Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween? Oh yeah, it is! MOVIE LIST!

You want a Top 10 list of movies to watch to get the Weird Fantasy Role-Playing vibe?


You get the first 10 movies I can think of that fit!

The Blob
Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Quatermass and the Pit
The Thing (1982 Carpenter version)
Witchfinder General

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cripes! This Baker Thing Has Legs!

First, thanks to all that bought something during the sale. Big success. :)

On October 11 Vincent Baker made a post on the Forge with the title "Lamentations of the Flame Princess is made of lies!"

I made my comments here on October 14.

But it spreads!

On October 22 Baker's comments were addressed by someone on the RPGSite with the thread "Swine Attack LotFP." It's up to 111 posts with the usual Forge/RPGSite animosity.

Earlier this morning a thread started on "Forge Thread: LOTFP is made of lies." This one's going to weird places (see this reply as an example).


I will once again state that I don't see how Baker thought there would be moral grounding within the game (I intentionally removed any such thing - A Stranger Storm doesn't work at all if morality is mechanically enforced or even tracked - the fun is in watching the players squirm as they try to decide what to do!). I don't think Baker really was attacking the game at all and he had fun playing even if he made some incorrect assumptions out of the gate.

I also think that different people playing my game differently is an awesome thing, and even if they don't have a consistent vision of what LotFP is supposed to be, it's still coming out differently than people playing Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry or old D&D - mechanically similar in many respects but not the same games as LotFP.

If my resources weren't tied up with Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown (both should go to press in 8 days!), I would have gotten an adventure or three out by now out which would better define my perception of the weird with some more ready-to-go examples and how it's not very hard-codable into rules. But I didn't because Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown aren't going to get done without deciding to get them done, you know? And at that point there's nothing to do but put everything else on hold and sacrifice the resources necessary to do them right.

Night Visions Night 4

Got home from Night Visions a little while before I writing this, and will be going to sleep after it posts. When I wake up, the sale is OVER!

Anyway... once again, highlight spoilers in parenthesis to see them.

Viva Riva!

"Branded by the international media as the Scarface of Congo, Viva Riva! is a slick, violent and sexy action thriller set in the streets and back alleys of the wildly exotic city of Kinshasa."

I really don't like gangster movies. Don't like Goodfellas, the Sopranos was never interesting to me... setting it in Africa doesn't make it any more interesting to me. So one criminal steals stuff from another criminal and leads the high life while being hunted by other criminals, the authorities are corrupt, it's all so very violent and tragic. Yawn.

Really, the only thing me and the wife got out of this movie was "Glad we're lucky enough to not live in that shithole."

Two Eyes Staring

Fucking excellent.

A ghost story: A women in Belgium dies, leaving her rather large and spooky house to her estranged daughter, who has created a life and family for herself in the Netherlands. The family decides to move in to this house. The 9-year old daughter starts seeing a girl in the cellar that has to do with the family's past... and everything starts going to hell.

No blood and guts. Very little violence at all. Creepy. Escalating in tension until it hits you with the twist.

A word about twists... good movie twists don't seem like gimmicks, they don't seem like the moviemakers ran out of ideas and figured fooling the audience will save the movie.

When a good twist hits you, you feel stupid for not seeing it sooner because of course things should be that way.

This movie has a great twist.

Twist is a fun word. Good thing I'm home alone right now or someone'd be looking at me weird because I'm saying "twist twist twist twist" out loud here.


Here's how to make yourself feel old. "Wow, the mom in that movie is MILFy!" Get home, check IMDB (which contains unlabeled spoilers in the cast list)... oh... she's younger than I am. Fuck.

When this movie ended, I headed home, had dinner, watched the beginning of Goldmember on TV (another movie!!), took a nap, and headed back down to the theater to start watching movies again at 1am.

The Ward

What the hell? This is a John Carpenter movie? Seriously?

It's about some young (teenage?) women in a psych ward in a mental hospital. There's a ghost killing them one by one, but nobody seems to believe them.

The twist? (The same as Identity. Without any of the things that made Identity good.)

This is a bad twist that made me feel stupid for waking up after midnight and walking across town to see it. Not that anything leading up to the twist was the least bit interesting.

This movie is shit, top to bottom, front to back.

The Gates of Hell (aka City of the Living Dead)

Lucio Fulci makes shit movies. He's this legend, I know, and in the late 90s when Anchor Bay was releasing his movies uncut I snapped them up fast and squirmed and was properly grossed out. Because Fulci presents a nice grossout.

... but... ahhh... back in the day, things like the Friday the 13th movies were censored to get them to an R rating. Even the bloody hack and slash of American cinema was watered down. This foreign stuff? Exotic and did what you couldn't do, even in theaters!

... but it's 2011 and watching a movie with shitty acting and shitty "plots" and stupid dialogue and shit doesn't make any goddamn sense isn't going to cut it just to watch someone puking up guts on screen. Fuck, even House has featured a popping eyeball, you know?

... yet Fulci's movies were banned or edited all to crap for decades in some cases because they were just too graphic and horrifying. How quaint the 70s and 80s, eh?

Anyway, the story here is a priest hangs himself in a Dunwich cemetery, triggering the opening of the Gates of Hell! A psychic and veteran reporter rush to the scene to stop it!

Fine, whatever. But it's so goddamn stupid (teleporting zombies!) that it kills the "money shots."

Perfect example: At the beginning of the movie the psychic is thought dead. Is buried. The reporter, investigating the story, happens by as the woman wakes up and starts screaming. To help her, this dumbass gets a fucking pickaxe and starts wailing away at the casket.

The idea of laying there in a coffin as the head of a pickaxe continually comes within a hair's breadth of piercing your face should be scary. And intense. But it was handled so clumsily (the guy's trying to help her by doing that? Moron!) the audience here was laughing at it.

I bet it would be pretty gross if you were sitting in a room and for no reason the window is smashed and suddenly the room is filled with maggots blowing in. Watching it was a comedic experience because the window blew in for no reason and then we get "dramatic" shots of four actors wiggling around (the director really did stick a big pile of maggots in front of an industrial-sized fan, by the way). Oh no! Maggots! Why, if this keeps up, these poor people will need to change their clothes or something! If this scene was real footage of a real event, it would be America's Funniest Home Videos fodder.

