[Review] Eldritch Cock (Lotfp): The Masks We Wear

[Because Fuck You That’s Why]
Eldritch Cock (2018)
James Raggi IV (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
EDIT: FREE RPG DAY PRODUCT (thanks Brandon)

Jan’uari is on full swing. Embrace the suck.

Two year ago James Raggi inflicted upon his fans the aggressively unnecessary Vaginas are Magic a supplement of weirdo magic spells that only girls could use. Last year he was pressured into releasing its would-be counterpart Eldritch Cock with magic for dudes. Being the enthusiastic free-speech defender who doesn’t afraid of anything he is, he totally would have rocked our socks off with some throbbing testosterone-ridden thaumaturgies and stuck it to the man, except that he didn’t. Instead we get this:

But this isn’t going to be a book of spells that can only be cast by men. Oh, I had the concept, writing the introduction first-person style from the perspectives of
Willibald Schwartz and Iri-Khan like they were ardent MRA/GamerGate types, with no indication that’s it’s all a gag, and then do a bunch of crazy spells based off of death metal songs, because I like nothing better than trolling an audience where I’m supposed to be doing Serious Marketing.

But a funny thing happened on the way to writing that… I didn’t want to do it. You might notice that all the “iconic” Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP) characters are women, right? The idea of writing a book where I’ll have to commission a bunch of art featuring men was just too depressing to contemplate. I like saying “Hey, how about in this piece you’re pregnant and the fetus is showing through your belly?” to people I know (and the models for all these characters are people I know). Nothing says “productive professional relationship” like trolling your reference models and letting them guess whether you’re trying to be funny or are actually very creepy. (Answer: Both!)

Man that is so edgy. Raggi would have stuck it to the PC crowd except he just didn’t want to do it but he totally could have if he wanted to!

So I needed a new concept. Yes, I’d keep the title, because that’s what people are expecting and wanting, and I very much enjoy being held up as an example of a complete and utter monster in my industry. But then came Harvey Weinstein and Me Too and then revelations from our own industry here and suddenly all my thunder was
stolen. How can I be the biggest villain in gaming if I’m not doing real harm like these people? How can I again see the looks of concern from random passersby at Gen Con, watching people suddenly hurry to get away when they realize they’re near my booth, and writing pissy things about me after they’ve had their own booth across the aisle from me at the UK Games Expo, if all I do is publish fictional nonsense they don’t like?

The more I read Raggi the more I am starting to figure out that his cuckoldry r.e. Peterson is by no means an isolated event and for all his pretensions of rebellious anti-authoritarianism and being all free speech, few people take as much effort to break-dance to the drum-beat of Political Correctness as James Raggi. All female iconics? Check! Diversity hire? Check!  Diversity hire? Check!  Standing up for your supposed principles when they are actually threatened? Uh…

When you boil it down, James Raggi is neither an advocate for the free exchange of ideas nor an opponent of the ideology that is threatening it, he is just a Cuck who likes putting smut in his games so he can get attention the only way he knows how.

But just maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “Yes, Big Name RPGs are a bit shit.” You like the general concept of gaming that they provide, but you’re just a little bit let down with how restrained everything seems to be. They tend to throw so many character options at you and show you how awesome you can be as a smokescreen to distract from the fact that the work they publish isn’t very awesome itself. You’ve been waiting
your whole life to read an RPG book that goes all the way to 11.

Hi!

As I have stated previously, I am convinced Raggi’s muse has long been extinguished and he is no longer able, by some deeply-rooted psychological flaw, to create anything worthwhile on a gaming level. Instead he postures, “trolls,” shocks, wallows in filth and despoils his own creation in an effort to hide his insecurity.

I apologize for the somewhat catty introduction before I get to the actual supplement but since the foreword of Eldritch Cuck has as many words as the rest of the book and is many times more interesting I consider it fair game for me to comment upon.

Example: Raggi takes the time to outline his perspective on the use of sex and gore in media.

