Notes for the Thirty Years Reuel Campaign

Here are a few notes for the Reuel campaign on which I am working. It is a framework I am building in order to give me a starting point for new ideas in the campaign world. Most of this is all that I have for now. It’s not my intention to flesh out every area in the world of Reuel, but if I’m not at the gaming table, I am always thinking about world-building and stories. I’ve always been drawn to this aspect of the rpg hobby. Always have, always will. That’s probably why I prefer writing my own adventures and settings instead of using commercial settings.

I call it the “Thirty Years” campaign with the optimistic belief that my gaming pals and I will be playing for another thirty years or more, and the games that I’ll be running will be set in the world of Reuel. So, that being said, here’s what I have so far.

Thirty Years Reuel Campaign

Let me know what you think about it and thanks.

More to come,

jcftao

Beyond the Borderlands Play by Post

If you like play by posts, I am running one over on the Smoldering Wizard’s Forum. We been at it for almost two years now. There is a full cast of characters. Seven players right now! I have enough players at the moment, but the story has been really interesting. It is going in directions that are unexpected and wonderful. Much of the setting in the pbp will be incorporated into my Reuel Campaign. Doing it this way allows me to expand the cast of NPCs and locations as the players wander around the world. It kills two birds with one stone. I am really enjoying the roleplay between the DM and the characters. Being a play by post, it naturally moves slowly at times. The advantage is the chance to add some rich description and have the time to think about a consequence to any player’s actions.

The play by post is based on Whitebox:Fantastical Medieval Adventure Game (Charlie Mason), which is my favorite version of the Whitebox rules. I like it because it provides a framework that calls for the DM to fill in some missing details. This allows for creating your own flavor of ruleset. I am also working on my own version of the Whitebox rules but simplified even more so. I want to keep rules that are intuitive or easy to remember without having to refer to any rulebook during play.

Anyhow, take a look at our efforts over on Smoldering Wizard’s Forum and see what you think?

The creator of the Smoldering Wizard Forum has a great website of his own for all things old school. It is well worth a visit.

More to come,

jcftao

A Medieval Resource

April Mundy has a blog called A Writer’s Perspective. She has some really useful bits about life in the 14th century. Her recent article about travelling itineraries is a useful piece to use in gaming. Instead of characters having a map, They have a list of towns along the way, possibly with distances. When moving from point to point, the players may need to ask locals where the next town in their itinerary is located. It’s a great bit of information and a really great site. I’ll add a link on the sidebar to make note of it.

https://aprilmunday.wordpress.com/2021/02/28/medieval-itinerary/

More to come,

jcftao

Reuel ~ Divergent Timeline

I’ve been thinking about the jumping off point for my Reuel campaign. I want to choose a time period when the mythic war of the gods takes place. I’m considering the 4th century BC. In particular circa 320’s BC at the death of Alexander the Great.

With doing this, I can create an alternate history with elements from classical Greek, Carthaginians, Celts, and Germanic tribes. My knowledge of ancient history is very limited, so researching this will be something to which I look forward. Looking at the world in the 4th century BC, I can also consider the ancient Egyptians and Kush, the Olmec empire and the Mayans in Central America, the Maurya Empire in Southeast Asia (which I know practically nothing about, but plan to learn more), and the Zhou dynasty in China.

My campaign will not span the globe, but taking into consideration these particular civilizations, I can use this as the jumping off point to start a divergent timeline. It will be an interesting problem to consider how these civilizations fared after the war of the gods.

Comments and ideas? Send them to me and thanks.

More to come,

jcftao

Reuel ~ Merging of the Realms

Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash

After the war of the gods, the heavens shattered and fell to the earth. Pieces of each realm merged with the earthly realm. This creates endless opportunites for adventure and exploration in the campaign world. I am reimagining the map of earth but with major changes to the geography. Perhaps in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, there will be a new continent or an island that is a piece of one of the Norse realms. All of this is just in brainstorming mode still. Here’s a list of the Norse realms that I can use for this.


[From Norse Realms of Norse Cosmology, article by Joshua J. Mark, https://www.ancient.eu/article/1305/nine-realms-of-norse-cosmology/]

The original nine realms of the Norse universe were probably:

Asgard – Realm of the Aesir
Alfheim – Realm of the Bright Elves
Jotunheim – Realm of the Giants
Midgard – Realm of the Humans
Muspelheim/Muspell – A fire-giant or the forces of chaos or their realm
Nidavellir – Realm of the Dwarves
Niflheim – Realm of Ice and Mist possibly with lower realm of Niflhel
Svartalfheim – Realm of the Black Elves
Vanaheim – Realm of the Vanir


The realms of the Greek gods are; The heavens, the earth, and the underworld.

