[Review] She Bleeds (Lotfp); Stage III – Convergence

[Player Option]
She Bleeds (2018)
Elizabeth Chaipraditkul (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Summary: Disciples of the Dark Gods + Vagina Monologues

She Bleeds by Elizabeth Chapraditkul for Lamentations of the Flame Princess is a 24 page supplement created for GenCon detailing the ritualistic worship of an otherworldly Mother Goddess centered around having your period and can probably be filed in the same baffling “miscellanious” category of the Lotfp catalog alongside The Magnificent Joop van Ooms.

It would probably be pretty easy to make some sort of case study of She Bleeds as another early warning sign that Lotfp is going to be converged ah la Fate or Pathfinder but since James Raggi has already gone so far as to censor his personal expression to conform with the dreaded and ever mutable Narrative there is no further value in such an observation since it is no longer up for discussion. Instead let us examine She Bleeds on its own merits.

The supplement is divided into several phases of the moon detailing rituals, special abilities and consequences, followed by an explanation of what She is and how you are supposed to implement the rituals. The order is counter-intuitive as you are presented with the rituals first and the explanation of their operation afterward, meaning you will likely have to reread the rituals again for full understanding. The art direction is a little off and almost anime-like which clashes with the tone as well as the realistic depictions of naked women (i.e some of them are kind of fat which looks gross), rendering the whole off-putting.

She is an otherwordly entity that inhabits some sort of non-space (“the time and place known as Sacrifice”) that selects women to Infect. Its desires seem to be too alien to be compatible with our world because once people are infected they need only perform certain rituals in order to maintain a connection with the entity. Since the alternative is death, this is not too difficult.

The writing is pretty unclear on when exactly She calls to characters but then again the entire book seems clothed more in terms of feelings and intuition then concrete goals and intellect. When She approaches the character, the character has a chance to resist 3 times (via a saving throw vs Magic), cutting herself every time she fails a saving throw. If she fails more then 1 save, the is now one of the Infected and must perform the ritual or die. After the character has been Infected it must perform some sort of task for She. The tasks seem to have significance in themselves, and tend to involve love, sex, murder and blood.

The book recognizes that performing the rituals described with each moon phase would be tedious in a roleplaying game so instead provides you with a table so you know when your abilities change. From a game-design perspective, the Idea of a character whose abilities are tied to different lunar phases has always seemed interesting but unwieldy to me, going back so far as the Wizards of High Sorcery in Dragonlance.

The bulk of the book concerns the rituals that must be conducted each lunar fase. Each phase lasts about 4 days so I hope you like bookkeeping. A short description of each ritual and the abilities it grants follows below;
Full Moon:  Drink the saliva of a young and an old woman (voluntary or forced), then masturbate. Voluntary – Lick wounds closed (save vs paralysation or be crippled with pain. Adds 1 in 20 chance of paralysis whenever a roll is tried). Forced – Coat a blade with your saliva to do extra damage on a hit (weapon becomes useless after a number of rounds). A pretty cool ability, its too bad you have to force yourself on old ladies to get it.
Waxing Gibbous:  Cut yourself. You can now inflict damage on yourself and store this damage to inflict on your enemies later. 1 in 6 chance of backfiring, inflicting the damage on you again.
First Quarter: Bleed all over the earth. Pick the clovers that grow from it. Depending on clover: bonus to saving throws 1 in 10 chance you will not enter a fight OR plant some sort of growth from the down covering you onto your enemies to inflict damage (extra damage if removed). You draw all attacks while this happens. [1]  A third ability is fucking stupid, your highest roll is automatically a failure but your lowest roll is now a success. So the end result is…the exact same.
Waxing Crescent:  You get used to the magic pregnancy and it fills you with either divine joy or divine pain. Your action can be used to have an ally automatically succeed on a saving throw OR your shriek can paralyze everyone around you for a round.
New Moon: Bury a body under the soil. The Avatar of She now comes forward. You can decide to bang it or not. It gets different stats depending on whether or not you bang it. The Avatar of Hunger is a combat oriented ally with random abilities every night that are PRETTY METAL and the Avatar of Contentment is a spellcasting, utility thing that can actually give you a level-up by laying with you at night and singing its unearthly hell song. Can be done once per moon, which means the total chance of a level up (the avatar stay for 4 days). The Avatar is by far the coolest ability of the whole.
There is a confusing section where the Avatar has morale but it is actually an entirely different ability that decreases if you kill children, women [2], take something by force or “feel bad about self image.” Lol whut. This shit is so tumblr.
Waxing Crescent:  Drink your stinky pussy blood and lay the avatar to rest. Depending on how well you did above, you gain different special abilities related to blood or draining life for a short period of time. Gain different moon dancing blood abilities that are all pretty creepy. Also did I mention your character pretty much has to be a sociopath to use these powers. Yup.
Waning Gibbous: Resting period where you can decide to either A) kill yourself or B) join the Blooded, an undefined cabal of what I presume to be evil blood witches.

