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11/15/2016 10:54 am  #11


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

Thank you all for your kind comments and advice. I'm pretty blown away by how I just drop my pretty idiosyncratic concept here, and all the responses are really helpful, well considered and really grasp where I am going with this! And thumbs up from the author himself to boot!

On magic - this is pretty much where I am at. My inspiration is Conan, the Viking sagas and the Germanic myths. So it's there, it can be powerful, but its grim and its mystical - no obvious magic, more curses, jinxes - and sleight of hand. Prophetic dreams, in particular - hence the 'seer' career. You can be a regular hall thane, and have the occasional prophetic dream, without being considered a sorcerer.

I am imagining that the Mirkwood, and even more so the Hercynian Forest and the Alps is full of hidden enchantments and monsters - a very Arthurian 'questing' landscape in this sense. Certainly Grendel and unique monsters that make hidden lairs. But bears and aurochs can be foes too.

I'm not imagining elves, but certainly dwarves (partly fulfilling the same niche). Big inspirations here are Albrecht from the Niebelungenlied and Laurin from the Dietrich of Bern cycle.

Shapeshifting should certainly be a thing in the Mirkwood and Hyperborea - both among proto-Berserkers (still not sure if I should use that word as it is very 'viking') and among sorcerers and hermits (partly inspired by the slightly xenophobic swedish folklore about sami were-bear 'najds')

The role of magical weapons, and Named Items in particular, is something I will come back to.

Completely agree on horse-back nobles - my understanding is that many germanic group, including goths, were considered 'scythians' at this time and probably fought and lived in a very similar way to the huns and alans. So there is not really a clear ethnic divide here (although ethnic difference certainly existed) - rather whether you are a woodland tribe from Germania or raiding the Pannonian Plain.

Lankhmar would be amazing! Was less then blown away by the SW version and I know it can be done justice. Will look into the posts by Finn - its always a pleasure getting to know a creative forum

Last edited by Peter (11/15/2016 11:11 am)

 

11/15/2016 12:25 pm  #12


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

Do check out Finn's stuff - he writes a fun sword and sorcery game.

​I see that we were on the same wavelength with magic in this setting. I thought of civilisation in the form of Rome, as being a magical dampener - the closer you got to civilisation the harder it was to work magic and the wiser it was to keep effects small. The further away you were, the wilder things got (i.e. dragons and sea monsters).

When I was considering a game in the twilight of Rome, I thought of setting it at the time just after the death of Attila, with the Hun confederation broken up and Rome preoccupied with civil war again. One set up I toyed with was with ex-Roman soldiers - either time served or deserters, and all Germans - returning to Germania to visit their old homes. They could stay on in Germany, re-enlist, or invade the Empire as part of a migratory wave,


My real name is Steve Hall
 

11/16/2016 3:28 am  #13


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

Gruntfuttock wrote:

​I see that we were on the same wavelength with magic in this setting. I thought of civilisation in the form of Rome, as being a magical dampener - the closer you got to civilisation the harder it was to work magic and the wiser it was to keep effects small. The further away you were, the wilder things got (i.e. dragons and sea monsters).

That's a neat concept, and I certainly want a feeling of "Here Be Dragons" and going off the edge of the world for the deep woods of Germania, Hyperborea, Scandza etc (a bite like this setting I had the pleasure to work on for Mazes and Minotaurs).

But having said that I want a sense of wonder for the Empire too. It's not Civilisation any longer - it is post apocalyptic with crumbling ruins and barricaded civitas fighting for resources. Rome has already been sacked, and Nea Roma is very far away. The provinces are rife with bandits (bacaudae) and local warlords. And in terms of magic the empire should be more ancient secrets, buried treasure and eccentric, Conan-style, mystics.

Gruntfuttock wrote:

When I was considering a game in the twilight of Rome, I thought of setting it at the time just after the death of Attila, with the Hun confederation broken up and Rome preoccupied with civil war again. One set up I toyed with was with ex-Roman soldiers - either time served or deserters, and all Germans - returning to Germania to visit their old homes. They could stay on in Germany, re-enlist, or invade the Empire as part of a migratory wave,

This makes a lot of sense. There will certainly be a lot of barbarian roman veterans - even the imperial guard, the Schola Palatinae, had a substantial barbarian element. And you had allied barbarian groups within the border of the empire. So there is no clear distinction between being Roman and being Germanic.
 

