Gemmell’s Drenai Saga: Which System & Similar Setting?

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Ossian

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I’m reading David Gemmell’s Drenai Saga, and this is pretty close to the type of game I’d like to run. I especially love the heroic theme.

What system would be a good fit for a Drenai Saga game?

Which published setting is most similar to the feel of the world of the Drenai Saga?
 

RunningLaser

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I ran a game using BOL Hack that was heavily inspired by Gemmell's Drenai books.
 

zanshin

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Love those books.

Google offers up this site by someone who had the same idea


They used Elric! as the system. I would say that games that do Conan well would be a good match - the Drenai saga heroes are not users of magic, except the 30, and their magic is more personal. Most magic is ritualised and costs the user parts of themselves, so best done by NPC's , probably.

Tunnels and Trolls could definitely do it of course :smile:

What system you use might also depend on the power level of characters you want the players to emulate - young Druss/Dekayras/Tenaka Khan or simply characters in the same world. If you wanted to go for hero level, then 13th Age could do it pretty well, simply restrict the classes available to martial ones.

Pendragon could also be a good choice - emphasis on the characters virtues and flaws to differentiate them, as the PCs will probably be different flavours of martial. I am not a massive fan of it, but FATE could work well for similar reasons.

Best of luck, do share your thoughts here again.
 

TristramEvans

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2d20 of course!

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zcthu3

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My first choice would be Mythras (the Animism spirit combat rules could be tweaked for the astral combat of the 30, perhaps combined with Mysticism), but for a game without, or with limited, PC magic, the 2d20 version of Conan could work as well.
 

TJS

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Part of me wants to say use whatever system is best for westerns and then exchange guns for swords, because that's basically what the Drenai books are.

But I'm not sure there really is a system that is best for westerns.
 

zanshin

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Part of me wants to say use whatever system is best for westerns and then exchange guns for swords, because that's basically what the Drenai books are.

But I'm not sure there really is a system that is best for westerns.
Of course there is, Tunnels and Trolls, it has Gunnes ;)
 

Ossian

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I’ve run a little Conan with the Mythras system, and that’s the closet I got to the feel I’m going for.

Being short on time though, does anyone know of a published setting that captures the feel or is similar to Gemmell’s setting?

Perhaps starting with The Hyborian Age as a base and tweaking it a little would suffice.
 

AsenRG

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Mythras, of course, but with a very important houserule:
Use Passions for one of the skills required for magical schools (not all of which are available).
 

RunningLaser

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As far as published setting? That's a good question. Maybe Midlands for Low Fantasy?
 

Mankcam

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I reckon any setting written by David Gemmell, Bernard Cornwell, or R.E.Howard, it's defiantely Mythras as the 'go-to' system.
Any version of BRP is pretty good, but Mythras (or Legend) is spot on for these gritty and tactile fantasy settings.
Mythras also has the Mythic Britain setting that is pretty close to the kind of flavour in the Drenai books, so that is always something to consider as well.

Although if wanting something a bit more like D&D, then Low Fantasy Gaming also hits the spot for a gritty flavoured 'OSR-adjacent' system. If wanting a setting for it, it does have The Midlands setting which is pretty good for this kind of game,

But if wanting to play in David Gemmell's setting, then I'ld be happy running Drenai with either of these above rpgs :thumbsup:




(ADDIT: UPDATE - Okay I came here late and blind-posted. I apologise, as I now see both of these rpgs have been already recommended. I'm not deleting my post, I'm leaving it here to add strength to the previous posters' suggestions)
 
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Ossian

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Mythras or a BoL derivative of some flavor would be picks. Why look any farther afield when you have more than one great system just begging to be used?

I run Mythras but was curious what others would say for a system.

I’m more after setting recommendations, which seems harder to find. Something like Conan is similar, but I would call Gemmell’s works heroic fantasy rather than sword & sorcery. I don’t know of a setting that’s low magic, has a strong theme of heroism, and religious/redemption themes.
 

Fenris-77

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I dont think youre going to get a 1-1 fit. S&S gets closeish in many cases as its low magic and in some cases, pretty heroic. Honestly, i kind of assumed you were going to do the setting yourself.
 

AsenRG

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I run Mythras but was curious what others would say for a system.

I’m more after setting recommendations, which seems harder to find. Something like Conan is similar, but I would call Gemmell’s works heroic fantasy rather than sword & sorcery. I don’t know of a setting that’s low magic, has a strong theme of heroism, and religious/redemption themes.
Pendragon? Aquelarre? Mythic Britain/Mythic Rome and Thenla* for Mythras:thumbsup:? Maelstrom, arguably (though the heroism there isn't mandatory, but it is expected)?

Though I agree with the Hairy One**, I expected you to do the setting part yourself. Maybe with a David Gemmell fansite for setting info:shade:?

*At least some parts of it are low-magic...but then I'd probably run Magic World as low magic as well:grin:!
**Sorry, Fenris-77 Fenris-77 but I couldn't resist :skeleton:!
 

TJS

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As far as setting - the Drenai setting is almost a sword and sorcery setting.

The main difference is the sensibilities rather than the detail. The Drenai saga owes more to westerns in it's themes rather than Howard. A lot of it is a kind of meditation on violence, it's consequences, the responsibilities of those who engage in it, and the possibility of redemption. It's a lot more concerned with morality than the typical sword and sorcery setting.

Eg. the code of Druss the legend.

"“Never violate a woman, nor harm a child. Do not lie, cheat or steal. These things are for lesser men. Protect the weak against the evil strong. And never allow thoughts of gain to lead you into the pursuit of evil.”

