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Weird Fantasy RPG: Rules & Magic Read-Through

LotFP Rules & Magic Cover

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Just finished reading the Rules & Magic book for LotFP Weird Fantasy RPG, cover-to-cover, and here is what I thought, and a few highlights.

Rules-wise, this game is simple, easy to learn and has enough options to make combat, for example, a bit more tactical than older editions but not as complex or wargamey as older editions of, for example, D&D. The classes are a nice mixture, in my opinion. I know there have been lots of comments about the disadvantages of the demi-humans compared to the human classes, but I have to disagree. Each class has its own niche: clerics, magic-users and elves have their spells; the fighter has his superior combat ability; the specialist allows a player to create a thief, tinker, ranger, or other archetypes just by selection of the skills: stick points in stealth and sneak attack, and you have an assassin, place them in tinker, sleight of hands and stealth, and you have a thief, put some in bushcraft and stealth gives you a ranger type; the dwarf is the ‘tank’ of the party, able to absorb lots of damage due to their higher hit points, and with a higher encumbrance level, they can wear better armour and not be as laden as others. The halfling, at first glance, seems the weakest, but look at what they get: modifiers to Dexterity and Armour Class, points in Stealth, making them sneaky and nimble characters; they are perfect rangers or scouts.

As all the classes can use whatever armour and weapons they like (although too much encumbrance limits spells and skills for some of the classes), and with the combat options for fighters, elves and dwarves, you can create a goof mix of character types just using these base classes. I’m looking forward to seeing these put into practice.

Sometimes the rules are a bit vague, but this is only a problem for less experienced gamers. As has been noted, the rules do seem to flit between beginners and experienced players, but more often than not they find a balance. There’s nothing here that is too complicated or would take a session or two to get used to and learn.

The Magic section of this book is, in my opinion, what makes this game stand out. The alterations to the spells that we have come to know, the flavour of the spells; the new additions; all serve to set the feel of the game. Spells such as Summon and Strange Waters, the Weird Vortex, are all weird fantasy spells; with the Summon spell in particular worthy of mention, being not only the most complex spell in the book, but one of the potentially deadliest and game-changing spells, and it is only Level 1. I also like the mechanics of the Bless spell, which allows the blessed target to use a number of ‘bonus points’ to boost dice rolls, and that remain accessible until used up or the day comes to an end.

However, the Magic section is also the place where I found a few errors. A couple of spells need a bit of a rewrite or at least some clarification: the two Creation spell both are identical in text, stating that the created items last for the duration of the spell, which is instantaneous and a similar issue arises in one of the effects of the Earthquake spell. There are also a few mentions of spells that existed in either the previous edition or D&D games; reference to spells such as Wish, for example. Not much really, just a few bits here and there. Easily house-ruled.

The only other place I found an issue with was in the Equipment lists, where oversized items are difficult to distinguish from the non-encumbering items, at least by visual inspection. The former is meant to be italicised and bold, the later just italics. Unfortunately, the font used makes the two look very much the same. You have to look very closely to see the bold. It would have been better to use just bold for oversized items, or just stick a * by them. Of course, this is also just a minor quibble, as common sense tells you which items are which (I know, for example, that a large tent is going to be oversized rather than non-encumbering).

The more I read through these books, the more inspired I am to play the game. Still a couple of months before I start the new campaign, still a bit of prep before I feel ready to start, but looking forward to it more and more. Now, just got to read through the Referee book, finish off the macros for Map Tools (which I’ll share here once they’re finished), and then start detailing the starting ‘zone’ where the game will kick-off.

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