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Author Topic: Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.  (Read 4637 times)

Headless

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Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« on: March 04, 2019, 11:44:40 AM »
This is a review of Lion & Dragon: Medieval Authentic OSR Roleplaying.  Written by the RPG Pundit published by DOM publishing.  It's a soft cover black and white book of 130 pages or so.  

This follow my review of Dark Albion, his campaign setting.  Pundit tells us these rules are an outgrowth of his house rules for that campaign.  Some of the material in this book was already covered (briefly) in Dark Albion.  I read these books back to back and wrote the review just far enough apart for them to start to blur together.  I will do my best to review Lion & Dragon as a seprate unit, please understand if I end up covering some material acutally in the other book.

As I have said before I enjoy Pundits writing style.  I find him clear, consicise and easy to read.  The book is also very well laid out with two columns per page - newspaper style. Again it is full of really cool black and white drawings, many of them from the public domain, but also some licensed.  The book has an excellent table of contents but no index.  

Pundit is setting out to do a specific thing with this system - he is trying to write a system (or adapt one since this is OSR) to play in what he calls a medieval authentic fantasy setting.  Specifically, the Rose War from Dark Albion.  I think he largely succeeds, or at least I am very clear on what kind of a game I am signing up for and how it differs from the standard fantasy game.  (Whatever that means.)  He starts by laying out and expaining his assumptions.  I will just list them here, I think they are important for understanding the game and the review.  

1. Social status is extremely important.  
2. Monotheism
3. Life is cheap
4. Magic is rare.
5. Civilization is survival.

I will comment on the first one.  As I said in my other review, enforcing the importance of social status is just asking for trouble at the table.  I think to properly emphasize just how important social status is you need to have planning and preperation in charcter making, in choosing which player gets which status, as well as wide spread buy in from the players. We have a radically more egalitarian society than they did.  High class characters who try to enforce the social hierarchy are the villains of movies, doing it in real life is called bullying.  It's no fun to be on the recieving end of. Even pretend bullying will get old really quick.  Even if all the players are of exactly the same social status so no one player is ever obligated to put another 'in their place' they are still going to run afoul of the wider social order of the NPCs.  Of course they will, they're Player Charcters.  In that case the NPCs are going to have to punish the PCs for flaunting the social order.  I am strongly of the opinion that DMs don't get to punish players.  Now there is a differnce between NPCs and the DM, but in practice it is a subtle one and a line that is easy to miss.

I said more than I meant to about that, but I think there is a potential pitfall here that needs thought and an explict understanding before hand.  This is a time to be sure to have the conversation.  

The chapter on making charcters starts with social status before selecting class, emphasing just how important it is.  His default is to roll for it, I have explained why I don't think that is a good idea.  

There are 6 classes, Fighters, Clerics, Magisters (mages) and thieves, as well as Cymri, kind of like a half elven fighter/mage/thief multi class, or maybe a bard, and Scotsmen the barbaians of the setting.  One thing I really like is you randomly roll for your bonus when you level up.  You can chose one, or you can randomly roll for 2.  Each character class has a different table of improvments to roll on, for instance the thief can gain "+1 to any 2 thief skills" or "Increase your back stab multiplier (x2 becomes x3, x3 becomes times 4 etc.)" The fighter can gain an extra attack or "+1 to manuvers on horse back."  Every class has +1 to hit on the table and gain hp (fighters d10 and Magisters d4,) as well every class gains a set number of hp per level in addition to rolling on the table fighters 2 per level and magisters only 1.  I quite like this system.  It will make every character different (once you gain a few levels and get a few rolls) with out crushing new players with choice or letting munchkins break the system by min/maxing.  

Magic is very different in this game.  There are no fire and forget spells.  Instead they learn Miracles for clerics and Lores for Magi.  If you have learned a Lore or Miracle, as determined by your level up rolls, you can try to use the magic.  You simply roll against a target difficulty and add you modifiers, if you pass you cast the spell if you fail you don't and can't try again for the rest of the day.  For instance, Clerics can learn Holy light, DC 13, if you pass you create sunlight from your holy symbol for 10 min and does damage to undead and deamons.  If you are still in the dark after 10 minutes try again.  No reason not to keep doing it.  Migistars can learn the Lore battle magic, each time they learn that lore they roll for a new specific skill.  In addition to making blasting wands and casting earth quake they can learn to bake magic bread.  Anyone who eats it is protected, opponets have a -1 to hit them and they (the opponent) have their saving throw penalized.  Effects are stronger against Fey, demons, undead and other magical creatures.  The Maigstar can bake as much bread as he want's but needs to roll a skill check for each person that eats it.  

