Friday, 17 July 2020

For Old Times' Sake: LotFP is Worth Saving

Long-time readers of the blog will know that I very rarely publicise products in general. This is for the simple reason that I don't buy many of them. I will now speak frankly: I think most stuff out there, 'OSR' or 'official' or otherwise, is over-priced and over-hyped.

The original Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules are an exception. They are in my view the best thing to come out of the 'OSR'. They were reasonably priced. They were well-made. More importantly, they were rock-solid rules which remained true to the spirit of older editions of D&D while being genuinely distinctive in their own right.

Most of the other exceptions, that I can think of, too, also have Raggi's fingerprints on them to some extent or other. These are Veins of the Earth, Vornheim, the Random Esoteric Creature Generator, Death Frost Doom, and - qualifiedly - Isle of the Unknown.

Beyond that, Raggi is one of perhaps three or four people who can genuinely be said to have had a significant role in building what we now think of as the OSR. If he hadn't been around, I am not sure that the thing would even exist; without doubt, it would have been much less significant in scale. For good or ill, if you consider yourself to be 'into' the OSR in some sense, you have to acknowledge that Raggi played a major role in building the scene. He certainly inspired me; his early posts (I am thinking in particular of thisthis, and this) played a vital part in getting me to want to really re-involve myself in this fundamentally ridiculous hobby and take it seriously once more.

To that end, and if you think, like I do, that there is more to life than whether or not people always say and think the right things, read this update and consider helping him out. Perhaps you have always meant to buy a particular LotFP book but haven't quite got round to doing it. Perhaps you like the look of some of his new stuff. Whatever - you can make up your mind for yourself. And, as Raggi himself puts it, if you want LotFP to disappear, you don't have to do anything at all.

70 comments:

  1. I am an old-time gamer returning to gaming after the OSR disintegrated. I would like to know why I (or anybody still into the OSR, as you put it) should buy a rewritten version of an old edition of D&D hybridized with scattered house rules, especially when there are countless other retyped versions of D&D + house rules out there? I mean:

    http://taxidermicowlbear.weebly.com/dd-retroclones.html

    Is LotFP really the best of the OSR? D&D rules rewritten, stocked with cringey art posing to "out-edgy" games from the previous decade, put together by a guy who writes foul-mouthed rants (like the one you linked to) about how gamers with other preferences, like my daughter, are victims of "the tyranny of fun"? Oh, the bad fun of my life... Am I missing something about why this author's D&D clone is worth saving? I really don't mean to sound aggressive towards you--I follow your blog and find it interesting--but this is my reaction to this game you are promoting in 2020, ten years after it appeared, which is much longer than most RPG editions are in active use.

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    1. The important thought is "make this game your own".
      You don't like the modern games: Do an version with your favorite houserules of your favorite versions, with pictures like those from the album covers, and comics you like. And if somebody whines that the pictures are to edgy, and the version of the game are not mainstream enough, well bad luck. (And look it was economically successful enough to do it for 10 years)

      Now is that enough to want me to preserve an publisher who did not published anything that interested me for two years, and that's includes the new Version of his core rules. I'm not sure.

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    2. You can get a free version of the rules with no art - Raggi released such a version a while back. It should be available online still. You can then make up your own mind, and without any "cringey" art. I always thought the art was puerile for the most part but the rules are a slick update of D&D with unique innovations.

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    3. The free LotFP rules were probably the most well-written and easy-to-reference BX-alike before BXE/OSE came along - a real practical niche.

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    4. I don't think "If you don't like it, go ahead and make your own" and "You can get it without the edgelord art" are especially satisfactory answers to "why is LOTFP worthy of, essentially, a pity purchase"

      I might buy Monolith From Beyond Space and Time, because reviews hint at a weird-time-space mechanic for how you progress in the valley that I might want to use for something in my setting.

