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Anthony Bates "Tony & Julia" RSS Feed (Wellington, New Zealand)

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The First Man in Rome
The First Man in Rome
by Colleen McCullough
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
209 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent story, August 23, 2009
I have read through a great many of the reviews on this book (both high and low ranking) with the aim of providing not only my own views on this book but also hopefully to address some of the recurrent criticisms that populate the reviews.

Firstly, when you consider the amount of work that has been poured into this work (and its various sequels) I find it interesting that people can find reason to complain about it. Not only are you presented with a 900+ page novel covering a vast scope of Roman history, but the author has personally prepared drawings of some of the central characters and a fair number of maps so that the reader can orientate themselves with the narrative. Ms McCullough obviously knows her stuff and has conducted pain-staking research so that the reader can be swept up in a tale of politics, love, hate, murder, and betrayal (to name but a few themes) set in the late Roman republic period.

Many reviewers have criticised McCullough's writing style, sentence construction, the use of modern vernacular in ancient mouths, and one even claimed that the level of explicit sex was a turn-off! Having just completed the third book in the series I am still hungering for more - does that make me a literary ingnoramus or "pyschologically conditioned to accept explicit sex" (that's a direct quote btw)? Probably both. However, it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the book, which esentially is the only barometer worth paying attention to.

This book and its sequels are packed with memorable characters; Gaius Marius and Cornelius Sulla being the two standout primary characters; however, Metellus Numidicus and Metellus Pius, the various Julians, Caepieo's, and Pompey's make for an intricately woven tapestry of rich personalities (I accept that it can take a bit of mental gymnastics to get your head around the various names - but that added to the enjoyment for me).

The final aspect which makes these books so stand-out brilliant is the amount of historical material contained therein. Prior to reading this first book I would have considered that I had a broad appreciation of Ancient Rome, its customs and practices, etc. But this book takes learning history to a new level of detail and you don't even realise that you're doing so! Everything from consular elections via the voting centuries to seating arrangements for dinner functions...brilliant stuff.

While McCullough has taken artistic license in some places, she fully explains any non-historical conclusions she makes and the rationale for doing so. So that the narrative in places becomes a 'glue' for the story that she wants to tell within the overall historical framework.

This is a masterful work of historial fiction that should be a staple for anyone even remotely interested in ancient Rome.


In Nomine The Marches (In Nomine: Revelations)
In Nomine The Marches (In Nomine: Revelations)
by John Tynes
Edition: Paperback
35 used & new from $3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The realm of dreams and nightmares, June 2, 2009
Like its predecessor, "Night Music", this book is a combination of source book and adventure module. "The Marches" focuses on the Ethereal realm as opposed to "Night Music's" focus on the corporeal realm. The book is broken down into the following sections:

1 - Superiors
2 - Sorcerers
3 - The Ethereal Realm
4 - Denizens of the Marches
5 - Blood and Circuses (Adventure)
6 - Ethereal Resources

Part one explores four of the official superiors from the In Nomine continuity: Blandine, Archangel of Dreams; Gabriel, Archangel of Fire; Beleth, Demon Princess of Nightmares and Belial, Demon Prince of Fire. Each Superior write-up covers similar territory such as hostiry, personality and outlook, their respective Words, dissonance and organsiation. This section also introduces a new Angelic Choir (Menunim - Servitors of Blandine) and a new Diabolical Band (Pachadim - Servitors of Beleth). All enteries have sample Servitors, with Gabriel having an unusal four examples.

Part two covers Sorcerers. Sorcerers are mortals who are trying to harness the supernatural forces through the use of Summoning, Focus and Command skills. Depending on the skill level involved, Summoning can beget random Ethereal spirtis or up to named Demons directly from Hell. Focus is a "general" magic skill that lets the Sorcerer create Protective Wards, Siphon Essence or create Ethereal Anchors among other things. The Command skill doesn't actually allow the Sorcerer to command Demons, merely to awe them (and then only at the highest of levels) or to actually command mortals and ethereal spirtis. Finally, it should be noted that for the purporses of the In Nomine game world, Sorcerers are veiwed as "evil" because they seek to impose their will upon others which is a selfish act and therefore associated with the Hellspawn. There is also a multitude of additional rules and various game mechanics for things that Sorcerers can do (which is a change from Night Music where new concepts weren't fully explained).

