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7th Sea: Lands of Gold and Fire
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/14/2018 10:12:29

Lands of Gold and Fire. Probably one of the most anticipated books for the 7th Sea line after The New World itself. It's been delayed a few months while the dev team worked to get it just the way they like it. So how did they do?

Like all the other splatbooks, this one can be divided into the Fluff and Crunch sections.

Nations/Fluff

We've got five new nations with unique backgrounds here. Aksum (Ethiopia/Somali States) a coastal trade nation on the losing side of a war with the Mbey while their empire is in rapid decline, Khemet (pre-Ptolemaic Egypt) a land shrouded in eternal night after the Queen betrayed the gods, Maghreb (the Barabary States) where the wasteland villages and prosperous coastal cities exist in an anarchic alliance to resist an impending invasion, Manden Kurufaba (The Mali Empire) the most prosperous land in Ifri, buckling under a flood of refugees fleeing the troubles elsewhere, and Mbey (the Kingdom of Kongo) decimated by the Atabean slave traders, their ruler has given in to despair and madness, bargaining with eldritch abomination spirits and waging war against the Aksum to capture more slaves to sell to the Atabeans- buying enough weapons in the hope of driving the invaders from Ifri.

There is enough flavor here to make an entire campaign out of adventuring in Ifri drawing from equal parts history and fantasy. The major players in Ifri are featured throughout and all are compelling in their own way- especially the leader of Mbey who has given himself over to madness and dark power to drive powerful Atabean invaders from his shores. Runner-up goes to Mar Veraci of Maghreb, the transgender pirate queen hailing from Vodacce. Mar governs the cities and protects Maghreb in her Blue Queen's place while she is communing with spirits to prevent an invasion from Mbey, trying to ward off the advances from Montaigne and the machinations of her jealous sister.

Mechanics

The book includes new sorcery. Melbur sorcery strikes me as an almost cut/paste of Sanderis from the core book (though there are significant differences), while Heka sorcery is a kind of Enchantment based magic. Most splats contain one magic school per nation, so this is a bit lacking.

New dueling schools are included here as well for more martial players.

There are two new player mechanics that are introduced here. The first, Zahmeireen Weaponry, is a much more in depth unique-weapon system than the current Dracheneisen weaponry- and one I hope they adopt in errata to change Dracheneisen. You select an Origin (how you got the weapon) and a Facet (its effect). Additionally, completing Legends are a potent way to increase the power of the weapon.

Next is the Vile Dice of dealing with the Abonsam spirits. Essentially, bargaining with these Eldritch Creatures grants bonus dice, but using the dice grants corruption.

Verdict

Fluffwise, this book is beyond good. Its locations and people are compelling to read about and beg for adventure. But the Mechanics section is lacking in Sorcerous lineages. Bonus points for having a better legendary weapon system than the original Dracheneisen though. I give it a 4/5. Worth the money and very good, but not necessarily a MUST BUY NOW book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Lands of Gold and Fire
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The Children Cry
by Meg F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2018 03:01:24

A pretty simple little story, but definitely one I enjoyed. If your group is into horror and suspence, you can definitely do that with this one, and give it as much of a spooky air as you want.

I was hoping it might have been a little bit longer, and given a little more indication of what NPCs, etc. say. It does leave it quite open for the GM, which is not the end of the world, but you do need to read through properly in order to make sure that the bits you insert as a GM will definitely make sense. It doesn't go into much description, but it gives indication and there was enough for me to make up what I needed too without it being too off-kilter.

I used this as a starter session for my players, none of us have played before this, and it was a good way to introduce them. Enough action and intrigue to keep the players engaged and the story moving. My players really enjoy dark stuff, so I definitely dialled up the horror where I could. A pre-recorded nursery rhyme playing in the background every now and then gives the shivers, and then indepth description really drills it home.

All in all, an interesting story and a great and spooky introduction to the game. It's only enough for one session if you just play straight through, but I could definitely see how a creative GM would be able to take this plotline and make a whole campaign of it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Children Cry
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2018 21:11:52

Full review can be found on my blog, located here:

http://knighterrantjr.blogspot.com/2017/08/what-do-i-know-about-reviews-7th-sea.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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The Crow's Nest #1 - Navigating Delicate Negotiations
by Frederico S. A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2018 10:44:48

I really liked the insight "Navigating Delicate Negotiations" gave me. It presents great ideas to evolve meaningless chats into exciting back-and-forth parleys.

