October 1, 2022

Golden Age of Khares

This is a preview/review of Golden Age of Khares, currently being Kickstarted as of a few hours before this posting.

I first was reached out to by Moose Lodge Games and was intrigued by the idea of the low fantasy book.

What you get is a big ole’ book with lots of flavor for running an age of Hannibal era game world. The setting is rich and deep. But best of all it has so many tables and details that will bring you into the feeling of a growing early civilization.

This is a setting based around low fantasy sword and sandals style gaming written for Low Fantasy Gaming by Pickpocket Press in mind. Low Fantasy Gaming is a neat system that follows the traditions of that other game with dragons while trying to give a grittier feel with a bit more limited magic in the world. The system itself really tries to pull some of the Old School feel into a newer design. See its Level 0 Ordeal system (also known to most as a funnel, thanks DCC).

However, as with many games that live in the vein of Old School this game can (and should) be ported fairly easily without much conversion needed. I can easily see this being turned into a book my gaming groups uses with Old School Essentials, which has become very popular in my play group, for obvious reasons.

But what do you get in this book? There is a whole world available to you and your play group to play in a world where it is completely possible to ride into war on an elephant. There is a very well fleshed out setting (the World of the Kharesian Empire) which has a history, geography, law system, pantheon, and more. There are some new classes that are offered that fit into the world of Khares.

Beyond the setting’s world, which is developed in the first chunk of the book, there is a large amount of setting material that is scattered in throughout the rest of the book. Player character classes, gear for an ancient sandals and swords setting, a unique skills system for the world, magic items, ancient relics and many many other pieces that help to bring the world alive. There are even drug addiction rules to help create another layer of complexity in this already well planned out setting.

Did I mention this is meant as a sandbox adventure setting? Oh I didn’t well it is and there are even some pages devoted to giving advice on running a sandbox. The offerings here are short and simple but are the base for running a great drop in and drop out” sandbox game, offering up ideas such as letting time pass between games as it would in the real world, specifically allowing for downtime activities to occur and some other ideas for ways to host a successful campaign with this increasingly popular style of play..

There is some cool art in the book preview that I was provided, a list of artists is available on the Kickstarter page.

The art in the preview book is scarce though pretty cool where present. I am not sure if these are place holders for later art that is planned or what he final plans are.

Now as far as settings go this is not going to be completely accurate to history on Earth, during the period being represented, but the author, Sam Renaud, states right at the beginning that the world has been created with modern fantasy tropes in mind so stepping away from an ancient world simulator but keeping many of the ideas that would be present in that world.

As I write these last few words I see the Kickstarter picking up speed. There is a super backer limited edition signed copy with a one time only alternative cover. If you grab it quick you can join the few that will ever have access to this Kickstarter edition!

I think this is one you will not want to miss. The art is great old school inspired. The setting is evocative and will allow you to ride that war elephant I to battle leading an army of spear welding soldiers. This work is enough to inspire me to start thinking about running a new world where Hannibal meets Dark Sun.

I look forward to the book and have already selfishly backed it before posting this review. I cannot wait until the project gets turned around and sent to my house. Look out for this up and coming producer of fine works. Moose Lodge Games will not disappoint!

Derek Bizier, The Halfling Master

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