Lords51: Playing the Game

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Article by Jorge Chacón

So you think you may want to play in Lords of the Earth, Campaign 51, but you don't know if you'll like it, and want to know more before getting head first into this campaign? If that is the case, let me give you a few insights into the twisted depths of JJ's mind as it pertains to L51...

First things first. This is not a historical or quasi-historical setting. It is a high-fantasy setting in which elves, dwarves, halflings, nu'jree, lizardmen, orcs, goblins, humans, and some others even I haven't heard of will struggle to make their nations (or organizations) great and powerful.

Some will succeed, some will fail. Some will try economic means, others military. Still others will research magic... or explore the underworld. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and what the GM lets you get away with. If you have an idea and you don't see it in the website, ask JJ. It may be that he has already thought of it and is looking for a player... or that it hasn't occurred to him but will let you try. Just don't expect him to let you design a position that will take over the world easily. But be assured he will let you develop a position which will be fun to play and will be a good addition to the L51 world of Sari.

So, what's different from other Campaigns?

To begin with, not all positions are made of humans. That opens the door to multiple interesting differences from standard LOTE play. First, each race prefers only certain terrain types. So you will se no Nu'jree thriving in the swamps, and no Lizardmen building a great civilization in the desert. Elves will be found in forests mostly, though they are an opponent to respect in other terrains as well. Dwarves love their hills and mountains, but beware of a Dwarven War Column in any terrain... their arms and armor make them a tough nut to crack. With different races come racial likes and dislikes, friendships and hatreds. All races have someone they hate, except for... well... those furry-feet of the halflings whose trading endeavors allow them to deal with almost anybody. Almost being the operative word here, as a dragon will have a halfling before supper and don't even lose his appetite...

Also, each race has its unit types, so you will see Goblin wolf riders and elven archers, human heavy cavalry and Orcish warships, Halfling slingers and so forth. Increase in QR levels will actually give you new unit types to take to war, besides making existing types more efficient. All in all, the cultural differences will make for some lively play. Make the effort and get in-character with your race. Your enjoyment, and that of other players will be much enhanced by it.

Enough about races. What about position types?

Well, you have your standard Open Empires and Secret Empires. No Religious Primacies or Hordes here (or so I have been told...). But there are also Merchant Combines, Orders and some other goodies you'll have to discover yourself. And bug the GM one time too many and you may see a Drow Horde sprout from the earth one night and carry half your population into slavery, deep, very deep underground...

Open Empires are the most numerous and, in my opinion, the most fun to play if you haven't played LOTE before. That doesn't mean they are easy, but that they allow the player to make a mistake once in a while and still live. Don't rely on this too much though, because that Orc nation that has been all chummy with you might notice and you may just get dethroned.

Secret Empires work in the shadows, for purposes and reasons only known to them. In a standard LOTE setting they are bad enough (ask the players of Lords One what they think about secret societies and other such things <g>) but in a fantasy setting, you imagination is the limit. Don't think the GM is going to do your work for you though, so to convince him you deserve a Secret Empire will take work... but will give many rewards.

Merchant Combines are present in standard LOTE only from the Renaissance onwards. Yet it was decided that traders that take commodities from here to there and somewhere else would be a fun addition, so they were implemented. Yet, since there is no technological difference between a Merchant Combine and the rest of the positions, do not expect to just go to the Spice Islands, brush the natives off and setup as conqueror of those faraway lands... the natives will have as good (and sometimes better) military as yours, so Merchant Combines in L51 will be more traders and defenders of shipping lanes than claimers of someone else's lands. A position type for an experienced player I think, but one that is lots of fun if you are a good diplomat.

Orders may be knightly orders, magical orders, you name it. Again, should you wish to play such a position, you'll have to convince JJ you deserve it. There is at least one order right from the start, so it is possible...

The above are not the only nation types to be available, but they are those I know of. If you think you have a worthy addition, e-mail the GM. he will at least listen to you but please understand that he has a vision of what Siri should be... it is, after all, his world.

What other differences are there?

Well, for starters each turn represents only one year of game time. Thus, the AP allowances are different. For those who have played LOTE before it will feel strange and raise some questions, but it will work out.

There is also a new type of leader, the specialist. Specialists are leaders you can hire, and come in many different flavors. Generals and captains are there, but also sages, engineers and others.

Can't say more about this without spoiling it for you, so I will leave it here. Just know it is an important addition to this game.

Another interesting thing is that you will not know what happens in the whole world. The info you get will be restricted to those nations you have direct contact with, and the rumors you hear. Don't believe everything you hear, but there must be a reason why a rumor started, right?

Nations will tend to be a bit larger than in standard LOTE, and that is intended. Also, each nation will begin with several regions and PW, so it won't be that hard to expand in the beginning. Just remember your neighbors may be thinking about expansion too.

If you haven't played LOTE before here are some pointers: First, get a rulebook. Even with all the changes L51 has, you will not be able to play it without one. Current version is 5.6 and you can get it in printed or electronic form from the designer of the game himself, Thomas Harlan. Go to The Living Rules and take a look.

Next, no matter what position you get (except for a secret empire), talk to your neighbors. Be friendly. It is harder to attack someone you are in constant communication with than attack someone you have never talked to. Form alliances, even if you gain a bit less than others. In the long run an alliance will make you stronger.

Another thing, be careful not to post your turn orders to the list. Believe me it sounds dumb, but I think I have the record of the LOTE world in that regard. I have ruined several Secret Empires by posting my whole orders to the list, for all players to see. Do not say I didn't warn you... I know what I am talking about.

Finally, and most important of all, this is a game. It is meant to be fun, to have you meet people you'll probably never meet in person and interact with them. Enjoy the game, but never forget that is what it is. A game.

LOTE Symbol Small.JPG

Campaign: 51 Siri - Age of Awakenings
Alternative Campaign Setting

Lords of the Earth 5th Edition, version 5.5 © 1997 Thomas Harlan (Original)
© 2005 JJ Martell (Modified for Lords51)

All rights reserved. Permission was given to modify the content for Lords51. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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