Instead of offering a crunchy minigame overlapping an already rules-light system, Kevin Krupp's suggestions takes the same rules by another angle that doubles the fun even when the Heroes get bested at close combat or after a naval combat, they can still have a ton of fun and feel accomplished negotiating their way out of a dire situation!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Crow's Nest #1 - Navigating Delicate Negotiations
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Curse of the Yellow Sign Collected
by John H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2018 22:21:43

The best example of one-shot horror writing I have ever seen.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Curse of the Yellow Sign Collected
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Cut to the Chase: Dramatic Chase Sequences
by Edward F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/16/2018 00:04:25

I've been looking for a resource such as this for a long time! The encounter tables alone are well worth the price. But the rules and details and optional skill uses just add to the value. Good product for a good value.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cut to the Chase: Dramatic Chase Sequences
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7th Sea: The New World
by John D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2018 16:01:44

I like this product; I'd like to like it more.

I'm an old-school fan of 7th Sea going back to the game's first edition; I was in my Friendly Local Game Store the day the two core rulebooks came out. I'm also a cultural anthropologist and folklorist by training, and a history and literature teacher of about two decades' vintage, just so you know where I'm coming from.

Overall I've found the second edition to be a very pleasant improvement over some of first edition's...quirks. One of the things I've been happiest about in second edition is the much more robust and culturally sensitive attention given to the parts of the game world that aren't Europe. For instance, The Crescent Empire is in many ways a masterpiece of evocative, gameable setting work; in graduate school Turkish folk epic (and folk narrative in Islam more generally) was my area of specialization, and the rules for poetry duels and the like delighted me. The fact that the opening fiction was a clear nod to Farid ud-Din Attar's Sufi poem The Conference of the Birds delighted me. And on and on.

And yet...

There was something not quite right about Crescent Empire. Something that niggled at me, despite my abundant affection for the numerous things it did excellently. It took me a while to figure it out, and it was The New World that finally made me see it.

The Crescent Empire as presented in 7th Sea is so much like the actual Ottoman Empire...except in all the ways that it isn't. No, I'm not dumb; I get that the whole 7th Sea universe is a varyingly loose gloss on seventeenth (more or less) century reality, but not that reality itself. Nonetheless, I can't help feeling like the divergences are starting to go too far for me personally.

(I will get to The New World, I promise.)

In the second edition Crescent Empire, a new Empress has just instituted a series of reforms that are so sweeping, so liberalizing, and so wildly historically improbable, that I couldn't help but shake my head reading about them. The abolition of the class system? In seventeenth-century Ottoman Turkey? My brain couldn't cope. It was a change too far, one so radical that the setting no longer made sense, no longer felt enough like real history that I could accept it even while squinting hard.

The fact that Théah isn't our actual historical world is a great gift: the game's designers can create more space for female, queer, and racially diverse characters. That's wonderful, and I support it fully! But while Théah isn't our world exactly, it needs to be enough like our world that there's a value in adventuring there, and not somewhere far more divorced from Earth's history, like the Forgotten Realms or Middle-earth or Barsoom.

(I had an intimation of the problems that were on the way when I first read the second edition core rulebook. Apparently nations in Théah don't care about the race of their citizens; if you're an Avalon, you're an Avalon whether your ancestry stretches back centuries in the Glamour Isles or whether your parents immigrated from Ifri a decade ago. That's a lovely idea, and I understand the good intentions that underpin it: make it easier for gamers of color, or anyone else, to play characters of color from any of the mock-European nations. I am all for this!

But...

It's not how seventeenth century Europe regarded questions of race and ancestry. At. All. And while I would much rather live in a world with Théah's racial politics than the ones real history has handed us, the historian in me goes a little crazy when I have to imagine a seventeenth-century Europe that is, frankly, more racially enlightened than twenty-first century America. [Admittedly, that doesn't seem hard, these days. sigh])

I could deal with the ahistoricity around race and nationality. I can sort of deal with the idea of a classless Ottoman Empire—I almost can't write the words—if only because there's so much nifty stuff in the other parts of the Crescent Empire book. But I think New World may have broken me.

You see, the Nahual Alliance, the Aztec analogues in New World don't practice ritual human sacrifice. I mean they used to, but they don't anymore. In fact, now they abhor the act.

blinks

I'm sorry? These Aztecs dont' practice sacrifice? What on earth, then, makes them Aztec? So much, so very, very, very much of Aztec society at the time period (give or take a century or two) 7th Sea is set revolved around human sacrifice. The religious imperative to sacrifice captive humans shaped military policy, weapon design, sociocultural organization, art and architecture and literature...I could go on. When you remove that aspect of the Aztecs, or Nahuals, or whoever, you make them something fundamentally other, something fantastic in the pejorative sense of the world. Not Aztec anymore. Something so disconnected from real world history that you may as well be roleplaying in Gary Gygax's Oerth, not John Wick and company's Théah. (No disrespect to Oerth meant.)