The Sorcerers section finishes off with a short discussion on the nature of Demonlings (1 Celestial Force Demons). These are weak and ineffectual entities that populate Hell in their millions. Included in this section are several tables useful for rolling up random Demonlings...some of the combination can be very humuorous (and going by the nature of the narative, I suspect they are provided for comic relief).

Part three covers the Ethereal Realm. It should be noted that the In Nomine game world is divided into three separate yet interlinked realms: Celestial (Heaven and Hell), Ethereal (The Marches) and Corporeal (Earth). This section covers all aspects of the Marches, such as entering and leaving, ethereal combat, dreamscapes and dream-shaping as well as descriptions of the The Border Marches and The Far Marches. The section is acutally begun with a description of the Old Gods (i.e. all of our mythologies) and the Purification Crusade which saw the destuction of most of the Ethereal entities which our dreams give life to.

Part four covers the denizens that call the Marches home. This covers everything from the aforementioned Pagan Gods, ethereal remnants, and Dream Soldiers. It also covers the major pantheons and the realms (all carved out of the Dreamscape by human dreaming). As an aside, if the material provided by In Nomine isn't enough, then I would recommend the old TSR book Legend and Lore which details many of the Pagan pantheons. This part also covers primal (read: Elemental) spirits and creatures of myth (i.e. Pegasai and Griffins). Finally, there is a short description of Ethereal Spirits in the Corporeal Realm, such as the former god Thor.

Part five is titled "Blood and Circuses" and is the adventure part of this book. To call this part an adventure is being very generous. This is not so much an adventure as a setting for possible adventures. While it features a signifcant antagonist and a host of minor characters (stats provided), the adventure is guilty of the standard In Nomine sin (pun intended) which is lack of structure, maps, etc. In slight redemption, the writers do provide a plot and hooks using the Blood and Circuses setup, but at two pages it is a nothing but a seed, with alot of GM work to make the "adventure" playable.

The last section is titled Ethereal Resources, and like "Night Music" is really intended for GM's in that the only 'resources' it contains are three new forms of dissonance and one new song.

Please note, as with all In Nomine game products they provide interpretations of religious themes that some people may find disturbing or offensive; so mature readers only please.


Revelations I: Night Music *OP (In Nomine: Revelations)
Revelations I: Night Music *OP (In Nomine: Revelations)
by John Tynes
Edition: Paperback
42 used & new from $4.55

4.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the Rock n Roll, June 2, 2009
"Night Music" is the first book in the Revelations Series for the In Nomine roleplaying game publised by Steve Jackson Games.

The book is a combination of source material for the game and an adventure for the players to undertake. The book expands greatly on the material provided in the base rulebook, making for a richer world and a more believeable setting.

The book is broken down into the following sections:
1 - Superiors
2 - Mortals
3 - Resources
4 - In Nomine Austin (as in Texas)
5 - Things to do in Austin when you're Celestial
6 - The Demon Prince of Rock n Roll (Adventure)

The first section provides a much more indepth look at three superiors: Laurence, Archangel of the Sword; Samniga, Demon Prince of Death and two new superiors: Christopher, Archangel of Children and Fleurity, Demon Prince of Drugs. Unlike the core rules, the write-ups for the superiors is much more indepth, providing fuller histories, politics, personality, outlooks as well as providing new servitor attunements, and higher distinctions. Included in Laurence and Samniga's profiles are a couple of example Servitors.

As this is a sourcebook that focuses on the corporeal realm, the second section deals with mortals. Firstly, Soldiers of God are given a very indepth look and then there is an overview of Saints. The section goes on to look at Soldiers of Hell and then the various types of Undead that also populate the corporeal realm. The details on Undead however is seriously lacking - while there is some nice flavour text and a stat block featuring the undead creature in the narative, there is no explanation about how Undead are creatated or how Mummy's and Vampires sustain themselves (since they don't last very long, I guess there's no need to explain the life-cycle of a Zombi...)

The third section is titled 'Resources', which is a bit of a misnomer. The resources are esentially for the GM as they consist of new forms of Dissonance and descriptions/rules for the use of poisons, disease and drugs.