We need to seriously talk about why gore and sexuality are disdained as popular art concepts by both the general public and media gatekeepers. I find this all rather ridiculous. There are three things that are true about human beings in Western society:
One, we are all made of meat and we are all going to die. Two, we are sexual beings whose evolutionary imperative is to reproduce. Three, our individual consciousnesses are horrified by both of these facts, and a constant through human social history is the
effort to control these things to the best of our ability.

Or in other words, sex and death are inescapably real and invariably important to all of us, and our personal feelings about these things come into conflict on some level with greater society.

What is his point? This is how a moron argues. You could replace the first two points with any two taboos that have originated from evolutionary and cultural selection pressures and the text loses none of its meaning. Observe.

We need to seriously talk about why gore and sexuality are disdained as popular art concepts by both the general public and media gatekeepers. I find this all rather ridiculous. There are three things that are true about human beings in Western society:
One, apes and humans share 98.8 percent of their DNA. Two, we are sexual beings whose evolutionary imperative is to reproduce. Three, our individual consciousnesses are horrified by both of these facts, and a constant through human social history is the effort to control these things to the best of our ability.

Or in other words, Hot Monkey Secks is inescapably real and invariably important to all of us, and our personal feelings about these things come into conflict on some level with greater society.

Or this.

There are three things that are true about human beings in Western society:
One, Bears Love Beets. Two, we are sexual beings whose evolutionary imperative is to reproduce. Three, our individual consciousnesses are horrified by both of these facts, and a constant through human social history is the effort to control these things to the best of our ability. Four, Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica. 

Feel free to meme the fuck out of that in the comment section. Give us your own attempt, they are all good. The point continues further (I have included selected passages, I will not be reviewing the whole thing).

Stories about these things are of course applauded, but only within very strict parameters. Graphic depictions of sex or violence are unclean, impure. They are pornography and must be isolated, denigrated, no matter their quality. They’re trash to be degraded. People must not be reminded of who they are and what they are underneath their facade. Children must be utterly shielded from discovering what they will become. The fiction we consume, the fiction we are able to consume, must at all costs reinforce the societal fiction of what we are, and bury the reality of it.

James, your philosophy is sophomoric and incoherent and I can almost picture you defensively chanting these lines to Chris Hansen in your wizard robe from the murky insides of a dilapidated van.

[…] Because I cannot believe that a society that so deeply denies its own mortality, its own physical form, has any chance in hell of seriously considering the mortality of others, of having any chance of accepting those whose bodies are different in even minor ways like skin shading or eyelid shape, let alone major ways like having different genitals. I cannot believe that a society that acts so ashamed of even the most baseline average sexuality has any chance of truly accepting those whose sexuality differs from that baseline average.

You hear that gang? Lotfp is going to end Bigotry, one shitty magic supplement at a time! Also what different genitals are you referring to? Are you referring to a Za’akier’s genital ring?

If you think I’m doing it wrong, by all means do your own work and show the world how to do it right. If you can’t convince people that you’re right, if you’re disturbed
that Lamentations of the Flame Princess has so many fans and gets so much attention publishing the trash that we do and carrying the attitudes that we do, maybe we’re not the freaks here.

You are.

No I am pretty sure you guys are still the freaks James, that is why you get the attention you crave. You are abberant and thus attract attention, like a circus freakshow. Your hypocrisy lies in the fact that you REQUIRE, absolutely, the very controversy you rail against. You need it as surely as a fish needs water. If you strip out the edge most of your efforts would be unremarkable.

I think it is time to move on to the actual supplement. Like Vaginas are Magic, Eldritch Cock presents us with 22 new spells for Lotfps new unnecessary magic system. The pdf is loud and colorful in the manner of a prostitute or circus clown an every spell is accompanied by lavish full color full page art. It is a monument to garish excess, erected [1] by means of kickstarter and the ill-considered fiscal decision-making of a hundred. It is the platonic James Raggi.

If Vaginas Are Magic gave you the chance to destroy your campaign setting with an ill-timed miscasting, get crapped in the mouth for eternity by a french pedophile, grow into a fully erect goat-man or have volcanic buttsecks, Eldritch Cock allows you to be urinated upon by the Undead to gain their abilities, lengthen everyone’s dicks, rip out your own guts for bonuses or turn people into boneless puddle men.