Again, I get it. On one level, I think the desire to present Latinx gamers with Aztecs who aren't as morally problematic as the real Aztecs were is laudable. But as much as I love Ottoman culture, I don't love a Crescent Empire flensed of the very real problems and contradictions that made it what it was, that made it so compelling, and yes, so ripe for heroic and swashbuckling adventure. Every culture has these kinds of problems, of course, including all the European ones. The 7th Sea corebook is totally willing to give us, for example, a Montaigne/France that groans beneath some stupefyingly awful situations stemming from the callousness of the aristocracy. We are all but told bloody revolution is inevitable, and why shouldn't it be? That's great! That's super-gameable! Now there's a horrible problem for heroes to get caught up in, and to try to solve!

New World could do that with the Nahual Alliance. Keep human sacrifice—believe me, as a Spanish speaker and lover of Mexico, I have no desire for Mexican or any other Latinx gamers to be offended, but the fact that the Aztecs ritually killed in such large numbers is a massive matter of historical record. Keep the sacrifices, but create a niche for the players to be part of a small insurgency working to bring it to an end. Or better still, have one of the secrets of the game world be that human sacrifice, while monstrous, is something the Nahual must do in order to forestall an even worse evil, like the return of the monstrous elder god beings The New World keeps alluding to. Suddenly we've got moral tension! Ambiguity! The need for tough choices!

You know, all the stuff people of conscience (a.k.a. heroes) face in real life. In real history.

I should point out that The New World, which gives us three civilizations, the faux-Aztecs, faux-Maya (who are sadly way more boring than the real Maya were), and faux-Inka does nail one of those three beautifully. The Inka analogue, Kuraq, is ruled by an awful person doing awful things with necromancy and the living mummies of ancestors, and there's a perfect opportunity for heroes to join, or foment, a rebellion against her. The writer or writers of this section had the courage to give us a culture that was problematic, that had made bad choices, that needed heroes. And those heroes hardly have to be white saviors from faux-Europe; let them be rogue faux-Inkans fighting to make their civilization better. Wouldn't that be awesome?

I guess what I'm saying, in a too-long and roundabout way, is that I wish the 7th Sea authors would recognize that honoring the dignity and worth of non-European cultures doesn't require us to make them nicer than they were in real history. You can respect and admire much of Ottoman, or Aztec, or Inka culture and still condemn many of their leaders' decisions and their religions' practices. As long as you are making a sincere, anthropologically deep effort to understand why these cultures do things that seem contemptible from outside, it's okay to give them warts. Not only are those warts the stuff of adventure—wrongs that need righting—they're historically honest.

I'm reminded of what Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday says in the first installment of Ken Burns's documentary series The West, the installment focused on Native Americans prior to contact with Europeans. He states that the first thing we needed to do was dismiss artificial and romanticized visions of Native peoples as living in perfect harmony with one another, or with the land. They fought each other, they were cruel and petty, and they radically transformed the American Midwest through pretty intensive terraforming (see Mann's 1491 for more detail). They were certainly noble and worthy of admiration, these cultures—but not in every respect, and not all the time. To make them less complicated, less problematic, than they were is ironically to erase a great deal of their authentic dignity.

This is the problem 7th Sea has been having, with the very best of intentions, and that problem comes to a head in The New World. Gone are human sacrifice and the environmental depredation of the Mayan city-states. Super-weirdly, gone too is the scope and brutality of armed conflict between Europeans and Natives; in 7th Sea's New World, this conflict is so curiously muted as to astonish anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of the history of contact between, say, Spain and the Aztec and Inka.

You may not care about these things, or you may disagree with me; I rated New World a four out of five stars precisely because I honor the authors' good intentions, so clearly my own mind is somewhat unsettled here. But what I want for the entire world of 7th Sea is not non-Europeans who are deracinated and sanitized in order to make them seem heroic in a generic sense. What I want for those peoples—the analogues of Native Americans, Eurasian Muslims, Africans, East Asians—is complexity, and honest reference to their cultures' flaws as well as their virtues. (Yes, cultural relativism makes discussion of subjective concepts like "flaws" and "virtues" tricky; fine, note the contradictions and foreground them.)

I want Aztecs who are politically complex, religiously sophisticated, architecturally and agriculturally brilliant—hell yes, I do! But I also want Aztecs who sacrifice captives from the states they've conquered, and whose society is in terrible danger of overthrow because of its addiction to a practice nearly all of us would condemn. That's historically honest, as I've noted, and it also makes a better and livelier and more conflict-rich world for gaming.