Since the adventure featured in the book is based in Austin, Texas, the fourth section features Austin as it appears in the In Nomine game world. Theres the usual blurb about history, climate, map and culture all with an In Nomine twist. Then there are descriptions of both Angelic and Demonic tethers in Austin as well as some of the cities favoured servitors. Some of the notable ones are Druiel, Angel of Teenage Suicide and Tomas, Angel of Catchy Tunes. On the Hell side you have Lauren, Demon of Strippers. These are some of the major NPC's in the adventure so they rightfully receive a fair amount of attention.

The fifth section covers all of the official Superiors and what some of their agenda's are and motivations that their Servitors would have to visit Austin. Fleshing out this section are the occassional sample celestial servitor or mortal. This section provides more of an orientation tool for servitors should the GM need an insight as to why a particular player character is in Austin (as well as providing a few GM secrets).

The last section is an adventure from where the book draws its title, "Night Music". The adventure essentially revolves around Furfur, Demon of Hardcore and Baron of Fire. Furfur thinks the current diabolical political situation is unfair and has hatched a plot that he thinks will get him promoted to a Demon Prince, which will prove his point that the system is completely unfair. Depending on the nature of the PC's (and their Superior's instructions) they may be there to help or hinder. Given the darker nature of some of In Nomine's other adventures this is a somewhat lighter romp.

The blessing (or curse) of this adventure (and of all In Nomine adventures) is that they are very freeform. Very little prescriptive material is provided and the GM has a lot of latitude as to how each and every scene should be set up, run and concluded with only minimal guidelines provided by the writers. I know that some GM's will love and others will absolutely hate it (I come down somewhere in the middle). In certain parts I'm like, "Oh cool, I could do this or that.." and in other parts I'm like, "What? How the hell am I meant to make that work?"

Even the adventure ending isn't proscribed - if the GM wants to introduce a new Demon Prince then more power to you, if you like the status quo then that's cool as well. I understand that the official In Nomine continuity has Furfur succeed (after a fashion), but a GM is not obliged to follow the canon material.

Overall, a good first start to the expansion of the In Nomine game world; although there are few holes in the expansion of game mechanics that lowers it rating slightly. And remember, this game contains interpretations of religious themes that may offend some people, so be careful out there folks.


The Black Angels: A History of the Waffen-SS
The Black Angels: A History of the Waffen-SS
by Rupert Butler
Edition: Hardcover
95 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simplified History and somewhat hysterical, December 20, 2008
I picked this book up a few years ago in a garage sale and have only just gotten round to reading it. I really shouldn't have bothered.

While the overall history presented by Mr Butler is correct it is the construct of his prose that turned me off the most. The book starts of innocuous enough with a brief retelling of Hitler's rise to power and the 1923 putsch, the formation of the SS and its slow development. But as the narative goes on the language becomes more and more emotional and hysterical.

For example describing the fighting along the northern route to Leningrad, "...[c]harges were made with the bayonet and engagements were hand-to-hand. In country of deep forest, Germans and Russians hacked and stabbed at one another, while mortars burst their lethal sharpnel."

Or, "...[t]he men of SS Viking, free of their grisly mopping-up at Zhitomir and looking for a fresh conquest, romped towards Bielaya-Tserkov..."

Or, "...on a still night it is possible to hear, borne on the wind, the ghosts of the Panzers of General Hoth, taking their dreadful death ride."

However, given that Butler is a journalist by trade, I'm really not surprised at the way the book is written. It's something that I'd expect to read in my Sunday paper.

And so it goes on. The book also lacks any structure; there is no differentation between biographical information, technical equipment information and historical battle is all just jammed in together.

The actual histories of the SS Divisions is also very jumbled. Butler jumps back and forth between the divisions and regiments. Since he uses the traditional method of identification by using their names such as "Viking", "Nordland", "Der Fuhrer", "Das Reich", and "Germania" - only a reader well versed in SS History would know that the preceeding list contains three divisions and two regiments.

The final point that should be raised is that Butler stays away from any direct quotes of troop numbers, but on the one occassion when he did, he got it terribly wrong. When describing the attack on the Low Countries in May 1940, he claims that 40,000 paratroopers took part (page 58 if you want to check).

Even allowing for the two airborne divisions (7th & 22nd) there is no way they could muster 40,000 troops. Take for example that the Belgian fortress of Eben Emael was captured by a mere 85 glider-borne assault engineers. I don't know whether Butler's claim is a result of poor fact-finding, poor writing or poor editing or a combination of all three, but this mistake throws into doubt any other claims he makes about participation rates, casualty rates, etc.

