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A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
$24.00 $12.00
Publisher: Expeditious Retreat Press
by Jacob S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2006 00:00:00

A Magical Medieval Society has been thoroughly reviewed, so I'll just add some comments that I think are not covered as much. The writing is quite good (easy to read and understand) and the editing is pretty good (some misspelled words and rough subsection placement), and the ideas it contains are well-reasoned. This puts a lot of knowledge about how medieval society functioned at your fingertips without you having to do nearly as much research. It's geared specifically towards integrating medieval societies more completely (and realistically) into the game, which I think provides a much better roleplaying experience. It also has instructions for generating aspects of medieval society that are often too complex for a DM to handle. What more could you ask for?

For one thing, better inclusion of magic. The discussion about how magic affects society are good, but as one of the focal points of the book they could be much better. Most information about how magic affects society is presented as ideas without enough incorporation into the instructions on how to generate manors, towns, etc. Also, the information is based strictly on the presentation of magic in the core rulebooks, which are geared towards adventurers, not society at large. It should be obvious that arcane spellcasters who are not adventurers would have a very different spell selection, geared toward accomplishing the hardest and most common tasks. These spells could easily be specialized in a way that makes them more powerful than the utility spells listed in the core rulebooks, although they'd mostly be useless to adventurers. For example, it is mentioned that the spell Mage Hand can help someone sow seeds twice as fast. However, one would expect that a spell caster would eventually develop a spell specialized for sowing (or harvesting) crops which could accomplish much more than Mage Hand, so the effect on society is larger than what comes from spells in the core rulebooks. In fact, it's possible and even likely that a spellcaster who does not go on adventures has a spell repertoire that is almost completely different from a PC wizard, other than ubiquitous spells such as Read Magic.

The problem the authors faced with assuming lots of spells that aren't in the core rulebooks is anticipating their effect on society. Actually, that's not too hard. Spells are most likely developed to accomplish the most labor intensive and unpleasant tasks. Which ones are those? Other than a few mentioned anecdotally (e.g. cleaning and harvesting), this information is not in the book. I don't think it would have been too difficult to research, especially given the depth of research which the rest of the book displays. One hint is the list of professions and their incidence rate. The fact that porter is one of the most common professions indicates that carrying things requires lots of labor -- there's probably spell casters in large cities that have spells specialized to help carry things. How does that affect society?

That said, the quality of this book is generally excellent and sufficient to allow any DM to simulate a realistically-feeling medieval society.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Great material, reasoning, and presentation.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Could have had better integration of magic into society.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>

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A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
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