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Monday, September 3, 2012

Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria edition

I recently reread "Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria edition". I really like this game. It's basically the original BoL game, but set in a more normal swords and sorcery setting, with actual mammals. The biggest problem I have with the original is that it is extremely lizard-centric.

The system is quite light, being roll 2d6 over 9 to succeed. Characters have four stats (Strength, Agility, Mind, and Appeal). They also have four general abilities (Brawl, Melee, Ranged, and Defense). Finally, they choose four careers from a list. All these categories are rated from 0 to 4 (-1 is possible, but I would strongly recommend against it). Character toughness is rated in Lifeblood, which is basically hit points, which is equal to 10 plus their Strength.

Careers add their score to any related action (soldiers improve combat, physicians can heal, and sorcerers can use magic). It's very open, and I expect career ranks to get used quite a bit in play.

Characters also gain Boons (stuff like Nightvision and Disease Immunity). Flaws are also available (including stuff like Fear of Fire and Combat Paralysis).

Characters also have Hero Points, which allow them to get rerolls and other benefits in game. They automatically start with 5, and can trade some in for additional Boons.

Combat should be fast, though I think Armor is a bit too limited. Then again, high Armor values will make characters very hard to hurt. The Armor system is based off of the original BoL rules, not the version found in BoL 2e (which came out after this book).

I expect most combats will be over in a few rounds, as long as armor is limited.  If heavier armor becomes common, combats will take longer, but I'm not really sure that's a bad thing.

The magic system is pretty vague. There are guidelines for three levels of magic in sorcery, priestly magic, and alchemy. Level one spells are fairly easy to cast, but limited in scope. Level three spells are hard to cast, but can be very effective. The GM is going to be largely responsible for what he will allow or not.

Sorcery looks to be geared towards summoning demons, blasting heroes with lightning, etc. There are possible side effects that can deform a sorcerer (especially the level three spells). Sample requirements like casting times, taking damage, etc., are also provided.

Priests also have access to spells, and they have to make sure they don't anger their god. The GM should have a list of Domains that the god is concerned with. Spells in these domains will be easier to cast for a priest (he rolls 3 dice and keeps the best 2 results). Priest must perform sacrifices, meditations, or similar actions to placate their god.

Alchemists largely create their spells ahead of time. They make items such as potions, artificial arms, flying machines, and golems. More powerful items are harder to create (including potions).

There are rules for villains and rabble. Villains will be very similar to players in power (and they get Villain Points). Rabble are basically easily defeated mooks, which is appropriate for the genre.

The system fills the first half of the book. The second half details the continent of Erisa. A color map is featured on the back cover of the book (and a black and white expanded version is included in the text). The world has a very Conanesque vibe. Lizard men, sorcerers who summon dragons, a large empire on the brink of collapse, slavers and slaves, etc. I think it's well done, though I would personally use this game with the Mongoose Conan supplement "Road of Kings", which details Hyboria. For those looking for a relatively normal S&S setting, it's pretty much perfect.

There are two short adventures in the back, which help show what the setting is like. Either will be easy to use in most S&S settings, though.

Regarding the book production, I have the hardcover version from Lulu. The binding is great, and the hardcover is quite tough. The paper is good, and the text is easy to read. A do believe the game needs another proofread, as there are a number of typos found throughout the book. Overall, it is a well-made book that should last years.

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