I first played Lace & Steel at Arcanacon, a Melbourne roleplaying
convention. The game was run by Paul Kidd, who did most of the game
design. Three things struck me about it:
1) How much fun high romance can be.
2) How neat his card-based fencing system is.
3) How useful tarot is for plot ideas and character generation.
I bought the game some time afterwards. I think that it certainly
has problems. The card-based fencing system is good, but the sorcery
cards look like an afterthought. They're inconsistent with the book's
description, and don't seem to convey the ``flavour'' as well as the
fencing cards do. The various books have rules and information
scattered throughout, with no useful index to locate the stuff. The
world map shows no national boundaries, and is pretty short on other
detail. I think that the dice-based part of the game-system could be
cleaned up a bit, and overall the production looks fairly amateurish.
I had enormous trouble with the genre (a mix of fantasy and French
romance) when I started. Paul Kidd ran it very well at Arcanacon, but I
couldn't get a handle on it for ages. That might just have been me, but
I think that the world-background is also to blame.
The world _looks_ a lot like Europe, except that the names of all
the countries have changed, and they're all in the Southern Hemisphere.
Maybe that's just a fellow Aussie lashing out at Northern
Hemispherocentricity :-), and I probably shouldn't criticise it, but I
can't help wishing that he'd just set the thing in some fantasy Europe
of the appropriate period and have done with it. Or else, written a lot
more detail about the history and culture of these places.
But on the other hand...
I thought that the suggested uses of tarot were truly inspired, and
I now bring a pack of tarot cards with me whenever I run a game,
regardless of what genre I'm running.
There are some great ideas behind the magic in L&S, which I
thoroughly enjoyed. My favourite is the college of artificery - a
school of magic that makes fantastic machines (like flying metal
horses). Each magic item takes years to build, and is unique. This is
a novel blend of magic and technology that I hadn't seen in roleplaying
The sense of flavour in this game is tremendous. The
romance/fantasy combination works well, although it takes some getting
used to. There's a lot of scope in this game for players who like
passions, love, intrigue and short-term characters. I think that it's
one of the most exciting games I've seen since Pendragon, but I know
that it's not for everybody. Well worth a look, but have a good read
before you buy it.
----- ---- ------
ma...@arp.anu.oz.au Mark Grundy
So far my impressions are -
Do whatever you have to to find and pruchase this game! It is
frankly the best game I have bought since I purchased Champions!
Not since picking up that box with wonderfully tacky art of Super
beings zotting each other with strange powers, have I felt the
special thrill of reading a game voraciously.
My judgement process for a good game is 2 fold. I have to want to read
the entire rules-set, cover to cover, in one sitting (even though that
may not be possible). I have to want to run right out, find a group
of friends, and PLAY the game.
I have only felt positive on both counts with a small number of games
that I own:
Call of Cthulhu
and now Lace & Steel
When I finish the entire rules set I will post a full review, and try to be a
little more objective. Until then I will remain comfortably under this
PS Lace & Steel is published by The Australian Games Group. It is expensive, as
all imported games in this neck of the woods are, but in my opion it is
worth it. It is designed by Paul Kidd and all the art is done by Donna Barr.
"We murder to dissect"