[Publisher description from rec.games.frp.announce]
LoF uses a point building system for creating characters, so players can design EXACTLY the fantasy characters they want to play. You can design a fire mage that can swing a sword with the best of the Conan wannabees in LoF or design a city dwelling sneaky thief type as well. We've also provided two ways to get characters fleshed out quickly. The first of the two are called character packs; these packs provide a standard list of skills appropriate for a :warrior:, :magician:, :rogue:, or many other character types.
Players are not required to use any of the packs, and they can modify the pack to their hearts content. They are designed as examples for GMs or players. The second of the two quick ways to get characters moving is a way for players to design their characters as they go. Players can flesh out none or some of their basic skills and spend their character development points on the rest as they need to use them. It works nicely and we really think people will like it.
Skills and Advancement:
Lords of Fantasy handles character advancement differently than level based games. Everything that you can do in LoF is represented by a skill. Instead of getting "generic" experience for slaughtering hoards of critters, characters in LoF advance in each skill that they can perform (and are trying to learn) independently of one another. Thus, hacking up rats with a hatchet won't increase your spellcasting ability, but it might increase your axe-wielding ability. Lords of Fantasy makes it more difficult to increase your individual skill's level as you become a master of the skill.
Combats in LoF reflect the relative expertise and deadliness of the combatants involved. If your characters are fighting inferior opponents, combat will be lightning quick, with the characters quickly dispatching their foes. If your characters run up against a very closely matched set of opponents, combat will take much longer. In any case, combats won't bog down your role-playing sessions (unless you as the GM decide to keep sending hordes of foes at the characters). One mechanic in LoF that we are especially proud of is that the more skilled you are in the weapon types you use, the more damage you will do to your opponents. We've added plenty of optional rules to speed up or detail your combats that all work together. Thus you as GM can create the quickness or level of detail that you want without having to revert to :house rules:.
There are three basic types of spellcasters in LoF which reflect the three basic types found in gaming, literature, or the movies.
Rather than representing what type of spells can be cast by them, factors like where they get their power for casting spells, how they get this power, what happens (if anything) to them when they cast their spells, and how much power they receive are reflected in one of the three basic types.
Once the spellcasting type is known the rest of the decisions that players must make about their characters revolve around what types of spells they want their characters to cast. Spell forms which define types of spells that can be cast are purchased like any other skill in LoF. These forms consist of two things... a spell element which defines what can be affected (i.e. air, fire, light, mind, body, spirit...) and a spell effect, which defines how the element can be manipulated (control, creation, death, or lore).
Combine an element and an effect and you get a general idea of what types of spells you can cast. Players buy ranks in each spell form for their characters. The higher the rank in each form, the more powerful spells can be cast by the players characters.
So now that players know all their characters' spell forms they start zipping off spells. LoF defaults to an on-the-fly spell casting system, where players build the level of the spell they want their characters to cast using a simple table (one of the few tables in the game). The spell's intensity, range, radius, targets, and finally duration are all modifiers that are added together to determine the level of the spell. The spell's level is not only the amount of power that is needed to cast the spell, but the degree of difficulty of the spell all in one number. If the spellcaster has enough power to cast the spell and makes a successful skill roll for the spell form, the spell goes off.
LOF was designed with flexibility as a priority. There is an extensive GM section that includes questions for the GM to ask about their campaign, detailed alternate magic sources and types, rules for creating new types of magic and races, extensive equipment lists and fantasy locations (with adventure ideas and personalities), and much more!