Mongoose's Legend is the spiritual successor to the RuneQuest game originally developed and released by Chaosim Games and Avalon Hill, back in the 70s and 80s. Mongoose's Legend is the actual successor to their own RuneQuest game, rebranded and given a life extension after Mongoose gave up the license on the RuneQuest name. Much like the earlier incarnations of the RuneQuest game, Legend does one thing very well: it gives gamers a grittier alternative to the 800lb. gorilla of fantasy role-playing...Dungeons & Dragons.
Inspired by, and derived from, the Basic Role-Playing System that has powered games such as RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu, Legend is a fantasy game that relies on character attributes and skills, rather than classes and levels, to define the capabilities of a character. This might not be for everyone, and Legend would take some stretching to reach some of the power levels of that other fantasy role-playing game, but what Legend does...it does well.
Character generation in Legend is a snap. Legend offers two manners with which to create characters: the tried and true random method as well as a point buy method. Either of these are capable of creating well-rounded and interesting characters. Coupled with guidelines for Veteran characters, you can make characters that run the gamut from starting adventurers to seasoned pros, in no time at all. Cultural Backgrounds and Professions let you decide who your character was before becoming an adventurer, leaving it up to you to determine what your character is going to be through play. Having the option of both random determination and focused point buy should make a spectrum of gamers happy. Heroic abilities give your character the sort of "legend"ary capabilities to grow into that will make them the match of any fictional creation.
Task resolution is simple and everything is based off of the percentile dice, giving an intuitive way to explain what characters are capable of doing to both non-gamers, and gamers who may not be experienced with percentile-based game systems.
Legend postulates a world filled with magic, more so that many other fantasy games available on the market. One of the things that sets this game apart from many other fantasy games is the concept of Common Magic. Common Magic, simply enough, is the inherent magic of the universe, those magical effects that anyone can use without having to go through the training and experience of most magic-using characters in other games. This helps to create a richer fantasy world where magic is a part of the every day. This might not be fancy or powerful magic, but it can be life (and game) changing. This is one element that has been with RuneQuest since the very beginning, and it surprises me that has not been adopted by more fantasy games. Having common, everyday magic within the reach of everyone makes for a fantasy that is so much more fantastic that what you find in a lot of role-playing games.
The graphic design of Legend isn't fancy, but that isn't a problem. The black and white design is clean and easy to read. The illustrations, also in black and white, do a very good job of setting the tone for the game, and its implied world. Legend may not have a default setting, like when Mongoose published it originally under the RuneQuest brand, but the implied world that comes across through the text, the art work, and through design choices like Common Magic, makes for a rich implied world that is just waiting for you and your gaming group to fill in with the exploits of your characters. If Legend is not in your gamer's toolbox of fantasy games, you should fix that with this PDF. Even if you do not play Legend, the ideas presented in this game can be brought across to any fantasy game and enrich it with its different approaches to the genre.
You can find an expanded review over at my blog: http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2012/02/talking-about-mongooses-legend-role.html