I don’t like the term Sandalpunk – and a lot of other literary -punk genres that seem to be proliferating. I don’t think that -punk means fantasy, and therefore I still refer to fantasies set in the Ancient World as historical fantasy, or maybe even as alternate histories.
Yes, I am that old.
So sue me.
There’s been a rise in historical productions, lately – the Rome TV series among others – and I am the first to say that the ancient Greco-Roman world is a great setting for adventures. It’s familiar enough to make it easy on readers/viewers/players, and yet it’s full of strange things, weird beliefs, surprising twists.
I should know – I write a series of historical fantasies myself, and it’s set in the 3rd Century AD.
Now, the last addition to my Savage Worlds library has been the paperback edition of Weird Wars: Rome.
Created in 2013 after a successful kickstarter campaign , Weird Wars: Rome is a slender, strangely sized booklet – it sticks out on the shelf – that’s short on page count but chock-full of good stuff.
The basic handbook provides all that we expect from a Savage Worlds setting – characters, new setting rules, a good, quick but solid overview of the gaming world.
Just add the SW handbook.
A number of military campaigns is outlined in the handbook – ready to play.
* the Second Punic War
- the Third Macedonian War
the Fall of Carthage
the De Bello Gallico
the Invasion of Britain
the Boudicca Rebellion
the Jewish Rebellion
the Germanic Wars
Like other titles in the Weird Wars line (such as Weird War II), the game is geared towards miniature tactical action. In this sense, we can imagine scenarios in which our Roman Legionaries will first discover and investigate the horror, and than take it on in combat, on the field.
Now, I’m not so hot about using miniatures – after all, I’ve played Savage Worlds in a car, on the road, and in a number of other situations in which there was barely room for the dice – but Weird Wars: Rome is clearly one of the settings that really shines when the miniatures are on the table.
Another great feature of Weird wars: Rome is the Legatum mechanics – a simple system that, while deepening the setting and making characters more connected with it, allows the keeper to run a multi-generational campaign, running through the whole of Roman history, from the Republic to the twilight of the Empire.
This is a fascinating opportunity, and it is very much in line with the Roman mindset, with the centrality of family and ancestry.
With the Legatum, sons may fight the enemies of their fathers1.
The artwork is very fine, and there’s a wealth of extras and accessories out there – handbooks, maps, paper miniatures, the works.
Weird Wars: Rome is one of the games I’m studying as I work on GreyWorld – my idea is to write a handbook in which everything you find on the page is playable, and that’s exactly what Rome is.
There’s much in here to learn.
Also, I’m interested in the idea of making the past felt as a force to be reckoned with in the game setting – not just as the place from which weird multi-tentacled creatures lash out, but actually as a resource.
- The old Pendragon game (that I never played much, alas) had a different mechanic allowing the keeper to handle the passage of time and the weight of history… ↩