Lamentations of the Pope - LotFP campaign set in 16th century Rome

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
So, I mentioned over in my thread about poison needle traps that I'm planning a new Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign. My last one ended I think four years ago now, after a good number of sessions and a few completed adventures, but unfortunately not on a high note. Well, lessons learned, since then I've played (but not GMed) a bunch with new people, including a fairly regular D&D 5e campaign that was running weekly until Covid-19 really hit, the temporary digital replacement for that run by a player in the former campaign, a couple of Kutulu (Swedish Cthulu game) sessions, several attempts to get a Mutant: Year Zero game going that never lasted more than a few sessions at a time due to scheduling issues, a Monster of the Week campaign that fell apart due to GM/player conflicts (finally officially died after the GM and one of the players broke up and stopped living together) and a bunch of one shots.

Point is, I haven't GMed, not even at cons (I volunteer at my local con, so never have time to step in and GM there anymore) in a few years now, and I feel the itch to run again. I looked at a bunch of games in my shelf, started reading through Zweihander and then my eyes sort of glazed over and I opened one of my copies of LotFP instead. For those who don't know Lamentations of the Flame Princess is an OSR game based on BECMI but with an interesting skill system. It also has some new variant rules published on the inside cover of a book of new spells that really revamp the magic system (like doing away with clerics and divine magic entirely) and change up a few other bits like saving throws. Since I have access to a wider pool of players this time and can pick players who a) I actually want to play with and b) are interested in playing OSR type stuff, I figured why not try again.

I really like the idea that came up a bit into the publication of LotFP of setting the game in the real world early modern era. Instead of pseudo-France and erzats-Italy, why not just have France and Italy? And if so many of the things that show up in D&D, like plate armor and inns and big cities and walking around armed in those big cities, are more renaissance and early modern than medieval, well why not just set the game in that time period? Still, Lamentations of the Flame Princess should feature some monsters and supernatural things, and probably some D&D-ish things. Plus, one of the advantages of using an OSR ruleset is the wealth of material available as material for any older edition of D&D or any OSR game can be easily converted to any other OSR game. The base is simple and most of the rules are pretty much the same anyway. Some things would need to be adapted to a real world settings (various humanoids and demi-humans will just be humans, maybe from a different culture) and at least partly to the era (firearms are going to be more common for military people than bows or crossbows at that point, but swords and plate armor are fine). But the less I need to adapt the better.

So, when and where in early modern Europe can I start this campaign off? The answer is simple. Rome, 1560. Why Rome? Easy. It's a city that once housed at least a million inhabitants, down to maybe 30,000 by the mid 16th century. It's got tons of ruins around it and inside it. And it has an enormous underground network, including a sewer (the Cloaca Maxima) and hundreds of kilometers of catacombs in the regions around it. Plus there's access to most terrain types very close by (mountains, marshes, plains, hills, rivers and the sea) and even deserts are just a hop skip and a jump across the Mediterranean. Arctic terrain and jungles would require a bit more travel, but nothing impossible in the age of sail.

So, why 1560? Because the Italian wars have just ended, which is going to leave lots of mercenary groups high and dry. So lots of brigands but also probably lots of room for adventurers. The political situation will probably still be fraught, and there's also neat events in the near future to look forward to as adventure opportunities (like the great siege of Malta for instance). It's also pretty early in the early modern and so plate armor is still pretty common, as are a lot of of weapons more often associated with the 15th century.

So, with all that laid out, does anyone have any neat ideas or events or locations that could be fun to throw in there? Any other comments?
 

Lessa

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2018
Messages
1,634
Reaction score
2,375
Don't have anything to contribute except to say that your idea is fantastic, and I'll be watching this closely. :smile:
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
As for humanoids and religion in supplements that I may want to convert for use in this campaign, I have some thoughts. Religion is easy, anything in Europe, North Africa or the Middle East is going to be either Jewish or Christian or Muslim or very secret and hidden. There really aren't any pagans left there at this point. Humanoids are a different story. I could just say "eh, use the stats and say they're just soldiers or brigands", but often these humanoids are portrayed as living together, speaking their own languages, barely speaking or maybe not understanding at all the local common tongue and having fraught relations with other types of humanoids, even if they serve the same master.

So, there is a way to portray that of course. Replace them with real world cultures. Hobgoblins are usually portrayed as fairly militaristic, good soldiers etc. This could be a good match for German Landsknechts. Kind of on the way out at the time, but still definitely relevant in the 1560s. Goblins could then be less reliable German troops and Bugbears would be some kind of elites.

Such a general system would of course need to be overridden if the scenario calls for it (maybe the hobgoblins in this adventure need to be French or Ottoman troops for the thing to hold together), but I think it could still work as a general rule. So, anyone have any ideas what to turn the various common humanoids and demi-humans into (and please, don't head into any direction of race science or anything else of that ilk. This isn't supposed to be anything more than a fun rule of thumb to use when adapting existing modules to real world 16th century Europe).
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Here's a contemporary map/illustration of Rome in 1560 by the way. Look at all that unused land inside the walls of Aurelian. And the Colosseum is already half ruined (that came with an earthquake in 1349, before that it had been used as a fortress and a religious order occupied the northern third until the early 19th century).
Map of Rome 1560.jpg
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
7,704
Reaction score
7,688
I think you should name it "Lamentations of the F***ing Pope" and make it "the LotFP campaign, powered by LotFP":thumbsup:!

Other than that, sounds interesting, but I don't have much to add at the moment.

Oh, and if anyone asks, the asterisks are hiding the word "flaming". What is he flaming is up for grabs:grin:!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,846
Reaction score
7,581
Or just call it Pope F***kers, that fits the LotFP brand pretty well too, and the Pope brand for that matter. What's hidden under the asterisks there is the word Fuckers, just in case anyone is curious.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
905
Reaction score
2,229
So, Rome 1560, great choice for a setting! A possible adventure idea: there's a new pope in town--Pius IV just took the throne in January. He was a Medici, though from a Milanese family, not the more famous Florentine ones. Part of his early program was dealing with notoriously corrupt nephews of his predecessor, Paul IV. They were pieces of work--the eldest, Carlo Carafa, had been a condottiere and sometime bandit, noted for dueling, murder, assassination, and the massacre of a band of Spanish soldiers, but his uncle made him a cardinal in 1555. Anyway, the nephews were arrested in June, 1560 and put on trial for various crimes. They were executed the next year--since Carlo was a cardinal he escaped with mere strangulation, but his brothers were beheaded.

So, the PCs get involved in this situation somehow--maybe they are hired to spring the brothers from prison at one point, or maybe they are sent to gather evidence about their misdeeds. Lots of opportunities for double-dealing if your players like that sort of thing: they could be hired by a papal agent to infiltrate the Carafa boys' network, but then have to decide if they want to continue to back Pius IV or switch sides to help the Carafas escape and maybe assassinate the pope.

There is also a lot of opportunity for encounters with the diabolic. Unscrupulous clergy are natural demon-summoners, since they are people with professional knowledge about the angels, hell, and the supernatural in general. Benvenuto Cellini's autobiography includes a great description of such a session, which he claims he witnessed in the Coliseum at Rome around 1530. I'll spoiler it for length:
It happened through a variety of singular accidents that I became intimate with a Sicilian priest, who was a man of very elevated genius and well instructed in both Latin and Greek letters. In the course of conversation one day we were led to talk about the art of necromancy; apropos of which I said: “Throughout my whole life I have had the most intense desire to see or learn something of this art.” Thereto the priest replied: “A stout soul and a steadfast must the man have who sets himself to such an enterprise.” I answered that of strength and steadfastness of soul I should have enough and to spare, provided I found the opportunity. Then the priest said: “If you have the heart to dare it, I will amply satisfy your curiosity.” Accordingly we agreed upon attempting the adventure.