I like this system, it makes more sense to me.  It feels less video gamey to me.  But it is a radical departure from the fire and forget spells I am used to.  This is going to play very different form a standard D&D wizard.  Diffenrent in ways I can't predict.  

Demons and summoning is very important to Pundit in these two books.  It's wierd and specific and idiosycratic.  I don't much care for it, but it is well thought out detailed and consistent.  I think it comes more from his personal knowledge of magic and the occult, rather than his role playing experience.  I don't think it will work well in a game and certainly not for player charcters. But I haven't tried it, and I'm betting he has.  Your milage may varey.

There is a chapter on money and gear, I always apreaciate those, I never have any idea how much things cost.  

There is also a chapter for the DM.  How to use moral, and how long it takes to travel. As well as advice on running combat.  Rules for grappling, charging, aimed shots and defensive combat etc.  I like them.  They are clear simple, make sense and have intuitive results.  I will think about how to stuff them into my 5th ed game.  

The book ends with a chapter on treasure and a long list of magic items.  Then a short beastiary.  


Over all this is an enjoyble book to read (if you like reading roleplaying books).  It's clear and well laid out.  I have a good sense of the rules and would be able to quickly look something up if I needed to at the table.  I would like to play in this setting.  I would also like to run a game using this system and I think I could use this sytem to run one of the campaigns I have perculating in the back of my mind.  If I was to run something it wouldn't be in the Rose War, or any Medieval Authentic setting.  I would want to toss the first assumption, and I think I could easily do that.  I might want to toss the second assumption as well, that would be harder to do, clerics as written don't make sense without Monothesim.

I would recomend.  Recommend most highly for anyone playing Dark Albion, or any light fantasy version of real history.  I would also recommed for anyone who wanted to try a new way of thinking about magic or didn't like the charts and charts of options and choices that are now involved in building a character.   The random tables won't paralize a new player or let a munchkin break the game.

Spinachcat

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Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2019, 03:01:37 AM »
Headless, does RPGPundit address how to deal with the social rank issues at the table?

How do the NPCs enforce the social rank inside the setting?

How much social variance be in an average adventuring party? AKA, will nobles be wandering about with priests and peasants?

Also, what rules (beyond magic) deviate from standard OSR play?

Headless

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Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2019, 08:33:57 PM »
Quote from: Spinachcat;1077988
Headless, does RPGPundit address how to deal with the social rank issues at the table?

How do the NPCs enforce the social rank inside the setting?

How much social variance be in an average adventuring party? AKA, will nobles be wandering about with priests and peasants?

Also, what rules (beyond magic) deviate from standard OSR play?

From my reading of it the advice is for the high raking PCs to put the lower ranking PCs in their place.  Maybe I missed something cause that would be a disaster.  

NPCs enforce social rank by role playing means.  I think he has a few bits of advice on that.  Things like laws.  You can be arrested for wearing colors above your station I think.  

The base assumption is for peasants to be wandering around with oriests and nobles.  Random back grounds right, roll for your social status.  

Not sure how to answer the last one.  I'm not really sure what standard OSR is.  I run 5th edition.  I am considering porting over to Lion and Dragon and having PCs out of L&D fight monsters from the 5th ed monster manual and just pretending they are compatible.  Since its all pretend I think it will work.  Does that answer your question?

RPGPundit

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Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2019, 11:44:15 PM »
Thanks very much for this review!

I'll note regarding how to handle differing PC social ranks in the game, that what I really recommend is that the party make-up be framed around these differences. For example, if one of the PCs is a noble, and the others are commoners, the entire party could basically be the retinue of that noble.
LION & DRAGON: Medieval-Authentic OSR Roleplaying is available now! You only THINK you've played 'medieval fantasy' until you play L&D.


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The most famous uruguayan gaming blog on the planet!

NEW!
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Dark Albion: The Rose War! The OSR fantasy setting of the history that inspired Shakespeare and Martin alike.
Also available in Variant Cover form!
Also, now with the CULTS OF CHAOS cult-generation sourcebook

ARROWS OF INDRA
Arrows of Indra: The Old-School Epic Indian RPG!
NOW AVAILABLE: AoI in print form

LORDS OF OLYMPUS
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LiferGamer

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Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2020, 04:46:41 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;1079578
Thanks very much for this review!

