Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lives Of Kos From Skirmisher For Your Old School Campaign

Grab It Right

This is a great resource for NPC's for an old school campaign with ancient Greek world flavor. This book is huge and its wall to wall NPC's of every description. These happen to be some of the flag ship characters that have appeared in their campaign setting Kos fiction, backgrounds, settings, adventures, etc. They're all here and more. Because of its system agnostic nature I've decided to do a review on the Swords blog.
There are over one hundred and fifteen personalities described in the pdf and they're various backgrounds dovetail into each other and the whole makes a very detailed net of campaign and adventure setting material.
It's really hard to put my finger on this product but its a great way to introduce the Swords of Kos setting to your campaign world and that's really what the aim of the product is. This book is a stepping stone into Skirmisher's home campaign and its a very well done product in that regard.
I love the mix of high fantasy and adventure background in this one. The NPC's are all folks that you might have passed in a market place and backdrop of Kos. There's lots happening and each character is given plenty of adventure hooks to reel PC's into the action of the product. I liked the story elements from Lives of Kos. There's another aspect to this product the use of the NPC as dungeon introduction. Scattered throughout the book are folks who can act as a spring board into several dungeons and ancient locations that can serve as fodder for your own old school adventures. This seems to be one of the fundaments that Skirmisher  Publishing likes to put into their products. This book and others are long range tool sets to get your own imaginations fired into creating your own adventures. There are plenty of companies creating adventures out there and NPC books but are they doing it to get you to play your games or simply creating material for you to buy? Here the answer is simply that this book is a well done and will serve to spark your imagination. Lives of Kos isn't a shelf book that is going to be another sit on the shelf or your hard drive this is a book that will get used if your interested in Skirmisher Publishing's take on ancient Kos.
To me this looks like a nice edition to the background of the world that they've established.

Using Lives of Kos For Your
Old School Campaign 

Lives of Kos could be used as introduction into the Kos campaign or as a spring board into an adventure location. Because the NPC's in this book dovetail so easily as a community of characters, the easiest way to introduce these NPC's is to have the PC's stumble into a series of events already happening. The PC's suddenly will become enmeshed into the background setting of Kos without realizing it.

One of the reasons that the Kos campaign setting works is that there are actual reasons for the dungeons, ruins,ancient places, etc. that litter the landscape and here the NPC's add to the 'voice' or chorus for that world bringing its flavor to life. There are several NPC traders and merchants that could easily be deposited on to the shores of your own games. With a bit of work they might easily show up in even in a Spell Jammer setting or some far, far, flung port of call. This begs the question of the use of Kos? Does it become your campaign or as merely a key commerical element of your own world? For myself its the former. The amount of customization with Lives allows a DM to weave the backgrounds and settings around an existing campaign easily. This is both a strength and weakness of Kos as a setting. The strength is how seamlessly the setting material melts into the background and using the NPC's this way brings Kos's flavor into your campaigns. The weakness comes from the fact that NPC backgrounds beg using Kos as an adventure location, this means using the world of Kos as a gate way campaign world which is how I plan to use this product. A way of conveying the flavor and elements of the Kos campaign setting through the use of the NPC's who will pop up from time to time in my campaigns as 'guest stars' and arranging several adventures around the personalities features in the Lives of Kos.

There are also a number of ways of using Lives of Kos as a jump off point into a 'science fantasy' campaign. The world of Kos might be a failed colony world whose slid back into the mire of a dark ages of Greek mythology. This option allows a DM to really get the maximum out of  Lives of Kos by conveying a mix of the mythological and science fictional elements. Here also is a prefect excuse to break out a Spell Jammer of other old school science fictional/fantasy retroclone. Because of the system neutrality this allows the DM to pick their favorite system to run this one.
Another option that I've toyed with is a post apocalyptic world something akin to Ralph Bakshi's Wizards where the myths of Greek mythology have returned. This migh also include the various old school fantasy races as well. Lives of Kos has me thinking about this idea once again. Several of the adventurer types in the book echo this idea. Once again visions of a Spell Jammer style campaign sprung to my mind.

I had a lot of fun reading through Lives Of  Kos. And I will soon be returning to the world of Kos.
There are too many good NPC's not to use this one and allow Lives to sit on my hard drive. Lives is on sale on both Drivethrurpg and Rpgnow with their sale in July. 

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