My life as a teenage Pixie Alchemist: A review of Legendlore RPG by Onyx Path Publishing
'Drawn from the fantasy comic Legendlore from Arrow Comics and later Caliber Comics, Legendlore RPG is the latest role-playing offering from Onyx Path Publishing due out on Kickstarter this June. Featuring the comics deep fantasy setting, Legendlore is much more than what it appears on the surface. The very topical fish out of water appeal of the games meta character creation oozes with thought provoking plot points and hours of drama for you and your players.
A system you know…
Like Onyx Path Publishing other fantasy setting Scarred Lands, this game’s rules are tailored and designed around the 5th edition of the worlds greatest roleplaying game, you know what I’m talking about….has a lotta Dragons, whom sometimes hang out in very secure homes, I can’t recall what they call them, currently. Oh well you know what I’m talking about.
Onyx Paths decision to utilize a proven system in order to let DM’s and players alike feel already comfortable in the games mechanics is a smart one. A group of new or veteran 5th edition players will find that mechanically speaking, Legendlore is a breeze to pick up and play, wasting little time on the rules and system and spending that time on the games rich lore and themes, more on that later.
Legendlore brings 2 new playable creatures to the table, the misunderstood Bryzine Trolls and the small but chaotically powerful Pixies. These new species are unique to the Legendlore setting and are beautifully designed to be portrayed against type from many other 5e settings. Where the Pixies are emotionally driven beings seeking honesty and justice, the Bryzine Trolls just want others to see them for who they are on the inside. Both new species evoke a very personal take on the dilemma of introverts vs. extroverts and all the deep realms in between that players will love to discover for themselves.
The other playable creatures (Dwarf, Elves, Hairfoot (Hafflings in all but name.), Humans, and Orcs) featured in Legendlore have all been reskinned to fit in the setting, gaining more depth and emotion. This change reads more like an emotional shift, taking the very recognizable races and making the player rethink how they would think, feel and react to the world around them. The roster of playable creatures feels more inspired from the tropes of The Breakfast Club and other counter-culture media, than traditional fantasy and in my opinion, that’s a great thing that leads to thought provoking characters.
The two new Classes, the Alchemist and the Gunslinger both bring new things to 5th edition that players should be interested in. The crafty Gunslinger feels like a unique take on the trope while implementing real world restrictions of creating your arms and armament that I find very crunchy. It has my DM ears perking. Likewise, the jack of all magical trades, the Alchemist has a potion for almost any situation while being a Constitution based magic user that plays beautifully against 5th edition trope that I really want to experiment with.
Like the additions to preexisting playable spieces, all 5th edidtion classes (minus the newer Artificer Class but I believe there is a reason) have a unique subclass or two that fits into the Legendlore setting. These all feel true to both the traditional classes while reading fresh and very meta, special points go to the Last Unicorn Warlock, Arcane Artificer Wizard and my favorite class in the whole book, The Sourceborn Sorcerer. Its like the Avatar from Avatar: The last Air-Bender and Neo from the Matrix had a baby and you are that baby and naptime is over.
A setting you don’t….
Hands down, my favorite thing about Legendlore is not just the rich setting and cool new toys, it’s the implications from the very beginning of the game. Your characters are not from East Azoth, you play you. Your PC has been taken from our Earth full of our social, economic and personal issues and dropped in a new body in the Realm, a fantasy world full of its own strife. Your PC retains all of their memories, lessons and emotional baggage from their life on Earth and has to not only fight against the evil machinations of Darkoth and bring peace to the Realm but hopefully find a way home. While this is not a new idea, its never been handled in a more emotionally hitting way than in Legendlore.
DM’s who are worth their salt, will find ways to keep up the tension of their players old lives and how it affects their actions in the Realm. What if one of their players awoke in a new body on the eve of their wedding, or an elderly person opened their new and youthful eyes, the pain of age and disability gone for the first time in decades. What would they do to stay in the Realms and what would they be compelled to do to return home? Backstory like this is so intricately important to the setting that it stands as a simple but efficient means to add depth to your stories that will be memorable for years to come.
Legendlore has an exhaustive and beautiful backstory that is passionately depicted in this book. DM’s will be able to mine this backstory for a myriad of uses that will keep their games going while exploring East Azoth and the game is ripe for customization especially with the new addition of Legends. Legends are determined at character creation and add yet another level of weight to the PC’s journey that can affect the player positively and negatively based upon their actions. As a longtime fan of Onyx Path’s games the easiest and least spoilerly way of explaining is by referencing the Chronicles of Darkness use of Virtues and Vices but add a deeper level of customization to it. Working with the DM, a player can use or build their own legend that had long lasting effects and provides a look at what makes their PC tick.
18 new player backgrounds also add flavor and diversity to the tools that PC’s have while due to the unique character creation rules have a weighty heaviness to it that is screaming to be experimented with. An Artist background has a lot of implications that run deeper than the surface while Born into Wealth background demands that the player investigate real world perceptions and privileges in a new fantasy setting. Kudos to the Roleplaying Aficionado as the most wonderfully meta thing in this book full of meta things.
All good Legends must begin somewhere, even in the most unlikely of places
Reading Legendlore was a delight and after completing it, one thing impressed me more than anything. Sure, it is a fun read, full of meta commentary, shiny new rules and options and cool backstory, however Legendlore’s true strength is how it subconsciously demands that players take and tackle very real-world problems in a new light. This games weight is almost palpable and despite that is easy to pick up and dive into too, thank largely to the new options at the beginning of the game that are so incredibly important to where the game is destined to end up.
It’s a game of emotional complexities, powerful magics and mysteries but most importantly, hope. If your looking to take fantasy roleplaying into new and undiscovered places, you should support the kickstarter and play Legendlore.
Build your legend, Save the Realm and Discover where your true home is.
Michael Jacobson is a freelance writer and an Active Duty US Sailor. His work has been featured in products like Snowhaven 2nd Ed, Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon and more coming thru the pipes. When he isn’t running games, running in general and drinking Dr.Pepper he can be found fanboying out about Dinosaurs, Star Wars and turtle of both normal and the Ninja Mutant variety.
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