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    5. @Lich Van Winkle: So I, read some of your blog by now. And I understand from the stuff you write, that you are not a big fan of the OSR.
      Here is the thing: Most of the stuff you write is not new to me. I had those discussions time and time again in the last ten years. I'm only 32, I have no nostalgica for some acient past, that never happened. I like certain parts of those old D&D rules, I like open ended scenarios (aka Sandboxes) I like randomized world creation, I like the DIY spirit of the scene, and I like having a common languages with people. If those are not for you, because you like "newer, better" rules, okay cool.
      Like you I fear I sound more agressive than I want to, but how about instead of proselytizing about how you remember the past differently than James Maliszewski did, you could write awesome game stuff.

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    6. The important thing about LotFP is not its rules system. It's solid and brings new stuff that makes the game better for some styles, but you can use whatever system you want. What's important about LotFP is the adventures. No other publishers would publish the kind of adventures LotFP puiblishes; who else would publish Fish Fuckers, Death Love Doom or the uncensored Carcosa? No one!

      They may seem offensive to some, but that does not give them the right to choose for me what kind of games are suitable for me. It's my choice, I don't need to be protected.

      I want my RPGs the way I like my metal and horror and comic books: ugly, bloody, dangerous.

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    7. I don't think "If you don't like it, go ahead and make your own" and "You can get it without the edgelord art" are especially satisfactory answers to "why is LOTFP worthy of, essentially, a pity purchase"

      Fair enough, but they are reasons why it isn't really fair to complain about the "cringey" art or not to simply look at the rules to see what they're like.

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    8. @Klaus Gerken, I don't tell people how to play. I'm not proselytizing because I am not trying to change your habits or your games. You can have your own enjoyment. You like one of the new styles of D&D and want to say that's "Old-School"? I am glad for you, because you are not alone. If you read what I wrote, though, I don't criticize OSR play. I criticize OSR claims about the past and sectarianism among imagination gamers. Don't like my view? Already knew everything about gaming before you were born? Just don't read it then.

      This entry is somebody else's and it's about LotFP.

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    9. Really interested to read this comment as, like @Lich, I have just returned to RPGs after a very, very long time (probably last played AD&D around 1985, and my last RPG until a few months ago was WFRP circa 1990).

      I've quickly gravitated, as I did then, towards the weirder and more homebrewed content (it's great to see that the zine scene is every bit as strong as it was 30 years ago), and one thing I noticed really quickly was that all of the publishers I like seem to be into "OSR" in general and "LotFP" in particular.

      Meanwhile I've been playing 5e (lots of rules; forces you to play a fairly specific type of high-fantasy campaign), and reading up on the Cypher system (very few rules, build your game and your world however you want). I love playing 5e - the changes in the rules since 1980 (particularly rules on class and skills) make it much more enjoyable than Basic/AD&D. And I would love to run games using Cypher - as love the freedom, and would my fantasy to come without the overused tropes of ubiquitous magic and elves/dwarves/orcs.

      So having heard LotFP name-checked so much, of course I had to check it out. I downloaded the free rules and read them cover to cover... and just didn't get it. It felt like AD&D with guns. It had far too many rules for the type of campaign I'd like to play, but for a rules-heavy game it felt nowhere near as engaging as 5e. And while I can understand why AD&D with guns might float a few people's boats, it doesn't explain why pretty much every quality fanzine or adventure I read repeatedly namechecks LotFP.

      I know there must be a good reason for it: 99% of people writing creative RPG content surely can't be wrong? But I can't for the life of me figure out what it is. Nostalgia for some mythical time when games were better? The fact that the rules are widely available for free? I don't know, it feels like there must be more to it than that for it to be esteemed so much.

      Anyone?

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    10. I think it makes D&D more coherent, has a very loose and intuitive skill system that works but doesn't dominate, has a sensible way of dealing with encumbrance that is easy to keep track of, has a better monetary system, and has better and more interesting classes (and does something useful with the fighter).

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    11. Thanks @noisms, that makes sense.

      Encumbrance, OMG, I'd forgotten about that particular bag of worms. In my experience no player or GM even bothers to check it more than once in ten games (if they even check it at all). And even then, every system I've seen wildly unrealistic. Do you know how much gold weighs? Twice as much as lead. Yeah, I'm sure can go trolling around those twisty, narrow caves carrying your thousand coins plus your greatsword, axe, bow, arrows, and a week's worth of food ๐Ÿ˜

      I'm playing a fighter in (one of) the campaigns I've recently joined (flamboyant, theatrical, psychopathic, self-centred dwarf former pit fighter - absolutely joyous to roleplay), and am finding the 5e fighter so much more interesting than AD&'s featureless tank.

