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Minireview: The First Year of Our Reign

The First Year of Our Reign collects the first six “ransomed” supplements for Greg Stolze’s Reign into print form, with nice formatting and also lots of content from the Reign wiki added in. This is a very interesting book from a publishing viewpoint: all of the content here is available for free… in fact, the book itself is available for free in PDF form (!). The print version is, obviously, priced as a real book because printing costs money (duh). I actually have the (pretty!) full-color limited version, which Greg showed to me at Ropecon and which awakened my “it… must… be… mine!” reflexes, much to the detriment of my wallet. But anyway: this is a book that collects now-free Reign PDF content into print form.

Now, you might imagine that the market for such would be small, and you’d be both right and wrong. Right in that the market is small; all indie rpgs operate in tiny markets. Wrong since within that market, quite a few people (me included) are interested in a print copy of stuff they already have as PDF (or could get as PDF if they wanted). Why? Well, for one, reading a book is just so much nicer that reading a pile of printouts or text from a computer screen. Also, the damn thing just looks so pretty (Daniel Solis’ cover art is, again, brilliant). Greg did not want to double-charge people for PDF stuff that (some) had already paid for, so he opted for this solution: free PDF, and the hardcopy costs enough to cover print and distribution cost. I think that’s cool.

In fact, I’ve actually now paid for this material twice, since I’ve also participated in ransoming all the supplements included here. Am I crazy? Dunno. I like to think of it as supporting artists that I like.

Enough about the business aspects of the thing… what’s it about? Well, as noted it collects the first six supplements, and that means a mismash of extra stuff for Reign. Most of it is specific to the game world (cultures, regional info, etc), but lots of that could easily be transported over to other game worlds too. Some of the ideas here are really cool – sorcerers who need to eat eyeballs in order to keep up their powers, and a society built around that, just to mention one detail. There is some pure “crunch” here, too, but world info dominates. Pretty much all of it is interesting and very varied & colorful.

This was actually the first time I read all of this material from beginning to end, before this I have just read bits and pieces here and there from the PDFs. Read as a whole, it’s a lot more coherent and works better.

So… if you’re running or thinking of running Reign, there’s a lot of cool stuff here to include in your game, even if you’re not using Greg’s game world – as noted, most of the cultures etc can be transported elsewhere with relatively little effort, I’d imagine. If you’re unsure, just grab the free PDF version of the book and check it out.

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