D&D General D&Difying History


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Because I'm not talking about modern stories with a thin veneer of the past.
Not only do I think your claim is false, I can present evidence that the exact opposite of what you claim is what's actually happening.

Take the 2021 film The Last Duel. It's set in 1380s France, and is based on real events. I won't go into detail about the subject matter, for the sake of Eric's grandma, but suffice it to say that it deals with some huge warts. Warts that have, in the past, traditionally been whitewashed, bowdlerized, excused or just completely ignored in order to present a romanticized version of the time period.

Warts that actually persist to this day in society, though certainly not to quite the same extent. But they're still present. And discussion of these warts, out in the open, by people who refuse to remain silent about them any more, has become more and more common in recent years.

A film like The Last Duel would not have been made in, say, the 1980s. Portrayals of medieval times at that time were still very naive and romanticized. It's only now that media is beginning to address some of these warts that have been ignored for so long.

So this is evidence that not only is the discussion of these warts in media not being curtailed, it is actually increasing. Pushed, at least in part, by the "forward-minded people" who are now trying to force these issues to be addressed in the present time. It's the precise opposite of what you claim.
 

TheSword

Legend
I’ve never actually done it yet but one day I hope to run a game set in a historically accurate Europe in the year 1,000.
The game would be set initially in Normandy and England and would play on the (at the time very real) fear that the turning of the Millenium would bring about an apocalypse of evil. Kind of like a millenium bug but with demons.

I’ve taught 1066 era history for some years so it would be based on an era of history that is dear to me.
Wow, sounds right up my ally. You need to be writing that! I’ve been reading the Last Kingdom series which is late 9th Century, so a bit wary but the tensions are very strong there.

Don’t forget you ran an excellent Norse Campaign which while not set in a historical setting, could easily have been a mythological history and had all the style and drama of one. It was excellent.

Trust the players, trust the DM, and don’t get too hung up in the details. There is no reason the game has to turn into a documentary. If anything series like Vikings and Black Sails have shown us how much tension and fun can be had in semi historical settings (with Vikings being pretty darn accurate as far as I can tell)

The inaugural Dragon Magazine copy for 3rd edition was themed around a Robin Hood setting, middle England with mythology woven in. It was very well written. (Just I was Ninja’d)

If people wanted to play 5e they could do worse than use AIME for a nonmagical version of D&D
 
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Have you run a historical (including mythic history) game in D&D? If so, what era and location did you choose? How to you integrate D&D's particulars? DID you swap out real world cultures for D&D races, or not use D&D races, or something else? How did it go?

I have made a few attempts but the most ambitious was Post-Roman Britain using 3.5/Pathfinder. I didn't necessarily direct swap cultures for races but generally speaking Dwarves were from the Wales region, Elves were from Ireland, halflings and humans were "local" and orcs and goblins had been pushed back to the other side of Hadrian's Wall (but I avoided saying "Picts are orcs"). The invading Saxons were replaced by hobgoblins, but in retrospect I should have made them the elves. It worked pretty well for a while but as happened a lot in that time it eventually collapsed under the weight of the system.

I used to use the Green books a bit back in the day. The two I really remember strongly are A Mighty Fortress and The Glory of Rome (the Glory of Rome was one of the things that helped launch a lifelong interest in Roman history). And I used to run Masque of the Red Death (which was set in a kind of alternate Victorian Earth). With changes it can work easy enough I think. But I also think it depends on how many D&D-isms you want to retain, versus how much historical realism you want (I think D&Disms, because they are highly gameable, are often something people might want to retain even if they don't fully fit the historical setting).

I also once ran a Ravenloft campaign set in the future of Ravenloft, during a WWI style war between the domains (with tech levels at about WWI technology). Not a historical game, but was a lot more like a historical campaign using D&D as the base. I think my main reason was I just really liked the idea of bringing gothic horror to No Man's Land and having Zeppelins loom in the sky.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Have you run a historical (including mythic history) game in D&D? If so, what era and location did you choose? How to you integrate D&D's particulars? DID you swap out real world cultures for D&D races, or not use D&D races, or something else? How did it go?

