So going has been sloooooow recently; there just always seems to be so much to do with real life. Oh, how I yearn for my twenties again... Anyway, I’m working hard on finishing all the maps for Act III, and I’m close. Luckily, this weekend is looking to be pretty wide open, so hopefully I can get lots done. I really need to get some Bastion screen shots out, and I’ll try hard for a Sunday update.
That said, I do have two follow ups questions to my last poll, but I need to give a slight bit of information first. I’ve thought about four potential eras for a medieval module, but I probably should give a slight description of each in case some or all are not familiar to voters. I’m all for informed voters...
I have the kernel of a plot hook that could be worked into any of the following. So you know, I would probably keep the skills and attributes and have new classes and feats, both of which would be dependent on the scenario. Some of these feats would be language-based like “Fluent in Latin” or “Fluent in French," which would allow conversation options. Others would be history-based like "Order of the Garter," which would possibly allow prestige classes. Some would be ability based like "Longbowman" which would allow the use of the longbow or "Song of Roland" and "The Epic of Beowulf" which would allow battle-inspirations for bard-like characters.
OK, now for the scenarios. Please read and then answer the poll questions at left.
Option 1: The Viking Invasions (circa 878 AD)
The 7th century began a period of near yearly attacks by the “Northmen.” Called Danes when settling and Vikings when pillaging, the “Northmen” began colonizing the British Isles around 800, waging a bloody war against the indigenous Saxon population for more land and resources. Throughout the 9th century, the Saxon kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia, and East Anglia were all crushed under the Danish tide, leaving the West Saxons (Wessex) as the last Saxon stronghold. In 871, King Ethelred I of Wessex died, leaving his youngest brother, Alfred, on the throne. Alfred, a frail, thin, and sickly youth prone to severe stomach cramps, seemed always on the verge of death and therefore easy pickings to the Vikings, who invaded Wessex in defiance of a negotiated truce around Christmas of 877 and crushed the meager Saxon resistance at Chippenham. Forced to flee as the kingdom was consumed in fire and blood, the royal family and their most loyal followers took refuge in the fort of Athelny. For that winter, the last of the Saxon kingdoms was reduced to a population of 100 and an area of little more than two square miles of swamp. No one knew it at the time, but the pale and sickly king of Wessex, Alfred, would fight on, winning his kingdom back little by little through deft diplomacy and bold action to eventually win the title of King of all the Saxons. To this day, he remains the only English king called “the Great.” (i.e. Alfred the Great)
This would probably start at Athelny and feature the Vikings as the main antagonist. This would be the only one of the scenarios that would be set in a time when England was still predominantly pre-Christian. I’d like to work in the Celtic druid remnants and Stonehenge in some way too, though the druids would be very different from the D&D ideal. Initial concepts for classes would be Man-At-Arms (close to Fighter), Viking (Barbarian – not for PC), Priest, etc.
Option 2: The Norman Invasion (circa 1066 AD)
Christmas of 1065 saw the death of the childless King Edward the Confessor. On his death bed, the king pointed to Harold Godwinson, the greatest of his earls, and chose him as his successor. The nobles and bishops duly consented, and in January of 1066, King Harold I was crowned at Westminster. But a great comet blazing across the sky portended bad times, and his reign would indeed be a short and bloody one. Far to the north, near the town of “Jorvik” (York), the last great Vikings invasion under the leadership of the famed Crusader Harald Hardrada was underway.
But the Vikings were the least of King Harold’s problems. Across the English Channel, William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, fumed, for he had been promised the throne of England by King Edward, and the then-Earl Harold had sworn to uphold his claim on holy relics! The only answer was war! And so it would be that on October 14, 1066, the Saxons under Harold and the Normans under William would meet at Hastings; nothing less than the fate of England hung in the balance.
This is the mid-point of the middle ages and set amidst perhaps the most pivotal event of Medieval England. I would definitely work the great comet (Haley’s) into the story, and there would be a mix of Vikings, French, Saxons, and Celts. Initial concepts for classes would be Man-At-Arms (melee), Priest, and Rogue...
Option 3: The Hundred Years’ War (circa 1348 AD)
In January of 1328, as the French King, Charles IV lay dying, he declared that all were to wait on the birth of his unborn child. If a male, the child would be king. If female, the throne would pass to his distant cousin, Phillip of Valois. When the child was a female, Phillip VI was crowned King of France, but there was one man in the realm who refused to accept the new monarch, for Charles IV had a younger sister, Isabella, and Isabella had had a son... one who thought the crown was rightfully his. That son was also King Edward III of England. Determined to press his claim, King Edward declared war on King Phillip in 1337. It was a war that would consume the reigns of five English monarchs, five French monarchs, and last until 1453.
On August 26, 1348, the English would win a great victory that would become the model for many thereafter. Near the small town of Crecy, the English longbowmen mowed down mounted French knights by the thousands. 200 Englishmen died... compared to 18,000 Frenchmen. Soon after, however, darkness descended upon the kingdom, for a mysterious plague, given the moniker “The Black Death” raged across the land, decimating villages and forcing an end to the fighting. Within a year, 40% of the population was dead, and the prophets of doom surfaced to declare the end of days.
This is probably what most people think of as the high point of the middle ages. It would be an adventure that would take into account the Great Plague of 1348, so the world would be very dark. Lots of doomsday prophets and all that... Initial concepts for classes would be Man-At-Arms (melee), Archer (ranged), Priest, Troubadour (bard), and Rogue... maybe a Scholar. I might make a Longbowman prestige class for archer, or I might make it a feat requiring one level of Archer.
Option 4: The Wars of the Roses (circa 1455 AD)
The English collapse in the war with France in 1453 coincided with a collapse of the English economy and the bankruptcy of many of its most powerful nobles. Corruption at court, largely due to the presence of overly-influential favorites that lined their own pockets at the expense of other factions made it obvious to many that King Henry VI was not up to the job of kingship. This was a view only strengthened when Henry suffered a complete mental breakdown the same year with many saying he could not even recognize his own son. A regency council was hastily formed to manage the country’s affairs under the leadership of Richard, Duke of York, who boldly had the King’s favorites imprisoned. When Henry recovered his senses in 1455, the favorites were released with an eye to vengeance towards the Duke of York. Richard, fearing charges of treason, fled the capitol. With so many unemployed soldiers from the French wars now looking for work, the situation was ripe for a civil war. That war came on May 22, 1455 at St. Albans, where the Yorkist forces under Richard defeated the King’s Lancastrian forces, setting off the 30-year Wars of the Roses.
This is the very late middle ages and would be an adventure that would feature a lot of political intrigue. The classes would be the same as for the Hundred Years’ War.