LOTFP 2E Playtest Rules

My First Thoughts

Okay, so you may or may not be aware–based on whether or not you’ve read Eldritch Cock James Edward Raggi IV’s FreeRPG supplement for Lamentations of the Flame Princess–that there is a second edition of LotFP in the works for some date in the distant future. The Eldritch Cock supplement features two pages of playtest rules that are currently under consideration for inclusion in a 2E of my current favourite OSR system.

Readers are invited to submit their feedback so I thought that I’d put mine into a blog article.

Aims of the New Rules

According to the document the aims of the new rules are as follows:

…keep things fresh and accentuate how LotFP is different from other superficially similar games without creating an edition war.

The process of play should remain the same…

Backwards compatability is a must…

Ability Scores

The six perennial D&D attributes are still there and, essentially, the player rolls 3D6 for each ability in turn and receives modifiers based on their score as per the standard LotFP and other OSR-style games. The idea seems to be that each Ability Score should have more of an impact on the game than previously.

How Much do we Need Ability Scores to Affect the Game?

It’s no great secret that in many OSR games your stats only have a very minor effect on the game, perhaps boosting your attack modifier a little, maybe giving you the odd additional Hit Point here and there or–if you’re using a system like LotFP that incorporates skills–perhaps giving you the odd skill boost. I’ve never really seen this as a problem in OSR games because many of the games focus on the “rulings over rules” style that is often discussed in this style of gaming.

For those of you not familiar with it, “rulings over rules” refers to an ethos of not having a specific rule for every possible situation but having a simple flexible set of rules that are almost purposefully vague in some areas, allowing the common-sense of the GM and their group to prevail when it comes to interpreting how to adjudicate situations.

So how do the new rules give a bit more bite to Attribute Scores?

  • Charisma: Determines the number of D6 that you roll for your magical based Saving Throws (there only seem to be two types of Saving Throw in the new ruleset, magical and non-magical), the better your score, the more D6s you roll. When you make a Saving Throw, you roll your dice and count how many 6s you’ve rolled, if you get one 6 then you have achieved a partially successful save, if you get two or more 6s then you have made your Save successful. No 6s is a failure.
  • Constitution: Determines the dice type that you roll for Hit Points, that’s right, your HP is no longer based on your class but on an Attribute, ranging from D4s up to D12s (if you’re lucky enough to have a CON of 17-18).
  • Dexterity: This Attribute determines what dice type you roll for Initiative.
  • Intelligence: Determines how many Skill Points you begin with. Although the focus of LotFP’s simple skill system has always been the Specialist Class, with everyone else having low or limited ranks in the various game skills, in these new rules your non-Specialist character at least gets a few points to spread around between the various skills.
  • Strength: Determines how many items equal 1 Encumbrance Point. The way encumbrance works in LotFP is that a certain number of items equals an encumbrance point, you work out how many encumbrance points you are carrying and this affects your movement and abilities in certain situations. Previously this number was set, in the new rules however, the higher your Strength score, the more items you will be able to carry.
  • Wisdom: Works in a similar way to Charisma but for the purposes of non-magical Saving Throws.

I quite like the idea of the Attribute Scores having more of an impact on the game, especially when–as seems to be the case here–they do so without adding a great deal of unnecessary complexity to the game. Rolling a different dice or calculating encumbrance in a slightly different way doesn’t (in my opinion) add additional complexity, nor can I see how it would slow down the game much.

Character Classes & Gaining Levels

Only the following classes exist in the new rules:

  • Fighter
  • Magic-user
  • Specialist (this is the LotFP version of the Thief Class, sort of…)

That’s right, only three classes, the Cleric and the three demihuman classes (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) have been axed in the new edition, the demihumans because apprently “this aint Tolkien” and the Cleric because “the existence of divine power defines the cosmology of an individual campaign that is best left to the Referee, not a game publisher”. These two viewpoints seem a bit of a contradiction in terms, on one hand telling you that the game definitely does not involve demihumans and putting a stern foot down, whilst on the other hand saying that it doesn’t want to impose it’s viewpoint, allowing the GM the freedom to do or do not as they see fit.

Perhaps this is the author representing the fundamental differences between everything having a Lawful plan which all things must bend towards and the churning, bubbling froth of chaos that tears down walls and allows ultimate freedom (to paraphrase the alignment descriptions from the LotFP corebook), but it must be remembered that these are only potential playtest rules. Although I remember hearing ages ago (before ever reading Eldritch Cock) that Raggi wanted to get rid of Clerics at some point and his opinion on demihumans is well known so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the author is sharpening his axe for them as well.

