Episode063

We’re back, and we’re looking at the Old School Renaissance and, more specifically, Lamentations of the Flame Princess. In case you aren’t familiar with the OSR, it’s a broad movement that embraces the simplicity and immediacy of early incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons, reinventing them in new and sometimes alarming ways. And few games are more alarming than Lamentations of the Flame Princess (officially abbreviated as LotFP).

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Lamentations of the Flame Princess is probably the most successful and visible OSR game, largely due to canny marketing, high production values, and a strong and varied line of supplements. One recent LotFP publication– Zak S‘s gleefully deranged take on Alice in Wonderland, A Red and Pleasant Land — won four ENnie awards this year, including gold for Best Writing and Best Setting. This is especially impressive when you consider that a one-man outfit operating out of a flat in Helsinki bested Wizards of the Coast.

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If you’re wondering why we’re discussing a D&D retroclone on a horror podcast, playing a session of LotFP or reading one of the supplements should dispel any doubts (and possibly leave festering psychological scars). This is a game steeped in the black ichor of weird fiction, pitting often weak adventurers against an uncaring world filled with vile people, bizarre monsters and dungeons filled with sudden, gruesome and downright unfair death. The setting for most of the supplements is a pseudo-historical 17th century Europe, and the mix of real-world history and weird horror should help LotFP appeal to Call of Cthulhu fans.

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If you want to try it out, you can download a free PDF of the complete rules, although it is missing all the nifty and deeply disturbing artwork. Be warned that there isn’t any setting information in the PDF — you’ll have to turn to the supplements for that. Happily there are two free scenarios as well: Better Than Any Man and The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children.

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For our next episode, we have a nice long chat with James Raggi, author and publisher of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Our original goal was simply to record a brief insert with him, but James gave us so much good material that we had to spill over to a second episode. The world isn’t ready for a three-hour episode of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias. At least not until the subliminal messages finish rewriting everyone’s synapses.

Episode062

We’re back and we’re looking at monsters, hoping against hope that they don’t look back at us! In particular, we’re talking about our favourite monsters from Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu. There’s one entry on our list that was created especially for the game, and another that has rarely seen use at the gaming table. No matter where they came from, however, they will all be happy to devour you. Or worse.

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It is difficult to believe that Lovecraft isn’t responsible for certain real creatures too.

We’re also back to using our old Top 3 format for this, with each of us counting down our three favourites. Thank you to listener Danial for reminding us that we hadn’t done one of these for a long time and suggesting monsters as a topic! We’ll revisit this format soon with a look at our favourite Lovecraftian gods, once we’ve worked out how to pronounce all their names.

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On second thoughts, maybe some names should remain unutterable.

While discussing one of Paul’s choices, we recommended a book named The Throne of Bones, by Brian McNaughton. Happily it is not only in print, but also available as an inexpensive ebook. You can find a nice little review of it here.

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We’re still trying to find out how the cover artist got a picture of Scott’s living room.

In our introductory chat, we make mention of recent posts by user specialflesh on Reddit, featuring photographs of Lovecraft that none of us had ever seen before. You can find them here. At the time of posting, specialflesh had posted no pictures from his or her account that were NSFW; we can’t promise this won’t change, especially given that username!

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And where does he find all those photographs anyway?

The other thing we mention in the introduction is the Kickstarter campaign for Lovecraftesque, a new Lovecraftian story game from Black Armada (AKA Becky Annison and Joshua Fox). We were going to play a session of it and discuss it on this episode, but life had other plans. Life is mean like that sometimes. It never returns our phone calls either.

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Lovecraftesque is illustrated by Robin Scott, whose work isn’t made any less lovely by being deeply disturbing.

One of the things that makes Lovecraftesque unusual is that the players control a single investigator between them, taking turns to navigate him or her through a deadly maze of clues. This possibly makes Lovecraftesque the closest gaming experience to an actual Lovecraft story. At the time of posting, the campaign has another 15 days to run. It is fully funded and has hit a number of stretch goals. One of the upcoming goals, tantalisingly within reach, is a scenario by Scott, named Change Our Vile Bodies, which promises body horror and weirdness on a West Country hippie commune in the early 1970s.

Episode059

We’re back, and we’re watching each other from the corners of our eyes. Paul is hiding something behind his back, Matt keeps glancing at the door, and I’m trying to look nonchalant. It’s only a matter of time until one of us tips his hand. All of this is a needlessly wordy way of saying that we’re talking about secrets conflict at the gaming table, and whether these are good things (we know the answer, but we’re keeping it to ourselves).

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As Matt learned to his cost, Paul’s weapon of choice isn’t a knife in the back, but a champagne cork in the face.

Many groups avoid conflict between characters, but we thrive on it, and not just when we’re recording. Maybe we’re just untrustworthy people by nature. This episode is our attempt to demonstrate how lies, betrayal and backstabbing can be fun. Trust us. Would we lie to you?