Has anyone run an extended Historical campaign?

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TristramEvans

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As the title says, ever run a campaign that was completely historical, or at the very least, involved nothing magic, supernatural, or super-technological?
 

Endless Flight

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I keep wanting to run a Western campaign set in the late 1870s but I haven't had a chance to yet.
 

Shipyard Locked

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As I've mentioned elsewhere, nope. Although I have an itch to do so (specifically swashbuckling), numerous factors have made scratching that itch difficult:

- The real world is depressing, and while it's possible to write around the ugliness in books and movies, it's much harder to avoid in tabletop.
- It has been a hard sell to most players I know. They really like superpowers and escapism from this world. History is also intimidating, even if I tell them not to sweat the details because I'll teach them on a need-to-know basis, they are concerned about "doing it right."
- I know from my experiences with 7th Sea that the two things I would miss the most are non-human NPCs/monsters and truly fantastic locations. Cathedrals, inns and forests are nice, but after about three encounters in each I eventually crave negotiations with a dragon turtle in an ice palace at the bottom of an oceanic trench.
- D&D casts a huge shadow over certain periods of history. When I've tried to prep 16th century Europe as a setting and select a ruleset for it, I constantly find myself thinking, "It would be faster, easier, and more liberating to just do D&D for these ideas." I suspect a lot of players would have those thoughts as well, especially if you try to adapt D&D to a historical setting to take advantage of rules familiarity (not an insignificant temptation when running games for busy adults).
 

Raleel

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We did a short 6 session Varangians on their way to Byzantium one using Mythras. I liked it very much.

Shipyard points out most of the reasons why it is a hard sell with my folks. They want to punch nazis riding dinosaurs and toboggan down ice slopes on stolen relics made of dragon scales and con Norse dwarves out of gems to give to Surtr's son so he can propose marriage to Hel and start Ragnarok.
 

The Butcher

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Short arca and one-shot sessions, but no long-term campaigns. Swashbuckling and Westerns would probably be my choices as well.
 

Simlasa

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I played in a campaign recently that, while not strictly historical, hewed pretty close to a plausible feeling medieval northern Europe.
I found myself somewhat disinterested at times because, lacking the overt fantasy elements, there was barely any mystery or weirdness at all. I think we were maybe playing it too 'straight'. As if we had expunged all the color and personality along with the monsters/magic. No elves ended up including no talk of elves, no magic deflated the magical/superstitious world view that would have remained historically proper.
Jumping back in time oughtta provide plenty of escapism but maybe we'd used fantasy elements for so long we'd rusted over on how bizarre, mysterious and exciting the world can be on its own.
 

Shipyard Locked

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Jumping back in time oughtta provide plenty of escapism but maybe we'd used fantasy elements for so long we'd rusted over on how bizarre, mysterious and exciting the world can be on its own.

"Rusted over" or "burned out"? After all, most fantasy campaigns are stuff like...
Europe + winged boots of flying
Bandit attacks + ogres
Court intrigue + illusion spells
Swordfights + underground civilizations
Religious war + elven lifespans
And so on.

Notice that everything before the + symbol is something that has existed in the real world and we use it to 'ground' and give sense to the fantasy part that comes after the +. We've re-used those real world references so much as the white rice to to fantasy's dazzling array of curry flavors that being offered rice alone might not cut it anymore.
 

Simlasa

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But why should bandit attacks require ogres to be interesting and colorful?
I'm saying/wondering if the stuff before the + feels blah because we've always been shoring it up with fantasy bits and eschewing subtler flavors... like kids I know who eat so much sugar and salt that they can barely taste stuff that isn't fast food and candy. And because we (the group I'm in) concentrate on the absence of elf magic sweetener, we ignore/miss other spices/flavors altogether.
 

Imperator

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James Bond 007 does count as not magic? :grin:

Apart from that, yeah, I've used RQ 3rd several times for purely historical games. Usually they are well received but, after some time, players want to have some special skills again. So they don't tend to be very long.
 

Shipyard Locked

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But why should bandit attacks require ogres to be interesting and colorful?
I'm saying/wondering if the stuff before the + feels blah because we've always been shoring it up with fantasy bits and eschewing subtler flavors... like kids I know who eat so much sugar and salt that they can barely taste stuff that isn't fast food and candy. And because we (the group I'm in) concentrate on the absence of elf magic sweetener, we ignore/miss other spices/flavors altogether.