Its Vaginas are Magic +1. The years have not been kind and the shock-jocky shtick is as tiresome as ever, which is a shame because Eldritch Cock is actually superior to its predecessor in terms of mechanics, writing, compatibility with prior Lotfp modules and humor.

James exercises a strange discipline with the new spells. More direct combat spells are provided (wreaths of acid, planetary rings that orbit around the caster and may be used to restrain opponents, suddenly teleport a floor up etc.) and even the really stupid spells that no one will use like the dick lengthening spell are at least mechanically interesting. for example, the spell Curses Scribed in Gore [2] reduces your hit points to 1 per caster level but you can only be hit on a natural 20, you take only minimum damage and you always succeed at saving throws. That’s an interesting trade-off.

There is magic that allows you to fuck with the rerolls, magic allowing you to break the 4th wall for a real time minute, an honest to god Resurrection via Magical Lightning spell (in Lotfp) a really interesting divination spell that gathers information from nearby microorganisms and so on. Perhaps the lack of pressure (since he has already declared that he is “trolling”) allows James to perform better, but these COULD be alright. Omnipotent Crawling Chaos, to name another one, is a fine summoning spell, with just enough drawbacks to give it tactical complexity and drawbacks that make it dangerous but still worth it.

I say EC COULD be good because Eldritch Cock, more so then its predecessor, drives home just how unworkable the magic rules are. You can throw any sort of immersion or coherent campaign straight out the window. The Backlash rules regularly involve planet if not universe-wide side-effects giving the already somewhat wonky implied setting of Lotfp all the consistency and depth of a 70s DC comic and removing any chance of immersion, and with it horror.

Eldritch Cuck exemplifies the spirit of the times. It is impossible to figure out what is irony, what is meant to be taken serious, what is truth and what is virtue, what is profane and what is debased. It is a schizophrenic synesthesia of pretentious dialog revealing the underlying nihilism of the universe accompanied by imagery of clock-faced witches in tableaus sharing no consistent period, theme or tone. As a gaming supplement it is useless but as a piece of dadaistic meta-commentary on Lamentations of the Flame Princess itself it is brilliant.

The titular Eldritch Cock makes an appearance in the back of the book. The Rod of Lordly Might is the petrified phallus of Jesus of Nazareth and might be one of the most sophisticated penis jokes I have ever seen. The fully functional item powers are both creative and hilarious (e.g ” With a shake the Rod extends to 10’ long, and can be used as a 10’ pole, and is sturdy enough to be used for pole vaulting”).

The back of Eldritch Cock contains sample rules for the next edition of Lotfp (How is that GM’s Guide coming along James?) with the following design goals (abbreviated):

1. Process of play should remain the same
2. Backwards compatibility is a must
3. Characters at low levels should have more options because Lotfp is high mortality

Ability scores have been revamped, making higher scores more powerful and lower scores more debilitating. Hit dice is now a factor of constitution, Dex only affects Initiative and Strength affects encumbrance only. Is this a joke? A tried and true formula that has remained largely unchanged through decades of playtesting has been thrown out and replaced with something asinine. Why? What is happening?

Combat rules will now have…4 different attack bonuses? One for parrying, melee, firearms and ranged attacks. Fighters get their progression on everything anyway and all other characters get +1 to firearms and one random category. Uh…so what? Its a +1. Why this differentiation if that is the only difference. Autistic.

Parrying is now an autistic mess. All weapon damage is d8 but Armour counts double against smaller weapons. Everyone now has Skill points modified (HEAVILY) by intelligence, so why would anyone still pick Specialists. The entire class differentiation is fucking ass backwards now. New skills have been added, such as a Medicine skill that allows you to kill with astonishing regularity anyone under your long term care [3], aggrevated by the removal of a dedicated healing class (the Cleric) and Saving throws are now entirely dependent on TWO ability scores (and doesn’t improve over time).

