Saturday, April 4, 2009

Legends of Steel - Savage Worlds

It's obvious that I love Savage Worlds (see previous post). I also love the Sword & Sorcery genre. And, since I have an RPG campaign setting that I'm working on (though it's still in it's infancy), I like to see independent companies put out quality product. It let's me know that guys like me have a chance in the industry. That's where Legends of Steel comes in. I discovered this blog for Evil DM Productions while I was scoping out the Savage Worlds scene on the internet. The blog is run by a guy named Jeff Mejia, the creator of LoS. Not only is his blog chock full of hot chicks and pulp awesomeness (Hell yes!), it also features his forthcoming games (LoS is already available, but he's also working on a pulp game called Lost World of Hador). Anyway, Legends of Steel is most certainly Jeff's love letter to the genre, because each page is written in fitting tribute. It starts off with him mentioning the sources of Sword & Sorcery that greatly influenced this game and the different styles in the genre, from the savage, brutal, and magic deficient world of Conan, to the comics, cartoons, movies, and TV shows of the 70s, 80s, and 90s such as Red Sonja, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Beastmaster, or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The list of pulp S&S books he cites read like an all time favorite list for me and I grew up watching most, if not all, of the movies and shows. Although his campaign setting is more geared toward the slightly more fantastical elements of the comics, movies, and TV shows, there's plenty of leeway to play the game using whatever elements of the genre you want. The book then goes over how to create a character suitable for the genre. He makes the interesting (and appropriate) stipulation that PCs can only be human. No elves, no halflings; none of that mess. Magic is somewhat available, but to a small extent. In Sword & Sorcery, these elements are to be considered more along the lines of the bizarre, not commonplace. Heroes relied on sinew and steel to fight their battles. So much so, that LoS pretty much dictates that, with a sharp blade, and an iron will, a hero may even defeat a demon (killing it would be another story). LoS continues with some modifications to some pre-existing edges as well as new edges to play around with. Some of these edges might seem a bit outlandish to play in any other genre, but they all fit right in with elements of S&S. From skimpy armor to the finer points of Beast Mastery, it's all here. It even adds some rules and tips for running a Sword & Sorcery game and also its own rules for carousing (which I like better than the rules in 50 Fathoms). The rest of the book focuses on the campaign setting, Erisa - mostly a gazetteer of the major regions in the world. I like how Jeff did this, because he provides a short description of each kingdom or city-state, then divides it into four categories: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Each and every one of them rife with plot hooks. He doesn't give you an overarching storyline or a plot point campaign (which are common in many Savage Worlds campaigns). This allows gamemasters plenty of room to fashion their own adventure paths. Should the heroes become embroiled in fighting the mighty kingdom of Tyros to liberate a city? Will they fall in league with the scumbags from Radu? Or do they dare stand against the dread sorcerers of Yar? That is entirely up to the group and there are plenty of plot hooks to choose from. It also mentions some of the less civilized wilderness areas that are not as detailed, but still offer good ideas for adventures. The Gazetteer caps off with a pantheon of the numerous gods and goddesses of Erisa, from the sublime to the savage. The book ends with an adventure, River Pirates of the Belsa, and sample characters to get things started quickly. Overall, this is a great value. It has excellent presentation, great art, and plenty of meaty story ideas to last quite a few gaming groups. All of this in a pdf file for the slim price of $12 (the hard copy book runs about $22, which is still not bad). If you love Sword & Sorcery and Savage Worlds (there must be something wrong with you if you don't), then I seriously recommend this game. Legends of Steel is available for download on the Evil DM Productions website at or on Jeff's awesome blog, The Lair of the Evil DM, at (Edit: Jeff just made a paperback version available at the Evil DM Productions website so you can display it on your bookshelf) Oh, and spread the word. I'm hoping some of this good karma will come back my way when my RPG campaign world is ready for release. Kaiser out.

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