Reviewed by Simon Ives
Fritz Leiber’s tales set in the city of Lankhmar taken together with Robert E Howard’s Conan stories can be said to be the forerunners of the Sword and Sorcery genre. What we have here is a source book for using Lankhmar, the city and its denizens, in the Savage World role playing game (RPG) setting.
Leiber’s main protagonists are a pair of thieves, Fafhrd, a barbarian from the north, a strong and cunning fighter and the Gray Mouser an expert swordsman who has some magical training. Together they are known as the Twain and Leiber’s short stories, novel and novellas feature their adventures throughout Lankhmar and the wider world of Nehwon.
The game is intended to be played using the Savage World system and some parts of the book are exclusively for this. However, there is plenty of information that can be utilised in any other RPG system by an enterprising GM. In the Characters section, for example, Hindrances and Edges are pure Savage World devices but the information about the player races available is universal and readily adaptable. As well as different races of humans, for instance, players can play as ratlings or ghouls.
The meat and drink of this book are in the sections describing the city of Lankhmar and the surrounding world of Newhon. After brief overviews for the players the Games Master’s Section is full of evocative detail, including the religions of the city and some of the prominent guilds that players will undoubtedly encounter.
Places of interest in Lankhmar are explained, including Lankhmar Below, the mysterious and highly dangerous domain of the ratlings.
Magic is rare in this world and enchanted items are difficult to come by. When they are found they tend to be unique. Some are listed, together with details of Black, Elemental and White Magic used in the game.
Two adventures are included aimed at introducing the player characters to the ways of the city and bringing them into contact with some influential (and deadly) NPCs. Young, prime and mature versions of the Twain are detailed, plus some information about their patrons, two powerful sorcerers known as Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face.
Rounding off the book are some brief notes and Savage World stats for generic NPCs which players might encounter on their travels and adventures.
This source book is highly recommended for anyone considering delving into the world of Newhon and Lankhmar and provides a setting that fully reflects the flavour of Leiber’s books. It is ideal if you are using the Savage Worlds rule set but full of information useful in other RPG settings as well. If you just want to get some more background to Leiber’s tales then this fills that bill as well.