Review: Veiled Alliance
by Ramanan Sivaranjan on February 11, 2013
As far as I can tell, TSR put out four splat books for Dark Sun that were very similar in their presentation: Elves of Athas, Dune Trader, Slave Tribes, and Veiled Alliance. Each book takes a look at a particular group, with the bulk of the books being write ups of example factions: with Elves of Athas you had example elf tribes; with Dune Trader you had example trading houses; and with Slave Tribes you had example slave tribes. Having reviewed the previous three books, it seems only fitting I take a look at the last one, Veiled Alliance by Allen Varney.
Veiled Alliance takes its name from the secret society of magic users that the book covers. The book opens with two totally throw away chapters about the alliance in general. Most of the information is silly, boring, or uninspired. You could probably just drop these chapters completely or shrink them greatly and jump to the meat of the book, the descriptions of the alliance chapters in each city-state.
One thing that makes this book interesting is that it expands on the information available about the various city-states in Athas in general. Each city-state is discussed briefly before moving on to the alliance chapter that operates within it. For each alliance chapter we learn: how to make contact with the group, how they initiate new recruits in to their order, their history, their leadership (NPCs) and information about their hideout. The fact the various alliance chapters have hideouts strikes me as odd, since the first chapter describes the alliance structure as being organized like a terrorist cell: small groups that are only aware of a few other cells. Why would an organization like that need a place to hang out? Each section also has some example adventure hooks, some better than others.
On the whole Veiled Alliance just isn’t very good. It’s definitely the weakest of these four splat books. All of these books have been overly verbose, but this one really does feel like it is mostly filler with all the tangential information about the city-states. The book does do a good job at showcasing what different sorts of Veiled Alliance themed adventures might look like. Each alliance chapter is reasonably different than the next. If you’re looking for used Dark Sun books, this feels like one you could safely skip.
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