James Raggi & Kelvin Green (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
We are doing it live! While Lotfp waxes with plenty of good entries over the past two years, James Raggi’s writing days are over. Like a vulture, I follow on his wake, observing his footsteps till he finally crumbles in the sand.
Slügs is Lotfp’s contribution to 2016 Free-RPG day and is meant to serve as an advertisement for what Lotfp is all about. It details 15 different slugs for use with Lotfp but I question whether any of them will ever make it to the gaming table. Slugs is not so much a bad product as it is an inane one.
We open with an admittedly amusing introduction where Raggi gives an incoherent Trump-esque speech about how gaming is controlled by the fatcats in Washington, Free-RPG Day is all about Quick-starter set crippleware and Lotfp is all about giving back power to the little guy. He then proceeds to produce what is not necessarily the worst but certainly the most bizarre bestiary for the OSR, filled with nothing but Slügs.
As a joke it sort of works but I can’t help but think you would just throw it away or keep it somewhere on the back of your shelf after the novelty value wears off after half an hour. I feel bad for Kelvin Green, who did a decent job of drawing 15 different slugs.
The Slugs themselves are ridiculous, which works as a joke but clashes dismally with the atmosphere of Lotfp adventures (with the exception of perhaps Doom-cave). Each is a 10+ HD behemoth with special abilities that are pretty funny, but more often utterly deadly. I will just utilize the handy bestiary measurement device I invented specifically for the purpose of reviewing Lotfp Bestiaries and put it to use here.
Largest/Most Powerful Creature; The Swiss army slug carries polearms and flintlocks inside its body that it will use to counter anyone who deals damage to it. Okay.
Palette Swap; The Vomit slug is essentially a giant slug with an expanded breath weapon ability of different effects.
Lovecraftian; The Ocular slug is a many eyed slug that perceives the world through all viewpoints simultaneously and its power is to switch character’s viewpoints. Bizarre and horrific.
Nightmare Fuel; The Hypno slug implants characters with posthypnotic suggestions of horrific resolution, which can cause them to assasinate royalty, murder their friends, kidnap children and raise them as their own and other fucked up effects long after they have killed it. Even if they have, it is possible their encounter was just a waking dream, and the slug devoured any of the characters that died in the battle and is STILL ALIVE OH GOD.
Most Edgy; The Acid slug has an aura that causes you to hallucinate and its drugs so therefore edgy.
Humanoid: The Muscle Slug looks like Hulk Hogan with a lower giant slug body and is so strong he can alter reality by flexing his muscles. My favourite of the set, and could conceivably be used in some sort of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure/Solomon Kane mashup that I suspect to be Vorpalmace’s home campaign.
Most Harmless; The Breakfast slug’s giant shell is actually a bowl of nutritious poop that looks just like cornflakes and is a superior ration that I suspect to be Kent’s home campaign.
Dark Beauty; Uh…there is a transparent slug that I guess could be considered beautiful by weird people. Like maybe this one could have been in Fire on the Velvet Horizon.
Silly: The tie for the best entry by Kelvin Green, the Sluggatron is a slug-transformer that carries Saturday-Morning Cartoon Transformer quest hooks with it for the party to solve. A fun read that showcases Green’s style.
Most Kiel Chenier: The Love Slug has a vagina shaped mouth and must be massaged from within for long hours to gain its favour, after which it will insert its stalks into your orifices and engorge them, filling the player with extacy for hours on end and giving them bonus Hit Dice for many days afterward. The Slug is followed by 1d6 admirers and it appears Raggi somehow got Kentaro Miura to ghost-draw the art for this one because its the best piece in the book.
Is it a good roleplaying supplement? No, but I think the most important question to ask is if it worked as an advertisement. The answer is, probably. Most people seemed to have been pretty positive about it and the variety of (useless) creatures do showcase a quirkiness and creativity that Lotfp wants to showcase.
A recurring theme seems to be that people were inspired by Slügs to come up with their own monsters and I sort of see where they get it from. The wackiness on display stands in contrast to the more coherent approach to world-building major publishers tend to go for and loosens the mind.
The monsters are not even that shit and are pretty creative. The mentallo slug gives the party terrible quests in order to forestall some dreaded fate in the far distant future and the Doctor slug presents a bizarre, powerful yet terribly inconvenient method of healing.
For the record; Donald Duck Hitler boss monster, Pipe-smoking Wizard Rock Giant from the Never-Ending Story, levitating man in top hat that fires blue rays of incandescent light from his eyes and mouth, Angel-shaped hole in creation offering a sacrament of Oblivion, Stainless Steel Lobster piloted by a thousand shrunken wizards, Stupid Cartoon Face Moon Hitler boss monster.
When I said Raggi was done, I meant as a writer of products that can be used and taken seriously, but it is nice to see he can still inspire, joke, crack wise and guffaw at this point. Slügs doesn’t feel cynical, insecure or tryhard. As a bestiary…meh. As an advertisement, its pretty damn good. 6 out of 10.
For anyone who is interested in a more thorough review Vorpal Mace covers Slügs here.