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Cyclone231
2007-10-31, 05:24 PM
Does anybody know of a nice "11th-century Europe with magic"-type campaign setting? It doesn't necessarily need to be historically accurate, I just want one that's a reasonably realistic (albeit with [uncommon] magic, of course) agrarian feudal society with hereditary rule.

Jayabalard
2007-10-31, 05:46 PM
If you're interested in non-D&D/D20 sources, GURPS Banestorm might be interesting. I personally find thier world and genre books to be useful regardless of what system I'm playing in. The general idea is that it is people with humans from our world, in addition to it's indigenous elves/dwarves/orcs, and the gnomes/goblins/etc that are from.

Religion is pretty standard to the real world, with Christian and Islamic countries, and they have reasonably detailed historical/political/economical writeups.

Most of the world is very clearly medieval, though it's generally a little later than the 11th century (and some portions are earlier). Attarre is kind of post medieval: more advanced sailing ships, and musketeers minus the muskets (ie fencing weapons). Some portions of it are low-mana (Caithness iirc), and there's a big no-mana wasteland, but most of the world is is normal mana.

No guns; the wizards of that world are very organized about stamping that technology out.

Matthew
2007-10-31, 06:05 PM
Ars Magica or Harn Master are probably good bets.

Raum
2007-10-31, 06:09 PM
Ars Magica is set in a mythical Europe, the setting is useful even if you choose to use different mechanics. Artesia is another possiblity - set in it's own world but with a very European flavor. If you're looking for d20 settings I'd recommend looking at Green Ronin's Mythic Vistas. There's also a Legends of Excalibur PDF for True20. Unsurprisingly, it's an interpretation of the Arthurian legends. :)

Frosty
2007-10-31, 06:18 PM
Bleh 11th century adventuring would suck. Your female adventurers would be burned for supposed "witchery." just look at what happened to Joan of Arc.

mostlyharmful
2007-10-31, 06:42 PM
Woot, Banestorm GURPs. It's a lovely little world where magic and an agrarian economy in a medival setting all fit together.

Plus complicated national background information that renders depth to the setting if you want it.:smallsmile:

Dervag
2007-10-31, 08:10 PM
Bleh 11th century adventuring would suck. Your female adventurers would be burned for supposed "witchery." just look at what happened to Joan of Arc.I think it's assumed that:
a)Magic is socially acceptable in the setting even if it isn't universal, unlike the real Middle Ages, and
b)That the constraints on the setting are specifically tuned not to impede the fun. So if there are characters who want to play female characters, it is likely that the setting will be tuned to make the fact of a female adventurer more socially acceptable than it was.

"11th century feel" doesn't mean "exactly like the 11th century in all ways."

Jayabalard
2007-10-31, 10:11 PM
"11th century feel" doesn't mean "exactly like the 11th century in all ways."it does however, mean that females = second class citizens. Otherwise you're really playing in a world with a regressed pseudo modern feel.... which can be fun for sure, but isn't the same feel as playing in the 11th century.

raygungothic
2007-11-01, 06:06 AM
Pendragon? It doesn't *have* to be about Arthur.

Tengu
2007-11-01, 06:38 AM
From games I have played only Warhammer is such a medieval fantasy setting, but it's XVI century, not XI. From what I have heard, I would second Ars Magica and Pendragon.

Manticorkscrew
2007-11-01, 08:23 AM
Bleh 11th century adventuring would suck. Your female adventurers would be burned for supposed "witchery." just look at what happened to Joan of Arc.

Uh... you do realise that Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in the 15th century? But I get your point.

If you want a good example of an 11th century European "feel" I suggest you take a look at Robin Hobb's "Assassin's Apprentice", "Royal Assassin" and "Assassin's Quest". The books are (impressively and subtly) consistent with early medieval technology, society and politics. Sure, there are a few major differences e.g. women are treated more or less equally to men, religion doesn't play the major role in society that it did in medieval times, but the changes are well thought-out.

If you're trying to design a fantasy world without throwing every medieval European cliche and anachronism in one big melting pot, then these books make for good inspiration.