... or maybe it was a 3am showing immediately following a shit movie and I had no patience it.

The Woman

A woman is for some reason living in the woods. She is completely feral, a wild animal for all intents and purposes. A man out on a hunting trip discovers her, and decides to capture her, lock her in a cellar, and make it a family project to civilize her.

This movie is fucked up! FUCKED UP!

The guy playing the head of the household (a middle class family that lives on a sizable piece of land outside of a small town) looks similar to and acts just like a toned-down Will Ferrell (and watch Stranger than Fiction before telling me Ferrell is shit or anything). He is absolutely perfect as the calm, disarmingly charming man who is all to believable.

He's also the most despicable movie villain I can recall seeing.

This juxtaposition creates some laughs early on, but before long, nobody's laughing anymore.

The actress playing the feral woman is also superb. I never for a second questioned the idea that she was really and truly a creature of the wilderness. Amazing stuff here.

The movie did break its own reality a bit as once the captive woman escapes (yes, that's a spoiler, but talk about being the most obvious spoiler in history) her feats of feral vengeance are a bit beyond what would be plausible. But the twist the movie has in reserve more than makes up for it.

This movie is not on the first tier of video nasties... that would be reserved for movies like I Spit on Your Grave (30 minute rape scene), A Serbian Film (tons and tons of sexually related violence, much involving children), and Cannibal Holocaust (real animal deaths and some real bastard protagonists)... those movies are all filmed in a way to put you, the viewer, in the middle of the absolutely disgusting events of those films. The Woman doesn't employ that, it's the more standard cinematic detachment. And as I said it forgets itself momentarily. So it's not a first-rung "Nobody should ever watch this ever because it's too fucked up" kind of movie.

But it's right there at the top of the second tier. This is some disturbing, disturbing shit, and the disturbing bits have little to do over the top gore (not a lot of that here).

Best of the fest, and a must-see movie.

(oh shit... checking IMDB, this movie is the sequel to a 2009 movie called Offspring, which I'd never even heard of... apparently this isn't just some random feral girl, as the actress is reprising her role from that movie... hmmm)



This isn't a great movie or anything, and it's presented as a horror/comedy, but...

Well, here's the IMDB summary: "Four young offenders and their (social) workers spend a weekend in the remote Yorkshire village of Mortlake, which prides on keeping itself to itself. A minor incident with locals rapidly escalates into a blood-soaked, deliriously warped nightmare."

... that's basically it. The humor comes from the fact that the locals treat this situation as completely normal. This ultraviolence is rather matter-of-fact to them, and they present shows and play games around it. (in fact, a lot of the "humor" in the movies this year comes from this exact thing... "Here's some really horrible disgusting shit for you, and here is some comedy relief in the form of characters who think dismembering a corpse is no more unusual than making the bed.")

There really aren't any twists and turns (aside from the fact that the bad guys win, after some resistance, a strong and final victory with the victims' escape hardly ever even seen to be likely), so it's a straight up splatterfest. And splatter splatter splatter it does.

In fact, the gore effects here are some of the best I've ever seen. You could still tell it's CGI, but only just - it really does look like they're swinging axes full force at each other's heads and making full contact and SPLAT. It's on one hand really fucking awful to watch (like when the horse steps on the guy's face) but on the other hand if this dinky low budget thing can do this, there is hope for more ambitious movies to not have to use trickery to obscure things that don't look good (whereas I thought movies like Diary of the Dead and Scorsese's Departed were ruined by too-obvious CGI wounds and blood spatter).

It's weird, that for all the stomach-churning violence (and there is a lot of stuff I just haven't seen done before that makes a lot more sense than most common horror movie violence), it never enters the realm of the truly disturbing as a whole. I saw that as a guy that just watched 6 horror movies in a night mind you, but when I watched Hostel, I thought "brutal!" When I watched Inbred, it was like watching Star Wars... it's a spectacle that happens to be about violence and lots of blood, but it didn't make me feel dirty for watching it.


... and that was Night Visions. 18 movies in 4 days. (there were 10 more movies screened that I didn't get to see)

Best of the Fest: The Woman, Hobo with a Shotgun, Red State

Turkeys of the Fest: The Ward, Gates of Hell, Another Earth

whew. It's a semi-annual thing so I get to do it all again in April!

It's 10am now (feels like 11am since clocks turned back overnight here in Finland), I'm off to bed!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Night Visions Night 3

In addition to the big LotFP ad, it seems they also screened some movies last night at the film festival... (highlight the 'blank' stuff in the parenthesis to see spoilers)

The Whisperer in Darkness


This same crew made the Call of Cthulhu silent movie and I've been waiting for Whisperer since the first trailer hit... what, five years ago? This was the movie I was most looking forward to.

But after seeing it I have very mixed feelings.

The story that we know is the middle of the movie. They added a ton of stuff at the beginning of the movie (which I feel mostly good about, or else it's just a guy reading letters so something had to be done), but they also added a ton of stuff to the end of the movie. The end of Lovecraft's story is only the end of this movie's second act.

We can argue about the merits of what they did with the end third of the movie, but can we at least agree that (Wilmarth consoling the neighboring farmer's daughter in a barn protected by Elder Signs with a weepy story about him losing his own family in the influenza epidemic of 1918) and (the big chase scene with the mi-go and Wilmarth's airplane - seriously!-) are not at all very Lovecraftian?

The production as a whole was a huge step up from Call of Cthulhu, where the seams were only visible if you were specifically looking for them ("a-ha! The rain isn't real because you only see the drops in the puddles in the foreground, not the background!" sort of thing), with one exception. The CGI mi-go looked rather awful. The stop-motion Cthulhu of the first movie was no great shakes but it didn't seem out of place with the rest of it. Whisperer is so sharp otherwise that awful looking monsters really stand out.

It has an appropriately Lovecraft ending though,

Revenge: A Love Story

Hmm. Not a fun movie. Not at all.

We open with some madman killing policemen and ripping the fetuses out of those policemen's very very pregnant wives (and daughter? no way that older cop was married to that younger woman?).

They catch him. And then the movie goes to Fuckedupville. Because, as it turns out, his actions are not completely unjustified.

