Interview with James Edward Raggi IV and Rafael Chandler about No Salvation For Witches (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)

Although it’s not one of the more mainstream gaming brands like Shadowrun, World of Darkness or Pathfinder, Lamentations of the Flame Princess has an ever growing and pretty damn devout following. Amongst the DHGF staffers, it’s a personal favorite of Chuck Platt and Matt Faul. Personally speaking, I would say in terms of release quality this year, LotFP, D&D 5e and Dungeon Crawl Classics are by far the top contenders for our “System of the Year” award come the end of 2014. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time Lamentations of the Flame Princess would pick up an award from Diehard GameFAN if it happens. In 2011 Vornheim won our “Best Campaign Setting Award” and Lamentations of the Flame Princess Grindhouse Edition won our “Best OSR Release” awards, and in 2013, Better Than Any Man won our award for “Best Free Release.”

I bring up all this history and praise for a very good reason – which is the whole point of the following interview. Currently on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, James Edward Raggi IV is trying to raise funds for the next LotFP adventure, No Salvation For Witches. The campaign ends on August 25th, and the goal is to raise 5,000 Euros in order to make a hardcover prestige copy of the adventure happen. You don’t see a lot of hardcover releases for LotFP, so this is a pretty big deal. Perhaps more important, the campaign is a “Pay What You Want” endeavor, meaning it is up to you, the potential backer, to decide how much this release is worth to you. Do you have a decent amount of disposable income and are a HUGE FAN of LotFP? You can throw a hundred euros at this thing (Unlikely, but I’m sure Raggi would be touched). Don’t have much money, but you want to support indie gaming at its finest? Give what you can and you’ll still receive the swanky physical release once it is ready. While “Pay What You Want” releases are not unheard of in the tabletop industry, this is the first PWYW crowdfunding campaign of any kind I’ve heard of, making the success of this campaign all the more interesting. I’ve seen pledges as low as a single Euro, with some as high as fifty! Because the success of this campaign will have at least a minor effect on how other publishers will look at crowd funding, I sat down with both James Edward Raggi IV and the author of No Salvation For Witches, Rafael Chandler, to learn more about the campaign and the adventure itself.

Diehard GameFAN: Lamentations of the Flame Princess has traditionally used Indiegogo over Kickstarter even though most RPG publishers overwhelming use the latter. Why Indiegogo?

James Edward Raggi IV: LotFP is based in Finland, and Kickstarter isn’t available for use here. Finding an “agent” to run a Kickstarter in the US opens up a whole load of additional complications, so it’s much easier to stick with IndieGoGo and keep personal control over the campaign and the money gained from it.

DHGF: Your current project, No Salvation for Witches is a sixty-four page hardcover adventure. What about this adventure made you decide to go the deluxe treatment on it?

James: Well you know how it is. You’re the publisher, BSing with the writer, and he’s got grand ideas, you’ve got grand ideas, and suddenly you’re commissioning full color artwork and making something that you want to make sure is not just dismissed as just another adventure on the giant pile of adventures available these days. It’s a bit of a prestige thing, really, and in this day of digital proliferation, if you’re going to try to sell a physical book, you need to make sure it’s a damn cool physical book.

DHGF: This particular adventure is being done in a “Pay What You Want” style which is slowly but surely gaining traction in the tabletop industry. You’ve done PWYW for digital format or physical releases at conventions. What made you decide to go this route for a crowdfunding campaign? Currently the average price for the book being paid is 14.75 Euros (which is 20 US dollars for our Stateside readers). Is that about the amount you were hoping/shooting for?

James: I decided to go this route because Pay What You Want has done well for me at conventions, and if there is anything I can do as a publisher right now to get a lot of attention for a project, this is it. The immediate concern is to get the bills paid on the project, and then see if we can actually make a little money on the whole thing.

The 14,75€ average is great. I expected my “hardcore” fan-base to not lowball their contributions, but if this thing does get wider attention I’d consider it a minor miracle to keep a 14,75€ average. I’m happy to be proven wrong on that, but in any event I trust people to not rip off me and Rafael and force us to take a loss when deciding how much to pay.

DHGF: This is your ninth or so crowdfunding campaign for LotFP. What’s the biggest lesson, good or bad, that you’ve learned from all these endeavors?

James: Whatever due date you think is reasonable to set on your campaign… it isn’t. It’s a lie. Being on time delivering a crowdfund project means having the project done before you launch. (No Salvation for Witches just has layout adjustments to do, plus one piece of art to be delivered and we have a plan if that piece isn’t delivered.)

Also, the post office will increase their rates between the time a campaign launches and your project ships, even if you are on time. You can count on it. Sometimes the rate changes are announced while your campaign is ongoing and you see that you’re going to lose more money for every new backer you get. (For this campaign, shipping charges will be handled later, and we estimate that it will cost 5€ for worldwide economy shipping.)

DHGF: For people that have never played a roleplaying game or are at least brand new to LotFP, what about No Salvation For Witches should make them take the plunge?

Rafael Chandler: This is an adventure set during a tumultuous time. Over the past 120 years, England’s population has nearly doubled; the cost of goods has multiplied fivefold; and in Jamestown, starving colonists have done the unthinkable. Depending on their choices, the characters may be able to change all of this.

