RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Hot Spots: Renaissance Venice, Matt Riggsby 30 July 2018

This historical GURPS supplement deals with Venice in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Disclaimer: I made some comments on the playtest, but not enough to gain credit or a free copy.

This could obviously be considered a companion piece to the same author's Hot Spots: Renaissance Florence, and some general material on the Renaissance and the nature of contemporary armies isn't repeated.

The book opens with the geography, relevant to any setting and particularly here: the physical location and layout of Venice will form a major part of the atmosphere in adventures set there, and the chapter gives the general map, some specific details, and a few key locations, as well as the larger local area.

History is next, broadly in the form of rise, power and decline, with details of just what was gained and lost when. There's also a useful box with important people, generally not the leaders but merchant sailors, mercenaries and scholars.

The third chapter deals with the governance and society of Venice, from the doge (and the complex process for selecting him) down: police and the justice system, espionage, social class, trade, the military, and so on. It's a bit of a grab-bag, and blends into the fourth chapter, about daily life, religion, art, food and drink, and so on. There's plenty of colour here, and even a few adventure ideas.

The final chapter is about campaigns, with Venice either as a base (which suggests either merchant princes or secret agents) or as a destination; there are also suggestions for using it in various sorts of campaign, and with other historical GURPS books. (And of course most of the suggestions for Renaissance Florence can be used here too.)

It's a solid book: the research is great, the writing is clear, but I find myself oddly uninspired by it and I don't know why. Perhaps it's that, because of the size of the book, I'd have to do lots more research actually to take advantage of the setting to a standard I felt happy about? Hot Spots: Renaissance Venice is available from Warehouse 23.

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:49pm on 30 July 2018

    15th and 16th centuries seems an odd time to pick for Venice, since it is already past its peak and on a gradual centuries long decline.

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