Nomads of the Nine Nations
a review by Bent Dalager
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Having read, and liked, Nomads of the Nine Nations from Iron Crown
Enterprises, I wrote a short review on it. I haven't played it,
though. This book is one in a
series of sourcebooks for ICE's fantasy world 'Shadow World'.
I think the module gives a good, if short (in years) history of the Jan. It
gives the basics of both the religious and social backgrounds for the nomads
and the city dwellers.
It gives a very comprehensive rundown of the cultures(s) involved, and sets a
strong foundation for prolonged campaigning, in that you get a feel for how
things work in the Jan, and why. I like this kind of detail in the background,
as it gives me more to work with.
The one thing I think is missing is the racial/cultural summaries that you
can find in a couple of SW products. Although all the information is there, it
would have been convenient with one of those boxes.
Although I generally liked what it had to say about surrounding cultures, I
feel the Ghagians were a bit off - they seemed too artificial to me (in fact,
they reminded me alot of A*&D). I get the feeling they are more or less
omnipotent (in that they seem to be able to hinder people from entering their
cities with great ease) and one-dimensional (mainly because of the alignment-
thing) and that there is too little (read:no) background on them.
Where do they come from, why is their culture so weird, etc. I feel that when
you put something like this into an otherwise 'normal' environment, you have an
obligation to give some hint as to their origins and motivations.
It could also have been a bit more specific as to the motivations and goals
of the Shoneb Empire, since this seems to be a very handy source of aggression
for a GM to resort to.
As good as non-existant. What few quasi-sites there are are more Locations than
Adventure Sites and are closely tied to the Adventures. Although I would have
welcomed city maps and such (such as a plan of the Great Fortress), I realise
there is a tradeoff here as the book can only have so many pages. In Nomads,
this space has been given to campaign info, which is good. In Jaiman, it was
pretty much given to Adventure Sites, which is not good. I would still want
both though :-)
I don't think the adventures were very good. Most of them are rather generic in
that you can effortlessly replace them to anywhere else on Kulthea, and as such
would be more appropriate in a Tales book or similiar. I'm not saying the
Adventures were *bad* (in fact, I'll probably use one or two of them somewhere
else), but I would have preferred more Jan-specific adventures. Something to do
with border tension, political wheeling and dealing, breaking or enforcing the
strict trade regulations, spying on the Empire, etc., would have been preferred.
I tend to use the provided scenarios as a means to get 'into' the cultures, and
the Nomads scenarios where generally just not suited for it. They should have
emphasized the culture a lot more, in my opinion.
The appendices were truly marvellous, and I hope that ICE do something like it
in their upcoming world. They give the culture some hands-on info that can be
used directly to give the players the right 'feel'. This kind of detail is
really lacking in many SW products, and it is refreshing those few times that
it *does* turn up.
Since I haven't played it, I don't have much to say about this. What I did
notice however was the 12th level Fighter (Stamon) with a primary OB of 95.
That's a bit low, isn't it?
I miss the NPC pages commonly found in SW products (i.e., the pages with
statistics for the most important NPCs). I think the most prominent persons as
well as a Loremaster or two could have been detailed.
All in all, I liked this book. The reason I haven't used it is primarily its
distance from the 'main' areas of SW (Emer, Jaiman) and the fact that there are
precious few detailed areas around the Jan. The only other book that I know of
in this area is the Star Crown Empire. Other than that, it's anybody's guess,
and I prefer to have some hard info on places the players are likely to try and
visit (it is surprising how alluring white spots on a map can be to players).
Last modified: Tue Feb 25 01:49:22 MET 1997