Jump to content
Mograg

Silent Legions rpg

Recommended Posts

Mograg

Hi all,

 

Anyone else here ordered, read through, and/or played Kevin Crawford's Old-School Renaissance Lovecraftian rpg Silent Legions?  I am finding it a joy.  The game runs off of a very solid, time-tested, use-hardened old-school B/X D&D chassis with a bit of Traveler thrown in (for the skill system, I'm told, as I never played Traveler).  There's a few tweaks to keep the game firmly in-genre (such as Slaughter Dice for critical hits and Madness rating).  It's class and level based, but Backgrounds add twists and some depth to the four core classes.  The simple but effective Slaughter Dice for critical hits - plus the fact that most otherworldly monsters ignore Slaughter hits if not outright physical harm - ensure that even a high-level PC should be sweating out (or bleeding out!) combats.  The very simple Madness system works on a 1-100 scale, much like our beloved CoC, but is a bit simpler and even rather elegant.  So, the system works like a charm...very familiar to anyone with a D&D background, with enough there to keep players intrigued.

 

The GM resources are terrific.  Charts, charts, and more charts...everything you need to create alien gods, baneful otherworldly threats, weird artifacts, NPCs with troubling secrets, unsettling locales, etc.  It's a sandbox toolkit so you can build your own mythos from the ground up.  If your players (if not their Investigators) pretty much know Deep Ones and Mi Go and Ghouls on sight, then using the cookbook approach of Silent Legions to whip up weird menaces will keep them forever on their toes.  It's all very old-school design, so a new creature can be designed in a very few minutes.  

 

Author Crawford also provides very handy, succinct notes on converting monsters and spells from d100-based games on the fly, so I am currently running my gaming group through Shadows of Yog-Sothoth.  They've just been introduced to the Hermetic Order of the Silver Twilight (insert ominous chuckle here).  You can also pull monsters and scenes from just about any old-school D&D module with a bit of cosmetic airbrushing to make them work within the game.  So the old D&D module "Against the Cult of the Reptile God" could very easily be transported to 1920s Louisiana or Florida panhandle to be a degenerate swamp cult worshiping something awful as your group rolls up in its Model-T to the haunted backwater.  

 

Is this game perfect?  No.  No game is, given we all have different criteria for that very subjective term.  Is it Call of Cthulhu?  No.  It is not trying to be a "clone" of CoC using old-school D&D mechanics.  It subtly does its own thing, just as CoC does its own thing.  Is Silent Legions Lovecraftian?  Yes.  Very much so.  Can I run my huge inventory of Call of Cthulhu books and adventures with this system?  Yes (as I mentioned, we're running through SoYS right now!)  Is it fun?  Yes, quite a bit!  It is one of those game books that you can read, but then it really demands to be played.

 

It's a very unassuming game that does just what it says on the tin.  It's also a fantastic utility for all its cookbook-like charts to create weird menace, even if you never use its own system and use the GM tools exclusively with other Lovecraftian games, like our beloved Call of Cthulhu (or Trail of Cthulhu, or Realms of Cthulhu, or Tremulus, or whatever your pleasure).

 

It was Kickstarted last year.  I was not a Kickstarter backer, but those who did back it were very pleased that Crawford's one-man company, Sine Nomine Games, delivered everything as promised a month early and he had it out for sale on Drive-Thru RPG very shortly after all backer commitments were fulfilled.  I discovered it based on all the positive comments I heard from backers, and reading the reviews of the game once it hit general sales, which is when I picked it up.  I purchased a hardback book and accompanying PDF from Drive-Thru RPG.  This is one of the most useful purchases I've made in a long time, in that it is getting a lot of use, not just looking pretty on my games bookshelf.

