Legendary Lives 2nd Edition Review

Legendary Lives 2nd Edition is a fantasy based RPG published by Marquee Press in the mid 90s. I discovered it at Powell’s Book store in 1995 and fell in love right away. The system only takes one book and the character sheets have most all of the information a player needs on them.

The system uses percentile dice and all rolls are made against a table on the character sheet. Each roll is giving a rating between Catastrophic and Awesome and that rating is used to determine success or failure and to what degree. When a character rolls one of the two extremes they mark it with a check (one per adventure) and this allows them to perform a skill check later to possibly raise the skill, somewhat like Call of Cthulhu. Another feature of Legendary Lives 2nd Edition that is reminiscent of the much darker Call of Cthulhu is the sanity skill and how you can gain phobias and mental illnesses should you roll badly enough in the wrong situation.

With a choice of 26 different races and about as many non-magical and magical types there is a huge flexibility in the character choices. Also each character roles on tables to determine events that have happened in their character’s past both benevolent and tragic. This not only helps to shape the character but often provides the Game Master with plenty of character hooks to keep things moving along.

The magic system of Legendary Lives 2nd Edition is unlike any other I have ran or played. There are a number of different spell skills each representing a broad area of magic, such as Fire Mastery or Protection. After the player describes how they are going to use the spell skill and the effect they are looking for the Game Master will tell them how many points it will cost in temporary skill reduction (usually between 0 and 5) and the character will roll for success on the reduced skill level. Having such an open system allows for a level of creativity in spell use that is rarely seen in more rigid rpg games and is one feature that really sets this often unheard of game above most others in my mind.

While print copies are hard to come by these days, the author has seen fit to put his Legendary Lives 2nd Edition rulebook up (minus the artwork) online as opensource for all to enjoy. I suggest you not only look at this game, but his others as well. Also there are a number of useful charts and adventures online as well. I hope you enjoy this simple, yet highly creative rpg system.

5 comments

  1. Sean says:

    I’m a huge fan of Legendary Lives, and I’m glad to see it getting some love.

  2. Richard says:

    I’m running a campaign for a group of kids/teens and we’re all having a blast. The magic system requires creativity and innovation and the players’ inventiveness has been great to see/experience. The fact that the creator has made the rules and updates free downloads is terrific, as well. I’m working on a combination “Legendary Lives”/”Lost Souls” scenario (I played the “Lost Souls” game first and I’m hoping to give “dead” player characters some options.:-D)

    • halfling says:

      So glad to find another fan of Legendary Lives. I love your idea of combining the two games. The rule base is completely the same so it would be a pretty easy transition. The only tweaks might pertain to knowledge since Lost Souls if designed for more modern time frame, but that is an easy fix. I would love to hear how it goes!

  3. Nick says:

    Legendary Lives was our favorite RPG back in the mid 90s when my friend won a copy at a local RPG convention.
    We added it to the mix of our weekly gaming group.
    Then during a few months of unemployment just after high school we were playing this everyday for hours at end.

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