Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Weird Frontier

This cover deserves to be the basis of an rpg setting.

Well, maybe not just this cover all on its own, but the crazy idea it and the series (Tomahawk) it's a part of suggests (at least to me)--namely, combining the James Fenimore Cooper-style frontier tale with fantasy. Transplanting the whole civilization-against-the-wilderness thing to a colonial pseudo-America.

It’s almost completely unmined territory. It’s only been sort of attempted once, as far as I know--Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series does early nineteenth century fantasy in an alternate North America. Sure, one could point to novels (and even an rpg or two) with a kind of “Illuminati/Masonic magic behind the revolution” or a “Ben Franklin cavorts with the Hellfire Club” sort of deal, but all of that pseudo-historical “hidden magic” speculation fails to deliver a moment of rpg inspiration Zen like:

Wilderness adventures wouldn’t be the only way to go. Surely things like Mystery Hill, and the rampant speculation such sites inspired (even at the time) ought to suggest plenty of ancient American civilization to provide honest to goodness dungeons. There might not be demi-humans (though there could be), but all the other standard D&D ingredients are easy to find.

Maybe I’ll work on something like this once I’ve got Weird Adventures out of the way. Heck, the Strange New World was probably something like this, about a century and a half earlier then then the period I've been chronicling.


John Matthew Stater said...

Check out Northern Crown from Atlas Games - excellent d20 product in fantasy colonial America.

netherwerks said...

James Fennimore Cooper's stories are already outright fantasy. Moving them into an RPG context is a brilliant idea and combining it with the weirdness like Tomahawk is absolute genius. It's also a wonderful precursor to some off-the-wall Space Western action as well. But starting off from the Colonial period and re-working King Philip's war or the French Indian War...there's a lot to play around with there...and I'd like to see what you do with it all. I'll let you know if things work out for my story Fur Trade--I think you'd get a laugh out of it, as it's right up this alley...

christian said...

I'm all for whacky, out of control gaming. Giant gorillas with bows and arrows is perfect. :)

Trey said...

@Matt - I'll check that out. I had more of the impression of it being "elves and dwarves" in North America, but a cursory internet search tells me I'm mistaken.

@NetherWerks - True on Cooper's work. I think I'd definitely be interested in your Fur trade story.

@Christian - Yeah, why should post-apocalypse get all the wackiness? Tomahawk shows it can be done in any era.

Brutorz Bill said...

Good Stuff!