In closing, I note that Butler acknowledges James Lucas and Matthew Cooper and their previous work. Given the quality of these two historians I'm surprised that Butler even attempted this history.

Sadly the whole book comes across as a B-Grade movie directed by John Woo - lots of flash, but simply no substance.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Laughing at yourself is healthy, November 4, 2008
I bought this T-Shirt for myself after some work mates were giving me grief about being a geek because of my passion for role-playing games. Of couse, only those who know what a 'Paladin' is and how it fits into the D&D context will understand the humour, but thus far all of my workmates 'get it' so that's all that counts.

As the title says, you have to be able to laugh at yourself and this T-Shirt goes a long way to doing that for any RPG freak like me.

Additionally, the shirt is made of durable cotton and the imprint hasn't cracked or faded with repeated washings.


Heart of Nightfang Spire (Dungeons & Dragons d20 3.0 Fantasy Roleplaying Adventure, 10th Level)
Heart of Nightfang Spire (Dungeons & Dragons d20 3.0 Fantasy Roleplaying Adventure, 10th Level)
by Bruce R. Cordell
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from $7.60

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not just a dungeon crawl., October 15, 2008
The reviews that peg this module as just another dungeon crawl are selling it short. Yes the entirety of the adventure happens in a ruined tower and the catacombs beneath, but it so much more than just that.

I imagine that just about any GM could run this adventure as a purely hack n' slash montyhaul style game. However, like each preceding adventure in this "Path" it continues to build on a intricate story with many different permutations. This adventure ties in to both the preceding "Sunless Citadel" and the final sequel "Bastion of Broken Souls". I would strongly disagree with the comment that this adventure is tying the "Adventure Path" series of modules into a dungeon based epic, especially given that the preceding two adventures "Speaker in Dreams" and "The Standing Stone" were based in a port town and a forest village respectively.

The author, Bruce Cordell, has done an excellent job playing around with monster sterotypes and templates to come up with some very interesting and creative variations. This module also harks back to the good (bad?) old days of Gary Gygax (RIP) and his tournament models which were designed to be completed in "bites". If a group can hack their way through this adventure without ever leaving the tower or the catacombs then the GM is simply not running it correctly. So the comment from another reviewer about it being too powerful for 10th level characters is correct in a certain context.

This is a solid module that continues to build the story, yet contains enough of its own sub-plots that the players will have to be really switched on to catch some of the references to the bigger story.

My advice to everyone, is simply don't play these adventures as stand alones (despite the advice to do just that on the back cover!). They must be played chronologically, although certainly not back to back.


No Title Available

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important piece of the puzzle, October 15, 2008
This book has often been described as a must read for anyone with even a passing interest in World War II or Germany under Nazi rule, which I think is somewhat overstating the importance of this autobiography. Speer uses a quote from Karl Barth on the nature of autobiographies that is worth repeating here:

"Every autobiography is a dubious enterprise. For the underlying assumption is that a chair exists in which a man can sit down to contemplate his own life, to compare its phases, to survey its development, and to penetrate its meanings. Every man can and surely ought to take stock of himself. But he cannot survey himself even in the present moment, any more than in the whole of his past."

This quote is particularly important given that Speer was charged and convicted with some of the most despicable crimes imaginable.

Albert Speer begun his relationship with Adolf Hitler as an architect, often in the shadow of Hitler's favourite architect Professor Ludwig Troost and it was only after many years of this service and several years into WWII that Speer became Hitler's Minister for War Armaments and Production (but many people only associate Speer with the latter role).

In his role as the architect, the reader develops a superficial understanding of how the Nazi state operated under Hitler's hand. However, when Speer steps into the Minister's role and gathers more and more responsibilities within his portfolio the reader really begins to understand just how utterly chaotic and petty the Nazi state was and that it was only through the labour of utterly efficient technicians such as Speer that the system remained functioning. It is during this time that we are introduced to the absolute amateurish efforts of Hitler, Himmler, Goering and to some extent Bormann in directing economic policy. Speer is an interesting contradiction, in that he was clearly a free-market proponent operating within a totally nationalised domestic economy.

