So this book finally made it to the top of my reading queue, and I just finished it. there are a lot in this book that I really enjoyed. Once I got started reading it, I kept thinking that is a cool idea, I should find some way to use it over and over again. In format, this book follows Nations of Theah Vol. 1 with each chapter giving some important people, how the secret societies interact, interesting places, some expanded information on the nation’s sorcery, dueling, and finally legends. Anyway here are my thoughts on the book.
This chapter covers at a very high level what has been going on in the regions that the book covers. So we get a little bit about how Eisen is still in shambles from the war, how the Sarmatian Commonwealth more or less threw everything up in the air and we have yet to see how it will end up, how Ussura is heading towards civil war unless someone stops it, and finally how Vodacce is a hot-bed of conspiracy and double-dealings. There is also a brief section on recommended ways to use the book.
This chapter covers the war ravaged nation that is trying to pull itself back together. We start with a couple of the different rulers, and we get a leader of a new army that is trying to defend the people of Eisen, and that is where things get interesting. The sponsor for this new group is an immortal being who might or might not actually care for the nation and its people, and is getting involved in the nations politics. For the locations, we get a section on Freiburg, the various forests, and the Dracheneisen mountains. The forests and mountains are haunted by monsters and the dead, and then there are a couple of communities that are ruled by monsters.
After that, we get some more information on Hexenwerk covering things like why it is taken up, what is thought of the practitioners. Then we get a variant that focuses on monsters instead of the traditional undead. In the dueling section we get a new style. In the legends we get surgical monsters, various types of undead including vampir and house wights.
I can see using this chapter to set up a game dealing with monsters and undead while protecting storm haunted towns, exploring ruins of war, and defending the townsfolk against a blood drinking baron in a castle. In other words there is a lot of inspirational ideas packed in this chapter.
The Sarmatian Commonwealth
This chapter covers the nation that just elevated the entire population to the ranks of the nobility and now everyone has the right to vote on its laws. It sets us up with a power struggle with the king and his son on side and the queen on the other. We also get more information on the two regions that were combined to make the one nation with more urban and wealthy Rzeczpospolita and the more rural and poor Curonia and the conflicts between them.
In the section on secret societies we get a new secret society that isn’t much of a secret called The Most Noble and Ancient Order of the Post basically a mail deliver service like the pony express.
In the section on locations we get more hints at what the dievai can do and the dangers they present. Again the locations present a lot of interesting locals with several mysteries hinted out.
One of the more interesting sections in this chapter is the one about Sanderis. This section provides more information on the various deals, including what happens on the seventh deal. We also get information on the group of practitioners who monitor the others with this power to prevent it from being abused. The information reminds me of the Dreseden Files‘ White Council and Wardens which is a good thing.
We follow this up with a section on dueling that talks about the troubles the duelist’s guild is having keeping things from going out of control with the all of the new “nobles” calling for unnecessary duels. We finish with a section on the local legends.
This chapter covers the nation that is heading towards civil war if the two rivals for leadership. On the one side we have the previous Czar’s wife and on the other side we have the Czar’s adopted son. We get the various important people some of which I recognize from the first edition. We also get a new monster in General Winter who is working to take over Ussura and potentially the other nations of Theah.
We also get a new secret society called The Ushkuiniks who are related to the Brotherhood of the Coast. they are river pirates and smugglers who have made peace with the various water spirits of Ussura’s waters and are the only ones who can travel on them freely. After that we get several of the important locations. These locations cover a variety of ethnicities which I like for such a large land mass.
We then get the expansion of the native sorcery Dar Matushki. We get more information on what it takes and the testing that the Matushka puts tests and provides the blessings of sorcery. This is also where we find more about the history of this sorcery, and a rival being who provides a similar power in opposition to the Matushka. This group is another secret society in reality.
In the section on dueling we find that in Ussura they prefer unarmed styles of combat. We finish the chapter with a section on legends.
This was the least inspiring chapter in the book to me. I never really liked the Vodacce. This is the perfect country for in-depth political intrigues. In this chapter we get some newly revealed villains, we get some new unlikely movers and players.
We get an extension to the Invisible College secret society with the The Philosophi Sanguinis. They are the scientists that threw away ethical rules to make new discoveries. There are some interesting places like Rinascita and its strange architecture. The section on Sorte is interesting and provides more insight into that power and those who wield it. We learn about the troubles the duelist guild has keeping the unsanctioned duels to a minimum. There are a number of different legends some more interesting than others, but again nothing in this chapter is as inspiring as the stuff in the previous chapters to me.
In this section we get information on the various new backgrounds for the countries as well as a selection of new advantages to use. One of my favorite that might be the Dark Gift advantage.
Anyway those are some of my thoughts on this book. Overall a very good addition to the setting, and it keeps me looking forward to reading the next book in the setting. And on one final note, while I am not completely sold on the system. I still haven’t actually tried it, I do find it to be spectacularly useful as a resource for other systems that I do play considering its overall game rule to setting information ratio.