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  2. You make some solid points, Noisms, but there is also nothing saying that this particular negative event for LotFP will be the last. I read Raggi's post and the mismanagement of his company is nearly a thing of legend.

    Support LotFP if you wish for sentimental reasons, but do not be surprised if this is not the last passing of the hat.

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    1. Perhaps, but it's the first one in, what, 12 years? And in pretty unusual circumstances, let's face it.

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    2. That is a fair point.

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  3. From where I sit Raggi and LotFP (and OMFG Zak!) have inspired a lot of OSR creators, whether they'll own up to it or not.
    Art being 'cringy' or not is a matter of taste. Nothing in his books are shocking for someone that grew up reading horror comics and Heavy Metal.
    LotFP was never trying to be all things to all people the way Disney/WotC are... the guy makes the sort of game material he wants to see. Which is often the impulse that gives us good stuff, vs. things designed by committees and computer models.

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  4. I think you have a fair point with his "rants". He's really bad in getting his message over. When he wants to say "play the game the way you like it, not the mainstream way, just because it's mainstream" it sounds like "play my way". Either you can't filter that out or his posts are not good.

    But I still think it's worth saving. Not because of a rewrite of old D&D. The core rules are just one book and that's not important. But for the adventures and the ideas in it. And also for the ideas on how running a game can be done. Some of the adventures are great and can be played with any system.
    And things from books like vornheim or veins of the earth are great tips fur GMs. The idea from the esoteric monster generator to get unique and interesting monsters. That thing is worth a lot for every GM regardless of the ruleset he uses.

    Jim is not an easy character but his ideas bring a lot of value to the OSR.

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    1. To tell the truth, easy characters tend to produce dross. Which is not to excuse bad behaviour. It's simply an observation.

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  5. I agree with those who say the art is a matter of taste. I had meant to say so above for the sake of fairness. For what it's worth, I grew up on a diet of questionable comic books, rancid punk, sick heavy metal, and zombie & horror films, as well as a lot of other "unsafe" stuff. It's not that I'm thin-skinned or don't get the aesthetic. If anybody should be in the audience of LotFP, it's me. But this one seems to fly far off the mark.

    Is it that the years are changing things? My issue is partly that, like noisms, I find the presentation puerile. It's trying so hard to be edgy. It's also partly that I'm running games now for my wife and tweens: my own kids and sometimes their friends. If the rules of this game are that much slicker than the old D&D editions we already had (I've seen them and it just looks like still more of the same old D&D), then the presentation is a disservice to players because neither my wife nor my young daughter is going to touch LotFP, prima facie. My guess is that the author doesn't have kids and doesn't consider the existence of new players in a realistic way. The primary target seems to be a niche of jaded adult gamers. I'm not playing that way with my family, my nieces, my sister (who also play sometimes), for the same reason I'm not forcing my eleven-year-old girl to watch The Evil Dead.

    The obvious response to me is "Then this game is not for you so shut up." Fair enough! Those who want it should bail the author out. But I still wonder, who is this version of D&D for? The guys who lament that Metallica has sucked since the Black Album and that WotC took their dreams away? Why design a game for that niche-within-a-niche audience and then feel screwed by society when it tanks after a good run? I say that as someone sympathetic to all gamers and their versions of enjoyment.

    I'd like to know what his greatest house rule innovations are, but I still don't need Cannibal Corpse covers. That stuff turned into self-parody long ago, in my personal taste of things (though maybe it's fresh for others). And I already have a couple of old copies of B/X D&D. What does this game add that I couldn't do before and that wasn't published decades ago, besides threaten the PCs more?

    I hear DocRattle's points. I don't know the adventures or supplements. Which ones are worth it, beyond Vornheim and Veins of the Earth?

    And I want to be clear: about the author's character, I'm not able to judge (and I don't want to), only his words. Dross, like the quality of art, is in the eye of the beholder.