 

So...now that I've blathered on about the game, is anyone else playing it?  Anyone else heard of it?  It doesn't look like anyone is running it at NecronomiCON 2015 in Providence, R.I. later this month.  I've not seen much chatter about it here or over on the Miskatonic University Podcast, so it seems to be flying somewhat under the radar.  I just wanted to give it a fist-bump here as it's a relatively "new find" for me...and it's a great, straightforward, fun Lovecraftian game in the Old-School vein.  I'm curious if anyone else around these parts has come across it, and what you think of it.  Oh - and below are some URLs to reviews and such:

 

http://www.geeknative.com/51582/insanely-good-a-review-of-silent-legions/

 

http://rpgknights.com/silent-legions-my-full-review/

 

http://gonzohistorygaming.blogspot.com/2015/04/silent-legions-part-one.html

 

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/145769/Silent-Legions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
HomoLupusDomesticus

I backed the Kickstarter and really enjoy my hardcover.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
finarvyn

Nice that you started this thread, because I heard about this game only recently and had planned on starting a thread to ask about it. You've done the heavy lifting for me because (1) you started the thread and (2) you gave me a lot of the answers I would have been looking to find in the thread. I come from a very old-school D&D background and have been hoping to find something like a blend of OD&D and C&C.

 

What turned me off was the steep price for the PDF ($20) and the steep price for the print+PDF ($35, I think) and I hate to gamble with that kind of money without having some notion as to what I'm buying. Sounds like folks think it's worth the price, but I'd still like to have another few chime in with their opinions before I plunk down my cash.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mograg

Finarvyn, if you have old-school D&D roots, then Silent Legions is like a walk through the old neighborhood...on Halloween night.   :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The_Tatterdemalion_King

Unlike the charts in Dead Names, I found these ones really hard to jump from the act of generation to an idea for a scenario. I think some of it was the oddly D&D-like terminology in places (like "clerics" used in reference to theoretically contemporary religious figures) and the lack of explicit ties to contemporary situations or imagery.

 

The 'Investigator' class is also the exact opposite of what I would expect from a class that facilitates the act of making investigative choices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mograg

Hi Tatterdemalion King,

 

I have not used the charts in Silent Legions myself just yet, as I'm using the Silent Legions game engine to run my local playing group through the old Chaosium campaign Shadows of Yog Sothoth.  Also, I do not have a copy of Dead Names (is it an rpg sourcebook for Cthulhu gaming?) so I cannot compare between the two books.

 

I'm not sure I quite understand your observation regarding the Investigator character class...how the class runs counter to what you think an Investigator should be able to do...if I am reading your comment with the correct understanding.  Could you elaborate on this comment?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The_Tatterdemalion_King

Also, I do not have a copy of Dead Names (is it an rpg sourcebook for Cthulhu gaming?) so I cannot compare between the two books.

It's Crawford's 'alien progenitors' supplement for Stars Without Number.

 

I'm not sure I quite understand your observation regarding the Investigator character class...how the class runs counter to what you think an Investigator should be able to do...if I am reading your comment with the correct understanding.  Could you elaborate on this comment?

Specifically the 1st and 3rd level powers. The 1st level power falls under the category of 'stuff GMs do anyway;' by tying it to a specific power you either commit to tying your hands as a GM to suggest those contacts where they would logically exist, or short-circuit player attempts to derive said contacts from the game environment. The 3rd level power is also a non-power, in that it's either doing the player's job for them or, again, tying the GM's hands from just telegraphing or outright informing them that certain errors in the players' deductive processes are wrong.

 

I'd make the 7th level power the 1st level power (although make it explicitly tied to the existence of a tell) and the 10th level power the 3rd level power. Alternate powers to use include: spend a point to trick someone into accidentally mentioning something they intend to hide, or a point to derive extra forensic details from a clue. EDIT: Or you could embrace the D&Dness of the whole system and give the investigator rogue powers: bonuses to shadowing, pattern-recognition, breaking in to places, faking their way into places, or getting funny feelings before ambushes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mograg

Hi Tatterdemalion King,

 

Thanks for the word on Dead Names for Stars Without Number.  Thanks too for elaborating on your thoughts regarding the Silent Legions Investigator class.  I really like your idea of tweaking the Investigator class to encompass the abilities of the traditional Rogue class in D&D.  

 

I've been running Silent Legions for about two months now, using the classic Chaosium campaign Shadows of Yog-Sothoth.  Although Silent Legions provides all the charts for designing your own mythos, artifacts, entities, etc., I've got a huge library of Call of Cthulhu stuff and wanted to see how Silent Legions would adapt itself to published CoC adventures.  We've got maybe four or five sessions under our belts; conversion between the systems is a snap.  I'm having a good time running the game, as its old-school chassis is like second nature to me.  It does not quite feel Call of Cthulhu, but then of course it isn't Call of Cthulhu.  Another flavor of Lovecraftian tabletop adventure, with its own vibe, is how I mentally tag it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
carpocratian

What turned me off was the steep price for the PDF ($20) and the steep price for the print+PDF ($35, I think) and I hate to gamble with that kind of money without having some notion as to what I'm buying.