James: There are many reasons to take this plunge:

First of all, other publishers are watching. If this experiment is successful you will see other campaigns like it from all sorts of people, letting more people get more things at a price that suits them more, while the producers of the material still get to pay the bills.

Second, the adventure is a perfect introduction to the style and attitude of LotFP. Absolutely no limits on subject matter or content (and both me and Rafael are way too deep in the strange European horror and underground heavy metal scenes and it shows), but with top-shelf production values in the art, design, and physical construction of the books that compare favorably to anyone in this industry.

Lastly, it’s an absolutely killer adventure that will drive players up a wall, because it’s a completely non-linear format with lots of difficult choices to make, always something they can do but no clear indication about what they’re supposed to do. The adventure might have lots of combat, or lots of role-playing, or both, or neither, depending on what the players do. And there’s no planned ending setpiece – the resolution depends entirely on what the characters decide to do and what they can manage to do. Very sophisticated without being complicated.

Hell, horror aficionados and collectors not interested in RPGs at all might find it an interesting piece.

Honestly, you get to choose your own price for a full-color hardcover book that will be full of wonderful and terrible things that you won’t believe we actually dared to publish, and you’ll be getting the book mailed to you from Finland.

The real question isn’t “why should someone take the plunge,” but rather why in the world would they not?

DHGF Will No Salvation for Witches be more of a dungeon crawl, an open world exploration piece, talking head format or a mixture of all three? What type of gamer will No Salvation for Witches appeal to?

Rafael: This is an open world exploration, but there are certain constraints; the players will be able to explore the setting, which includes moors, villages, and a derelict priory. In addition, there’s a bit of a dungeon, but it’s quite small, and really, it’s very safe. Be sure to go there.

DHGF: How many characters is No Salvation for Witches designed for and what level (for those who are concerned about such things) should the party be at?

Rafael: This is an adventure for a small group of players with low-level characters.

DHGF: Although the crowdfunding campaign is for the physical copy of the book, there is a growing number of gamers who prefer digital to the dead tree version of things. Can someone still donate and just get the PDF if they wanted to forgo a physical copy, no matter how snazzy it might be?

James: For tax reasons, this campaign is for those who want the physical book. I suppose you could contribute and then just not follow-up for the physical book after we send the PDF out to backers, but we’re assuming backers want the book.

The book will be available in print and PDF for people who do not participate in the campaign, but the Pay What You Want pricing is just for the campaign.

DHGF: The Tract of Teratology, a key component to the adventure, is supposed to be able to generate roughly 3.6 TRILLION different monsters according to the campaign page. Can you give us any examples of the fiendish thingies that can be born from this thing?

Rafael: Of course!

“Cube-shaped body with transparent skin showing the internal organs; cold to the touch. Appendages: Glistening trench full of delicate bulbs of tissue. Scent of honeysuckle. Neutral: Acts in its own interests; bears the caster no ill will, but is not favorably disposed towards him either. If the caster makes good fodder for satisfying the entity’s Compulsion, so be it. 15 hit points. Armor class 14. 2 attacks for 1d4 damage. Movement 60′. Morale 10. Knows 1 randomly-selected 3rd level Magic-User spell. Attacks at +3. Compulsion: To consume some of the flesh of those who have fornicated recently. After 2 days, the monster vanishes silently.”

DHGF After No Salvation for Witches, what is next for LotFP?

James: Projects LotFP is working on, some of which are going to press in a matter of weeks, some of which are just concepts at this point:

The Bringer of Light by Rafael Chandler, Broken Toys by Scott Dorward, Broodmother Skyfortress by Jeff Rients, The Combing of Hairy Nook by Paul Keigh, The Idea from Space by Simon Carryer, Land of Legend by Mauro Longo and Giussepe Rotondo, Leviathan by Aeron Alfrey, On a Strange Distant Strand by Michael Curtis, A Red and Pleasant Land by Zak S, the LotFP Referee book, The Squid the Kabala and the Old Man by Andre Novoa, Towers Two by Dave Brockie with Jobe Bittman, Veins of the Earth by Patrick Stuart, World of the Lost by Rafael Chandler, The Worming of Ridden Midden by Paul Keigh, plus reprints of Death Frost Doom, Tower of the Stargazer, and Vornheim: The Complete City Kit.

So there you go. Curious about LotFP? Back this campaign. LotFP is compatible with a lot of other retro-clone/OSR systems, so if you’re a fan of something like Swords & Wizardry or Castles & Crusades, you can still pick this up and use the adventure with your system of choice. Are you just a fan of collectible adventures or hardcover curiosities? This too means you might want to pick up No Salvation for Witches. There’s no better time to try Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and since you get to decide the price tag on this adventure, you don’t have to feel like you paid too much if it ends up not being to your liking. Check out the campaign here, and if it sounds intriguing, throw some money at it. In the meantime, you can always check our LotFP Review Archive to learn more about the game, visit the official homepage or even download a free version of the core rulebook!



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One response to “Interview with James Edward Raggi IV and Rafael Chandler about No Salvation For Witches (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)”

  1. […] ran an IndieGoGo campaign for an adventure entitled, No Salvation for Witches. You might have seen an interview I did with James Edward Raggi IV and Rafael Chandler about it. The campaign ended on August 25th and ended up raising 8,328 Euros. With 665 backers (so close, I […]

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