Roleplaying Ye Olde Englande
I still buy roleplaying games, when I can afford it, and when I find something interesting. And Romance of the Perilous Land, published by Osprey (the purveyors of great wargaming and historical recreation books), caught my eye a few days ago.
I loved the cover, the concept and, indeed, the price – as Amazon lets you get a digital copy of the book for 1.99 US Dollars/1.78 Euro.
I mean… come on.
And I must confess that I am quite pleased with my investment of 1.78 euro on this game.
Romance of the Perilous Land describes itself as “A Roleplaying game of British Folklore”, and it’s therefore pretty focused: think Arthurian legends, Robin Hood, a bit of War of the Roses, plus the whole folklore of the Merry Englande.
In this sense, the setting is very focused – I guess you’d be able to take a quick jaunt to Brittany, or Ireland, but most of the action is in Britain, and the time frame is very much Medieval in the Mallory/Scott tradition.
So, yes, throw Ivanhoe in there too, as a possible source of inspiration.
And maybe Lloyd Alexander.
System-wise, the game is very old-school, but not so old school to be smothered by its own nostalgia. It takes bits and pieces from the classic D&D, some more recent iterations of the D20 system, and some have even seen in it a hint of… ehm, Tunnels & Trolls. But in a good way.
The game is class-based, and you can play a Knight, a ranger, a Thief, a Bard, a Barbarian or a member of the “Cunning Folk”, that covers everything from Edge Wizards to Witches to Warlocks. Given the style of the setting, you have all the basic archetypes needed.
Cross your Archetype with a Background origin, and you have your basic character – just add a handful of talents and roll the required four Attributes.
From here on, it’s all a D20 roll – you need to roll lower than your stats.
Nice and Smooth.
Magic is mostly charm-based – so that spellcasters need to create their own portable magical items to be able to cast their spells – a spell list is provided, and it’s quite easy for players and master to come up with their own.
Everything has the right flavour, and you get a nice little bestiary of creatures both natural and supernatural – including a selection of dragons.
And of course you can use the Osprey books about King Arthur, The Knights of the Round Table, and Robin Hood, as sourcebooks.
Given its very simple and very generic system, it’s extremely easy to adapt other material to this game – and it’s not like there’s not a lack of Arthurian/Medieval gaming resources out there.
The game is so cheap and simple, it’s the perfect sort of thing to keep handy on the smartphone or the e-reader for an emergency – and the hardback edition (that goes for 27 euro) is small, compact and looks just great (maybe for Christmas…)
All in all, a nice addition to the collection.
Maybe I’ll never play it, given the current situation, but I am quite happy of the purchase.
Oh, and if you are even cheaper than I am (goodness!!), on DriveThruRPG you can find the original edition of the game, that was self-published by author Scott Malthouse, and that should be available as Pay-What-You-Want. It’s only 52 pages compared to the almost 300 of the Osprey version, but hey… being cheap has its drawbacks, right?