The priest one evening made his preparations, and bade me find a comrade, or not more than two. I invited Vincenzio Romoli, a very dear friend of mine, and the priest took with him a native of Pistoia, who also cultivated the black art. We went together to the Coliseum; and there the priest, having arrayed himself in necromancer’s robes, began to describe circles on the earth with the finest ceremonies that can be imagined. I must say that he had made us bring precious perfumes and fire, and also drugs of fetid odour. When the preliminaries were completed, he made the entrance into the circle; and taking us by the hand, introduced us one by one inside it. Then he assigned our several functions; to the necromancer, his comrade, he gave the pentacle to hold; the other two of us had to look after the fire and the perfumes; and then he began his incantations. This lasted more than an hour and a half; when several legions appeared, and the Coliseum was all full of devils. I was occupied with the precious perfumes, and when the priest perceived in what numbers they were present, he turned to me and said: “Benvenuto, ask them something.” I called on them to reunite me with my Sicilian Angelica [a lover who had left Cellini]. That night we obtained no answer; but I enjoyed the greatest satisfaction of my curiosity in such matters. The necromancer said that we should have to go a second time, and that I should obtain the full accomplishment of my request; but he wished me to bring with me a little boy of pure virginity.

I chose one of my shop-lads, who was about twelve years old, and invited Vincenzio Romoli again; and we also took a certain Agnolino Gaddi, who was a very intimate friend of both. When we came once more to the place appointed, the necromancer made just the same preparations, attended by the same and even more impressive details. Then he introduced us into the circle, which he had reconstructed with art more admirable and yet more wondrous ceremonies. Afterwards he appointed my friend Vincenzio to the ordering of the perfumes and the fire, and with him Agnolino Gaddi. He next placed in my hand the pentacle, which he bid me turn toward the points he indicated, and under the pentacle I held the little boy, my workman.

Now the necromancer began to utter those awful invocations, calling by name on multitudes of demons who are captains of their legions, and these he summoned by the virtue and potency of God, the Uncreated, Living, and Eternal, in phrases of the Hebrew, and also of the Greek and Latin tongues; insomuch that in a short space of time the whole Coliseum was full of a hundredfold as many as had appeared upon the first occasion. Vincenzio Romoli, together with Agnolino, tended the fire and heaped on quantities of precious perfumes. At the advice of the necromancer, I again demanded to be reunited with Angelica. The sorcerer turned to me and said: “Hear you what they have replied; that in the space of one month you will be where she is?”

Then once more he prayed me to stand firm by him, because the legions were a thousandfold more than he had summoned, and were the most dangerous of all the denizens of hell; and now that they had settled what I asked, it behoved us to be civil to them and dismiss them gently. On the other side, the boy, who was beneath the pentacle, shrieked out in terror that a million of the fiercest men were swarming round and threatening us. He said, moreover, that four huge giants had appeared, who were striving to force their way inside the circle. Meanwhile the necromancer, trembling with fear, kept doing his best with mild and soft persuasions to dismiss them. Vincenzio Romoli, who quaked like an aspen leaf, looked after the perfumes.

Though I was quite as frightened as the rest of them, I tried to show it less, and inspired them all with marvelous courage; but the truth is that I had given myself up for dead when I saw the terror of the necromancer. The boy had stuck his head between his knees, exclaiming: “This is how I will meet death, for we are certainly dead men.” Again I said to him: “These creatures are all inferior to us, and what you see is only smoke and shadow; so then raise your eyes.” When he had raised them he cried out: “The whole Coliseum is in flames, and the fire is advancing on us;” then covering his face with his hands, he groaned again that he was dead, and that he could not endure the sight longer.

The necromancer appealed for my support, entreating me to stand firm by him, and to have asafetida flung upon the coals; so I turned to Vincenzio Romoli, and told him to make the fumigation at once. While uttering these words I looked at Agnolino Gaddi, whose eyes were starting from their sockets in his terror, and who was more than half dead, and said to him: “Agnolo, in time and place like this we must not yield to fright, but do the utmost to bestir ourselves; therefore, up at once, and fling a handful of that asafetida upon the fire.” Agnolo, at the moment when he moved to do this, let fly such a volley from his breech, that it was far more effectual than the asafetida. The boy, roused by that great stench and noise, lifted his face little, and hearing me laugh, he plucked up courage, and said the devils were taking to flight tempestuously.

So we abode thus until the matin-bells began to sound. Then the boy told us again that but few remained, and those were at a distance. When the necromancer had concluded his ceremonies, he put off his wizard’s robe, and packed up a great bundle of books which he had brought with him; then, all together, we issued with him from the circle, huddling as close as we could to one another, especially the boy, who had got into the middle, and taken the necromancer by his gown and me by the cloak. All the while that we were going toward our houses in the Banchi, he kept saying that two of the devils he had seen in the Coliseum were gamboling in front of us, skipping now along the roofs and now upon the ground.

The necromancer assured me that, often as he had entered magic circles, he had never met with such a serious affair as this. He also tried to persuade me to assist him in consecrating a book, by means of which we should extract immeasurable wealth, since we could call up fiends to show us where treasures were, whereof the earth is full; and after this wise we should become the richest of mankind: love affairs like mine were nothing but vanities and follies without consequence. I replied that if I were a Latin scholar I should be very willing to do what he suggested. He continued to persuade me by arguing that Latin scholarship was of no importance, and that, if he wanted, he could have found plenty of good Latinists; but that he had never met with a man of soul so firm as mine, and that I ought to follow his counsel. Engaged in this conversation, we reached our homes, and each one of us dreamed all that night of devils.
If that's not adventure fodder, I don't know what is. Note the priest's desire at the end to summon demons so that they would reveal the resting places of hidden treasures; this is actually a very common theme in Early Modern European magic. It also would make an easy hook for PCs.

As for the demi-humans, rather than treating them as other ethnicities or professional groups, I'd be inclined simply to treat them as fairies. Strip away the Tolkein idea that these are biological species at all. They are otherworldly creatures which can manifest in fairly physical ways and be fought (or otherwise interacted with) like humans are. But fundamentally they are spirits, not biological entities.
 

Winterblight

Legendary Member
Joined
May 26, 2018
Messages
526
Reaction score
916
I looked at a bunch of games in my shelf, started reading through Zweihander and then my eyes sort of glazed over and I opened one of my copies of LotFP instead.

I read LotFP over the course of two evenings, I probably could have done it in one. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to play it yet. I've been GMing Zweihander for maybe two years now and I still haven't read it cover to cover.

I love the concept of your game. There are probably a hundred different LotFP twists you could slap on Rome. Right now I'm imagining the smoke coming out of the chimney in the Vatican, except its not just smoke. Maybe its the latest summoning gone wrong. Maybe its the Pope in vamparic mist form. It could be something that spreads around the city transforming people into something terrible.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,846
Reaction score
7,581
Most of the outre LotFP stuff would fit the Vatican like a glove. Blood and Incense? Oh yeah. Burning and Mutilated? Check. It just works so well
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
21,017
Reaction score
50,961
On the offchance any of the Pub members are Catholic, let's try and keep our dissing on the Church related to Medieval history...
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,846
Reaction score
7,581
Yup, I'm strictly a historical critic of the church. To be fair though, my joking so far hasn't actually been off base for the historical church in the late medieval slash early renaissance period.
 

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
2,576
Reaction score
5,659
Hey @ raniE raniE your idea sounds solid and LotFP is a perfect fit. I've done a lot of historical and psuedo-historical D&D and OSR systems are actually pretty decent for the era.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
So, Rome 1560, great choice for a setting! A possible adventure idea: there's a new pope in town--Pius IV just took the throne in January. He was a Medici, though from a Milanese family, not the more famous Florentine ones. Part of his early program was dealing with notoriously corrupt nephews of his predecessor, Paul IV. They were pieces of work--the eldest, Carlo Carafa, had been a condottiere and sometime bandit, noted for dueling, murder, assassination, and the massacre of a band of Spanish soldiers, but his uncle made him a cardinal in 1555. Anyway, the nephews were arrested in June, 1560 and put on trial for various crimes. They were executed the next year--since Carlo was a cardinal he escaped with mere strangulation, but his brothers were beheaded.

