D&D General D&Difying History

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
The closest I've come is a short "alt history" campaign, where history (and the relevant mythology) was historical up to a particular point, after which the game-world diverged from our real history.

That setting was Viking-world circa 1000AD. The overarching campaign premise was that an executed sorceress made a deal in the afterlife to return to life, which was the event that split off the game world from real history. The system was a stripped-down D&D3.5 (something like E6 Micro20). The beginning-of-campaign constraints were "humans only, martials only, low-magic" which expanded for in-game reasons as the campaign progressed to include increasing magic and monsters.

The slow escalation of magic and monsters was straightforward to manage. I felt the main sticking point was handling real-world faiths in a setting where a specific mythology was presumptively "true." WHile I was somewhat prepped to take it a bit farther, I mostly just handwaved those issues away as just different sects/views of the same truth. And it never really came up, except as setting dressing, and none of the players (all of whom I knew well, and none of us history buffs) was bothered by it, afaik.

Mechanically, it worked reasonably well as a short-term, low-power, mythic type campaign. If I did it again, though, I'd probably seek out a different rule set.* And I wouldn't try today without players I know and/or a LOT of pre-campaign communication.



* But probably end up back on a D&D derivative for lack of players willing to try other rules.
 

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Voadam

Legend
That setting was Viking-world circa 1000AD. The overarching campaign premise was that an executed sorceress made a deal in the afterlife to return to life, which was the event that split off the game world from real history. The system was a stripped-down D&D3.5 (something like E6 Micro20). The beginning-of-campaign constraints were "humans only, martials only, low-magic" which expanded for in-game reasons as the campaign progressed to include increasing magic and monsters.

. . .

Mechanically, it worked reasonably well as a short-term, low-power, mythic type campaign. If I did it again, though, I'd probably seek out a different rule set.* And I wouldn't try today without players I know and/or a LOT of pre-campaign communication.

* But probably end up back on a D&D derivative for lack of players willing to try other rules.
4e would do a great human martials only mythic saga D&D. DMG 2 inherent bonuses with a bunch of viking fighters, rogues, rangers, and warlords should work smoothly.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I did start writing up a world document at one point though never got to play (mostly because i get new setting ideas all the time and only the most recent gets remembered when we actually sit down to play), populating Europe and the Mediterranean with the, then current, races and creatures in 5e. I made the British Isles an elven homeland, Scandinavia had dwarves, elves, and giants, I may have subbed in goliaths as Asgardians, Greece and Rome had dryads, satyrs, centaurs, and pegasi. Humans were primarily around the Mediterranean area, halflings (I called them the children of Bes), tabaxi, and aarakocra were found in Egypt.

I also wanted to make use of the cities found in the 3e dragon magazines, those were pretty cool. There was a host of articles in old dragon mags that would have been useful for creating a real world campaign.
 

Those books were cool; i had the whole set. I wish it were still possible to make stuff like that.
Why isn't it possible to make historically oriented D&D materials anymore?

Seriously, with the OGL you could make historically based materials for D&D 3e/3.5e or 5e, or d20 Modern.

The last official historic D&D material I know of was the stuff for a 12th century Robin Hood campaign in one of the Dragon Magazines that came out right after 3e did in late 2000, but there's nothing I'm aware of that prohibits making it. . .just that for some reason it fell out of fashion as people went for more high-magic high-fantasy stuff than historic or low-magic gaming.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Why isn't it possible to make historically oriented D&D materials anymore?

Seriously, with the OGL you could make historically based materials for D&D 3e/3.5e or 5e, or d20 Modern.

The last official historic D&D material I know of was the stuff for a 12th century Robin Hood campaign in one of the Dragon Magazines that came out right after 3e did in late 2000, but there's nothing I'm aware of that prohibits making it. . .just that for some reason it fell out of fashion as people went for more high-magic high-fantasy stuff than historic or low-magic gaming.
Historically accurate material that isn't explicitly for educational purposes has become socially unacceptable. Apparently we'd prefer to pretend the past had the values forward-thinking 21st century folks have.
 

Historically accurate material that isn't explicitly for educational purposes has become socially unacceptable. Apparently we'd prefer to pretend the past had the values forward-thinking 21st century folks have.
Demonstrably false, even just within the RPG world. Castles & Crusades various Codexes based on historical cultures leap to mind as a start.

The reality in general is actually that historically INaccurate materials are less acceptable, so you can't get away with whitewashing and apologia as much anymore. We have a history of false historical beliefs, so things once considered facts no longer are, because they never actually were.
 
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jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
I've run a Charlemagne's Paladins campaign using AD&D and the campaign sourcebook of that name (the green cover sourcebook published by TSR). It didn't last very long.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Demonstrably false, even just within the RPG world. Labyrith Lord's various Codexes based on historical cultures leap to mind as a start.

The reality in general is actually that historically INaccurate materials are less acceptable, so you can't get away with whitewashing and apologia as much anymore. We have a history of false historical beliefs, so things once considered facts no longer are, because they never actually were.
You make the product to the best of our historical understanding. You don't just stop because our understanding has changed.
 