I was agreeing with you while fretting that the situation may be worse than you described. Some players and GMs are not just desensitized, they are jaded.

Imperator said:
James Bond 007 does count as not magic? :grin:

If you rule out Live and Let Die, Moonraker, and Die Another Day, sure! :grin:
 

TristramEvans

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I've always classified Bond in the same grouping as Sherlock Holmes, Batman, and Tarzan...not overtly superpowered, but possessed of a sort of cinematic hyper-competence removed enough from reality that it wrinkles my brain when people use the term "realistic" when referring to them.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, on the other hand...
 

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Never, sadly. I've been desperately trying to convince my friends to play Pirates of the Spanish Main (Savage Worlds) or a Western (not sure which system) for ages.
 

TristramEvans

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Despite my interest in the genre and general period, I'm not very familiar with this particular swashbuckler. Are you saying it is notably realistic?

I'm not sure notably realistic, but the Pimpernel is not so much swashbuckler as Cloak and Dagger. He's an English secret agent circa the French Revolution who sneaks aristocrats out of France to save them from "The Terror", usually using elaborate disguises. The novels by Baroness Orczy , published I think late 1800s or very beginning of the 20th century, sort of bridge the gap between Pulp/superheroes and folk heroes like Robin Hood. They're highly entertaining reads.
 

AsenRG

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As the title says, ever run a campaign that was completely historical, or at the very least, involved nothing magic, supernatural, or super-technological?
Yes, in Flashing Blades, using the default setting, circa 150 sessions if my estimates are right.
 

Ulairi

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I keep wanting to run a Western campaign set in the late 1870s but I haven't had a chance to yet.


I ran Aces & Eights for years but ran it not 100% true to history but tried to keep it historical.
 

Dumarest

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Q: Has anyone run an extended historical campaign?

A: I assume "anyone" means anyone on this forum, as in I'm sure someone somewhere has done so. I suppose it depends on how you define historical and extended. I probably have done so a few times. It's kinda my thing. In fact I'm doing one right here on this site, although how extended it will be remains to be discovered!
 

Dumarest

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I'm not sure notably realistic, but the Pimpernel is not so much swashbuckler as Cloak and Dagger. He's an English secret agent circa the French Revolution who sneaks aristocrats out of France to save them from "The Terror", usually using elaborate disguises. The novels by Baroness Orczy , published I think late 1800s or very beginning of the 20th century...

The novel was 1905; the play was 1903.
 

Voros

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I'm not sure notably realistic, but the Pimpernel is not so much swashbuckler as Cloak and Dagger. He's an English secret agent circa the French Revolution who sneaks aristocrats out of France to save them from "The Terror", usually using elaborate disguises. The novels by Baroness Orczy , published I think late 1800s or very beginning of the 20th century, sort of bridge the gap between Pulp/superheroes and folk heroes like Robin Hood. They're highly entertaining reads.

Never read the books but the film from 34' with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon is terrific fun. Howard brings out a lot of humour playing the fop.

Course this is the most faithful adaptation.

 

Dumarest

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Never read the books but the film from 34' with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon is terrific fun. Howard brings out a lot of humour playing the fop.

Course this is the most faithful adaptation.

The Jane Seymour/Ian McKellen version was a lot of fun as well. Between that, Battlestar Galactica, James Bond, and Sinbad, I still have a massive crush on her.
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AsenRG

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BTW, does it count if we were just players? Because I've played in a few more:smile:.

Runequest Vikings was the one I probably liked the most.
 

zunbazu

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I haven't, but I would love to someday. Probably set during the Roman Empire (early or late, doesn't matter).
 

Voros

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The Jane Seymour/Ian McKellen version was a lot of fun as well. Between that, Battlestar Galactica, James Bond, and Sinbad, I still have a massive crush on her.

I didn't realize the modern version had that good of a cast. As a kid I liked the sf romance Somewhere in Time with her and Reeves (I was a strange kid) but haven't seen it since.
 

Leon ap Hywel

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As the title says, ever run a campaign that was completely historical, or at the very least, involved nothing magic, supernatural, or super-technological?
I think the closest I’ll come is running Mythic Britain but never completely devoid of the magic.
 

AsenRG

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I haven't, but I would love to someday. Probably set during the Roman Empire (early or late, doesn't matter).
It's a great period. I like it a lot, but have never played in a longer campaign, only in "inspired by" fantasy.
 

zunbazu

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It's a great period. I like it a lot, but have never played in a longer campaign, only in "inspired by" fantasy.

