Tuesday, 29 May 2012

WoTR/ToEE Campaign: 17 Things You Need to Know

17 things my players will need to know before the start of the new campaign:

Choosing Sides: White Rose of York or Red of Lancaster?

Recent History:
  • In 1455, under pressure from the Pope (who had threatened to excommunicate the whole of England), Richard, Duke of York, leads fully half of England's nobility in revolt against the Lancastrian King, Henry VI. A weak and insipid ruler, Henry had allowed himself to fall under the sway of dark magicians and demonologists.
  • In 1471, the Yorkist faction finally put an end to the Wars. The Yorkists (fighting under the banner of the White Rose) defeat the Lancastrians and their demonic allies at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Following the battle, the Earl of Angstford and his family, stout Lancastrians and fearsome demonologists, have their lands and titles placed under attainder, (confiscated), by the Yorkist King Edward IV. They flee in various directions: to France, Burgundy and Ireland.
Henry VI, executed soon after Tewkesbury
 Current Situation:
  • The current year is 1481. Edward IV still rules England.
  • With the great mass of English chivalry dead on the Bloody Meadow of  Tewkesbury or in exile abroad, much of the country remains ungoverned and lawless. Many heirs are still too young to inherit their lands. Other lords and knights still retain their lands but live in Exile. Brigandage is common. The monstrous creatures forced into the Wildwoods by the campaigns of Arthur and St George are now once again venturing forth into the settled lands of England.
  • The seat of the Earl of Angstford remains vacant, a tasty morsel dangled before the nose of several important noblemen of dubious loyalty as a means of ensuring their good behaviour. The few castles and manor houses within the limes (territory) of the Earldom which are not razed or ruined, are held by Flemish mercenaries in the service of the King.
  • Women are expected to marry and raise children or take vows as a Nun. HOWEVER, female mercenaries and adventurers are actually quite common in this period, but are viewed as abominations by most "right-thinking" folk.
  • Some new items not normally found in the OSRIC rules are available, but are well beyond the means of most starting players. These include: Arquebus/Hackbutts (primitive handguns), Field Plate Armour, Full Plate Armour (better versions of Plate Mail) and Brigandine Armour (actually quite common, I'll probably post the rules for these)
  • According to the Catholic church, only humans have souls (and possibly Half-Elves and Troll-bloods, but the church isn't sure about that).  Killing animals or members of any other race is NOT considered an act of murder by Catholics. Muslims and Jews believe that Dwarves also have souls. The Muslim and Jewish religions have not had sufficient contact with Elves, Half-Elves and Half-Orcs to have formed an opinion regarding the status of these beings one-way-or-another.

  • The campaign will be set in the fictional English Earldom of Angstford. Although there are road and other physical connections to the rest of England, the territory  of the Earldom represents the physical limits of the campaign sandbox. In theory, your characters can leave at any time. In practise, please don't.
Edward IV, Yorkist King of England
Game Information:
  •  Races: Player Characters may be Shidhe (Elves), Changelings (Half-Elfs), Dwarves, Humans or Troll-Bloods (Half-Orcs descended from Fomorians). There will be no gnomes or halflings in this setting.
  • Class and Level Limits: Unlike the previous game, humans will not be able to multi-class. Non humans may multi-class as normal but be aware that maximum levels for non-humans apply in this setting with the following exceptions: Dwarves and Trollbloods may advance to any level as a fighter or Barbarian. Elves may advance to any level as a Magic-User or Illusionist. Changelings may advance to any level as a Houri, Thief or Ranger.
  • PC Clerics may follow one of three religions: Catholicism, Islam or Judaism and may be of any alignment. However, Clerics must always act within the bounds of their religion. Carrying out actions forbidden to their religion (for example: theft, sexual intercourse or murder for a   Catholic Cleric) will result in the character losing their spellcasting abilities. Only NPC Clerics may be followers of the evil deity known by various names such as the Dark One, Satan etc. PC Clerics ALWAYS turn undead (rather than control them) regardless of their alignment. Clerics of the Dark One always control undead.
  • All Clerics are Priests of their religion. However, not all Priests are Clerics. Clerics are essentially proto-saints at low-levels and actual, living saints, prophets or the equivalent by higher levels. Spell-casting priests (i.e Clerics) are said to possess Grace, as in the "Grace of God". Perhaps one Priest in ten in so blessed.
  • Druids are, well, druids or witches. They are often mistaken for servants of the Dark One and burned at the stake.
  • Wizards and Illusionists are, likewise, often mistaken for servants of the Dark One and burned at the stake. Most pretend to be "astrologers", "sages," "natural philosphers" and the like.
  • Elves may not be Clerics. They may be Druids instead.
  • Paladins do not belong to an Order of Knighthood. They might not even be knights. They do not hold any official place in the hierarchy of their religion, but may eventually be recognised as "warrior-saints" by their faiths. Salahadin and Sir William Marshal are perhaps the best historical examples of individuals who behave in a Paladin-like manner.
Do You Want To Know More?
Click the link for a good grounding in recent events.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Temple of Elemental Evil: War of the Roses Style.

Now that I spend about 10-12 hours a day painting figures for a living, the Isle of the Earthshaker campaign has pretty much died. I was largely making up dungeons and encounter locations as I went, so prep time for each weekly game was fairly considerable. I just don't have the free-time anymore to put so much work into writing a campaign.

The solution is to re-start with a published campaign, fleshed out with a few extra adventure locations from published modules. I had an inkling to convert the WFRP 1e Doomstones campaign back to it's original format (AD&D) but that would be a fairly substantial task. Plus, the story driven nature of the game makes regular attendance by the same group of players pretty important. That isn't really compatible with my current group's"sit-in when you can" style of campaign play.

So, I'm thinking of running Temple of Elemental Evil. It has it's flaws, but it should do the trick. I'll take a look through my early module collection for an alternative, but I'm thinking Temple of Elemental Evil for the main dungeon, Stonehell Dungeon as an alternative location nearby and simply sticking other adventure locations from modules on the map as and when required. Not exactly a masterpiece of creativity but it'll do.

The twist is that I'll be setting it in an alternate-earth version of Real-World history during the War of the Roses.

I have a few ideas in mind that need fleshed out. For the moment, Clerics and Paladins can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Servants of the Dark One. Druids are, well, druids. Wizards use coin magic (spell preparation consists of enchanting small coins which unleash the magic contained within when thrown),  Elves come from the wildest, more remote parts of Wales, Ireland and Scotland and are more British-Fae elves than they are Tolkeinesque. Half-Elf's are called Changelings, Dwarves come from Scandinavia and can be found in parts of the British Isles settled by Vikings (yes, Dwarf Vikings!). Half-Orcs are humans with an ancient Fomorian bloodline, rather than being actual half-orcs.

All humanity knows that the legendary creatures of fire-side tales and dark, ancient myths still lurk in the wildwoods, driven from the lands of humanity by the likes of the Sainted George and King Arthur in the distant past. From time to time, a village is burned, crops or beasts are stolen and children vanish. All know this to be the work of creatures from the wildwood, and every house in Britain keeps an iron horse shoe above the door and ancient runes carved on their window-shutters.