Thursday, February 4, 2010

Legends of Steel BoL Edition

I received my copy of Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria edition the other day. I've had a chance to read it over and here are my impressions.

The book is split into three sections: The Player Section, the Campaign Section and two sample scenarios.

The Player Section contains the BoL rules. These are the slightly older Revised rules not the current Legendary Edition. There are some slight changes but these are predominately clarifications and minor additions. One example of this is a discussion of what motivates a Sword & Sorcery character. A second example is that boons & flaws are not connected to a character’s place of origin. You can choose whichever you want. It also includes a short discussion on the importance of taverns in a Sword & Sorcery world. All and all this is the BoL that people like. One touch I really like is on the first page of the book. The author briefly discusses the various types of Sword & Sorcery in fiction and then states in no uncertain terms and in bold type what version Legends of Steel is intended to be. I’ll quote.

“The setting for the Legends of Steel – BoL Edition campaign, The World of Erisa, is tailored after the comic book and cartoon Sword & Sorcery example.”

I like the way this statement stakes out what you can expect from the book.
The Campaign Section covers Erisa, the world of Legends of Steel. It briefly covers each major polity of Erisa and some of the major geographic features. Erisa contains all of your standard Sword & Sorcery locations. There is the still powerful but crumbling empire with both external and internal threats, rich city-states, evil sorcerer kingdoms, wild barbaric tribes, pirates, slavers, desert kingdoms, dark forests and forbidding mountains. Each major city is briefly described and then its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are laid out. Each city receives about a page and a half. I find this a good way to describe the areas and give the GM various directions to take adventures while still leaving the setting wide open for customization. The world’s pantheon receives attention next. Then there is a bestiary of both mundane and fantastic creatures. The one thing I didn't like about the original Barbarians of Lemuria setting was that common animals were absent. Erisa has all of the common animals, including horses. For some reason, for me, the hero needs to ride off on a horse. Not an ostrich-like creature.

The book wraps up with two scenarios and several sample characters. I like this book. I like the way the rules are presented and explained. I like the little additions and customizations. The world is intriguing and it looks like it will be fun to play in. And it has horses.

My only disappointment was with the book itself. I like the cover illustration and the full color map on the back but there are a couple of flaws with my copy. The first eight pages or so were stuck together at the top. It was as if they hadn't been cut completely. I had to carefully separate them. The second problem is the binding. It doesn’t seem to be attached completely at the spine. I have concerns that it won’t hold up in the long run. Other than these two things I’m generally pleased with the book. It is plain paper (as opposed to the glossy paper that my other two Lulu purchases had) and black and white on the inside. The illustrations are genre appropriate without being too racy. As much as I like BoL I wasn't comfortable allowing my 9 year old to read it because of the illustrations. I like the art myself, it’s just not appropriate for him. I have no qualms about allowing him to read the LoS version. The one picture I don’t like is the black and white map of Erisa. It is dark, a touch hard to read, and not very attractive.

These criticisms haven’t dampened my enthusiasm for the book though. I’m looking forward to my son cutting a swath through the mooks and villains of Erisa. He read the character creation portion of the book while I was at work one evening and created his first character. Hopefully, we’ll get to play this weekend. When we do get a chance, I’ll write about it and include his character’s stats.


  1. how's the interface with the BoL rules?

    What about the monsters, any comments on the way those are portrayed/handled?

  2. The rules and the setting, to me, fit hand in glove nice.

    The monsters were rather run-of-the-mill. Pretty much what you'd expect from any short monster list. I was surprised that the snake creatures from the cover weren't included.

  3. No snake creatures? Tch tch.

    That's okay, i'm sure it's easy enough to cobble together our own versions.

    Really, snakes and the handful of other S&S monsters (white apes etc) are all you really need anyway. The rest are just evil men and sorcerers, right?


  4. Good review! I ordered the pdf version after reading your disappointment with the print version. I hate pdf game books, but I'd hate to pay 2x the price for a bum hardback edition. Time to buy more ink cartridges!

  5. Thanks Fenway. I can only speak to the my copy. I was pleased with the two paperbacks I ordered before.