These just two of many pantheons I could choose from. Please send me a comment of what else might be interesting to incorporate.

More to come,

jcftao

Reuel ~ Comes the Dawn

Reuel Campaign #2

Nib’s grandfather often told him of the war of the gods. It was a legend of their people, passed down from the elders. What Nib did not know, was that around the world different people were telling a similar story. The gods they worshipped differed, but each legend described a war that shook the foundation of their beliefs and dealt a mortal blow to the gods.

The heavens shattered and fell like shards unto the earth. Continents changed. Where there was once a temperate plain, now stood a jagged landscaped of ice and fog. Mountains tumbled, civilization was extinguished. Mankind was stubborn and fought bitterly to survive. They began to rebuild but faced many new challenges. In addition to a changed landscape, humanity was threatened by a hordes of creatures that had only lived in folktales and lore. Some came from deep within the earth, others from the shattered realms of the gods, and still others were the remnants and minions of the Great Old Ones.

A thousand years or more passed but time had no meaning other than the daily struggle to survive. Oracles, soothsayers, and wise women and men puzzled over what lay ahead. Were the gods dead? Can the gods every die? These questions and many more remained a mystery. But a spark of insight started like breath on an ember. The thought began to glow in the mind of the most enlightened seekers. There was a consciousness that existed far beyond their understanding. It was not some god from the abyss winging its way to them on immense bat wings. It was a supreme power of good and law, unparalled by any other force. The source of this power was whispered in the ear of the oracles. People began speaking of and worshipping this source of power. The name Eos came into use in many lands and as the people began to connect with this entity, they gained power against the forces of chaos.


Notes

The Reuel campaign setting is set in an alternate version of our own world. I did this for several reasons. I’ve spent countless hours designing campaign worlds. I was never really happy with the results. One trick I found that made an interesting map was to use Google Maps. I would find a land mass and screenshot it. I’d put this into MS Paint and add bits from other locations, rotating bits and cutting and pasting. This way I’d get an interesting outline for a new landmass.

This time around, I decided to try something different. Why not just use the world we live in? But to make things more interesting, I found projections of coastlines given the possibility that all the ice were to melt. This would mean a sea rise of approximately 230 ft (70 meters). I pray that this will never be a reality, but seeing how the coastlines changed gave me some ideas. I imagined that during this multi-realm war between the old gods and Great Old Ones, that the realms were destroyed and what remained, somehow merged with the earth. This gives me a reason to draw coastlines as they actually exist for us but also add bits of other realms here and there.

In the world of Reuel, the Great Old Ones have come to challenge the old gods. The war they waged was fought in every realm and involved every pantheon worshipped by man. I haven’t nailed down an approximate date, but want this to include the Greek mythology and Norse mythology. I want to set the time of the war of the gods to occur before the beginning of Christianity. The motive for me is to create an alternate take on a monotheistic religion that I could develop for this fantasy setting. The idea of having old gods based in our history (Zeus, Odin, and the like) would be an interesting link to our actual past, but the inclusion of a supreme being (Eos) was appealing. I envision that Eos would be a supreme being that no one could dispute. Its power is evident. The old gods time had come and gone. There are still old gods, but their power is diminished after the war. This would offer roleplaying options where players are followers of old gods, but Eos will be by far the major deity in Reuel.

Thats all I have for now. Send me some suggestions!

jcftao

Reuel ~ Of Gods and Men

Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash

Nib rubbed his eyes. The wood smoke always seemed to blow into his face when he tended the fire. His grandfather watched with amusement. His grandfather never had difficulties keeping the fire fed. Grandfather always knew what to do.

“Tell me again about the old gods?”

“Finish your chores, young one, and fetch me some water. Then I will tell you the story.”

The old man took a pull from his pipe and blew a smoke ring. It floated towards the fire and then sailed upward through the opening in the long house. Outside the night had fallen. Winter had taken a hold on the land and was reluctant to relinquish its icy grip.

The old man mused for awhile. It was an appropriate moment to tell the boy of things long past, gods and men, realms and empires long dead. The old man leaned forward and began to spin his tale. Was it sooth or fable, who can say? Nib listened with rapt attention, the smoke that burned his eyes was now a distant memory.

“Olympus! Home of the gods! Mighty Zeus looked down from his heavenly palace and watched as mortal man toiled in the soil, built cities, and worshipped the immortals. All was as it should be. The world was a many splendored treasure and Zeus ruled over all.”

“For all of his power, mighty Zeus had made a grave error. For in the time spent lingering over the earthly delights below, he failed to look outward to the very edge of the heavens. It was there, beyond the last burning orb, beyond the veil of the heavens, that a great void waited.”

