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Sunday 12 June 2016

Dark Albion's Main Gaming Influences

So, while the contest to win a free copy of Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos is ongoing (and you can still throw your hat into the ring for a chance to win by clicking on that link and commenting), I thought I'd very briefly state here what are the main influences for Dark Albion.  I'm not talking about historical influences, which are obvious in the setting, but in terms of other RPGs that I think were great previous exemplars to what I wanted to do with Dark Albion.  So in no particular order they would be:

1. Dungeons & Dragons:  Obviously, Dark Albion is an OSR setting first and foremost. It is made with old-school D&D in mind.  While as a setting its 'medieval authenticity' makes it extremely different from the more typical old-school settings like Greyhawk or the Wilderlands (much less Dragonlance or the Realms or stuff like that), if it wasn't for the essential grittiness of low-level play I don't think that Albion would work.  The idea in Albion of the supernatural and inhuman being found mostly in the margins of society and the geographical frontiers (borderlands?) of the setting is also a natural extension of default D&D play.

2. Maelstrom: this very underrated classic is an old-school (non-D&D) game that was set in historical Tudor England, with magic added on. It was a slightly wonky system but with excellent classes, and was a kind of proto-Warhammer in some ways. It also had a spectacular reference on herbalism, which was a big influence in Albion's section on herbalism, poison and alchemical products.

3. Pendragon and The Great Pendragon Campaign:  the Pendragon RPG was another fantasy game based in a fantasy version of Britain. It was also a game where social class and religion were both hugely important, just like they ought to be in a standard Albion campaign. The Great Pendragon Campaign supplement, possibly one of the best campaign books ever made for any RPG ever, is a spectacular guide to running a long-term mutli-decade historical campaign; which Dark Albion also tries to do with it's Chronology. The mix of history with fantasy is something Albion also tries to adopt, though in Albion's case it skews ever so slightly closer to history and less toward myth than Pendragon, for obvious reasons (Arthurian legend already being myth to begin with, so that's not a criticism of Pendragon).

4. Aquelarre: This Spanish RPG is an amazing kind of old-school game, based on a BRP-type system but completely adapted to play in a fantasy version of 13th century Iberia.  It is truly a majestic RPG, one I hope will be available to English-speaking readers at some point soon.  It too puts social status and religion up front and center and makes it really matter in play, just like it should in Albion.  And its treatment of fantasy and monsters is based strongly on local Spanish legends, just like I tried to do in the gazetteer chapter of Dark Albion, where I based supernatural elements on real local stories and folklore for each region.  Finally, it's magic system makes at least an effort to be loosely based on authentic concepts and ideas about magic at the time, something I try to do too in my section on Demon-summoning in Dark Albion.

So yeah, these are the main influences on Albion as a setting. This is how I looked at previous game systems and design concepts to create my particular treatment of a medieval authentic RPG.  Now, just for kicks, here's the cover of the soon-to-be released Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos again!


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  1. Replies
    1. Except of the influences that matter most: DESIGN influences.

    2. In other words, like Appendix N.

      How would your list help me at my table in the moment of a game?

    3. Appendix N is a list of literary influences, not game-design influences.

      And this list would NOT help you at a table, which is why I didn't include it in Dark Albion.
      You know what I DID include in Dark Albion? Appendix P: an appendix with a whole set of house-ruled mechanics that can modify any OSR game to make it into a new system geared toward Dark Albion.

      That's an appendix worth including.

    4. I tease.

      You're right, though - Appendix P is an awesome addition to the excellent Dark Albion.