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Retro Review: The Ottoman Empire

June 3, 2013

The Ottoman Empire is a sourcebook from Steve Jackson Games for Castle Falkenstein and Gurps: Castle Falkenstein covering, as the title suggests, the Ottoman Empire. I am a huge fan of Gurps sourcebooks and this volume lives up to the high standards of the line. As with most Gurps sourcebooks, the concentration is upon background, setting details and ideas rather than rules so that, even with it being dual-formatted for both systems, you do not find yourself bogged down in rules.

As with Castle Falkenstein (and, I presume, the Gurps edition), the sourcebook is largely presented in the form of in-setting writings – mainly the memoirs of Eberhardt Starkmann, who is travelling through the region and getting into all sorts of thrilling adventures (which actually make for quite enjoyable reading in their own right!), supplemented by various other sources as befits different topics and general commentary from Tom Olam (the chap from our time cast into this alternate history).

Unlike New Europa, the lands and history of the Ottoman Empire are largely the same as they were in reality. Although this is maybe a little disappointing in terms of alternate historical possibilities, it does, at least, avoid the irritations of Castle Falkenstein, where major changes to the world and history seemed to have little real impact on things. In addition, by sticking closely to real history, this book is not only Gurps: Castle Falkenstein: The Ottoman Empire, but Gurps: The Ottoman Empire – in other words, if you ignore the few Castle Falkenstein-specific elements, you can use this as a historical sourcebook like all the others from Steve Jackson Games (although, of course, it does tend to focus on the empire in the late 19th century rather than earlier or later periods).

In addition to the information specific to the Ottoman Empire and Arabia, there is also a great chapter on Jinn, the Middle Eastern equivalent of Faerie, that is full of great ideas.

In all, this is a fine historical sourcebook that greatly expands upon the world of Castle Falkenstein, whilst suggesting many interesting roleplaying possibilities. Whether you play this particular setting or any other Victorian setting, or are just on the lookout for interesting ideas, then I would recommend that you pick up a copy of this sourcebook.

From → Retro Reviews

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