The UK Games Expo 2018 was my first tabletop convention, both as a reviewer and an attendee. This site was due to launch a couple of months down the line so I figured it would be a good opportunity to get some content in place. As I wandered the massive halls, overwhelmed by the vast supply of games on offer, I spied a neat looking little RPG with a tonne of supplements. An RPG I had vaguely heard of. After a short chat with the woman operating the stall I agreed to come back at the end on Sunday to see what they’d be willing to put out for review. And that was my first mistake.
See, I’d heard of Lamentations of the Flame Princess before but all I knew was that it was a bit brutal and defined itself as “weird fantasy”. Oh, and that it had a supplement called Vaginas Are Magic which seemed quirky and dumb. So, brutal weird fantasy with a bit of an adult humour, alright I can get behind that. The guy running the stall happily loads me down with 8 books. Jackpot! Not only will these be great to review, they’ll be great to read!
The actual core rules of LotFP are alright from what I can gleam just from reading, they have a lot of the qualities that the OSR crowd adore. And while it’s not my thing, I can appreciate the joy of a good dungeon crawl. The joy in micromanaging the nitty-gritty parts of adventuring and skin-of-your-teeth combat. What I can’t appreciate is the sexual violence in the artwork. What I can’t do is get my players to play a game that involves being gang-raped by pygmies. Which I completely support and understand. Even if it leaves me in a bind, I’m not going to force people to play something that even makes me uncomfortable. And so, nearly a year on, I have been unable to get even a single person to sit down for a session knowing what the books have in store for them.
And this is a shitty situation to be in as a reviewer as I want to be able to review these games and to give my honest feedback and criticisms. I want to play LotFP and see what redeeming qualities it has but that just isn’t on the table. So instead let me lay out some advice to other fresh journalists:
Ask if there’s anything in the game that might be a turn-off for potential players.
This way you can get an idea of what you might need to be aware of before agreeing to review it. Things like sexual assault, intense gore, depictions of abuse are all themes that some people just don’t want to go near and you have the right to say no to games that feature it.
Always do your research.
It is my fault I’m in this situation, part of my job is to research the games I’m taking on and by being so overwhelmed and giddy, I didn’t. So if you’re attending a con with the idea of picking up review copies, either bring a co-worker or friend to bounce ideas off of and make sure you have internet access. A quick google search could have saved a lot of frustration and anxiety.
Don’t expect to see everything in a whole convention.
The UKGE is much bigger than you’d expect if you’re only used to local cons. I spent four days looking at games, exploring the halls, playing games, and talking to developers and I STILL DIDN’T SEE EVERYTHING. Don’t be afraid to miss out on things if it means you get more information on something you do like the look of.
Maybe don’t pick up review copies at cons
So this one I’m on the fence about. On the one hand, I got an awesome haul and was able to start working on content straight away. On the other hand, I had to wait until the last hour before rushing around everyone who said to come back round at the end which led to me biting off more than I could chew. Just get their contact details and sort out shipping review copies out. That way if something changes down the line, you can decline review copies and won’t have a literal pile of games that are losing their limelight chance.
So, sorry Raggi, but your games were just a little too ‘hardcore’ for us.
And the Zak S. stuff doesn’t help either.