This movie goes to bad, bad places and has a lot of collateral damage.


A Finnish production that helpfully had English subtitles built in.

From the IMDB summary:

"Linda is a young psychology student, who wants to help his boyfriend Riku, who has fallen into a state of psychosis, by taking him to a mystical cave, where human subconscious and memories start to live their own life. Linda soon realises that she can't help Riku, before she has faced her own most painful traumas."

It's all 'Face the bad things you've done and the bad things that have happened to you' sort of stuff.

Red State

Easily Kevin Smith's best movie. It's not a comedy (although moments of black humor pop up throughout), but a very cynical, hateful movie about people completely out of control.

Who are the players?

A trio of teenagers going to get some MMMF action with an older woman they met on a sex personals site. A Westboro Baptist-cum-Branch Davidian religious cult that is kidnapping and executing homosexuals. The ATF.

... before the ending I was feeling sorry for just about everyone in this movie. Everyone was making bad choices, some made evil choices, and everything goes to hell.

The ending is strikingly unsatisfying from a cinematic/moral point of view, but it felt very true-to-life.

The credits are divided up between "Sex" "Religion" and "Politics" and I bet many fascinating conversations can be had about this movie. My opinion? (The "Sex" people all did nothing wrong but follow their crotches, with their level of deceit being far lesser evils than what anyone else was doing. "Religion" was scary as fuck but somehow this bunch of murderous bigots were brutally victimized by a far more evil and powerful government juggernaut.)

Michael Parks is scary good as the leader of the cult. John Goodman is great as the commander of the ATF unit. Everyone here did a great job... absolutely nothing about any of the performances rang false at all.

What a linuep. Three "people doing awful things, but for (to them) good reasons!" movies to really make you hate life... and a space lobster movie.

LotFP Debuts on the Big Screen!

A 40 second LotFP promo spot debuted before the showing of The Whisperer in Darkness tonight at Night Visions!

Fumbling around in the dark with a digital camera with the flash turned off, I only managed to get two lousy pics as evidence:

Probably would have been better shots if I wasn't taking them from my seat in the third row, but what the hell, right? There were 360 witnesses for that showing alone, I don't need that much photographic evidence. :)

The ad is running the rest of the weekend at the festival. We'll get the video posted sometime during the coming week. It shows off the game's nasty bits of art (horny medusa on a 20' tall screen!), since Night Visions has the audience that would most appreciate that sort of thing...

And in the Q&A with Whisperer director Sean Brannery, my question was "How did Sandy Peterson get involved with the movie?" Which meant the guy had to explain who Peterson is and talk about the Call of Cthulhu RPG before giving the answer (he provided funding to get the movie finished).

So what did you do today to expose tabletop RPGs to new audiences? :P

Friday, October 28, 2011

Night Visions Night 2

... not a great night. Can't talk about these movies without spoiling them to hell, so spoilers in white, highlight the text to see them. (great, what's tomorrow's post gimmick going to be?)

Another Earth

An exact duplicate of Earth (and the moon!) comes into view, and as time passes it's getting closer! Then we find out that (not only is this an exact duplicate as far as form and land masses etc, but that each and every person on Earth is also duplicated there!). But the movie's not about that, as the planet situation is merely background noise for what the movie's really about. The movie is about the tragedies and hardships of two people that I really can't give a fuck about because THERE'S A DUPLICATE EARTH THAT'S GETTING PRETTY HUMONGOUS IN THE SKY SO WHO CARES ABOUT PEOPLE AND THEIR NORMAL PROBLEMS???? And of course it ends just as it might get interesting for someone that would actually be interested in a movie that might be about a duplicate Earth closing in on us.


This was a mess of a movie. It wasn't about anything, just bad things happening to people out in the woods. In Israel. It was like a tragic and violent episode of Seinfeld in that way. (still haven't figured out why it's called Rabies)

Basically there's this killer that has set a traps in the woods. This snares some woman and her brother (with whom she's having an incestuous affair) is freaking out about how to get her out. Luckily for him a group of teenagers/young adults gets lost on their way to a tennis match... and the police are called, but boy oh boy are they not going to be helpful. And there's a survey team in the area too.

The funny thing? (the killer only kills a dog before he's knocked out. Everyone else kills one another, horribly, through cases of mistaken identity, because there's a fucking minefield in the woods, or because some of the people here are serious assholes and out in the woods situations are just going to get out of hand, right?)

whew. I couldn't tell if this was all supposed to be really dark humor or if it was all unintentionally rather silly.

Trick or Treat

80s "classic" that features cameos by Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne (so naturally they're featured on the DVD cover like they're the stars or something).

Basically, kid named Eddie Weinbauer (played by Family Ties' Skippy) is a lonely loser metalhead freak is always getting bullied and humiliated at school. He talks about killing himself but one thing keeps him going: Heavy metal, in particular his hero Sammi Curr, who had graduated from the same high school the kid goes to and went on to conquer the rock world.

Curr dies in a fire, but a local DJ takes pity on Weinbauer and gives him a studio master version of Curr's unreleased album... which turns out to be magic as Curr speaks to Eddie and helps him get his revenge...

There's a good movie in here somewhere. I thought it captured the "put upon high school loser" pretty well, the whole PMRC thing was played up in the movie, and the kid's taste in metal reflected what a hardcore metalhead would have listened to (the kid has Judas Priest and Raven posters up on his wall, and has Megadeth, Razor, and Impaler albums in his collection). The setup didn't seem like horseshit.

But it didn't quite work out for this movie. They get details like the record collection right, but there's the big red boom mic dipping into the scene so often it should have gotten a credit. The way one of the jock bullies shouts "WEINBAUER!" it sounds like he's yelling "WHITE POWER!" the whole movie. And the actual threat in the movie was lame and there really wasn't much suspense. (Rocker Sammi Curr comes back to life as an evil electric ghost that can materialize through sound equipment and shoots lightning out of his guitar all through playing his unreleased record backwards!)

Not very good.


Dario Argento's 1975 classic murder thriller! On the BIG SCREEN!

