REVIEW: Vaginas Are Magic
Lamentations of the Flame Princess' contribution to Free RPG Day 2017, Vaginas are Magic!, is a perfect sample of the company's published works: it's mature, edgy, and doesn't give a fuck about bad language or cover images of tight-pant-wearin' women pointin' at their hoohahs. Within the book are about 50 pages of content regarding a tweaked spellcasting system and 20 brand new spells named after heavy metal songs. If you're thinking about judging this book by its cover... don't! Because even though this book brags about having "Feminine Anti-Cosmic Nihilist Magic of Death," it really doesn't.
Let's start with the back cover (click to enlarge):
This entire back cover is dedicated to a buildup of femininity. The text immediately grabs your focus with "You have been lied to all your life," then laments against the elder bearded wizards of the past because their time is over! It's time to break the status quo and bust up this established facial-haired scrotumfest with a book decked out in purple and pink paraphernalia! This book's got unicorns, rainbows, jewels, ice cream, pretty bows, a butt plug in the bottom left corner, and flowers and sparkly shit all over to let you know that this book is chock full of—
Spells named after heavy metal songs...
And maybe two paragraphs that say "only female characters can cast these spells" and that's about all the justification we get for a girly cover.
I mean, the back and front covers look great. They really catch my eye and get me all kinds of excited to dig into a text that may be pandering, parodying, or a legitimately pro-female collection of spells. Maybe these spells are born from a secret coven of female magic users, who have been creating spells that can't be used by non-females because the spells are all about that uterus. Or Fallopian stuff. Or boobs and shit. After all, it specifically states "For the purposes of being able to cast the spells in this book, 'woman' is defined as someone (or something, non-human magicians can cast these spells too) able to be impregnated and carry a child to full term," so old barren ladies and young girls don't have access to this. And that's that. The spells themselves have no specific flavor to them that demonstrate only women can cast these spells, they're just... "hey, your non-childbearing character can't do this."
So you can imagine my degree of "meh" when I cycled through the spells and realized only one spell mechanically required you to be a female (Into the Crypts of Rays), and the other kind-of-sort-of required you to be a female (Goat Perversion). Don't get me wrong, though. The spells listed are very clever and quite intriguing, especially Into the Crypt of Rays, which incorporates the spirit of a fiendish lord with a penchant for Freddy Krueger-ish tendencies involving kids, who offers the caster the answer to any question—as long as the caster gestates one of the villain's victim-children spirits to full term. It's demented, delightful, world-building, and contextually relevant.
The introduced Weird Magic System also provides a fun, less complicated method of spellcasting that removes level restrictions for spells, instead focusing on more levels = more power for the spells. For those more accustomed to traditional RPG's (D&D 5E in other words), the warlock class' method of spellcasting is the closest comparison I can find.
The book would be perfect if it dropped the whole vagina/girls theme and focused on its true theme: heavy metal. There's no need for any of the feminine dressing. The book could have an insert-evil-dark-imagery-thing-here for the cover art and be perfectly fine. Instead there's a mishmash of what's being advertised with what's being sold—I'm biting into an apple and tasting an orange. Though in the end, I can handwave my issues with the book by reminding myself of the book's true purpose:
It's a free publication. It costs nothing. This is a gift from LotFP to anyone who wants to take a look inside. Granted, it wasn't free for me because I live in the woods near no hobby shops, so I had to fork money for it off of Ebay. So ultimately, Vaginas are Magic is not a bad supplement. It cost nothing when it was released, and it's full of fun spells that you can incorporate into your world, even if you're not running LotFP.
But don't buy it if you're expecting anything at all related to what's on the cover.
You're getting heavy metal songs.
Vaginas are Magic is available for purchase here.