So, the PCs get involved in this situation somehow--maybe they are hired to spring the brothers from prison at one point, or maybe they are sent to gather evidence about their misdeeds. Lots of opportunities for double-dealing if your players like that sort of thing: they could be hired by a papal agent to infiltrate the Carafa boys' network, but then have to decide if they want to continue to back Pius IV or switch sides to help the Carafas escape and maybe assassinate the pope.

Very neat ideas.

Another interesting thing going on with religion in the city, and while on the topic of condemning the Catholic church for historic sins (I would prefer that we do not discuss religion in a modern context in this thread), is that the Jewish ghetto has only just been established in 1555. Jews in Rome had to be inside the walls from one or two hours after sunset (depending on the time of year) until dawn. They were walled in and the gates were closed at night. When outside the ghetto they had to wear yellow, they could only work at low skilled jobs and as pawnbrokers, and had a host of other humiliating things forced on them in order to be allowed to stay in Rome. A group of people so put upon by the authorities seem like the kind of people more likely to hire a group of sellswords to help them with their problems rather than trusting the authorities to do anything.

There is also a lot of opportunity for encounters with the diabolic. Unscrupulous clergy are natural demon-summoners, since they are people with professional knowledge about the angels, hell, and the supernatural in general. Benvenuto Cellini's autobiography includes a great description of such a session, which he claims he witnessed in the Coliseum at Rome around 1530. I'll spoiler it for length:
It happened through a variety of singular accidents that I became intimate with a Sicilian priest, who was a man of very elevated genius and well instructed in both Latin and Greek letters. In the course of conversation one day we were led to talk about the art of necromancy; apropos of which I said: “Throughout my whole life I have had the most intense desire to see or learn something of this art.” Thereto the priest replied: “A stout soul and a steadfast must the man have who sets himself to such an enterprise.” I answered that of strength and steadfastness of soul I should have enough and to spare, provided I found the opportunity. Then the priest said: “If you have the heart to dare it, I will amply satisfy your curiosity.” Accordingly we agreed upon attempting the adventure.

The priest one evening made his preparations, and bade me find a comrade, or not more than two. I invited Vincenzio Romoli, a very dear friend of mine, and the priest took with him a native of Pistoia, who also cultivated the black art. We went together to the Coliseum; and there the priest, having arrayed himself in necromancer’s robes, began to describe circles on the earth with the finest ceremonies that can be imagined. I must say that he had made us bring precious perfumes and fire, and also drugs of fetid odour. When the preliminaries were completed, he made the entrance into the circle; and taking us by the hand, introduced us one by one inside it. Then he assigned our several functions; to the necromancer, his comrade, he gave the pentacle to hold; the other two of us had to look after the fire and the perfumes; and then he began his incantations. This lasted more than an hour and a half; when several legions appeared, and the Coliseum was all full of devils. I was occupied with the precious perfumes, and when the priest perceived in what numbers they were present, he turned to me and said: “Benvenuto, ask them something.” I called on them to reunite me with my Sicilian Angelica [a lover who had left Cellini]. That night we obtained no answer; but I enjoyed the greatest satisfaction of my curiosity in such matters. The necromancer said that we should have to go a second time, and that I should obtain the full accomplishment of my request; but he wished me to bring with me a little boy of pure virginity.

I chose one of my shop-lads, who was about twelve years old, and invited Vincenzio Romoli again; and we also took a certain Agnolino Gaddi, who was a very intimate friend of both. When we came once more to the place appointed, the necromancer made just the same preparations, attended by the same and even more impressive details. Then he introduced us into the circle, which he had reconstructed with art more admirable and yet more wondrous ceremonies. Afterwards he appointed my friend Vincenzio to the ordering of the perfumes and the fire, and with him Agnolino Gaddi. He next placed in my hand the pentacle, which he bid me turn toward the points he indicated, and under the pentacle I held the little boy, my workman.

Now the necromancer began to utter those awful invocations, calling by name on multitudes of demons who are captains of their legions, and these he summoned by the virtue and potency of God, the Uncreated, Living, and Eternal, in phrases of the Hebrew, and also of the Greek and Latin tongues; insomuch that in a short space of time the whole Coliseum was full of a hundredfold as many as had appeared upon the first occasion. Vincenzio Romoli, together with Agnolino, tended the fire and heaped on quantities of precious perfumes. At the advice of the necromancer, I again demanded to be reunited with Angelica. The sorcerer turned to me and said: “Hear you what they have replied; that in the space of one month you will be where she is?”

Then once more he prayed me to stand firm by him, because the legions were a thousandfold more than he had summoned, and were the most dangerous of all the denizens of hell; and now that they had settled what I asked, it behoved us to be civil to them and dismiss them gently. On the other side, the boy, who was beneath the pentacle, shrieked out in terror that a million of the fiercest men were swarming round and threatening us. He said, moreover, that four huge giants had appeared, who were striving to force their way inside the circle. Meanwhile the necromancer, trembling with fear, kept doing his best with mild and soft persuasions to dismiss them. Vincenzio Romoli, who quaked like an aspen leaf, looked after the perfumes.

Though I was quite as frightened as the rest of them, I tried to show it less, and inspired them all with marvelous courage; but the truth is that I had given myself up for dead when I saw the terror of the necromancer. The boy had stuck his head between his knees, exclaiming: “This is how I will meet death, for we are certainly dead men.” Again I said to him: “These creatures are all inferior to us, and what you see is only smoke and shadow; so then raise your eyes.” When he had raised them he cried out: “The whole Coliseum is in flames, and the fire is advancing on us;” then covering his face with his hands, he groaned again that he was dead, and that he could not endure the sight longer.

The necromancer appealed for my support, entreating me to stand firm by him, and to have asafetida flung upon the coals; so I turned to Vincenzio Romoli, and told him to make the fumigation at once. While uttering these words I looked at Agnolino Gaddi, whose eyes were starting from their sockets in his terror, and who was more than half dead, and said to him: “Agnolo, in time and place like this we must not yield to fright, but do the utmost to bestir ourselves; therefore, up at once, and fling a handful of that asafetida upon the fire.” Agnolo, at the moment when he moved to do this, let fly such a volley from his breech, that it was far more effectual than the asafetida. The boy, roused by that great stench and noise, lifted his face little, and hearing me laugh, he plucked up courage, and said the devils were taking to flight tempestuously.

So we abode thus until the matin-bells began to sound. Then the boy told us again that but few remained, and those were at a distance. When the necromancer had concluded his ceremonies, he put off his wizard’s robe, and packed up a great bundle of books which he had brought with him; then, all together, we issued with him from the circle, huddling as close as we could to one another, especially the boy, who had got into the middle, and taken the necromancer by his gown and me by the cloak. All the while that we were going toward our houses in the Banchi, he kept saying that two of the devils he had seen in the Coliseum were gamboling in front of us, skipping now along the roofs and now upon the ground.

The necromancer assured me that, often as he had entered magic circles, he had never met with such a serious affair as this. He also tried to persuade me to assist him in consecrating a book, by means of which we should extract immeasurable wealth, since we could call up fiends to show us where treasures were, whereof the earth is full; and after this wise we should become the richest of mankind: love affairs like mine were nothing but vanities and follies without consequence. I replied that if I were a Latin scholar I should be very willing to do what he suggested. He continued to persuade me by arguing that Latin scholarship was of no importance, and that, if he wanted, he could have found plenty of good Latinists; but that he had never met with a man of soul so firm as mine, and that I ought to follow his counsel. Engaged in this conversation, we reached our homes, and each one of us dreamed all that night of devils.
If that's not adventure fodder, I don't know what is. Note the priest's desire at the end to summon demons so that they would reveal the resting places of hidden treasures; this is actually a very common theme in Early Modern European magic. It also would make an easy hook for PCs.

