An Echo, Resounding: Lordship and War in Untamed Lands is a resource book for managing Labyrinth Lord and similar Old School Style games when they begin to outgrow their little starting town and the players start to take leadership roles in the realms. As such, it is an interesting and very well written gaming guide, which comes as no surprise, as the author, Kevin Crawford, also wrote Stars Without Number. And just like Stars without Number, there is a love of random tables, an incredibly well thought out method of map creation, and some very complex rules for managing domains and resources. I’ll break my review down into parts and attempt to show how I plan on using this resource in my gaming.
The best aspect of the book is the section on Creating Campaign Regions. Kevin has created a system of quick rules to flesh out your map, and give it balance. First, you place your cities or major population centers. Then, place your towns and villages, 4 for each city. Throughout this process he gives you suggestions on where to place them on your map, and the reasoning for that placement. I like seeing the reasons why certain rules or recommendations are made, as it helps me understand the goal of each rule, and what might happen if I feel I need to break a rule. Then place a number of ruins, places for the players to explore based on the number of cities. Then place resources and lairs, and then give each place traits (which he has a handy random table for) and names. Next, you’ll give each city, town and resource an obstacle, something stopping it from being successful. And then finally, establish domains that might control one or two towns or cities and resources. The section ends with lots of ideas for traits and obstacles for each location.
The next section concerns domain management, which provides a very detailed set of rules on how to flesh out domains and how to resolve actions taken by domains. Both PCs and GMs can use the domain actions to deal with a variety of issues in the game world, including insurrection, overcoming obstacles and attacking other domains. It’s a great set of rules, and could easily turn into a Civilization type game with all the variables to play around with.
The following section deals with special rules for heroes who are protectors of their realms. I honestly was hoping for more, but the powers presented do provide a lot of great rewards to players who swear fealty to a domain. This is the only section that appears to have rules that are specific to Labyrinth Lord, the rest of the book is very rule agnostic.
The last section shows a sample campaign region called Westmark, which I admittedly skimmed over, as I was so excited to begin building my own campaign region. However, I did find it useful to see what kind of locations and domains these rules would create.
How I plan on using this book
I plan on using this section extensively in creating the map for Bellona, a Broken City Recovering. While it will take place in a ruined city, I can think of cities as larger settlements of people, and towns as smaller enclaves. I love the idea of how to create a map, and this will definitely help me in making sure that there are reasons for players to visit different parts of Bellona, as different parts will have different resources. Also, I plan on having a number of gangs/tribes in the city, and the domains (developed more in the next section) adapt well to that idea.
I think the domain management rules might go off in the wrong direction for the type of game I foresee my players playing. I need a set of rules that will show the players what sort of resources and tools they might gain for their PCs when they gain control of locations, rather than being able to have their domain take care of the issue. The same goes with the mass combat, as I don’t think my setting would really provide many opportunities for large armies to be massed and fight. I think that has more to do with the setting I have imagined, and less with the rules themselves.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who sees the play at their table going beyond simply gaining wealth and renown and moving towards changing the landscape of the world. It’s not very ruleset specific, and as such would be helpful for any kind of gaming play. As you can see, I’m planning a post apocalyptic campaign and still there was a lot for me to use.
4.5 out of 5 stars.