After a long hiatus, the Blacksmith feature is back! For this future, we'll be diving into an oft-ignored sector of AoKH's treasure trove of content. Released in the summer of 2014, shortly after his timeless masterpiece
What is RP? What even is multiplayer, you may ask?
RP is a game mode where players assume control of various factions set in a unique world--historical, legendary, fantasy, or a mix--with its own lore and backstory, and conduct themselves as if they were the actual sovereigns of their respective regions. Players agree to abide by a set of rules and conventions of the genre and the specific map; you may not declare war on another player without a valid reason, for example, and diplomacy is conducted through the game chat. Furthermore, each faction has its own independent motives and claims that players can choose to pursue or ignore throughout the course of the match. You are conceivably free to disobey the rules and behave callously towards your neighbors--but don't be surprised if the other players dogpile you for it.
Dive into the world of Mare Nostrum, which is set in the fictional Gwyndlegard universe that you might know from Lord Basse's other custom campaigns. Play as the domineering titans of Amaria, Arthalien, and South Ondoria, all with nefarious designs upon their smaller neighbors; or take command of the smaller states of Yellowside, Berydia, Seragon, and Gwyndlegard, all with ambitions far exceeding their size. The gameplay revolves around an inland sea ringed by land, requiring players to carefully order their priorities--will you invest in a booming yet vulnerable economy, or assemble formidable land and naval forces to back up your expansionist claims?
Despite the peaceful beginning of the scenario, players will soon be drawn into deadly conflicts as resources run low, colonies declare independence, and the strong claim sovereignty over the weak. The variety in the design of each faction lends contributes to the endless replayability of the scenario. Factions in an initially strong position can be disadvantaged later if they allow their rivals to grow, and with seven players the possible combinations of alliances and their potential to shift are manifold. The balance of power is always tenuous, and the smallest aggression has the potential to set off a catastrophic conflict.
One major strength of Mare Nostrum is in its dedication to the proverbial tenet that 'less is more'. While most RP designers out there cram their maps with fortresses and objects to the point of overflow--often because they try to encompass too much in too little, Mare Nostrum has no such sense of unhealthy congestion. Players all begin with decently-sized settlements, but outside of them lie vast woodlands, verdant open plains, an arid, forbidding desert, and rich islands to claim. The map encourages players par excellence to expand organically, and a seamless byproduct is the competition that such conditions encourage. This approach is so effective that yours truly can shamelessly admit that one of his prior works was heavily influenced by it
To help orient players, the author also saw fit to provide downloaders with two mapshots of the file, one plain and one annotated with the territories and initial claims of each faction:
These are by no means binding, but serve as a general guide for newer players. Additionally, in typical fashion unable to resist complementing his works with a rich story, the author has included a manual in the download with some lore that the players are free to enjoy--and has also filled out the ingame information panels with rules, a brief backstory, and motives.
\In sum, Mare Nostrum RP has and will guarantee players hours of fun, and rightfully stands among the hegemons of the RP scenario genre. Download the CD version or the HD version of the map here on the AoKH Blacksmith, or subscribe to the file on the Steam Workshop!
Without further ado, rush to download and enjoy! Go forth and conquer--and see you next time!