A few things I’ve learnt about LOTFP low-level dungeon crawling

As you may or may not be aware, I’m currently running a Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign called Rose of Westhaven, the aim of the campaign was to get me some more experience at running OSR and also to do a game where old-school dungeon-crawling was a big part of it. Currently we’ve had a few sessions to establish a bit about the world background (you can find out more here in the player handout if you’re interested) and a couple of sessions ago the discovery of a corrupted and partially ruined Elven Temple lead to the characters encountering their first larger dungeon.

I’ve had great fun running the game, my players seem to be enjoying it and I’ve already learnt the following about low-level dungeon-crawling in LOTFP:

  • Low-level characters are extremely fragile, if even a basic human antagonist gets a lucky hit in during combat then someone is going down.
  • Healing is extremely hard to come by necessitating a lot of resting.
  • The importance of the Cleric cannot be overstated, that single cure light wounds spell can allow the party to continue for far longer than they otherwise might.
  • Having a 10′ pole to check for traps, along with lanterns and ample supplies of oil is an absolute necessity.
  • As a GM tracking how many turns the characters lanterns are going to be burning for (and knocking a turn off about every minute when they’re not in combat rounds) is actually perversely enjoyable.
  • Having people track rations and stuff like is far more important in a dungeon environment where the players can’t just pop into town and re-supply.

3 thoughts on “A few things I’ve learnt about LOTFP low-level dungeon crawling”

  1. I concur with your findings on resource management. I have had players who treated this like some kind of game and had their character’s suffer for it and I’ve had players who took preparation and resource management very seriously and avoid problems. That and it adds an element of urgency to any game when the players aren’t quite half way to their destination but are already over half way through their food.

    Sure, lots of people will say “It’s just a Fantasy game” but that is just lazy GMing and playing. Players should never be in a position where they can be lackadaisical about their food, water, ammunition, or even something as mundane as lamp oil. And if the characters re close enough to replenish their supplies, make them do just that. Make them buy a dozen arrows to top up their quiver. Make them refill their waterskins from safe water sources (or purify the water from possibly unsafe sources).

  2. I used to disdain things like encumbrance, tracking rations and torches, and slow healing. “It gets in the way of the adventure!” I felt this way for years.
    Then a couple years ago I got to play in an old-fashioned tough-as-nails LotFP/Carcosa game, and I did a total 180. The threat of starvation, of getting lost in the dark, of having to choose movement speed over treasure… it added a whole new survival horror element to game that was absolutely thrilling.

  3. “Compass? Of course we brought a compass! You’ve got a compass haven’t you Gorlad?… Vicha?… Sir Garvan?…Uh Oh!”

    Been there, done that.

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