Saturday, 10 October 2015


I have just read Altai, a novel by the Italian writers' collective Wu Ming. Here is the official blurb: When a fire breaks out in the Arsenal of Venice in 1569, the enigmatic Emmanuele De Zante, spy catcher and agent of the Venetian secret service, finds himself in jail accused of treason, having been betrayed by his lover. He escapes and embarks on an odyssey that takes him to the Sultan's palace in Constantinople. Spiralling through a series of deadly political games, De Zante and his companions head toward a conflict that threatens the very nature of civilisation. A historical epic spanning a continent scarred by war, Altai went straight into the best-sellers list when first published in Italy. It is a coruscating portrait of the divided world - east meets west - in the sixteenth century, where the great empires of the Republic of Venice and the Ottomans are on the verge of an epoch-making conflict. In this dramatic landscape, the authors' collective Wu Ming has created a powerful narrative of danger, identity and adventure.

What I can add is that the story is extremely LotFP-ey, what with the extremely grisly depictions of the military events and of the torture administered to the prisoners of war — except that the usual northern-European background is replaced with a slightly more mysterious and exotic Levantine one.

I can see a GM building a campaign of epic proportions, obviously not by having the PCs slavishly follow the events of the book (a novel is not an RPG scenario!), but by setting a mostly naval campaign against the backdrop of the Venetian-Ottoman rivalry in the cosmopolitan East Mediterranean, and by borrowing some key scenes from the novel like the siege of Famagusta and the battle of Lepanto.

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