House Liao: FASA makes the Capellan Confederation a thing of beauty

Battletech Dietrick FASA Laubenstein

I’ve spoken on other forums about my feeling concerning the Battletech House supplements and how they might be the best historical fiction works I’ve ever read [Only the ‘Way’ books for L5R 1E could be better]

Today I take a look at one of those incredible tomes of inner sphere knowledge, with House Liao and the Capellan Confederation.  When I played the game, House Liao was always my least favorite House as I was raised in the cornfields and Indiana and had almost nothing to reference China in my mind other than it seemed distant and old.  That was certainly reflected in my game play, me being the House Davion snob, but now that so many years have passed I have to admit that House Liao has really grown on me.

Written in 1988 by Rick David Stuart, the book is an incredible work of fiction, and although the House itself reflects Chinese culture, there are many real world sections of the successor state that are more Euro in origin, primarily a big shout out to Scotland which I have to dig.

Artistically, the book is a wonder, although I have to say that I do give the rather bland cover a negative review.  Inside, however, FASA goes all out with various color plates and black and white illustration that bring the book to life, and was certainly a first for the mid/late 1980s RPG scene.

With interior black and whites by Jeff Laubenstein, Todd F. Marsh, Tim Bradstreet, Jonathan Marcus, and Jim Nelson, the book really sings, and I’m always been taken with Bradstreet’s rip rendering of Dr. Kynes from the 1984 cinematic work of Frank Herbert’s Dune.  Well done Tim!

On the color front, Todd Marsh does contribute, but his work falls flat when put next to the inspired uniform designs of artist David Deitrick and the watercolor pieces by artist Jeff Laubenstein.  These two artists take the book to a whole new level of awesome.

In all, I love this supplement, and even if the glue in the binding is perhaps worse that of TSR’s Unearthed Arcana, I’m still saying it is one of the finest RPG pieces to come out of the 1980s.

Artistic Rating: 4 [out of 5]

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