Philip J. Viverito

Author: Philip J. Viverito
Copyright: March 1, 2009
Page count: 50
ISBN-10: 1889584509
ISBN-13: 978-1889584508
Retail Price: $25.00 USD

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Hack in the Dark

By 470 AD, Rome was a failing world power. The empire faced relentless invaders who sought a better life within its borders. Walls were build to guard the city, but they were no defense against waves of determined marauders. While the ramparts crumbled, so did Rome's monetary system as trade stagnated and Roman legal tender lost much of its value. Such were the calamities that led to the fall of the Roman Empire and dawning of the Dark Ages. Hack in the Dark is a miniature wargame rules set that shines a light on the political, societal, and martial turmoil during Rome's final days and places gamers in the center of the chaos.

Immigrants known as foederati were given land seized from Roman citizens, a government-imposed redistribution of wealth. The Roman Senate had become corrupt and disregarded the needs of the people and the Empire by selling political and civil service positions. The foederati — Arian heretics under the authority of petty kings called Regales — persecuted the one social institution that had saved Rome from the Huns: the Roman Catholic Church. The problems of Rome were not limited to the city proper, but spread throughout the western world. It was an age of change marked by the end the Classical period and the beginning a violent Dark Age.

Church leaders cared for and defended the people, feeding the poor and ministering to the sick in the transepts of the churches as barbarians repeatedly robbed and ravaged the country side. In the middle east and North Africa great Muslim scholars would also preserve literature and mathematics. This knowledge would be carried back to the west in later centuries. Militarily the barbarians rained death and destruction with new tactics and new weapons. The Roman legions now spoke in German tongues. Heavily armored lance and bow armed cavalry dominated the battlefields of Europe and the Middle East. The Roman empire adapted as best it could with new military organizations using a mobile army and a garrison force to hold fortified places throughout the Empire.

But as the fire of Rome dwindled, the embers of Western Civilization were kept alive through both myth and matter. Born in this time of discord was the legend of King Arthur, bringing with it an age of heroic romanticism that, to this day, defines medieval Great Britain. Perhaps many found inspiration in the tales of King Arthur, as the intrepid actions of a courageous few helped form the societal and political mores of Western European culture. Alfred the Great would rebuild the burned scriptoriums and churches instituting fortified towns called burghs. The Frankish king Clovis, at the edge of his francisca, established a new kingdom which would become France. Charlemagne would create a new empire and preserve the best of the old Roman empire. The scriptoriums of the Church kept the knowledge of the past alive within the walls of monasteries. Out of the ash heap of Rome a new cultural and political center was being forged.

In the end the very thing that created the empire (Latin and Roman people) was gone and with them the Roman Empire. Hack in the Dark takes miniature gamers back to those dismal days. It is the job of the player to utilize all the tactics and weapons of the period to either defend civilization or to bring it down. This game system bridges the various periods in what is called Ancient gaming. It seems to the author that one set of rules cannot adequately cover such a long span of time and efficiently deal with the unique nature of every period within the epoch we call the ancient period. Much of what has been done here and in the other Hack rules is the result of a lot of test play at conventions by other gamers. There is no way to express appreciation for their efforts and interest.

Respectfully, Philip J. Viverito

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