There is some muttering later on of infecting other people but the mode of transmission is never discussed so it is unclear how you would even infect another person. The idea of a phenomenon that has qualities in common with both a disease, a religion and a magic spell is alright though.

This is the book essentially. A series of abilities with occasional trade-offs that can be gifted to one of the characters that you think is the most snow-flake or the least priveleged or whatever. While the abilities themselves are surprisingly interesting and have some drawbacks and trade offs, this ability requires meticulous bookkeeping, your character must now compulsively perform the rituals (what happens if your character cannot perform them because she is…say, imprisoned in a dungeon of stone with no earth or growth or corpses nearby? Not addressed). What is even worse is that the solution to the tedium that would inevitably be involved with travelling with one of the Blooded is to handwave it away and just assign the special abilities every lunar cycle.

Now it is time to discuss some of the more amusing aspects of She Bleeds, in particular, the universe building. Unlike a dirty patriarchical cishet supplement, She Bleeds wastes no time in explaining any details about The Blooded or any interesting quest hooks or locations and instead gets into a lengthy explanation of what we really want to know: how is gender defined in the She Bleedsiverse?

People born with male sex organs first have their male organs shrivel,
die, and fall off, revealing a vagina underneath. They grow breasts and are considered for all intents and purposes physically female. It’s up to the character what gender they
choose to identify with after the transformation, despite the text implying it is female

And what could be a more apt soliloquy for Lotfp as a whole?

Let’s get down to brass tax. She Bleeds was always going to have to fight an uphill battle because it is a player option supplement for a genre that is primarily about adventures, monster manuals and magic items as opposed to KOOL POWERZ. If you take into account the lack of hooks, setting info, follow-through and due diligence (i.e what happens if you cannot perform a ritual), you are left with a 24 page supplement to describe something that would at most be a 5 page entry in a book about weird magic supplements that feels too long for what it is but too short for anything else.

Chaipraditkul has some credits in the RPG scene and some of her stuff sounds fun but a casual glance reveals her unfamilarity with the fast-paced and lethal world of the OSR in favor of more story centric and character creation intense games and it shows in the design of this supplement. She Bleeds is brimming with tumblr, poorly implemented, lacks hooks and requires additional bookkeeping to use it. Those are some damn fine reasons not to pick it up and there is comparatively little reason to do so. The abilities are alright and the drawbacks are actually more debilitating then the benefits at times (I mean the avatar was a great bit) but they don’t really fit very well with the oldskool mode of play. This supplement is not so much bad as it is useless or superfluous. There are ideas here but they are underdeveloped.

For all its promises of menstrual potency, She Bleeds will eventually be remembered as little more then a landmark on Lotfp’s steep descent from bastion of quixotic originality and liberal sangfreud to pit of degenerate cuckoldry. Praise the gods Stuart and Kowolski are still on the label. A damn shame James. 2 out of 10. Chaipraditkul is not the worst author but I feel her talents are poorly utilized here.

