Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Library of Congress maps online

This blog that I was pointed to, gives some insight into the US Library of Congress exercise in mapping their historic map collection. I love historic maps as my past posts about the British Library's exhibitions has shown and this has been really interesting for me to look at.

For the wargamer playing games set in the AWI or US Civil War there is plenty of helpful information at the Library of Congress site.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roleplaying in the historical past.

One thing that I have enjoyed is playing RPG set in historical settings, whether a strictly historical game like Beat to Quarters or games with fantastic or supernatural elements like Call of Cthulhu.

For Call of Cthulhu in many ways my favourite period is the Victorian or Gaslight setting, this may be because as a Briton it represents a high point of my nations power and status, but also because it feeels a good fit with late 19th Century science and technology. The other period that I do like for Call of Cthulhu is Cthulhu Dark Ages, or as I have described it previously 'A World lit only by Fear'. In the past I've played in several historically based CoC campaigns including 14th Century France in the 100 Years War and many Gaslight games.

A game that I am currently playing in is set in a Roman based world for Dungeons and Dragons, called Carceres et Dracones to reflect this and based on the later days of the Roman Empire with the barbarian foedarates inside the empire's boundaries and less of the strong control of the earlier periods.

I'm now thinking about how I would want to run a game in the post roman era of British history, traditionally the legendary era of King Arthur, but also with the scope to have small warlords controlling areas, barbarian invaders and remnants of earlier populations. My feeling is to make this a fairly low fantasy setting where mythical creatures and magic do exist, but not in the profusion that is seen in the usual D&D game. I'll go through this in a separate post or series of posts as I don't wish to make this too lengthy. A previous D&D based game set in a reimagined saxon past was the Raedwald game that I playtested at, there is a thread about the design there or the creator's blog is here.

There are disadvantages of historical or semi-historical role playing, particularly if you wish to play female characters or non-human characters who are difficult to fit into many eras as active adventurers. The world of antiquity has probably a little more scope for this as being far less clearly known than the more recent past and easier to turn into a mythical world where other races exist. Another constraint can be the social structure being more rigid than most role playing settings or gaming groups playing styles allow for. Although Chivalry and Sorcery is a good example of how a game can be given a stronger rooting in the society that it is based on, it was difficult to fit adventurers into such a rigid setting.

The advantages of roleplaying in history are being able to get inspiration from the many interesting history books that are available or the remains of past civilisations that surround us. In London I have often been able to go past remains of the Roman or Medieval past and been able to wonder about how life would be in those times. I think this topic has plenty more scope in it so I'll return to it soon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Labyrinth Lord Character

Back to the series of creating a character for every RPG I own, I'm starting with Labyrinth Lord which is my old school RPG of choice. I've used the basic method of generating the stats using 3d6 in order. The rolls I got were 3, 11, 8, 12, 15 and 5 giving me a character that will be best as a cleric as the best attributes are Intelligence and Wisdom. As a Cleric he'll get +5% to experience as his prime requisite of Wisdom is between 13-15. Starting wealth - 3d8 x10 gives 130GP so not too bad.

One of the things I like with random generation is that it gives me ideas for what a character will be like, with these attributes making me think of an aging cleric who has spent years living cloistered as a monk, though not a traditional D&D style martial arts monk.

Arminius was apprenticed to the monastery of Wildrang as a young boy and has lived there for many years working to maintain the scrolls withing the library. Many years of solitary study have made him withdrawn and difficult in his manner with few social graces. After the loss of a rare scroll from the collection Arminius has been sent out into the world by the abbot to seek it out and find if it can be retrieved. He seeks to join with a band of adventurers who can aid him in his quest.


Class: Cleric Level: 1

HP: 5 AC: 4

Move 60/20/60

Alignment: Lawful

Strength: 3-3 to hit, damage and open doors.
Dexterity: 11- no modifiers
Constitution: 8-1 HP per die
Intelligence: 12- able to read and write
Wisdom: 15+1 to magic effects saving throws
Charisma: 5+1 on reaction rolls, max 2 retainers morale 5

In Labyrinth Lord a first level cleric is able to cast spells and though this is usually allowed to be varied each day for a cleric it is pretty unlikely that Arminius will ever use anything except a Cure Light Wounds.


Level 1: Cure Light Wounds

As a Cleric Arminius is limited to using blunt weapons so I have selected a mace and a sling so that he does have both melee and ranged attacks, though given how poor his strength is melee is a risky proposition for him. I've also purchased his other equipment including armour and miscellaneous gear.

Mace: -3 to hit 1d6-3 damage
Sling: +0 to hit 1d4-3 damage

Mace 5gp3lb
Sling 2gp-
10 sling bullets -5lb
Chain 70gp30lb
Shield 10gp10lb
Backpack 2gp2lb
Holy symbol, wooden1gp1lb
Flint & Steel2gp -
3 flasks oil3sp3lb
5 days trail rations25sp5lb
qill pen1sp-
1 oz vial of ink8gp-
5 sheets parchment10sp-
map or scroll case1gp.5lb

The total for all the equipment is 115gp 0sp leaving Arminus with a starting funds of 15gp which at least allows him some accomodation or food before beginning his adventuring career. His total encumbrance is 71.5 lbs giving him a movement rate of 60 ft per turn, 20 ft in encounters or 60 ft running in encounters.

As normal with this series of characters created I'm happy for other GM to use them as NPC or even as player characters and I'd love to hear what you have done with them.