Talislanta: The Savage Lands

tenbones

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Okay! So for those that didn't back the KS - some news of potential interest. A game I helped in writing, a prequel to the Talislanta RPG which has haunted the gaming community for decades (and one of the best game-settings and systems ever!)



Talislanta: The Savage Lands is finally in print. These are proof-copies for the final sniff-test for errors (which some have been found) before the hardbacks are done. Then this bloody glorious game will be made available.

This is the D&D 5e-ruleset edition. The D6 edition and Classic Talislanta edition are also in proofing. Book clocks in ~244-pages, is full color and has an index. It is a standalone game - has a bestiary in the back, lots of playable races. NO ELVES. Mass-combat rules. Tribal-level gameplay. Crafting. Did I mention - NO ELVES! Yep... still all these years later... NO ELVES.

If anyone has any questions about the content, system, etc. I'll do my best to answer.

Edit: Interior shot

 

kaulesh

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Can't wait! I've got the PDFs just sitting in my DTRPG library at the moment (and finally sent off an email to Alan RE the OpenD6 PDF) but I'm waiting for my print copy to actually give it a read.
 

tenbones

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Yeah I'm really pleased with how it came out. My eternal hat is off to the rest of the team (Doug, Mark, Desi and David Arenas for the insanely awesome art, and of course Stephen for creating Talislanta in the first place). Great people all around.
 

Voros

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I like Talislanta as a setting but the original system never interested me. Will have to pick this up sometime.
 

tenbones

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I like Talislanta as a setting but the original system never interested me. Will have to pick this up sometime.
I'm curious! What about the original system doesn't float your boat? (This version is a modified 2nd edition feel. But all the Tal-edition core-mechanics are 98% compatible with one another.)
 

Arminius

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I backed the KS at the PDF level even though I don’t see the particular appeal of a “savage” Talislanta—there’s plenty of savagery in the setting as-is, and IMO the appeal of the setting is its wry, Vancian combination of decadence and exoticism. (With maybe a dash of Herodotus?)

I haven’t had a chance to look a the product yet but I’ll be interested to see if they’ve overcome my expectations about the setting treatment; plus, having a revision of the old system along with ways to use d6 and 5e is attractive.

About the Tal system—be sure not to judge 2e based on experiences with 4e/5e (for better or worse). 2e is basically an OD&D variant with the equivalent of a jillion classes and some skill customization. 4e is more like a GURPS-lite and the spell system has been changed to one that’s entirely effects-based and on-the-fly a bit like Ars Magica meets (a very simplified) Champions.

I prefer the 2e approach so I’m glad to hear the new game is closer to that.
 

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Backed for the full set in print. A littsad the other two versions didn't make financial sense to produce but I understand. Looking forward to seeing and playing it sometime soon.
 

tenbones

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I backed the KS at the PDF level even though I don’t see the particular appeal of a “savage” Talislanta—there’s plenty of savagery in the setting as-is, and IMO the appeal of the setting is its wry, Vancian combination of decadence and exoticism. (With maybe a dash of Herodotus?)
I consider it a huge palate-cleanser. It's *radically* different in general tone from the original setting which they have five full editions of material that largely cover the same stuff. So in terms of this game - it takes place right after the most catastrophic event in the history of the setting, and has a post-apocalyptic fantasy conceit. This game gives a glimpse for players to see how the original game setting came to be. Better - it gives you the chance to change the course of that history as you and your players see fit.

Since the original games are all free and available at Talislanta.com (for those that don't know - avail yourself!) there are means, if the GM allows, to even have your regular Talislanta characters come back to the past to screw with things or vice versa. Yep, the original game is savage... we wanted to up the ante and put things into perspective in a way that the original game never did.

I haven’t had a chance to look a the product yet but I’ll be interested to see if they’ve overcome my expectations about the setting treatment; plus, having a revision of the old system along with ways to use d6 and 5e is attractive.

About the Tal system—be sure not to judge 2e based on experiences with 4e/5e (for better or worse). 2e is basically an OD&D variant with the equivalent of a jillion classes and some skill customization. 4e is more like a GURPS-lite and the spell system has been changed to one that’s entirely effects-based and on-the-fly a bit like Ars Magica meets (a very simplified) Champions.