[1] This ability is interesting but poorly defined. Does it take an action to remove the plant from you? If not, then why would anyone ever not do so on the first round?
[2] It is unclear whether the adventure means females, people that identify as the female gender, or the some sort of mysterious other definition that I will outline below.

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21 thoughts on “[Review] She Bleeds (Lotfp); Stage III – Convergence

  1. Feels like a result from random fuck you table extended to 24 pages. “Superefluous” was the first word that crossed my mind too when I first saw this supplement, and I’m the guy who liked Slügs.

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      1. I’ll give you a hint, the 20 million dollar lawsuit is involved in the answer. It is a very roundabout way of making a very simple statement, merely a four letter word. The object of the statement is mentioned in the review. I’ll throw in a free PDF of my Age of Dusk adventure to whoever gets it right.

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      2. Didn’t follow what’s up with Maddox for years now, so I did a quick research. I have the solution is “cuck”.

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    1. Weird, you don’t have an edit function? Damn. I never use blogspot because it keeps eating my comments. That being said, I guess you made it past my riddle so the treasure is yours! (the object of my riddle shall remain forever shrouded in mystery until a second, even more cunning rogue can pierce the veil of secrecy that surrounds it).

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      1. Well, there wasn’t much competition – but I guess it’s not my problem!

        I didn’t experience blogspot eating comments yet, but it did put some of them randomly on a waiting list so I have to approve them before they appear. When I learned about that I started checking that section daily, because I rarely get a notification about them.

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      2. [1 person ultra limited contest winner]

        This is true but you were on to it so quickly other people were probably just afraid they would get their shit wrecked by Tamás Illes, Riddlemaster of Midland and Scion of Atilla! I am dead serious btw. I’ll send you a pdf once its done (which should be a while, Malrex and I are in the Alpha version now and we haven’t even playtested anything yet, but its looking pretty awesome from where I am standing).

        [blogspot]

        Incompatible browser/livejournals is a division greater then anything the OSR can throw at us!

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  2. I feel like there’s a germ of something good here -religion as infection, banging the Avatar for levels, the lunar phase thing – but it belongs in Werewolf, where weird sex and corrosive ideologies and the tracking of lunar motions are par for the course.

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    1. Basically that. I find the ideology shining through the overall piece distasteful but even an adherent of the Credo Capillos ex Hyacintho must admit special-snowflake powers granted for being a victim with lots of bookkeeping is not exactly in the spirit of OSR style design.

      I haven’t tried or read Werewolf but I have decided giving another White Wolf product a grilling. I promise to review only the most tasteful product I can find. More to come.

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      1. [This Is Not OSR]

        No argument from me there.

        [Werewolf]

        I’m going to admit this now: the only thing I’ve ever done with Werewolf is create a character for it (a folk-singin’ Fianna genetic reject who travelled around Ireland in a knackered VW and smelled of Jameson’s: essentially Kent with a trace of musical talent) and then promptly get sick into the amount of nonsense involved in deciding what shape you’re going to be. I can see the necessity of the filmic ‘wolfman’ form but did we need to track five whole fucking shapes with their own stat breakdown? We did not. Also, it’s *painfully* Americocentric, to the point where the vocabulary makes piss all sense outside continental North America.

        [Roasting White Wolf]

        It’s either Transylvania Chronicles or you’re lunging for relevance and doing V5, right? I mean, you wouldn’t actually review the Tradition Book I recommended. I thought you LIKED yourself.

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      2. [This is Not OSR]

        PrinceofNothing DESTROYS wolfcuck vonflake with ARGUMENTS and colorful off-beat metaphors.

        [Werewolf]

        Excessive book-keeping and cubersome subsystems kills games. Amerocentrism never really bothered me since the cultural victor gets to force powers to conform to their standard (which is why having cultures aping your shit is actually A GOOD THING that should be taken as flattery). I can see the appeal of VtM but Werewolf always seemed to me a game for the outcastiest of the outcasts. Edgy ninja turtles is the highest that one can aspire too.

