Recently, a visitor to this blog made a comment on my “3 vs 4 vs 5” post about a role playing game I’d never heard of before: Talislanta. He said that the 4th Edition of Talislanta was very popular, and it was free to download at talislanta.com. I was immediately intrigued, not because it was free but because I’d never heard of it, and I wanted to examine what he was talking about.
Am I ever so glad I did. There are several different versions of Talislanta, and according to the web-site, 5th Edition is the latest. I downloaded the players guide, and started reading. It wasn’t long before I was completely enamored of this game, and started downloading everything available for both 4th and 5th Editions.
Talislanta’s motto is “20 years, and still no Elves”. This simple sentence is a gateway into what Talislanta is and is not. It is not a Tolkien-esque, european-based fantasy setting with all of the typical tropes such as Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, etc. If anything, Talislanta is about as a-typical as you can imagine.
Instead, it has a rich setting, one full of fantastical elements you probably have never heard of but once you read it, it’ll transport you. The history of Talislanta has been growing for the twenty-odd years this game has been around, and it shows; all of the different cultures and races are fully developed, believable, and amazingly well done.
It’s not just a setting, though. Talislanta has a solid game mechanic based on modifiers instead of set statistics, and all of the different types of tasks available to characters use the same basic system. Combat is smooth and easy to play and adjudicate. The magic system is at once easy to use along with all the other skills and talents, but has built-in growth and creativity allowed. As a magic-user, you’re not restricted to spell lists and can create your own effects, while also having the the simplicity of pre-created spells available for time saving or when you just can’t figure out what to do.
Talislanta is also well-known (apparently… like I said, I’d never heard of it before, but it has a huge following, I gather) for its tremendous number of races available for player characters, and 5th Edition’s system of paths (a.k.a. Careers) for character generation allows you to tailor your character to what YOU want it to be, without the restrictions of classes, or levels.
I HATE classes and levels in any role-playing game, even as I admit how well it works for Dungeons and Dragons.
If you’re still reading this, just stop. Go to Talislanta.com, download all the 5th Edition at least (get 4th, too, as it’s the same game… only character generation is different between editions) and dive in. You won’t be disappointed!