That's the closest I've ever gotten as well. A short "inspired-by" jaunt into faux fantasy Antiquity. Someday, maybe! Mythras in the bundle has really got me thinking and dreaming.
 

The Butcher

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Looking at Mythic Rome right now, but I'd be tempted to run it with the (minimalist, and inspired by Roman beliefs) magic system included in the book.

Still less "fantastic" than Mythic Britain or the amazing Mediterraneo Mítico.
 

Black Leaf

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I've played in Bushido but I've never run it. (It gives me the fear, frankly)

Although even that doesn't quite qualify in the "no magic at all" category.

I think that's a bit inflexible. I'd still consider games that make a real effort to reflect the belief systems of the time to be historical.
 

AsenRG

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I've played in Bushido but I've never run it. (It gives me the fear, frankly)

Although even that doesn't quite qualify in the "no magic at all" category.

I think that's a bit inflexible. I'd still consider games that make a real effort to reflect the belief systems of the time to be historical.
That's a matter of classification. Personally, however, I wouldn't call them historical.
Authentic to the beliefs of the period, yes.
 

Baeraad

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... yes, actually. A very long time ago I ran a single session of a Swedish roleplaying game called Viking. But other than that, I don't think so. I like low fantasy, but actual historical settings always feel too fiddly to get right.
 

Dumarest

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I've played in Bushido but I've never run it. (It gives me the fear, frankly)

Although even that doesn't quite qualify in the "no magic at all" category.

I think that's a bit inflexible. I'd still consider games that make a real effort to reflect the belief systems of the time to be historical.

It's easy to dump the magic and run Bushido without it if anyone ever wanted to try it. I barely even used any magic in it and the PCs were all bushi. It was rather like Pendragon with magic dialed down to minimal.
 
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Black Leaf

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That's a matter of classification. Personally, however, I wouldn't call them historical.
Authentic to the beliefs of the period, yes.
I think what gets complicated there is it can end up feeling less authentic, as players play to modern conceptions of the supernatural.
 

AsenRG

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I think what gets complicated there is it can end up feeling less authentic, as players play to modern conceptions of the supernatural.
I use a nasty GMing trick for that:smile:.
I have the NPCs believing this, and acting on it. They may suspect that the rumour that a witch had been riding a man in his sleep merely means he's sleepwalking.
But if three people swear having seen him being ridden by an ugly demonic figure:devil:?

Also, cults and sects can kill you for their beliefs just like they can in CoC:evil:! They're also likely to be fanatical about it.
At some point, the players start suspecting I'm actually running an urban fantasy. With them as the mundane "hunters".
I'm kinda known for running a "no magic for PCs" campaigns even in S&S settings:wink:.
 

soltakss

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As the title says, ever run a campaign that was completely historical, or at the very least, involved nothing magic, supernatural, or super-technological?

No, not really. I like Mythic Games that reflect the myths and legends as much as historical stuff. So, I like Heroic Greece, with Gods, Goddesses and fantasical creatures, steppe nomads riding winged horses, Saxons carving runes on their swords to make them sharper and so on.
 

Endless Flight

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I always wanted to do a Zorro meets the Lone Ranger campaign, but that's not historical. Besides, Zorro was about fifty years before the Lone Ranger.
 

TristramEvans

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I always wanted to do a Zorro meets the Lone Ranger campaign, but that's not historical. Besides, Zorro was about fifty years before the Lone Ranger.

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Endless Flight

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The date that I have read for John Reid becoming the Lone Ranger is January 1, 1874. If that's the original Zorro Dynamite is using they are being very loose with the dates.
 

TristramEvans

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The date that I have read for John Reid becoming the Lone Ranger is January 1, 1874. If that's the original Zorro Dynamite is using they are being very loose with the dates.

It's been a long time since I read or watched anything regarding The Fox, but I seem to recall in at least one version Zorro was a legacy role, handed down through the generations. May be wrong on that though.
 

Endless Flight

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It's been a long time since I read or watched anything regarding The Fox, but I seem to recall in at least one version Zorro was a legacy role, handed down through the generations. May be wrong on that though.

In the Hopkins-Banderas Mask of Zorro, a date of 1821 was given for when Montero locked Don Diego de le Vega away. Twenty years later he escaped and trained his replacement, Alejandro Murieta, who took his surname.
 
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