Pauwel
2007-11-01, 09:01 AM
Ars Magica is what you're looking for. It's awesome; go get it now.

TheElfLord
2007-11-01, 09:40 AM
Bleh 11th century adventuring would suck. Your female adventurers would be burned for supposed "witchery." just look at what happened to Joan of Arc.


Actually, burning witches wasn't a common occurance in the 11th Century. There is a major shift in the view of witchcraft and a general reduction in the quality of life during the 14th century that leads to the major witch percicutions.

Though a would with real magic and a strong church could lead to the witchcraze happening earlier.

Cyclone231
2007-11-01, 10:42 AM
it does however, mean that females = second class citizens. Otherwise you're really playing in a world with a regressed pseudo modern feel.... which can be fun for sure, but isn't the same feel as playing in the 11th century.To continue this particular thread of discussion:

Second class citizens =/= automatically burnt at the stake for fighting in combat. I know of at least one agrarian feudal society which had female members of the warrior class who were trained in combat and could fight in a war (Japan).

Though a would with real magic and a strong church could lead to the witchcraze happening earlier.Only if the church had a thing against arcane magic. Which, honestly, is rather unlikely, unless you're modelling it on a certain real-world religion, or there is something honestly cosmologically evil about arcane magic.

Captain van der Decken
2007-11-01, 11:24 AM
Wouldn't a large, powerful church see arcane casters as rivals? It's magic, but not granted by their god.

Frosty
2007-11-01, 11:35 AM
Medieval society kind of just sucks to live in in general unless you are a noble. That's why DnD has a much different feel. It's much more heroic, and much more politically correct.

Jayabalard
2007-11-01, 11:46 AM
To continue this particular thread of discussion:

Second class citizens =/= automatically burnt at the stake for fighting in combat./shrug

I didn't suggest otherwise.


I know of at least one agrarian feudal society which had female members of the warrior class who were trained in combat and could fight in a war (Japan).Last I checked, Japan wasn't in Europe... so it's not a good basis for an "11th-century Europe with magic"-type campaign setting.

drawingfreak
2007-11-01, 11:47 AM
Curse my Medieval Art and Architecture class...

...if you want the game to feel authentic, the Romanesque (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanesque_architecture) style of architecture is big in the 11th century. When describing buildings, keep that in mind.

Huh. I learned something in that class after all.

SoD
2007-11-01, 11:49 AM
Bleh 11th century adventuring would suck. Your female adventurers would be burned for supposed "witchery." just look at what happened to Joan of Arc.


Does anybody know of a nice "11th-century Europe with magic"-type campaign setting? It doesn't necessarily need to be historically accurate, I just want one that's a reasonably realistic (albeit with [uncommon] magic, of course) agrarian feudal society with hereditary rule.

Just thought I'd mention it.

Oh, and if that happens to the females...what about the male wizard/sorcerer/cleric/druid/ranger/paladin?

Kvenulf
2007-11-01, 11:49 AM
I have the Harn campaign stuff, which has already been mentioned, but it is really good, and definitely 11th Century. Unlike the real Middle Ages, there are multiple gods, which does kind of hurt the whole, Middle Ages thing.
As far as women in a more "realistic, historical" setting, I run them as being "exceptions"; people just don't get offended or treat them as second-class citizens. I have made a flaw that covers this, but it is too tedious to play most of the time. Gaming is about having fun, and anything that interferes with that is a mistake.

Cyclone231
2007-11-01, 12:01 PM
Wouldn't a large, powerful church see arcane casters as rivals? It's magic, but not granted by their god.They would only see them as rivals if they claimed that arcane magic was sacred. If they admitted arcane magic to being profane, then there's no competition (except, perhaps, from a business perspective - but religions can easily make tons of money without ever casting a spell).

Last I checked, Japan wasn't in Europe... so it's not a good basis for a"11th-century Europe with magic"-type campaign setting.

I just want one that's a reasonably realistic (albeit with [uncommon] magic, of course) agrarian feudal society with hereditary rule.It doesn't necessarily have to be Europe, it's just that 11th century europe is a good frame of reference for the general tech level and society-type.

