Last week Mongoose released Legend, a re-release of the ruleset they used for Runequest II, but without any Runequest intellectual property. The book exists because the good people at Mongoose no longer have license for the Runequest properties, but have chosen to continue to support the RQII ruleset by rebranding it as ‘Legend.’ As someone who, after running RQII for nearly a year, consistently describes it as his favourite fantasy RPG, I think this was the right move.
Now as a caveat, I have to confess that I do not have a physical book to review. Instead I’ve been looking at the $1 PDF that Mongoose is more or less giving away at Drive Thru Rpg. Personally, if you don’t have a copy I think you should get one. I mean, come on, it’s only a buck.
Legend is exactly what the people at Mongoose said it would be when it was announced earlier this year: a repackaging of the RQII rules with new art, errata fixes, and a few new odds and ends. It has also been excised of any references to Runes or Quests.
Just like Runequest II, Legend runs on a percentile based system with skill based combat and task resolution. In general, the goal is to simply roll under a character’s skill. How much they roll under their skill doesn’t generally matter, unless
a) You are rolling against another character, in which case the highest roll without going over wins (‘Price is Right’ rules); or
b) Your roll comes up between 01 and the skill you are testing divided by ten (rounding up). In that case, you’ve rolled a critical.
Character creation is a mixture of random and lifepath based by default, although there are point buy options as well. Unlike Runequest II, however, human character creation is the only option if you are only using the corebook.
Legend also has chapters devoted to Equipment, Magic in general and two forms of magic in particular, Guilds Factions and Cults, Gamemastering, and a few other high-level character options in the ‘Heroic Abilities’ chapter.
All in all, it’s a solid little corebook that provides you with a solid foundation for a game. However, Legend’s corebook does not come loaded with any kind of bestiary so there are no stats provided for any non-human creatures or NPCS. For that matter, there aren’t any stats for human NPCs either.
Well, everything that was great about RQII is captured here: the fast, funky combat, the ease of play, the divine magic and sorcery chapters. All the hits are here.
The new art is also amazing. I know a lot of people had issues with RQII’s art, but Legend really hits it out of the park when it comes to interior illustration.
It’s also nice to see some of the rules cleared up, particularly movement in combat and charging, but I noticed a few other minor tweaks they made this time out. They’ve also entirely cut out the Spirit Magic section and, given how much I complained about it last time out, it won’t be missed by me.
What’s not so Great
The absence of a bestiary (even a small one) means that this game is not a complete game with just the corebook, which was a feature of Runequest II. Looking at the PDF pricing (‘Monsters of Legend’ goes for $11.99) I suspect part of the strategy may have been along ‘only the first hit is free’ lines, but that would mean I’m complaining about a one dollar download. More realistically, they may simply chosen to release one complete creatures book rather squeezing a tiny section into the main rule book. That said, the resulting absence of non-human character creation in the corebook is a bummer.
As a consequence of removing all things runey from the game, they have also cut a few of my favourite things. The absence I feel hurts the book the most is the elimination of the ‘Rune as archetype/build your own god’ section and the chapter relating this to cults. Instead, there is a chapter on ‘Guilds, Factions, and Cults’ that briefly sketches out what these organizations can offer to PCs. It’s a great idea, but I felt it was a bit light on content.
I will recommend Legend to anyone that asks and a few that don’t. It takes my favourite aspects of Mongoose’s RQII rules, cleans them up a bit and puts them into an attractive and cheap package. What else can a gamer ask for?