Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lords of Creation

So late last week the following showed up in my mailbox:

Lords of Creation!  The copy is pretty beat up, but both books are complete and mostly intact.

This is a game that I know very little about.  I remember ads for it showing up in Dragon magazine way back when, but historically speaking that's about it.  My interest in it was piqued a few years ago when I found out/was reminded that Tom Moldvay was the designer of the game.  Moldvay was the author of pretty much all of my favorite D&D modules back in the day -- most notably B4 - The Lost City and X2 - Castle Amber.  I have probably run both of those adventures a dozen times each over the decades.  But all I did then was read up a bit about it from the one review I could find on RPGNet and make a mental note to keep watching for it at Half-Price Books.  Reviews on Jeff's Gameblog and Grognardia made me more interested in finding the game, but still didn't motivate me to get to eBay and buy a copy -- mostly because a boxed set in good condition goes for a bit too much for an unknown quantity to my tastes.

Well last week I found the "Book of Foes" at Half-Price Books for a couple of bucks.  They didn't have the main rulebook, but the Book of Foes was in really good shape.  And flipping through the book it was just so weird that I had to have the game.  Fortunately, the stars were aligned just right and I was able to find a beat-up copy cheap on eBay.  And after an initial read-through I am not disappointed with the purchase.  In fact, I'm going to be saving my pennies to get copies of the three adventures that Avalon Hill published for the game.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a sucker for "genre-mashup" games - my Gamma World posts have been about adding more sword-and-sorcery fantasy to the science-fantasy Gamma World setting, and I tend to do that with all of my games.  Play in a D&D game with me long enough and a crashed spaceship is bound to appear, and if I'm running a space opera game you're probably going to end up at odds with a wizard or (if I'm in a Star Trek mood) facing off against the Greek gods.  And my favorite RPG of all time - the one I ran during my personal gaming Golden Age of High School and early college - is Torg.  A system/setting that exists purely as an excuse to rationalize genre mashup campaigns for players who hate genre mashup.

And Lords of Creation is pure genre mashup.  Like Torg, it seems to exist <i>because</i> the designer wanted to create a game to excuse genre mashup.  Unlike Torg, the system for the game is insanely lightweight - the rulebook is 64 pages, roughly a quarter of which is setting notes.  The rules, in fact, have a lot of similarity to Moldvay's Basic Dungeons and Dragons rules.  Not an exact clone of the rules, but anyone who played Basic D&D could probably have grasped the rules to Lords of Creation pretty quickly.

Over the next few posts I'm going to post some more thoughts on the Lords of Creation game - the rules, the setting, everything.  The reviews I linked to above are decent high-level glosses of what the system is, but Moldvay had some really interesting ideas back in 1984 when he came up with this game.  The game system seems to be almost a "transitional fossil" - a snapshot of something between "old school" and more modern game systems.  Plus, it's impressive that Moldvay could come up with a rules system that he at least thought could cover any genrea across any era - time-travel is one of the suggested adventure types described in the game - and yet fit into basically 48 pages of rules.  To me this is a pretty darn impressive feat and I'd like to take a look and see what he actually accomplished with it.

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