Friday, August 17, 2012

My LotFP Debut!

This last week was a really good one for me. I finally got some rest from traveling for public exams, work was easier, and while our little daughter is the most Chaotic Neutral creature I’ve ever seen, she’s also a boundless source of joy for us. So, things are running smoothly (except for this blog… I really need to update it more).

On Monday my Lamentations of the Flame Princess Grindhouse Edition finally arrived. I had already read the rules available online and quickly borrowed the non-Grindhouse Rules & Magic and Referee books. However, I never managed to read the whole package. It’s really an engaging game. Raggi managed to do something that I considered impossible – to create a unique and strong flavor, all by just using the basic D&D Rules (tinkered here and there, but still pure Old School).

I was planning to run a true 3 Little Brown Books game for my wife. She played RPG before (some 10 years ago I guess) and wanted to try again, so I created a solo game for me. She said she wanted to play with a Dwarf, but at the last moment changed her mind and decided for a Cleric. I thought that the official OD&D Cleric was a little “dry” at 1st level. I also was really tempted to use my shiny LotFP box. In the end I switch systems in improvised a dark Medieval adventure, based on the dungeon I had draw for the OD&D game. I still hadn’t familiarized myself with the LotFP rules (I read them more 6 months ago) but I thought I could wrap things up by concentrating in the roleplay and mystery aspects of the adventure.

My wife’s Cleric was a poor member of the Holy Order of Saint Cyprian (this Crypian). We made the Order on the spot, because I think St. Cyprian of Antioch is an excellent patron for a spellcasting crusader. The adventure was about a small town in middle of the Holy Roman Empire’s dark forests. The local villagers had an old pact with chthonic fey spirits, which helped them in mining gold from the local mines. Things were fine until a priest came to town. He destroyed the pagan altars and symbols and took all the gold for the Church, as penitence for the sinner inhabitants. Presumably, he was killed and buried by the villagers, who were automatically afraid that the Church would send more priests (or an inquisitor) and kill them all. In this scenario, my wife’s Cleric came up. After investigating the village – and discovering little, besides the fact that something was clearly amiss – she decided to journey to the so called “haunted mines”. Unfortunately the local fey were just too happy to trap a priest and smash him to pieces with their pikes (think of kobolds, but make them really creepy, and mostly invisible). My wife forgot that she could retreat and didn’t survive her fist encounter after the fey managed to steal her torch and left her character in the dark.

The session was short but very fun and I was delighted by my wife’s reaction: she was half scared half excited by the whole story. Better: she ask me when she could make a new character. If everything goes right, we’ll another game try again this Sunday (this time I promised here that I’ll run something more lightly, so I’ll use only my LBBs… for now).

LotFP is very easy to run, thought it did take some time for me to remember that the ACs run from 12-to-18, not from 10 to 18 (or more). I also had to check the shield rule (and I used the Shields Shall be Splintered! famous rule). I really love Raggi’s version of the Cleric and it was the sole reason for switching at the last time my game system for the night.

I actually wrote this spot to share some ideas about LotFP implied setting. It’s clearly based (to me at least) on a late Renaissance/early Modern Period. I know that there’re firearms rules coming up in a future module, but what I missed most was a distinct division between evasion/armor. For Modern games I really like to keep those things separated. I’m entirely aware that his prejudice comes from the whole “firearms destroyed armor” issue (and yes, I known that the bow did the same thing centuries before). Anyway, I wished to make unarmored Fighters a viable option.

My first reaction was simply to use a character’s Dexterity as his Defense Class (AC sounds weird here). Other option – given that LotFP’s armor runs basically from 12 to 18 – was to make the DC equals to 9 + ½ Dexterity (thus a Dex 3 would give you DC 10, Dex 10-11 would give you AC 14 and Dex 18 equals DC 18).

By using DC instead of AC I could use armor as damage reduction (I thought about using it as a deflecting defense, but it sounded too complicated). Because LotFP uses really low damage bonus, this rule sounds perfectly here. Maybe leather granted DR 2, chain DR 4 and plate DR 6. Some weapons would pierce or ignore ½ of the DR – like firearms at close range (pierce) or maces vs. plate (ignore ½).

Shields would grant a bonus to DC.

Every level above Unencumbered would reduce your DC by 2. [Actually, because Encumbrance reduces DC I believe that shields should a different sort of advantage. Maybe Level 0 NPCs, Specialists and Halflings using a shield have a 1-2 in 6 chance of deflecting a blow. Clerics, Dwarves and Elves have a 1-3 in 6. Fighters get a 1-4 in 6. You can block one blow per round, two if you don’t attack. Rolling a 6 means your shield is broken, splintered, unbalanced etc. Ranged attacks are blocked for free, but a natural 6 means the shot pierces the shield.]

Just a few ideas. I’m not sure I’ll use them yet.

[Oh, and talking about Early Modern games, I recommend also that you check Sabers and Witchery, a very nice – and free! – adaptation of Swords & Wizardry for Solomon Kane-style campaigns.]