Ultimate Roman Legions Guide (Legend)
Publisher: Mystical Throne Entertainment
Cost: $3.95 (PDF)
Page Count: 60
Release Date: 05/01/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com (PDF)
This sourcebook is an historical compendium of information on the famous Roman armies during the height of their military power, roughly 30 BCE to about 290 CE. This version of the book is for Legend, a fantasy role=playing game from Mongoose Publishing based on RuneQuest. I am not familiar with Legend, but I thought I would take a look at this book anyway and see what it had to offer.
The Might of the Legions
While I have studied the Roman Empire in its later periods, I don’t know a lot about the age of military might and expansion that this volume covers. This is perhaps the period Rome is most famous for though, and the book seems to be pretty comprehensive and written from an authoritative and knowledgeable position. It starts off with a bit of flavor, a few pages of story to give the reader a feeling for the period and attitudes of the army. After some historical information, the book drops a list of gear consisting of weapons, armor, and siege weapons. Following that, details about the structure of the legion from ranks to unit organization are laid out with their Latin terms and meanings, along with a listing of known standing legions from the time.
Next up is an interesting and concise tactical guide detailing how the units would be arranged on the battlefield and their basic tactics. This sections has some nice diagrams letting the reader know how things were expected to progress, and what the physical arrangement might typically be when facing armies such as the Germanic tribes. A short section on life in the Roman legions gives the reader insight into what the typical soldier did and how they were seen in society. Along with these tidbits are sections on the structure of the transportation infrastructure, the menagerie of people that made up or followed the army around, political uses of the army, and then information on various emperors during the time period this book covers.
The last twenty or so pages of the book get to some stats, characters, and adventure seeds. This is the only portion of the book that is not purely historical information. You get a big list of character professions, some pre-generated characters, and some statted-out NPCs. After that, you have two adventures sketched out in a nice format, with names of pertinent people, the plot, etc. The first one involves investigating a senator for occult behavior,and the second one is a scouting mission where the players may have to make some tough moral choices when they contact barbarian tribes.
This is a well-presented volume and has a lot of concise information about the Roman armies during this period. The material is quite dry and has a textbook feel, but it does deliver the facts. There are full-page illustrations interspersed throughout, and there are some nice visual aids which are nice and colorful to appeal to people like me (I suppose). I think any game master looking to run a game or campaign in Roman times would find this quite useful and especially folks who may not be familiar with this historical period may enjoy the overview given of the troops, emperors, and major battles that occurred. This book does seem to focus on the conflicts with the Germanic tribes and seems to wholly ignore other forces that Rome’s legions faced such as the Sassanids, but this is not a definitive historical tome, it’s a game book. If you’re looking for a quick but thorough reference for your Roman history needs, this seems like a great book to pick up. It’s pretty cheap, and it can help you add authentic flavor to your game.