Monday, September 26, 2011

Lords of Creation - Opening Moves

To start my examination of Lords of Creation, it's probably best to begin at the beginning.  In this case, with the Cover :

There we go - right from the cover we know that this is going to be a genre-mashup game.  We have a couple of adventurers wandering through an obvious portal between worlds.  On the one side a fairly standard fairy-tale kingdom complete with menacing dragon.  On the other some kind of pock-marked alien landscape with a robot standing sentinel.  Our adventurers are clad in strange garb - one is a man who is maybe supposed to look like his clothes were designed during the Italian Renaissance carrying a blaster pistol, and the other is a woman who looks to me like a starship pilot casting a lightning bolt.

The art in the book is credited to Dave Billman - I don't know that I've encountered his art outside of this game and it's pretty inconsistent.  To me the cover piece, while somewhat evocative, isn't exactly the best piece of art in the book.  Ah well - moving on to the Table of Contents:

One noteworthy thing about this Table of Contents right off the bat - it's typeset in Souvenir Demi (aka Soutane), the same font as the Moldvay edited D&D Basic Set. I wonder if this was Avalon Hill purposely attempting to mimic the D&D Basic Set that Moldvay compiled or if, since Moldvay was in charge of design and development this was just Moldvay's choice for the book.

The next thing to note is that the ToC is very detailed.  That's noteworthy in this day and age, but I recall that back in the day detailed ToCs were typical (along with decent indexes - which this book also has).  What's nice about the level of detail here is that we can see up front some of the elements of the game.  Part 3 is skills, and the skill list embedded into the Table of Contents shows some very high-level skills ("Commando", "Espionage", "Scientist") and some strange ones ("Futuristic?").  Part 6 is powers, and here in the ToC we get an entire list of powers.

Another fact that comes out here is that most of the book is directed at players.  How to create a character, skills, equipment, combat, powers - this is all "player info" and it covers 2/3rds of the book.  Since the boxed set also includes the "Book of Foes" as a kind of "monster manual" for the GM, this probably isn't all that odd.  But what is kind of interesting to me is that the game has two books and yet it doesn't split the info between a "player's guide" and a "GM's guide".  It would have been an easy way to split the organization, and one with precedent by 1984, but for whatever reason it wasn't.  I suspect that part of the rationale might be tied to the fact that both of the books are 64 pages on cheap quality paper - if Avalon Hill dictated the format up front, Moldvay and his editor might have had no choice to fill the pages.  The last 14 pages are all setting information, and I get the feeling that Moldvay could have filled as many pages as necessary with settings.

And look at those settings.  Just from reading the names in the ToC I wanted to know more - "The Elder Lands", "Imperial Terra", "The Land of Ulro", "The Swashbuckling Era", "Priddo", "The Elemental Planes", "The Nine Worlds".  Overall a promising start.

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