Monday, August 19, 2019

Weird Revisted: The Weird Frontier

The original version of this post first appeared in 2010. I've revisited it from slightly different angles a couple of times since.

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.


JB said...

Isn’t that pretty close to the whole LotFP shtick?

Trey said...

LoftP is set loosely in the early 17th Century and mostly in Europe, I think so 150 to just shy of 200 years off, and a continent away. Plus there's a great deal of difference in tone.

JB said...

Huh. I always got kind of a "New World" vibe off it.

Pinnacle Entertainment Group's "Deadlands" RPG does role-playing in the Weird West, though it's a much more cohesive setting (rather than D&D-style, kitchen sink fantasy) with a strong horror vibe.