I prefer the 2e approach so I’m glad to hear the new game is closer to that.
2e is definitely a seminal edition for the game. But the "classes" are really just archetypes with a skill-system in there for progression. Not much changed in succeeding editions mechanically, they just broke the archetypes down in 3e (these are closer to classes) and basically went full life-path and skill-based in 4e/5e. But the core mechanics outside of Magic never really changed much. Technically you could shoe-horn all the different editions of magic into the same game as "different schools" with little effort (but I think that's unnecessary).

4e is usually the one most players stick with. It's very well done. Very toolkitty and your point about the magic-system is pretty accurate. If you like 2e, you'll probably dig Savage Lands. It's 2e with a lot of modern sensibilities. Still lite and agile. There is no "magic" system per se... since the conceits of the setting are that Magic was lost in the great cataclysm. The magic here is more of a skill-based magic system. I love it. But if you want something more expansive (which would definitely make your characters radically powerful for the conceits of the setting) you could easily port over the magic from another edition.
 
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Voros

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I'm curious! What about the original system doesn't float your boat? (This version is a modified 2nd edition feel. But all the Tal-edition core-mechanics are 98% compatible with one another.)
It's been a while since I read the Tal books but I don't think it was 2nd edition. Nothing bad about it but nothing grabbed me either.
 

tenbones

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It's been a while since I read the Tal books but I don't think it was 2nd edition. Nothing bad about it but nothing grabbed me either.
That's funny. I got on board Talislanta almost from the inception. Like almost everyone back then (this was around 1987 or so) I was deep into D&D and the mechanics in Talislanta (and previously in The Arcanum) were a revelation to me. In my circles it was almost heretical. Compared to the growing complexity of D&D - it really struck me as extremely streamlined yet was deceptively scalable. I wouldn't understand how much it impacted me until much later, since I was only ten-years into this RPG-thing and I was still relatively young provincial in my gaming habits.

But I get it! There are a lot of systems out there that just do nothing for me. I was just wondering if it was something specific.
 

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I started with the little red book and the Chronicles. I think SMS owes. Huge thanks to PD Breeding.
 

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I've been around it since way way early, and love the setting though I think the system has improved, and P.D was a huge influence on the imagery and game, so yeah. This is fantastic TOO, but I'm still an TAL: Standard fan. (Got my PDF TSL, waiting for print.)
 

Arminius

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2e is definitely a seminal edition for the game. But the "classes" are really just archetypes with a skill-system in there for progression. Not much changed in succeeding editions mechanically, they just broke the archetypes down in 3e (these are closer to classes) and basically went full life-path and skill-based in 4e/5e. But the core mechanics outside of Magic never really changed much.
Yes, the 2e classes = archetypes the same way that 0e/Basic classes = archetypes, with race-as-class. Consider if D&D had multiple classes for types of elf, dwarf, etc., instead of using “pick race, pick class”—and then you would have something very like Tal 2e. 2e does add some skill selection on top of that, but it seems to me you almost always want to advance by level, as in D&D, instead of spending XP on skills. Why? Gaining a level gives you +1 to all your skills (some minor qualifications), and you gain HP. You can boost a single skill faster than you can gain levels but you only improve that skill.

If I’m not mistaken, in 4e, there aren’t any levels. You can only spend XP to gain/improve skills. HP never go up. Instead, where previous editions defaulted to D&D’s roll to hit/roll damage, 4e interposes a defense roll. These changes are why I see 4e as a move toward GURPS/BRP in terms of character advancement.
 

tenbones

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Yes, the 2e classes = archetypes the same way that 0e/Basic classes = archetypes, with race-as-class. Consider if D&D had multiple classes for types of elf, dwarf, etc., instead of using “pick race, pick class”—and then you would have something very like Tal 2e. 2e does add some skill selection on top of that, but it seems to me you almost always want to advance by level, as in D&D, instead of spending XP on skills. Why? Gaining a level gives you +1 to all your skills (some minor qualifications), and you gain HP. You can boost a single skill faster than you can gain levels but you only improve that skill.
YES! Imagine if D&D went this route... I'd likely still be playing it. It's also why the Talislanta system is pretty easy to use for D&D settings. It takes very little effort (especially if you're using the 2e rules) to convert over. Plays better too, as it scales better and is leaner.