IMDB sums it up best: "A musician witnesses the murder of a famous psychic, and then teams up with a fiesty reporter to find the killer while evading attempts on their lives by the unseen killer bent on keeping a dark secret buried."

The one problem with this movie? The pace of the investigation is rather slow and when our heroes discover something, they really don't tell us, the audience, anything that would help us identify the killer.

It's pretty much a twist ending, with everything explained in hindsight, which is a bit much for a movie lasting over two hours.

Argento's movies are almost all a complete mess as far as the script, plot, and pacing (although the script and plot here are perfectly fine). Let's be honest here, his "masterpiece" Suspiria is completely incoherent - I think Tenebrae is his best movie. I wonder how things would have been different for him through the decades if he teamed with a real writer with rather than writing his films' scripts himself.

What Argento can do better than almost anyone is shoot a scene and make it a goddamn work of art. (oh, and hire Goblin to do the music)

And Argento displays a set of great big brass balls here. For all the problems this movie has, none of them matter. Argento (reveals the killer's face to us very early in the movie, and in such a way that it identifies the person as the killer. But you don't see it because Argento knows what to do with the camera and sets the scene up so that he's supremely confident that he can put the killer's face right in front of you on a 20' tall screen and you won't see it.

And he's right.

The reveal/playback at the end of the movie blew my mind completely apart when I first saw this movie years ago.)

Today's lineup is looking really good.

The Whisperer in Darkness (the movie I'm most looking forward to seeing in this whole festival), Revenge- A Love Story, Kevin Smith's Red State, and Morituris.

Plus hopefully something really cool and special for LotFP.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Night Visions Night 1

Hobo with a Shotgun is like an OSR kind of grindhouse movie. It's clearly made with love and an homage to just how wrong a lot of those 70s movies were, but at the same time it's a movie that can only be made with that 30-40 years of reflection. It's very self-aware, but in this case that makes the movie. It is the movie. It's a love-in to the genre.

You know, you watch those old movies and they're trying to make a hard-hitting and serious movie but what they've made is a movie which has edges so raw it freaks people out. This one goes for the hard-hitting and the freak-out but forgets about serious. For the most part it's a "mean streets in a corrupt city" thing, but it might be a wetter movie than Brain Dead.

This probably isn't a "good movie," but it's a grainy movie made in Technicolor and it's called Hobo with a Shotgun and whatever else you can say about the movie, it delivers everything it promises and then goes right over the line with it.

The Thing 2011 (spoilers, although these spoilers are summed up as "It really really is a prequel")

Not a bad movie, but there is absolutely nothing particularly good about it either. Carpenter's was a masterpiece in its own way.

It's also interesting that a decently-budgeted movie with studio support was allowed to be such an explicit prequel to a 30 year old movie that never did all that well (financially) to begin with. They take some pains to make sure everything ends up as MacReady and co. find it later on. Hell, as soon as you find out one of the Norwegians don't speak English, you know he survives because at the beginning of Carpenter's movie the Norwegian they shoot doesn't speak English! (the movie ends with the Norwegians in the helicopter chasing the dog...)

But instead of being a remake that either stands or falls as its own thing (or in comparison to the previous version... Carpenter's movie wasn't the first time the story was told after all!), this one is handicapped by the fact that it is a prequel. Stylistic differences become wrong (and I'm not talking film stock or anything overly ridiculous like that), and inconsistencies become not a different artistic or technical interpretation but wrong. And there were such stylistic differences and inconsistencies.

The monster is seen way too much, it acts way too movie-monstery and aggressive (no way this is the same creature in Carpenter's movie), and a lot of times the reactions of the people in this new movie just didn't ring true at all. They didn't sell the paranoia and fear of the people very well at all.

As a generic monster movie? C+, competent and not stupid but nothing spectacular at all. As something that should supposedly work for a back-to-back showing, D.

Dead Ball

uh... low budget over-the-top Japanese movie.

A preternaturally gifted criminal baseball player (he jumps into outer space to gain momentum for his fast ball) must join the prison baseball team as commanded by his Nazi warden. With deadly results.

(more money put into this poster than the rest of the movie...)

(It's that kind of movie)

(There are a lot of Nazis in this movie. And a Hitler shrine. But it's OK, they're the villains. And described as having "segregationist" policies, but that may just be a bad translation.)

(The St. Black Dahlia High School baseball team. Did I mention that this is supposedly about teenagers?)

(yes, they had a character whose entire purpose is to go "Hahaha, they're making fun of Avatar!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GRINDHOUSE SALE (25% off Most Items, 20€ Grindhouse Box) + Distribution Sponsorships


Coupon Code: GRIND11

25% off (almost) everything in the LotFP store!*

In celebration of the Night Visions** festival happening through the end of this week in Helsinki (a horror/sci fi/fantasy/cult movie festival... real grindhouse stuff!), LotFP presents the GRINDHOUSE SALE!

From now until the time I wake up Sunday (movies run all night Saturday until about 11am Sunday, who knows how long I'll last and how long I'll sleep afterwards!), items in the LotFP store are 25% off!

Note that the Grindhouse Edition box's regular price has been adjusted for this sale so that after applying the 25% discount it will cost just 20€!

* The Fine Print:

Minimum 10€ (pre-tax, pre-shipping) purchase before the discount kicks in. Normal VAT will apply to the discounted order and normal shipping charges will apply.

EU print orders will be shipped Second Class mail under this promotion.

All print orders made using the coupon code will mail out Monday October 31.

(Tome of Horrors is not included in this sale... to cover this, the price has been increased so that the 25% discount will reduce it to the previously listed price. It'll be returned to its regular price after the sale!)

** LotFP is in no way affiliated with Night Visions beyond buying tickets to attend, by the way

Questions? Suggestions? Email or stop by the LotFP Message Board!

Spread the word!


LotFP has regular retail distribution waiting for it in the US.

The problem? Due to recent postage increases it is unfeasible to use normal parcel shipping to supply the distributors with LotFP product. But bulk shipping requires large volume, and that means a considerable initial outlay...

RPG publishing, especially on LotFP's level, is not a cash-rich business. Tons of money in, tons of money out, not much stays. The choices are basically delay releasing any product for a few months just to get the past products into the regular retail channels (and you've waited long enough for Carcosa and Isle and all the rest without making you wait longer!)... or... raise the money to do it outside of the regular sales.

