Many of you already know that the Lodoss saga was based on an actual role-playing campaign. This section is to help explain the beginnings of Lodoss and to clear up some confusion. Some say Lodoss is just a cheap bastardization of D&D. This is partially true. Lodoss did borrow many themes prevalent throughout D&D, but is still a unique system with a beautifully realized fantasy setting. Lodoss was the first RPG to gain broad popularity in Japan and helped introduce the Japanese to the American D&D style RPGs. In turn, we have seen many great RPGs come from Japan in the form of Video games, most notably, the Final Fantasy series. There are numerous systems that have gained huge popularity in Japan and continue to thrive, while the RPG market in the U.S. always seems to struggle. Lodoss started it all for Japan, and to better explain how it all got started, here is an excerpt from an article from Animerica Vol. 3 No. 4.
"The humble beginnings of Record of Lodoss War gave no indication that the story would ever achieve such notable popularity. The story and characters began as the fantasies of a bored young man named Ryo Mizuno, then a high school student, who recorded the details of his fantasy adventures over the years in bits
and pieces. But the saga remained Mizuno's own private distraction until he joined an organization of fellow gamers known as "Group SNE."
In addition to more familiar Japanese hobby/sports such as computer games, boardgames, pachinko, billiards, and horse racing, Group SNE was also interested in a peculiarly American hobby: role-playing. At the time, role-playing games were almost unknown in Japan, and there were few RPG systems available. Drawing on his high school days, Mizuno created scenarios for his role-playing group to explore.
Soon, Lodoss became the group's most popular scenario, and Group SNE wound up creating it's own RPG system in order to play the game more extensively. In 1986, Group SNE and a 23-year-old Mizuno used Lodoss to introduce the role-playing concept to Japanese readers in one of Kadokawa Shoten's monthly computer interest magazines, Computique. The story quickly became popular, and commercial success soon followed: a commercial RPG system, a novel and manga series, computer games, and a thirteen-volume OAV series have all resulted from Mizuno's dreaming high school days."
The first commercial Lodoss system is based on the guidelines set in three Lodoss Companion books. Inside each are maps and various items, monsters, and other rules. These three books have been re-released about once every three years and shows how popular the system still is. There are 3 other books that have been released under the Sneaker Bunko label(the same as the Novels) and they appear to be different from the others. There is also another that is based on the stories in the Legends of Lodoss Novel series.
Mizuno and Group SNE created another RPG based on the Legend of Crystania novels and you can see it being played at the beginning of the Legend of Crystania movie. There was one book released under the same publisher as the 3 Lodoss companion books and there are 4 other RPG books for Crystania.
The closest thing we have to a translated RPG is what the happy folk at meta-earth.com have put out for us. Based on the information in the OAVs and a little translating of a few of the Lodoss Companion books, they have created an RPG set in the Lodoss world, based on the Fuzion system. This RPG incorporates many features and is just the beginning of what is promised. I reccomend heading on over there to learn about how to play and what you will need to play. If you have started a campaign with this RPG, please email me with your experience and adventure. I'll be glad to put it in this section so other's can share their experiences.