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Artesia: Adventures in the Known World
[1-932386-10-6]
$39.95 $19.99
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment LLC
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/13/2009 00:15:34

I am not familiar with the comic book that sparked this product.

What you get is 354 pages of material, and yes, that is 354 don’t-waste-space pages. There are seventy pages of pure background and setting, and the rest is a combination of the game system overlaid with more game setting data. This setting makes Harn look like a beer & pretzels game. Regimental lists of major nations, lists of cities, forts, rules, all packed in there. I’m not going to use the Fuzion system, but the setting is so imbedded into the system that you pick up huge amounts of information while looking over the rules. The amount of detail is incredible, vast, and yet worded in such a way that you can easily tweak it in the direction you desire with little effort.

In a nutshell, the Known World was created by a goddess and lesser gods of her creation that in the first & second ages carried on in a manner that world make Jerry Springer shake his head. The gods have drifted away from interaction in the last thousand years (in the manner of the Greeks, the gods are just super-charged people, neither all-knowing and nor completely invulnerable), and Mankind is increasingly on its own. The last few decades before the game start has seen a breakdown of major kingdoms into smaller states, and near-constant war, both between neighbors and in response to outside invasion. At the game start, a GM could easily announce that the leaders are ready for peace, ready for a massive all-out bloodbath, or a continuation of the feuding and fighting of the last half-century, all without any significant break from the tone of recent events. The set-up is extremely well-done. It feels right.

There is a good mysterious feel to the setting which can be exploited or ignored without breaking from the tone. On the one hand, swords of power, vitally important thrones, and the bodies of major villains all have vanished under odd circumstances; but at the same time, the descriptions of these events are such a GM can either shrug it off, or tie them together in a conspiracy of deadly intent. This is some of the best writing you’ll find in a RPG setting.

I have four points of negativity to report:

1) The maps are bad. They are hand-drawn, and while very pretty and strategically informative, they are low-resolution pages within the book and any attempt to zoom in blurs the names beyond the ability to read. The back of the book promises high-definition maps for download at the publisher’s site, but this is untrue. Nor are the hard-copy maps promised available. This is a major drawback. It will be hard to employ the detail of the setting with the low-resolution maps in the book.

2) There is no pronunciation guide, and the author has chosen nation and place names that have a good honest ‘look’, but their pronunciation is debatable. For example, a nation who make for handy villains are called the Isliklidae. The is-what?

3) Some details are not adequately explained, and some subjects are badly scattered. References are made to ‘seated kings’ being different from other kings, but I have not found out why or how. Worm Kings are a major form of Undead, but there is only a few facts available, and these are badly scattered. A free index is available as a download from the site, which is good because the author failed to provide one.

4) There is no print-friendly version. There is lavish full-color art throughout which strongly supports the subject matter, but it makes this pdf an ink cartridge eater. Even printing in B&W is going to pull ink faster than drilling a hole in the fluid tank.

Get past the above four points, and you’ve got a truly exciting work.



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