So here it is. Distribution Sponsorship.

Price: 81,30€ (+VAT for EU countries...) (61€ during the sale)

For that price you will not only receive a warm fuzzy feeling, but you will also get a 2 page (A4 size) adventure, one of a kind and custom-written just for you. At least one page will be the adventure text and description (in Times New Roman 12 point font), with the other being maps and charts (handmade). This will be mailed out within 31 days of your order or your money back. (if included with other items, this will ship separately; the rest of your order will not be delayed)

If you have something specific in mind for your current campaign, feel free to leave a one-line summary that includes things like level, climate, general theme (no use my giving you a pirate-on-the-high-seas adventure when your players are stuck in a desert!), etc.

We need 19 sponsors to completely cover these costs, or 25 if buying a sponsorship during the Grindhouse Sale.


10€ (+VAT for EU countries)

Members receive a 1€ discount off all print products in the LotFP store, forever!

You will also receive a Membership Card in the mail with your name and member number. This will be sent to you with your next order (of physical goods) and can be used to claim your discount in person at any convention that LotFP attends, as well as claiming your discount on LotFP products at selected conventions where LotFP isn't there!

If you want a different name on the membership card than the name you've used to register this store account, make that clear in the order comments please.

Your account must be manually upgraded for the discount to apply; if you order other items with the Gardening Society membership there will be no discounts applied. Order the membership alone, and wait for the email stating your account has been upgraded. Only then will your discount become active on your orders.

Carcosa and possibly Isle of the Unknown will have non-free limited edition extras, and Gardening Society members will get discounts on the extras as well on the books themselves.


Because of issues earlier in the year shipping to France, we'd instituted a 6,15€ flat fee to add tracking to those orders. This fee will now only apply to orders weighing 1500g or less, because packages heavier than that will be shipped as a parcel which includes a tracking number at no added cost.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LotFP Coloring Book

I'm thinking that I should do something for Free RPG Day next year.

That Monster Brains article on the D&D coloring book a couple days ago was cool. An LotFP coloring book sounds like a pretty rad idea.

Amos Orion Sterns is on board for the project.

Now to come up with some good ideas for pics...

Anyone know of a good printer in or somewhere near Fort Wayne, Indiana?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Christianity in Our Games!

The campaign I'm running now takes place in 1600 Europe. England, to be precise.

That means Christianity.

In some ways, that makes things easier. Religious characters can actually follow a religion. Even if players are working from anachronistic ignorance, there still is a basis to their religion and the expectations of how a religious character would act and restrictions and responsibilities they would have.

If working from entirely fictitious religions and gods (especially the dreaded homebrew!), it's harder to internalize such things and they tend to go the way of encumbrance tracking and recording how much food you have left on your great quest.

One problem I ran into right quick by using Christianity... "So, ah, what about all these Cleric scrolls in this old (Roman) dungeon then? Why can Cleric PCs use them? And if they can't, when the hell are Clerics really going to find scrolls?"

(my answer? "The scrolls are in Latin! Now stop thinking about it!")

Even in the classic D&D setup, these scrolls make no sense, but are more easily handwaved. "Why can a Cleric of St. Cuthbert use that scroll he just found in the drow city in the temple dedicated to the really evil spider goddess, huh?" Because, ahhh, some bullshit D&D fantasy reason about how the cosmos works, that's why!

(MU scrolls make perfect sense... every MU's style is unique, but hey, Read Magic!)

When using real-world religions, that gets a little tougher to explain. If the PCs are looting/exploring some heretofore unknown Egyptian pyramid, it's not unreasonable

(INTERRUPTION: My wife would like it announced that she likes ice cream with crunchy oat bits and syrup)

... it's not unreasonable to assume that there would be Cleric scrolls in there. The PCs in such a setting are going to be Christians, Muslims, Jewish, Hindu, or whatever.

Should the Clerics in the party be able to read and use these ancient Egyptian scrolls? Why? If you handwave it, aren't you basically saying that the religions are all merely different denominations of the same True Faith in your campaign?

If they can't use them, then aren't you basically hamstringing Clerics (especially if using an old D&D edition that doesn't even give Clerics spells until 2nd level) in a way that the whole class and ability structure didn't have in mind? (be real, if doing the regular exploration thing it's rarely going to be the PCs' own religious artifacts they'll be finding)

(and if you're not even using our own Earth in your campaign, how do you even use real-world religions in it? I mean, one can reasonably conclude that early D&D Clerics were implicitly Christian, but one can also reasonably conclude that the implied setting in early D&D wasn't our world...)

ay ay ay. This stuff's a headache before even worrying about offending anyone by gamifying their religion.

Kenneth Hite to Contribute to The Monolith from beyond Space and Time

Just confirmed today.

"by James Edward Raggi IV with Kenneth Hite" sounds pretty good, don't you think?

Friday, October 14, 2011

LotFP: Made of Lies!

So Weird Fantasy Role-Playing is being discussed on the Forge (here!).

I feel like I should say something, but I don't speak Forguguese. So I'll comment here so I don't derail their conversation over there. (I post this here because much more people actually read the blog, but any actual discussion about my post here should probably take place on the LotFP forum).

First of all, I do not understand the connection between "consistent moral underpinning" and "horror." Nor do I understand how "ironic and cynical relativism" is "antithetical to straight-up gritty weird historical horror."

My mind keeps twisting towards Scream-esque "rules of horror," and thus shit-ass awful formulaic horror movies, when I try to think those through.

But I think my difficulty in understanding Baker comes from a fundamental conflict between game philosophies.

"What is this game about?" If the game strongly defines this for you, it's not a good RPG due to being too narrow in focus. "What do we do?" should be defined by the adventure or environment (and so it's the Ref who decides by either creating or choosing the adventures or placing the elements of a sandbox), not the game.

(how's that for a deciding "old school/new school" definition?)

(and yeah, never was a big fan of Pendragon for this reason)

LotFP campaigns could be about witch hunters whose terrorizing of the countryside is simply collateral damage in their quest to stamp out evil, it could be about those seeking knowledge and riches in order to gain influence and better society, it could be about some greedy fucks looking for gold, or it could be about honest-to-gosh do-gooders helping people and smashing evil.