The book takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through the ups and downs and the tragedies and triumphs of the 12 year Nazi 3rd Reich. You learn of Speer's fascination with Hitler and the Fuhrer's seductive charisma. When Speer confronts questions about the immorality of the Nazi state he uses the secretive nature of the state and the fractious nature of Hitler's rule as reasons why he was not aware of the criminality being perpetrated in Germany's name. He does concede that as a senior cabinet minister, that he SHOULD have known what was going on, but that he didn't. In a postscript, one of Speer's biographers, Gitta Sereny notes that shortly before his death Speer quipped to her that "...he hadn't done so bad afterall." Sereny took this comment as a indication that Speer has always known more than he had ever admitted and he had managed to come through rather well despite his involvement in the crimes of WWII (one presumes that a 20 year prison sentence is better than the death sentence).

This large book runs to nearly 500 pages and the vast bulk of it is devoted to (understandably) Speer's success as an architect and then a cabinet minister. However, the Nuremburg trials only get one chapter and a brief one at that, which is surprising given their significance.

During the trials in which Speer is charged with using forced labour, Speer makes a compelling case for the collective guilt to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the leadership (rather than on the German people - whether this is correct or not probably depends on which side of the Goldhagen Debate you position yourself). Speer did not try to avoid responsibility for his decision to use force labour, but interestingly, it is his testimony to the effect that he was horrified at the treatment the labour force was subjected to because such treatment made it a less effective labour force...this is the essence of the technician that is Speer. It wasn't a question of morality or ethics or even human decency, but a requirement to have an effective labour force that drove his concern about their treatment.

Contrast this with the urbane, professional, gentleman like demeanor that he exuded during the trial that one of my university professors (an expert on Speer) considers is what saved him from the gallows. The thesis being that unlike many of his brutish and thug like compatriots, Speer's demeanor allowed the prosecutors (excepting the Russians who wanted him dead) to see him as one of their own; whereas the likes of Funk, Himmler, Goering, Seyss-Inquart, Keitel where so far removed from what was considered 'normal' that their fates were most likely sealed before the first scrap of evidence was introduced.

Speer concludes his work with a warning that since WWII ended in rush of technological innovation, this portends badly for mankind's future. Technology, argues Speer, allows a dictator to all the more easily commit crimes (consider the way in which the Nazi's turned the technological efficiency of German industry to the purpose of genocide - the only such historical example), especially through surveillance and communication technologies. He notes that had Hitler possessed atomic weapons that he would have used them with abandon and the reader only has to remember the determination that Hitler showed in trying to destroy the very fabric of the German state when facing defeat to know that on this point, Speer is absolutely correct.

While there has been (and still is) debate over the accuracy of Speer's memoirs and the subsequent works analysing Speer's book there is another aspect that the casual reader should be aware of. As previously mentioned, Speer spent many years as Hitler's architect and given Hitler's passion for architecture there are scores of pages discussing the merits of various building projects (including an obsession with quoting all of the specifications of these buildings). Another thing to be aware of is that the book is not a pure chronological retelling of events. Each chapter has a certain amount of overlap with each preceding and subsequent chapter, which can be a bit confusing and leads to a disjointed narative. Those criticisms aside, this book remains an important piece to the puzzle that is World War II.


The Standing Stone: An Adventure for 7th-Level Characters (Dungeons & Dragons Adventure)
The Standing Stone: An Adventure for 7th-Level Characters (Dungeons & Dragons Adventure)
by John D. Rateliff
Edition: Paperback
31 used & new from $6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good sequeal and prequel at the same time, October 15, 2008
I would imagine that played as a stand alone adventure this module would be lack-lustre, which is what may be driving some of the negative reviews attached to this product.

However, when viewed in a holistic sense with the modules that were released prior to and subsequent to this one, you can see the overall design that WOTC were aiming for. I don't know if there was anything official about how these modules would be building on top of each other, but that is essentially what they do.

In that regard, this module serves it purpose well. It offers an increased challenge to player characters as they advance in levels; it contains a mulitude of plot elements, everything from a black armoured rider stopping everyone from leaving the village, hostile natives of various sorts, mystery, murder, betrayal, diplomacy, chases, fights...when all this is spun into the tale by a creative GM the players will be hankering for more. I especially like the reference to the "the Cathezar" (from the adventure Bastion of Broken Souls).