There's also the ethic that at the end of the day, the farmer who raises a family and loves them and lives a peaceful life, is a better, stronger possibly braver and more worthy individual then the violent hero.

But you could use any just about any sword and sorcery setting really. You could play it in the Hyborian age easily enough, just with a different sensibility. (Although you might want to swap out the lovecraftian cosmology to one more like that of the books, in which evil is a force that basically corrupts the soul).
 

Mankcam

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I run Mythras but was curious what others would say for a system.

I’m more after setting recommendations, which seems harder to find. Something like Conan is similar, but I would call Gemmell’s works heroic fantasy rather than sword & sorcery. I don’t know of a setting that’s low magic, has a strong theme of heroism, and religious/redemption themes.
Considering you already have the Mythras core rules, then I definately think Mythic Britain will be a pretty sound investment for you.
I'm not sure if it ticks all the boxes, but it's definately gonna hit near the mark :thumbsup:
 
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Acmegamer

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Well, if you have Mythras, then I reckon

Considering you already have the Mythras core rules, then I definately think Mythic Britain will be a pretty sound investment for you.
I'm not sure if it ticks all the boxes, but it's definately gonna hit near the mark :thumbsup:
Yup, since he's already got his rules system and a good choice at that. Using Mythic Britain as the settings foundation to build the Drenai campaign upon is a solid base to start with.
 

Fenris-77

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Is there a Rome sourcebook for Mythras? For a Drenai setting d probably based the whassnames from across the sea on that. Persia would be perfect, but I don't think Mythras has a sourcebook for that.
 

Mankcam

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Is there a Rome sourcebook for Mythras? For a Drenai setting d probably based the whassnames from across the sea on that. Persia would be perfect, but I don't think Mythras has a sourcebook for that.
The Design Mechanism is starting to accumulate some decent sourcebooks in the 'Mythic Earth' series for Mythras: Mythic Britain, Mythic Rome, Mythic Constantinople, and Mythic Babylon.
I know Mythic Greece is still in development, and my personal wishlist is for Mythic Arabia :thumbsup:
 
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Fenris-77

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Jenx

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Are there any systems out there with a hero point/karma mechanic that allows characters like Druss/Waylander/Regnak etc the ability to dig deep and perform the near impossible? A bit like Force points in Star Wars, where your dice would be doubled for a round.

As far as magic is concerned aside from the nadir Shaman Nosta Khan and the Thirty there's only sporadic use in the books as I recall. Heck, DC Heroes has a mechanic to push yourself beyond normal limits and a hero point mechanic to routinely perform heroic feats. I realise the default answer for every game suggestion round here is 'Mythras' but what about something left field like Bash Fantasy: Legends of Steel (or Bash Fantasy edition)

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2D6 mechanic, mook rules (for scything down those nasty nadir in their hordes), marvel superheroes alike table, 3 stats

Here's the blurb for the Legends of Steel Edition (I only have the Fantasy edition, I'll buy the LoS edition if it ever goes on sale)

"Erisa is a world where decadent empires struggle to hold their frontiers against barbarian hordes, where demon-worshiping priests practice their dark arts in primeval forests, and where sell-swords, bravos and mercenaries of every stripe carouse away their fortunes in the crowded taverns and hazy lotus dens of vice-ridden port cities. There are fortunes to be won and lost, epic battles to fight, despots to usurp, and ancient evils to destroy. So grab your sword and a fast horse, there is adventure to be had!"
 

zcthu3

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The Legends of Steel setting definitely has a Drenai/Druss/Waylander vibe (from memory there’s even some mountains named after one of the characters). I have the BoL version somewhere.
 

Fenris-77

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The Legends of Steel setting definitely has a Drenai/Druss/Waylander vibe (from memory there’s even some mountains named after one of the characters). I have the BoL version somewhere.
Yeah, that's probably the BoL version I'd use for a Drenai game. :thumbsup:
 

Jenx

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I never gave too much thought to where things were in the Drenai tales. Waylander gets around a fair bit and some of the other stories are stand alone not connected to the Drenai but taking place in a different time or place.

A quick look reveals a fan made map:

Drenai-world-map.jpg


Though I loved all the Drenai stories I can't think of any bad DG tales, just ones I liked more than others, but I've read and re-read the lot so many times they are etched in my brain. Probably least favourite is the Troy series, Lion of Macedon and Rigante. Favourite are the Shannow stories (post apocalyptic western with life sucking demons and time travel) but it's a close run thing with the Waylander/Legend stuff. And Morningstar and ... Let's just say I'm a fan.

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Unfortunately (as far as I know) DG never wanted his characters putting on the silver screen :sad: Imagine what something with a decent budget (think HBO not Syfy) could do with Druss or Waylander or (swoon!) Jon Shannow. I get that the stories have a sense of deja vu about them especially the 'fantasy alamo' thing where a few defenders hold off a horde. Again. Don't care. Loved the books anyway!
 

zanshin

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I definitely like the idea of meta points for the heroes - the 'source' gives you an in genre/fiction justification for it.

I find the Rigante series seems to be the best start for people new to Gemmell. I am a massive fan, but on rereading I found the early Gemmell are much less polished than his later works. I have managed to convert at least 3 people to reading his style of heroic dark fantasy, which is also my default preference for fantasy roleplaying 'mood'.
 

Imaginos

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My only Gemmel experience is with the Shannow series (which apparently did not make it with me through my move last year). I’m going to have to put Drenai and Shannow on my book list for shopping.
 
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