But if the Ref and the players have different expectations, it could get interesting. If the players create a bunch of terrorizing witch hunters and the Ref presents adventures for do-gooders helping people, I think that's going to be one hell of a rip-roaring game provided everyone runs with it instead of running away from it.

James Nostack had an interesting comment: "The rules of the game directly reward getting rich and, if necessary, killing whoever gets in your way... These are shitty moral values if taken seriously: in the real world, they would be the values of a psychopath."

One frequent criticism I get is that my game needs some sort of insanity rules, because of course any horror game worth its salt requires them, right? I figure that PCs in RPGs are pretty much insane by definition, especially in the Lovecraft mold of their insanity being a result of seeing more of the true nature of the world than most people. When it's commonplace for a group of characters to all get one room at an inn in a peaceful countryside, and take turns keeping watch in that room... or insisting on wearing armor and weapons in town no matter what... or they're already completely crazy, no mechanic required. Adding rules for insanity to tell players how their character should behave strangely is completely redundant.

I do want to note that I consider "Weird Fantasy" to simply be a euphemism for "horror," and really the difference between "horror" and your favorite genre is simply one of presentation.

(for example, because of all the gore and sometimes raw violence on display, I often have trouble thinking of mystery shows like NCIS, the Las Vegas CSI, Silent Witness, and Waking the Dead as not-horror because of the presentation. I think it's why I like them more than the Poirot/Marple/Lewis/Frost softer-edged style mysteries)

(I digress again: They can't win when showing the autopsies in these shows. Silent Witness has no problem showing nude bodies on the autopsy table. My wife noted during one scene that the actress must have been cold on the set because of the goosebumps and erect nipples the body had while the pathologist actors are all stone-faced talking about the contents of her stomach or some such.

My reaction? "um, dear... why are you looking at a cadaver's tits? That's pretty sick."

But on NCIS, they can't show the naughty bits, which is an issue because just about every episode features a scene about the autopsy. Sometimes they just have bright light covering up the nads. But in one episode I saw last week they covered up a girl's nipples with a flap of skin from the y-cut that opened up the torso.

US broadcast standards: You can see the mutilated insides of a human being in detail... but no female nipples.)

And my view about the one of the original poster's games: I think I view Dogs in the Vineyard differently than its author. I see everything about The Faith and the setting given in the book and the rules for making towns to be pure flavor to push the players' buttons. The game seems to me (rather plainly so) to be about Player vs Player conflict, so you need to set that up in a group that's supposedly working together. In my experience a united party just romps through that game, and PvP conflict usually happens when one player takes the setting and fluff seriously and another uses their real-life sense of right and wrong to guide their decisions.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Toybox Style Play

I think of all the possible adventure design approaches that are out there, I like the Toybox the most.

What is a Toybox?

It's giving players lots of stuff to play with in an adventure. You don't fight it, you don't loot it, you probably don't talk to it, and it probably has little to do with mechanics or any stat on a character sheet. It's interaction with the environment on a player level.

The absolute classic example?

B1, In Search of the Unknown. The Room of Pools and Cavern of the Mystical Stone are the most obvious examples of the Toybox concept, but the descriptions of the four books in the closet, the long description of the bat cavern, even the various storerooms having their contents cataloged down to the number of stone blocks shows that the players are supposed to care and perhaps do stuff with all of it.

Just inside the entrance is the aftermath of a battle. That could have easily been glossed over to give the "oh look, a battle was here, look at the bodies!" effect. But no, the bodies are all described in a way that allows the PCS to play CSI and puzzle out a bit of what happened.


Other classic adventures which feature a heavy Toybox element are the Tomb of Horrors, White Plume Mountain, and Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

For OSR releases, I think one reason why I promote and adore Cursed Chateau and Spire of Iron and Crystal so much is for the Toybox aspects of those adventures. Cursed Chateau is even a meta-Toybox as even if a room is just "oh, a bunch of monsters here" it plays into a greater scheme that the players have to figure out and then master to succeed.

My own adventures are very Toybox-oriented. Tower of the Stargazer, The Grinding Gear, and Hammers of the God are pretty much Toyboxes front to back. Death Frost Doom has a heavy Toybox factor, even if there are other things that overshadow it. In fact, these days I consider the adventures without a heavy Toybox element (Weird New World, No Dignity in Death) as being my weaker efforts, but even so there are toys to play with in each of those.

Long live the Toybox!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hey, New Yorkers...

I'm still on the mailing lists of several publicity firms that promote metal bands and labels... and just received this (the movie's playing at Nightvisions in Helsinki later this month as well... can you guess why I'm posting this here?):

Wild Eye Announces Rare 35mm Screening Of Trick Or Treat In Brooklyn!

This Halloween, Wild Eye invites you to bang your head against the movie screen with a rare, 35mm screening of 1986's heavy metal classic Trick Or Treat plus a slash n’ grind trailer show!

Prepare to get caught in a 35mm mosh pit as Wild Eye Releasing presents The Heavy Metal Horror Show! Appearing at Brooklyn's own Nitehawk Cinema for two nights only: Friday, October 21st and Saturday, October 22nd, starting at Midnight.

Headlining the bill is the 1986 head banging horror classic, Trick Or Treat, directed by Charles Martin Smith. Experience the mysterious death and backwards record-induced return of rock n' roll superstar Sammi Curr (Tony Fields) as he haunts his biggest fan Skippy, er, we mean Eddie (Mark Price). Watch as Curr shreds till everyone on screen is literally dead, with special guest appearances by Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons.

And as if that isn't enough to satiate your sick minds, make sure to show up early to catch opening act The Ghost Of The New York Grindhouse Trailer Show performing a full hour of spine tingling horror and exploitation trailers from the '60s and '70s that will raise your hair, but without that can of Aquanet.

So cancel your Dungeons & Dragons game and raise your devil-horns as we bring heavy metal to the silver screen in its purest form, with the entire evening's events being screened from original 35mm prints and the volume turned up to 11.

Avoid price-gouging scalpers and get your tickets now! Advance tickets are available at the Nitehawk Cinema box office and at

Saw This on the Intertoobs

Fast Blast Energy Drain

Some monsters have "energy drain." Traditionally, that means they drain experience levels.