Besides, you yourself recommended Gurps Banestorm. Last I checked, the Middle East wasn't in Europe :smalltongue:.

Jayabalard
2007-11-01, 12:20 PM
They would only see them as rivals if they claimed that arcane magic was sacred. If they admitted arcane magic to being profane, then there's no competition (except, perhaps, from a business perspective - but religions can easily make tons of money without ever casting a spell).Churches have definitely taken exception to that type of competition...


It doesn't necessarily have to be Europe, it's just that 11th century europe is a good frame of reference for the general tech level and society-type.You aren't being very consistent... 11th century Europe society is build on very clear gender roles; if you base the campaign world off of a different agrarian society, then that's a different society-type.


Besides, you yourself recommended Gurps Banestorm. Last I checked, the Middle East wasn't in Europe :smalltongue:.Conflicts with the middle east are central to the society of 11th century Europe.

In any case, there are European based, Christian nations in GURPS Banestorm: Megalos, Caithness, and to a lesser extent Cardiel (Cardiel is kind of on the tolerant side and has people with mixed religious backgrounds without a whole lot of conflict). The write-up on them are useful all by themselves; they start with the assumption of European culture with magic added, and they give several suggestions for how historical (and pseudo-historical) organizations would adapt to a world with magic. They also include organizations that are unique to Yrth.

elliott20
2007-11-01, 12:20 PM
no matter how you look at it, magic is going to destroy that dynamic, unless magic is more of the ritual magic variety where it's not just technology on drugs.

Cyclone231
2007-11-01, 01:09 PM
Churches have definitely taken exception to that type of competition...Again, it depends upon the cosmology of the setting. But by standard D&D rules it is 100% profane, and as such falls in the same purview of a powerful church as, say, the crossbow. Possible if the church has a lot of power and no apparent boundaries and feels like restricting society for whatever reason, but otherwise, it's irrelevant.

You aren't being very consistent... 11th century Europe society is build on very clear gender roles; if you base the campaign world off of a different agrarian .Society-type, not society. Powerful priest class, feudal system, hereditary rule, pretty nasty dislike of people not like themselves, etc.

Second-class citizens who are expected to avoid combat and follow a particular behavioral pattern are certainly looked down upon when they take up arms and go to battle, and in RW Europe this may have resulted in death, but it doesn't necessarily have to.

Really though, what it was looking for is something which is a realistic pseudo-european fantasy society, rather than being typical D&D nonsense with hundreds of monsters lying in wait just outside of the city limits.

jjpickar
2007-11-01, 01:34 PM
Let's see if we can turn around the deflection of the thread back to the direction it was headed.

I find D&D can be adapted with little or no fuss by just observing a few conventions.

First, do you're research. If you want it to feel like the 11th century, know what the eleventh century felt like (or come as close to finding out as possible). Children's books on the Middle ages are best as they focus on what life was like for people (especially knights, because they are cool) and not so much on societal dynamics or whatever non-sensical catchphrase adults like to read about in their nonfiction. Bleh.

Second, limit magic in subtle ways. Magic takes away from the feeling of a historical era but it is also really cool. I personally prefer to allow PCs to become wizards, psychics, etc. but make them the exception to the rule. There are few if any powerful npc wizards and no magic item factories(seriously, how else does one explain the abundance of +1 enchanted weapons in your standard D&D setting). Magic should be special and almost unique to the PCs and villains that have it.

Third, reduce the amount of religions in the game maybe even to only one per region or people group. You don't have to mimic real world religions if you don't want to but Monotheism and exclusivity should definitely be stressed. If your PC believes in Pelor, then Pelor is the only deity that exists to him. Anyone who thinks differently than him is wrong, according to his belief. Of course it will be easier if everyone in a given party has the same religion.


Just my to cp.

elliott20
2007-11-02, 03:47 PM
There is also the very real issue how magic is going to be viewed within the medieval world.

No matter how you look at it, magic, unless properly modulated, WILL break the illusion.

Clerics routinely wield magic that is so powerful than any mundane power it will trump 90% of all ailments that most 11th century village might face. Wizards? same thing.

It can be argued that in order to make a convincing medieval game, you almost have to outlaw wizards all together and limit them to characters classes with slower than normal caster progressions.