I have made a few attempts but the most ambitious was Post-Roman Britain using 3.5/Pathfinder. I didn't necessarily direct swap cultures for races but generally speaking Dwarves were from the Wales region, Elves were from Ireland, halflings and humans were "local" and orcs and goblins had been pushed back to the other side of Hadrian's Wall (but I avoided saying "Picts are orcs"). The invading Saxons were replaced by hobgoblins, but in retrospect I should have made them the elves. It worked pretty well for a while but as happened a lot in that time it eventually collapsed under the weight of the system.
I think generally speaking that telling various real world nationalities that they aren't human might not sit well?
 


billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I really have no idea why this fairly benign thread is being turned into an argument. Can’t we just talk about fun historical campaigns rather than making it political?
Approaching history as exclusively fun is, in itself, a political position. If you're dealing with actual history, you're going to be dealing with a lot of ugliness. The choice to not address that ugliness is a political one.
I think as far as it all goes, if you want to elide historical ugliness in your games, TheSword, nobody's going to care. There are plenty of people who are into semi-historical stuff without wanting to dwell on where the bodies are buried. That's a personal choice and you're free to make it with a table of like-minded players.

But if you want to start talking about it in public, you're going to encounter differences in perspective that will reflect the politics of the topic and all its ugliness. And if, in particular, you try to control the discourse away from that ugliness, then you're engaging in a VERY political act.
 

But if you want to start talking about it in public, you're going to encounter differences in perspective that will reflect the politics of the topic and all its ugliness. And if, in particular, you try to control the discourse away from that ugliness, then you're engaging in a VERY political act.
Very much what I was trying to say, with less eloquent results.
 



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.
The PCs were

Ianto Pandraeg: 5th child of the High King Mordred VI, sometime privateer. Level 11 Shadar-Kai Assassin/Avenger - Covenant Agent. Basically a crit-fishing swashbuckler half made of shadow, with a fierce burning dedication to the Queen Mother (the Morrigan) and to his love, Elodie. (5e conversions have varied from Blade Bard with Shadowtouched and shadowy magic tattoos to Paladin/Rogue and Ranger/Rogue builds, but none quite get there like the 4e Covenant Agent)

Elodie dArgent: French Gnomish new blood noble from a family of jewel merchants. Her father purchased a government position, which after a few decades earned him a permanent hereditary title. Elodie is favored by Caiphon and Al Ghurab, stars of knowledge and insight, and navigation. Caiphon enigmatically stopped another star from overwhelming and destroying her mind, and showed her how to take that external knowledge and partition it, and turn what she could consciously handle into power, thus making her a Star Pact Hexblade. She’s cute, scary, wields a bastard sword one-handed, and is in love with Ianto in spite of all that tries to keep them apart.

Tremayne ap Tarrant, Venetian Half-Elfin Bard and swordmaster. Used his bard and half elf features to have Twin Strike as an At-Will, has associations with assassins and a cult of vampires back home. (Yes, his name is not Venetian, it’s a long story)

There was also a Scottish Knight who had been given Excalibur and been told to cleave himself to Ianto and protect him, for the future of the Empire. He was a all so a Hexblade I think, White Well Pact. Can’t recall his name.

And others rotated in and out over time.


As for races, they generally have a place they are concentrated, but most races have a broad ranging diaspora.

Elves and Eladrin tend to originate in Northern Europe, gnomes in Western Europe, Gnolls in Africa, Dwarves in Eastern Europe, etc.

It’s also a world where the IRL pantheons take the place of D&D gods, and are more distant than FR, but less that Eberron.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Approaching history as exclusively fun is, in itself, a political position. If you're dealing with actual history, you're going to be dealing with a lot of ugliness. The choice to not address that ugliness is a political one.

Mod Note:
I think telling people that the choices of entertainment they make in their own homes is political is rather apt to cause issues.

