By Andrew Barton.
New players in Legends are usually advised to start with a Hero position and go lair-bashing for at least the first few turns, to learn how the system works and get an idea of how they want to approach the game. I know when I started keeping track of two characters was quite enough to handle with all the details of moving forces around, entering guilds to get trained, setting encounter spells, gathering herbs for my spells, identifying loot from lairs …
It shouldn’t be too long before you’ve got at least the basics sorted out, especially if you’ve taken the other standard piece of advice and talked to GMs, mentors and friendly players. By that stage, two characters will probably not seem enough for all the cool things you want to do. So, how do you get more?
Well, here’s one way …
Clawdia attempts to read the Book ID# 1993 the Sir Gwaywin Diary.
Adventure 1993/ Sir G’s Diary contains blackmail material that will force Hiram Halliday to swear loyalty to the holder. View Adventure if interested.
(Certain names have been changed to protect the innocent)
I got the Diary as part of the loot from a lair I bashed early in Swords of Pelarn game 24, and used a Read Item order to find out what it said. Those of you who read my last Legends article will remember that I advised reading anything with an ID over 600 that was of type Book or Scroll, and this is an example of why. I did the adventure and gained control of a new character who had some very useful skills and brought with him the guild he owned.
So, keep your eyes open and you may well find one-off ways like this to get new characters. In the new North Island Campaign there are even a couple of adventures like this listed in the module book, but they look as though they need a lot of work to carry them through.
So, for the rest of this article I’m going to talk about the four standard ways to get new characters, that should work in any module and which anyone can attempt.
The two simplest ways to get more characters involve spells to summon or charm creatures. The big disadvantage of these spells is that they wear off at production so you can only use the new recruits for a few turns. Oddly enough, that’s also one of the main advantages, because you can afford to send them off on suicide missions like absorbing the breath attack of a Great Red Dragon. You can easily Charm another creature to replace the first one, or you can Summon the same being again next month – it will be alive again and won’t even hold a grudge!
This is the simplest way to get more characters early on. Two possible problems: most Summon spells need a unit of Silverleaf each time you cast them (exception: Priests that can summon ‘minor divinities’), and if someone else has already summoned the creature you want not only won’t you get your creature, you’ll still use up all the mana and items that the spell costs.
If you’re planning on making much use of Summoning spells you really, really want a character in your position with the skill to Gather Herbs. A Druid, Ranger or Bard can do this.
Some players like to pick a Hero Summoner for their main character and summon a creature (or even two) on their very first turn. This can be very useful if they have cool spells to teach your permanent employees, and lets you do more early scouting or just bash lairs that much harder – you can feel much more confident about attacking a cockatrice when it’s an Imp that’s going to get turned to stone if things go wrong.
Tip: a summoned creature can act on the turn it is summoned, and you can give a B8 order to put it in a combat slot even before you’ve summoned it.
Trap: the rulebook warns against summoning Efreets and Daemons below certain skill levels. In fact characters some way above the ‘safe’ levels can take damage before the creature submits and does what it’s told.
Here’s a simple example of using a Charm spell. In Swords 24 my Knight/Priest Ritornel had gone off bashing lairs on his own and was doing pretty well until he tried to take on a Guardian Fury. This had a Special Attack of 1,000, more than he could handle, so he had to retreat before coming to hand-to-claw combat.
Ritornel had several monsters he’d captured in earlier fights (so he knew their stats from those fights) and did a View Character on each to get their Prestige values – Charm Monster gets very expensive for high prestige targets. He found a creature that had MAR 4, prestige 2, and was able to Charm it with a spell costing 18 mana – fortunately, as a Priest of Elune with some nice items he got 9 mana for free.
Unlike Summoned creatures, you can’t put a Monster into a combat slot until after you’ve charmed it. This meant he had to cast the Charm early in the month so that he could give a B8 order on the following turn, before the Charm went away after production.
So, some careful preparation was needed but the reward was that he could put a charmed monster in the front line to take the enemy Special Attack, then finish the job himself and get some very nice loot.
Tip: you don’t get a normal report on Charmed characters, but a Read Character spell will give you their skills in detail.
Trap: if you don’t keep casting the Charm spell each month, you might get a message like this:
‘The un-charmed monster Torganthas has taken off! It is likely to turn up in a nearby lair or ruins. Oh well – easy come, easy go.’
Trick: You can use Charm or Geas spells on characters in module cities or belonging to other players. I’ve seen players in their first game apply a little lateral thinking and blindside some of the most experienced players around.
A more permanent solution
So how do you get into longer-term relationships?
Two basic methods, Influence and Rite spells.
Anyone can use Influence (except monster races such as Dragon Lords), but Good-aligned characters will have some advantages – the most obvious being that Good Statuses are more likely to give bonuses to your Influence stat. Rite spells are easier for Evil characters and in the newer modules a position with a Good alignment will find using them very difficult.
How to make friends and influence people
Giving an influence order is pretty easy, you just use a D2 order with the target being the character you want to recruit. Calculating the chance of success is much harder and I advise you not to try – just try one D2 order each on what seem to be reasonable targets and see how you get on.
A lot of factors affect your chance of success and the long list in the rulebook only gives some of them. The basic principle is simple – the more your influencing character is like your target, the more likely your are to succeed. Most of the time, you want to be of the same religion or at least a very compatible one, and the same race or have the target be one of the ‘secondary’ races of your influencing character.
Often you can change your own or your target’s religion with a Convert spell (but this won’t work on priests). Sometimes you can also change your race but this is normally only practical for shapechangers like the Shadowlings in Swords of Pelarn.