Micah Sweet

Legend
That's great, because we haven't stopped. That was the point. The claim that we have stopped is demonstrably false.
D&d certainly stopped, quite some time ago. I'm glad to hear it's still being done by a few folks out there, but it is by far the minority in the world of TTRPGs, and I would suggest all of fiction as well.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Crossroads!

1630 CE, in the misty past of Britain’s history, there was a prince named Mordred, and his bastard half brother, Arthur.

Essentially, Arthur and his knights convert to Christianity after a decade of regency in his younger brother’s name, and longer as the protector of Britain, by right of arms and by his aquisition of the protector’s sword Caledfwlch.

At this point, Mordred refuses conversion, and Arthur ousts his brother.

War ensues, and where things really take a turn is when Mordred makes a deal with The Morrigan to provide her an empire ruled by her half-mortal children and dedicated to the gods in exchange for the power to defeat his brother.

More than a thousand years later, the Empire of Cymru rules over what we call the British Isles, France, and most of Western and Central Europe, the Mediterranean, and has strong alliances and growing trade towns in the New World. Magic has never left the world, and the heirs of Mordred are shadowy people with long lives and a daring and sometimes wild nature. The Empire is strongly Pagan at its core, but functions in a sort of federalism inspired by the ancient Persian empires, meaning that parts of the empire are nearly fully autonomous, and have thier own petty monarchs or parliaments or whatever.

It has several rivals,

Federation of Reykjavik (and “empire” made up of Scandinavian states, the free states of Greenland, and the nations of the Iroquois Federation

The Byzantine Roman Empire persists, and is the primary bastion of Christianity in Europe.

The Caliphate rules over much of the historical territory of the Abbasid Caliphate, excepting Egypt, Persia, and some other little bits. The rise of the “moralists” was avoided, so this is still an empire that values science and the exchange of ideas.

Catholic Spain is small, made up of only a few northern kingdoms not part of Al Andulus or the Empire of Cymru’s Iberian holdings, and a widespread but tenuous diaspora spreading from the West African coastline to the islands and coasts of South and Central America, in walled fortress cities that are as likely to be embattled with their neighbors as have open trade relationships, from decade to decade.

The PCs in the 1630 attend thier first year at the Royal Academy in Cardiff, where many of the most promising youths of the Empire and her allies and rivals go to learn, to meet the powerful scions of far flung houses, and to compete in a sport that combines parkour with rugby.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
1 Albion (England) - during the English Civil War in 1648 Oliver Cromwell first came up against a Fey-Pact Warlock in Wales. Although driven back, Cromwell survived the encounter and turned to Divine Providence for aid. Gaining the support of the Scottish Witch Finders they soon discover that those of True faith have better defence against the fey and this helps them to push back into Wales and then Ireland.

However at the seige of Clonmel a witch coven summons the Faerie Queen Melancthe, which causes the lost land of Lyonnes to rise up from the sea opening portals to the Feywild and creating a land bridge (Doggerland) across the English Channel. With the portals open all kinds of Fey and giants return to claim Lyonnes, some expanding into Ireland (which Cromwell is thus unable to subdue) and others heading to other parts of the world.

The Lord Protector squirms as Old Shuck once more terrorizes the moors and goblins infest the sewers of Manchester. Cromwell does claim Doggerland and looks to Belgium and the other Low Countries to form a broader Protestant alliance against the fae. Robert Cromwell becomes the Second Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, a Puritan tyrant following in the footsteps of his father to ruthlessly enforce the law against scorcery in the regions of Albion and Doggerland.

As Fey and Witch-finder forces clash in the Protectorate Lands, Witches and lesser beings flee into Europe.

2 In southern Europe the Grand Inquisitor Tomas Torquemada has risen to become the Primus of the High Church and pushing up to claim France for the Church declares a holy war beginning a campaign of genocide against all non-human races and those he declares in league with Hellspawn.
At the same time Candida Torquemada, the former wife of Torquemada, whom he had imprisoned in an Monastery due to her ‘insanity’, takes over the asylum and makes a pact with the Hellspawn ‘Nemesis’ by whom she births two hellspawn (Tiefling) children Barbossa and Murcalla

3 Central Europe/Black Forest region was inspired by Dark Fairytales with hags, gnomes, trolls and witches and darker sexier versions like Red Riding Hood and the Werewolf

4 beyond the Carpathians Rugeivit The Howler, a Lycanthrope Warlord of the Western Slavs musters his forces, vying against the Vampire Boyars, offering a refuge to those accused of witchcraft and dealing with Baba Yaga and the other old gods who begin to stir.

