War Game Review: Osprey Publishing – Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun (In Her Majesty’s Name)

Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun
Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun is a companion book to the Victorian steampunk war game In Her Majesty’s Name, written by Craig Cartmell and Charles Murton and published by Osprey Publishing
By Cape Rust

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Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun is a companion to the steampunk skirmish game In her Majesty’s Name. This fantastic setting adds just enough steampunk to set it apart from being a typical skirmish game set in Victorian times. This is a world where technology and magic are real and advanced. In Her Majesty’s Name is what The League of Extraordinary Gentleman would be if it was made into a skirmish game. The great western powers are sending their agents throughout the ailing Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires without resorting to overt actions. In the East the conflict between small factions erupts into open and brutal warfare much too often. In India, the British Raj forces are dealing not only with the maharajahs, but Russian agents and the resurgent cult known as the Thuggee. Meanwhile in China, the Celestial Court produces complex layers upon layers, within layers of plots and alliances to thwart internal and external threats. As if all of the traditional threats were not enough, an ancient power has arisen and is looking to retake the fabled Jade Throne. Japan has risen as a regional power and is ready to test its mettle on a much wider scale. It is starting to reach out and form its own empire even with its internal struggles. In the midst of all of this, treasure seekers, mercenaries, profiteers and misfits are trying to turn tumultuous situations to their advantage.

This companion contains statistics for units as well as adventuring companies, new talents, mystical powers as well as scenario options. Osprey Publishing has repeatedly shown themselves to be producers of high quality products both in content and presentation and they have maintained their high standards with Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun. The cover art on this companion is compelling but a bit busy. The cover looks like a collage of some of the major factions units and organizations in the book in a pitched melee. There are so many elements that make this cover appealing, but the viewer will miss several cool depictions if they don’t take a few minutes to let the entire cover portrait set in. If you get a hold of a physical copy of this product, I recommend you take the time to soak the entire cover in, put it down, walk away, return and give it another few minutes of viewing. It is well worth your time. The interior art is all in black and white and has varying degrees of effectiveness. Because this is a skirmish game, I really would have liked to have seen more pictures of miniatures. I got great in-depth descriptions of many of the units, but very few pictures of how their minis would look. If Osprey Publishing is holding off to release a guide to the minis, then bravo to their marketing department for making me want to spend more money, but Osprey Publishing doesn’t strike me as a company who operates like that. There was plenty of room on the pages to depict at least a few of the units mentioned in each description. I would have much rather seen more pictures of actual minis than most of the interior art that was provided.

The layout of the book is solid and pretty standard for a game book. The unit description charts were easy to read with alternating grey and white lines to set each stat line apart from its neighbors. The nice thing is that most of the stats are straight forward and the charts look very clean as a result. A quick reference collection of the charts at the end of the book might be very helpful for someone to use when they are running a game. That way rather than having to constantly flip pages for the numbers they need they could simply turn to the back of the book and find the chart they need. I am glad however that the stat blocks were located with the write-ups as it allowed me to gauge the game table power of the individual or unit on the spot, but those same charts reprinted in the back would be really helpful.

This is not one of those in-your-face products; there are several scenarios suggested overtly, but after reading the entries and the introductions, I saw hundreds if not thousands of ideas buried within the text. Because of their virtual bailiwick on military history, Osprey Publishing has managed to take historical facts and blend them with a level of creativity that would make your hippy aunt proud. The setting is fantastic, but the real world history anchors it in such a way as to make it seem plausible while still retaining that fun “what if” factor.

I like this game and I like the way Osprey Publishing has presented it. They have added some interesting twists with this companion and I look forward to seeing how additional companions will change the way In Her Majesty’s Service will be played. Even if you are not into skirmish games, there is tons of great setting info here that could easily be used in a steampunk-themed RPG or even in a pulp RPG,I always appreciate a product that can pull double duty.

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