Friday, August 26, 2011

The Red Wolf Conspiracy

Occassionally the Science Fiction Book Club will recommend something to me while I'm picking up say, The Barry Windsor Smith Archieves of Conan for a very low price. One of them was the Red Wolf Conspiracy. I'm always interested in seeing how new authors, or at least authors I haven't read, are doing in terms of what they bring to the genre.

The shoft list is that this is a fun book that has a fairly wide cast of characters. It involves numerous nationalities and social classes. It has magic, but isn't about throwing fireballs and lightning bolts about. It's an entertaining read.

I'll be looking at some of the specifics below so if you want to avoid spoilers, read no further.

"Pazel, however, was a bonded servant and a foreigner- even worse, a member of a conquered race."

One of the things that's interesting here is the use of one nation as a 'super nation' if you will that has bested several other nations and accumulated their people into its own workforce and borders. This does not go smoothly many times and resentments linger. Those of the 'super nation' carry an air of superiority about them and are dismissive of many other nationality's own gifts, including those of magic believing very little in it unless directly confronted.

These traits can make good role playing attributes for new characters. Those who are playing older characters, may tone down the arrogance and attitude as they may have seen their home nation at both its best and its worst. Those who are playing younger characters, or nationalist, may adopt a my country right or wrong, the ethos of the super patriot. Of course if they find out that they're all sacrifical lambs sent out to start a war, their attitude may change...

The opposite is also true though. Those who are conquered may be bitter.

"They tried to kill us for hundreds of years, and couldn't. You managed it in two days."

"Crawlies! Muckin' sewer-sippin' whorespawned grubs! I'll kill ye!"

One of the things that the book introduces is the Ixchel. Imagine if you will, the old carton characters, The Littles, but armed and armored like Tarzan or Conan. A wild savage lot who have suffered a great deal at the hands of people who don't understand them and fear them.  These individuals are assumed to bring bad luck and are hunted down. They are supposed to sink ships and do other unspeakable things. But they show themselves here as a warrior race.

This is an interesting take on a race of tiny individuals. It also makes for a different take on things. When designing your races, think of how you can make things different. Think of how you can switch things up.