Saturday, July 18, 2020

Rally for the Flame Princess

Apparently my LOTFP book collection was not small

James and the Lamentations of the Flame Princess line (LOTFP) are in business trouble.  He recently announced some new products but at the bottom of the post (here) walked through the company's financial woes.  LOTFP has been a lightning rod for gamer controversy the past few years, but I'd hate to see them go under, particularly with COVID and convention cancellations being the last straw.  Some of my group's best campaigns have been with LOTFP rules.

My first campaign here was called "Gothic Greyhawk" and some of the earliest blog posts from 2010 kick off that setting.  It took place in Greyhawk's Sterich, re-envisioned like Eastern Europe with the valley of Barovia (Ravenloft) nestled in the mountains nearby.  While the campaign eventually lead to Strahd, the early going was a greatest hits collection of LOTFP's early stuff - Tower of the Stargazer, The Grinding Gear, Death Frost Doom, and Hammers of the God.  I can't recommend that particular quartet of adventures enough; they take standard fantasy adventure tropes and subvert them with a heavy dose of weird or horror or both.  They are adventure gold.

We would go on to run my Black City megadungeon campaign with LOTFP rules as well; the Black City put the players into the role of Viking explorers, plundering a frozen alien ruin on an island near the Arctic circle.  Life happened, and we never finished the lower levels of the Black City (so I never finished that particular campaign) but people greatly enjoyed the write ups.

After those campaigns I parted ways with running LOTFP for a bit.  We ran Dwimmermount using the ACKS rules, while LOTFP pivoted towards producing materials heavily rooted in 17th century Europe.  James should have stuck with subverting traditional fantasy tropes with the Weird, it cast a much wider net for an audience.  Anyone running a fantasy campaign could drop the four adventures I called out above into their campaign and it would become instantly better, or something like Broodmother Sky Fortress by Jeff Rients.  If Goodman Games can profitably make mediocre 5E updates of classic adventures (I'm looking at you, "Original Adventures Reincarnated") there's definitely space for someone like LOTFP to take classic tropes and infuse them with dread and horror.

It's sad to hear about the recent struggles with the company.  I've never had print copies of a few of the classics, so I'm going to pick up his Adventure Anthology: Blood to round out my print collection.  That's ultimately what motivated to make a post about the publisher; if this really is the swan song for LOTFP, there are some good books to snag before the bow of the ship sinks beneath the waves forever (and if enough people also get that book they wanted before the going-out-of-business sale, maybe there's no going-out-of-business sale at all, yes).  Unfortunately, to get print copies of the adventures identified above, you'd need Adventure Anthologies Blood and Fire and the standalone Death Frost Doom.  LOTFP is not cheap but the hard covers are extremely well done, with stitched bindings and quality print production.  By contrast take a look at this picture of my crappy 5E Monster Manual with the pages falling out (my player's handbooks are right behind it in terms of binding "quality" and several adventures have followed suit).  It's a wonder any of the WOTC books have held up to even light use.

pages falling out of the Monster Manual

(Just an aside, my collection of 1E AD&D hard covers have held up extremely well for 40+ years, just showing that at one point, TSR/WOTC did know how to publish quality books, built to last.  5E book quality is a disaster - I've wondered if they make them poorly so you have to replace them every few years.)

Writing this post, I realized I have a ton of LOTFP stuff on the game shelf.  In recent years I've limited myself to getting a few PDFs here or there because my group hasn't been drawn to the whole 17th century campaign thing (and if we did, it would have to be pirates, definitely pirates).  Good luck LOTFP, hope you make it through.  We've had a lot of fun with your books through the years.


  1. I have a bunch of LotFP stuff but there was a good bit more I didn't have, but wanted. So this was a good enough excuse to go and buy up some more of it.
    The new Big Puppet book looks particularly striking (in PDF... while I wait for the physical book to arrive).

    I do appreciate LotFP and its niche in the hobby. Also, well made books are a joy unto themselves.

  2. I picked up the Anthology: Blood and the new one called Fermentvm Nigrvm Dei Sepvlti - I figure a horror adventure based around brewing monks and taverns could easily be transposed into the Medieval-ish "Erda" game world I've been working on in my free time.

    If you don't mind, let me know how Big Puppet is when you get a chance to read it. That one looked intriguing but I figured I'd wait to see some reviews.

  3. Not to be a Purity Culture nut, but isn't Raggi still selling Zak's stuff? Like, Vornheim and Red and Pleasant Land are still up on the DrivethruRPG store. Does anyone know if Zak is still on their payroll?
    Doesn't matter much to me, since I'm unlikely to buy their products anyways (just personal preference), but if he's still funding an alleged (probable? confirmed? I don't keep up to date) sexual abuser, that might be a good reason for some people to not buy stuff from them.

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  4. LOFTP <> Zak Smith. There are other authors under the imprint I enjoy more (Zzarchov, Kelvin Green, Jeff Rients) and I don't impugn everyone who worked on the line because of Zak's personal life.

    Pilgrim raises an interesting question and I guess it's ultimately a business calculus; the publisher canceled in-flight projects with Zak due to the allegations, but what's the responsibility to remove work product already bought/paid for (ie, should Raggi have pulled stuff from the store)? I'm not running the business, but if he had the luxury to pull them it would have been best. Cancel culture enhances big media stars while crushing small businesses.

  5. Count me among the number that matched to the cause.

  6. Did he ever repudiate Peterson?