James Raggi points out, by selective presentation of information, a character’s chance of passing a saving throw based on this new system. I approve of the fact that James (and soon everyone) appreciates that Lotfp is suitable only for module-crawling and thus adding variation between saving throws at character creation makes sense since characters are unlikely to survive a long term campaign but it comes across as Novelty for Novelty’s sake and the addition of two essential ability scores is unwelcome.

If Raggi was going to fix anything, he should focus on the garbage Blackpowder weapon rules, the shitty domain management rules and the incoherent armor rules in the current edition.

Eldritch Cock is interesting from a marketing or even a meta- standpoint but ultimately I don’t see anyone using any of its content. Loud, garish, obnoxious, colorful, it exemplifies everything Raggi stands for. The ramshackle exterior of Lotfp is splayed open and its guts are ripped out, thrown to the gibbering crowd. In the back, an albino in a gimp suit is crucifying his sixth owl to a life-sized portrait of Gary Gygax to the rhapsodies of a blinded flute-player. “This!” sayeth Raggi. “This is All That It Ever Was!” “The Masks We Wear!,” the crowd shrieks and hoots in delight, savaging the entrail meat as they scratch their offal-dyed faces. “The Masks We Wear!”

No score.

[1] Heh.
[2] All spells are named after metal songs because…sigh
[3] Medicine: A successful use doubles recovery of hit points, ability scores, etc. for that day. If the patient has at least half their hit points, a failure means no recovery. If the
patient has less than half their hit points, a failure requires a further saving throw to be made by the patient or they take 1d8 damage on a failed save (see below) or 1d4 damage on a partial save (see below). A successful save means no further damage.

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19 thoughts on “[Review] Eldritch Cock (Lotfp): The Masks We Wear

    1. To slaughter your enemies, see then driven before you, and to review the lamentations of their women.

      Death, Hope, Love, Smut. A laugh. A cry. Friendships rekindled and enmities made. A month of portents indeed.

      Like

  1. Of course, James should have done the fetus and cock thing, even though he didn’t wanted to…
    Because free speech. Think about what you wrote there.
    The new rules are interesting, from a mechanical standpoint, but I feel underwhelmed as well. Not needed. And I’m not a great fan of the level less spells – some are definitely better than others… So, you could, maybe, rate them somehow? If only we had a mechanic for that…

    Like

    1. [Wrote there]

      It’s your first comment here so I will be lenient. You may attempt to interpret my message a second time and comment upon its merits or demerits. If it is unclear merely ask and I will clarify. If you think I am being a shitlord or a moron just yell, threaten or explain your reasoning. Don’t try that passive-aggressive shit with me again.

      [Rating]

      I only rate serious rpg products. Read my review of Vaginas are Magic if there is anything else you want to know before deciding to purchase this free product.

      Like

  2. There are three things that are true about human beings in Western society:
    One, Prince of Nothing and James Raggi IV share over 98.8 percent of their DNA. Two, Prince is a pretentious autistic RPG connoisseur who can not abide nonsensical political ramblings in his elfgames . Three, James is a clinical narcissist utterly dependent on digital back-pats and controversy evoked by his pseudo-intellectual drivel.

    Or in other words, They are already in a symbiotic relationship and should just have invariably Hot Monkey Secks to get it out of their system since it is inescapably important to both of them.

    Our personal feelings about these things come into conflict on some level with greater society…

    Like

    1. Pseudo-intellectual drivel sums it up really elegantly and I have read more Raggi then probably his wife and friends but you called me a homogay so I am going to have to No Score this comment.

