I just recently purchased Talislanta: The Savage Land. It is not a ruleset per se, it is really a rules addition for running a Talislanta campaign using existing rules. There are three versions, 5E, d6 and original. I purchased the 5E version so I do not know, but I assume original uses Talislanta rules?
The Savage Lands is I believe something new for Talislanta. Before the setting assumed a Renaissance level setting with nations, cities and a fairly advanced civilization. The Savage Lands takes place in the distant past. A “Great Disaster” has recently occurred and all that remains are devasted wastelands populated by savage tribes. As in the original, Talislanta is populated by a large number of unique species many of which are playable races. There are none of the traditional fantasy races (elves, dwarves, halflings) but there are various races of humans or near-humans.
There is the dragon-like Drakkan, the plant-based Narada, the lion-like Shaka and a number of near-human races. Each has various pluses attached to choosing that race. Only a few have negatives attached to their attributes.
The Savage Lands is a low-magic setting, the rules recommend banning all magic-using classes in D&D and removing spells from Rangers. There is also an interesting option to run the game without classes. Under this method, all characters start with rolled ability scores but their proficiencies are the same. As they advance, new proficiencies are learned to create more and more unique characters. An intriguing idea for me.
Proficiencies are skills, languages, tools, and in this case medium armor, and martial weapons.
In Savage Lands, everyone is assumed to start as a member of a tribe. Each of the races has carved out their own territory and there are few races that travel indiscriminately between regions. The gazetteer for the Savage Lands reads like a more primitive and brutal version of Dark Sun. There are no nations, towns, or villages. Just tribes wandering wastelands.
A very good list of fairly unique monsters that fit well with the Savage Lands Setting is included in a bestiary. It is rounded out with an extensive list of demons. Random Encounter Tables per region are provided. Making this useful for a good sandbox style game.
Included in these random encounter tables is the chance of encountering a magical storm know as the Gyre. Another table is provided for random results of the Gyre. It is a magical storm that deposits misfortune wherever it goes. A Plague of Demons, a rain of monsters, curses and the like.
The setting and rules are very playable. Open wastelands with a legitimate reason for tombs, ruined cities and monsters is simplicity for a Dungeon Master. But there are also no cities, towns, villages, civilization or agriculture. Just wandering tribes defending their territories. This makes it very hard to have a party of mixed races. It makes it very hard for the player characters to find food and water or trade what they find in that ancient tomb. There is no coinage, only barter. Coins could be traded but only in the value of the metal. There is an extensive section on trade goods and their value to help the Dungeon Master.
I can see easily running a single adventure in a ruin or a sandbox style game for a short period of time but beyond that, I think that "tomb of the week" could get tiresome. Rules are provided for the players to run the entire tribe and advance their tribe in addition to their characters.
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