friend, on a number of paths - I can't tell you how many.

    I hope it works out, and I will of course be a supporter, and expect fully eyes to pop like Ronnie Cox at the end of Total Recall.

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  4. In my game there are: No standard monster lists. No standard magic items. No setting. Those are all things that I think should not be standardized. There is extensive advice for making your own setting, magic items, and monsters, but anyone picking up my game is going to be instructed to have a DIY attitude to use it to its fullest. I think modules are an important part of the hobby for both shared experiences and for variety in an individual campaign, but I don't believe for a second that pre-published material should be the entirety of anybody's campaign.


    As an old-school someone who is (really) not sure whether he's interested in purchasing this product, I don't know if this fits my needs. I'm okay with no setting. But no standard monsters or magic items? I'm not so sanguine. I really want to be enticed enough to buy, but I'm just not feeling it yet. It seems to me like you're presupposing a familiarity with "Old School" style fantasy (read "Sword and Sorcery"), and that's likely not the case with many new gamers. I became aware of many of the monsters and objects of power of myth and legend, not to mention fantasy literature, from the pages of the MM and Deities and Demigods, and only latterly expanded that knowledge. A product that presents rules but not any of the genre background supporting it sounds sterile, somehow...

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  5. >>A product that presents rules but not any of the genre background supporting it sounds sterile, somehow...

    To me, a game that codifies "official" monsters and items isn't being very true to the genres of fantasy or horror or any related thing.

    Every author treats ghosts or zombies differently, for example. What exactly an enchanted weapon does and what it means to wield one varies wildly in all literature before RPGs came around.

    If these things are made "official" I feel they are being implicitly imposed on a campaign, especially if a new player is running it. If you have a listing for orcs, why then of course orcs must exist in the game world! "Hmm, Plate +1 is on the charts, that's a viable, finished magic item to place in my world then!"

    These things should be unique. Even taking from myth, the minotaur wasn't a race, it was unique. Same with the gorgon/medusa. In old literature such things are not often standardized either. What are all those things in Abominations of Yondo? Species of creatures or unique entities?

    Certain compatibility issues dictate certain commonalities in campaign worlds (spell lists, demi-human PCs), but I really tried to make the suggested Weird Fantasy Role-Playing campaign setup look different than the standard D&D campaign setup.

    But the two adventures included in the box have a lot of monsters and magic in them, so there the set isn't completely devoid of examples.

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  6. If these things are made "official" I feel they are being implicitly imposed on a campaign, especially if a new player is running it. (...)
    But the two adventures included in the box have a lot of monsters and magic in them, so there the set isn't completely devoid of examples.


    Then be prepared that your non standard monsters and locations will become the implied default setting of LotFP, especially to new gamers who need or will use any hand holding they get.

    In 1990 or 1991 there was a convention in Germany, Fan-Con, where Greg Stafford was a guest of honor. There he hosted a long seminar/Q&A like event in which he gave a tour de force through Chaosium's history, and he used the following account as an illustration of Chaosium as a young, inexperienced company, not capable of foreseeing long-term effects of their belly-decisions:

    Stafford's vision of Glorantha was different than what it turned out to become. He wanted another part of Glorantha to be the main adventuring region (something or place more relevant to his hero wars theme?). But he also knew that he wasn't experienced with writing adventure sourcebooks, so for the very first supplement he chose a region that was not important to him (in case he screwed up): Dragon Pass.

    He didn't think of that whatever he would present to his players as their playground would be the setting for them.
    So to this day Dragon Pass remains a special place in the game.

    It's case of "no second chance for a first impression".

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  7. >>Then be prepared that your non standard monsters and locations will become the implied default setting of LotFP, especially to new gamers who need or will use any hand holding they get.

    You're probably right, but there are worse fates. :)

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