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.  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 , 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.
 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?
 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.