Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Requiem for Rome

Alternate history can take many forms. Sometimes it can be simple (What if Lincoln had lived?) to the unbelievable such as Harry Turtledove's accounts of aliens invading during World War Two. I recently read a role playing game supplement that goes in the unbelievable section right with Turtledove. However, just like the Turtledove saga, this is very enjoyable alternate history.

The book is Requiem for Rome by several authors. It was written to support the Vampire: The Masquerade game system. Here is a description of the book, "A gameplay expansion and setting book, Do battle with barbarian vampires, uncover the secrets of mystery cults, rule a family of the Roman aristocracy and change the course of Kindred history in the Necropolis beneath Rome."

Ancient Rome was a bloodthirsty place which had a great deal of reverence for the past and the dead. Is it such a stretch to imagine a vampire influence over the city? This book gives a good fantasy try at it.

What I found interesting for alternate history was not the large portions of the book that dealt with game playing mechanics. Instead, I found the authors account of vampire clans and how they influenced the various aspects of Roman history from the Kingship of Romulus, the founding and fall of the Roman Republic, the founding of the Empire, and the decline and fall of the Western Empire very entertaining. The first chapter of this book (Ab Urba Condita: The History of Rome) has a detailed time line of Roman history coupled with short essays on key periods. Of course, some of these essays discuss vampire politics and how this altered the history of Rome. Who would have guessed that the founding of the Roman Republic coincided with a vampire revolution in the catacombs below the city?

I realize this book review is a strange choice for this blog. However, I like alternate history and I like Roman history. I found this book satisfying and enjoyable. I hope the goth teenagers playing this vampire role playing game are inspired by this and go on to study Roman history.


Howard Ingham said...

Hello, there. I wrote a good 80 pages of that book, including the history chapter.

I'm glad you liked it. I did my degree in Classics, and an MPhil in Latin literature, and it was fun to make use of that, just once, in my day job.

M said...


Thank you for your comment. I did enjoy your work on this book. I saw your comment at your blog and I am sorry you had some difficulties with the editor. Despite this, you did a great job.

My house is full of books on Roman history. I also have hundreds of role playing game books on my shelves. I do not play, it is just my collecting hobby. I was very pleased to see the two combined well.

Thank you.


Kjetil Kverndokken said...

By the way, its not the Masquerade, but Vampire the Requiem game system.