I've done quite a bit of research in that region, and quite a bit on some of the more... I guess the word is "supernatural" elements that would go along with that setting: miracle stories, the Devil, and necromancers. I hadn't turned any of that into game mechanics, but I had turned the stuff on necromancers into two pretty good article-length papers and two FLAILSNAILS characters (Philip the Bloody and Eustace of Sark).
I wanted to make something like Cthulhu Dark Ages meets Warhammer but with way more Satan. Yesterday Cole showed me this. Having done a bit of research at theRPGsite, RPGnet,* and at various other places around the internet, I was able to more or less determine that this was basically my dream game. There is just one problem: it's in Spanish.
I never took Spanish - I had French in high school and Latin and Greek in college - and my wife's is too rusty to be able to do much with the preview pdf. Barring divine intervention, my best option is probably to follow the advice of Brian Gleichman found here. Restated for convenience it's "Look at the product you're salivating over, list the things you think are cool about it or imagine it contains, and then make your own version based on your perceptions of the product." It's a great deal cheaper than buying a $23 pdf that's in a language I can't read.
So here are some of my thoughts on how I'd do such a thing.
- My first thought is to do a hack of WFRP, which is my favorite system ever published.** However, I think WFRP characters might start a little lower on the totem pole than I'd like for this. Something more along the lines of BRP should do it, but I definitely want a % system.
- Either way I'm using WFRP-style criticals. I even use those in D&D nowadays.
- I'll need to make period-specific equipment charts regardless of the system I use. I'm thinking of going with c. 1200 - 1250 for reasons that will be made clear below, but it seems to me that HarnMaster might provide some armors other than "mail" and "leather" that I might want to include.
- My dream would be to be able to do full Mongoose Traveller style event tables for character generation, but that's probably not gonna happen. Those things are hard.
- Still I want something that represents what your "job" is/was. Maybe BRP-style professions are the best way to do that. Maybe WFRP ones are. It'll depend on the base system.
- Magic is probably the thing that will need the biggest overhaul, but I kinda suck at doing magic systems.
- That brings me back to the reason I want to set it in the early 13th century: the nigromanticus. The first reference to "necromancers" or - more accurately - "black magicians" appear in the early 13th century and I definitely want demon-summoning scholars in this.
- My preferred type of magic system can be summed up as "crossroads and slaughtered goats," i.e.ritual magic with a decidedly Satanic cast.
- I'm also big into mixing magic with neoplatonism. Magic works by tapping into platonic forms, in a Christian context the "thoughts of God," and making reality more readily reflect the divine concept you want it too. Wanna make something catch on fire? Tap into the form of fire. Want to heal someone? Temporarily grant them the state of pre-fall man - which last until they become aware of sin.
- You can achieve that multiple ways: have demons do it for you/teach you how to do it, have God do it for you, do it via old pagan stuff, or do it by combining things that already tap into those forms - i.e. alchemy.
- Now I need mechanics for all that, which kinda sounds like a nightmare.
- Most "enemies" would probably be people, but there would certainly be isolated pockets with "monsters" in them.
- The aforementioned "monsters" are likely to be things found in medieval bestiaries such as unicorns (with the heads and bodies of deer and elephant feet of course), cynocephali, dragons, etc. They will be interpreted in the weirdest and most Satanic way possible whenever appropriate.
- I'd probably set any campaign I'd run somewhere in France (likely in the Languedoc), but that's just do to familiarity with the place.
That's it for now. I'll probably have more thoughts on this in the near future, since it's actually something I'd been working on for a while. The discovery of Aquelarre is what prompted me to do a blog post about it.
*Read the comments to get a fuller sense of the product. Also: what's up with weird capitalization stuff in RPGs?
**Well... that I can read anyway.