If I’m not mistaken, in 4e, there aren’t any levels. You can only spend XP to gain/improve skills. HP never go up. Instead, where previous editions defaulted to D&D’s roll to hit/roll damage, 4e interposes a defense roll. These changes are why I see 4e as a move toward GURPS/BRP in terms of character advancement.
That's correct. 3e went hard-archetype, but kept levels, which I think worked well - standardized progression of +2hp and Primary Archetype Skill increases. Basically they were mini-classes in which you could pick up skills outside of your classes. 4e also had static damage values (which I wasn't a fan of, but it was certainly playable - or could be ignored and you could simply go back to old random damage values with an easy tweak).

Savage Lands incorporates Stat and Skill increases and brought back random damage. A little from all three previous editions but leans harder on 2e.
 

tenbones

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Here are some screens we showed earlier to get an idea of the layout (this is in the Talislanta system edition)




The list of races (this is a composite image - not something in the book but each race has their own 1-page write-up including tribal structure and beliefs)


And here is the TOC
 
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Arminius

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Ironically I was such a skill-based snob back when Tal came out that I turned up my nose at the idea that it was awesome to have several dozen “classes”. Now I agree 100% that the archetype approach would be a superb way to do D&D. It would really facilitate differentiating e.g. priests in different humanoid races and cultures, not to mention roles that are unique to each culture. It seems to me that Sine Nomine has somewhat adopted this approach in Crawford’s games.
 

tenbones

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Most people turned up their nose at Talislanta assuming (which I wouldn't debate too strong against) that it was "too weird". The system never really was given the chance by most folks. Which is a shame because the system and the setting are both really unique and awesome.

The Archetype concept in D&D would be insanely strong and easy to develop for both mechanically and systemically. I'd be willing to bet it would be a much more plausible edition that would appeal to both new gamers, OSR folks, and you wouldn't even have to change your dice. It's rules-light but scales ridiculously well - I'd argue it scales much better than the standard d20 20-lvl incremental system.

One can only hope.
 

Mankcam

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I'm looking forward to this new version of Talislanta. The art direction is superb.

My mate had either the first or second edition back in the late 1980s, and I have a copy of the fourth edition. It has always been an unique fantasy setting to play in, and the TSL system itself runs really well.

I backed the hardcover TSL version on kickstarter, so I am eagerly awaiting for this to be released!
 

AsenRG

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Most people turned up their nose at Talislanta assuming (which I wouldn't debate too strong against) that it was "too weird".
I would strongly debate it. The setting is only "weird" if you're raised on D&D-derivative stories instead of the proper S&S stories:smile:.

The system never really was given the chance by most folks. Which is a shame because the system and the setting are both really unique and awesome.
Totally agree about the system. The Partial Success result in the core mechanic is really great:wink:!

The Archetype concept in D&D would be insanely strong and easy to develop for both mechanically and systemically. I'd be willing to bet it would be a much more plausible edition that would appeal to both new gamers, OSR folks, and you wouldn't even have to change your dice. It's rules-light but scales ridiculously well - I'd argue it scales much better than the standard d20 20-lvl incremental system.
True, but you don't even really need that. You can just play Talislanta:grin:!
 

tenbones

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I would strongly debate it. The setting is only "weird" if you're raised on D&D-derivative stories instead of the proper S&S stories:smile:.
That's definitely true. I'm a slight outlier in that I didn't get into fantasy via Tolkien. The second book-series I ever read was the entire Conan catalog... in 3rd grade (probably why I am the way I am). But yeah - D&D, especially back then, was hard to break out of its gravity-well in gaming. Other RPG's existed sure... but I don't think people had nearly as much apathy for it, assuming you started in it (much like Tolkien in terms of fantasy fiction) to pull away from it.

Totally agree about the system. The Partial Success result in the core mechanic is really great:wink:!
D&D should have more "degrees" of success. But it would be hard to pull off without adding more complexity to the system.

True, but you don't even really need that. You can just play Talislanta:grin:!
I say this purely for those that really enjoy the respective settings they currently play. I think the Talislanta system could easily (and it has - with the old OMNI System books) be stripped out and enjoyed as a universal system for all kinds of genres and settings.
 

