Ring Side Report-Concert of Europe
Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!
Product-The Concert in Flames
Producer- Cubicle Seven
Price- ~$20 here
TL; DR- Great adventure, but only for the GM. 87%
Basics-Can you stop Europe from burning? An ancient evil is being awoken by a small group trying to upset the tentative balance of Europe and bend a fiend to their will while the fate of the Concert of Europe rides in the balance. This book also provides GM with extremely detailed notes on the geopolitical standing of the Europe countries in 1856.
Mechanics or Crunch-This is NOT an option book, but that doesn't make it a bad book. This book adds some new mechanics like new races and a new country specific creature or enemy for each of the different regions discussed. It's good, but you should not expect some new options and creatures each page like a player's option book or monster manual. The countries do have great write ups describing the make-up of each country, so you can quickly create things like a group of upscale Russians if you need them at a moment's notice. The adventure has simple stat blocks for each enemy which will make running the adventure easy and quick. What's here is well done, but you cannot go into this one hoping for tons of new crunch. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff- This is where the book truly excels. Just like the base book, this book could almost be an excellent historical reference if you strip out the steampunk and magic elements. Each country in 1850's Europe gets an in-depth write-up. The adventure itself has a ton of depth as well as a great story for your players to run amuck in. The story has elements of government intrigue, magic, religion, and some trans-country train adventure. It's great steampunk fun. 5/5
Execution- While the fluff and crunch are great; the execution has a few problems. There are some art to break up the text, but there are too many pages with just black text on grey background. This is a classic case of textbook problem. I do like some the way the book is divided. But, the font is a bit too small. And, there is just too much of it. This book also makes an inexcusable error for any fantasy book discussing geography. There is NO detailed map of Europe! Nor is there a map of the adventure train routs. While the countries are basically the same as real world 1856, a better map would have really helped with adventure design and the adventure in the book. I do like the pictures from the adventure as you get some nice hand drawn pictures of some of the major characters. All together, this isn't a badly executed book, but some flaws do hurt the overall presentation. 3.5/5
Summary- If you want to take your players across Victoriana Europe, then buying this book is a no brainer. GM's get all the information they need to make each European country feel distinct from one another with far more depth than there is in the base Victoriana book. If you want crunch options, then this book isn't for you. The adventure in this book is a fun romp across Europe as the players try to keep the Concert of Europe from falling apart. If that's the kind of adventure you and your players want to play, this is a great adventure. However, if you don't want to control the fate of the world and just want to play a game in London, then this is one to pass. There are some concerns I have with the execution, but those won't prevent you from enjoying this book if you want some excellent write ups describing Europe. If you want some cross European intrigue and a great adventure to start that controversy, go get this one. 87%