Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lost Empires: A step in the right direction

Thanks to James from the Underdark Gazette for pointing this game out to me!

This month's OSR kerfuffle de jour basically had to do with innovation in old school products, whether or not retro-clones were doomed to restat the same orc and the same six attributes forever and anon. Well, the new Beta rules of Rogue Comet Games's Lost Empires is an interesting step in the right direction for retro-clones, even if its rules are a bit of a mess at times.

Lost Empires definitely appears to be inspired by games like True20 and Microlite20, point-based refinements of d20 games down to a core essence. Characters are created by spending points towards your Combat Bonuses, Skills, Hit and Mana Points. The three quasi-classes in Lost Empires are definitely inspired by the Warrior/Adept/Expert divide in those games and I wish that these distinctions were more apparent in the rules text. They tout the ability to customize thieves that can cast spells or warriors that can pick locks, but the actual class roles are located at the bottom of page 13.

The game uses a very interesting magic user mechanic which gives starting mages a fighting chance of doing something other than casting Sleep and falling back on their daggers. Each spell has a dice 'level' of their own that determines how many Mana Points that you spend on it. If that number exceeds your existing MP, the difference is taken as Feedback damage against your Hit Points.

Overall, I really like the idea behind this clone, which is honestly more of a game inspired by S&W rather than a clone of an existing rules set or a house-ruled document. The author has said that it's a game designed to appeal to young people who've never gamed before, which is a super admirable mission and one that, alongside a lot of other stuff that's been circling around me, is definitely inspiring my creativity. Expect further announcements.

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