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Trifletraxor

CRUSADERS OF THE AMBER COAST - A Northern Crusades Campaign for BRP

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crusaders-of-amber-coast.jpgThis book contains all the information required to run your Northern Crusade game with the Basic Roleplaying game system, including magic rules for the Christian crusaders and the pagan druids and witches, as well as game statistics for creatures of the Baltic folklore. Create your own scenarios, with your heroes siding either with the Crusading invaders or with the Baltic natives, or play through the included campaign that spans over several years of game time and takes you through the most important events of the Baltic epic.

It is the year 1206 AD. In the city of Riga, a Christian outpost in the pagan lands of the frozen North, Prince-Bishop Albert founds the Brotherhood of the Sword to subjugate the pagans and convert them to the True Faith. Twenty years later, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, the Stupor Mundi, decrees in his Golden Bull of Rimini that the lands conquered by the Teutonic Order in Prussia will belong to the warrior monks. Knights, friars and colonists from all over the Empire move towards the Baltic Sea to find forgiveness for their sins and commodities for their trade, as the Baltic coast is home to the strangest of the precious stones: Amber. The age of the Northern Crusades has begun.The path to virtue, glory and riches lies in front of your heroes, but countless enemies stand between them and their goals: the ruthless Lithuanians of Archduke Mindaugas, the Mongol raiders of Genhgis Khan's Golden Horde, and emerging Russian Princes like young Aleksandr Nevskij. And in the deep woods and dark marshes of the Baltic Coast, fantastic creatures and ancient deities await.

By Paolo Guccione. 160 pages. Published by Alephtar Games April 2010.

Edited by Trifletraxor

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I have just bought this in a Parisian gaming shop. I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to play a game set in a historic/low magic fantasy Europe, not only in Northern Europe, as the rules for piety, blessings, holiness, etc. can be re-used in any European mediaeval locale.

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Alephtar Games has a tendency to make my roleplaying life more and more complicated, be-

cause first Rome and now the Crusaders of the Amber Coast are so good that I have to write

settings using that excellent material ... ;)

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I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to play a game set in a historic/low magic fantasy Europe...

... the Crusaders of the Amber Coast are so good that I have to write settings using that excellent material ... ;)

Then rate and review it! With the latest update, the old bugs should have been ironed out. Follow the link in the product-description and check if you can get the rating and reviewing software to work! ;t)

SGL.

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Two questions about details of the setting, just to make sure that I did understand it right:

Both crossbow and long spear (or any similar kind of polearm) were not used by the natives of

the Amber Coast ?

This could become important for my Thule setting, because I think these would be the weapons

best suited for hunting a walrus, which could make a very difficult prey when only light bows or

smaller hand weapons are available.

The peasants under the rule of one of the German knightly orders were usually allowed to have

weapons and practice with them, because they often served as auxiliaries ?

This is also a question for the Thule setting, to determine whether the peasants moved to Thu-

le can be expected to have any weapon skills at all, useful both for hunting and perhaps for ho-

stile encounters with Thule's natives (or during revolts against the knights ...).

Thank you. :)

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Spears were commonly used by Balts, there are plenty of spearheads in their burial mounds. I think a long spear would not be unrealistic. Crossbows were something the natives simply did not understand at first: they just knew that they were dangerous. I think you can kill a walrus with a harpoon (treat as javelin) if the thrower is strong enough.

As for allowing peasants to have weapons and training, please remember that Balts are in fact barbarians in the 13th Century, although they have civilized landlords. They are subject to their nobles, or to the Knights when they conquer their lands, but they are not serfs. All free men in the Amber Coast can have a spear, and possibly an axe and shield if they can afford them. Only nobles usually have swords.

But most important of all, remember that the Balts are free spirits. They have resisted assimilation by both German and Russian culture for countless centuries. Do not underestimate this.

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Thank you very much for the informations. :)

But most important of all, remember that the Balts are free spirits. They have resisted assimilation by both German and Russian culture for countless centuries. Do not underestimate this.

This made me think of the computer game Europa Universalis. It has an event named "Culture

Shift", where the foreign ruling class of a country (for example Hospitallers on Malta) adopts the

culture of their subjects. Perhaps I should make the possibility of such a culture shift from the

knights' German culture towards a mixed German-Baltic or even predominantly Baltic culture a

part of my campaign.

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Also remember that the Knights historically kept the native Balts subjugated by means of a continuous flow of new troops from Germany and Poland. With only the few knights that escape Prussia as leaders, the chances of a successful rebellion and a return to paganism are high. I think you need an external enemy - one that would simply destroy the colony if both lords and peasants do not cooperate to make it survive - to keep things together in a realistic way.

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I think you need an external enemy - one that would simply destroy the colony if both lords and peasants do not cooperate to make it survive - to keep things together in a realistic way.

