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Publisher: Mongoose
by Stu V. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2012 12:39:21

I love what Mongoose Publishing does for the RPG hobby. They've taken some old, oft-forgotten systems and breathed new life into them, modernizing the rules and supporting them.

Legend is in someways the evolution and "genericization" of Mongoose's revival of the classic (and table-heavy) Runequest, Runequest II.

Legend is a setting-less fantasy RPG using a percentile dice based skill system, much like Call of Cthulhu. The skill system is very flexible and includes rules for taking extra time for bonuses, penalties for rush jobs, applying two skills to a situation.

The character generation system is both detailed and quick. In some ways, they've applied some aspects of the Traveller chargen and applied it here (though it isn't random). Characteristics (Strength, Constitution, Size, Intelligence, Power, Dexterity, Charisma) can either be rolled randomly or purchased with a point-buy system. Secondary attributes are mostly determined by your seven characteristics.

Where it becomes Traveller-esque, is when you determine your character's background (Barbarian, Civilized, Nomad, Primitive) and profession (too many to list). These give you bonuses to skills, which are categorized as "common" and "advanced."

Common skills is the refreshing idea that there are certain things everyone knows how to do. These are common things that are both useful and, well, common. You don't have to, for example, remember to purchase "Perception." Your character already has that skill at a default level (Int + Pow). You may receive bonuses depending on your background and chosen profession, and you can also purchase up your skills with skill points later in creation.

The combat system allows for some characters (with sufficient Int and Dex) to have multiple actions per round. Additionally, characters can also gain more actions, depending on their successes (and their opponent's failures). Mongoose has attempted to come up with a list of maneuvers that one might use in combat, providing rules for each.

In all the combat system seems detailed and complex. Being a fan of GURPS, that doesn't scare me away. I do wonder, however, how much real-world time a combat might take. After my reading, I doubt it would be quick, though as one progresses up the learning curve it would definitely speed up (naturally), and the hit point levels are such that I think most combats would be over after a couple of good hits.

Legend features three types of magic: common, divine and sorcery. Each has its own discrete spell list and rules for casting. Common spells us a spell point system, with spells having a point cost detailed in the description.

Divine magic uses a modified "Vancian-style" magic system, where the user must mediate or pray to gain access to or learn the spell. Once the spell is cast, the divine caster must spend a certain amount of time meditating or praying for an amount of time determined by his commitment to his god to regain the spell.

Sorcery works in a similar way, where the sorcerer can have a number of spells equal to his Int "mentally prepared." The spells are not "forgotten" when they are cast, but if the sorcerer wishes to change up his arsenal of spells, he must take time to "expel" a spell to make room for another. Sorcerers have two skills used to cast spells. Firstly, they have Sorcery (Grimoire). There is a separate sorcery skill for each grimoire to which the sorcerer has access. The second skill is Manipulation, and this is where the power of the sorcerer can show.

The manipulation skill points are applied (it's an unrolled skill) to a spell to increase the spells range, duration, magnitude, etc. It can also be used to merge two spells together. The cost of sorcery spells depends on how much manipulation the sorcerer chooses to use.

The sorcery system offers a great deal of flexibility, and to me seems to most emulate magic as seen in much fantasy fiction.

Mongoose is going full-bore with its support for Legend. As of this writing, there are several other sourcebooks written specifically for Legend. Additionally, Mongoose says the Legend system is 100% compatible with previous Runequest II titles, giving the system a huge catalog.

[4 of 5 Stars!]