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AEternal Legends Review

Posted on December 5, 2007 by Flames


Available at RPGNow.com

Æternal Legends is Modern Fantasy game written by Stewart Wilson.

The simple version of the game’s premise is this: there is a magical world existing alongside our own. The Unaware cannot fully comprehend everything and so the magical realities of life are concealed from them.

The blurb from the book and press release read as follows:

Magic seethes beneath everyday affairs. Turn a ways, and wander into a Pocket Kingdom where witches and alchemists sell their wares right under the noses of a mundane population. But one person in 20 is Aware, part of the secret lands of magic. Of those, a special few are Legends: epic heroes who fight evil with strength, cunning and raw idealism.

Elf, dwarf, gnome and human Legends use the mystic Spheres to defend their beliefs. Their quests turn them into avatars of magic or send their swords against Da’ath, Lord of the Abyss. Idealism is more than just a buzzword—it’s the source of magic. The old traditions of classic fantasy, from the Dark Lord to a hero’s quests, burn with new life, bound to the Legend’s spiritual journey. Every Legend has a path to enlightenment—and glory. His beliefs (in the form of actual game traits) give him power, whether he honors or betrays them. He moves through secret, strange lands in a modern supernatural setting whose protagonists don’t skulk in alleys, but rule entire cities and Ministries of mystic power.

Which is a pretty accurate description of the game. It is a world where good and evil are drawn with a clearly defined brush, but right and wrong are still up for interpretation.

ÆL has a lot in it that requires a bit of thought. It isn’t necessarily something that you’ll pick up to read for pleasure, but you will likely find some pleasure in reading it. The game mechanics are fairly minimal and at first a bit counter-intuitive for Players of more popular games brands such as D&D or White Wolf – the R2R system uses solely d6s. Players have a pool of dice that they roll to beat a target number. Sounds fine so far, yes? But with the R2R system, you only count the dice that come up 1s and 2s. You then add the total of all of those to compare to the chart for successes. Sounds odd, but once you’ve used it, it makes sense.

The game has been constructed so that the mechanics integrate pretty well with the setting – your traits are directly linked to what you can do and define what your character is in some ways. Or, turned around, the character you decide to play determines what traits you should have.

The game world itself can be manipulated in a variety of ways for individual groups. If you want to play up the wonder and magic, you can make Pocket Kingdoms pretty fantastic or stick more Aware out in the world. If you wanted a Harry Potter or a Charles de Lint style world, easily enough done. Want a darker game with evil lurking around every corner? Done. Want to move the time line back to the Wild West? Victorian England? Maybe the future? Done, done, and done. The game itself is centered on the characters and their actions, the background is just a back drop for the group to create. The book does not provide a large list of monsters, but using the samples in the back and the system itself, new ones are easily created.

Additional Links:
http://mobunited.livejournal.com/tag/aeternal+legends – Extensive Previews
http://digitalraven.livejournal.com/440139.html – Post-Release Design Notes
http://www.lulu.com/content/1051642 – 21pg Excerpt from Chapter Three

Reviewer: Douglas Bramlett

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