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    1. I think these are special circumstances. I don't believe in normal times that Raggi would be having these difficulties. That's the only reason why I put up the post. If his business was failing because of market forces that would be something else, but the fact is that governments around the world have decided that for the time being market forces have to be suspended for our safety, and that has undoubtedly had an impact.

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    2. I see what you mean. His post, though, makes it sound as if the financial problems started in February 2019, not because of closures. What happened in February 2019?

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    3. "The guys who lament that Metallica has sucked since the Black Album and that WotC took their dreams away?"

      Ouch, man.

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    4. Had LotFP existed when I was a teenager, I surely would've picked up the rules book for the art alone - exactly because it doesn't appear to be marketed for "kids".

      Nowadays art in games rarely matters to me (and that's why I almost never mention it in my reviews).

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    5. Yeah, I would have loved the art as a teenager, probably, just like I loved Rifts books for that very reason. I am sad that RPGs seem to have largely lost that vibe, to be honest, even though I've outgrown it.

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  6. Wow, am so used to LotFP being a punching bag for the online wordsmiths that it's floored me to see such positivity! Thank you, was beginning to wonder if I was alone in loving their books :)

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    1. I think there has always been an element of snobbishness about LotFP in certain sections of online discussion, to be honest.

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  8. The adventures LotFP put out have given me an awful lot more inspiration that I've taken into my own games than any other stuff being published (except perhaps Necrotic Gnome, but that's more of an aesthetic thing). For every patchy book Raggi has put out, he has also put out two or three things on the level of Qelong or Carcosa, and with the delish quality to go with them. It's good to see someone treat it as a labour of love and to publish exactly what they want while keeping that quality high.

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    1. I forgot to mention Qelong! That is definitely on the list of exceptions.

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  9. I think the current state of LotFP is mostly due to Raggi’s self-inflicted injuries. I don't have it out for the man; he's done a lot for the OSR and I don’t think he’s evil or anything like that. But I think the era in which LotFP is important is over.

    Raggi chose to closely tie his brand to a repulsive and volatile pornographer. He alienated most of his former collaborators with his bizarre, inconsistent behavior and his dumb marketing stunts. Perhaps worst of all, he stopped making the kind of products that made his brand great in the first place. Veins of the Earth came out three years ago. What has he published since? Instead of dungeons and settings, the majority of LotFP's recent output has been flimsy adventure scenarios and supplements. I recently bought one of the LotFP adventure anthologies: the spine was scuffed, the pages were printed on muddy grey paper and the type was so small I couldn't read the maps. I returned it.

    If Raggi publishes something that I think can use to good effect in my own game, I will be happy to buy it. But I think his brand is what you accuse other RPG products of being: overhyped and overpriced. There’s something to be said for “old times sake”, but there’s something to be said for letting things run their course.

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    1. I bought the Fire Anthology and it looked fine. I think you got a misprint. Weird that weird internet critics get the misprints 9 out of 10 cases.

      About your question "What has been published since Veins of the Earth that is worth an investment" Big Puppet & Fermentum. Those two books are good.

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    2. It wasn't a misprint, just poor quality. Perhaps you have low standards? And as far as the new books go, I will wait to see the reviews. Fermentvm Nigrvm Dei Sepvlti looks like it might be good.

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    3. I'm inclined to agree. I have great respect for LOTFP and what it's done for the OSR, but I took a look at their US webstore and... I don't want to buy any of it. Raggi is thousands of dollars in the shitter and is choosing to print what he says is the most expensive per-unit book he's ever done, and it's a freebie? Yeah, not exactly a business mastermind.

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  10. Raggi is the only OSR publisher to have been within even a stone's throw of acting responsibly in the last year. Whether or not it's "worth saving" you can say this about Raggi and not about anyone else: He didn't lie about a friend to save his own skin. That's more than you can say about literally the entire rest of the osr publishing companies.

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    1. That's an interesting re-interpretation of events. How long did he wait and what was his response when the accusations against you came out?

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    2. And in what way have all other OSR publishers spent the entire year acting irresponsibly? Seems like a strange thing to do.

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    3. @prince

      His response was "Guh! Gahhh! Akk! FUCK!" The rest is a matter of public racord.

