Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Friday, 30 September 2016

Slügs ain't what they used to be

In past years, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the Finnish-based publisher of Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay has, for Free RPG Day [http://www.freerpgday.com/], offered a complete mini-campaign with Better than Any Man and a shorter scenario in the form of The Doom Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children. The aim with both was to provide support for Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay that the fans of the game would want and enjoy rather than a set of QuickStart Rules best suited for new players. Which makes sense since the tone and maturity of subject matter often means that Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay is not an RPG intended for those new to RPGs anyway. For Free RPG Day 2016, James Raggi IV went even further by offering a ‘sluggery’.

Well, what Raggi—with an addition from Kelvin Green—actually offers is Slügs!, a gastropodic molluscular bestiary of truly tremendous proportions. Or rather the slugs of the title—all sixteen of them—are of tremendous proportions, because the umlaut or ‘¨’ above the ‘u’ in Slügs! stands for nothing less than ‘giant’ as in giant slugs. All are variations upon a theme, or rather themes on a Slüg, from Acid Slüg and Breakfast Slüg to Swiss Army Slüg and Vomit Slüg. A great many of the applied themes are pop culture references that Raggi twists, so the Breakfast Slüg is inspired by the tee shirts that show breakfast cereal packets themed an intellectual property, for example, Iron Bran or Baggins’ Frodos, whilst the Slügatron is actually an alien in disguise that can transform between Slüg and a blocky humanoid form. The Slügatron even comes with his own giant blaster rifle. Just remember not to ask where the yummy nuggets of breakfasty goodness that swim enticingly in the bowl of ‘milk’ that sits in the Breakfast Slüg’s back, come from. 

What is interesting about any one of the entries in Slügs! is what each Slüg can do and the effects of what it can. So not only can the Doctor Slüg heal you, it gives you the disease in the first place and books you an appointment for when that healing will take place; Hypno Slüg will plant a suggestion that you steal the next boat you see, enter your next battle naked whatever your plans, intentionally trigger the next trap you find, and so on; and the Mentallo Slüg might well help you prevent the Burning of Paris or the Stars from Being Right, but in return you might need to start a war or sell the most lambs at the next market in Dorchester. Without a doubt these Slügs are weird and their effects are weird, and some will change the nature of a campaign and send it off down weird twists. Which is the point. The Slügs! are meant to change things, not merely be slaughtered—and yes, there are rules for killing them with salt. You need an awful lot of salt. Nevertheless, some of the Slügs! are adult in nature and they may well border on the offensive. Certainly there is artwork, however good, that is adult in nature.

Slügs begins with an introduction and an afterword from the author. In the former he thumbs his nose at the industry, as if he were writing as Trump. He also writes as Sanders too, but this is not quite as obvious. It is all a bit silly and all explained in the afterword, wherein the Raggi also philosophises further about his views on gaming and the industry—just a little. At times, the book is funny too and when it is, it alleviates the po-faced silliness of it all—just a little.

So the question is, “Do you need a cornucopia of Slügs!?” Well, the most truthful answer is that you probably do not and even if you did, how many of the sixteen giant gastropods in Slügs! would your campaign benefit from? How many is too many Slügs!? Of course that is only a semi-serious question which befits a semi-serious book that is essentially James Raggi having a joke on the industry about what is or is not suitable support for an RPG as compared to some QuickStart set of rules for some hefty and far from inexpensive RPG in hardback format. And also making the point that content need not be familiar or easy, and can of course, be weird. So the question is, “Do you need a cornucopia of Slügs!?” 

When your campaign is feeling Slüggish, then Slügs! is the only answer.