Your mileage may vary, and again, I want to salute the designers' efforts, which are themselves noble and admirable. But I think it's time to raise the bar a bit, and to have the courage to stare history—all our histories, no matter what our ancestry is—more squarely in the face.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: The New World
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7th Sea: The New World
by Tim F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/12/2018 12:45:17

Pretty awesome! Well written and entertaining. Makes me want to run the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Play Dirty (15th Anniversary Edition)
by Dale G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/29/2017 12:31:30

I had hopes for this and some concerns because of the reputation of the author and articles in it. I'm happy to say that my hopes were justified. I liked this one enough that I bought Play Dirty 2 as soon as I finished this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Play Dirty (15th Anniversary Edition)
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Houses of the Blooded
by Geoffrey M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2017 10:17:41

I've resolved to make this a honest review, written within a half hour. No days of editing and rewriting. Straightforward review, from me to anyone who might want to read this. All my thoughts are out there, as flawed or as complete as they might be:

Houses of the Blooded is an underappreciated game by an underappreciated author. Having gone into work for himself, John Wick seemed to have taken the reigns off of himself with this, and he made good use of his time.

Style: Houses of the Blooded is great if you want to play a game of tragic heroes (or at the very least, if you're tired of games featuring flawless Mary Sue characters- as a GM and player alike, this has irked me sometimes in the past). Shakespeare's tragedies, Oedipus Rex, Moorecock's Elric of Melnibone... all characters upon which I had a good foundation to make and conceptualize characters. The setting itself is simple and straightfoward- the written history is simple, but the culture is very, very well detailed. Ways of speaking, the law and it's impact upon nobility (ven) and commoners (ruk) alike, what colors signify, what food and drink the ven enjoy (or abhor), the things they entertain themselves with, and of course, their views on Romance and marriage. As the book will note and make no mistake in failing to illustrate, there's fine cultural reason why "Romance" is capitalized but "marriage" is not. At a glance, these might seem like unnecessary details. You might say "I just want to play my Shakespeare game and leave it at that", but you'd be doing yourself an injustice if you turned this away solely on that basis. The details are great enough to make the ven seem real, but given simply enough to ensure one doesn't get lost within the pages, blurring the line between a well-spoken conversation on the subject and a historically documented examination of the subject.

Mechanics: Tying in to style, mechanics uphold the idea of playing a tragic hero quite well, I'd say. Anyone can get a game, roll up characters, and say "I'm going to play a sorcerer Hamlet in this campaign!", but HotB both mandates and incentivizes such things. You have six attributes (called "Virtues" in the game, as they encompass Courage, Strength, Cunning, Wisdom, Beauty and Prowess- each one being far more detailed as their name suggests), with all but one being accessible to the player characters. Aspects are included as well. For those who've ever played Fate or Spirit of the Century, you know what I'm talking about: you have points to spend, and Aspects are the means to both spend those points on dedicated advantages, or gain more points from an Aspect's disadvantages. Every Aspect has both positive and negative sides to it- every strength has some manner of weakness, every weakness having an advantage that can be contrived. The game incentivizes "tragic heroes". Your flaws and advantages feed into one another, creating a sort of feedback loop of actions that both make them powerful and give them very human elements of weakness. The ven are powerful nobles who are often haughty and arrogant, but never Mary Sues or munchkins.

I'm approaching the end of my half hour, but I think you'd be doing yourself an injustice to turn this away. I'd recommend everyone read this, if only for the advice it gives and the knowledge that can be gleaned from it. My biggest issue with HotB is that there aren't many players for it, so getting a group together may require handholding.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Houses of the Blooded
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Cards on the Table
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2017 00:44:47

I would like to think that in a given moment I can be clever enough to pull out opportunities and consequences... However, so often it seems that your in the moment dealing with risks that you weren't expecting, stumbling all the way through trying to come up with something to provide the player to make that risk interesting. To give them consequences that are more varied than the standard wound, or any sort of interesting opportunity.

And for that reason alone this product is worth every cent that it asks for in my humble opinion. Not only that, but I would have actually gladly spent more for this tool. My lack of good spending sense aside though, this products does something very excellent and succint, in that it boils consequences and opportunities into categories in order to inspire you to determine what they actually mean as you encounter the situation, leaving you with all of the pieces you need to funnel your creativity into for each scene. The benefit that comes with this approach is that it is succinct enough to give a very considerably clear concept for consequences and opportunities without feeling like there is too many fiddly options to pick from that can cause unnecessary analysis paralysis.