Jayabalard
2007-11-02, 05:10 PM
Again, it depends upon the cosmology of the setting. But by standard D&D rules it is 100% profane, and as such falls in the same purview of a powerful church as, say, the crossbow. Possible if the church has a lot of power and no apparent boundaries and feels like restricting society for whatever reason, but otherwise, it's irrelevant.I think I may not have been clear... Arcane Magic changes the balance of political power, regardless of it's origin (profane, holy or whatever). Churches, especially the ones in 11th century europe, are very much political and economical organizations in addition to being a religious institution... they aren't likely to feel threatened by magic in ways that have nothing to do with the religion itself.


Really though, what it was looking for is something which is a realistic pseudo-european fantasy society, rather than being typical D&D nonsense with hundreds of monsters lying in wait just outside of the city limits.You could stick to D&D but dump the Monster manual... just human opponents.

That adds a whole different dimension to the morality of adventuring... you lose the "they have green skin and pointy teeth" excuse.

Dervag
2007-11-02, 06:24 PM
Third, reduce the amount of religions in the game maybe even to only one per region or people group. You don't have to mimic real world religions if you don't want to but Monotheism and exclusivity should definitely be stressed. If your PC believes in Pelor, then Pelor is the only deity that exists to him. Anyone who thinks differently than him is wrong, according to his belief. Of course it will be easier if everyone in a given party has the same religion.OK, that might help create a medieval European feel. On the other hand, you can get a similar effect with a polytheistic setting where the 'gods' are universally considered as subservient aspects of some overdeity (mirroring the Catholic treatment of saints). Or you can have a medieval setting in which governments are theocratic and relatively intolerant, while individual people tend to be tolerant (among other things, tolerant of the intolerance of their government).

Thus, the city-state is ruled by the wizard-lord worshippers of Boccob, who limit arcane magic training to their handpicked elite (this kind of thing is a great way to limit the number of casters in the setting). The priests of Boccob are very powerful, because of their influence with the wizard lords. Indeed, there may well be overlap between the two groups (high level wizards with a few levels of cleric, or high level clerics with a few wizard levels who are nonetheless considered wizard lords).

The neighboring coalition of semifeudal tribes worships Kord primarily. Across the river from both groups is a region of rolling plains dominated by castles and monasteries* dedicated to the worship of Heironeous and the training of extremely talented paladins and martial clerics.

*and I mean "monastery" in the classical sense of "a building or compound where people study and labor and practice as part of some religious belief," not in the D&D sense of "a place where martial artists train to remove someone's spine via their navel using only their pinky fingers."

Now, Boccob, Kord, and Heironeous are not malevolent gods, and they don't have much incentive to fight each other, nor would their worshippers have much incentive to fight each other simply for religious reasons. But each region is firmly dedicated to one god in an exclusive relationship.

Thus, the only temples that can be found in the magocratic city-state are those of Boccob. If you want to worship Heironeous or Kord, you'll have to do it in private. If you try to found a temple to one of them, the wizards will run you out of town. They are rewarded for doing so by their special relationship with the church of Boccob, which in turn benefits from the tithes and labor of various people who would not normally worship Boccob in a typical D&D world (such as soldiers and illiterate peasants).

The church of Boccob does not consider itself an enemy of the churches of Heironeous or Kord, though they may indulge in a little rivalry now and then. They do not deny the existence of Heironeous or Kord, nor do they (necessarily) persecute individual Heironeous or Kord-worshippers in their territory. However, they do not tolerate the organized worship of other gods in their territory.

The other churches return the favor. If I was born in the magocratic city-state, I would probably be used to praying to Boccob, offering tithes to priests of Boccob, and so on. I would probably think Boccob is a very strong and important god, stronger and more important than he 'really is' (i.e. clearly stronger and more important than Heironeous or Kord). I might laugh at the stupid Kord worshippers or make fun of the uptight Heironeous worshippers. But I probably wouldn't want to attack them for worshipping Kord or Heironeous, and if they were my friends for some other reason I'd probably leave them alone about their religion.