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Backed the Kickstarter for the print copy using the original system. I only skimmed through the.pdf, but thought it looked amazing. I can't wait for a hard copy. I've been a fan since the late 80s, so it's really exciting to see something new for the setting (my preference these days is a hybrid of 2nd and 4th editions).
 

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So this came out just the other day:


You can buy it here.

By the way, congratulations to @tenbones! I don't know precisely who you are, but I know you are involved in this creation, and it's terrific stuff.

I've slowly been digesting this over the last couple of days. This led me to look up the old Talislanta stuff that I've had sitting around unread, reading for comparison, and then curiosity. I know it's been around for ages but it took this new release to get me to finally check this game out.

Anyway, this is cool stuff. The mechanics are really simple and clean, and the base rules are pretty much unchanged from the older editions. Magic is different and very much de-emphasized in this prequel setting and these rules, which is fine by me. I like how it's very low-key, while the setting (i.e. post-apocalyptic fantasy) can be as gonzo as the GM wants.

There's a lot about these mechanics that reminds me of Barbarians of Lemuria, including the simplicity and extensive use of partial success results. I might be inclined to use that system for this setting. I do really appreciate that even today the authors resisted the temptation to pad the rules out.

The older setting was extremely Vancian - I would call Jack Vance the core literary influence. This setting also has a strong Appendix N feel, but it seems to be dipping more into Howardian waters (you saw the cover, right?) That's an interesting way to take it, and I'm liking what I see so far. The art is a bit more polished and less psychedelic than what you saw in the older editions. I prefer the older sensibility, but I understand that it doesn't really work for 2018.

That's my hot take. Now that I've perused the older materials, I hope this release gets Talislanta some long-overdue love.
 

Mankcam

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I backed the KS for this - had the pdf for a while, its excellent.

My mate had the old version, late 80s/early 90s, and it was a bit of a trip. I liked it, but for some reason we never got into it. Looking back, that was a big mistake, it's really cool.

This version feels quite different, but equally excellent (with much better artwork).

Yeah TSL is a great system, I'm glad the core game mechanics look pretty similar to the earlier editions.
Hopefully this means the printed version is on its way!
 
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Endless Flight

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Can someone give me a Cliff Notes version of the original rules?
 

Edgewise

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Can someone give me a Cliff Notes version of the original rules?
The core mechanics are pretty much unchanged across editions, from what I can tell.

There are eight attributes which can range from about -5 (terrible) to +5 (great) in humans, with zero as "average." They are standards like Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Speed, Intelligence, Perception, Willpower and Charisma. Skills are rated from 0 (unskilled) to 10 or more (mastery).

Most tasks are rolled on 1d20 + attribute + skill + difficulty modifier. Results are found on the Action Table:
  • 0 or less: fumble
  • 1-5: failure
  • 6-10: partial success
  • 11-19: success
  • 20 or more: critical success
Combat happens in rounds with initiative rolls against speed, attacks are opposed combat rolls, hits reduce hit points by an amount based on weapon damage roll (+ strength for melee), armor acts as damage reduction, etc. Pretty standard for what most games would do with that core mechanic.
 

tenbones

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Latest updates:

"The printer has the files and has begun preparing the book for printing. There's one final proofing step (printer page proofs) where we give it a final look through, but we expect those files to be in our hands next week, and the look through completed within a few days after those files are done!

The dice are being printed as we speak.

Assuming the dice come out fine, we're anticipating fulfillment in the middle of Q2 (around February), but keep in mind variables around shipping the final product to the fulfillment warehouse, quality control surprises, or more might impact that.

We're so very close and now we're in the "wait and see" stage where it's just awaiting word from the printer!

Thanks folks!

- The Nocturnal Media Team"

The core mechanics of Talislanta are almost completely intact from the previous editions. What's changed, largely, is the magic system and the addition of new sub-systems like Mass Combat, the Tribe system. Chargen has been tweaked and simplified a bit while giving players a little more control. No padding - just mechanics that were necessary (and modular) to promote the context of the setting itself. If anything it's a slightly modified version of Talislanta 2e.

You could literally shoe-horn the magic systems of any previous edition into the game and run it normally. Including pulling characters from the future (which is the rest of the other Talislanta editions) into the past - Savage Lands via magical mishaps etc if you want.

