Thursday, September 1, 2016

What Happened in 1266?

Some of the best game setting inspiration is a casual browse through Wikipedia because the history of the real world is so much weirder and wonderful than any purely fictional setting. Did you know that you can basically search for any given year on Wikipedia and get a nice little list of interesting things that happened over the course of 365 days? Even if you want to bend history a bit, or add fantasy into the mix, it gives you plenty to work with.

For example, let’s say you want to run a medieval fantasy game...set in 1266. Here’s some adventure seeds I came up with on the fly while reading the Wikipedia entry for that year:

  • Charles of Anjou makes war against the wicked Prince Manfred of Otranto at the Pope’s behest. Manfred’s Satanic rule of Sicily must be stopped at all costs! (Why not combine this historical event with Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto?)
  • Mary de Ferrers, a noted witch steeped in occult knowledge, has sealed herself within Liverpool Castle; the agents of King Henry III have so far been unable to overthrow her defenses and force Ferrers’s surrender to the crown. (In truth, Ferrers just surrenders...but why not spin this into a siege scenario with added witchcraft?)
  • The Scots battle the Norwegian Vikings over the Hebrides. (Anytime you have Vikings you pretty much don’t need to add anything else.)
  • A civil war is being fought on English soil; a group of barons led by Simon de Montfort challenges the forces led by Edward Longshanks–in the balance hangs the threat of the king’s submission to the Magna Carta and the dissolution of England’s absolute monarchy. (Ditto civil wars.)
  • Niccolo and Mafeo Polo have returned from the Pleasure Dome of Kublai Khan with wondrous reports of the wealth and magic of that realm. Kublai Khan wishes to know more of Christianity and the Pope is casting about for a few good envoys. (Mixing a real medieval voyage with a bit of Coleridge is my peanut butter and chocolate.)
  • The Mamluk Sultan Baibars has recently captured the castle of Toron from the crusaders; it must be won back to secure further footholds in the Holy Land. (Crusades are plenty action-packed and weird on their own.)