Very cool bit. Also of note, and again not trying to anger any catholics (or really anyone not fond of graverobbing), but if someone is looking for things underground, the Roman catacombs haven't been officially rediscovered yet, and won't be until 1578. These tunnels are extremely extensive, and if the PCs or an employer of theirs discovers one or more of them early they might go hunting for relics, lost spells, or anything else buried together with the dead. And who knows what lurks down there. Even today there are probably some undiscovered catacombs still.

Here is a map of the catacombs of Callixtus. Just look at that. That's about 20 km of tunnels, occupying fifteen hectares and five levels. That puts most megadungeons to shame.
Catacombs of Callixtus.gif



As for the demi-humans, rather than treating them as other ethnicities or professional groups, I'd be inclined simply to treat them as fairies. Strip away the Tolkein idea that these are biological species at all. They are otherworldly creatures which can manifest in fairly physical ways and be fought (or otherwise interacted with) like humans are. But fundamentally they are spirits, not biological entities.

They might get treated that way occasionally when it fits in the scenario (a lone elf in the forest for instance), but most of the time I'm trying to limit fantastical creatures to a handful per adventure. And anyone living in a town or the like is going to be human or at least disguised as such. And I'm not trying to say "oh, there is a nation of hobgoblins over here and everyone thinks its normal", but rather "if the scenario says hobgoblin, read it as German/Landsknecht and move on."
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
I read LotFP over the course of two evenings, I probably could have done it in one. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to play it yet. I've been GMing Zweihander for maybe two years now and I still haven't read it cover to cover.

I love the concept of your game. There are probably a hundred different LotFP twists you could slap on Rome. Right now I'm imagining the smoke coming out of the chimney in the Vatican, except its not just smoke. Maybe its the latest summoning gone wrong. Maybe its the Pope in vamparic mist form. It could be something that spreads around the city transforming people into something terrible.
I have GMed it before and it's a breeze. OSR systems really are very fast to run, particularly because everything is so loose. You know you aren't breaking anything because there isn't a well-oiled machine to break. They're the AK-47s of the RPG world. This will be the first time I do it with the new playtest rules from the Eldritch Cock (yes, really, it's the followup to Vaginas Are Magic) supplement though, which changes some things quite a bit (and others not so much).

Yeah, Rome just works. At first I thought Genoa, then I thought to myself "why set it in Genoa? Everything interesting I want to have them deal with is in Rome anyway". And vampiric mists are actually definitely on my list of classic D&D monsters that I can use without it being ho-hum (especially since I don't think I've ever thrown one at a group in regular D&D anyway, or if I have it was 20 years ago and I won't be playing with any of those people now anyway).

On the subject of vampiric mists, how would you (in general here, not just Winterblight) deal with monsters that are immune to damage from normal weapons? LotFP doesn't really feature a lot of magic items. The vampiric mist in particular has a good way around this, as do any creatures that are damaged by silver (especially in the era of gunpowder weapons. No need to worry about if your silver bullet breaks like you would a silver sword), but how would you handle the ones that don't. Let them be hurt by silver too? Remove the magic immunity altogether? Say "eh, sucks to be you, figure it out"?
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Most of the outre LotFP stuff would fit the Vatican like a glove. Blood and Incense? Oh yeah. Burning and Mutilated? Check. It just works so well
Indeed. And Rome in general is just so ... perfect. Everything that medieval/renaissance cities don't actually have? It does have them, in spades. It's got both a sewer system and a set (actually, like so many different sets) of secret underground tunnels. It's got extensive ruins in the middle of the city that haven't been totally torn down to supply materials for other buildings (although the Colosseum did lose some parts). It's probably got way more inns and taverns than its population would suggest (due to all the pilgrimages there). It's got a lost golden age. Etc etc.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,846
Reaction score
7,581
There's a shining place right there for those oddball OSR magic items. Like, say, a bottle of Tears of the Holy Virgin. What the heck do you use that for? Well, hey, look a Vampire Mist ... maybe some holy tears coating our weapons would smite this beast. I'm always open to creative problem solving in OSR games, and I don't hand out a lot of +1 sword type items.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Oh yeah, if I use any standard TSR magic items, it'll be mostly the miscellaneous ones. A whole adventure could be about trying to steal someone's alchemy jug, or journeying to some old Carthaginian temple to find a bowl of of commanding water elementals. And oddball items from various OSR stuff is often even more better.

I've also thought about how to adapt some of the numbers in statblocks. LotFP doesn't let any PCs actually get better at attacking, except Fighters (who are therefore whirlwinds of death compared to other characters). Also people and things tend to have lower AC in the system in general. I therefore figure that subtracting the listed AC from 20 (when talking descending AC) with a minimum of 12 (standard unarmored human in LotFP) will yield decent results. Someone with an AC of 8, which in AD&D would be leather, therefore ends up as a 12, unarmored in LotFP terms. Someone with a plate mail and shield meanwhile would have AC2, which would translate into AC 18, just plate armor (which is more likely in the period, shields aren't that common at all by this time, especially not in conjunction with full plate armor). I think it works, it ends up making most people slightly less armored, which works well for the system and historical verisimilitude.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,846
Reaction score
7,581
Id probably take a set of data points, AC at various levels, and compare that to a normal D&D campaign. Whatever the difference is is how far I'd adjust monster ACs down. That said, AC effects the Fighter far more than the Mage or Cleric, so that needs to be taken into account too. In a general way I wouldn't worry that much about it period.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Hey @ raniE raniE your idea sounds solid and LotFP is a perfect fit. I've done a lot of historical and psuedo-historical D&D and OSR systems are actually pretty decent for the era.

Thanks. Yeah, I like running OSR systems in general because they're really fast to get into and easy to use and to explain. No need for a massive tome at the table.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Id probably take a set of data points, AC at various levels, and compare that to a normal D&D campaign. Whatever the difference is is how far I'd adjust monster ACs down. That said, AC effects the Fighter far more than the Mage or Cleric, so that needs to be taken into account too. In a general way I wouldn't worry that much about it period.
Hence the rule of thumb. Basically "subtract this number from twenty, minimum 12" and then just mentally going "oh, that means this armor combination from the firearms rules" is an easier way of dealing with it for me than doing outright comparisons and such. That it leads to slightly worse ACs in general is a bonus, not the raison d'être of the system.

As for affecting the fighter more, last time we played everyone got into quite a lot of combat though. I imagine it'll be similar now (especially using the playtest rules in which Cleric's have gone the way of halflings, dwarfs and elves) .
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,846
Reaction score
7,581
Im sure you'll be grand. :thumbsup: Its a pretty robust system.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Im sure you'll be grand. :thumbsup: Its a pretty robust system.
Yeah, like I wrote above, it’s pretty much the AK-47 of rpg systems (old D&D/OSR systems in general that is, not just LotFP). Now I’ve just got to drum up some players and wait for this pandemic to pass.
 

Tulpa Girl

"Hello, motherf*ckers!"
Joined
Nov 14, 2018
Messages
3,120
Reaction score
10,759
For monsters there are plenty of options - I would personally go with a mix of

1) some sort of subterranean descendants of pre-historical humans (a la REH's Worms of the Earth)

2) the occasional surviving Greek creature of myth, which either survives in the deep woods far away from civilization, or has to be summoned (what happens when you try to summon a demon, and get one or more of the Furies instead?)