The *feel* of this edition is decidedly different because of where it takes place. Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy to the bone.
 
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Bunch

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Latest updates:

"The printer has the files and has begun preparing the book for printing. There's one final proofing step (printer page proofs) where we give it a final look through, but we expect those files to be in our hands next week, and the look through completed within a few days after those files are done!

The dice are being printed as we speak.

Assuming the dice come out fine, we're anticipating fulfillment in the middle of Q2 (around February), but keep in mind variables around shipping the final product to the fulfillment warehouse, quality control surprises, or more might impact that.

We're so very close and now we're in the "wait and see" stage where it's just awaiting word from the printer!

Thanks folks!

- The Nocturnal Media Team"

The core mechanics of Talislanta are almost completely intact from the previous editions. What's changed, largely, is the magic system and the addition of new sub-systems like Mass Combat, the Tribe system. Chargen has been tweaked and simplified a bit while giving players a little more control. No padding - just mechanics that were necessary (and modular) to promote the context of the setting itself. If anything it's a slightly modified version of Talislanta 2e.

You could literally shoe-horn the magic systems of any previous edition into the game and run it normally. Including pulling characters from the future (which is the rest of the other Talislanta editions) into the past - Savage Lands via magical mishaps etc if you want.

The *feel* of this edition is decidedly different because of where it takes place. Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy to the bone.
Any chance you would run a pbp game here?
 

tenbones

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I wish. I can't commit the time. My day-job is pretty intense (moments of absolutely nothing to do - then 3-alarm technical fires) - then when I get home I have tons of stuff I'm working on. Hazards of having a professional whip-cracking taskmaster of a wife that's a novel editor with expectations for her arrogant coffee/gaming Cult-leading asshole of a husband (who is getting to his limit on projects)... yeah I have no time.
 

Bunch

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I wish. I can't commit the time. My day-job is pretty intense (moments of absolutely nothing to do - then 3-alarm technical fires) - then when I get home I have tons of stuff I'm working on. Hazards of having a professional whip-cracking taskmaster of a wife that's a novel editor with expectations for her arrogant coffee/gaming Cult-leading asshole of a husband (who is getting to his limit on projects)... yeah I have no time.
Fair enough.
 

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I'm eagerly awaiting this new edition, it looks great.

I have the big blue TSL core book (TSL 4E), its quite good.

I first came across TSL when it was in it's second edition, the white cover with the multi-coloured bald dude on the front. That book is quite nostalgic for me. Reasonably slim, and artwork that was very old school yet unique.

Although the pdfs are readily available, I would love to see them do a modern hardcover reprint of TSL 2E in much the same way that Chaosium reprints RQ2 as RuneQuest Classic.
 
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Stevethulhu

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The secret truth of Talislanta is there really WERE Elves. The Drakken ate them all tho. SHH! Don't tell anyone.
I remember those STILL NO ELVES ads better than the game itself. But it always seemed to have a ton of pointy eared forest dwelling humanoids.
 

Bunch

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I remember those STILL NO ELVES ads better than the game itself. But it always seemed to have a ton of pointy eared forest dwelling humanoids.
Too be fair I think 90% of the races had pointy ears. Some lived in Forests. Some lived in deserts some tundra.
 

Arminius

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I’m going to start a “what is an elf” thread to settle this.
 

tenbones

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Too be fair I think 90% of the races had pointy ears. Some lived in Forests. Some lived in deserts some tundra.
To my knowledge... and I'm going to put my chip on the table as someone that is pretty close to all these races after having written a bit about all of them, I don't actually think *any* PC or NPC race in Talislanta *doesn't* have pointed ears - in the modern era of of Talislanta.

In Savage Lands - there are races that have no ears at all - or just ear-holes. You might make a case for the "Reavers" who would later become mutated by the Gyre and split into the Harakin and a couple of the other modern races that all eventually have pointed ears.

I've said this elsewhere, if there are any race one could point at with a squint and call them "elves" - I'd probably say the Ariane. But they're nothing like "elves" as portrayed in D&D. They're nature-mystics that kinda look like Drow... if *anything* they're kinda like Dragonlance Irda.
 

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There are no Tolkien elves for sure.
 
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