Friday, April 2, 2010

The Naama War by Charles R. Saunders

The Naama War wraps up the Imaro series begun so long ago by Charles Saunders. Originally unpublished by the first and second publisher, through the magic of Lulu, we have a conclusion.

But what does that mean for a role playing game?

1. Temptation Awaits: Bohu, Imaro's nemesis first introduced in the previous volume, is much like Darth Vader in that in Imaro, he sees a worthy ally with many similarities to himself. Unlike Darth Vader though, there is no redemption for Bohu. Rather, he is there to act as a counter point for Imaro and as a source of temptation. As something to make Imaro think of his own life and the similarities that he and Bohu share.

2. Defeat Awaits: While being the 'star' of the book, Imaro is not invicible and suffers a few setbacks in his time. One of those set backs results in the death of yet another of Imaro's loved ones and showcases the dangers that normal people put themselves in when they associate with heroes.

3. Adventure Awaits: Despite his truimpth at the end of the novel, Imaro is a wanderer who seeks answers about himself rather than power over others. This isn't necessarily something that's a problem in 3rd and 4rth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, but in previous editions, when characters came of name level, they might retire and build their own little castles, allowing the adventure to come to them so to speak. Like the previous book, Imaro had a life that would be considered sheltered at the start of that novel and action happened to make him seek out adventure. Here, despite the lure of ruling a people who need him, Imaro heads out for further adventure. This allows the writer to place Imaro in all sorts of situations in the future should he choose to do so.

4. The Named: Shingane is known as the Great Elephant. He is a named character. he is a great and dangerous warrior who fights for the enemy. As I've mentioned before, giving a character a name and a title makes the players know that they are onto something and that their encounter with such a named individual will not be standard. Even giving weapons a name, such as the Great Elephant's stabbing spear with a barbed head has one, Ixwa "I eat". Named weapons, even when non-magical, have history and association attached to them.

5. Beware the Scope: While The Naama War is the most epic Imaro novel yet, it almost suffers from the lack of Imaro in it. While there are other important characters in there, Imaro is the star so to speak and having such a wide scope when the rest of the cast isn't... weak, but rather, not initially given the star time that Imaro was nor the build up, the sections between Imaro and the rest makes for a contrast. Try to insure that everyone is getting the star time they deserve but if there are players who aren't interested in such, move on.