I'll note regarding how to handle differing PC social ranks in the game, that what I really recommend is that the party make-up be framed around these differences. For example, if one of the PCs is a noble, and the others are commoners, the entire party could basically be the retinue of that noble.

I liked the feel of that in Fading Suns, smart PC's behave like Samuel Jackson's character in Django; servile in public, blasting the boss for his stupidity in private.

NPCs have their lower status Fall Guys who you know work for him, and he knows you know work for him, but what can you do?

Sounds like fun with the right group (like any RPG ever)
Your Forgotten Realms was my first The Last Jedi.

If the party is gonna die, they want to be riding and blasting/hacking away at a separate one of Tiamat's heads as she plummets towards earth with broken wings while Solars and Planars sing.

Armchair Gamer

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Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2020, 11:28:56 AM »
What I've been curious about is how does Pundit address the monotheistic element? It should be noted that I suffer from being both self-interested (practicing Catholic) and overeducated on the subject of medieval religion, so I tend to be picky on the topic. :)

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Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2020, 05:00:08 PM »
Excellent review, thank you so much. You made it way more interesting !
SHAREit MX Player
« Last Edit: August 12, 2020, 11:14:54 AM by sneazzy95 »

Simlasa

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Re: Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2020, 10:43:27 AM »
From my reading of it the advice is for the high raking PCs to put the lower ranking PCs in their place.  Maybe I missed something cause that would be a disaster. 
I haven't read this game, but something that struck me while reading about class in Victorian England is that the lower class was often quite invested in the system as well. It's what they grew up with, it's all they knew. They relied on it, and going against the order of things upset everyone, high and low. So a person who was 'acting up' might likely be 'put in place' by their peers as well as their 'betters'.
I'd think acting as the usual wild west, anti-authoritarian D&D 'murderhobo' would quickly consign you to outlaw status.

PencilBoy99

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Re: Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2020, 12:58:48 PM »
I'll note regarding how to handle differing PC social ranks in the game, that what I really recommend is that the party make-up be framed around these differences. For example, if one of the PCs is a noble, and the others are commoners, the entire party could basically be the retinue of that noble.

Good suggestion. However, having both played and run this this is super un-fun if you're at all playing authentically. The higher status person tells everyone else to do, and if you want to do anything you need to get permission or convince them. I already live this at work, not fun to play or run.


I think it's still fun to do status BETWEEN NPC and PC. I've run games with that and that works great.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 01:09:28 PM by PencilBoy99 »

RPGPundit

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Re: Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2020, 05:11:32 AM »
I'll note regarding how to handle differing PC social ranks in the game, that what I really recommend is that the party make-up be framed around these differences. For example, if one of the PCs is a noble, and the others are commoners, the entire party could basically be the retinue of that noble.

Good suggestion. However, having both played and run this this is super un-fun if you're at all playing authentically. The higher status person tells everyone else to do, and if you want to do anything you need to get permission or convince them. I already live this at work, not fun to play or run.


I think it's still fun to do status BETWEEN NPC and PC. I've run games with that and that works great.


Well, I have a whole bunch of Lion & Dragon players who would disagree.
LION & DRAGON: Medieval-Authentic OSR Roleplaying is available now! You only THINK you've played 'medieval fantasy' until you play L&D.


My Blog:  http://therpgpundit.blogspot.com/
The most famous uruguayan gaming blog on the planet!

NEW!
Check out my short OSR supplements series; The RPGPundit Presents!


Dark Albion: The Rose War! The OSR fantasy setting of the history that inspired Shakespeare and Martin alike.
Also available in Variant Cover form!
Also, now with the CULTS OF CHAOS cult-generation sourcebook

ARROWS OF INDRA
Arrows of Indra: The Old-School Epic Indian RPG!
NOW AVAILABLE: AoI in print form

LORDS OF OLYMPUS
The new Diceless RPG of multiversal power, adventure and intrigue, now available.

WillInNewHaven

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Re: Headless Reviews Lion & Dragon.
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2020, 05:11:02 PM »

Good review. I've always had social status matter in my campaigns and it isn't usually as tough as you think. I think L & D is a good read and I would play in it if someone were running it. I wouldn't run it because it is D & D.