Nomads of the Nine Nations

a review by Bent Dalager
<bcd@pvv.ntnu.no>


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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'.


Historical Info

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.

Campaign Info

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.

Adventure Sites

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 :-)

Adventures

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.

Appendices

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.

NPCs

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.

Conclusion

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).
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Last modified: Tue Feb 25 01:49:22 MET 1997