3) rip off some of the World Of Darkness - secretive vampires, cabals of wizards, werewolves at night, etc.

4) throw in some Lovecraft shit for good measure, either creatures like the deep ones, or cultists of the Great Old Ones (low hanging fruit, but it would slot in easily) - also, if you use option two, then several of the Greek 'gods' can easily be recontextualized as a GOO (Pan, I'm looking at you)

5) finally, I would nick one of my favorite bits from Over The Edge and throw in the Agara, a small clan of idolaters that were cursed by God in the 13th century for their abominable practices - turned into giant rats and forced to live in the underground sewers and tunnels beneath Rome. The leader of the cult was granted/cursed with immortality to help his followers and their descendants to redeem themselves. The more virtuous an Agara is, the more human their children appear - perhaps even being able to pass for human. The child of a particularly vile or debased Agara will be hideous, gigantic rat-things. The descendants of Agaras who are decent enough but not exactly saintly might look like this -

Portia 2.jpg

(so if you have a furry in your group you're good to go, I guess)
 
Last edited:

Simon Hogwood

Puritan Bearbearian
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
812
Reaction score
1,589
On the subject of vampiric mists, how would you (in general here, not just Winterblight) deal with monsters that are immune to damage from normal weapons? LotFP doesn't really feature a lot of magic items. The vampiric mist in particular has a good way around this, as do any creatures that are damaged by silver (especially in the era of gunpowder weapons. No need to worry about if your silver bullet breaks like you would a silver sword), but how would you handle the ones that don't. Let them be hurt by silver too? Remove the magic immunity altogether? Say "eh, sucks to be you, figure it out"?
Seems like their should be enough priests in Rome that the party could find at least one that could temporarily bless a weapon.
Now I’ve just got to drum up some players and wait for this pandemic to pass.
So how do you feel about PbP . . . ?
The child of a particularly vile or debased Agara will be hideous, gigantic rat-things.
"Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't believe they -"

skaven.jpg
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Seems like their should be enough priests in Rome that the party could find at least one that could temporarily bless a weapon.
So how do you feel about PbP . . . ?
"Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't believe they -"

View attachment 24125
I'm fine with playing over the net and have been playing a bunch over discord and roll 20 this year. But not everyone is. Pbp though, to be honest I’d probably rather set up a discord and to at least voice chat.
 
Last edited:

CRKrueger

Eläytyminatör
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
5,143
Reaction score
9,422
For monsters there are plenty of options - I would personally go with a mix of

1) some sort of subterranean descendants of pre-historical humans (a la REH's Worms of the Earth)

2) the occasional surviving Greek creature of myth, which either survives in the deep woods far away from civilization, or has to be summoned (what happens when you try to summon a demon, and get one or more of the Furies instead?)

3) rip off some of the World Of Darkness - secretive vampires, cabals of wizards, werewolves at night, etc.

4) throw in some Lovecraft shit for good measure, either creatures like the deep ones, or cultists of the Great Old Ones (low hanging fruit, but it would slot in easily) - also, if you use option two, then several of the Greek 'gods' can easily be recontextualized as a GOO (Pan, I'm looking at you)

5) finally, I would nick one of my favorite bits from Over The Edge and throw in the Agara, a small clan of idolaters that were cursed by God in the 13th century for their abominable practices - turned into giant rats and forced to live in the underground sewers and tunnels beneath Rome. The leader of the cult was granted/cursed with immortality to help his followers and their descendants to redeem themselves. The more virtuous an Agara is, the more human their children appear - perhaps even being able to pass for human. The child of a particularly vile or debased Agara will be hideous, gigantic rat-things. The descendants of Agaras who are decent enough but not exactly saintly might look like this -

View attachment 24120

(so if you have a furry in your group you're good to go, I guess)
I’ve had characters who would be good to go.
 

CRKrueger

Eläytyminatör
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
5,143
Reaction score
9,422
So, Rome 1560, great choice for a setting! A possible adventure idea: there's a new pope in town--Pius IV just took the throne in January. He was a Medici, though from a Milanese family, not the more famous Florentine ones. Part of his early program was dealing with notoriously corrupt nephews of his predecessor, Paul IV. They were pieces of work--the eldest, Carlo Carafa, had been a condottiere and sometime bandit, noted for dueling, murder, assassination, and the massacre of a band of Spanish soldiers, but his uncle made him a cardinal in 1555. Anyway, the nephews were arrested in June, 1560 and put on trial for various crimes. They were executed the next year--since Carlo was a cardinal he escaped with mere strangulation, but his brothers were beheaded.

So, the PCs get involved in this situation somehow--maybe they are hired to spring the brothers from prison at one point, or maybe they are sent to gather evidence about their misdeeds. Lots of opportunities for double-dealing if your players like that sort of thing: they could be hired by a papal agent to infiltrate the Carafa boys' network, but then have to decide if they want to continue to back Pius IV or switch sides to help the Carafas escape and maybe assassinate the pope.

There is also a lot of opportunity for encounters with the diabolic. Unscrupulous clergy are natural demon-summoners, since they are people with professional knowledge about the angels, hell, and the supernatural in general. Benvenuto Cellini's autobiography includes a great description of such a session, which he claims he witnessed in the Coliseum at Rome around 1530. I'll spoiler it for length:
It happened through a variety of singular accidents that I became intimate with a Sicilian priest, who was a man of very elevated genius and well instructed in both Latin and Greek letters. In the course of conversation one day we were led to talk about the art of necromancy; apropos of which I said: “Throughout my whole life I have had the most intense desire to see or learn something of this art.” Thereto the priest replied: “A stout soul and a steadfast must the man have who sets himself to such an enterprise.” I answered that of strength and steadfastness of soul I should have enough and to spare, provided I found the opportunity. Then the priest said: “If you have the heart to dare it, I will amply satisfy your curiosity.” Accordingly we agreed upon attempting the adventure.

The priest one evening made his preparations, and bade me find a comrade, or not more than two. I invited Vincenzio Romoli, a very dear friend of mine, and the priest took with him a native of Pistoia, who also cultivated the black art. We went together to the Coliseum; and there the priest, having arrayed himself in necromancer’s robes, began to describe circles on the earth with the finest ceremonies that can be imagined. I must say that he had made us bring precious perfumes and fire, and also drugs of fetid odour. When the preliminaries were completed, he made the entrance into the circle; and taking us by the hand, introduced us one by one inside it. Then he assigned our several functions; to the necromancer, his comrade, he gave the pentacle to hold; the other two of us had to look after the fire and the perfumes; and then he began his incantations. This lasted more than an hour and a half; when several legions appeared, and the Coliseum was all full of devils. I was occupied with the precious perfumes, and when the priest perceived in what numbers they were present, he turned to me and said: “Benvenuto, ask them something.” I called on them to reunite me with my Sicilian Angelica [a lover who had left Cellini]. That night we obtained no answer; but I enjoyed the greatest satisfaction of my curiosity in such matters. The necromancer said that we should have to go a second time, and that I should obtain the full accomplishment of my request; but he wished me to bring with me a little boy of pure virginity.

I chose one of my shop-lads, who was about twelve years old, and invited Vincenzio Romoli again; and we also took a certain Agnolino Gaddi, who was a very intimate friend of both. When we came once more to the place appointed, the necromancer made just the same preparations, attended by the same and even more impressive details. Then he introduced us into the circle, which he had reconstructed with art more admirable and yet more wondrous ceremonies. Afterwards he appointed my friend Vincenzio to the ordering of the perfumes and the fire, and with him Agnolino Gaddi. He next placed in my hand the pentacle, which he bid me turn toward the points he indicated, and under the pentacle I held the little boy, my workman.

