I went into the Auran Empire Primer with open eyes not expecting that much, this is the implied & now fully fleshed out OSR setting for the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg system. The whole setting implies not so much the usual Sword & Sorcery of D&D but Late Antiquity, around 250 - 750 AD."Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages in mainland Europe, the Mediterranean world, and the Middle East. " . This is the time period that saw the Roman Empire split in two, with the western half eventually dying while the eastern half of the empire continuing until 1453.Auran isn't the Roman Empire, there are some really interesting marked differences right off the bat. The fact that Auran is an empire with its cracks beginning to really taking its toll on many fronts means that there are lots of places for adventurers to make a difference. The setting is close to a Constantinople of the era of Antiquity in many respects including a reaming cross section of peoples, religions,and weirdness of a world on the edge. This is a place of forbidden black magic, the blackest magic that cracks peoples souls & beastmen capable of rending an empire in half.
This book presents in twenty five pages an overview of places, things, religions, cultures, and other elements that we've heard in other ACK's products such as ACKS Player's Companion, The Sinister Stone of Sakkara, & Axioms digital magazine. That's pretty much only half of the material though.
What this book actually is a showcase of the elements from Adventurer, Conqueror, King & a kit for creating your own world if you want to look past the usual set pieces & system place holders which one finds in other OSR games. This system has a good grounding in real world as its inspiration & that to me seems to make a solid difference;"The ancient civilizations that precede the campaign’s era have realworld
cultural analogues as well. The ancient Argollëan elven civilization resembles a sort of Proto-Helleno-Celtic culture; imagine if the Danaans of Ancient Greece and the Danaans of Ancient Ireland
were actually the same people, part of a single, more advanced civilization. The ancient Thrassian civilization is inspired by Sumerian civilization with an Aztec aesthetic, while the subsequent Zaharan civilization is inspired by pre-Hellenistic Akkadian civilization with some Egyptian flavoring. The early Auran “Empyrean era” civilization draws on elements of the Minoans, Mycenaeans, and Sea Peoples, with extensive Heroic Age Greco-Roman (Illiad, Aeneid) inspirations." This is a case of heavy is the head that wears the crown and that head just might be your PC, if their very lucky & the players might think outside the box.
So what does the Auran Empire Primer bring to the table that's different then say Greyhawk or some other old school rpg setting book? Not much & that's fine with me! Let me explain here, the book presents a brief bite sized overview of the Auran world setting & it does it with a nice level of presentation along with some really well done artwork, cartography, and ideas. The overview is brief, to the point, and gives me exactly the level of detail that I want without overwhelming me with lots of filler BS that I don't need. In other words this is a place that I want to set adventures in.Its not a world that is so on fire that I as a DM don't have room or a elbow space to set up my own political or world events in. This is often one of the problems that I've had with other RPG products, the world events are happening right now! There's no time to get to know anything or do great deeds, your characters have to be heroes now! Well they do but in a system such as Adventurer, Conqueror, King they're going to need to build PC in roads into the world. This book helps to fill in the colour and setting material that you need.
Did I mention that the book sells for only two dollars and fifty cents? All in all I think that the Auran Empire Primer does a really killer job of presenting the world of the empire and its very well done product.
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[5 of 5 Stars!]