As I stated in my review of "Speaker in Dreams", I don't ever just drop my characters into an adventure otherwise everything can feel disjointed. Each adventure or module that I include in a campaign is there for a purpose and enriches the overall story.

This is a good adventure when used in conjunction with the others of its ilk, but could be disappointing as a stand alone adventure.


Victoria Cross Heroes
Victoria Cross Heroes
by Michael A. Ashcroft
Edition: Paperback
62 used & new from $0.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, October 14, 2008
This review is from: Victoria Cross Heroes (Paperback)
This book is a collection of biographies of men who have won the Victoria Cross; the United Kingdom's (and the Commonwealth's) highest award for military valour.

Some of the entries run to several pages, whilst others are a mere couple of paragraphs. Ashcroft explains this is due to some of the winners of the VC only came to public attention due to their one instance of valour and then shunned all further public limelight; whereas others pursued a career in public office or were already well known by virtue of who their parents were (as one example) and their history was that much fuller and easier to compile.

Included is a short chapter which details Lord Ashcroft's passion for the VC, where it began and how it blossomed into the collection that his trust has today. Also included is a short history of the medal and its evolution to the medal that we have today.

I felt incredibly humbled as I read this book; reading of the stories of these incredibly brave (and in many cases very young) men, many who gave their lives in pursuit of their beliefs or duty.

If you have a passing interest in the Victoria Cross or wish to be reminded of the spirit of man and how selfless a person can be then I would recommend that you read Victoria Cross Heroes.

Lord Michael Ashcroft needs to take bow for the work he has done in preserving this small piece of VC history.


Power of Faerun (Dungeons & Dragons d20 3.5 Fantasy Roleplaying, Forgotten Realms Supplement)
Power of Faerun (Dungeons & Dragons d20 3.5 Fantasy Roleplaying, Forgotten Realms Supplement)
by Ed Greenwood
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from $23.95

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Complete Tripe, August 26, 2008
Why is it that in the Forgotten Realms only high-level characters rule things? Why is it that in the Forgotten Realms there are no political demarcations, despite the multitude of city-states and 'kingdoms' that dot the face of Toril (and the ethnic regions in the campaign setting don't count)?

"Power of Faerun" is a ham-fisted attempt to provide an answer to these questions and in doing so Boyd and Greenwood embarrass themselves. There is so much wrong with this book that I really don't know where to start - so if my critique seems a little scattered I apologise in advance.

The underlying assumption in this book is that a person doesn't have any ambition to rule anything until they are 32nd Level and have a stone horse (that actually looks more like a mechanical horse...) and a "+3 evil outsider bane flaming burst longsword" (I can hear the munchkins now..."+3! Is that all?).

Why does FR not have any 0-Level Church Patriarchs? or 1st-Level Merchant Princes? Because that would have required a paradigm shift in the thinking of the authors and they have clearly opted for the path of lesser intellect whereby they cater to the munchkin market.

Everything in this book is based on character level and feat selection, everything from mustering troops to garnering profit from a mercantile enterprise. Can someone tell me when the last time a CEO of Lockheed sold an airplane? Or when a General recruited some army privates? No one can, because they never have. The book completely ignores the necessary infrastructure that is essential for anything beyond a sole trader/lone mercenary.

This book is nothing more than an exercise in simplification and dis-jointed expression of ideas. When WOTC consumed TSR they took possession of the "Birthright" game line. Birthright was everything that "Power of Faerun" tries to be. Using the 2nd Edition AD&D ruleset, Birthright allowed everything from a troupe of adventurers running around bashing monsters and looting tombs to merchant princes and lords of realms.

The important difference is that the writers saw that adventuring didn't set you up to be a ruler, nor could it explain the 16-year old heir to the throne who had done nothing but live a decadent lifestyle and was suddenly ruling a large kingdom with a massive army and dynamic economy, warring religious factions, and so you had 0-Level kings with 10th level bodyguards, not the other way around.

FR should stick to what FR is - that is groups of adventurers running around bashing monsters, getting the treasure and then buggering off to a city, healing up, selling/identifying the treasure and then off to do it all again. The entire premise the "Power of Faerun" is predicated on is fundamentally flawed and unworkable.

Simple advice - do not buy this book. Buy the core rules for Birthright instead and you'll see what I'm saying.

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