Now the necromancer began to utter those awful invocations, calling by name on multitudes of demons who are captains of their legions, and these he summoned by the virtue and potency of God, the Uncreated, Living, and Eternal, in phrases of the Hebrew, and also of the Greek and Latin tongues; insomuch that in a short space of time the whole Coliseum was full of a hundredfold as many as had appeared upon the first occasion. Vincenzio Romoli, together with Agnolino, tended the fire and heaped on quantities of precious perfumes. At the advice of the necromancer, I again demanded to be reunited with Angelica. The sorcerer turned to me and said: “Hear you what they have replied; that in the space of one month you will be where she is?”

Then once more he prayed me to stand firm by him, because the legions were a thousandfold more than he had summoned, and were the most dangerous of all the denizens of hell; and now that they had settled what I asked, it behoved us to be civil to them and dismiss them gently. On the other side, the boy, who was beneath the pentacle, shrieked out in terror that a million of the fiercest men were swarming round and threatening us. He said, moreover, that four huge giants had appeared, who were striving to force their way inside the circle. Meanwhile the necromancer, trembling with fear, kept doing his best with mild and soft persuasions to dismiss them. Vincenzio Romoli, who quaked like an aspen leaf, looked after the perfumes.

Though I was quite as frightened as the rest of them, I tried to show it less, and inspired them all with marvelous courage; but the truth is that I had given myself up for dead when I saw the terror of the necromancer. The boy had stuck his head between his knees, exclaiming: “This is how I will meet death, for we are certainly dead men.” Again I said to him: “These creatures are all inferior to us, and what you see is only smoke and shadow; so then raise your eyes.” When he had raised them he cried out: “The whole Coliseum is in flames, and the fire is advancing on us;” then covering his face with his hands, he groaned again that he was dead, and that he could not endure the sight longer.

The necromancer appealed for my support, entreating me to stand firm by him, and to have asafetida flung upon the coals; so I turned to Vincenzio Romoli, and told him to make the fumigation at once. While uttering these words I looked at Agnolino Gaddi, whose eyes were starting from their sockets in his terror, and who was more than half dead, and said to him: “Agnolo, in time and place like this we must not yield to fright, but do the utmost to bestir ourselves; therefore, up at once, and fling a handful of that asafetida upon the fire.” Agnolo, at the moment when he moved to do this, let fly such a volley from his breech, that it was far more effectual than the asafetida. The boy, roused by that great stench and noise, lifted his face little, and hearing me laugh, he plucked up courage, and said the devils were taking to flight tempestuously.

So we abode thus until the matin-bells began to sound. Then the boy told us again that but few remained, and those were at a distance. When the necromancer had concluded his ceremonies, he put off his wizard’s robe, and packed up a great bundle of books which he had brought with him; then, all together, we issued with him from the circle, huddling as close as we could to one another, especially the boy, who had got into the middle, and taken the necromancer by his gown and me by the cloak. All the while that we were going toward our houses in the Banchi, he kept saying that two of the devils he had seen in the Coliseum were gamboling in front of us, skipping now along the roofs and now upon the ground.

The necromancer assured me that, often as he had entered magic circles, he had never met with such a serious affair as this. He also tried to persuade me to assist him in consecrating a book, by means of which we should extract immeasurable wealth, since we could call up fiends to show us where treasures were, whereof the earth is full; and after this wise we should become the richest of mankind: love affairs like mine were nothing but vanities and follies without consequence. I replied that if I were a Latin scholar I should be very willing to do what he suggested. He continued to persuade me by arguing that Latin scholarship was of no importance, and that, if he wanted, he could have found plenty of good Latinists; but that he had never met with a man of soul so firm as mine, and that I ought to follow his counsel. Engaged in this conversation, we reached our homes, and each one of us dreamed all that night of devils.
If that's not adventure fodder, I don't know what is. Note the priest's desire at the end to summon demons so that they would reveal the resting places of hidden treasures; this is actually a very common theme in Early Modern European magic. It also would make an easy hook for PCs.

As for the demi-humans, rather than treating them as other ethnicities or professional groups, I'd be inclined simply to treat them as fairies. Strip away the Tolkein idea that these are biological species at all. They are otherworldly creatures which can manifest in fairly physical ways and be fought (or otherwise interacted with) like humans are. But fundamentally they are spirits, not biological entities.
You forgot the most important part...did Cellini meet Angelica a month later?
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
For monsters there are plenty of options - I would personally go with a mix of

1) some sort of subterranean descendants of pre-historical humans (a la REH's Worms of the Earth)

2) the occasional surviving Greek creature of myth, which either survives in the deep woods far away from civilization, or has to be summoned (what happens when you try to summon a demon, and get one or more of the Furies instead?)

3) rip off some of the World Of Darkness - secretive vampires, cabals of wizards, werewolves at night, etc.

4) throw in some Lovecraft shit for good measure, either creatures like the deep ones, or cultists of the Great Old Ones (low hanging fruit, but it would slot in easily) - also, if you use option two, then several of the Greek 'gods' can easily be recontextualized as a GOO (Pan, I'm looking at you)

5) finally, I would nick one of my favorite bits from Over The Edge and throw in the Agara, a small clan of idolaters that were cursed by God in the 13th century for their abominable practices - turned into giant rats and forced to live in the underground sewers and tunnels beneath Rome. The leader of the cult was granted/cursed with immortality to help his followers and their descendants to redeem themselves. The more virtuous an Agara is, the more human their children appear - perhaps even being able to pass for human. The child of a particularly vile or debased Agara will be hideous, gigantic rat-things. The descendants of Agaras who are decent enough but not exactly saintly might look like this -

View attachment 24120

(so if you have a furry in your group you're good to go, I guess)
Probably going to use at least some of these. The interesting bit about repurposing TSR and OSR adventures is also that some adventures will end up having no supernatural stuff at all, or barely any, once humanoids and demi-humans get adapted into humans. But yeah, weird occultists and sorcerers are almost certainly going to be a thing. Probably a lot of focus on solitary monsters too. One of the big recommendations of James Raggi in the referee book for LotFP is to not reuse monsters, and have a lot more unique things. So apart from using his Random Esoteric Creature Generator to generate some one-of-a-kind weirdness, there'll probably be a lot of "well, okay, this adventure featured a Naga. That was the Naga, we're done with those now."

Rat monsters or Rat/human hybrids in the sewers of Rome is a good idea though, and something I'd thought of myself too.
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
7,704
Reaction score
7,688
Yeah, like I wrote above, it’s pretty much the AK-47 of rpg systems (old D&D/OSR systems in general that is, not just LotFP). Now I’ve just got to drum up some players and wait for this pandemic to pass.
I'd rather call it the Arisaka Type 38 of the RPG systems:devil:!
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
905
Reaction score
2,229
The Jewish ghetto has only just been established in 1555. Jews in Rome had to be inside the walls from one or two hours after sunset (depending on the time of year) until dawn. They were walled in and the gates were closed at night. When outside the ghetto they had to wear yellow, they could only work at low skilled jobs and as pawnbrokers, and had a host of other humiliating things forced on them in order to be allowed to stay in Rome. A group of people so put upon by the authorities seem like the kind of people more likely to hire a group of sellswords to help them with their problems rather than trusting the authorities to do anything.

That's great grist for your mill. A random idea--the creation of the Jewish ghetto required, I would think, some relocation of Jewish homes and businesses within the city. Let's say that one of them--perhaps a former synagogue, or the townhouse of a wealthy merchant--actually was the storage place of some very important artifact. Maybe one of the Temple treasures brought back to Rome by Titus (cue Raiders of the Lost Ark), a Cabbalistic manuscript, etc.. Anyway, for some reason this item could not be recovered and moved before the relocation; maybe the owner of the building was off on travels, or the location had been lost or forgotten, etc. Now the building has been purchased or appropriated by a Roman noble, a cardinal, so some other potentate, who will not allow the former Jewish owners access to the place. The PCs are hired to get in, retrieve the item, and get out. It could be concealed in a secret underground chamber, and perhaps guarded by something--a golem?--that they will have to deal with.

