Why do people, rulers, and nations go to war? Is it to defend their homes and borders against the incursion of ideas, faith, or undesirables? To expand their domains for riches or land? Or simply because they feel the need to spill blood? More often than not, it’s less black and white than some might think. And who gets caught in the middle? Soldiers. Whether they are idealists volunteering for a cause or mercenaries simply seeking a paycheck, it’s the warriors usually doing the fighting for whatever cause their leaders choose to follow.
Matt James has experienced life as a soldier, which puts him in a unique position to understand not only what it’s like to put your life on the line but the many rationales used to put armies in harm’s way. In Soldiers of Fortune he eloquently expresses methods of introducing real world motivations into roleplaying games to not only make soldiers, mercenaries, and war more believable, but perhaps inspire new storylines that might not have been previously considered.
He starts out with motivations and plot hooks to get mercenaries (your typical band of heroes) involved in a potential conflict and he doesn’t mess around… Magic portals spewing evil creatures out of ancient mindflayer prisons? Missing or kidnapped leaders or heads of state? Unstable currency and theft by neighboring nations? These are but a few potential hooks to sink into the PCs in your campaign. And what happens when the party is misled and unwittingly does something evil? Will ethics and morality win out over greed and bloodlust?
Once you have an idea of how to get your party engaged, Matt describes the challenges of being a warrior-for-hire and potentially becoming a pawn to selfish forces all too willingly to sacrifice you in whatever game they are playing. Honor and glory are just the beginning. Discovering what more you’re fighting for is essential – whether it really is just for the money or in the name of some higher ideal.
Anyone who has thought about incorporating larger-scale battles into their own campaigns knows it’s not easy to do...
For the rest of this review, check out http://www.gameknightreviews.com/2011/03/book-review-soldiers-of-fortune-by-matt-james-and-open-design/