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Wednesday 3 June 2015

Will Dark Albion be Fantasy England, or an England-like Fantasy-World?

Someone asked, in response to my last blog post, if Dark Albion was going to be set in a fantasy world loosely based on England in the War of the Roses (in the same way, say, Westeros is a fantasy setting loosely based on England during the War of the Roses) or if it is going to be an actual D&D setting book for playing in England in the 15th century.  I thought I should repeat my answer here, in case anyone else had doubts:

Dark Albion is set in a fantasy version of England.  That is to say, it is absolutely recognizable as England (same cities, people, culture, conflict - the Rose War-, and culture) but it has been infused with certain fantasy elements:  there are Clerics (who are a special religious order), there is Law and Chaos, magic (in the form of university-trained socially-tolerated Magisters, elf-blooded Cymri Travelers, witches, and chaos-cultists), monsters (though you won't run into these in most civilized regions, but rather out in the lonely places), etc.  There have been some slight variations from the original history, but on the whole most of the material there is based on actual 15th century history, including the chapters on Law & Justice, Equipment, and other cultural details like fairs & tourneys, the court, and even potential adventure areas based on local folk tales.

Now, it won't be precisely 'historically accurate'.  I've taken some liberties.  The English mountains are a bit taller and scarier.  The interior areas of Wales are still full of rebellious tribesmen.  Hadrian's wall is fully-functional.  The Star Chamber already exists.  I've changed the Catholic Church into the Law-aligned Church of the Unconquered Sun.  And while there will be large sections on places outside of England/Albion, these areas will use even more 'license':  Scots' Land and Eire Land are full of barbarians and the supernatural, most of what we think of as France is full of literal frog-men, and in the future of the setting Dracula will really be a vampire (though he's not at the start of the campaign).

(for some people this sort of thing:)

(is as exciting as this:)

(or the courtly-intrigue with a huge cast of fascinating characters thing:)

(or this:)
(or of course investigating somewhere like this:)
(or at higher levels trying to go kill this guy:)

(fortunately, in Dark Albion: The Rose War, you'll be able to engage in all of the above, and more!)

But it will probably be the most historically accurate setting for Europe ever done for a D&D-style game that wasn't just purely historical.  It's a bit closer to historical accuracy than Pendragon.  It's closer to historical accuracy than WFRP's Empire.  It will have all kinds of spectacular information for the history buff.  But, just like with Arrows of Indra, the first priority will not be historical accuracy, but playability and fun.  As a historian, I personally refuse to accept that you can't do both at the same time.

Anyways, stay tuned. Soon you'll be able to see for yourself.


Currently Smoking:  Castello 4k Canadian + Image Latakia


  1. So your version of Wales is unchanged from reality...

  2. I'm hooked. Will the game have rules for gunpowder weapons? I like my fantasy with guns in it.

    1. Yes, it absolutely does have gunpowder weapons. Because of course, gunpowder weapons existed and were first used in serious ways during the War of the Roses. So the book supposes that they're astoundingly rare at the start of the campaign, but would be quite common by the end of it.

  3. I'll probably give 'Perfidious Albion' a look as a potential precursor to 'Help! Help! My Princess is on Fire!' but I'll leave the Catholic Church as a big bag of Chaos facing off against the ineffable Law of Protestantism. Where do you stand on Jews?

    1. Given the name I'm assuming this is a troll post. The game is about 70 years too early for Protestantism, and a bit too late for Hussite heresy. Since I take an 'alternate history' route here, and have substituted the Sol Invictus religion as the 'winner' over Christianity, the role of Jews becomes considerably less significant in Europe. They are mentioned in the book as a very minor religion/cultural group that also worships the god of Law in a different form.

    2. It's not (a troll post), but given your history I can understand the assumption. Think more along the lines of Budgell, "Imitation is a kind of artless Flattery."

      I get that the game as written won't be touched by the Reformation, but I plan to give it a look as the potential basis for Britain of my LotFP campaign now, now being the 30 years war. So my little exercise will be joining the world of your good self and Immortan Jim. For local reasons P v RC is a Law v Chaos match. I know it's not want either of you intended, you know I don't really care.

      If I like what I see I may even pick up AoI. I have this half-assed idea of using OSR products to stand for different countries and areas in a combined OSR world. Red tide, Japan. Fantastic Heroes & Witchery, France. Astounding Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Skandiwegia. More Rifts than TORG.

      Our jews are Gnomes :-)