I am a huge fan of old school role playing games. I love them. I adore them. "Lamentations of the Flame Princess" got my attention on first sight. I don't know if it was because of the great art or the odd title (no more "Monsters & Heroes"-like titles please… ok, except Beasts & Dwellers!), but I knew I had to buy it. And I got it immediately!
Ah! I mentioned… art! It's SICK! SICK! SICK AND GRUESOME! And I adore it! I have seen great "R-rated" art in "Vampire: The Masquerade" and "Call of Cthulhu" books but "Lamentations of the Flame Princess" is far beyond them. It's magnificent and… not for the weak!
"Lamentations of the Flame Princess" (LOTFP from now on) comes in a sturdy box including 3 books, a pack of tiny dice (I love them!) and 10 character sheets.
The first book called "Tutorial" is a great introduction to old school role playing games. There is a nice introduction and advice to new and old players alike. It includes two solo adventures: the first is quite simple introducing some basic concepts and the second is more of a "choose your path" adventure with an intriguing story, fights and enough of exploration (I played it twice… died during my first attempt!). There is also a 20-page (yes, TWENTY!) actual role playing experience that is well written and offers an enjoyable reading. The book ends with a nice chapter full of recommendations for known and lesser known authors. Overall it's a nice introduction to LOTFP and old school gameplay in general.
The second book called "Rules and Magic" is the backbone of LOTFP. It's the bigger book and offers all the rules you need to create characters and play the game. There are seven different classes: Cleric, Fighter, Magic User, Specialist (actually the Thief), Dwarf, Elf and Halfling. As you see, those are the standard classes of an old school role playing system. The rules are written simply and clear, covering most situations you will meet during a game's session. There is no a setting for LOTFP but actually a 16th century European fantasy-like world with swords and magic. I like this fresh idea and it is incorporating nicely through the item and weapon lists and spell descriptions.
The third book called "Referee" offers advice to new and old game/dungeon masters. There is some great stuff in there: advice for creating adventures, campaigns, traps, NPCs, monsters, magic items and more. No more tables with thousands and thousands of numbers. Just advice! It's a great reading and gave me great ideas although I play role playing games for more than 15 years. In the end there is a great introductory adventure with advice to help new referees run it smoothly. "Referee" book could stand as a separate product and it is by far the "best dungeon master guide"-like book I have ever read.
"Lamentations of the Flame Princess" is a great product. If you love old school role playing games then go and get it now. If you are just a role playing player/referee playing DnD 3.5, 4e or Pathfinder then give it a try… it's a great addition to everyone’s collection!