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11/16/2016 5:02 am  #14


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

- Obsolete - please check next post

Taking the bull by the horns - obviously in this setting real world and currently held beliefs and religions feature. So there is a bit of a balance to be had here - grateful for your thoughts on that

Priest (Cleric)

Devotions
Priests follow and worship all deities and holy personalities of their faith (pagan, christian, zoroastrian, manichean), but those priests of career rank 1 or higher must choose one above all others. At rank 0, priests and clerics are still in training and do not devote themselves to any one god or being in particular. Priests may also be sorcerers, seers, enchanters or even shape-shifters - most people would assume that their other powers are also of divine origin.

 Gaining Fate Points - Pagan
 Priests receive 1 Fate Point per hour spent at their devotions. They can receive a maximum number of Fate Points equal to their priest rank. However, the expectations of their worship are higher, the longer they spend at the sacred grove/temple. After two hours, they would be expected to sacrifice an item of limited value. After four hours, they would be expected to sacrifice a bull, horse or sword. After six hours, human sacrifice would be expected for those deities that accept it (Wotan, Tiwaz, Nerthus, Lug, the Three Goddesses).
 
Gaining Fate Points - Scriptural
 Like standard priests

 Pagan
Wotan - Sorcery
Tiwaz/Saxnot - War
Ingwaz - Lordship
Nerthus - Fertility
Njord -  The Sea
Father Heaven - The Sky
Lug/Thunaer - Lightning
The Three Goddesses/The Mothers - Protection or Fate
  
Scriptural
Christ - Mercy
The Virgin Mother - Protection
Ohrmazd - Truth
Mani - Light
 

Last edited by Peter (11/17/2016 5:20 am)

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11/17/2016 4:47 am  #15


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

Mysteries of Mirkwood
 
After some further thought on Magic - superceding the post on priests

Core rule change: Hero Points can no longer be used for Defy Death or Luck of the Gods, unless you have the relevant Boon. Your faith (Pagan, Scriptural or Faithless) provides additional boons to choose from. You may regain one Hero Point through sacrifice (pagan), or giving alms (scriptural).
 
Careers that enable Magic
Sorcerer
Blacksmith
Scholar
Shape-shifter
 
Types of Magic
Crafting Named Items
Prerequisite: Blacksmith 4 and Scholar 2
 
Equipment
In the Mirkwood, even simple household items are treasured. Every item is carefully fashioned by hand. Broken items are repaired, and re-used over generations. But some items stand out even more - the favourite sword of a hero, a marvellous piece of jewellery, a masterwork cape. The people of the age are quick to recognise excellent workmanship, and refer to their favourite and most treasured items by name. A named item has the potential of making history and making it into legend, just like Siegfried's sword Gram. Characters who know runes or letters will often inscribe the name on the item. A name gives the owner the option to give item a bonus.
 
Named Items
Named items are items that are important to the story, or to the character. A named item has traits and abilities that make it particularly useful. They are usually created by a master workman, and given their first name from their inherent qualities - which give them a bonus in specific situations or an inherent trait like being able to speak or sing.
 
Items may also be named after worthwhile and memorable actions.. An item can be “named” many times, each “naming” conferring an added bonus, and, subject to the preference of the owner, an extra or new name. Each new naming should be tied to a fact or episode involving the item.
 
 
Sorcery
Like Magician, but with different spells (Harm, Find, Fog, Lightning, Heal, Necromancy, Induce Prophetic Trance)
 
Crafting Amulets and Rune-sticks
Prerequisite: Scholar 2, Sorcerer 2
 
Shape-shifter
Can shift shape to an animal freely. Must have the magically prepared skin (hame) of the animal he wishes to change into. Starts with one skin. Can only keep as many skins as his rank in Shape-shifter (others lose their power)
 
 
I’ve had a second thought on the seer/augur career and the priest/cleric career. Rather than having the latter as a magic career I think I’ll merge the two and let them be more about religious lore and reading the signs. Priest/Seer is therefore now a non-magic career.
 
Instead, I introduce a small selection of religious boons - that you can pick if you wish.
 