      @dansumption

      They acted like the accusations were true. Which is indeed strange.

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    4. @zak

      I ask because you are implying some sort of bravery or integrity on behalf of James when compared with other publishers. The available information does not lead me to a similar conclusion. He severed connections with you, cancelled your upcoming books and made every move to distance himself from you so as to avoid possible culpability as a strategic decision. It's possibly understandable since his livelihood was on the line, and the tone of his statement and the gencon adventure showed that he did not agree with the rationale behind it, but he did in all meaningful ways act as if the accusations against you are in fact true. He was a participant, compelled or not, in your deplatforming.

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    5. @PrinceOfNothing

      Yes. And everyone else was -even worse than that- .

      Did he act responsibly? No. But I wrote " the only OSR publisher to have been --within even a stone's throw--- of acting responsibly"

      But we all know you never did read carefully, nor do most OSR people.

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    6. @zak

      Oh this is going to be fun. You also wrote "he didn't lie about a friend to save his own skin. That is more then you can say about literally the rest of the osr publishing companies." First you imply that friendship exacerbates the offence of lying, which is true since it requires betrayal of trust, and then you imply that the rest of the osr publishers either were your friend and lied or did not tell the truth about some friend of theirs as opposed to James, who did. Based on the near total absence of support for your cause even now I'd suggest the first conclusion is probably false, and the second is irrelevant. Your publisher's relationship with you brings with it far more obligations in this regard then that of a publisher that has no direct ties with you, and therefore no strong obligation to speak out. Your deplatforming is not the moral axis by which all publishers can be judged equally, since their moral obligation differs hugely.

      The fact your publisher, one of the few gateways to legitimacy that are still open for you, who is now on lifesupport, takes a wavering stance that maybe your deplatforming was unjustified, is much more damaging then someone on the other corner of the internet not bothering with something that has little impact to it.

      Are we now going to quibble about the meaning of the word 'responsibly' or do you want to take of those shoes and get this mudwrestling contest going like a man?



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    7. I'm prepared to let you guys squabble and split hairs as much as you like, but can you please at least do it without pretending that arguments on the internet have anything to do with manliness?

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    8. Thank you @noisms, very well put.

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    9. @dan

      Friend or no, claiming the accusations are true is far more fucked up than nearly anything else anyone has ever done in games so far.

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    10. @noisms

      Alright I'll cool it with the horseplay.

      @zak

      Was that reply for me? Deplatformings are a court of public opinion yes? What does it signal if even your publisher, who has admitted that a vast deal of profits come from your work, not only deplatforms you and takes every legal step to separate himself from you, but then comes out six? months later with a passive aggressive module and some put-putting to prepare a road for your possible return but no active effort at getting you replatformed? Why should anyone else risk that heat if he can't even be bothered?

      The impact of his stance on your predicament is much larger then a rando publisher stating that they believe the accusations levelled against you (which is separate from stating they are true).

      And that's why your current situation persists, because not one person in the band, when it would have made a difference, stood up for you, or even asked that judgement be withheld until they had all the facts. That's also why JR standing up for you later hasn't made any noticeable difference.

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    11. @Prince

      None of that changes what I said. Claiming I did something wrong is fucked up beyond anything James did.

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    12. It's nice that you can stand up and colloquially argue that there are good people on both sides, Noisms, but it still looks like you're defending Zak. I wonder that you're not soiled by him, since Raggi obviously thought he'd be.

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    13. @Zak

      Sure Zak. We'll ignore the "within a stone's throw of respectability" comment or assume a very large throwing range and go with the interpretation that you were implying that while their stance contributed massively to your downfall it is not in fact entirely as bad as drawing a premature or erroneous conclusion (assuming your innocence etc. etc.) from the now
      available evidence and weighing in on that publically, putting them within that stone's throw.

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    14. @Alexis: Eh? My position here is not that there are good people on both sides. My position is that if people want to comment on my blog they are free to do so as long as they don't say anything that I percieve as deliberately trying to get a rise out of me (or are spammers). That's why this discussion is taking place.

