Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Roleplaying game idea: Reaver

While I haven't been posting to my blog, I haven't been just lying around like a slug. I've been working on a New Orleans scenario for This Favored Land. I've also been working on an entirely different roleplaying game, using the same ORE (One Roll Engine) game system.

This game, so far named Reaver, is set in an alternative 13th century with fantasy elements. I have a good handle on the setting, but I'm stalling on how to tie the setting to character motivation.

The departure point is the 3rd century CE. Christianity and Mithraism compete in Rome, with Mithraism eventually attaining the edge. Mithraism was a religion popular among Roman soldiers, brought to Rome from the Middle East. Through the first three centuries of the Common Era, Mithraism and Christianity co-existed. There's some debate as to whether the two religions actually competed head-to-head, or if they just basically competed for real estate within Rome. There are several elements common to both religions. In this game, it's Mithraism rather than Christianity that comes out as the state religion of Rome by the end of the 4th century, though Christianity still exists.

Fast forward to the 13th Century. England's king (King John in our timeline; someone else in my modified time line, which I'm still working on) is having problems with France. In our time line John came up with the idea of converting to Islam. At the time, he wasn't taken seriously and England remained Christian. In my timeline the king does turn to Islam, which has spread pretty much as it did in our universe. He sees the Moors in Spain as a valuable ally against Mithraic France.

Not everyone in England is happy about the conversion to Islam, of course. The nobles in Northumbria, in particular, have taken a dislike to this forced conversion, and are considering rebellion.

And this brings us to the actual focus of the game. Scots — who are still pagan Celts in the absence of Christian conversion — and Englishmen have both raided across the border for decades, but there is change in the air. Mithraic Northumbria and Celtic Scotland are now drawn tenuously together as they clash against Muslim England. At the same time, the old grievances between Scotland and England are not easily cast aside.

The fantasy elements are more subtle. The creatures of Celtic myth exist, but have been driven to near extinction as mankind advances into the wilderness. Only in the wilderness will you find mythic creatures. Belief is an important aspect. Muslim prayers (and Christian prayers, too) are answered, if the correct conditions are met. For an example of the feel I'm looking for I have in mind the old Land of the Ninja supplement for RuneQuest. Basically, the world works as people perceived it to work in the 13th century.

The characters are Celtic Scots living along the Borders.

This brings me to my problem. I haven't figured out, yet, how to closely connect the characters to the setting. For that matter, I'm not entirely sure I should closely connect the characters to the setting.

So, that's what I've been doing lately instead of blogging. I'll do some more research and then see how this game works out.


Michael said...

It all depends, you know, on how you define "closely connect." I mean, if they're border brigands, they're going to be connected mostly on economic grounds. But those grounds could also be exacerbated by doctrinal differences.

My own feeling is that a character's personality is going to define whatever actions that character gets involved in. So if you want characters to be deeply involved with the different world you're creating, focus on characters who would be likely to be engaged by political or doctrinal differences, rather than people who are purely brigands.

So much for my two at-par cents' worth, anyway.

Stephen said...

Did you ever follow-up on this one?

Sounded interesting.

Steve Marsh

Allan Goodall said...

I've been working on a couple of books for Arc Dream. I still have this one in the back of my mind. It needs more development, of course. I'll think about it after I finish the Godlike campaign I'm working on now, and then the Japanese game right after that one...