Legend Q&A with Jacob Kurzer from Rule of Cool Gaming

Andrew Fergin, Editor-in-Chief

Legend is an upcoming tabletop role-playing game that emphasizes strong gameplay mechanics and simplistic rules. The full game will be available as part of a donation event to raise money for the Child’s Play charity starting on Nov. 25. However, a beta version ofhas already been released free of charge. Jacob Kurzer, the game’s Creative Lead, spoke with The Mesa Press about Legend and what players can look forward to from the game.

Q. Tell me about what inspired you to start working on Legend when the tabletop role-playing game market is already so diverse? Was there something you found unsatisfactory by the current options or was it just passion for the hobby?

A. So, originally, what would become Legend was just a set of house rules I used to effectively curate Dungeons and Dragons. I ran an arena online, and we needed to strip down some of the more broken parts of the rules. A few of my friends started collating the stuff that we produced in a desperate effort to find fun, and then I get an e-mail from Chris, my co-writer, “I’ve put all the stuff in a big word document. It’s about 80 pages. I think we’ve written a book.”

Q. As you said, Legend came out of a group of personal rule changes that you and your friends had made to Dungeons and Dragons. Is this why you chose to make Legend based on the d20 system? Because Dungeons and Dragons is based on the same?

A. This time, I can give a straight answer! Yes to the second no to the first. I love this medium, love these games. Joking aside and accidents aside, I was running that arena because I loved D and D (Dungeons and Dragons).

Q. When you reached the decision to start putting Legend together was it with the goal of improving the then current edition of Dungeons and Dragons?

A. Yeah, initially we planned to maintain total backwards compatibility. That hope finally guttered out about a year and a half ago.

Q. What caused the goal shift?

A. Pain, serious mind-crushing pain. I literally spent nine months trying to come up with a backwards compatible economy system that wasn’t awful. I think a lot of people look at expansions, at updates, and assume that authors took the easy way out, I’ve come to disagree. It was just impossible to truly do well. We’d have ended up burying players in fiddly little rules changes, careful edits, over-writes and legalese.

Q. Speaking of the players, what type of player group did you have in mind when you designed Legend? Is it targeted towards veteran gamers or is it something that anybody with the desire can play?

A. Legend’s designed, at least in theory, to be good for anyone. We’ve included some optional features for players who want a more intricate game, and we’ll be releasing more content for free in that vein if there’s demand.

Q. On the subject of the content, what can you tell me about the classes players will be to choose from? You’ve shown eight classes in the beta release, will that be the final number?

A. There are 8 core classes, yes. But, we also have monstrous creatures you can play as, on top of a pretty neat multi-classing system.

Q. As an option, how does multi-classing compare to just playing the base class? Will a player who chooses one hold an advantage over a player who chose the other or are the two options pretty even?

A. We’ve tried to keep it extremely balanced, it’s sort of a core design goal because it makes the life of the game-master much easier.

Q. Lets shift gears for a moment and talk about the lore of Legend. Does Legend have its own story and setting or is creating those things put entirely on the game-master?

A. It does have both, but they don’t make that much of an appearance in the core book. There simply wasn’t room or time.

Q. Will players see that content in a later addition to the core game?

A. We’ve guaranteed 12 months of support in the form of downloadable content. Which will be free. Free is a good word, we’re fond of it. At least some adventures and small pieces of the setting will make a break for it during those twelve months.

Q. Will more character options like classes be introduced during that time or will the focus be heavily on adventure and story content?

A. We already have a considerable amount of content that had to be slipped from the core book. We just couldn’t ready it in time. Things like Combat Alchemist. So at least in the existing corpus, there’s a bias towards classes and character options. We’ve never done this before, so we’re not really sure what people want. Yelling at us is a good way to get things.

Q. Well, it sounds like you’ve put a lot of effort into making the game so far, so I can’t imagine the final product being terrible. That said, are there any games besides Dungeons and Dragons that you’ve drawn inspiration from?

A. I’ve accumulated a groaning bookshelf, so yes. In particular, the speed of Savage Worlds has always really charmed me.

Q. The speed at which its game mechanics resolve themselves you mean?

A. Not just that, the book itself is small and fairly accessible. Speed to play is very important, and very neglected.

Q. On the topic of game speed, how easily does Legend handle combat between the players and their enemies? More than a few role-playing games have had excellent design only to get bogged down during combat because so much happens at once.

A. We have a couple of rules. If you can’t define an ability in three sentences, you need to rewrite it or split it. Every time someone opens a book to find a table or look up some rules, you’ve lost. Legend does have a lot of active abilities and a more interactive metagame than most [role-playing games]. But, those active abilities tend to be gained early and expanded on by later abilities, so that by the time you’re level ten, you’re using familiar tools in new ways.

Q. If the core release does well what would that mean for Legend’s production company Rule of Cool Gaming? Would players still receive all content for free or would the company try to start charging for some material in order to become self sustaining?

A. We keep our promises, we also keep our day jobs.