5 Further south Amcazade Pasha Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Technocrats leads clockwork armies, flying carpets and griffins to occupy the Balkans and menace Venice
 

Voadam

Legend
Historically accurate has rarely been D&D's thing. Mostly some historically accurate individual elements but more mythical and fantasy and things anachronistically and geographically mixed together. The 2e and C&C sourcebooks have a bunch on some takes of historical culture stuff, but even there they also have a lot on appropriate magic and monsters to encounter and use. HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook from TSR for example has a decent amount of material on cultural Norse life in the viking age, but it also has a whole chapter on rune magic and another on Norse folklore appropriate monsters. D&D is much more likely to give you elements from the sagas or viking movies than historically accurate elements of the people who told the sagas.
 

D&d certainly stopped, quite some time ago. I'm glad to hear it's still being done by a few folks out there, but it is by far the minority in the world of TTRPGs, and I would suggest all of fiction as well.
Easy answer why: it's not profitable enough for them. RPG settings based on historical cultures are BY FAR my favourite thing in all of RPGdom. But I'm aware my tastes are relatively uncommon. Which means such things don't sell terribly well, which in turn means while it can be profitable for a small publisher to put out such works, it's simply does not generate sufficient sales for it to be worth D&D's time and effort, when other products they can invest in would sell better.

Such works were ALWAYS in by far the minority in the world of TTRPGs, even when TSR was doing it. Even for D&D alone, there was one book based on Vikings and bloody hundreds of books for Forgotten Realms, for example. So that hasn't changed either.

As for all of fiction, you're again demonstrably wrong about that. Here's an article discussing some recent novels based in historical times, some of which are VERY recent, and the article itself is from 2020, which demonstrates that these works are socially acceptable. I picked this one simply because it was the first google result. Even a cursory search will provide mountains of evidence that your claim is false.


So no, there is no oppression by "forward-minded types" making it impermissible to talk about the past. Every claim you've made about that is demonstrably false, as demonstrated above.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
D&d certainly stopped, quite some time ago.

I don't believe you have established that they'd ever made a real habit of it to say that they stopped. One or two products over the course of a 50-year history of the game doesn't say "stopped" to me. It says, "never really started."

I'm glad to hear it's still being done by a few folks out there, but it is by far the minority in the world of TTRPGs, and I would suggest all of fiction as well.

"All of fiction" is... huge. When I go to Barnes and Noble's website, they'll give me 50 pages of listings of historical fiction. Making an authoritative claim on that is a tall order, that you probably ought to back up with more than just a personal impression.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Easy answer why: it's not profitable enough for them. RPG settings based on historical cultures are BY FAR my favourite thing in all of RPGdom. But I'm aware my tastes are relatively uncommon. Which means such things don't sell terribly well, which in turn means while it can be profitable for a small publisher to put out such works, it's simply does not generate sufficient sales for it to be worth D&D's time and effort, when other products they can invest in would sell better.

Such works were ALWAYS in by far the minority in the world of TTRPGs, even when TSR was doing it. Even for D&D alone, there was one book based on Vikings and bloody hundreds of books for Forgotten Realms, for example. So that hasn't changed either.

As for all of fiction, you're again demonstrably wrong about that. Here's an article discussing some recent novels based in historical times, some of which are VERY recent, and the article itself is from 2020, which demonstrates that these works are socially acceptable. I picked this one simply because it was the first google result. Even a cursory search will provide mountains of evidence that your claim is false.


So no, there is no oppression by "forward-minded types" making it impermissible to talk about the past. Every claim you've made about that is demonstrably false, as demonstrated above.
Do those works present historical fiction fairly, warts and all? Because I'm not talking about modern stories with a thin veneer of the past.
 

Do those works present historical fiction fairly, warts and all? Because I'm not talking about modern stories with a thin veneer of the past.
Since you're the one claiming that they do not, surely you must already know the answer to this, right? Have you read these books? If not, how can you claim that certain things are no longer written about in "all of fiction"?

It might help if you were actually specific in what you're referring to: please list some "warts" that you believe no one is allowed to write about any more.
 

Voadam

Legend
Even for D&D alone, there was one book based on Vikings and bloody hundreds of books for Forgotten Realms, for example. So that hasn't changed either.

Real world historical/mythical vikings? HR1, and Legends and Lore.

D&D vikings? GAZ7 The Northern Reaches, The Rjurik Highlands, Player's Secrets of Halskapa, and Player's Secrets of Stjordvik. So specific viking sourcebooks for Mystara and Birthright.

If you want to play and develop viking things in other settings you have the vikings from the Moonshae trilogy in the Forgotten Realms so it is worth checking out the Moonshae sourcebook. Greyhawk has the Frost, Snow, and Ice barbarian fantasy viking kingdoms. Planescape has the Norse pantheon as part of its stuff, Spelljammer has various viking elements. Jakandor's Knorrmen are a cultural mix of vikings, celts, and native Americans.

Dragonlance sort of mixes and matches some cultural influences so their norsemen of the southern continent are a bit of an equatorial viking type in the north with fairly loose viking elements.

I can't remember anything in specifically in Ravenloft, Dark Sun, or Eberron, but there is a lot of viking stuff in a lot of D&D.
 

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