I really like the idea of using the catacombs, too; that's a great map.

Another idea: the courtesan's enchantments.
Rome naturally had a lot of prostitutes; maybe 1,000 or more in the 1500s. The large celibate male population and the many male visitors provided plenty of custom. Roman prostitutes often operated from their own homes, rather than bordellos, and were noted for their boldness. They might go about dressed as men and attracted trade by wolf-whistling from their windows. Some practiced from inns and others from public baths or saunas.

Sometime they got involved with love magic, as in this case of Lucrezia 'the Greek' in 1559. This is part of the testimony against her by another prostitute, one Catarina Nanzi from Lorraine (again spoilered for length):
I said that I was with Lucrezia for the space of eight or ten days, and in that time I saw that Lucrezia made that boy of hers, Christoforo, who was some thirteen years old, say certain prayers written on … paper with a blessed candle, lit, in his hand, in front of an image of St. Daniel in an upstairs room. I heard the boy reading that prayer with that blessed candle in his hand in front of St. Daniel. He said to St. Daniel on the part of God, of the Virgin Mary and of all the male and female saints of God, of the sky of the earth, of the air, fire, and water, that St. Daniel should work magic on one Messer Giovanni Maria, a servant of the pope, to make him love Lucrezia. I saw this several times, for Lucrezia ordered the boy to say it. The boy told me that at Lucrezia’s orders he had said that spell twenty or thirty times. As for that prayer, Lucrezia told me that she had bought the prayer from one Imperia who used to live at the Rippetta in a house near the Inquisition, and Imperia has a mother who had it. This was two years ago and Imperia often came to Lucrezia’s house. Lucrezia told me that she had bought that spell from Imperia for five scudi. The prayer was two written pages and I don’t know what it contained besides what I have said.

I have also heard from one Laura the Sienese, who was then living with Donna Lucrezia the Greek, that the Greek went to cut the cords of the bells and that she had them burnt in a lamp with oil and holy water so that messer Giovanni Maria might love her, and that she had earth taken from in front of the doors of the famous courtesans and brought to her house, saying that in such a way she would have good fortune come into her house.

This offers a number of hooks to get the PCs involved. Maybe they are friends or acquaintances of Giovanni Maria, the target of Lucrezia's love magic, and they become worried when he becomes completely besotted with her. Or, more likely, Giovanni's friends hire the PCs to get to the bottom of the matter. Alternatively, they could witness Lucrezia taking the bell-cords, or digging up the thresholds of famous courtesan's houses, and be pulled into the matter that way. Also, it seems that spells are for sale--maybe they could find one and be dragged into the situation by following up on it? Or their patron is more interested in tracking down the Imperia who is selling cantrips than in this particular case of beguilement.
 

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
905
Reaction score
2,229
For monsters there are plenty of options - I would personally go with a mix of

2) the occasional surviving Greek creature of myth, which either survives in the deep woods far away from civilization, or has to be summoned (what happens when you try to summon a demon, and get one or more of the Furies instead?)

I like this a lot; there are 16th-century spells that are designed to summon fairies rather than demons. One spirit I'd use is the nymph Egeria. She was supposed to dwell at a sacred grove and spring near what had once been a gate of the city, the Porta Capena, though this was well within the city boundaries by Imperial times. She was the mentor (and maybe lover) to the legendary king, Numa Pompilius, teaching him rites to satisfy the gods and laws to govern Rome. Worshipers gave her offerings of wine and milk, hoping for prophetic knowledge and wisdom. She could act as an advisor to the PCs on occasion.

One Roman legend had it that Numa at her direction wrote a series of books (really, a scroll) of her teachings. This was lost until it surfaced ca. 170 B.C., when the Senate, worried that its contents might fall into profane hands, ordered it destroyed. What sort of prophecies or secret knowledge might it hold, could our doughty PCs only find it--or a later copy of it...

3) rip off some of the World Of Darkness - secretive vampires, cabals of wizards, werewolves at night, etc.

I agree, a game set in Renaissance Rome badly needs some magicians: Cabalists, Hermetic practitioners, etc. The date for the campaign, 1560, is late enough that some of that Renaissance occulta can actually be treated as earlier or lost wisdom that the P.C.s are uncovering. So they are involved in a hunt for a lost book by Marsilio Ficino or Pico della Mirandola from the previous century.

Instead of vampires as such, I'd suggest one of the 15th-century Italian images of the witch--the strega. This was apparently influenced by older Roman ideas about the strix. A strega drew on diabolic power, but did not give herself to the devil body and soul, as witches elsewhere were often thought to do. Nor did she join together with others to worship the devil in a sabbat. She engaged in various forms of evil magic--forcing others to love her, cursing her enemies, etc.--but mainly she took on animal form, slipped into the homes of sleeping infants and children, and sucked their blood, often killing them. The strega was almost always viewed as female, though there are a few male examples. I might be tempted to steal a leaf from the Mignolaverse's bible and make the streghe the followers of Hecate, while more standard witches are devoted to Satan or other demons.

5) finally, I would nick one of my favorite bits from Over The Edge and throw in the Agara, a small clan of idolaters that were cursed by God in the 13th century for their abominable practices - turned into giant rats and forced to live in the underground sewers and tunnels beneath Rome. The leader of the cult was granted/cursed with immortality to help his followers and their descendants to redeem themselves.

I'd never heard of these; very cool!
 
Last edited:

Lofgeornost

Robot Head from Pluto!
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
905
Reaction score
2,229
You forgot the most important part...did Cellini meet Angelica a month later?

The story rambles a bit after that, but in a nutshell, yes. The necromantic priest keeps after Cellini to join him in treasure-hunting out of Rome and forsees some sort of disaster if he stays in town. Cellini brushes him off because he is interested in competing with another artist in casting medallions. Then, when the month is nearly up, Cellini gets into a brawl with a moneylender who has a beef with Cellini's business partner. Cellini throws a chunk of mud at him and knocks him unconscious; the cry goes up that the man is dead, and Cellini has to flee the city as several of his enemies take this as an excuse to act against him. On his travels, a month to the day after the events with the demon, he happens on Angelica at an inn near Naples. As he tells it:
She gave me an unimaginably passionate welcome. I stayed with her from about two hours before nightfall till the next morning, tasting greater pleasures than I had ever known before.
Of course, Cellini liked to brag...
 
Last edited:

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
That's great grist for your mill. A random idea--the creation of the Jewish ghetto required, I would think, some relocation of Jewish homes and businesses within the city. Let's say that one of them--perhaps a former synagogue, or the townhouse of a wealthy merchant--actually was the storage place of some very important artifact. Maybe one of the Temple treasures brought back to Rome by Titus (cue Raiders of the Lost Ark), a Cabbalistic manuscript, etc.. Anyway, for some reason this item could not be recovered and moved before the relocation; maybe the owner of the building was off on travels, or the location had been lost or forgotten, etc. Now the building has been purchased or appropriated by a Roman noble, a cardinal, so some other potentate, who will not allow the former Jewish owners access to the place. The PCs are hired to get in, retrieve the item, and get out. It could be concealed in a secret underground chamber, and perhaps guarded by something--a golem?--that they will have to deal with.

Not sure if this was intentional but the golem is originally a Jewish myth, and the time period is just right. Both the golem of Chelm, created by rabbi Elijah Ba'al Shem, and the golem of Prague, created by rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, are supposed to have appeared toward the end of the 16th century. Perhaps the secret to creating such creatures is what is hidden, maybe in an old Jewish catacomb (there were both Christian and Jewish catacombs) with a hidden entrance in such a house as you mention.

I really like the idea of using the catacombs, too; that's a great map.

