August 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm #10451
Leanheart Edge is a free little RPG game by Ben Wright. It’s available free on the net, but I’m not sure about links policy of this forum, so suffice to say it’s easy to google. The premise of the game is simple – you play the last heroes of a once-proud fantasy nation, defending its last stonghold, the titular Leanheart Edge, against an invading nomad Khaganate (with some help from a powerful Empire, using the refugees at Leanheart Edge as a bulwark against the invading forces). The stories you tell are ones of intrigue and politics, of heroism and community.
However, what is really interesting about this game – at least for me – is how it handles the characters. The game provides you with the setting and the cast of characters, which each have a few distinct qualities you can use in game. The players’ job is not to make their characters from scratch, but to give their spin of the characters, deciding which of their famous abilities and assets are their real strenghts and which have long been spent or never more than a rumour (by assigning ranks to those qualities)
For example, Lord Altanos, a shadowy and assasinous (is that a word?) character famous for his guerilla warfare against the invaders, has six qualities: his stealthiness; his assasin’s fighting skills; his five elite Black Guards that look and behave like him and are always around him so that nobody can be sure who is the real Altanos; his reputation of terror among the Khaganate forces; his skill as an interrogator; and his family’s necromantic magics.
Now, all those qualities (described more flavourfully, but I don’t want to infringe on any copyrights by quoting directly) give you a clear idea of what kind of character lord Altanos is SIPPOSED to be. However, it’s up to the player if he will really be:
a) A deadly and nearly invisible assasin, whose reputation is not that great (as he doesn’t like to leave traces) and whose bodyguards, magics and interrogation methods are just supplementary tools to his main abilities.
b) A bitter and curel man, whose skills and followers are not that powerful at all, but whose ability to inflict fear and pain in hearts of those he captures (and those who later find their bodies) made him stuff of horror stories around the nomads’ campfires.
c) A manipulative and elusive magician, whose dirty work is done in secret by his Guards, while he confers with the dead to get the information he needs and curses his enemies to die horrible deaths.
d) Someone else.
The reason I’m telling you about this game is that I think such a way of character “creation” – taking an established hero with their signature qualities and deciding which of them are real and crucial and which are not – would be useful for a one-shot or a short campaign in Glorantha, with famous Hero Wars heroes as the characters. One great example that comes to mind is, of course, the siege of Whitewall, which should work very well with the system. Another is the legendary figure Argrhat, about whom nobody really knows which of his feats and achievements were real and his, and which were just attributed to him. Of course, most of Gloranthan gaming is about the PCs taking part in the great events by themselves, together with (or even substituting) the great heroes from Gloranthan lore, but if you want to play the canonical heroes themselves, I think this could be a great way to do it. 🙂
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