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Helps & Hints for Lost World Game System and Characters


by Alfred Leonardi

The inspiration for Lost Worlds came when playing a favorite character in Pieter's dungeon. As 'Gardenia the Housecarl' I had passed, with some scrapes, down several levels of the dungeon, only to round a corner and cross the path of an unmoving, unsociable and determined trollish foe. Wounded and staggering from a poison dart, my hopes of survival seemed dim. Pieter grabbed the dice and prepared to roll.

Here we go again. Why must we always solve the high point of the game with a luck roll? As a game player, I may have the skill to lead my character to safety. I began to think, "Why not create a combat system that allows for skill?" Thus the germ of an idea was born.

This idea quickly led my thinking in two directions. First, skill means that the characters do things like swing, thrust and jump; physical actions which can be seen. Thus the game could be grapahically displayed. Also, skill means there are actions and reactions. So, real data needed to be referenced. But who knows what happens when a knight swings his sword high at a troll who is down-swinging his great club? Why, the Society for Creative Anachronism, of course! [Editors note: For those who have not seen them at a local game convention, they are a group of folks who, among other things, stage medieval battles with padded weapons and homemade armor.]

A year later, after some intensive studying of college students beating each other with sticks, the first LOST WORLDS books were released into the known world.

Who are these characters from Lost Worlds? The first of them began to arrive about 1983. There was a fighter in chain mail and a band of sundry other characters. Unlike today's characters, they were nameless and their special abilities were undefined. Since that time, we have learned a great deal about each one, and it might be helpful if we divulge their names, abilities, and standard gear.


or How I Learned to Win (or Lose) with Almost any Lost Worlds Character.

Strange as it may seem, most of the Lost worlds books are roughly balanced against each other. (OK, so we're not including the Cold Drake). Each of the books has its strengths and weaknesses, and the key to winning is to use that information better than your opponent does. With that in mind, let's take a look at our contenders, from the original books to the present. Books that are "out of print" are marked with a star (*).

Man in Chain with Sword and Shield: The first book of the series is a fairly well balanced character. He doesn't have any great weaknesses, except for the one that most characters in the system share: a vulnerability while doing orange maneuvers. Other than that, the standard man is a good character.

Skeleton with Scimitar: At first glance, the skeleton seems weak. With only 7 body points to the man's 12, it looks to be a short, unsuccessful battle for the undead. Looks, however, can be deceiving. The skeleton is less vulnerable to thrusts than most characters. The skeleton is also able to restore body points by Ducking and picking up its bones. Most importantly, the skeleton is faster and therefore gets hit less often. Avoid trying for the big kill (stay away from Orange maneuvers), and slowly pick your opponent apart.

Dwarf with Two-Handed Axe: The first rule of playing the dwarf against most characters is "Stay at Extended Range!" This character has no decent short-range combat skills, and will be subject to the height penalty (-1 to your Red and Orange damage modifiers). The second rule is "Never Jump Away if your opponent can Downswing". This particular combination of maneuvers leaves you holding the short end of the stick (your weapon breaks!) at which point, you might want to look up the rules on Escaping.

*Giant Goblin with Mace: The goblin's great weakness governs the entire strategy for winning with him. Strong plate on the body reduces body wounds to mere scratches, but look a little lower and the goblin's great weakness becomes apparent: unarmored legs. If you're using the goblin, play blue maneuvers if possible. If you're fighting the goblin, low sideswings and low thrusts are the best strategy. Remember that although the goblin is slightly slower than the man, it has more body points and more powerful maneuvers.

*Woman with Sword & Shield: At first, the complaints about the woman centered on her lower body point total (only 10). Slowly, people discovered that she was faster than any of the other characters. Using the basic sideswings and thrusts, this character can stand up to most of the others in the series.

*Hill Troll with Club: You'd think that, with 35 body points, this character would maul most everything else. Well, it can. As always, there is a need to resist using the heavy-duty maneuvers, and also to regenerate at every chance. Rage is a good set of maneuvers until your opponent gets wise to you. The biggest problem is that the troll is slow. You've got to play it that way, and let your opponent make the mistakes. When fighting the troll, the best maneuvers are going to be thrusts, both to keep him at close range as well as to keep him off balance.

