Here is my review of that edition #16.
Under the rose : a bit of explanations, why this edition of subrosa presents us with settings before and after the "normal" period of time for the 5th edition game. I'm curious : does each edition move further in time? did 1st edition start in 1000 or something?
This edition will be mainly focused on "settings" adapted from the time. If you are interested by the normal setting, this subrosa will probably not give you much. Perhaps some background ideas (older settings) and breakthrough ideas (future). This issue is mainly using the same structure : presentation, virtues/flaws, houses, ideas of sagas, future events.
From the line editor back in march when this issue was out, some IRL events have marked the world i guess, and David's comment about how Ars is not talking about religions nor jauging them but only using a fictional versions of them, was certainly very accurate.
Britannia 550 AD probably the time setting I like the less; not by his content, but by his theme: there is no Order... hence all my source material about the Hermetic magic is irrelevant. The only thing I liked is the bit about Merlin.
The author gives a good outlook on what could have been the life of magi at the time.
BTW: Something in the presentation of subrosa seems to have changed too, for the first time (if it happened in a prior edition it's the first time I notice it): NPCs are given an insert on different pages (not in the normal text) for their stat. I guess it allows a easier print/copy and allow easy reference in IRL game.
The glamourous swamp a theme adventure about faerie and swamp. Classical but with the author's vision about goal of the faerie and background information as to "why" the faerie could be there and not move, and "how" the magi can save the day.
865 AD: "voventes centennales" I guess I forgot a lot about the background because I didn't remember that so much time has passed between first and second GT. Here we have the same idea: the order is new, and PCs' are in charge of a lot. On the bright side, much of breakthroughs are to be done soon (Vim upgrade, etc.).
The background of the game gave many ideas of topics for that tribunal (and saga) such as the lotharingian tribunal, the brittany-west frank tribunal boundaries conflict, etc.
Names of primi, covenants, at the time are provided.
What I liked a lot is the map of the Order at the time.
A pity, maybe, is that, due to the lack of official information, Diedne are set as NPCs. Nevertheless, the author suggest, if PCs are to be used, reference to subrosa 13 which dealt a lot with diedne house. I refer to my comment on that issue (a very good one !!) for more information.
From the Journal of Vulcanis argens our favored Verditius ambition/hubris puts him on the infernal journey... what a turn of events! To become the leader of his covenant, he pactises with the dark magus... I thought of that entry a very good depiction (does that said?) of the ambition/hubris combo with a driven flaw.
I like them. Once again, a very inspiring entry, with lots of ideas for adventures.
1050AD: the order shaken 1050 is the only era for which this edition provides 2 different settings. This one is dark with the peace acquired by the schism war about to be broken, rivalties are resurfacing (Normandy...)
1050AD: rest assured is an adventure in that setting.
1050AD: strange alliances : another setting for the era, more about integration and discussion with the powers (church and kings). That setting is quite more described, so maybe easier to use for those who are not pro's in history. I gues much of the setting could be used with the other version too.
Mythic weapons: using the "magic thing" chapter, the others invent "mythic weapons", that is weapons with might and powers. Why not. I liked the infernal axe .
The third lineage: the cursed line ah, the lineages are back. This time, the linage is a bit more "cursed". I don't know if that is normal or not, because I didn't read all the detailed magi presented (I fear the "more and more and more twisted personalities" syndrom, while I expect some magi to be "normal" ones) but some magi have a curious "uninspired" name "pierre", "mark". Is the author running out of ideas? I hope not, but perhaps he will go explore another house for renewal.
BTW: I liked the art of this edition a lot.
1470 AD: after the plague : perhaps the most hard era to describe: the order must and had evolve, the author did a choice (erasing some houses, changing others) which may not appeal to all readers. I like the idea of the breakthrough "hiding the gift" even if I don't understand why it would have as consquence a diminution of labtotals and other magic practice (the parma didn't... as a hermetic breakthrough it's a bit lame).
Good description ingame of the plague. A lot of work done on the houses background.
Six strangers gather 'round a table : I haven't read that article since it's about IRL stuff (ars magica conventions) I will never be able to attend.
the intangible enchanter : a follow up about "the intangible assassin" article in issue 15, which was itself a followup of the hermetic projects idea.
Usual mappa mundi : as usual, links on the net about all those era's settings.
In the whole, a good issue, but better for those who want to go deeper about other eras than the normal one (1220+) for our games of Ars magica.