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    15. @Zak

      "Friend or no, claiming the accusations are true is far more fucked up than nearly anything else anyone has ever done in games so far."

      No idea what you're talking about. I've only gaming again for about 3 months after a gap of 30 years, and I've only discovered the OSR scene in the last month or so. I have seen your name plastered around the RPG scene, I've heard that there are accusations against youbut don't know what they are and am not really interested. All I know is that you have no fans or friends any more, apart perhaps from Raggi. That must suck for you, and it's clear you are a very damaged person. But claiming that the entire OSR scene's failing to come to your aid when you were down is the worst thing that's ever happened in gaming histoy - fuck me, do you have to book extra luggage allowance for your ego whenever you take a flight?

      Google Gamergate if you want to hear gaming stories more tragic than yours. And try to stop trolling people and get on with fixing your life instead.

      Nice talking to you again ๐Ÿ‘‹

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    16. @noisms

      That is an admirable position.

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    17. @dansumption

      If an accusation is made the appropriate response it only ever one of two things:

      -Say nothing ("not my circus, not my monkeys")
      or
      -Investigate as fully as you can before saying anything (including random personal attacks on the accused)

      Anyone who does otherwise is a terrible person.

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    18. @Zak

      If you appreciate James, leave him alone. He is awkward, he doesn't know how to deal with this thing. It doesn't matter if you are innocent or guilty, your presences affects him. If you really appreciate James and see him as a friend and human being, like he says he sees you, and not like a platform to your own success, leave him alone.

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    19. @dansumption

      Also, fwiw, it's probably best to fact check misinformation when there's time:

      -Raggi's neither friend nor fan. He's just a "less bad than other" gamer colleagues

      -I have lots of friends and fans, just not among these gamer colleagues

      -"very damaged" could describe anyone right now, but if you mean my mental health: it's fine

      -As my last comment should've made clear, I am not in any way discussing people "coming to my aid" or not. That is not the topic of conversation. James did not "come to my aid" he merely failed to spit as hard in my face as his fellow game designers.

      I understand that not everyone holds to the idea that they shouldn't present fake things as true in public, but I do.

      If you don't: feel free to say that.

      If you do: Your welcome.

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    20. @Vagabundork

      I am not going to pretend I am guilty just to make you or anyone else comfortable.

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  11. @zak that's one small thing, one I know little about and have even less interest in.

    Your post said that for the last year none of them have been "within even a stones throw of acting responsibly". Which implies that they've all had a year of madness, and I'm wondering how so? Genuine question as I've only just got back into RPGs after a break of 30 years and know very little about OSR (I only learned what OSR means about a month ago). And it seemed a weird and pretty sweeping thing for you say that all those companies bar one have gone an entire year without doing a single responsible thing.

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    1. @dansumption

      If you think human lives at stake are "one small thing" there isn't much point in any conversation we could have.

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    2. You've flummoxed me there. At no point did I mention human lives. And regardless, changing "one small thing" to "one thing" doesn't substantively alter the question I originally asked and you still haven't answered.

      Regardless, I'd be happy not to have any more conversation with you. If conversation is indeed what we just had. Cya ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿป

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  12. The LotFP system was a good step forward when it came out. Now it is completely superseded by OSE (if you want a 'clean' B/X) and Knave and GLOG (if you want a minimal template to hack your houserules from).

    As for the adventures? Most of the ones written by Raggi and Zak are pretty shit in hindsight. They were exciting at the time because they broke the mould of traditional adventure design, but they were always poorly written (Raggi's prose style is god awful) and full of glaring problems that had to be fixed by the DM. I remember going through Grinding Gear and God That Crawls, marking them up just to make them playable, and both times I eventually quit because it was more effort than planning my own adventure from scratch.

    I think the only books that LotFP will be remembered for are Veins of the Earth and maybe Carcosa. So, on the merit of previous work or future potential, I don't see any reason to chip in for them now. As for the goodwill angle, the "save a venerable member of the scene"... yeah, Raggi flushed that down the toilet when he publicly took a stand for the guy who made the scene a miserable toxic place for years.

