Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hex Crawl Location Inspired by History

Off and on I've been reading “A History of the Church in the Middle Ages” by David Logan and keep finding items to blog about. I've finally decided to take notes so that I can post bits when I find time.

The first thing in particular to note is how “the hobby” relates to interest in history. It might never have come about if not for amateur historians and their war games. Later, the bits and pieces of historical reference in rules and setting inspiration from those progenitors would in turn engender historical interest in gamers. I picked this book precisely because I hoped it would bring something to the game but I found it enriching my life in other ways as well.

And bring it this book has. This blog has a limited life span, as I'll be going back to school in the fall and won't likely have time to post. But I hope to share several parts of this book with you folks – from an undead pope, musings on religious controversy in a universe with observable deities, to the interplays of politics and religion.

But something simple for a start: a quote from pope.

The diocese of Gardar lies at the ends of the earth in the land called Greenland... It is reckoned that no ship has sailed there for eighty years and that no bishop or priest has resided there during this period. As a result, many inhabitants have abandoned the faith of their Christian baptism: once a year they exhibit a sacred linen used by the last priest to say Mass there about a hundred years ago.
Pope Alexander VI, 1492

        Hvalsey Church ruins in Greenland

To me that screams to be made into an adventure location in a hex crawl, complete with discovered adventure hook. A linear or quest oriented campaign might have the hook be an order from whichever religious figure would take the place of Alexander VI. But in a sandbox, I'd rather the hook be found. In the ruined monastery the abbot's diary may contain this lament for the lost souls in Gardar. It would be up to the player characters to do additional research for the rumored location of Gardar and the hazards that left the community isolated. If they do not take it upon themselves to search for Gardar, they yet may be rewarded for recalling the helpful information when they stumble upon it in their advances into the unknown.

Once in Gardar, they'll find the community isolated and divided. Some may yet adhere to their faith of established civilization. Others may have returned to pagan ways, or even 'gone native' with some local divine (or divine-ish) power. Like factions in a dungeon, the players can intercede or not; there would be advantages and problems with either. What misconceptions, misremembered truths, or 100 year old prejudices, does the community have that may make life difficult for the players? Do the players seek the sacred linen as treasure – is it indeed a holy relic with powers? Do they want to bring a new priest to the community and ensure that he or she is accepted? Would the community be a base for the players in further explorations to the unknown? Will there even be a Gardar community left to be found? If there were survivors, where did they go? And where did the sacred linen end up?

These are the questions that come to mind when I consider this as a site-based adventure location.