Thursday, March 23, 2006

Legends of Steel Q&A

For a while now you have seen reports on this blog regarding the progress of my Legends of Steel game. I decided to do a little FAQ on the project and add some of the fantastic original art that Jeff Hebert has come up with for the project. Enjoy!

Q. What is Legends of Steel?

A. Legends of Steel (LoS) is a role-playing game that pays tribute to the genre of sword and sorcery- specifically the movies, television shows and comics that deal with sword and sorcery- movies like Deathstalker, Red Sonja and Hawk the slayer- TV shows like Conan the Adventurer, The Beastmaster, and Xena; warrior princess- and comics such as Claw-The Unconquered, King Kull, and Thongor. LoS is light on the rules and designed for fast play. LoS is a perfect game on the fly and ideal for folks new to gaming as well as “old school” gamers who love more than a little hack n slash.

Q. What niche do you see LoS filling?

A. I have always envisioned LoS as a “beer and pretzel” type of game- light in tone and unpretentious-much like the genre LoS attempts to emulate. There are several exceptionally well-done “Rules Light” systems out there (Risus by S. John Ross and the 1PG system from Deep7 Games immediately come to mind). But none that I know of deal specifically with the Sword & Sorcery genre as it is presented in popular media.
We all know that fantasy has been extensively covered in the gaming world, from grand epics such as The Lord of the Rings to the grim and gritty world of the Black Company, but there has never been a “Deathstalker” game or a game based on Marvel comics’ “Skull the Slayer”.

Q. What are you trying to accomplish with LoS?

A. For as long as I can remember I have been a fan of the Sword & Sorcery genre- even longer than I have been a gamer. Since I began gaming I have often “tweaked” the systems I played by tossing out rules I disagreed with and adding others I came up with. In some cases I tweaked systems so much they became unrecognizable from the original. Then of course there was the eternal search that all gamers go through to find the perfect set of rules (hint: there is no such animal). After thousands of hours and hundreds of dollars, I decided that the only system that would satisfy me was one I created myself. And the genre I chose to anchor my game in was Sword & Sorcery.
I suppose you could call LoS a labor of love. I look at this project the same way a guy who restores classic cars sees a rusty old 57 Chevy, It’s a challenge that will very soon be met. Of course I would love to sell 20,000 copies of LoS, but I have no illusions- the reality for me will probably be a print run of maybe 50 copies through a small vanity publishing outfit, enough to give out to friends and family. If I do offer LoS to the public, it will probably be for a nominal cost to cover materials, with anything over that going towards buying more art for it or to maintain a LoS website. The bottom line for me is that my kids and my friends get a kick out of playing it. If that’s the case then the project was a success.

Q. LoS just sounds like another D&D clone, how is it different?

A. First off, in LoS there are a wide variety of advantages and nifty things that the characters can use right from the start. LoS characters begin the game as competent veterans who are able to perform feats and actions without having to wait several levels or banking away thousands of experience points, to gain a level of competency.
Secondly, the focus of LoS is more on the character than on the campaign. LoS is built on a much smaller scale than say Middle Earth or The Forgotten Realms. The adventures in LoS are intended to play out in a session or two, much like a television episode or a three-issue run of a comic book, rather than a grand campaign, but that’s not to say that LoS couldn’t carry campaign play – the rules will stand up to long term play as well as any other system.

Q. What mechanics are used?

A. LoS uses percentages for all attribute, combat, and task resolution rolls. Ten sided dice decide weapon damage. We wanted a system that would be quick and easy to figure out. Nothing could be simpler than a straight percentage chance.
Even if you have never played a role playing game in your life you can still comprehend that your character has a percentage chance of succeeding in their task and if that percentage is exceeded then the attempt fails. No convoluted charts or confusing tables of numbers- just a simple percentage chance to succeed or fail.

Q. Will there be illustrations?

A. Oh hell yes! I'm a very visual person. Good art is a must. I have always hated seeing a real cool premise for a game ruined by substandard artwork. It’s as if the writers were sitting around the table discussing artwork and one of them said, “My brother knows how to draw, let’s have him do the cover.” I hope to avoid that pitfall with LoS. The graphic portion of the project is an integral one. The tone for LoS is light but still heroic, similar to the style of superhero cartoon animation seen in recent years with the Justice League and the X-Men animated series. LoS was after all created partly in tribute to the Sword & Sorcery comics of the 70’s.
Currently on board with us is Jeff Herbert who not only has done illustrations for Hero games, but he is also the creator of the innovative Heromachine software. And we will be looking at other artists whose graphic style will complement his as well as translate well to the genre we are paying tribute too. Savage vistas, creepy ruins, chicks in chainmail bikinis, and of course undead villains, LoS will have it all.

Be a Hero…Be a Champion…Be a LEGEND!