I think I may not have been clear... Arcane Magic changes the balance of political power, regardless of it's origin (profane, holy or whatever). Churches, especially the ones in 11th century europe, are very much political and economical organizations in addition to being a religious institution... they aren't likely to feel threatened by magic in ways that have nothing to do with the religion itself.Aren't, or are?

My view is that the best way to limit the effect of magic is to stick to a medieval-style apprenticeship system. Wizards don't train lots of other wizards. Instead, they only train small numbers of apprentices (as in, one or two), and the training takes a long time. So each wizard powerful enough to be respected as a master mage (you decide how powerful that is) only produces one or two low-level wizards every several years. In that case, there won't be very many wizards in the society at large, and most of them will enjoy the patronage of some mundane or religious ruler. Most low-level NPC wizards will either stick close to their masters, or be incompetent failed apprentices who lack the talent to reach the mid-to-high levels (say, they only have Int 12 and therefore cannot cast 3rd level spells).

Of course, to make that work, you have to make sure that other sources of arcane magic are weak. So sorcerors either do not exist, or they are extremely rare and/or are persecuted by the churches and the wizards as "witches." A sorceror might be well-advised to disguise himself as a wizard in that case.

So wizards can fit neatly into this setting, if nothing else.

Tyrrell
2007-11-03, 01:56 PM
It's all right here:
http://www.atlas-games.com/arm5/index.php

Welcome to Ars Magica, and to the world of Mythic Europe. It is a place where the glories of the Classical world are dust and the promise of the Renaissance is yet to come. The time is the 13th century 1220 to be exact. Life is a struggle: wars and plagues stalk the land, the Church and kings rule with an iron fist. Yet Mythic Europe is also a place of magical wonder, inhabited by all the creatures of folktale and myth. What the folk of the land believe holds true: faeries and rural spirits must be placated; demons corrupt everything they touch; divine power is accessible through prayer; and magic is everywhere.

Against this background, you will play a magus, a member of the mythical Order of Hermes. You and your fellow players will also portray the loyal companions and grogs that stand with the magi in their covenants. These stalwart protectors provide a buffer between the magi and the mundane world that often misunderstands their power and motives. This is the setting for Ars Magica.

Kurald Galain
2007-11-03, 02:22 PM
It's all right here:
http://www.atlas-games.com/arm5/index.php

Welcome to Ars Magica,

Seconded.

Also, there's Mage: the Sorcerous Crusade (i.e. Mage the Ascension in the dark ages) which in some ways is a sequel to Ars Magica.

tbarrie
2007-11-03, 03:06 PM
Again, it depends upon the cosmology of the setting. But by standard D&D rules it is 100% profane, and as such falls in the same purview of a powerful church as, say, the crossbow.

You know, the medieval church preached against the crossbow.

Cyclone231
2007-11-03, 03:24 PM
You know, the medieval church preached against the crossbow.That was only if you used it on a Christian:
"We forbid under penalty of anathema that that deadly and God-detested art of stingers and archers be in the future exercised against Christians and Catholics."

EDIT: Plus, this was created to reinforce the feudal system, since any peasant can fire a crossbow well after a week of training. The same does not hold true for preparatory arcane magic.

Dervag
2007-11-03, 04:34 PM
You know, the medieval church preached against the crossbow.Yeah, but nobody took the preaching seriously, not even the church itself. Crossbows were used on a routine basis all over Catholic Christendom.

Manticorkscrew
2007-11-03, 04:46 PM
Anybody else ever play Vagrant Story?

The game is set in a medieval fantasy world, with a religion heavily based on the Catholic Church. In the game world, the Church preaches that magic is evil and blasphemous. However, this doesn't stop the upper ranks of the Church knights from studying or using magic themselves, and the game's storyline is set in motion when some of the most powerful members of the Church decide to go after a legendary source of Arcane power, the Gran Grimoire.

That's the simplified, non-spoileriffic version. But it's easy to see how it could apply to a D&D style world (all wizards and sorcerers sworn to serve the Church are holy warriors, all mages that refuse to serve the Church are witches and should be burned at the stake). The average peasant believes everything the Church tells him/her.