I suspect that this is going to divide the audience somewhat, I certainly know that–preparing for the game I’m planning to start soon–when I put it to the players they were quite keen to keep the demihumans and the Clerics. I can certainly see why this is the case, although their exclusion wouldn’t bother me terribly, they have been part of D&D and OSR games for many, many years. That said, it’s not terribly difficult to house-rule those classes to work in the new rules, I suspect the only difficulty–assuming you’re concerned with it–is that the demihumans (particularly the Elves) tended to be balanced by requiring more XP to level-up. In the new system it takes a flat 2,500XP to reach second level and double the xp required for each subsequent level.

Fighters get to roll their HP dice twice and pick the highest results at first level where the others get to roll once, giving the Fighter clear advantage when it comes to potential HP totals at first level, which makes sense. When characters advance in level they roll their new number of Hit Dice and–if the total is higher than their existing number of Hit Points–they up their total to the new number, otherwise it remains the same. I’ve encountered this rule before in the OSR sci-fi game Star Without Number written by Kevin Crawford and am a huge fan of it, since the number of dice you roll increases with each level the tendency is for your total HP to creep steadily up, however it isn’t guaranteed at each level and slows down the onset of superhero syndrome, where the PCs have enough HP to shrug injuries that would fell lesser men.

Attack Bonuses

Essentially in the game there are now four categories of combat bonus:

  • Melee
  • Firearms
  • Ranged
  • Guard

Fighters gain +2 in each of these categories at first level and +1 in each category per level, whereas other character classes get +1 in Firearms and +1 in one of the other categories (chosen randomly); the higher combat proficiency of the Fighter Class makes sense, however the emphasis on Firearms for the other classes is a little confusing and may hint at a great involvement for firearms in this edition. Previously they were jammed at the back as an appendix, I love these rules to bits and wouldn’t run LotFP without using blackpowder firearms, but I’m guessing that these rules are going to be bought more centre-stage in the 2E of LotFP.

Like a lot of rules in this, and other, OSR systems there are a lot of random elements in this (rolling your Attributes, randomly determining where attack bonuses go, etc), some people may love this, others no so much. Again though it’s not difficult to allow people to jiggle their Attribute scores around and allow them to pick which attack category they get a bonus in.

Guarding

Guarding is an interesting idea and replaces the Parry rules from the current edition of LotFP, essentially when a person chooses to Guard, they gain an AC bonus equal to their level plus their Guard rating. I like this, it’s nice and simple and gives all the Classes a way to fight defensively if they want to; however the second paragraph talks about choosing to Guard out of Initiative order and only getting half the level rounded up, plus their Guard rating, this seems unnecessary and I’m not sure it would add a lot to a game. Personally I’m not a fan of Initiative interrupts since I think that they make combats lengthier and clunkier, but it’s not exactly difficult to omit this bit.

Holding an Action

These rules allow a character to hold an action until an enemy takes a particular action then interrupt (with various penalties). As you can see above, I’m not a fan of turn interrupts, but I’d be interested to see if and how this actually works in a combat.

Weapon Damage

All weapons now do D8 damage, armour counts double against Minor and Small Weapons and half against Great Weapons and Polearms. This is interesting and seems to jibe in well with the existing weapon categories, sticking closely to the 2E rule-set’s guideline of “reverse compatibility”, although I’m not sure how it would work on Ranged Weapons and Firearms since they are not currently grouped into the same abstract categories.

In my own upcoming game I’ve chosen to ignore this rule and stick with the 1E weapon damages and rules.

Skills

The next section of the playtest rules focusses on LotFP’s simple skill system; previously Skill tests were determined by rolling a D6 and trying to get equal to or below your score, in the playtest rules you roll a D6, add your skill rank and are attempting to score a 6 or above to be successful. Each skill starts at a +0 bonus with characters receiving a +3 and a +2 bonus allocated randomly to two skills. Characters get bonus skill points (or lose them) based on their Intelligence score, Specialists get four +1s to allocate to skills of their choice and a further +2 points at every level thereafter.

There are also some additional Skills added:

  • Leadership: This skill allows you to modifer hireling morale checks, a successful Skill Check providing a +2 bonus to a morale check and a failed roll giving a -2 penalty.
  • Luck: Grants the player a number of re-rolls equal to their ranks in the skill per session.
  • Medicine: Allows you to double the effects of healing naturally, although a failed roll on the seriously injured can result in serious consequences. Personally I find this a bit limp, I’d just have a successful roll heal D4 + the ranks in the skill or something similar, but I can see why the author doesn’t want this to become a super-skill that negates the danger of taking damage.
  • Seamanship: There’s very little description to this skill beyond that it is going to be some sort of Bushcraft on the High Seas style skill, there are going to be some forthcoming rules related to this and I wouldn’t be surprised to sea them take a more central role given the authors obvious fondness for naval exploits (we can see this with how much coverage they get in the original LotFP rulebook).

