Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Flying Ships and Still no Elves

Running Talislanta is a continual ambition of mine, but it's kind of hard to get a group together for this old-school classic. Tal is weird old-school at its best, but its strangeness and the vast amount of canon material work against it when trying to sell it to a crowd not already familiar with it.

Talislanta is kind of like Firefly or Star Trek, except instead of space, the PCs tool around a fantasy world in a flying ship. And it's not a D&D fantasy world with Orcs and Elves and a grand battle between Good and Evil; instead its a patchwork world of strange cultures, weird magics, and unfamiliar dangers.

One thing Tal really has going for it is archetypes. To make characters you basically point the players to the section of the rules with the character archetypes and say "OK, which of these people looks interesting to you?

Printing out a copy of the archetypes is definitely required. Luckily the PDFs of the Talislanta rules are available for free! The biggest problem is that there are so damn many archetypes. Limiting it to one region is probably a good idea.

The mass of canon material can also be a barrier. In last night's game John and I (the two players who know Tal) started riffing on canon material and confusing the hell out of everyone else. In my game I start right off the bat by ditching all the canon, then pulling out bits and pieces to reincorporate and twist as I see fit. Until it comes up in play, it's not binding, and I let the players run with it when they start making up their own background stuff. This definitely enhances the game. It means I've got an open-ended fantasy world, but I've still got some 500 pages worth of crazy setting material to draw on. Like if I want shadow wizards riding bat mantas to dive out of the cloud layer and attack, I've got that in my back pocket.



Blogger Vincent Baker said...

I played a ton of Talislanta in high school. I've still got my 2nd ed book with my penciled-in changes to its magic system. One of these days I'll bust it out again, teach these kids a thing or two.

February 16, 2011 at 8:46 AM

Blogger Munin said...

I love Talislanta!!!!! Glad to see you posting about it.

February 17, 2011 at 9:48 AM


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