I finally got my copy of Jim Raggi's magnum opus, Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing, yesterday, making me probably one of the last people on the planet to do so. I've admittedly got a lot of other things to keep me occupied these days -- too many, it seems some days -- but I'm not ashamed to admit that I was rather looking forward to receiving this game nonetheless. I've stated on numerous occasions that I don't believe there can be such a thing as "too many" clones, since, if nothing else, each new clone ensures that the old school scene remains a glorious riot of ideas and approaches, many of them delightfully idiosyncratic.
I still feel that way after my initial reading of LotFP WFRP (that's going to get annoying to have to type out again and again, I predict). If anything, I feel even more strongly that there can't be too many clones, since, if Jim Raggi had believed this, he'd never have written what I think is the best version of the "thief" character class in any old school gaming product to date (even if it carries a name -- the "specialist" -- that I can't stand). There are lots of other great little tweaks and interpretations in LotFP WFRP (yeah, that is annoying to type) that probably mightn't have seen the light of day outside of a new retro-clone and that really would have been a shame, because, even after my first pass through its contents, I'm mightily impressed; this is an imaginative, evocative RPG and I can't feel the least bit of angst about its existence.
Could Jim have simply presented this stuff as a bunch of rules variants to an existing retro-clone? Possibly, but his goal was clearly to create a complete game, written and presented according to his own notions of how best to introduce newcomers into old school gaming. I can't fault him for that; indeed, I applaud him for it. Now, I'm not sure he'll succeed in this endeavor. I rather suspect that the vast majority of the copies of LotFP WFRP sold will wind up in the hands of people with many, many years of gaming experience who are already plugged into the old school scene, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong about this.
Regardless, I'll be making a fuller review of the game -- I'm not typing out that abbreviation again -- over the course of the next week. It'll likely be a multi-part review, since there's a lot of ground to cover and I really want to do it justice. For now, though, I'll say simply that I am very impressed with what Jim has created. He succeeded in producing an old school product that clearly knows what it's about and that has its own unique voice, style, and content but which is still amazingly compatible with The Original Fantasy Roleplaying Game™ and its many descendants. I expect to hear, in the months to come, that many of Jim's clever rules have been adopted even by those of us who aren't playing his game in toto. There's really a lot to like here and I am glad to place this game on my shelf, beside Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry Core Rules, Swords & Wizardry White Box, OSRIC, and Spellcraft & Swordplay, not to mention a few other games whose titles are well known beyond our little echo chamber.
Well done, Jim.