Yeah, they're actual legit dungeons. Endless underground corridors in many levels.

Another idea: the courtesan's enchantments.
Rome naturally had a lot of prostitutes; maybe 1,000 or more in the 1500s. The large celibate male population and the many male visitors provided plenty of custom. Roman prostitutes often operated from their own homes, rather than bordellos, and were noted for their boldness. They might go about dressed as men and attracted trade by wolf-whistling from their windows. Some practiced from inns and others from public baths or saunas.

Sometime they got involved with love magic, as in this case of Lucrezia 'the Greek' in 1559. This is part of the testimony against her by another prostitute, one Catarina Nanzi from Lorraine (again spoilered for length):
I said that I was with Lucrezia for the space of eight or ten days, and in that time I saw that Lucrezia made that boy of hers, Christoforo, who was some thirteen years old, say certain prayers written on … paper with a blessed candle, lit, in his hand, in front of an image of St. Daniel in an upstairs room. I heard the boy reading that prayer with that blessed candle in his hand in front of St. Daniel. He said to St. Daniel on the part of God, of the Virgin Mary and of all the male and female saints of God, of the sky of the earth, of the air, fire, and water, that St. Daniel should work magic on one Messer Giovanni Maria, a servant of the pope, to make him love Lucrezia. I saw this several times, for Lucrezia ordered the boy to say it. The boy told me that at Lucrezia’s orders he had said that spell twenty or thirty times. As for that prayer, Lucrezia told me that she had bought the prayer from one Imperia who used to live at the Rippetta in a house near the Inquisition, and Imperia has a mother who had it. This was two years ago and Imperia often came to Lucrezia’s house. Lucrezia told me that she had bought that spell from Imperia for five scudi. The prayer was two written pages and I don’t know what it contained besides what I have said.

I have also heard from one Laura the Sienese, who was then living with Donna Lucrezia the Greek, that the Greek went to cut the cords of the bells and that she had them burnt in a lamp with oil and holy water so that messer Giovanni Maria might love her, and that she had earth taken from in front of the doors of the famous courtesans and brought to her house, saying that in such a way she would have good fortune come into her house.

This offers a number of hooks to get the PCs involved. Maybe they are friends or acquaintances of Giovanni Maria, the target of Lucrezia's love magic, and they become worried when he becomes completely besotted with her. Or, more likely, Giovanni's friends hire the PCs to get to the bottom of the matter. Alternatively, they could witness Lucrezia taking the bell-cords, or digging up the thresholds of famous courtesan's houses, and be pulled into the matter that way. Also, it seems that spells are for sale--maybe they could find one and be dragged into the situation by following up on it? Or their patron is more interested in tracking down the Imperia who is selling cantrips than in this particular case of beguilement.

These are all interesting ideas. Thanks for all the feedback.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,846
Reaction score
7,581
Those golem need to a piece tougher that the standard golem of D&D. I'd want players to be terrified to see one, not busting out their XP calculators.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Those golem need to a piece tougher that the standard golem of D&D. I'd want players to be terrified to see one, not busting out their XP calculators.
If magic weapons aren't common, standard D&D golems become nightmares. I think I'm going to do them very differently though. Extremely difficult to hurt (they're made of clay after all) but fall to dust if you remove the paper with the power word that activates them. Of course that's a tougher AC to hit than the golem itself.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
3,846
Reaction score
7,581
If magic weapons aren't common, standard D&D golems become nightmares. I think I'm going to do them very differently though. Extremely difficult to hurt (they're made of clay after all) but fall to dust if you remove the paper with the power word that activates them. Of course that's a tougher AC to hit than the golem itself.
That sounds right. I'd make them tough as nails, but woundable by common weapons, assuming you have a couple of days to work at actually killing one. I'd make the paper extraction some sort enormously heroic task. Perhaps requiring a special MacGuffin, like an incantation of aome sort.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
I agree that golems should be tough and dangerous foes. You don't really need to make enemies near invulnerable to make them terrifying though. What really makes constructs and undead scary and dangerous is that they are fearless and tireless. This becomes really apparent when you run with reaction rolls and morale rules. A group of soldiers may not want to fight the PCs to begin with, and if a fight breaks out they'll probably end up running or surrendering rather than fighting to the last man. But constructs and undead don't break, don't run, don't surrender. They can't be bargained with. They can't be reasoned with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear! And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!
 

Simlasa

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,818
Reaction score
3,416
If magic weapons aren't common, standard D&D golems become nightmares.
Not an overtly 'magic' weapon... but what if the sword had the finger bone of a saint in it's pommel? Kind of leave it up to the saint in regards to what will/won't tick it off and get some wrath.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
Not an overtly 'magic' weapon... but what if the sword had the finger bone of a saint in it's pommel? Kind of leave it up to the saint in regards to what will/won't tick it off and get some wrath.
Eh, not sure I want to get into adding back divine magic when I've gotten rid of the Cleric as a class. But there could definitely be magic weapons, they just won't be as common as usually assumed in D&D. And I'll try to be more interesting than simply a +1 weapon.

I've thought of a ghost blade for instance, which is just a hilt and guard, but the blade's been snapped off and it does nothing against ordinary foes. But against ghosts and other incorporeal beings, the ghost of the blade is still there and can harm them just fine.
 

raniE

Resident animal hater
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
689
Reaction score
1,042
A further note. I like the Lamentations of the Flame Princess skill system in general, as it's really simple and not too complicated. Basically, there are a number of skills, every character starts out with a value of 1 in every skill (with the new playtest rules most characters will get some skills they are better at than this) and The Specialist class gets four extra points to distribute at start plus two points per level, making them the masters of skills. Then you roll 1D6 whenever you do something that uses a skill to see if you succeed at the task.

However, I really don't like the Search skill at all. It doesn't fit the old school vibe I'm looking for. I want the players to tell me how their characters interact with the environment. Rather than them just saying "we search the room" I want them to say "I look under the bed, I shake out the bedclothes and listen for sounds of something heavy rattling about, I open the wardrobe carefully, go through all the pockets in the clothes and compare the outside depth of the closet to the inside to determine if there is a secret compartment". And if they do say that, I don't want to make a roll to see if they succeed at determining if something is rattling around in the bedclothes or hidden under the bed or if there is indeed a hidden compartment in the wardrobe.

So, the Search skill has got to go. But I feel like I should replace it with something. The new rules for LotFP adds a few skills to bring them to an even 12, and also lets every character roll 1D12 at character creation a few times to determine some skills they get more points in (how many rolls is based on your Int score). So I can't have an uneven number (I hate doing "12 is a reroll"). Does anyone have any thoughts on a good skill to replace Search with? It doesn't have to be anything even close to the search skill, I'd rather it be something else entirely actually.

The existing skills are
Architecture (used to determine if a structure is safe to enter, if an area is in risk of collapse or otherwise structurally unsound, if a tunnel is subtly sloping downwards or upwards and similar things)
Bushcraft (surviving in the wilderness)
Climb (not ropes or trees, more difficult climbs)
Languages (Roll whenver you encounter a language for the first time in play. If you succeed at the skill, you already know it. If you fail, you don't)
Leadership (influences retainer/hireling morale and loyalty)
Luck (each point gets you one reroll per session)
Medicine (Can speed up healing)
Seamanship (knowing how to handle yourself on a ship or boat)
Search (which I'm getting rid of)
Sleight of Hand (Pickpocketing and magic tricks and the like)
Stealth (Sneaking around, moving without being seen or heard. Not so much hiding behind a couch)
Tinkering (Fine mechanical work. Picking a lock or dealing with intricate clockwork for example. Not a general "disarm traps" skill, would only work if there is some sort of fine mechanical trigger which can be disabled)

Plus Sneak attack which only Specialists can increase and which is basically the backstab/sneak attack damage multiplier.
 
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top