        [WW]

        Only the hottest fires of hell serve to purify a soul poisoned with kindness such as mine. My heart must be tempered for the coming times. No more Nice Prince. No more accolades given to mediocrities that clog up the drivethru shelfs like weeds. The weapon of the prince-critic is not a knightly sword but the Headman’s axe. Let me emerge from my ordeal rendered down to nothing and inverted, a negative presence, a hole in the world. A true Prince of Nothing.

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      3. [Prince Declares Victory In Fight That Didn’t Happen]

        I know you’ve just reviewed Kent’s module but try to focus on things that actually exist again, yeah?

        [Americocentrism]

        The problem here is not ideological but practical. Words like “metis” and “ronin” have no significance or meaning to me but they are presented to me as though no explanation of them is necessary, even though only three or so tribes are actually from a culture where those terms are native. It just nags at me, in the same way that the presence of Rottweilers on the Discworld does (there’s no place called Rottweil REEEEEEEEE).

        And don’t start me on how these xenophobic modern primitives with strong tribal lineage cultures who live in the goddamn countryside and not in the melting pots of enforced assimilation we call ‘cities’ are apparently supposed to culturally cooperate their way into forming grab-bag groups of player characters. It’s all very cute and progressive but their circumstances seem more inclined to produce an isolationist culture and isn’t Werewolf fundamentally a reactionary game anyway, really, about aggressive eco-conservatism?

        [The Axe Is Mightier Than The Sword]

        God, does that mean you ARE doing the Hollow Ones?

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      4. [You are all Living in Princedits World]

        …currently…smoking…victory

        [Muric]

        So you are saying WW is actually…too progressive? *sunglasses, wolfcucks, snowflakes, I have had my fun etc. etc.*

        I actually see your point since that would fuck with the normally diverse cultural backgrounds the furfags are supposedly from, like an All Ultramarines deathwatch if you will.

        [Agressive eco-conservatism]

        That depends if you consider it from an american perspective or a european one, where environmental conservatism is much more depolitisized. I thought it was about living out your fantasies of being a secret wolf-badass and finally beating up bullies and CEOs.

        [AXE]

        Hint: Atrocity Archives.

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      5. [Too Progressive?]

        I’m saying Werewolf isn’t properly thought through and that OG White Wolf’s progressive agenda is one of the many things it runs into headfirst.

        [All Ultramarines Deathwatch]

        Right. To me the premise of Werewolf holds up better if you’re all from the same Tribe but the standard remit of the RPG is to have mechanically distinct “classes” and not double up on each other’s niche.

        [Being a secret wolf-badass and finally beating up bullies and CEOs]

        It’s about that too. But that takes place in an invented fictional and a real counter-cultural context, has various myths and presumptions baked into it and so on. The same point of view is that which states D&D is Manifest Destiny With Swords and whether your table gives a toss about that or not, the game’s design philosophy still comes from there.

        [Atrocity Archives]

        There’s a bunch of things that COULD be – anyway I await the outcome of your trawlings with interest.

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      6. [WW]

        Agreement. Werewolf has the weakest niche, followed by Changeling (the 2nd edition was rad though, I would never play it but it was rad), preceded by Mummy I guess. Vampire and Mage can appeal to fairly broad audiences and Wraith might be good in a depression-quest sort of way. Orpheus I’d like to check out.

        [WW]

        God I am already looking for my booze. First a de facto Defend Dead God Excavation review, then this. Madness.

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  3. Relevant: https://www.geeknative.com/63810/warehouse-destroys-disgusting-lamentations-of-the-flame-princess-rpg-supplement/

    I think it is garbage but it should not be destroyed for being offensive, it should be destroyed for being worthless and taking up valuable space by the people that actually own it. I wonder if Raggi’s recent pose with Peterson had any influence on the offense. This is why the measure of right and wrong can never be entrusted to vocal proponents of progressive ideology. Even an obviously pro-feminist tract can still be a thoughtcrime.

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    1. I think Occam’s Razor applies well here: you don’t need Raggi or Peterson to see a cause and effect relationship between talk about menses and nerdy boys throwing a strop.

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