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Sorcerous Dogs: An abortive fantasy western

As anyone whose read cutthroast creeks (cutthroatcreeks.wordpress.com) knows I have a liking for combining fantasy and western tropes. This goes back to sixth form games set in the continent of Discoverie – an epic game whichI recreated in a more managable ‘bonzana’ type format at University. This particular campaign was playing with the same concept as Bounty Hunters – it didn’t work for reasons I’ll outline in the final paragraph for those interested. What follows is the original player brief and an in game review of the principal setting.

                     

Grand Duchy of New Sordor

Once Upon a Time in Ommereich

Made up of

Ducal Lands

Countyof Manticore

County of Wyvern

Earldom of New Midsomer

Earldom ofSylvania

Founded approx 100 years ago. Exiled Nobleman and his followers from another land. Settled and made it there own at the price of the indigenous population Orcs etc;

Do have an alterative game head-sketched. Player characters are immigrants to the Grand Duchy of New Sordor, a feudal colony established by renegade nobles who lost a dynastic civil war in ‘old’ KingdomofSordor.

New Sordor established on the eastern Seaboard on the newly discovered continent of Ommereich (‘furthest Empire,’) between Vinland established by Viking/Norse colonists in the north and Nova Republica a recently independent rebel colony of the Imperium to the south which claims to be loyal to the Republican ideas the Imperium rejected when it took on an Emperor

Ommereich contains ruins believed to belong to ancient Cities of Elves and Dwarves. Those Elves and Dwarves that still exist are barbaric and primitive tribes little different to the Orcs who hunt game in The Wilderness and threaten human settlers. Still rumours abound of Old Races treasure in hidden cities in the interior.

Because of the shortage of Knights and inability to afford a standing army the Grand Duchy contracts swordsman, rogues and mages as Bounty Agents. Licensed to operate in a  particular territory (starting with a barony and building up to the whole Duchy) by the Seeker and Detainers Guild such ‘Sorcerous Dogs’ are contracted to deal with Orcs, rustlers, escaped serfs/slaves, rampaging magical beasts, robbers and all manner of other undesirable elements – being paid on a by results basis.  All such agents have a licence and a embossed shield or broach to confirm their identity. They can also be hired to escort colonists, explorers and sages.

All the players will come from ‘back east’, the old Continent of Aldriech and are foreseen to take up work as Bounty Agents – at least starting off. The idea is the players make up where their character is from within the parameters of a Tech Level 3 society with D&D levels of magic.  Of the 3 mentioned the Norse are 10th century Vikings, the Sordorites are medieval English (or the American version of such with no confusions with Saxons/Normans etc;) and the Imperium is very Roman. A quick paragraph sketch of the society (social structure, religion etc;) the player comes from would be appreciated – of course  a character may reject his societies values entirely which if people expect him to conform to the stereotype could be amusing.   Each society has it’s own tongue but there is also a ‘Common’ tongue most travelled or educated people will speak.

I hope this would produce a good variety between characters while starting of licensed in one area would lead to a nice tapestry of local NPCs being built up which is something I feel missing from the Spy game.

A quick word of religion I see all faiths having a Demiurge figure – a world creator some identify him as their one true god, or father figure of their pantheon or a tyrant who was overtthrown but all agree there was one. I’ve got my reasons.

Ducal Lands

PromiseCity–is the Capital and main entrance port to the Grand Duchy. Residents refer to new colonists as ‘burgers’. All kinds of hustlers will meet people off the ships pitching all manner of jobs such as serfdom in the Earldoms, colonist caravans to the Counties or working in Guild Sweatshops inPromiseCity. Of course, the Seek and Detain Guild won’t be pitching but will have some hard knocks at a desk looking hard.

The remainder of the Ducal lands will be estates held by direct feudal underlings a scattering of Baronies.

Wyvern County

Base for the PCs the south west of the Grand Duchy bordering Nova Republica

Magnus Flumen – border with nova Republica, big river. (or will be so maybe another few Flumen to establish border.

