|RPG published by
|Rule System||Burn Legend|
|Authors||Elizabeth Grushcow, Eric Minton, John Mørke, Holden Shearer, Charles H. Spaulding and Robert Vance|
Burn Legend is an alternate take on the Exalted game line, first (and currently solely) published in Shard of the Exalted Dream, an Exalted 2nd Edition book dedicated to, you guessed it, alternate takes on the Exalted game line. Where other "shards" are content to twist the setting or continuity of the game in classical "what-if" scenarios, Burn Legend also offers an original mechanical solution for combat. With little connection to Exalted's mechanical systems, it could easily be considered its own RPG.
Style, tone and setting
In Shards of The Exalted Dream, Burn Legend is described as a manga-inspired take on Exalted. It deals almost exclusively with themes of martial arts, duels of honour and the struggle to surpass and improve oneself. In it, the "Exalted" are not empowered champions of the gods, but mortals who have honed their strength and perfection of physical form at to be able to channel ki, the life energy streaming through all things. This allows them to not only step into the world of spirits and see things no normal human can, but also to access ancient, almost magical martial arts Techniques that make them greater than any legend.
Burn Legend is set in the modern world, but with a distinct measure of mysticism and hidden powers at play. Savage man-beasts stalk the dark alleyways hunting for evil-doers, ruthless corporations are led by demonic akuma and families of elemental warriors are sworn to protect the world from malevolent spirits.
As described above, anyone who has perfected his arts enough to channel ki are considered an Exalt; it is as simple and as hard as that. There are a number of different types of Exalted that most tend to gravitate towards, however.
The Mugen are the purest expression of martial prowess there is. Powered by nothing else but their own excellence, they are said to be able to channel even the ki of the sun. They are a mystery, unknown in purpose, aspirations and limits, but they are some of the world's best. It is natural for Mugen to apply their talent to existing martial arts, progressing them and refining them into wonders there are not yet words for, but about which there will soon be legends.
In the terrible, hellish world of Yomi Wan, the Yama Kings rule. In times of ancient myth, they were locked and kept there by the power of the Legendary Masters. Now, when the Legendary Masters are gone, they keep themselves there, their hate for each other greater than their will to escape. This hateful ki of Yomi Wan is what empowers the Akuma. There are multiple ways to become exposed to it, but those who have been typically are sadistic, egotistical and cruel. Above all, though, they are powerful. Much like Mugen, the Akuma employs the ki to further their mortal fighting prowess, and their twisted developments of their styles becomes fearsome to behold.
When Akuma die, they descends to Yomi Wan to face the judgement of the Yama Kings. Normally, this is the price they pay for their powers. In some cases, it is their final step in attaining them. Sometimes, the Yama Kings see fit to invest the former Akuma with their own ki. This makes them demons proper, shedding all mortality and learning the Techniques of the Yama Kings themselves. Unlike Akuma, who apply their demonic ki to their mortal fighting styles, the Yamajin are alien beings who use thoroughly strange Techniques of unimaginable power. When a Yamajin returns to the living world, he usually seeks out a place of spiritual significance and begins to taint it, creating his own little piece of hell to base his operations out of.
The Okami are moon spirits who get born as humans once a millennium. They each protect a wild, untouched part of the world, and approach human settlements only under two conditions: when someone there is threatening the life of the planet, or when that settlements has fallen prey to one of the deadly sins of man, which each Okami represents. If so, the Okami are free to hunt there, walking the streets as humans but taking on terrifying bestial forms to aid them when their game is afoot.
The shinma are demons from the stars who have made Earth their home and works to protect it. To that end, they contact spiritual mortals and offer them their power. These Tennin gain a supernal sense of ki, and their martial arts cease to be subject to mere physics. The purpose of the Tennin are to hunt and destroy demons that threaten the world, using intricate and transcendent Techniques that leave those who see them stunned and amazed.
Rock-Paper-Scissors meets Pokemon describes the combat system well enough. A low-level character with enough luck can crush a high-level character without taking damage (assuming the high-level character fails to stick his one Reversal). It can't be said that a characters stat-lines are worthless, however, and well-made Exalts will nearly always have a slight (though significant) advantage over well-made mortals due to the way Techniques are balanced. Despite this, combat becomes streamlined and easy, and with a bit of luck and perseverance a weak but plucky PC can pick and win a fight in which he is majorly outmatched. Unfortunately, at this time there are no supplements for Burn Legend beyond homebrew. Also, while a character who spends XP to become a one-trick pony will constantly find his devastating haymaker expertly countered, the rules heavily favor players who invest in a small number of Techniques rather than packing a diverse arsenal.