Ever watch The Good Place? In it, we are presented with a system of moral judgement in which there is no practical possibility for a person to be good, because there are no decisions they can make that don't have negative ethical repercussions, even if they mean well.

You present the issue in that manner, you are backing people into a corner in which there are no good choices. That's not going to work, as discussion. So, how about we back off on the judgement, just a bit, hm? Thanks.
 

TheSword

Legend
I think as far as it all goes, if you want to elide historical ugliness in your games, TheSword, nobody's going to care. There are plenty of people who are into semi-historical stuff without wanting to dwell on where the bodies are buried. That's a personal choice and you're free to make it with a table of like-minded players.

But if you want to start talking about it in public, you're going to encounter differences in perspective that will reflect the politics of the topic and all its ugliness. And if, in particular, you try to control the discourse away from that ugliness, then you're engaging in a VERY political act.
Choosing not to engage with a topic doesn’t mean you condone or disregard the topic. It’s just choosing not to engage with it. That might be for a few reasons… it might not be age appropriate, it might disturb someone in the group, or it just might not be your cup of tea when it’s part of a game for entertainment purposes.

I just think it’s sad that a discussion of real world settings throughout history has to turn into a debate about progressive thought. Can’t we just talk about cool points in history that might make good mini campaign settings… there are plenty of them.
 

Can’t we just talk about cool points in history that might make good mini campaign settings… there are plenty of them.
Why can't we also talk about the realities of history that some people might want to address in their games? That seems like a perfectly valid topic to discuss as well.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Why can't we also talk about the realities of history that some people might want to address in their games? That seems like a perfectly valid topic to discuss as well.
Can we just get back on topic
if you want to discuss the realities of history and how to include serfdom, repression, disease and torture in your game then please do so. That however is not whats been happening, instead its a few debating the rightness of their own views compared to anothers. Its not topic related and would best be taken somewhere else.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I just think it’s sad that a discussion of real world settings throughout history has to turn into a debate about progressive thought. Can’t we just talk about cool points in history that might make good mini campaign settings… there are plenty of them.
You can, and everyone in this thread was pretty much doing so until complaints, yours included now, implied that people now wouldn‘t allow it or because it crossed some progressive agenda. So you tell me who’s being political.

But the fact remains that people are still publishing historically oriented materials for gaming use, including for D&D. They may be running a tougher gauntlet of some critics because of the modern zeitgeist, but the market all over has higher standards to get over compared the early days in art, composition, design. That just now includes sensitivity and inclusiveness as well.
 

TheSword

Legend
Why can't we also talk about the realities of history that some people might want to address in their games? That seems like a perfectly valid topic to discuss as well.
Because it’s going to generate controversy and the thread will end up being about that, and not the game itself.
You can, and everyone in this thread was pretty much doing so until complaints, yours included now, implied that people now wouldn‘t allow it or because it crossed some progressive agenda. So you tell me who’s being political.

But the fact remains that people are still publishing historically oriented materials for gaming use, including for D&D. They may be running a tougher gauntlet of some critics because of the modern zeitgeist, but the market all over has higher standards to get over compared the early days in art, composition, design. That just now includes sensitivity and inclusiveness as well.
I don’t disagree, I think people are publishing. Lets talk about them. I have no problem with a product being progressive. I have no problem with sensitivity and inclusion. I just don’t think it needs to take over every thread.

As @Tonguez says, can people start a new thread if that’s what they want to talk about.
 

Ixal

Hero
I once applied to a 15th century D&Dified Pbm history game. Sadly it died quickly as Pbm games often do.

What I remember was that the oppressed native scandinavians were kobolds ( basically the Finns, not the "Viking" ones. Those were dwarves I think) who, after converting to Christianity brought some protection, started to interact more with the rest of Europe. Can't remember much else besides Dragonborn were of course the far eastern people (Ming? Qing?) and that the game would have been set in Venice as a melting pot.

One could see that the GM had more than just a passing knowledge if history considering the details.

Maybe I can find it again in some archived thread...
 
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