Saving Throws

This section was a little confusing, we’ve already been told that the number of dice rolled for Magic and Non-Magic Saving Throws are adjudicated by various Attribute Scores, given that the difficulty of Saving Throws is no longer based on rolling above a number but on how many 6s you roll, it seems as though their isn’t much point in the current Saving Throw classes, you really only need two (Magic and Non-Magic). Some parts of the playtest rules seem to imply this, whilst others make reference to the previous Saving Throw categories from 1E LotFP, so I’m not sure where the author is going with this, however I suspect it’ll get straightened out in the future.

So, what do I think?

I think that the rules are very interesting, some (like the Attribute, Skill and Combat Rules) I’m a big fan of, whereas others (such as Holding an Action and Weapon Damage) I’m not so fond of. For my own upcoming game we’ve made a few tweaks and ignored the Weapon Damage rules, I’ve produced a small character generation guidebook incorporating the new rules that we’re going to be using and look forward to trying them out.

Shadows of the Century Beta Playtest – Pitch Session

I was luckily enough to picked to take part in the Shadows of the Century Beta playtest by Evil Hat Productions, looks like a real cool game, I’ve just run the Pitch Session (or session zero) for my face-to-face group; obviously I can’t give anything away about the mechanics at this stage but thought I’d let you know about some of the crazy PCs and NPCs we’ve ended up with.

Please note: The version of the game that I’m currently using is a beta playtest version and may change before the final version is released.


Player Characters

A sorceror for hire who was once part of a cult dedicated to safely harnessing portals to another dimension in search of otherworldly wisdom, the sorceror eventually came to believe that the cult hierarchy were using the portals for evil ends and joined our band of heroes, wanting to put right the damage she had caused.

One-man army. An ex-special forces soldier, scarred and injured in the line of duty, he got out of the military and now spends his time as a soldier of fortune trying to help those who can’t help themselves.

The science experiment gone wrong. Originally worked for Hank Scorpio’s organisation but left after a science experiment left her changed and with an almost superhuman ability to communicate with machines, she took the pay-off she received from Scorpio and hopes to use it and her new abilities to help save the world from itself.

Non-player Characters

Joey the Snitch always sniffs all the time as though he has a permanent cold and is very twitchy, often jumping at his own shadow.

The Finger-smith. A legendary thief wanted in 6 countries whose real identity is unknown.

The Dandy. A rich man who sponsors various hero groups, he is willing to pay extravagant amounts of money to have personalised maids and butlers, but insists on washing his own socks.

Granite got his nickname as a child whilst living with his formidable grandmother, he now works as a leg-breaker for the cult.

General Payne is a semi-retired military man who has not seen action for several years and is rumoured to have a glass jaw.

Elizabeth Shadow is an opium runner who is noted for her outré fashion sense, although she refuses to wear furs.

Ed “bro” James the man-mountain enjoys listening to Culture Club and watching the Wizard of Oz.

Daniel Farloe is an alien replicant with is obsessed with new technology.

“Cheese” is the codename of a top undercover government spy who can often be found drinking shakes at a particular diner if you need to contact him.

Helen Richardson. A preppy inventor who seems quite unable to stop babbling.

Mikhail Strebov. A huge man who works at an inn, Mikhails family originally comes from Ireland, however he’s never been able to hold his drink.

Rathma’Gog is a vegan curiosities dealer.

Villains

Hank Scorpio wants to rule the world, he is the owner of a multi-national corporation funded by various shady overseas governments and dictatorships. He sincerely believes he is making the world better, but before you can make a new world, you have to clear out the old one.

The Giant Robot originates on Mars and had travelled to earth to help stop a much greater threat.

There is also a Scientist Studying Portal Technology, he believes it could serve as a source of unlimited energy and even propel mankind to the stars and beyond.


Character generation during the game was fairly simply and didn’t take long, we had great fun following the instructions to create our crazy cast of characters. Looking forward to the first session next week đŸ™‚

[Video-RPG] First look at the Witch RPG by Angry Hamster Publishing

TheRogueDM and myself take a two-part first look at the playtest package for Witch that we received from Angry Hamster Publishing:
Part 1 – Contents
Part 2 – Opinions
Liz C. from Angry Hamster was also kind enough to post a video response to our initial queries and thoughts about the playtest package, you can find this below: