SUB ROSA #4
Under the Rose
The usual introduction to the ezine by its editor. It mentions the important fact that it is the firth issue, and so bundle subscriptions for 4 issues are possible at this point. A good milestone
It mentions how it is difficult to get reviews, so I feel somewhat useful doing this kind of reviews I am currently doing for sub rosa. As I mentioned to Mark and Ben, this is MUCH easier than writing the original stuff in SR or other Ars publications (any fool like myself can write a review), so I have to thank the authors for their hard work.
EDIT: I think I already said that somewhere… It is becoming a mark of my entries in SR
News from the Line Editor
David Chart tells us about the intricacies of how is the Ars Magica book business. An interesting insider look. He continues his exposition with a review of RoP: Faerie.
Letters (Darren Minguez, Mark Lawford, John Post, Sheila Thomas)
Reviews of articles and the general development of Sub Rosa from different points of view. Very interesting to see how others see the same things Since I am doing these reviews, and the one for Sub Rosa #3 did not came up pretty I identified myself with Mark Lawford’s comments on “armchair critic”. Well, this is what I am doing, so I will have to take it at face value
I also liked how the 4 letters addressed the issue in 4 different perspectives. Darren Miguez approached the Sub Rosa line in broad terms, making a birds eye overview. Mark Lawford made good comments about “well, do it yourself” and how Sub Rosa is a community project; Enlightening. John Post took a more no nonsense approach and said what he found the most useful in the line (one shot, easily filling adventures) and Sheila Thomas made a review of SR#3 that centres both in the content and the artistic part of it (something I never review, btw).
Faeries of Sub Rosa (Bestiary; Timothy Fergusson)
Only a description how to submit demands to have a faerie written about by Timothy Fergusson. This was a really nice idea, and as I mentioned in my review of SR#5 a great result IMO.
Comment from Atlas-Games (Michelle Nephew)
Michelle Nephew tells us about the Ars Magica webpage at Atlas Games. It is a resource that is sometimes forgotten when searching about Ars stuff, and that is a pity since it contains quite a few useful things Thanks for the reminder!
The Dying Drake (Adventure; Phil Chase)
I have mixed feelings about this adventure. I think that the concept is extremely cool, and the part with the drake and how the characters interact with it (many options open!) is really good. However, the first part (the temple) is somewhat forced. Looks like a DnD-ish adventure adapted to Ars Magica to me... The talk about magical shields with magical resistance (magic items do not have MR in Ars Magica...), just reinforces that idea. Such a powerful bad location would rarely pass unnoticed to the general populace, and in the sagas I have played my troupe would not have left such a location unnoticed easily, even if it was out of use already by the time the covenant was established. The characters would have investigated it quite some time ago already. Unless you introduce the temple in a previous session (and that can be a cool adventure in itself), its existence in the setting would be hard to justify. At least in my saga. The idea of the drake is very good, but I think that the adventure would need some adaptation to fit in most Ars sagas.
Elementals and Provenance (Ben McFarland & James Parks)
It seems that Ben and James were trying to make the creator of an elemental more able to manipulate it. The concept is cool. However, the later development might be a little bit weak. The influence of Provenance is extremely limited in how the Elemental reacts. The concept is cool, though. Taking a look at what elementalists should be doing is always a boon in my book
Explosive power in Mythic Europe (Background material; Mark Shirley)
I had not much idea about these concepts in the setting. It is cool to know. The discussion about how the gunpowder revolution is unlikely to happen in the setting is an extreme eye opener. I really enjoyed this piece.
Covenant Location: Seuthopolis (Covenant; Ben McFarland)
A covenant location in the frontier between Bulgary and the Greek principalities. This is a location that would require some work to set up (you need to repopulate a town, in practical terms), but has potential. I specially liked the linkages with the wider world of the Order of Hermes, and the broader Bulgarian picture that it brings. I missed some more info on the Bulgarian – exBizantine interactions, but that can be solved with some research.
Templars: the Infernal Brotherhood (Alex White)
Third article by Mr White about the templars. After the divine version comes the “bad guys” version of infernalist templars. A more twisted outlook of their history and practices along with the supernatural powers associated with the worst vision of the templars. Along the lines of what they were accused of, really. Wicked nasty! I loved it Not that I am going to use it, but after the previous 2 Templar articles this made the final spin.
It shows how you can take EXACTLY THE SAME STUFF and with only slight modifications turn it from white to black and back to grey or rainbow colors, ALL being true to the historical or quasi-historical facts. You decide what are the templars in your saga, and all versions can be correct. Well done!
About the article itself, it spins around how to reinterpret the facts and actions of the Templars to make them infernal. Their activity as bankers, their support for the Crusades and Reconquista (but not for the Cathar crusade)… It offers several potential sources for the corruption and allows you to chose between one of them, or several. I found it cool. The only thing that I would miss would be what infernal powers the high echelons of the Templars would be supposed to have, but that is a minor point.. I still prefer the purely mundane Templars, but these guys are cool as well. A great finish of the series overall
Beasts of the Realm II (Ben McFarland)
Here we continue the saga eith 3 more creatures, the Harpy, Centaur and Manticore. And again we end up with 3 creatures of Greek Mythology. Anyone said Sundered Eagle? (note, I have not yet checked if Mr Farland is an author of Sundered Eagle, would I would bet a rook of vis that he is). The creatures are good and well made, ready to be used in your saga straight away. The story hooks are slightly on the poor side, but you can’t ask for everything and the mother!
Hope you found that useful.