Pagan:
Boon: Prophetic Dreams, Luck of the Gods
Flaw: Blood-stained
 
Scriptural:
Boon: Guardian Angel, Ward
Flaw: Fanatic
 
Faithless
Boon: Learned, Detect Deception
Flaw: Arrogant
 
Boons
Prophetic dreams: The PC is prone to prophetic dreams. The PC does not have any control over when and if these dreams come (although a Sorcerer with Induce Prophetic Trance can force them) or how precise and useful the information imparted is.
 
 
Guardian Angel: Use a Hero Point to Defy Death. Use once for free per scenario.
 
Ward: Negates any curse. Spend Hero Points equivalent of curse magnitude.
 
Luck of the Gods: like the Hero Point use. Use once for free per scenario.
 
Flaws

Blood-stained: You have taken part in human sacrifice. Any follower of a scriptural religion will treat you with revulsion (one die penalty to social interactions) when they learn this, and you feel uncomfortable in churches and other places santificed to scriptural religion (one penalty to all non combat action)

Last edited by Peter (11/17/2016 5:10 am)

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11/17/2016 5:07 am  #16


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

Pagan/Heathen
The heathens of the deep north and east worship gods of the earth and skies, of destiny and growth. The gods and their cults vary from tribe to tribe. They may be Wotan the all-knowing, Lug the lord of lightning or the great lord Ingwaz. Whatever their form, they are unforgiving deities that require sacrifice and devotion in return for their fickle favour. Their idols are worshipped in gilded halls of great rulers, or in remote glades and sacred groves.

Scriptural
Whether follower of the the Holy Church of the Empire, the teachings of Moses, Arian, Zoroaster or Mani -  you belief in holy revelation set out in scripture.
As society crumbles around the priests and bishops of the Christian faith rally the faithful and provide solace to the masses in their great stone basilicas. Their faithful are known for their piety, their zeal and their common touch. In the east, the ancient creed of Israel and Juda are still followed, as are the mystic religions of the distant Empire of the Persians. The Zurvan priesthood conduct their rituals of fire and water in the domed sanctuaries of Fire Temples. The common worshippers sees life as a struggle between the forces of good and of evil, it is a combat that require the dedication of every faithful worshipper in their everyday life, always choosing the virtuous course of action and letting truth triumph over falsehood. 

Faithless/Hellene
Whether you are disillusioned and sceptical as regards the existence of gods at all, or just consider the anthropomorphic beings worshipped by Christians and heathens as crude representations of universal reason and truth matters little to people around you. You have lost your way, live in sin and bring bad luck. In this fervent era, most faithless people keep their beliefs to themselves.

Last edited by Peter (11/17/2016 5:08 am)

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11/18/2016 9:37 am  #17


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

I think your revised approach to magic and priests is the way to go.

​Loved the blacksmith as potential magic user! On my back burner I have a Heroes of Hellas game (BoL Legendary Edition supplement, if you've not come across it) and I need to develop the Celtoi barbarians for the setting. Yeah, headhunting nutters into human sacrifice and very alien to the standard peoples - even Thracians and Amazons. Some of your ideas here will certainly inform my view of bards and druids when I get back to it.

Again, good stuff which fits the twilight of Empire setting perfectly.


My real name is Steve Hall
 

11/19/2016 4:37 pm  #18


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

Thank you!

I've read HoH I have to admit some time ago now, and could probably do with a reread.

Great if you find any of the ideas useful and I'd be very interested if you wanted to share your thinking on bards and druids.

On the blacksmith - maybe it should be blacksmith/carpenter (although Wayland is the model). The sense I want to get across is that artisan secrets of the trade and skill are borderline mystical in their own right and that the difference between mastery and magic is one of degree, not kind.

Last edited by Peter (11/19/2016 4:44 pm)

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11/20/2016 2:52 am  #19


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

Peter wrote:

I've read HoH I have to admit some time ago now, and could probably do with a reread.

HoH is about my favourite of all the supplements/settings for BoL out there. Yes, it definitely deserves a re-read.
 

 

11/20/2016 5:36 am  #20


Re: Migration Era BoL - Barbarians of the Dark Ages

A re-read for sure - and I'd love a Mythic Edition edition.

​While converting from LE to ME is not  difficult, I think new BoL converts will tend to ignore anything that isn't the new edition. Shame, but that's just the way many people are.

​HoH is a great product, and I'd love Chris to update it (especially if he includes the Celts this time - it'd save me work!)


My real name is Steve Hall
 

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