Lords of Eternity is a release by Live Real Productions some time ago. The pitch was essentially, He-Man the RPG, and I am a big nostalgia trip fan from that Era. I just posted a review of Staged Heroism, which has a similar pitch. So I guess that month I was backing kickstarters which catered to it. Good job algorithm. I found out about Lords of Eternity when I got a kickstarter suggestion for their project to fund a print run. They offered physical and digital copies and I ended up grabbing both. You can get yours at Drivethrough or Itch.
I like to start physical product reviews discussing the physical product. Lords of Eternity is a slim, 36 pages, which kind of surprised me a bit. The Kickstarter mockup is a big old tome, but hey size isn’t everything, and that’s especially true in the RPG business. There are plenty of rules light games better than D&D for example. And for what I paid; I wouldn’t have expected anything more than 60-80 pages to be honest. Ironically though, the physical edition on this one might be my main gripe for the product in general. Because of its small size, the heavy plastic feeling front and back cover actually make it kind of hard to flip around and read the book. They feel like something on maybe an 80–100page book. I think Live Real could have saved some costs, gotten a cheaper, even softback, cover, and had a better product in general.
Artistically, I can get into the art style chosen. You’ll notice from the banner above and the art on the various pages, there’s a purple theme to it, and it’s very busy and swirly. Character art was drawn very well by Pendleburyannette but most of the rest was done via Wombo, an AI art generator. I’ve looked into it a lot, and this has been great as an example in practice. The combo of having an artist draw up characters, and the AI generate landscapes and backgrounds has a really neat effect, and reminds me of “proper greenscreen use”. Where movies use greenscreens for background stuff, but still include physical props and sets for things actors to work with. The AI art is very abstract, and I keep finding myself looking at something and trying to determine what to focus on, and going down various trails as I imagine what it could be. It gives the whole book a neat dreamlike take, and like I said earlier, I’m into it.
Mechanically, the game is based on the LUMEN system which I’m not particularly familiar with. If you are, that should probably influence your purchasing decision one way or the other. I’ll look into it another time, and may have some thoughts to share then on the core of that system. As it stands, even if LUMEN is the base, LoE should be able to stand on its own, and so that will be my take for this review.
The Introduction and Setting chapters set the tone for the type of game to be run, and frankly, this is what I want out of a setting for a niche RPG system. Each chapter is one page long, and they describe the type of setting the DM will need to build to run the game. Essentially, the game boils down to a He-Man/Mad Max/Highlander hybrid. You’ve got the world of He-Man, but the named Ram-Man, She-Ras, and Fisto’s are actually Highlanders. There can be only one of them, and unfortunately, right now there are 100. Those 100 battle one another until the day that there is just one left. That battle happens in a world thats a blend of high magic, high tech, all cool.
Mechanically, LoE is pretty streamlined and rules light. Characters pick one of three classes (warrior, mage, tinkerer), 3 abilities, and 3 attributes. Your class gives a basic power unique to it. Warriors deal extra damage and shrug off other damage, mages get enhanced powers as spells, and tinkerers can make devices to bring on missions. Because it’s so rules light, and the classes are so light, my immediate instinct as an optimizer is to give up on that side, and instead pick classes based on the DM at the table. I imagine the mage is probably RAW the most powerful after going over how it works, but it’s also a rules light spell system, so it’s really going to be a “how does your DM rule it” scenario. If I anticipate that going poorly, I could do a tinkerer and have cool stuff. The downside here is that I pick my device at the start of the next mission. So, it’s like a ranger’s favored enemy, where I have to guess what might be handy before the game. If I know the DM, I’m probably safe, but if not, it’s a gamble. The warrior seems like it’s only good when you know your DM is looking for gritty, no magic, no tech scenarios. Thats counter to the setting, but we all know the DMs who hate fun and insist on it that sort of thing anyway.
Your abilities are purchased on a point buy system, with 3 points across up to 3 abilities at creation. These seem to be where the real meat of character customization lies, and it’s how you pick your special powers. There’s a list at the back of the book, and it’s a pretty comprehensive list of super powers. I can get a battlecat, teleport and shoot lasers, so just about all of my core goals would be met. Characters also have 3 attributes which are used to govern checks. Might, Right, and Focus. Each of the three can be used for any situation, but how they apply is changed. For example, if you need to sword a problem, a might check is obvious. You bash them down with your club. Right means your hand is faster than the eye slashing a hamstring before they see your attack coming. Focus is a single precise laser to the throat. If you need to talk a problem, Focus is a precise well crafted argument, Right is quick and deceptive, while Might is bashing your fist on the table and yelling. In essence, I’d imagine most people pick one, max it out, and do what they can at the table to always roll that stat.
In true Highlander fashion, LoE has a really neat rule regarding death and immortality. A Lord of Eternity can only die if their head is cut off. If another Lord does this, they can gain a transfer of power. This is essentially a leveling up mechanic, and if you do it, you get to kill the other Lord for real, but also gain power based on who you defeat, like Sylar. At the end of missions you also level “advance” with awarded advancement points that can be spent as you’d expect. I just get a kick out of the example being stealing Beastman’s orange fur power once you slay him.
Overall, the flavor and setting of Lords of Eternity are really fun. Highlander and He-Man is a great mash up, and if you’re into rules light high fantasy games, this is certainly worth adding to the library.