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Author Topic: Runequest Legendary Heroes  (Read 1239 times)

Spike

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Runequest Legendary Heroes
« on: November 03, 2006, 02:38:52 pm »


Once again the book is uncredited in the author department, so once again I decided, magnanimously, to give Matt his due.

Like the other two books, this one is a slim hardback with a pretty rune on the cover.  Consistent, to say the least.  It is damn thin, really damn thin. So thin it probably could have been bound up with the previous two into a single book, but it wasn't.  At least this time it doesn't feel so much like stuff that SHOULD have been in the core book.

No, this book is solely about adding an option that many of us do not do, play at the high levels, the 'shake the pillars of heaven' level of play. And it delivers.

The introduction, eplaining what legendary Heroes ARE is the longest yet. At 9 pages it is roughly ten percent of the total book.  Yet it doesn't feel like wasted space, not really. If you are a Legend, be a damn legend. If you are gamemastering Legends, be fucking LEGENDARY. 'Nough Said.

The next chapter is all about making a legendary hero. That is, starting with one or building up to one. The rules for greater than 100% skills are repeated, new 'super skills' are added. I like these skills, they are easy to use in play and really capture the difference between Joe-the-sorta-cool, and Herculon-the-Mighty-Badass.  Example: if your skill with a weapon is over 150% you can take Weapon mastery for that weapon. You can still use your normal skill, or you can roll your WM, if you chose the later, you do double damage. Simple, yet potent.

Again with a layout zag, we follow to Mass Combat rules. I'll be honest here, I sorta skim this sort of thing usually. I know some folks think this sort of thing belongs in the main book, but in my expirence it's a pretty uncommon facet of most games.  The rules look reasonably simple, and seem to focus on units as organic elements, morale, and characters as leaders... all good stuff. The brief bit of siege engines seemed pretty drab, but hey! If you really are using ballistae against characters, you've got issues, man.

And with the Zig, we head into a chapter on new Legendary Abilities. There are a lot more here than the main book, and they are a step up in power (and coolness). Most of them require other legendary abilities as prerequisites, and build upon them. Things like Black Waltz, which makes you a dervish of death, to gadgeteer, which seems grossly out of place. I mean, really, where are the gadgets in this game? Eh, some people might like it.  It should be noted that the LA's aren't all about combat, not by a long shot. You've got your legendary healers, speakers and horsemen... most of the skills are represented here.  

Now, compared to the overall power level, the original Rune stuff might seem a bit tame, so they've beefed them up for legendary types. New special abilites are unlocked, and new, more powerful spells. Just the rune magic... once again Mongoose seems to think that will be everyone's focus. Bah.  There is one problem here... no guidance for when exactly these powers should be unlocked, assuming you are working up to LH in your campaign. I'd suggest something simple, like having your runecasting skill over 100% for a given rune, but I'm not being paid to design the game, am I?  

I will say that some of these new spells are potent. Still no 'willy nilly' reality alteration, but rain of fire is pretty devestating, wouldn't you say? If nothing else, these spells, unlike the previous ones, probably DO belong on the battlefield. Luckily we have mass combat rules now, isn't it?

Then we get into the 'runes of creation'. New, super runes. There are twelve, and they are campaign alteringly powerful.

Once again we have a weird Judeo-christian bent on this stuff. Seriously. We have the four horsemen of the apocalypse here. That is, four of the runes are 'war, famine, pesitilance, and death'... and they are the 'runes of the apocalypse' and they each give the bearer a summoned super horse.  These are the runes to unmake creation, which makes me wonder why they are called the runes of CREATION. Bah.  Never mind the fact that there is also a Law/Chaos slant, but chaos is automatically bad... and there are chaos runes. I'm not enough of a Grognard to blithley accept this as tradition, and I'm not young enough or 'christian' enough to swallow a 'good/evil' dichotomy this blatent.   Still, they are colorful and powerful enough to be useful at this 'level' of play.

Naturally, in addition to awesome powers just for having the runes, you get spells to go with them.  Powerful stuff, but there are fewer spells than runes, which makes them seem sort of... unimportant. You'd think they could have been folded into the powers of the runes themselves.  Yeah, the uber-spells chapter is incomplete. You'd think Mongoose is suffering a paper shortage or something.

Ah... then we have the legendary artefacts. There aren't many of them, and they seem to be meant more as examples, but they are cooler than a penguins butt. Well, there is death's scyth, which should help you put their power level into perspective.  The problem with death's scythe is that only one person can use it... the bearer of the Death rune of creation.  So...
Anyway, each artefact comes complete with a short story of its origins, each suitably mythic and colorful. I like this chapter, really I do. Of course, I think there were meant to be more items in it. See, there is a group 'mug shot' of the items, complete with a suit of plate armor... which isn't in the book. So, was it excised? Did the artist get ahead of himself? Why is there plate armor in a bronze age setting? So many questions...

And the Beastary: legendary bad-asses for our legendary heroes to face. there are twelve demonlords, seven of which are named (and pictured... complete with nipples. Yay for nipples!!!), some holy dudes (who are not named or nippled...), a dragon you can kill over and over again and some weird 'between good and evil' sorts... and one mother of all monsters, the Abyssal Warlord.  
Probably the coolest 'monster' is the undead 'Runefallen', people who once had a Rune of Creation that now exist only to seek out the current bearer to take it back. Nice nemesis to throw at players who have gotten cocky with their new cool powers, eh?

Like the previous books, there is a solid index, and then some reference sheets, this time for the Mass combat chapter.

In the end, this book is awesome to expand your play to legendary levels (unless you are a Heroquest sort, one supposes), but not needed for regular play. Once again, it is much to slim, even for the reasonably cheap cover price, though again, they squeeze an aweful lot into those few pages.  The books are a study in minimalist design, really they are.  
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