Disclaimer: While I bought the PDF of Ships & Shield Walls, the hardcopy was graciously given to me by Lawrence Whitaker at Gen Con. All opinions within the review are my own.
I was going to post a nice, long write-up about Glorantha today. But the 13th Age Kickstarter was delayed till this weekend. So, as I sit here crying over the Cults of Prax, I decided to review Ships & Shield Walls for RuneQuest 6 (RQ6). I picked up the PDF the day it came out, and buzzed through it as I was knee deep in the Dark War planning. A supplement with naval and mass combat rules was just what I was looking for at the time, and the Design Mechanism guys came through.
Ships & Shield Walls Review
The first 15 pages of the book cover the rules for creating, sailing, and destroying ships. Travel times, vessel statistics, and naval weaponry are all right here. The writers do a great job of balancing detail verse brevity, and for cleaving to the RQ6 rules. We are left with a nice set of supplemental rules that work with the existing RQ6 material, enabling you to bring combat to the realm of sea (and sky with flying ships). The Ships section wraps up with a naval encounter table and two new creatures of myth: the Mermaid and the Siren.
The remainder of the book covers mass combat. As I stated in my RQ6 review, I want to use this game for a Malazan campaign, and this supplement is the last piece of that puzzle. Shield Walls splits the difference between just adding more bodies to a skirmish fight, and the level of detail found in Autarch’s Domains at War: Battles. It is an abstraction of the insanity of mass combat, but one that is rooted in the same classical mindset that ACKS’s mass combat supplement is. You will find rules for units, formation, morale, rewards, and injuries. Be warned, mass combat is brutal and chaotic. Shield Walls captures this, and you subject your PC’s life to the vagaries of war every time you join the line.
If you play RQ6, this supplement is a must have in my opinion. You get a lot of material for $3.95, oceans of water and blood are yours to explore.