Yes, I see the problem. One such "enemy" could be the harsh environment of Thule combined

with the small size of the colony, forcing knights and peasants to work together to survive. And

I am also working on some aggressive natives who are likely to attack the foreigners whenever

there is an opportunity to do so, giving the knights an appreciated role as protectors of the pea-

sants. And finally there is the option to fill up the ranks of the knights with those peasants who

did something outstanding for the colony, creating a small but steadily growing "middle class"

of Baltic knights (and enabling the players to choose one of the newly created Baltic knights as

a player character to "experience the other side").

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Probably way later than CoAC, but still interesting (and nicely drawn!)

If the red lines are borders between independent political entities, it is not that much later

than CoAC, because the Principality of Chernigov became a part of Lithuania at the end of

the 13th century. Moreover, I do not see Lithuania on this map, and not long after CoAC

it had absorbed so many of the smaller Slavic principalities that it should be there.

Anyway, thank you for a nice map. :)

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Also, I never heard the names Livestonia and Talmark.

Kalevala is also a somewhat uncommon name for Finland, I think. As far as I know it means

"Land of the Heroes", but it is normally only used for the Finnish national epic, not for their

homeland.

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This could become important for my Thule setting, because I think these would be the weapons

best suited for hunting a walrus, which could make a very difficult prey when only light bows or

smaller hand weapons are available.

You use a harpoon to kill walruses, just as Paolo said. However, it isn't a case of go up, stab it a few times for a clean kill then drag it off for dinner. Its more like ancient whale hunting, where you lodge a couple of harpoons into its body and then hang onto the rope for several hours whilst the walrus tries to swim off and slowly exhausts itself. Once its completely spent, then you go in close with a large knife or axe and give it a rather involved coup de grace. Its a long, bitter and brutal struggle.

Or you do what the Vikings sometimes did, close off a bay to prevent the walruses or whales from swimming away, then shoot them full of poisoned arrows and thrown spears. Once they've eventually given up the struggle, you go up and finish off the quiescent beast...

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You use a harpoon to kill walruses, just as Paolo said.

Thank you very much for the information. :)

It seems I will have to re-arrange some adventures and to put the encounter with the

natives of Thule first, because the knights and peasants of the colony probably have no

idea of harpoons, and will need to learn the concept from the natives.

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http://www.mad-irishman.net/pubs/MI_RussMap.pdf

This one is less than 100 years after CotAC. You can see Lithuania conquering Galicia and such. Hmmm, but Moscow is not a big city at the time, the city labeled Moscow is probably Vladimir. Also, I never heard the names Livestonia and Talmark.

I suppose it is a fantasized map. Nicely drawn, but not very accurate. I've never heard of Livestonia and Talmark nor have I ever heard of Finland referred to as Kalevala. Helsingfors was at best a fishing village at the time. Having Abo (Turku) or even Vyborg on the map would make much more sense. Also Dorpat was Yuryev only for a very brief time in the tenth century. Also it nor Narva were part of Nowgorod. Then I've never heard of Parni either, it should be either Pernau or Pärnu. Kronstadt was established by Peter the Great. In medieval times the area was inhabited by Finnic tribes. Finally Vormsi is a small island with Swedish population and has never been a city or town.

I bought the Crusaders of the Amber Coast recently. Very impressive. I was a bit disappointed of the near exclusive concentration on the Balts and not that much stuff on us Finnic tribes up north. Still a very good read and I might even be inspired enough to set up a game in the setting.

As to the crossbow thingie. I don't think the issue was that it was not understood. It might have had more to do with traditions and stubborness, but also with the fact that prior to the arrival of the crusaders local wars were about raiding (often in winter and also by sea) where crossbows were not at all the weapon of choice. Things did change though, I think in the chronicles of Henry in the later stages of the conquest of Estland there are examples of the Finnic tribes using German methods and weaponry (which would no doubt include crossbows) to lay siege on Danish keeps. I think there are also mentions of use of crossbows by defenders of Viljandi against the crusaders.

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I was a bit disappointed of the near exclusive concentration on the Balts and not that much stuff on us Finnic tribes up north.

It is a sad limit of the book. I had little time to research also the Eesti, who are a totally different populations - the Balts are complex enough! Maybe we will make a Finnish/Estonian add-on later. Maybe "Crusaders meet Kalevipoeg"?

The crossbow was unknown in the area until 1200 or so. Rural populations rarely know how to make crossbows. All fortifications and ramparts were built to keep enemies outside shooting range of self bows, and the crusaders won many sieges by shooting at the defenders from outside their retaliation range. There is even a tale about a Prussian warriors trying a captured crossbow and decapitating himself!

Things changed when the subjugated populations started rebelling against the Crusaders, who had taught them how to use their more advanced weaponry. When this happened, they started using siege machines and crossbows to storm the Crusader castles.

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I finally got around to ordering copies of this and Rome, and they arrived this morning. Both works have blown my expectations out of the water. I already read a good chunk of Rome via torrent earlier this year, but CotAC is all new to me.

Thanks a lot to everyone involved in the production of these two books. Some of the finest rpg supplement production of all time, imo.

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CotAC could have done with a decent proofreader. There were far too many typos. More than the other BRP Alephtar supplements. Sack your proofreader and employ me.;-D

Edited by Conrad

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