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    1. It was never a miserable toxic place to me, but then I never took what was going on on G+ seriously. It still amazes me that Zak seems to have taken on this level of cosmic significance in people's minds. He is portrayed as somebody who was originally some kind of sinister puppet master bending everybody's wills to his own, and now he's become like the candy man - you mustn't even mention his name lest he reappear and taint you with his sin. Guess what? He was just a talented artist who had insightful things to say about games, who in the final analysis wasn't a nice person. Why should it make any difference what Raggi thinks about him?

      I think that, more important than the quality of the books (I believe we're broadly probably in the same position on that: some great stuff, most not so good), is the fact that Raggi burned a trail for the rest of us. It's thanks to him, I believe, and the example he showed, that we now get all these other active publishers.

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    2. I and many others temporarily withdrew from the entire scene because of how acrimonious and factional it had become, and Zak was the #1 cause of that. He continues to cast a shadow over the scene to this day, knowing that he is obsessively reading everything we write about him and potentially planning to sue us if we repeat the allegations against him. So I think the Candyman analogy is quite apt, but maybe not for the reasons you were using it.

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    3. I think you are attributing too much to one person. The scene was acrimonious and factional because all scenes are - it's that "narcissism of small differences" problem.

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    4. To an experienced gamer returning after the OSR party was over and just brawls remained amidst a contest to produce "edgy" content, I regret to say that the OSR sure *looks like* a miserable toxic place, overrun by internet troll gamers and fraught with bullying and mutual recriminations over alleged real-world crimes, never mind the racism popping up openly and general politicizing of the hobby. It's not everybody, but it's also not just one or a few people. I've never seen anything like it in the history of RPGs.

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    5. Where is all of this buillying and racism happening, exactly? The 'scene', such as it was, was mostly on G+, and that disappeared ages ago.

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    6. Frankly, I don't even want to give the links. They are not far to seek. If you don't read those blogs and the comments on them, I think you're better off! I had no part of G+, so I didn't see the acrimonious factionalism that you mention, but you noticed at least those qualities. As you said, you don't take it very seriously, which is probably healthy.

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  13. I find it hard to care one way or the other. I don't think Raggi was anywhere near as important to the OSR as you place him. In fact he was something of a "Johhny-come-lately" to the "scene" which was doing quite well without him. I remember when his rules came out and were the latest shiny toy. I took a look, played a game and went meh. Most of the time I paid very little attention to him because his posts on his blog and on the forums where all the action was, were - I'll be kind - unhelpful, and his rules were/are gimmicky second par to Labrynth Lord, S&W Whitebox, Castles & Crusades, or even Basic Fantasy. And or course, there was all the tilting at windmills he engaged in, which to me was much mosquito buzzing in a niche of a niche of the OSR. It is very ironic to me that you wrote "I think most stuff out there, 'OSR' or 'official' or otherwise, is over-priced and over-hyped." because I think that describes LotF to a tee. Vornheim is a perfect example - a book that sounded wonderful, but is little more than goofy art, a couple common tables and otherwise practically useless hype that I regret spending money on. I'm not saying he doesn't publish a few interesting things - there's Carcosa, but Geoffrey was selling Carcosa for years before Raggi published it, and Vincent Baker's Seclusium of Orphone is really, really excellent, but authors like Baker can always move to another publisher if they need to.

    I'll give this to James Raggi, the one thing where I think he did make a real and lasting contribution to the Old School Gaming hobby, and that is that he raised the bar of the physical quality of the books being produced. He is the one who pushed for higher quality printings than the POD products everyone else was putting on at the time.

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    1. "Vincent Baker's Seclusium of Orphone is really, really excellent"

      lol

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    2. I thought Vornheim was one of the single most useful RPG books I've bought. It has some great tools in it.

      I also thought Seclusion of Orphone was a scandalous missed opportunity.

      But all this is a matter of taste. I suppose the broader point is that these are products which we are at least talking about, whereas most OSR stuff doesn't even get over that low hurdle.

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  14. Vornheim and Death Frost Doom are two of the best products I have ever bought for any system period. Useful, well laid out and very atmospheric. Well not my main system, that would be S&W Complete I love a lot of the earlier stuff and appreciate the quality and vision for the line.

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