Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Religion by Tim Willocks

Another novel recommended to me by fellow online players and readers of historical fiction, The Religion is a powerful novel that has a lot of elements going for it that would not only make a fantastic movie, but provide a ton of fodder for a role playing game.

Looking at the very begining for instance, in which young Mattias life is changed forever but has some historical basis.

"Thus, in the year of 1540, Mattias the blacksmith's son became a devshirme: a Christian boy gathered in the Gathering and drafted  for the Slaves of the Gate."

The young man in turn becomes a janissary, one of the elite soldiers. In and of themselves these might be minor things, but the weaving of the historical with the fiction with fine action sequences brings the book to life in its own way and provides a lot of depth that many settings are lacking.

On the other hand, the book doesn't focus extensively on this period of the main character's life. While those introduced here will play roles again, it doesn't go through each  and every year that he endured his initial training. When next we see him, he's a grown man with his own allies and enemies.

In its own way, this is espoused by many. Let the character develop through game play. In some instances I've seen, it's more like the novel here in that there are things hinted at in his background that eventually come to light in the book, but they are not needed at the start of the book and indeed, a new character may have a germ of an idea for his background, but unless it's going to directly effect how the campaign runs, don't be afraid to hold back some of the rare gems of events that happened prior to play and see if the GM can work them into the campaign.

Tim Willock's book is one with a lot of elements going for it and I'll be hitting it with a few more footnotes for at least a few more entries.