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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Regency/Arthuriana: More Notes

I went through a decade-long period of being a serious King Arthur nut during my mid-teens to mid-twenties.  I’ve got several shelves of books on the historical Arthur, Arthurian RPGs, reprints and reinterpretations of Malory, modern novels, and even the Arthurian Tarot.  I overall prefer the “historical” 5th Century side of Arthuriana, but I know Greater Albion will swing toward the medieval romances instead.  Part of this is just because the medieval romances are more familiar to a wider audience, part of it’s because the romances have more material to work with, and part of it can be justified as in-universe misinterpretation of the past.  Just because “Camelot” did not end at Camlann doesn’t mean historical records from that era aren’t spotty.

I think the Grand Tour is called the Grand Quest and is taken in imitation of Thomas Malory-style knight errantry. 
·         Just as during the actual 19th Century Regency period, most young men use it as an opportunity to sow wild oats rather than educate themselves.  The presence of more “lady knights” joining them in their travels keeps them a bit more circumspect, but the Italian custom of the cicisbeo has made the Grand Quest more entertaining for women as well.
·         The Grand Quest will probably have to be a separate supplement.  It would be natural to tie it into the Grail Quest.

There are four archetypal settings that naturally suggest themselves in a Regency campaign:
·         The country, the setting of Jane Austen’s books.  This is life in small towns and villages; characters aspire to decent levels of comfort and autonomy.  There aren’t a bunch of earls and dukes cluttering the place up.
·         The beau monde or ton – the high society of Regency London.  This is the setting of the majority of Regency romance novels and my primary interest in the genre.  It is far more escapist than Austen’s novels.
·         The Continent, i.e. Europe.  In addition to the Grand Tour, Europe is also the place where exiles like Byron and Brummell wind up.  It is kind of seedy in comparison to Britain.
·         The Napoleonic Wars – which of course took place in Europe but aren’t the same as doing a peacetime European campaign.  The wars will be more of a backdrop than plot point in my Plot Point Campaign.  There’s already a Sharpe’s…-style game.
The trick is going to be integrating all this into one Plot-Point Campaign.  I might have to include multiple campaigns or at least include multiple paths for the campaign.

The Chekov’s Gun of a setting based around waiting for the return of King Arthur is the return of King Arthur.  I already know who the returned Arthur is in my “official” version of the campaign (hint: he’s a historical figure named Arthur who saved Britain from Napoleon) but I will make it explicit in the book that GMs should feel free to allow a PC to be the once and future king if they really want the job.  The official Arthur doesn’t want the job – he suffered enough heartache back in the 5th Century – so he’ll just keep his identity secret and accept a post as prime minister instead.

I think it should also be an option for a player character to marry Princess Charlotte, because why not?

I should include a detailed country setting in the Jane Austen mode – something more fairytale than Thornshire but with a similar Lake Country feel.  (Obviously not Salisbury.)

How many noble families are too many?  The one thing I really hate about Waterdeep is just how many different, barely-detailed noble families are cluttering up the place.  The real-life English aristocracy is significantly larger than that, but I’d like to provide everybody with more material to work with than just some names and addresses.  I’m thinking twenty (d20!) sample families with (abbreviated) stats, personality profiles, plot hooks, and intrigues. 

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