Weird Wars Rome is a setting and campaign book of adventures of violence and horror in the ancient world, for use with Savage Worlds. It includes new rules for Spoils of War, Campaign Interludes, and Legacies that allow characters to pass down their deeds and treasures to future generations of their bloodline. For War Masters it also also includes a comprehensive Adventure Generator and two mini-Plot Point Campaigns.
Since 2011 I have backed roughly thirty-six roleplay and gaming related kick-starters, many of which we have plugged here on miskatonic.co.uk and indeed back in september, tucked away in a post mainly about an Ice Cream card game we gave the then recently funded Weird Wars Rome a very quick mention. We mentioned it then because unlike most of the others they appeared to be on track to hit their delivery targets, a real rarity when it comes to creative Kickstarter projects (the Ice Cream card game coincidentally was another that delivered bang to schedule). Within days of the Weird Wars Rome Kickstarter completing backers received their PDF copies of the core book and the updates and add ons kept coming. I’m now just waiting for my hard copies to drop through the mailbox and I am incredibly pleased with what has been delivered as a part of this Kickstarter.
The Weird Wars Rome products are now available online to buy through DriveThruRPG or directly from the Pinnacle Store, and so we thought it would be an appropriate time to look a bit more in depth at why you might think about buying a copy!
The PDF core book runs to approximately 100 pages and splits almost equally into two sections, the latter of the two being specifically designed for the War Master (or GM by any other name).
The first half of the book provides key background for players and War Masters alike detailing life in the legions covering everything from daily practicalities of roman military life, through to tactics and politics. Then more of the mechanics of creating your characters. Those familiar with Savage worlds will get everything that they would expect, including a step by step guide to character creation with all of the necessary new occupations, hinderances and edges specific to the milieu. There is an excellent section on equipment for your characters, covering hand to hand and ranged weapons, mundane equipment as well as vehicles such as chariots and galleys and specifics of a number of typical roman siege engines. The first half concludes with some solid historical background material, a gazetteer style overview of the empire and a glossary which will help you and your players make the most of the specific terms that apply to this period.
For the War Master There are additional background hooks, details of campaign interludes, and enough campaign and historical background to allow the War Master to have a good level of comfort with the setting. There are two plot point campaign scenarios; Romes Nightmare and Mountains of Blood which along with the Adventure Generator and the accompanying Bestiary should give War Masters more than enough material to get them started and to introduce their players to the unspoken horrors of the Roman Empire.
Throughout the book good use is made of callouts or sidebar boxes to draw attention to specific points, to answer likely questions or to provide additional information. This can be anything from roman names, to use of female characters or more general historic material such as details of the Roman Emperors and their reigns.
The artwork is high quality, as we come to expect from from games from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. It is clear and evocative and used appropriately throughout the text. Similarly the styling of the pages is nicely done with the aforementioned callouts or sidebars presented in boxes resembling Roman shields.
The core Kickstarter allowed Pinnacle to push ahead with the publication of the core book, specifically the printing of it, but also several additional products to support it –including two double-sided, dry-erase poster maps, custom dice, GM’s Screen, and the adventure, Nox Germanica included with the GM screen. Stretch goals, which fell like flies during the early stages of the Kickstarter also facilitated a number of great add ons, all of which are available now for purchase:
- The Weird Wars Rome original soundtrack, “Strength & Honor.” which really is fabulously evocative background music to play your game or campaign by.
- The Wellspring, a 12-page adventure set in Britannia 166 AD. The Picts have pushed the legions back to Hadrian’s Wall. During the day painted barbarians engage with arrows, spears, and skirmish attacks, seeming to appear as if by magic, then fade into the undergrowth. At night, fellow legionaries vanish and strange cries are heard on the wind. Legion IX is on edge. They’ve been pushed hard, and are ready to push back. Someone must find the source of the Picts’ strength–and destroy it.
- Ten full-color, full-page, ready-to-play archetypes.
- Printable, interior overlays you can print and use with the poster map sets.
- Res Romana: An 8-page supplement by Jack Emmert (of Cryptic Studios) on the role of class and race, the gods, and myths and legends of ancient Rome.
- Creature Feature: Art, background, statistics, Figure Flat, and several adventure seeds featuring the legendary Hydra!
- The Half-Set Sun, a 12-page adventure set in the scorching deserts of Aegyptus.
- Creature Feature: Art, background, statistics, Figure Flat, and several adventure seeds featuring The Cyclops!
- Figure Flats I –Heroes of the Empire: Two full pages of “paper miniatures” including legionaries, medici, and auxilia.
- Figure Flats II –Foes of the Empire: Two full pages of the many foes of Rome, from wild Celts to German barbarians and even charioteers!
I’ve had the joy, over the last six months or so to see all of this material as it has been produced off the back of the Kickstarter project and it has been a really great set of materials to get my teeth into. When I backed the project I was probably getting a bit jaded with Kickstarter projects that just seem to drag on and on and where updates to expectant backers are few and far between but this one was a breath of fresh air and really has delivered. I’m looking forward to running games of Weird Wars Rome and I’m also looking forward to backing the next Kickstarter that Pinnacle decide to run. I take my hat off to Shane Hensley and everyone who worked on this, its a great setting and its been a real pleasure being able to back it through Kickstarter.