*Barbarian with 2-handed Sword: The barbarian can learn from the dwarf regarding the benefits of extended range. Don't get close unless your opponent has a long-range weapon. Further, use the combination moves to keep your opponent from gaining the edge.

*Fighter-mage with Magic Sword: High speed maneuvers plus magic! How can you go wrong? Well, relying on the magic to save you against a well-armed opponent will get you toasted really quick. Unless you're fighting a slow opponent, magic is a once-or-twice-per-game event. (Using the new magic rules helps this character a lot!) Against the mage, use no orange maneuvers. The light armor means that even fakes will score some serious damage if you connect. The mage needs to cast a good protection spell early (while at extended range, if possible) and then use the fast maneuvers to whittle down his opponent's strength.

*Wraith with Sickle: Look! Don't Touch! should be the watchword on wraith (kicks, punches, bites, etc) automatically drains the attacker of 2 body points and adds it to the wraith. For this reason, this character is the absolute bane of the Troll, Unicorn, and several other "natural weapon" characters. When in the wraith's position, use "Touch" liberally. It's a killer, and against some heavily armored opponents, it's the only real way of scoring damage.

The Cold Drake: No, this character wasn't designed to be a one-on-one opponent. There was a great cry for a "real" monster, one that would oppose a dungeon party of four or five characters. And here it is. Unless you make coordinated attacks with multiple characters against this one, or get some special spell or effect (sleeping powder works nicely) count on losing most of your characters. To beat the beast, use three or four adventurers, and make sure at least one thrusts and another sideswings each turn. If done properly, the damage restrictions will keep the Cold Drake off-balance long enough to dispatch it.

*Halfling with Short Sword: This is one of those characters that should have been easy to defeat: light armor....average speed...short...and then we added those 'deutronium' daggers! Yes, rule number one with the halfling is to throw those daggers. Because of where the "Throw Dagger" maneuver falls on the matrix, the halflinig's little pigsticker is capable of breaking shields! Conversely, the best way to beat the halfling is to 1. use the height rule, and 2. Don't let him throw those daggers! Short, quick maneuvers will dispatch him easily enough.

In the beginning it was called "Hack'n Slash", a variation on the highly successful Ace of Aces game system. It evolved into one of the most unusual game systems on the market today. The books have been published on four continents, in languages from Japanese to Portuguese and everything in between. A number of different logos have graced the top of the books, but when it all comes down to it, they're just another aspect of the LOST WORLDS.

There are currently 30 different books in the Lost Worlds universe, ranging from fantasy and science fiction to historical and legendary. The Lost Worlds system was designed by Alfred Leonardi and developed by Nova Game Designs Inc. in the early 1980's. Nova published 20 titles, and their successor, Nutmeg Games, published another 4 (the Runesword series). West End Games published the "Lightsaber Duelling Set", designed by Nova and (mostly) compatible with Lost Worlds.

Now, in 1995, a resurgence of the system is coming about due to the recent release of new books designed by Alfred Leonardi for Flying Buffalo, and twelve new books to be published over the next year by Chessex Manufacturing. These new books will effectively double the number of titles for the system, although many of the older books are now out of print and can only be obtained through auctions.

For those of you who haven't yet played, the Lost Worlds system is unlike anything you've encountered before.

Each player has a 32 page book with illustrations of his or her character in the upper half of the page, and a matrix in the lower half, and a character card describing the maneuvers that character is allowed to do. In the system, each player selects a maneuver from his or her character card, turns to that page, and looks up his oppoonent's maneuver. The resulting end-page indicates whether the maneuver scored on the opponent, how much damage was inflicted, and what limitations the opponent has for the next turn.

Maneuvers are segregated by type (Thrusts, Sideswings, Downswings, Fakes, etc) as well as being coded by color (Red are high maneuvers, Blues are low, Orange are strong, Green and Yellow are (usually) defensive. At Extended Range (just out of normal sword reach) White and Black are the offensive maneuvers, and Brown are the defensive steps.) One of the keys to the game is paying attention to what your opponent can do next turn, and planning your move accordingly.

-Dennis Greci

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