LEGACY: War of Ages
By Black Gate Publishing
Adam Whitt Review
This is a game that deserves to do well, but will probably suffer in competition with the story-teller games that it seeks to emulate. Black Gate just don't have the marketing muscle of a company like White Wolf, and possibly don't quite have their finger on the pulse of what makes the techno-gothic punk tick. I really enjoyed reading this rulebook because it had the look and feel of a White Wolf product without the arty-farty pretentious bullshit that tends to smother the great ideas and themes of the White Wolf games. Yet, to a colleague of mine, that was what he liked least - its perceived lack of deep, gloomy atmosphere.
So, what is Legacy: War of Ages about? Well, its a role-playing game set in a "techno-gothic" world (which basically means our world with the boring facts changed to make things more "interesting"), and is a thinly veiled rendition of the Highlander series of movies. Players get to take on the role of Immortals "infused with the primal forces of life and vitality", who can "shrug off injuries that would kill an ordinary being", who do not age after a certain point in their lives, and who cannot be killed except by having their spine severed between heart and head ie. by having their head hacked off! When they do die the "energies released... are wild and potent" and the killer, if also an Immortal, partakes of this energy and experiences "the Rapture". What all these means, is characters spend a lot of time training with a bladed weapon (ideally a samurai sword 'cos they're way cool), preparing for the day that another Immortal comes along to challenge them to a duel in order to take their power.
Given the popularity of the movies, and the many combat freaks already out there in RPGdom, this use of the Highlander premise should be a winner. And for good measure, Black Gate have spiced up the setting with some interesting twists, giving it a lot of potential for exploration by the angst-driven story-telling faction. The trouble is, I suspect the game may fall somewhere between these two, apparently opposed, RPG consumer camps.
The game system plays straightforward enough with characters created by generating an abstract first (background, personality, appearance, goals and broadly defined abilities), before adding the fine detail with numbers for standard RPG statistics like Intellect, Agility/Strength, Presence and Psyche. Each of these base stats define the character's Abilities (knowledge, skills and proficiencies) and are initially rated between 1 to 5, but can be improved as the character increases in experience. Any Task (action) a character attempts in the game requires a dice roll under the relevant Statistic or Ability and the target number can be modified by the referee assigning a Task Modifier (-4 to +4) dependent on the perceived difficulty of the task. If this sounds familiar that's because it is. No sense completely reinventing the wheel when it comes to game mechanics unless you have a really brilliant and innovative game concept which needs a new engine to cope with it. A game like that doesn't come along too often.
Legacy: War of Ages does everything it sets out to do with a pleasing style and economy of effort. I can really dig where the authors, Brandon and Susan Blackmoor, are coming from. They're role-players who're prepared to work out a compromise with the roll-players. For me, they've designed a game that's easily understood, simple to play, and provides a lot of fun and entertainment. The dark elements of a techno-gothic world are there, but they don't overwhelm me nor send me into fits of depression.
Try it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
Review courtesy of Australian Realms. For subscription information, contact:
Last updated 14 August 1997 by Brandon Blackmoor, firstname.lastname@example.org