Today, June 16th, is international Free RPG Day, conceived to bring people into their friendly local game shops with the promise of free stuff, and the goal of creating new or recurring customers for both the stores and the publishers. Quick-start rules and taster adventures are very popular for this. One introduces potential new players to a system, whereas the other caters both to existing players of the game, while at the same time introducing the world to new ones. Other publishers take this opportunity to create something fun that can be a little outside of their regular lines, like Paizo does with the by now obligatory “We Be Goblins” series of Free RPG Day adventures.

The covers of the 3 most recent Free RPG Day books from LotFP

In each case the freebies are generally relatively short, and many of them re-use existing art and layouts, which makes perfect sense, since they’re given away for free. Not so for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. As publisher James Edward Raggi IV writes in his introduction to last year’s offering, Vaginas are Magic!, “The goal is to get people more excited for it, more hyped for it, more excited to go to their local game store to pick up a copy.” Enter: Eldritch Cock, a 48 page, full color, hardcover book of spells.

The Title

Naked, wet Mottokrosh holding Eldritch Cock.

After the success of Vaginas are Magic!—a spell book for characters able to be impregnated and carry a child to term (alien nuns, et al)—the next logical step was a book for the other sex. And the introduction had already mentioned it: Eldritch Cock.

Of course it was meant as a joke. But ultimately the demand became such that James caved in to peer pressure and went full steam ahead with it.

The Content

Now, fans of Lamentations content will know that this publisher is not one to shy away from human and inhuman bodies and all their organs, in and out. But the iconic adventurers gracing the covers, and often pages, are all female, and James explains that he didn’t exactly look forward to exclusively writing about—let alone comissioning art for—penises. So what we get instead is a lavish book of magic inspired by song titles from metal bands, like Reverend Bizarre, Necros Christos, Black Sabbath, Paradise Lost, and more.

The meat of the book—yes, I too get to make the odd dick joke—is twenty-two spells, each more inventive and weirder than the next. Spell names include “Arguments Against Design”, “Chewing Through The Membranes of Time and Space”, and my favorite, “The Planet That Once Used To Absorb Flesh In Order To Achieve Divinity And Immortality (Suffocated To The Flesh That It Desired).” Each spell includes description and effects as well as a dedicated Miscast table that expands a generic one.

Naked couple holding books in front of their genitalia.

On top of the spells we get a reminder of the new Weird Magic System first introduced in Vagines are Magic!, a levelless system with risky casting, where certain situations (such as casting more spells than your regular allotment, reading from a spellbook not written in your own hand, or when casting a spell for the first time) force you to make a saving throw or roll on the Miscast table.

Of course we also get a short one page description of this book and Lamentations of the Flame Princess as a whole, and an introduction from James Raggi himself, who, as well as being the publisher, is also the author of the book. There is furthermore a thank you page listing the people who, like myself (“Frank Reding”), preordered the book and thus helped fund it for the masses.

At the end of the book is a pullout with a very special magic item, which I won’t spoil here for you. And finally, we get two pages of playtest notes of rules that are currently being considered for a potential next edition, although James makes it very clear that such a thing—if it happens—is a long way away still.

The Production Values

In a word: insane. As mentioned already, this is a 48 page hardcover, but not only that, each spell has a full page, full color illustration, painted by incredible artists like Yannick Bouchard, Rosi Kämpe (who did all the interior art for Vaginas are Magic!), Eric Lofgren, Rich Longmore, Ian Maclean, Jan Pospíšil, and Claudio Pozas. Graphic design is once again by regular InDesign wizard Jez Gordon, and features pleasant plum and pink hues, standing nicely in contrast to some of the crazier paintings.

It is no exaggeration to say that this book is more beautiful than a great many flagship RPG releases, let alone publications that are given away for free.

Conclusion

Lamentations of the Flame Princess produces material for a niche group of enthusiasts, with its no holds barred, uncensored, and honest approach to weird fantasy roleplaying. This is of course in stark contrast to the big name publishers, who target their material at the widest possible audience. By necessity this results in more toned down stuff, very unlikely to offend. But here we have wild stuff. Free stuff, and not (just) in the way that it costs nothing, but in that it is unshackled from social or political constraints. It is simply great and creative gaming material, designed purely to engender fun at the gaming table (or screen).

If you happen to be a fan of this approach to roleplaying material already, then this book hits the jackpot for you. And if you’re just discovering this freshly: welcome to a world of unbounded creativity.

I cannot wait to see what James comes up with for next year.