 

The price and the cover art are what made me pass it up.  Poser art is never a good idea for RPGs, and I have a real problem with the idea of paying $20 for a PDF. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mograg

Completely understandable. I did not have as strong a reaction to the cover art as you did, but I see how this would be an influencing factor. I took the plunge with hardcover + pdf based on the positive reviews I had read and my own subjective preferences (I've got a real soft spot for OSR games). For me it's working out well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
carpocratian

I wouldn't be as critical of the artwork if the game itself hadn't gone through a Kickstarter and didn't cost so much in general.  I'll never understand how a game or book can get Kickstarter funding and end up with bad art on the cover. 

 

Ultimately, though, I could have overlooked the cover art if the price wasn't so high.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
klglaze

Hi Mograg

 

I have used the Silent Legions charts for inspiration on developing an Old One, a servitor race, a Kelipot and some artifacts. I can't say that I stayed strictly with the die rolls. I used the ideas generated to develop a convention one shot that I plan to run at a future date. I would say the charts helped me go in a direction I would not otherwise have taken in designing the scenario.

 

I was wondering about your experience running the Silent Legions game. Do you use a sandbox approach and if so can you describe it? I tend to see mythos gaming as more linear investigations so I am interested in a different approach. Has the Slaughter Die come up much in play and what effect does it have on the game?

 

After having backed the troubled Kickstarters for both Dwimmermount and CoC 7e it was a pleasant surprise that the project was completed without delay. I backed at the PDF only level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mograg

Hi Kglaze,

 

I am sorry it has taken me this long to respond to you on the forum...I just now revisited this thread and saw your last post.  So far I've been using the Silent Legions game to run Call of Cthulhu adventures.  However, I do think the "sandbox" element has been stronger in my Call of Cthulhu adventures run with Silent Legions rather than the many times I've run Call of Cthulhu using the Call of Cthulhu rules.  To elaborate on this...and I'm searching for the right words, here...my players seem to be going in directions with the adventures that I've not seen them do in the past, and for my own part as Keeper/GM I'm feeling more liberated to let them do it, rather than subtly exercising my Keeper's prerogative to get them back into the contours of the published scenario.  Why this is, I'm not sure.  I'm shooting from the hip, here.  It may be the rules-set itself so wholeheartedly advocates sandboxing that we're all pulling that textual exhortation into the tabletop play experience.  It could be that the old-school rules are forming a sort of atavistic bridge back to my earliest gaming experiences, when we did a lot of sandboxing in play between the old D&D adventure modules.  The characters in Silent Legions are less defined by their skills and skill ratings, so that "openness" may be influencing character behaviors and actions.  The monsters, cultists, and magic effects are so easy to make up on the fly, that as Keeper, I am very comfortable letting the players do or try whatever the heck they want, since we can use the old-school rules to effortlessly emulate anticipated results.  Silent Legions just feels "looser and freer" than a lot of other horror rpgs - which I realize is a very subjective statement - and which may or may not be a good thing to individual gamers, depending on preferences.  I find it to be a lot of fun.  My players have had fun making up their own delusions and deliria as they've leveled-up to offset increasing Madness tolls, so they're even "sandboxing" their insanity effects in the game.  Now, everything I've described could also be modeled in traditional Call of Cthulhu, so I'm not sure why we're getting more "off the tracks" situations in play with Silent Legions, but there you have it. I'm not sure I've addressed your question, so apologies if I've inadvertently danced around it.  

 

 As for the Slaughter Dice...it's not come up much, as my player-characters tend to be very cautious and conservative when employing violence.  I've actually forgotten to pick up the Slaughter Dice once or twice, since it's a different mechanism for determining critical hits than standard d20 or d100 based systems.  I had to be reminded to check for a chance of slaughter the last time we played through an encounter with an otherworldly entity.  The Slaughter Die came up 'no slaughter,' but the monster's damage rating was heinous enough to kill the character outright without even invoking a chance of a critical hit with the Slaughter Dice.  

 

I'd enjoy hearing your own play experiences and reactions, if you would like to share them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stroskotanec
421

I am a happy kickstarter too :-).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sign in to comment.

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...