Thursday, November 04, 2010

A Surfeit of Lampreys follow-up

Thanks for all the great comments to yesterday's post about running D&D during the Anarchy in Thomas Hardy's Wessex, especially to all the nice people with book recommendations.  I love it when people take the time to say 'hey! you should totally read this book I dig!"  That's groovy.  I did want to respond to some of the other comments.

Folks recommended some non-D&D systems for this campaign concept.  Pendragon, Chivalry & Sorcery and Ars Magica were mentioned.  Personally I think HarnMaster, MERP and Bruce Galloway's Fantasy Wargaming would also be pretty good options.  However, the genesis of the campaign concept was an attempt to fish around for an interesting period to run a more historical version of D&D, so if I got this baby off the ground it would probably be with Labyrinth Lord or one of the umpteen other versions I own.  Though whichever D&D I went with would be hacked up a bit.  Platemail would get the boot as it is inappropriate to the period.  Magic-Users would probably be tarted up a bit to put conjuring demons front and center.  And the Cleric as a class would be gone.  Period.  Most members of the priestly caste would be Normal Men, except for those Bishop Odo types who go about kicking ass as Fighting Men and the sketchy scholars practicing Magic-Use.

Gameblog reader cr0m asks a key question about the campaign concept:
What do you imagine the characters doing? Fighting in the political struggle, dungeon exploration, or something entirely different?
I can't run Dungeons & Dragons without having some dungeons in the mix.  For a more historical type game, I think I would hide most of the crazier monsters there.  I don't mind having fairy tale type stuff like dragons and unicorns on the hex map, but the flumphs and gorbels would definitely stay in the crazy ass underworld environ.  Basically the idea would be to play the campaign fairly straight on the surface, but cut loose with my usual wild self once the PCs go down the steps to Level One.  Sure, that means that at some point one of the players will try to change the course of British history with a laser rifle they pried out of the cold dead hands of a cyberbalrog inexplicably dressed like Pee-Wee Herman, but that's just the way it goes sometimes.

Seeing the PCs participates in the vast fiasco that is the Anarchy would be nice, so I hope they would get swept up in historical events.  Though they may not entirely like the results of such intrigue, as I tend to imagine that it would go about as well as Clint Eastwood and Tuco's encounters with the U.S. Civil War in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


  1. I'm happy to comply with half-assed book recommendations at any time. Thank you for now launching a book search for lesser-known late 19th century English short stories that have nothing to do with D&D (until now).

  2. Anonymous11:54 AM

    Between my love for The Good The Bad and The Ugly, and my having recently gotten acquainted with the Anarchy in part because of Pillars of the Earth, I'm diggin' these posts. Sounds like a fun concept, indeed. I would think the recent miniseries of Pillars would really help make the setting more accessible for players who weren't already history buffs, too.

  3. This game seems like a good candidate for the alternating D&D-one-day strategy-game-the-next-day structure I was thinking about in the post I did today...

  4. It's set a few hundred years earlier, in post-Roman Britain, but The Dragon Lord by David Drake might also provide some inspiration.

  5. You might want to take a look at Pillars of the Earth by Ken Folett. It is set in this time period and is chock full of ideas and background - I'm not all that far into yet, but they've already mentioned the unfortunate lamprey incident. I have not yet seen the miniseries that came out earlier this year (I am waiting to finish the novel first), but that might be of use, as well.

  6. Duh, read other people's comments fully before yapping...