“The light of no sun would penetrate the infinite depths of its nothingness. Through this vast blackness sped an entity equally as black. It flew on, through the great void, past the threshold and into the firmament.”

“Had mighty Zeus trained his immortal eye on the heavens, he would have seen the silhouette of an immense being, propelled through the starry veil on bat wings leaving a myriad of stars flicker and roll in its wake.”

“The halcyon days of the gods were at a close. Just as Zeus had overseen the pursuits of mortals, the great void had turned its eye on the gods. The Great Old Ones had come.”

“The heavens and earth waged war against those profane creatures. Gods and man set spear against the crushing tide of abyssal foe. Hades himself was unable to tally the dead. Mortal and immortal died as the heavens shattered and fell onto the earth. All hope fled the field of battle. Zeus lie slain. His brothers and sisters met the same fate. Only a handful of gods huddled together behind their shield wall, preparing for the final charge.”

“Then it all changed. Out of the east, the sun broke through the darkness and a warm breeze flowed over the battlefield. The Great Old Ones turned towards the shining rays and ere they could utter a foul curse, their bodies turned to dust. Zephyrs carried the dust into the air and swept it away, back into the nothingness from which it came.”

“As the sun cast away the darkness, the world began again, scarred by war but rising with the hope of a new day.”

Reuel ~ Campaign Setting

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

I have finally hit upon the name for my campaign setting, Reuel. It is inspired and in honor of J.R.R.Tolkien. Reuel was a family name for Tolkien and has a nice ring to it. I’ve read conflicting views on how much of an influence Tolkien’s work is on Dungeons and Dragons. It matters little to me what anyone has to say on this point. One thing I can testify is that the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings was my introduction into fantasy literature. Tolkien painted the picture of a world that is eminently suited for exploring. His works are but one of many influences for me. Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughts are also two writers I hold in high esteem. The tales of the Cimmerian and the adventures of Tarzan are what made me love tabletop roleplaying.

So, you ask, what does this have to do with me? Well, I plan on expanding my campaign world and adding bits and pieces here and there. I you gain inspiration from it, then I am glad.

Now, I will need to figure out the best way to present the information. I’m really liking the idea of short stories. I think that much of the flavor of a setting can be evoked in this manner. I know that my expertise is not in playing the role of an old school sage. I’ve played Dnd and many other rpgs over the years, about 40 years or more, but I’m not any kind of authority. So, I’ll just have to see where this takes me. Any suggestions or comments would glady be appreciated.

More to come,

jcftao

This really happened!

Let me set the scene for you. Our Roll20 game tonight begins in the village of Larm. We are using the Labyrinth Lord Original Edition Characters rules. Three players with these characters; cleric, elf, and magic-user. We hire a man to take us upstream to an evil temple and we also hire a man-at-arms. He claims to be a expert crossbowman, but we didn’t get a chance to find out.

Sitting in our rowboat, coming up to an island. On the edge of the riverbank to the east of us is a lone orc. He has his bow ready and wins initiative. Before we can react, the orc fires an arrow into our rowboat at an random target. It is our man-at-arms. He is wearing padded armor. The orc hits with plenty to spare and does 6 points of damage, killing the man-at-arms instantly. He falls overboard as our elf returns fire.

The elf hits the orc but doesn’t kill him. At the same time, the magic user is fishing the dead man-at-arms out of the river. The boatsman rows us to the island and we get make ready to take cover in the trees.

Next round the orc wins again, hitting the cleric for 4 points but not killing him. The elf returns fire killing the orc. We can hear the shouts of more orcs coming to the river’s edge. The magic user begins fishing out his scroll. The rest of us take cover.

The magic user has a scroll of animate dead that he found in the evil temple last session. He uses it on the man-at-arms. The orcs arrive on the scene.

The magic user commands the newly undead man-at-arms to stay back and fire his crossbow at the orcs across the river. The rest of us are running for the cover of the trees.

One of the orcs fires at the undead man-at-arms, hits him and does 6 points of damage. The man-at-arms drops again, second time he’s been killed in just two attacks on him! Needless to say, it was one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever witnessed in 40 years of gaming! We are definitely going to need more hirelings!

On Writing

I open my notebook to a blank page, grab my pencil, click it twice to advance the lead. I’m sitting in my car at the park, a diet Coke and cheeseburger and fries on the passenger seat. It’s a beautiful day, a cool breeze blows through the car windows. This is my favorite time, a moment of endless possibilities. Sometimes inspiration strikes me and ideas flow onto the page. Other times, I pause, not knowing what to write. In that instance, I flip through the notes I’ve made and often think of something new. In either case, I live for this moment. This is why I love roleplaying games. It gives me the reason to perform this ritual of writing.

More to come…