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Thread: Roma Imperious
Sunday, 13th January, 2008, 12:13 AM #1
My first thoughts upon reading Roma Imperious True 20 was its like Hinterwelt took Imperial Rome and hit it with a D&D stick, well OK than , a True 20 stick
Weighing in at 290 pages this nicely illustrated PDF comes zipped with a gorgeous extra map. Can I repeat the map is gorgeous. Its also available in a wall poster from Hinterwelt.
Chapter's are nicely hot linked which shows an appreciated attention to detail.
I can say ,$10.99 PDF you won't feel ripped off. I want to warn you though you may not want to print all of it . I suspect the ink would cost more than the GDP of some countries
Once I read the book the first thing that came to mind was "game driven"
It opens with a Latin pronunciation guide, much appreciated by this mediocre Latin scholar
It proceeds into the first chapter. This chapter details the history of alternate Rome. in places it reminds me a textbook, a bit dry and academic for a game book, but serviceable and well written.
the second chapter -- the Imperium, is very thorough. It is than 50 pages long and provides more than enough details on life in the alternate Rome to run a long term campaigns especially if you grab some Osprey books or"Everyday Life." type books to go with.
The writing is such that while may want a few more books in the series you won't need them.
next chapter up is Kingdom and Empires
I didn't find this chapter as satisfying as the other,s mainly because of its brevity (only 23 pages) it only touches on the Baltic, Persian, Abysianioan and a few other cultures. I really wanted more on these cultures. I suppose thats what supplements are for.
and the fact that it focuses mostly on t and Vikings eh jade empire (aka China)
yes you heard right, Vikings
Yes I know about the Viking?Eastern Roman empire connection but finding Vikings or Skandians in the setting was a bit odd. I do have to say they work!
The Skandians don't feel as much as an afterthought as I thought they would. Instead they seem like an alternate way to use the book -- a way to refocus a game from Rome to elsewhere including the new world, Ommerike in game terms if so desired
The Skandians are very detailed, and while its not a guide for more historical viking games it is quite a lot of information for for a book ostensibly focused on fantasy Rome
The jade empire stuff is more detailed than the other cultures though not quite (in my opinion at least) as the vikings
it is plenty for a nice Marcus Politus adventure if so desired however
Th next is a couple of pages of game fiction. Its OK if you like that sort of thing and it makes a decent break point for a move into the True 20 crunch.
Now for the hard part of the review the crunch --
Rules are always hard to review when you haven't been able to actually play with them.
They seem to be pretty solid. There is a well designed alternate core ability for adepts (an ability to reroll will saves) and a decent martial artist heroic class to start.
The here are plenty of heroic paths detailed for various cultures in the setting including merchants, gladiators, tribal warriors and monks for the Jade Empire --- its not as Rome focused as one might thing and this is a fine thing.
I was generally OK with the material though I have to express some disappointment with the Skandian stuff. I would have like Fylgja (shamans) and Runecasters rather than the included priests.
once nice touch is the inclusion of Latinate names whenever possible -- this is flavorful and cool
chapter 5 is pregen characters -- all Level 1 meant to k kick start a game. They seem mechanically sound to me. This is a nice way to get playing RIGHT NOW -- something that always appreciated when trying something new
chapter 6 OK VI as the chapter heads are in appropriate roman numerals
is where it starts to bog a bit in my opinion
The lore skills (weapon, mythology and armor) should have been folded into one.
also coded messages was an odd choice for inclusion in the game. How often does that come up in play.
my last quibbles include the investigate skill )which might have better either been a feat (ala D&D) or a set of alternate uses for search
and the inclusion of rope use under sleight of hand .. rope use is an odd duck of a skill but its probably just as appropriate for survival or several craft skills
this is a minor issue though and it doesn't detract from the myriad of new skill uses in this part, or from the quality of the chapter.
the feats chapter was decent including a number of very overdue feats (parry focus adding +1 to parry defense ,and the slightly overpowered agile parry which allows dex to be added to parry in addition to STR). These are useful in any game.
what I didn't like were the attempts at clever feat naming -- while they are supposed to be flavorful
Don’t Speak Against the Sun , A Precipice in Front, Wolves Behind , and Blessed are Those who Possess are just too cutesy a name for my taste.
Also feats that allow decapitation and limb severing are just a NO! in true 20 -- I really loathe these feats and the complexity they bring, They honestly should have been left out
Chapter VII is about the magic
The game uses Hinterwelt's house system -- a decent free form magic system using difficulty classes for priests, a chi magic system for monk types and "realms" based system that rather remind me of a more focused D&D type magic system.
There is nothing inherently wrong or unplayable with any of these systems and the realms system especially is very thematic although I admit the spells are a little players handbook for my taste --
but i would have preferred to use the True 20 core magic system ah well
de gustibus non disputandum est, no arguing a matter of taste
the next chapter is equipment
It ends to over prefer roman gear a bit (a gladiolus for example does damage +3 vs a shortsword doing damage +2 over others but thats understandable in rime focused game
the gear list if fairly complete and does include wages and Roman and Jade empire currency -- its more than enough to play with
the last half of the chapter -- nearly 12 pages, details magic items -- its plenty to fill treasure hordes with and plenty for the players to drool over of GM's use for nefarious deeds....
chapter 9 includes are very decent bestiary --
Skandian, Roman, Jade Empire and other monsters abound. Most of these critters can be easily transplanted into any True 20 game with only a few tweaks to the magic .
I count well over two dozen including elementals, giant ants, and faeries among the more Romanesque monsters. All are neatly stated up and ready to go.
Mae Culpa but I ignored most of the last parts
. These two appendix (a and b) converts Iridium to True 20 and True 20 to Iridium. They will come in handy if you end up buying more for this line and it appears to be through
It all wraps up with the OGL and a nice index.
All in all I recommend the product to fans of Rome or True 20.
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