That's... dumb. Lots of bookkeeping, Power disparities within a party Abilities lost and lots of time is spent just getting back to where a character was.

Better idea: Energy Drain drains XP off a character.

How much? HD x 1000 XP? HD x d1000 XP? Something along those lines.

Just subtract XP from the character's current total. It can go negative.

The character never actually loses any levels though. Your 10th level character could be reduced to -10,000XP by the vicious undead surprise attack and it's still going to be a 10th level character.

It's just going to take that much longer to ever advance to 11th level. Still a massive pain in the ass, still a huge consequence for PCs, but only the absolute minimum bookkeeping is needed and nobody's going to have their mid- or high-level character commit suicide just because it'll take longer to reach the next level. (low level characters are screwed, but who cares about the fate of a low level character?)

Characters die and become the sort of undead that drained them when they are actually killed by hp damage, not by the experience drain.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fast Blast Movement Rates

("Fast Blast" = "I had an idea but haven't thought it all the way through yet"... and I've been listening to Coast to Coast AM again lately...)

120' movement per turn is ridiculously slow, right? Even if you do the double move described in some versions of the game (in which case why not just say movement rate 240'?). So how to explain it?

Keep in mind that underground, it's dark. Available light sources don't really illuminate very well. Watch the Descent movies, or go walk around a cave (or dark woods) with a lantern.

There is no casual movement in dark, unfamiliar, hostile environments. Period.

Exploration Movement (movement rate per 10 minute turn)
  • Allows mapping with "good enough for government work" measurements given.
  • Allows automatic spotting of obvious traps (open pits, etc).
  • Nonobvious but exposed traps (tripwires) are only triggered if the party is surprised (roll as if it's an encounter) by them.
  • Normal chances of surprise in an encounter

Walking Movement (movement rate per minute)
  • No measurements given for mapping
  • Obvious traps are not noticed if they surprise the party
  • Nonobvious traps are automatically triggered
  • Double chances of surprise in an encounter

Running Movement (movement rate per round)
  • Automatically trigger all traps in the way
  • Automatically surprised in an encounter
  • No mapping, and the Ref doesn't even have to tell you about passages or doors you pass... in fact, if in a totally unfamiliar area, save vs Paralyzation (every round?) or run into a wall or trip or otherwise have your nose come into swift contact with a hard surface.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fast Blast Magic Idea

What if there were no spell levels? Every spell is level 1 and scales in power with the level of the caster, much like Magic Missile and Cure Light Wounds is handled in LotFP.


What if the "level 1" is scaled to the level the caster is when the spell is learned?

For example, if a caster learns Magic Missile at 1st level, when the caster is 5th level he casts MM at the 5th level of power.

If the caster learns Magic Missile at 5th level, it would still be cast as a first level spell. When the caster reaches 6th level, the MM would be cast at the 2nd level of power.

(a spell sheet would need to be done to keep track of relative power level...)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Suddenly, We Have a Deadline

I need to get things to the printer on Nov 7 in order for them to be out this year.

The plan is to get Carcosa and Isle to the printer (these have taken long enough...!), have them back around the first of December and ready to order and ship.

Carcosa will be 288 pages, deluxe hardcover (foil embossing on the cover, about 40 pages of art inside), going to be 3cm thick, looking at 30€-32,50€ on the price for these.

Isle of the Unknown will be a 128 page hardcover, full color throughout, tons of art. Looking at 20€ - 25€ for the price here depending on how we work some things.

Once the books are off to the printer I can concentrate on showing real previews that'll show some content and how the presentation will look.

Working on giving both limited edition (250) extras. The idea for Carcosa is a cloth map and a double-sided poster, both full color. Cloth map for the Isle, looking into other extras for that as well. Don't think I can offer the cloth maps for FREE, but we'll see closer to the time.

I do believe things will shake out so that there is the same shipping cost for ordering both as there would be for just ordering Carcosa (no difference between the price for a 501g shipment and a 999g shipment in the Finnish postal system)... but I won't know for sure until they return from the printer so no pre-orders... they go on sale when they arrive.

Looks like Monolith and then hopefully a flood of smaller (and cheaper!) adventure stuff for 2012. The only big-ticket item I have on the schedule right now for 2012 is Exquisite Corpses - Poag is still working on it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tome of Horrors Complete + Other Frog God items up now in the store!

The Store.

The Tome of Horrors Complete is a HUGE FRICKIN BOOK. 671 pages (+ ads that I guess fill out the signature), just about 4cm thick. The usual pricing scheme had to be thrown out due to the cost of getting them over here, but EU customers should still do a bit better than ordering direct from the US.

I also now have in stock the following modules: Beyond the Black Water, Death in the Painted Canyons, Spire of Iron and Crystal (which is, despite the new cover, still one of the absolute best adventures to be published these last few years, highest recommendations), Splinters of Faith 9, Splinters of Faith 10.

Plus a good deal of other OSR stuff is still in stock so buy it all. I have books going to print this month so cash in hand would rock. :D

These are all Swords & Wizardry versions.

Remember that Gardening Society members get 1€ off all print products in the store, and 2€ off on the Tome of Horrors.

All prices include shipping for orders within the EU (only exception is France) but do not list VAT until you're logged in and an item has been added to the cart.

Because I have to get some boxes to ship them, Tome orders won't ship out until Monday. If you're in the Eurozone and want to pay by bank transfer (which I greater prefer, if that matters to you) you won't lose any time before receiving it if you order today. Placing the order reserves a copy for you at the time you place the order.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol

Just picked up the first two collections today.

(with the times, that's me)


Why didn't anyone tell me?

I see some... common ground here.

I think The Monolith from beyond Space and Time would be a fine and not out of place Doom Patrol adventure. And I think they'd have a "fun" time down in Pembrooktonshire.

What the Hell, Frog God?

I try to be easy to get along with these days, especially with my fellow publishers with whom I have a business relationship (in this case a sales outlet for another publisher's goods). There are rants and raves that some people in this scene deserve, but I'd rather sit at the adult table for the time being. And complaining about what other people do with their releases is silly, since I can just show my way with my own releases, right?

