Summa Venâriva eBooks

Fastred's picture

I'm very interested to hear people's experience with the eBook versions of 'Summa Venâriva'.

There are two versions included in the ZIP file:

- an ePub version, which is an open standard version that will work with many devices, including iOS (iPad, iPhone) devices.

- a 'mobi' version, which is a non-DMR format viewable on Kindle devices and with Kindle eReader apps.

Let us know what you think of these additions to the PDF version.


Jack's picture

I let this thread sit for awhile before responding because I wanted to see what comments others had. (Obviously, not many. LOL)

I bought Summa Venariva the day it was released as I do all non-HMG products by Kelestia Productions. My download included the two extra formats, but I immediately deleted them because - call me a caveman - I still use a laptop. I know that those formats will be available for me to download in the future if I need them (thank you), but frankly, I don't see myself transitioning away from .pdf's anytime soon. Consider all of the other KP products that I've purchased, plus all of the fanon articles on New technology is great, but are all of those products and articles going to be re-released in the iPad and Kindle formats? Probably not . . . and I was under the impression that you could view .pdf's on a Kindle anyway. I know I can view them on my iPhone and therefore could on the iPad that I can't afford. So, in my opinion (and it's just that, an opinion), the extra formats did not add value to the product.

As for Summa Venariva itself, the product was clearly a labor of love for someone. It did a wonderful job of tying the many disparate threads of Venarivan culture together to explain why Venarive is not medieval Europe. (Amusingly, Summa Venariva was released just a day or two after someone posted a question about standing armies to which someone else replied, "Venarive isn't medieval Europe." LOL) However, I'm not sure that it's a truly useful product.

As a GM, I pay precious little attention to the (often extensive) history section of each published settlement. I know that section is a long-standing tradition in Harn/Venarive publications and the information contained therein is interesting, but most of it (except the last ten or twenty years) is rarely of use in a role-playing campaign. I've never seen a player who cared at all about it. (Maybe that's just our play-style.) Likewise, I don't expect that too many players will have much use for Summa Venariva. For that matter, a lot of GM's might not. GM's want/need setting details (like Atlas Kelestia), rules, hooks (scattered throughout most KP products, but not Summa Venariva), etc. Why? Because at heart this is supposed to be a role-playing game and games need settings and rules and something to do with them. Would the average (or even the extraordinary) player-character in Venarive know even one percent of the information in Summa Venariva? I doubt it. Venarive is not medieval Europe, but that doesn't need to be justified - it needs to be accepted. The RPG term is suspension of disbelief.

I love the Atlas Kelestia products. They're a little light on detail, but I can make details up. Good maps are hard to come by, however. I also liked the Chelemby articles, and the Ledenheim material was absolutely incredible! (Made me want to run a campaign set in Ledenheim - Clan Armedren for the win!) I also truly appreciate the difficulty of running a niche company - most gamers aren't interested in the likes of Venarive - in a declining market (most gamers aren't interested in RPG's at all anymore). I just feel like Summa Venariva, while a beautifully-done product, is ultimately a misallocation of limited resources.

All of that, of course, is just my opinion. Others probably disagree. That's why we have forums. I don't know exactly what KP has in the pipeline and I don't know exactly how hard it is to wrap up a product and release it. I just feel like KP is falling away from the likes of Ledenheim and Chelemby. I love the immersive experience of gaming in Venarive. However, I like immersing myself in 720 TR, not 300 BT.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. :-)

Balesir's picture

Hi, Jack! ;-)

It's good to read your view (and, just to note, I had nothing to do with SV's production at all), but I'll post a dissenting one.

First of all, I think that, to get a setting as consistent and durable as Kethîra - especially with contributions from several writers - some background documents like this are essential. That being the case, releasing a "cleaned up" version to fans seems like a very reasonable and potentially useful thing to do (may inform and inspire more writers!).

Secondly, I don't find that SV has no plot hooks! The type of hook it provides may well be somewhat deeper and more "long term" than those in the typical supplement, but I think campaigns can surely benefit from such "thematic hooks". Take, for example, the histories and origins of the various religions; I can see several possible focuses for heretic sects in those sections of SV - and heretic sects are *always* fun!

In short, real world history shapes many of the conflicts in the real world; it seems reasonable that the same may be true in Kethîra. Conflict leads to story, which is why it's the core of roleplaying scenarios - so history can give us cues to current conflict which can serve as hooks for roelplaying scenarios - hence I like those "history" sections in the supplements.

Oh - and on e-books... I like the Kindle one to use on my Kindle apps, but I find the Kindle itself not particularly useful for "reference" or illustrated material (although it cannot be beaten for straight fiction reading!). The other format I don't (knowingly) have any application to read it with...

Jack's picture

Now that is an example of my general ignorance of publishing. Of course different writers working in one area need reference documents. In that light, polishing Summa Venariva up and releasing it to all of us makes sense. And the general information on religion was informative; you're right - an entire campaign could be built around heresy. (One man's heresy is another man's truth.) Heck, an entire empire was built around it back in the 500's...

I just hope that more Ledenheim-type articles will be forthcoming...

Balesir's picture

"I just hope that more Ledenheim-type articles will be forthcoming..."

Oh, yeah - me, too!

thesundaygame's picture

The day after I purchased SV, I dropped it onto the Kindle. Why? I could immediately tell that it was heavy reading, the kind that I use to weigh cause and effect and maintain consistency. I needed it, but I needed long-term, as I was beginning to understand that branding and grounding crucial institutions that drive the world (the Mangai, the Shek-P'var and the churches) would

So I've been reading it, a step at a time, and it's been excellent, especially in its attempts to explain how the 'evil' churches became so ubiquitous, despite their vileness (Baal only held appeal for wholly militaristic cultures, and better-advertised Gods submerged the Baalite-temple religion as Hellenism swept the middle east)

--I had a hard time understanding, prior to SV, how enough enthusiastic folk could be gathered together to call something a 'theocracy' of Tekhos--Real-world religions usually need something more huggable than a god of death to work from. I read Kelestian material as I read real history.

My (first Harnic) campaign has moved from 720 to 723 in the space of 6 months Terran Time, and even working from the core at Kaldor, I've needed to build foundations for more and more institutions in the world, even in that land-locked corner. If the PCs voyaged to Chel, i would need even more depth--a thorough understanding, for example, of how Shorkyne, Trierzon, and Harn were all caught with their pants down by the Ivinian Viking age, and what legacies of that time still hold.

In short, SV is for reading, not in-game reference, very helpful to GM prep, and overall adds as much to Kethira as Robin's first 1983 offering and Venarive have. It's certainly a boutique product, but If I'm going to write anything for publication at Lythia, Here, or The Other Company, I now have an encyclopedic tome that I can call upon to build consistency. It's a writer's bible, and having it on my kindle is great.

As for formatting/cover pages, I might've enjoyed headings for some of the sections, even though the narrative flows from one to the next. Being able to find the 'Azeryan,' or 'Laranian and Peonian regigion-complex' sections more readily, or perhaps given more visible fanfare, might add to the experience. But this is a miniscule nit to pick with an excellent tome that I have yet to fully excavate.

I have to avow my disagreement with another poster on 'the last twenty years.' Players don't appreciate history lectures, true; but they do appreciate layering. As the most recent Atlas Kelestia points out, Pirate bases are far more interesting and flavorful when they're ghost towns sacked by vikings a sesquecentury hence.