Game: A Question of Loyalty: A Guidebook to Military Orders
Publisher: Alea Publishing
Review Dated: 1st, July 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
I’m way behind on reviews – and it sucks. Sometimes, though, sometimes it is an advantage. Since Alea published A Question of Loyalty: A Guidebook to Military Orders we’ve seen APG Paper Figures: Military Orders and even APG Paper Figures: Gladiators added to their PDF offerings. Okay; these other two are just little things but every bit of support helps. Alea, not one of the publishers to appear right after d20 or even in the initial wave of PDF prospectors, does seem to be doing what it takes to become an established name. Their PDF handling skills have risen too. There’s nothing to grumble about here. Having the paper figures (for inspiration and a head start) and these rules together really will get a military order based campaign off to a flying start.
You’re paying $5 for your 44 colour pages. I think that represents your usual PDF value for money. Alea have talented artists on their side. The PDF ends with three quality pieces of bird’s eye view cartography.
Military Orders quickly explains what’s meant by a Class Template. A template is applied to a class in the same way a monster template is applied to a monster. Just as the case with the usual template the class template carries an Effective Level cost but unlike the monster template the advantages come in on a level up basis. There are prestige classes in this supplement but the main thrust of the offering are the military orders and the template classes for them. Template classes allow fighters, rangers and any other suitable class you’re using to join the Order.
Alea’s default campaign world is an Earth-like fantasy. It’s not much of a surprise to find some well known names in the list of Orders. We have the Brotherhood of the Temple of Solomon, Knights of St. John of the Hospital, Order of the Perpetual Day, The Teutonic Knights, The Austere Order of the Nameless saint and The Secular Orders.
The two prestige classes, detailed later on in the PDF, are the Grandmaster and the Knight Commander.
I quite like the Class Templates. I don’t like the mechanics for loans offered in the previous chapter. There’s a loan skill – give it skill points and get 100gp each time you do, pay back that 100gp and get back your skills point. The loan feat is worse; every time you take the feat you get 1000gp, pay the gold back and re-claim the feat option. My first thought was that it was a sly way to carry Feats spaces until you’ve met tough prerequisites. More simply, I just don’t like the magical appearance of gold (if you can roleplay out convincing someone to give you a loan, then you’ve convinced someone to give you a loan so why pay the points?) and the bizarre situation where you can pay gold back (and do you have to travel one thousand miles back to the city you were in last year and pay back the very same merchant or will any bank do?) and suddenly find more skills and feats at your disposal. I dislike the Overdraft loan rules – where, weirdly, if you owe money then you suffer mechanic penalties like -5 hit points or -1 on attack rolls. These penalties are supposed to be due to the extra work and tiredness of replaying the overdraft – but what if your character chooses to make no such effort? It’s worth noting that the introduction to the history of loans and the banking system that we know is interesting though and will, I’m sure, inspire quite a few GMs.
There are feats which are exclusive to characters in a military order. The [Order] prerequisite means the character has to have the Order Class ability. Alea’s world is Earth like but not mundane Earth. Just as some of the Orders are clearly magically aware there are feats like Hunter of the Dead, Improved Share Spells and Turn Enemies of the Light.
There’s plenty magic to be found in the new spell section and even in the Remedies of Poultices chapter before. Remedies and Poultices are essentially very minor and very specific magic items. You’ll have a poultice or remedy to cure fire damage or another one for acid damage. In the new spell chapter there are rules for spell augmentation of a type which doesn’t require metamagic feats. Unlike the loan rules which I just don’t like – I just can’t get my head around these augmentation rules.
The new monsters in the supplement have a distinctly Egyptian (Egyus in Alea’s world) feel to them. There’s the dire jackal, the jackal, scarab beetles and the spawn of anubis.
Despite some disagreements with A Question of Loyalty: A Guidebook to Military Orders I’ve found the supplement to be pretty good. The mechanics encourage a certain flavour and style to the game – this is something I look for in a core rule book but it can be a problem in a supplement. If you’re playing an Earth like fantasy game and have a strong presence of military orders and high magic – then this Guidebook to Military Orders will suit you.