Review of GURPS Hot Spots: Constantinople
Its a great introduction to Byzantine World and its Core City: Constantinople. As a great Introduction, it does very well to focus and highlight all the key elements you would need to run adventures in Constantinople and the 48 page booklet is light reading for players.
It goes well with GURPS Crusades, Middle Ages I, and the Low Tech franchise.
First, this is an Introduction to the Byzantine world and compresses a lot of information that would have been found spread out among the books found in the bibliography. So if your the type to have read alot about the matter this does not add anything to your stock knowledge, except relieve you the TON of work to prep players who are not famliar with the Byzantine Setting. So despite its not really a great tool for Byzantine History buffs: its a great Introduction for people who have no knowledge or appreciation of the Byzantine World.
Suffice to say it does alot of explanation of concepts that are very broad and abstract; which is important for newbies. What I was looking for as a Byzantine Nut was more facts and data. Along with the City Stats (there are about 4 city stats) I would have liked major industries of the city and probably Mass Combat Stats. $24M monthly Military budget is very very broad... does that include fortification and artilliery maintenance? Does that include Naval assets and infra? How do I calculate logistical forces?
Note that as the Empire became more Bureaucratically inefficient the economy was not efficient enough to keep a standing force. Gradually their budget shrunk and evolved towards levies/oaths of military service. So a budget does really help much in making armies. Its better to just write down the force numbers and stats or at least make a table with die rolls to generate the standing force.
My biggest chip on my shoulder is that none of the secondary sources are from Kenneth Harl: The Byzantine World. Kenneth Harl is instrumental to me in making it come alive because he did a forensic economic analysis to balance with the interpretation of archeological and written sources. His two books are about coinage but he is one of the two audio books about Byzantium (the other being 12 byzantine rulers by Lars Brownsworth). For me he's the go-to-guy in Byzantium and He is even in The Teaching Company; found him through my independent research and was ecstatic when I found out he has audio book lectures - a way this filipino can have access to his lectures! But I understand that you can't exactly put him or his material in the book... or can you
Of course a medieval-o-phile will not be complete without Dorsey Armstrong's Medieval World
So for me it is useful in the sense that I can give this for players to read, which may be complimentary with the introduction to the First Crusade which I am making. Although I do want to point out I had a blog entirely dedicated to byzantium Note that the Justinian Era is just a small part of the book, I had this poll a long time ago and i think its a big deal.
One more thing: Don't forget to grab Osprey's Constantinople of 1453 for more added fluff and don't forget awesome Osprey art.
I should really make a mass combat army generation table, designed to be compatible with City Stats...