But sometimes I see something so dumb I just can't keep my mouth shut.

The good news about Frog God Games is that they continue to pump out material at an impressive rate. Swords & Wizardry is well supported and plenty of their stuff gets a consensus thumbs up, so they're not flooding the market with crap.

I have 10 copies of the S&W version of the
Tome of Horrors on their way along with 5 of their other new releases, for you Europeans who want a bit better deal on shipping, by the way.

The bad news is that one of those new releases is the new printing of Matt Finch's The Spire of Iron and Crystal. The module is awesome, and in fact is one of exactly two modules (the other being Maliszewski's Cursed Chateau) from this OSR thing that I tell people that I wished I'd written and/or published myself. I can't say enough about how awesome it is.

Why is that the bad news? Well...

2009, self-published:

2011, published by Frog God Games:

(edit, for clarity, here's a larger image of the One Night Stands cover on another module)

So the adventure doesn't even get its own cover, it gets the embarrassing One Night Stands naughty joke cover that's on the whole series.

Great Mullen art that was directly related to the module substituted for art that doesn't have a damn thing to do with the module it covers.

Is there any excuse?

Hands up if you think a modern day classic has just been downright defaced.

*raises hand*

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What Blogs Am I Missing?

I added a few yesterday, but I haven't updated the blog list for quite some time.

What I'm looking for (any one of these will qualify a blog, doesn't need to be all of them!):

Pre 1985 D&D
The OSR Games (OSRIC, LL, S&W, LotFP, etc)
15th-17th century historical focus
Weird Tales stuff (pre 1950s stuff)
Old and/or Obscure Horror (art/movie/story)

What I'm not looking for:

2e+ D&D
White Wolf
Actual Play reports

So what blogs should I check out and hopefully add to the blog roll?

Jinxing Upcoming Projects

Things currently in production and their status:

Carcosa Waiting to approve sketches of two pieces (including the cover) and it's just waiting for the finished art to roll in, a little bit of work to do on the maps, and from their it's all typographical tightening.

Isle of the Unknown "Let's order 125 pieces of art!" sounds like a great idea until you realize the burden you've placed on the layout guy to make it all fit. There's a lesson here... layout first, then get art based on that. It might take a bit to get it right, but all the prelim formats look gorgeous. This will be the prettiest book yet to come out of the OSR, which totally fits the color and atmosphere that Geoffrey put into the writing. Frankly putting another 125 pieces of art into the book would have been cool because there's so much to see on the island and I like it being made more real.

The Monolith from beyond Space and Time Announcements about this coming soon. Cover's done, my writing barring the intro matter is done, none of the interior art though.

Out by the end of the year on all these though. (it's October already? Yikes...)

Working On:

The Dancing Queen in Yellow One of those ideas where I have a set-piece ending and am working backwards on it so it can make sense and not be a complete railroad. City adventures are difficult to do that way, but I think "People are plotting, what are you going to do about it?" style adventures can't be open exploration sorts of things because the PCs are reacting. But even plotted adventures need concrete decision points where player decisions changes the flow of the adventure so anticipating a decent number of "if then else" branches (let alone going back and dealing with what people do to it in actual play!) is a bit of work.

Death Ferox Doom For some reason this keeps getting pushed back in favor of other things. It suffers from the Dancing Queen in Yellow problem: It's big and I'm sure I can do something else faster so I try to do that instead. The hang-up at this point? The native tribes, how they interact with the PCs, and their relationships to each other. I bet everyone will concentrate on the pyramid in play, but to me the setting is defined by the people in it and why the act certain ways and how that can complicate exploration in the area. If this winds up just being a cool dungeon crawl with a weakly defined surrounding wilderness I'll consider the project a failure.

Death Sparkle Doom While digging through my archives (read: folders of old notes on the shelf) I came across a simple little adventure all about colors. It needs rejiggering (I'm not going to do something where everything relates to the chromatic dragons these days) but it's a location based ancient static environment so making it another lost Duvan'Ku thing isn't a big leap. It's been over two years since Death Frost Doom so if two Duvan'Ku things appear in 2012 I'm hardly beating the idea into the ground. And the presentation I have in mind would be rather unique... said Sheppard when asking for a price quote on a cover concept: "Holy crap I think I just threw up in my mouth a little (In a good way, ha) ;)"

Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill It's still on the list. The part I'm most excited about these days is the part I'm positive no player will ever discover in the adventure. The issue here is twofold: It's full of D&D-isms that I no longer use and those parts are rather central so they need to be changed (you can get a goblin tribe living in a cave from anyone, so you won't get that from me), but changing them makes certain other things not make sense so that all needs to be reconciled. Plus I have this A3 sized Ramsey Dow map that's awesome and must be used but how am I going to fit that into a book?

Shot and Sorcery An Early Modern era sourcebook with rules for everything from firearms to finance and mass combat. Intimidating because I'm looking at XRP's Magical Medieval Society books as a standard for this and there's so much to learn to do it right. I'm buying some weird books to use as research material for this. I've got the firearms rules and a mass combat sketch so far but that's about it.

The Book of Satanic Witchcraft The Malleus Maleficarum is not an easy book to get through (I have the Christopher S. Mackay translation) but I am convinced that it can be turned into a very kickass game supplement (I also have books on the Spanish and Italian Inquisitions that would be part of this project). Might be folded into Shot and Sorcery... Still in the "trudging through the research material" phase on this.

The License I've never tried licensing IP before, don't know if it will happen, and I don't know if my general cluelessness in these matters will be the thing to prevent it from happening. "Your movie is cool and I'd like to use this thing in an adventure I'm doing" is my motivation, not releasing some branded game or supplement or anything. But licenses are only granted for limited times so if this goes through it goes to the immediate top of the pile after the current projects are off to press.


Zak Stuff Every so often Zak has ideas for another book, and the stuff he posts on his blog all the time is smart and Vornheim's done so well that whenever he decides something is a go I think I'm up for it.

Submissions I've gotten one draft so far and several more cool pitches that I hope turn into drafts. I hope to present some cool adventures for you from unique talent in the new year.

Phew. Now to get the lead out of my ass and push some of this out the door!