Following Men & Monsters of the Aegean, the folks at Skirmisher Game Development Group now give BASH gamers the Player’s Guide to the Aegean a guide to creating heroes for their Swords of Kos fantasy rpg set in the lands and isles around the ancient Aegean and Mediterranean seas.
As with the last BASH product, the book is a mix of modern and old artwork, some black and white and some in colour. We are given beautiful colour maps of the greater Mediterranean area and the Aegean in close-up. The Isle of Kos, the center of their setting is also mapped out in black and white and perfect for handing to every player in a cost effective manner.
The Player’s Guide provides a quick history of this world of ancient Greek legend as it would have progressed a few centuries, without the dominance/interference of Rome. In this alternate Grecian history there was a great cataclysm a century earlier that brought many monsters and races back to the world (including a few new ones).
This book provides players many options for the two most fundamental aspects of their characters: Where they come from (culture); and, what race they are. For cultures there is the Catalhoyuk (mountainous region that has forsaken metalwork and technology), Greater Peloponnese (warrior peoples of Sparta and environs), Attica & City State of Athens (lands of the traditional Hellenic culture), Republic of Rhodes (nation of seafarers), Kos & the Aegean Isles (a melting pot of the region, also strongly tied to the sea), Kingdom of Lydia (a nation run by the wealthy, for the wealthy), Tetrarchy of Anatolia (an aggressive land of humans and hobgoblins), Grand Duchy of Porphyris (an island that is home to many pirates), and Abbadonia (a tyrannical nation of islands rules by manticores).
Each of these nations/regions is given a quickly absorbed, summary description and lists of required or common skills, advantages, disadvantages, and powers that players must, or might buy as part of their background. The “required” items, if a region even has one at all, is just one skill, Stat level, or disadvantage that is intrinsic to the people of that land. The “common” listings are just great suggestions that fit the typical citizens with this background. BASH is a points-buy system and there are no free rides, so the player must pay for any of these traits from their starting character points. Each region section provides an example of a player using these trait offerings to build their unique and representative background (a great touch here).
The races section gives a good mix of traditional races from Greek myth as well as the usual DnD staple: Antaean (large 7’ tall peoples), Arachnaean (think DnD drider or spider-centaur), Centaur, Cynocephalian (a dog-headed people), Cyprean Bull Centaur (bovine centaurs), Dragonkin (humanoid dragon people), Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Merfolk (Princess Arial-like, fish-human hybrid), Myrmidon (ants, given humanlike form, with bodies covered in a natural, bronze-like chitin resembling plate armor), Orc, and Satyr (Pan-like, goat-human hybrids). Oh yes, and human, by far the most dominant species of the setting, is available but not given any special treatment.
Some of these races might be more, or less, common than other types, depending upon what areas of the Aegean you travel. As with regions, these races each have required and suggested traits and powers offered for the players. Each description illustrates how the race is integrated into the Swords of Kos setting. The race section provides unique powers (like Arachnean Prophecy, wherein an Arachnean character with the Domestic/Weaving skill, may take the Clairvoyance power with the limitation of must weave to use). Collectively, the races offered make a great and broad selection sure to meet most players’ tastes.
Overall, this is a good book for a setting that mixes traditional fantasy with Greek myth.