Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Tribune by Patrick Larkin

Another book from the Half Price Books dollar rack. Either I've read it before or something very similar to it. Told in first person, it takes a bit of a long journey through 'Ancient Rome' and brings our hero Lucius into contact with all sorts of corruption and other issues that go against his own believes and standards.

I enjoyed reading (rereading?) it because it moves quickly. I've read some complaints that the characters takes are too modern and that the writing is wooden but it was accessible and moved quick enough for me so I didn't find either of those a big issue.

I'll be discussing some of the potential role playing bits from the novel below so if you want to avoid any specific spoilers, read no further.

1. Competing Interest: Lucius finds himself at odds with many powerful individuals but one of the things that keeps things moving and happening is that many of those powerful individuals are at odds with one another causing all manner of conflict that Lucius is able to navigate to a bit more safety than he might otherwise have.

2. Look In The Unexpected: During the second half of the book, a Senator and his guards are murdered. The Tribune must find their killers which means finding their armor, silks, vast sums of wealth, and other tell tale bits. While they are reluctant to look in the tombs, it does come up as a point of unexpected treasure hiding. Another place that might, but wasn't mentioned here, is latrines. Back in the day, digging out your latrines would at the very least, provide you a hole in the ground if nothing else.

3. Friends in High Places:  During their seeking out of clues, Lucius and his friends meet a noble woman whose elderly husband has died, leaving her a widow. Lucius and her strike out quite well which works in Lucius advantage later when he is in need of assistance. Letting the party gather allies and friends, in some games, like Hero, by spending resources is well and good, but good role playing should result in both new enemies and new allies. If the players are paladins and stand for truth and honor, then those who despite those things will become their adversaries easily enough, but those who also stand for those things should be providing information and alliance to the players on the grounds that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Or something along those lines.

4. Outlaw Wizards: One of the interesting things is that an astrologer here provides a bit of trouble. At this time, Rome has outlawed wizards and others of their magic ilk. This astrologer though operates under a special license so to speak from the Emperor himself. But when looking at how and why magic isn't everywhere and anywhere, the outlawing of magic is a quick way to turn players into refuges.