A review of Subrosa #8 by... me
I finally had time to read it entirely, so here it comes, my little review of #8.
What is on the agenda? (the "" stuff is mine)
- the classical under the rose, [preview]
- the news from the line editor [interview]
- a storyguide handbook [handbook]
- the way of st james [adventure/storyseeds]
- from the journal of vulcanis argens [storyseeds]
- an article about magical art [interview]
- a new legend of the order, Belin of Mercere [adventure/storyseeds]
- an interview with Lisa Stevens [interview]
- a companion [NPC/storyseeds]
- and the mappa mundi thread. [various]
I'll start in the order with articles for which I feel like it would be nice to comment.
- News from David chart.
Personally, one of my favorite piece of this subrosa. This time, as opposite to the previous one, David is not giving us ideas about the upcoming supplements (perhaps because this issue was scheduled for long ago ^^) but rather on his own vision about Ars. And I must say, even if the article only take 1 page, I like what I read. Having started with this edition to play ars... I enjoy reading what David says about the game I like!
Concretly, he speaks about his vision of the game, and compare it a bit with other game. He also explains why there are some huge gaps in the current magic rules, and assumes that all limits (except the limit of time which creates powergaming problems) are made for the player to break them and find improvements of magic theory. I like it.
- SG handbook
As usual SG handbook is about an issue the SG will, one day or another, have. And this time, it's about... "preparing for trouble". IE: combat encounter.
And I liked the explanations. The author explains WHY combat encounters are so important (focus and gather), but alos WHY combat encounters should not be too long (disconcentration). He gives ideas about the planning, how to try to size up the opposition, and what can be done with the terrain and environment. As for combat, in general, I think Lords of Men is a very good supplement which adresses many questions and this article may be used in addition to that book.
The author also gives ideas of botches (which is interesting because we all lack the "what will this botch be" answer in crucial times!).
He also adresses the "group" problematic (which can make magi unstoppable by mundane army) and wards.
Finally, he uses some tips from other systems to provide ideas to use in your favorite Ars game.
- The way of saint james (scenario)
This article adresses an adventure relative to the new book "the church". As usual with the adventures in subrosa I think, a lot of information are provided but some references to templates are done.
It is located in Spain and may be hard to move in another tribunal unless changing all the places.
Because it uses a lot of church mechanism, those are heavily expanded. Which, for those who owns the book, will sound redundant... but for those who haven't that book, it will be very useful to enjoy some nice little touches of detail!
A lot of story seeds for other ideas are provided, which could turn into a big campain theme!
The adventure looks interesting, I will have to read it many times before trying to play it with my troupe.
- from the journal of Vulcanis argens
Perhaps it is becoming a "routine" of subrosa, but this article, about the journal of a magus, does what it always does: gives ideas of names, places, adventures, storyseeds, magical objects, quests... as would do any fantasy book.
In itself, it is only "text", but any SG could try to transform it in adventures. And since the theme is ALREADY "ars magica"... the turning is really easy!
- An interview with Grey Thornberry
The man is an artist, responsible for many covertures (all of them? I'm not sure). Yes, his art is really nice (I personnaly adore the mysteries, the infernal the mysteries, the lion and the lily, hedge magic and ROP faerie.
But I have something to say about the article. It's not bad in itself, and the fact that it takes like 10 pages is not a bother since subrosa is not limited by pages. But for people like me, who enjoy seeing a drawing, but are not in drawing themselves, it felt like "1 step of the drawing process by page" is too much. For those artists among us... go for it! it may be interesting. But I'm not sure. I mean, if you want drawing courses, wouldn't you find better ones on the web?
Personnally I liked the evolution, but did not read all the texts and "how to" stuff.
The interview in itself is interesting, but I must say that I generally do not really much pay attention to the writers/authers real personalities. I enjoy what they do for my favorite games, but that's all.
Alas, this is the kind of thing which I think you read once, then never read again (at the opposite of adventures or settings or whatever) and it decreases its value IMO.
- A new legend of the order
This adventure is set - I did not read it in details since it seems to adresss a period I do not play with - in the early years of the order.
As such, I have seen interesting notes about events which occured in those years, something useful to any SG wanting to colour his BG.
However, if you do not play in the early years, I fear this adventure would be hard to translate to a "normal" time lined game.
However, the details of the adventure itself (new virtues, items, abilities...) are huge. And the adventure does 22 pages! I think any SG could find interesting ideas, even if the adventure is unplayable in itself due to its time frame.
7/10 (and I did not even read it carefully!)
- Interview with Lisa Stevens
Another interview. I'd say two are too much. But however, even if i do not care about the person, reading something about "why is Ars the way it was in 1st edition" felt... nostalgic and a bit interesting.
The fact that the "founders" did think about "there are many way to do something" is interesting, and the article may serve as an interesting "eyes opener" for some people.
However, I would not reread such part which decrease its rating.
Note: I was a starwars fan before reading it, but didn't know about the "who first shot" issue. Han did. Of course. The opposite is just unbelievable!.
- Companion Piece: Bohemond of Lucern
A new "classical type of article"? I hope so!
Here, we have a companion, and he is described: sheet, history, how to improve him... Stories... Really a great idea either for any player wanting a knight, or for any SG wanting a "ready" story with NPC.
- Mappa mundi
the "various" article of Subrosa.
Personally I enjoy reading it. It talks about things which I really don't use (metacreator, mapping tools, documents and notes on the web like evernote which we discussed on this board some months ago ) and smartphones/tablets. But it's interesting to read what is done in the world for our favorite game!
- Next issue
- founding one's covenant
- IRL medieval texts to use
- playing second edition (I like the nostalgic feeling of it ^^)
- companion piece: a pious man friend with wizards! and with a God-given cause! Oh His God!
This issue brought me a lot of adventures/story seeds (I like that) and a companion to use. However, I have read 2 interviews, for only 1 "handbook". But the adventures are totally worth it, and finally, with or without the two interviews, you would pay the same price. So go for it, and you may even learn things about Ars you didn't know by reading those interviews of insiders!
General note: 8/10 (for the issue #8... classical!)