      Like

  3. I remember the first time I heard about LotFP … “This system is so dark and gory”, “This is fantasy for adults.” and stuff like:”The artwork is really disturbing … but gorgeous.”.
    So i bought a copy of the corebook, read it and … kinda liked it. Some good rules, some shitty rules …
    The slowly rotting head in the spells section was a nice touch …
    It was edgy, it was shocking and it didn’t care what you tought about it..
    In hindsight I should have seen it coming 😉
    But then LotFP presented itself with such a daring bravado, it just swept all the doubts away.
    But like Prince mentioned: The works of J. Raggi have diminished greatly in quality over the years .
    Its all nothing more than shocks and twist, edginess and provocation … but without the tooth and claw that is required to fight of the naysayers.
    Having twists and shocks just for the shock value is worth exactly nothing,
    It’s like writing “you gain a level” on a Brick and throwing it at one of your players. Sure, it’s a shock, but nobody is going to enjoy it.
    The other problem is, that Raggi tries to paint himself as the ultimate villain of mainstream RPG (his words, see above) but then tries to please everybody … and if you try to please everybody, you please nobody.
    He makes grand announcements of new and shocking projects he will spawn from his eldritch mind … only to change his mind (eldritch or not) when some parts of your esteemed hobby voice disdain.

    You have to have some principles … and more importantly you have to communicate these principles to your intended audience. So they can decide if they want anything to do with you.
    If you have no principles or don’t communicate them clearly people will never be sure where you stand.
    The inconsistent behaviour of Raggi is exactly the thing that tells people, that you have no clear principles on which you make decisions.

    But thats just my opinion and I am hardly an expert on such matters 😉
    greetings from the black forrest

    Like

    1. Welcome to Age of Dusk Grützi (that’s a hell of a name).

      They’ve changed alright. I remember when he came up with Slime God St. Augustine in a catacomb chasing everyone down and you could find the Spear of Longinus. That was the good stuff. Now its all this ironic fudgepackery and kissing up to GenCon, it’s like he is trying to turn his brand into a caricature of itself.

      I dunno, I guess its part of the shtick but I get a little miffed when I realize there are dozens and dozens of people out there who are at least as talented if not better then the best Lotfp has to offer (Kowolski, Stuart, Rients) but who get drowned out because of all this noise. Also I like this format.

      Like

      1. [name]
        Well I am german … It’s not like we wanted our language to be easy 😉

        [Raggi Adventures]
        Yeah, the older ones are pretty good most of the time.

        My problem here is, that nowadays Raggi isn’t really an RPG-writer anymore. He is some kind of showman trying to get the most people to buy his stuff or to talk about him/LotFP (no such thing as bad publicity).He reminds me of some kind of circus director trying to get people to come into his tent by proclaiming to have the most fearsome and ghoulish freaks.
        I can’t really blame him for trying to sell his stuff … but his way of promoting it is getting on my nerves.
        If he would at least pull trough with his shtick i could respect him for that (see Mr. Venger Satanis for that. He does crazy stuff and when people complain he doesn’t apologize … he fights) … but then he quickly pumps the brakes when it gets serious.

        [other writers]
        true,true.

        Like

      2. [Deutsch]
        Deutsch ist nicht so Schwierig su…lernen? Ich habe das im Schüle be…tribt? Its actually a lot easier then Dutch, I like german.

        [Raggi v. Venger]

        If I was forced to make the comparison, I’d say that Raggi is a Cuck who likes putting smut in rpg-products, and Venger is a non-Cuck who likes putting smut in rpg-products.

        .

        Like

  4. [Deutsch]
    Well yes, to someone who speaks dutch german must seem easy.
    My girlfriend speaks chinese and she has told me many times how simple most european languages are in comparison :/

    [Raggi v. Venger]
    Well said 🙂
    Personalities and smut aside I can respect Venger for taking a stand and staying true to his ideas and core concepts … even if I don’t share them.
    Raggi is simply making to much noise for nothing for my tastes

    Like

      1. HEY HEY HEY! No cuddly-feely! This is a blog of malice and senseless cruelty with all the warmth and kindness of a Charles Dickens Orphanage in Cocytus! No laughter here! Only Wailing and the Gnashing of Teeth!

        Like

  5. This “supplement” sounds incredibly stupid. At this point, Raggi has become the kid smearing shit on the wall as the rest of us look on in disgust. The torture porn bullshit for the sake of torture porn bullshit from him isn’t even shocking anymore, it seems like its just par for the course. If that needle-dick motherfucker wants to do something edgy or original and “stick it to the mainstream,” he should try and actually write something fun to play.

    Like

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