Tuesday, 3 March 2020
Vikings & Cthulhu
With a new Cthulhu Dark Ages book out time to look again at some of the stuff I used for my 3 generational Viking game. To be honest I like historic gaming but it can be a hard sell so Cthulhu brings the bacon and bums on seats in these various campaigns. Vikings were an easy sell in my club too. Not many people really get idea of Dark ages especially if fed on a dnd diet. Im hoping we get some adventures and this gets developed more.
Going through various products I used for Viking campaigns.
Oddly wearing armour, using swords and shields makes a viking more than a match for monsters and when they use Rune spells and high skills they do not feel as lame as most investigators.
In a Vikings game you need plenty of non mythos action too so any Viking adventure content is usable. Viking dreamlands could be the realms connected by Yggdrasil.
Viking Minis available in lots of scales too, i use 1/72 and a nice boat that scale available.
HARN Ivinia the Viking lands - has great weather and sea encounters (not sure of the exact book) the copy of tables in my folder since 80s as harn was very hard to find
TSR 2nd Ed dnd Vikings - ice maps, names, house diagrams some ok bits
Rolemaster Campaign Classics Vikings - lots of good stuff and some adventure ideas - had a character battle a woman to marry her and was a very very long fight inspired by this
GURPS Vikings pretty good and I like the job tables in older GURPS books which they seem to have dropped. Other GURPS books like Russia. Low Tech and Middle Ages handy.
RuneQuest3 Avalon Hill Vikings Box Set is a great core campaign and as it is BRP. Is a great start for a family of poor Vikings going on the first raid and good clan soap opera. I ran everything in here for the core of the first campaign. As time went on the clan settled Iceland. Mongoose Vikings book kind of had tacky art that did not suit the historic topic but had names and a few bits usable. RQ3 used dark ages Europe as the default setting. I added lots of RQ combat features like hit locations for a more complex portrayal of Melee.
BRP Iceland is one of the better RPG books ever. Very dense and content for a long period of play and full of detail. Has rune magic and good notes on viking gods.
The Ravenar Sagas monograph 0348 Chaosium for Call of Cthulhu has lots of good bits that played well. Layouts look like a word processor but at least readable and usable. I got to spread the scenarios out quite well so they were years apart. Spirits & Dreams of the Viking age monograph 0390 is not as good. The layout has lots of issues which affect readability and organisation. Adventures revolve more around Viking supernaturalism and showcase monsters. Adventures are ok but I didn't use any of this book really.
Castles & Crusades Viking book worth a look. Have not read them all but they are well researched, dense and more modern than what most ppl know about mythology in other volumes of series.
Mythras have a great Byzantium book which could be handy for when your Vikings visit Byzantium. My guys spent a few years there and came back with awesome Varangian armour.
There are probably more and recent books I have not touched. As always osprey books are good for historic arms and armour. The World of the Ancient Slavs published by Orbis is handy. Kids books often good for daily life. Read Icelandic Sagas. Best fantasy books were ever written and easier going than Tolkien. Elder Eddas especially.
So basically I used RQ3 for skills and magic (spirit and divine). I used mythos magic for cultists and the dark ages folk magic for common non-aligned magic. BRP Iceland religious mechanics on top of this worked well. I used elements of Ringworld RPG for skill groups too. I did have characters become runelord berserks, priests and shaman by the end. My character sheets in links below.
Multiple characters slept with supernatural beings and of course, such children grow faster in the faerie world and will hunt down their fathers wanting revenge. As we played 3 generations some later characters started with better choices of career (most started farmers in the first game). Some were born rich and some with non human blood of troll or elf or giant. I like to keep the human world gritty but the supernatural world of giants and faeries were reachable and pretty horrible. Lots of fog-shrouded seas with monsters too. Islands of deep one cults. Lots of isolated monasteries actually full of cultists too.
Any adventure for regular Cthulhu mentioning Vikings is an opportunity. I used trail of Tsathogua adventures in Greenland which were fantastic. When I ran them again later I put links to the Viking players in with the Viking ruins. As the temple scene in the novel derived from is set in ancient Hyperborea time change was not a big deal. As Brian Lumley (I thing in House of Cthulhu) his Hyperborean like lost world had sailors visit Relyeh I was happy to repeat it with my Viking players mostly straight from shadows of Yog Sothoth. Of course, half party died or went mad. One player jumped into Cthulhus open mouth axe in hand as he Prayed to Odin.
As travel a feature and my Vikings went to Americas, the Lost City of Irem, Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, Russia, Frankland, Germania plus a trip to Jotunhiem (dreamlands? you don't need to ever explain this stuff). Characters had lots of training time to improve skills and attributes. Kept a few poor literate monks as slaves to read books for them. Letting months or years go by was great and I used Pendragon to see if wives and children and horses lived. It is good to have at least one king out to get the party.
In the last section of game Christianity was replacing Viking magic and characters happy to move to Iceland. Different characters developed different links to various lands they visited.
The second game I didn't document as well and 3rd I didn't detail at all but a heap of links here on games and prep.
So Cthulhu has been a great way to have Magic in a historic setting where magic is mostly horrible and hard to get. You might want to consider changing insanity tables and obviously dead bodies won't bother Vikings much.
890 AD Vikings Game
Second Campaign featuring kids from first
- was meant to last a few weeks went for a few months