Sunday, February 2, 2020

In the battle between good and evil, this one counts!

Art by Jim Holloway

In the '80s, FASA produced several games based on licensed properties and did so with reasonable success (other than that one).  FASA hoped to obtain the license to produce games based on the Star Wars property; however, the license went to West End Games.  This left FASA with the basis of a space battle combat system but unable to publish that system for the intended setting.  As such, FASA came up with an original setting.  The 'Renegade Legion' background is essentially the Roman Empire in space.  While Star Wars features a rebel alliance against an evil galactic empire, Renegade Legion has an alliance of humans and aliens (the Commonwealth) against an evil galactic empire (the Terran Overlord Government).  As a result of these opposing forces, we get the rather lackluster tagline, “In the battle between good and evil, this one counts!”

The first Renegade Legion product was 1987's Interceptor, a space ship war game.  FASA produced other war games for the franchise.  In 1990, FASA published Legionnaire, a role-playing game based in the Renegade Legion setting and compatible with the prior games.  Is 1990 too recent to be considered 'old school'?  It's thirty years old, but it's just recent enough for it not to be cataloged in Lawrence Schick's Heroic Worlds.  Cherished readers with a strong opinion one way or the other are invited to comment.  Regardless, Legionnaire certainly has some 'old school' connections.

Legionnaire was designed by Tunnels & Trolls stalwarts Michael A. Stackpole and James “Bear” Peters.  It is therefore not surprising there are similarities between the two games.  Legionnaire characters have eight Primary Attributes:  Agility, Charisma, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Luck, Speed, and Strength.  There are few differences from the Prime Attributes of the contemporaneous T&T rules.  Legionnaire separates T&T Dexterity into Dexterity (aptitude with “fine motor skills”) and Agility (aptitude with “gross motor skills”).  Legionnaire also has Speed, an attribute which T&T would adopt in later editions.

The “basic value” for each Primary Attribute is determined by adding the results of 2d10.  Alternately, a player may allocate 88 points among the eight Primary Attributes.  Using the allocation method, “No attribute can have a value below 5 or above 17.”

After Primary Attribute values are determined, players select skills for their characters.  The Legionnaire skill system approximates that which Stackpole developed for T&T.  Each character has a number of skill points equal to his or her Intelligence value plus three.  Each skill requires a minimum Intelligence value; as examples, Gambling requires at least 4 Intelligence, Cryptography requires at least 15.  Some skills also require minimum values with other attributes.  For instance, Escape Artist requires a minimum value of 13 in each of Intelligence, Agility, and Dexterity.
It costs 1 skill point to purchase a skill at level 1.  Extra skill levels can be purchased at a cost, in skill points, equal to the sum of the levels up to and including that level.  i.e., level 2 costs 2 more points, for a total of 3 points.  Level 3 costs 6 points (1 + 2 + 3), 3 points more than level 2.  Level 8 costs 8 points more than level 7, or a total of 36 points.
The basic mechanic for Legionnaire is to roll a number of dice and compare the total result to a specified number.  Exceeding said number indicates failure.  The specified number is either a character's attribute (for saving rolls) or an appropriate skill level added to an appropriate attribute (for skill checks).  Difficulty is expressed by the number of dice to be rolled.  Minimum difficulty is 1d10; extreme difficulty is “6D10 or more.”

Every two skill points represents a year of time which is added to a character's base age of 17.  However, we learn that, “A good background story for a character can be rewarded by granting the character a skill or two for free.”  Such a reward “should be limited to two skill points worth of skills.”

Legionnaire offers 'career packages' from which characters can obtain a number of reasonably related skills at a discount.  For instance, the career package for a marine officer provides twelve skills for only nine points.  Only four years are added to the character's age (as opposed to six).  However, career packages require minimum attribute values.  The marine officer package requires a value of ten in each of Intelligence, Dexterity, and Agility.  The career packages in Legionnaire are limited to military or intelligence.  However, characters are not required to take a career package.  Also, rules are provided for creating original career packages.

In the next post, we will continue our exploration of the Legionnaire character generation system.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. The lame tag line was just an excuse for the even sillier tag line for the bad guys: In the Battle between GOOD and EVIL, EVIL HAS MORE FUN!!!