Imperium Security Country file cover sheet

COUNTRY                                :           Grand Duchy of New Sordor

ISSUING DESK                        :           ‘O’ Ommeriech Desk

 

PHYSICAL REASOURCES: Rich fisheries & soil which loses fertility as one progresses inland from the coast but still good pasture for herds.. Silver & other minerals are present in the Magnus mountains The Bluegum mountains mainly produce coal. There is good forestry in the North.

 

SUBSISTENCE PATTERNS: In the coastal provinces (Counties) Manticore & New Midsomer there are mixed economic patterns with farming on a feudal pattern supported by urban craft industries. The Frontier Counties (Wyvern & Sylvania) are more eprimitive dominated by herding supported by small scale agriculture. Slyvania also has a logging industry. Both Surpluses are shipped overseas (including to us) using various mundane & magical preservation techniques.

 

LANGUAGE: Bethantie is the patois, but numerous other tongues are spoken.

 

RELGION: Gods of Bethanyare most commonly worshipped through numerous splintered churches which disagree over the pantheon & obscure theological matters.  Other ethnic groups have brought their own faiths with them.

 

TECHNOLOGY: Equivalent to our own in capability but inferior execution (typical barbarians.)

MAGIC : Equivalent to our own in capability but inferior execution (typical barbarians.)

CLASS SPECIALISATIONS: Coastal Counties have agricultural serfs, an urban class of craftsmen organised into Guild monopolies. The nobility provide military & political leadership.IndependencefromBethany& disestablishment of the Church has resulted in an Administrative vacuum which the Nobles & Ducal family are attempting to fill through recruiting Guild officials.   Frontier Counties have no serfs & settlers form an armed yeoman class.

INTERIOR POLITICS: A feudal state with power & authority cascading from the  Duke down to his Counts & Earls & to the lower nobility.; There are tensions between:

  • The Duke who is trying to centralise power & the most powerful nobles
  • Between Nobles & their inferiors
  • Between the Serfdom Feudalism of theCoastalCounties& theFrontierCountieswith their free yeoman culture.  Namely with Serfs running away to the Frontier Counties.
  • The Frontier ‘independent’ craftsmen free of Guilds & the Guilds.
  • Between different ethnic groups – particularly in the major cities  & on the Frontier
  • ‘Free Ranger’ herdsmen & noble ranchers attempting to hedge off land.
  • Different religious groups.
  • The original Orc inhabitants of the l& & the Human Settlers.
  • Between Orcs resisting settlers & those cohabiting with humans.

EXTERIOR POLITICS: The Duchy has tensions with

  • The rebel scum of the ‘Nova Republica’ over runaway slaves, Ducal subjects settling in the NRprovinceofFlumen& smuggling.
  • Asaratuhiem over ‘viking’ raids on the Duchy & retaliatory attacks
  • The Free Orcish tribes
  • Us.  Migrants leaving the beneficiate & sublime rule of the Emperor for the insecurities & hardships of so called ‘freedom’ tell lies about the Imperium.

MILITARY: A feudal structure. Tactics & strategy is primitive & morale fragile.

 

The campaign failed because of a

  •  combination of a poor system (Mongoose runequest the combat system produced too much dice roling)
  •  player & GM faitgue after a major campaign (Captains of Atlantis)
  • Real Life.
  •  It didn’t help that the ‘Captains crew’ had evolved from a core 2-3 players while this had a group of 5 all trying to get into a new world and a new system.
  • My scenario design was also poor with too much travel and down time and
  • Quite frankly in character design and scenarios I was putting too much onus on the players input which wasn’t fair on them.

It’s  a shame but c’est la vie – I think I will always have a bug for this kind of thing and maybe one day I’ll make it work to my satisfaction in either a game or writing ( cutthroat creeks has also pietered out though I may revisit it as a gaming world .)

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