Talislanta is a fantasy role-playing game, originally written by Stephen Michael Sechi and published by Bard Games in 1987. It is now in its fifth edition. Talislanta draws its inspiration from the swords-and-sorcery literary genre. Sechi has cited Jack Vance as a key inspiration. Talislanta is sometimes known for its tagline, "No Elves", from its original advertising.
Talislanta is set on a continent of the same name, Talislanta, on an imaginary world called Archaeus. The setting is an original fantasy world, resembling a cross between Barsoom, the travelogues of Marco Polo, and the Arabian Nights, with few Tolkienesque elements. Archaeus is a seemingly Earth-like world, although its precise topology is unknown. It has seven moons.
People of Talislanta
Talislanta is home to a variety of peoples, including the Cymrilians, Zandir, Aamanians, and other descendents of the humanoid Archaens; the beast-like Jaka and Mondre Khan; mutants such as the Ahazu; and descendants of ancient neomorphs created by the Archaeans.
Chronicles of Talislanta
- Main article: The Chronicles of Talislanta
The original Talislantan book was The Chronicles of Talislanta, a systemless travelogue detailing the travels of the wizard Tamerlin on the continent of Talislanta. It bears a dedication to Jack Vance.
The original Talislanta debuted its very simple game system. Although inspired by the basic mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons, Talislanta condensed virtually all checks to a single page chart with a unified game mechanic based on the d20. Character creation involved simply selecting an appropriate archetype and making slight customizations. Sourcebooks such as the Sorcerer's Guide and the Naturalist's Guide expanded the milieu.
Second edition incorporated material from various sourcebooks.
Third edition marked a fairly radical turning point in Talislanta's development. Jonathan Tweet, working at Wizards of the Coast, wrote the third edition, which advanced the timeline several years and divided magic up into a number of distinct Orders. Various backstory elements were added and revealed. For this reason, Third Edition has an ambiguous place in history for many fans.
Tenth Anniversary Edition
This version existed only as an ashcan edition. Some of these ashcan copies were sold to at least one FLGS so there are a few rare copies floating around.
The work done in this book provided the foundation for Talislanta Fourth Edition. The text was revised and greatly expanded into the massive big blue book.
Fourth Edition brought Talislanta under the development of Shooting Iron. With Fourth Edition, Talislanta discarded levels, fully adopting a skill-based experience system. It also dispensed with all dice but the d20 and moved to a fixed damage system.
Most significantly, it introduced a completely new magic system using Orders as well as Modes. Each Order, as in Third Edition, described a style of spellcasting. The Modes were game constructs, skills that represented categories of spell such as Attack or Transform. Each individual spell was built by modifying the underlying Mode and giving it distinctive characteristics. Thus, magicians were capable of an essentially endless variety of spells, representing a knowledge of hundreds of spell variations. Late in Fourth Edition, optional rules were published to limit magicians to a finite number of known spells, restoring the vision of magic in previous editions as rare, quirky, and secret.
The game engine in Fourth Edition became known as the Omni System.
Morrigan Press published the Fifth Edition. For the first time, the game was divided into a player's book and a GM's book. It also included customized character creation, as opposed to the archetype system used in previous editions.
The d20 version of Talislanta hybridized the SRD rules with some concepts from Talislanta. The final result, while popular with some fans, was dissimilar enough from standard d20 System as to be only marginally more compatible than the Omni System.
The Savage Land
Launched in a successful Kickstarter campaign by Nocturnal Media in 2017, Talislanta: The Savage Land was released starting in 2018 to backers and 2019 for the rest of the world.
Instead of taking place in the classic game's time, this prequel game takes place shortly after The Great Disaster, referred by the Savage Land denizens as "The Fall".
Three rule versions of the game were completed and released: one based off of the classic Talislanta rules, one released under the 5th Edition D&D OGL, and one using the OpenD6 system.
The setting is low-magic due to the loss of magical knowledge and the survivors' prejudice against magic.