You Influence stat is obviously crucial to your chances of success, but it’s fairly easy to build up – you get bonuses from Marks, Status and titles and can increase it further with the right spells. Most of the time you don’t need to buy any points of influence at setup.
Another crucial factor is whether your target has any prestige of its own …
I’m in with the in crowd
One of the best routes to power in Legends is to Influence characters that are already in positions of authority. With the proper preparation you can recruit the owners of guilds and locations to your cause – these are strong characters in their own right and bring their possessions with them. Succeed in influencing a module city owner and you’ve got an instant economic base and army.
Problem is, those guys have prestige ratings of their own and they won’t even look at you if your own prestige is more than a point or two below theirs. Guild owners usually have at least 15 prestige, module city owners vary from game to game but prestige 40 is nothing out of the way. Owners of ordinary NPC locations are more variable.
To find out these prestige values, send scouting characters and View Character on your targets.
Often you’ll be in a race with other players to get enough prestige to influence some crucial character. If you succeed, anyone trying to take your new recruit away from you will have a penalty equal to the Loyalty stat of the character.
How to build up prestige? Marks and titles help, so players intending to rely on influencing often make their main character a priest and aim to get a High Priest title. Guilds give prestige, so build up those you start with and take over existing ones by influence or challenge.
The most reliable way to get increases is by conquest. Every time you conquer an npc location or a lair, you get one point of prestige. May not sound like much, but it builds up over time and unlike most other sources of prestige, it can’t be taken away from you. With several armies or bashing parties in the field you can build up prestige quickly – until you run out of targets!
Many module city owners and some guild owners will be members of factions. If you’re not in the same faction yourself you probably stand no chance. Find this out with order D11 discuss politics, or a failed influence order will usually tell you if this is the problem.
The other crucial limit is time. An influence order on a character with prestige never has more than one chance in three of success (reported as ‘poor’ chance), and normally only your main character has enough prestige to attempt it. So you may need to spend a lot of your time on influence attempts, and getting extra actions for your main is very helpful.
No, you can’t recruit high-prestige characters and then send them after others. You’ll get a message that the target is insulted by your sending an underling and you should come in person.
Tip: a failed influence order gives you a lot of information about the target. Here’s an example:
Tenebrio attempts to influence Gorvad Axesong ID# 1122 . Gorvad Axesong has the skills of Priest, Axemaster, and Berserker.
He is a follower of OM, and has an excellent loyalty rating. Gorvad Axesong has an extremely high prestige rating.
Tenebrio talks at length to Gorvad Axesong, but to no effect.
Gorvad Axesong gets insulted during the conversation and goes into a rage. He ends up inciting a riot!
Tenebrio’s wounds taken during the riot: 2 %
Gorvad Axesong’s wounds taken during the riot: 3 %
He thinks he had one chance in seven hells of succeeding in this task.
Trap: if either character is a Berserker you may get into a fight, as happened here. Any wounds you take will reduce your chances on further attempts.
Trick: you just might be able to stop another player influencing a key character by putting an incompatible status on the target.
Power to the people
A quicker way to get recruits is to go after characters with zero prestige. You’ll find these on the streets of module cities and sometimes in other locations.
These guys won’t own any other game pieces, and their skills will often be nothing special, but they will often have quite reasonable Tactics or Influence stats. They may be quite useful for bashing lairs or training troops, and they can recruit more characters in their turn. Sometimes they’ll know useful spells.
Tip: if you recruit a character from one of your secondary races, you can send them off to recruit characters from their secondary races who might not listen to you.
Trap: sometimes a player will put a stealthy or invisible character into a module city, and watch who turns up looking for recruits. They may then kidnap or assassinate your characters, or just track you with a view to later mayhem.
Trick: to avoid being spotted enter a location early in the month with invisibility up, then move into a guild before production. You’ll only be seen by other characters in the same guild doing a V4 order. Unless, that is, the guild is owned by a player …
Using Rite spells correctly is one of the trickier aspects of Legends, but they do give you a way of getting control of characters you can’t reach any other way – and they also give you Statuses with some cool stats.
The first problem is that Rite spells are expensive and high level – the cheapest costs 20 mana plus the MAR of the intended target. There are items around that help here. Most of these work only for necromancers or certain Evil religions, but you could just use a Seer with a couple of Crystals and a magic staff.
Then, there are some targets that you can’t Rite at all. These include members of some religions, and characters that have a Status you can’t remove. If you want to protect your characters against Riting, give them Enchanted or Netherworld or a religious status.
A Rite spell will work on most other targets to restore life, but you have to pass a lot more tests to gain control of the character. It can’t own anything, it mustn’t have more than 20 prestige, or be a monster or a main character. With Guild owners you can just wait until the character is Long Dead, there may not be much you can do about the others.
One thing that does work very well – a high loyalty character such as another players secondary will resist influence attempts, but not Riting, and in its new life it will transfer that loyalty to you!
Tip: you can cast a Rite spell on a prisoner, then only release it if it becomes loyal.
Trap: if you get control of a character with a different alignment, the usual loyalty penalties will apply and you may well end up losing it again after a few turns.
Trick: with sufficient effort, you can remove many blocking conditions – Convert a prisoner, Geas or Charm it and make it use an item to change race, remove statuses by magic or with an item … though this may end up being more trouble than the character is worth.
There may be problems with getting too many characters – for one thing, you can never have more than 40 characters total including Charmed and Summoned ones. In one game I felt I’d cluttered my position up with too many low-level characters and was spending too much time and real-world money giving orders to them.
Still, maybe that’s the right problem to have …
Get out there! Make new friends! Try new cool things!
This article first appeared in Flagship magazine.
Copyright © Andrew Barton 2001. The moral right of the author has been asserted.