Friday, July 13, 2018

Terrible Takes On Frostbitten & Mutilated

Click to enlarge I don't think you'll regret it

So a while back I announced this Terrible Take Contest for Frostbitten & Mutilated.

We have our winners!

Now, in these heady days of cartoon dogs claiming major game companies are secret fascist conspiracies, Poe's Law can take over quickly, so let me unequivocally state: these are genuine fans of the book writing intentionally bad takes. Any resemblance to the typical vocabulary and usage of actual angry gamers is strictly talent. Alright...

Don't forget to vote for Frostbitten & Mutilated in the Ennies,
voting is open and it's nominated for a lot of things including best interior art

Brother Juniper wrote this...

There’s no doubt that stories of orcs and goblins are told into a world which has been fundamentally ordered by the categorical denial of the humanity of large groups of people.  The rhetoric of dehumanization – uncivilized, bestial, violent, evil – can be heard in the descriptions of such creatures; Tolkien is a particular problem here.  Tolkien’s work is also a source of hope and inspiration for all sorts of folks, pressing against the boundaries of our world’s certainties, questioning its limits and impossibilities, and offering a source of wonder in a technical age. An ambivalent legacy (like most things).

One direction RPG players have taken is to humanize the orcs and goblins.  Generally, this is the sort of thing we need to do in the world – to cultivate empathy, to extend our imaginations in ways that allow us to recognize the dignity in every being, that the deaths of others become “grievable deaths.”  So in many stories you see orcs reframed as complex, often tragic figures, even playable races.  This, too, is ambivalent; while it moves beyond these creatures as sheer “other,” marked for destruction, it also reifies race as species, still organized around an image of a singular (human) norm.  I’m all for fantasy opening up our sense of the range of possibilities for human life, but I’m not sure making orcs “more human” is the best way to do that.

My concern is as much as we make monsters more relatable, as we develop complex ecologies, as we make them less strange, we lose much of what fantasy was about to begin with.  Tolkien’s work echoed English Romanticism, with its longing for the world unscarred by modernity (i.e. industrialization, urbanization, secularism and capitalism).  The pre-modern world of wonder and terror had been replaced by a world where everything was knowable, explainable, and capable of being mastered.  The violence of colonialism was constitutive of this operation of world-mastery.  Questions of meaning and the supernatural were cordoned off into the privatized category of “religion.”  Anthropology, sociology, and biology emerged to know and order the world on a “scientific” basis.  The project of knowing, measuring, and positioning all things is a central operation of colonialism.  Against such secular mastery, fantasy remembers an enchanted world, full of spirits both helpful and malignant, beyond the discipline of reason and rifle. monster/adversary...


Perhaps, then, if we’re concerned with colonial patterns and rhythms in RPGs, the most colonial thing of all was giving monsters PC abilities and statblocks in 3E and following.  Weirdness and strangeness was replaced by the universal, mathematically regularized grid of challenge ratings.  System mastery has its consolations, but so does an encounter with the weird, strange, awesome, and uncanny.  If we’re serious about decolonial play, statblocks should be three lines MAX.  

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Frostbitten and Mutilated from Lamentations of the Flame Princess.   Other reviews will comment on the information design, the art, the usability, and similar bourgeois themes.  I want to talk about Trolls and Giants.  They are terrible, monstrous, utterly strange, utterly frightening – not just frightening, horrific.  They are not species (as in 3E), they are catastrophes.  I’m tempted to say, “This is what a monster should be.”  But I won’t, as they are still saddled with relics like hit points, AC, and special attacks.  For all their fearfulness, just about any DM could bring them to the table, without the aid of crystals, mushrooms, or fairies.

There’s wasted potential elsewhere.  The book begins with a hate-summoning ritual, which I’m not a fan of, but I understand why it’s there.  However, there is nothing comparable for marmots, which seem to be at least as central to the environs as hate.  The lack of a marmot ritual, or even guidance about furry marmot play, seems like a definite gap.  In a quick online survey, I was able to find a number of sites giving advice in this general direction, but quickly realized I lacked the tools to weed out the good advice from the bad.  If a second edition is published, it should definitely include a more robust marmot section, including tips on costumes, artistic inspiration, conventions, etc. writing....


Running Frostbitten & Mutilated may require careful contextualization to bridge the historical and cultural distance between you and the ancient Norse – or even you and the metal community.  For those in the United States, I think you’ll find an easy bridge in the cultural resources of the upper Midwest (including northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  You could throw in the nice parts of Canada.)  In these lands, Scandinavian farmers braved the cold and snow to bring their culture to the new world.  Thus, Frances McDormand’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Marge Gunderson offers a superb guide for roleplaying the various Amazons.  While a na├»ve reading of the text points to something like Heilung (, I submit it should be more Conga Se Menne ( setting...

Evey Lockhart 

Looks like that animated pile of shit, Zak, is at it again, along with that fat bastard from the frozen north. It's just like PUT A SHIRT ON, ya know.

Anyway, I won't be reading this new "book" for a couple of reasons:

1. Zak is mean to people, just a harassing & name calling garbage person!. (And believe me I WILL be spreading this message on EVERY online space he inhabits. I will not allow harassment to foster in online spaces, you stupid asshole.)

2. He's a body shamer!! Have you seen those too skinny girls he draws?! He clearly hates fat women. That's not what real women look like!

So you shouldn't buy or examine or read anything about this frosty Hate Book!! He does not allow conversation so DON'T BE SHOVING ANY INFORMATION ABOUT THIS GARBAGE IN MY FACE!! OK?

Originally I was just going to have one winner, but I can't get the phrase "frosty Hate Book!" out of my mind so we're having two. Email zakzsmith AT hawtmayle dawt calm to collect your fabulous prizes.
...and product of the year.

1 comment:

Jay Murphy said...

That Orsen Wells slow clap. Bravo.