As I normally play online these days, most of what I use this document for is inspiration, and actually don't get a lot of use for the actual cards. That aspect aside though, they make a wonderful resource to springboard the imagination at the table, an$ to make things more dynamic, and yet keep them straightforward for play.

I normally don't write reviews for products, but the quality and value that this product provides was compelling enough for me to write this up. If you play 7th Sea and find yourself needing more options for how to formulate opportunities and risks, then this product is certainly helpul!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cards on the Table
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
by Charles E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/23/2017 07:37:16

As someone who adored the original 7th Sea, this feels like a return to a beloved game and a massive evolution of it. John Wick is a game designer who's made a ton of games, most of which feel like they've led to this.

Characters are swashbuckling heroes with mechanics to back that up. The nations of Theah present an interesting fictional Europe (and beyond!) with magic and myth amongst it. The setting is deep, but still ultimately about the player characters.

The previous edition had a good fictional Europe, but this version feels both more researched and more progressive, which it should be as this is a fantasy world.

The system is roll and keep (them all!) which is similar but more extreme than the original 7th Sea. Now all those lovely dice are clumped together in batches totalling 10 each. These results allow you to not only succeed at what you're doing, but select which other risks in a challenge you deal with and which don't. This level of agency of the players is sublime.

So far I've only played, but cannot wait to run this game for my group.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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The Sarmatian Bestiary
by Lech G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2017 04:46:31

Beautiful art, great concepts and a lot of inspirational content.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sarmatian Bestiary
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The Flux
by Ronald B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/31/2017 18:17:33

Originally posted here: http://ronblessing.blogspot.com/2011/12/read-thru-flux.html

Are you one of those GMs who get Shiny New Game Syndrome? Does it cause you to constantly switch games on your usually-reeling players? Have your players held an intervention to make you commit to running the same game for more than, say, 90 days?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions (I may have), then John Wick's The Flux might be just the ticket for you and your group!

The Flux is one of the many little games to be found in John Wick's Big Book of Little Games. The PDF was provided to me, gratis, by the fine folks at DriveThruRPG.

You might be playing The Flux in your current game, and you don't even know it - yet. Because The Flux happens to your character, to your group's whole party, and usually when they least expect it.

Imagine playing a sorceress in a Pathfinder game, and she's in the midst of a climactic battle. Suddenly, your GM describes a humming in your character's ears. She can't place where it comes from - it's everywhere and nowhere. Then there's a flash and BAM! She's no longer a sorceress in Golarion, but a mad scientist in Hollow Earth Expedition. Later in the Hollow Earth, she has been captured by Nazis and left without any gadgets. As the player you try to help the mad scientist recall a memory - a skill or ability - from a previous world or existence, and suddenly she makes a gesture, speaks an incantation, and throws a fireball at her captors, clearing a path for escape!

In The Flux, you can totally do that. Seriously.

So if you're running a game, say RunePunk for Savage Worlds - you love it; you really do - and you discover you can finally read Earthdawn Third Edition on your iPad (totally not your fault!), there's an easy way to transition, using The Flux and making it easy on your players: Grab your players' RunePunk characters Make new Earthdawn characters for them, based generally on their RunePunk characters One session, in a tense moment, have The Flux kick in You're now running Earthdawn Your players don't have to make new characters or come up with new personalities - you're remaking their characters in a different world. Your players don't have to know about the new world right away - your players' characters are supposed to be hazy on the new setting.

There's no need to remember the rules from the old game. To access their previous characters' abilities, the players keep their characters in a stack - newest on top, oldest on the bottom. They roll some d6s - the difficulty based on how old the previous character is - and if they succeed, they automatically succeed with the best possible outcome: Fireball? Max damage. Shooting? The target is dead, if that was the goal.

On the surface it may seem broken. You may think players will abuse the abilities. But there is a price. The world knows someone is breaking the rules, and it fights back. Every time you use an ability from a previous character, there's a chance for Whiplash, where your character may get really hurt - or worse.

The Flux is very cool. I will be trying it at some point. And to my players: trust me, there were no spoilers in this post...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Flux
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Nation: Lustain
by Mike W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2017 13:49:23

This is now officially my favorite Thean nation. The Eidhoren class is great for being a "traveling ambassador" to other nations. Short and sweet with quite a bit of info. My only (minor) complaint- NO MAP. I'd like to know the shape and size of the nation and where it is visually in relation to others. Maybe add one later or on a more complete Thean map elsewhere. Keep up the good work! Looking forward to what else you have in store.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nation: Lustain
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