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Scenario Idea: Once Upon a Time in Vinland

Following my post on a fantasy western background I had a discussion with an old mate rgarding a potential historical/pseudo-historical scenario which would go something like this:

  • Characters would be a the household retainers of a minor landowner in Iceland – at some point in the past they killed a rival.’ ?(This may be a prologue scenario the conflict coming out of soemthign routed in the real world.)
  • The Wizards son was a bright scholar destined for the church and has been sent off to the Unversity in Paris (also a centre of hermatic/occult learning. – things you learn from tapes of Magnus Magnusson’s Tales of Viking Times you got as a nipper.)
  • The First portion of the scenario is the return of the son, skilled in archane law and escorted by exotic muscle (former templars and teutonic knights) he will kill their headman (possibly off camera) which will set the player-characters on the quest for revenge,
  • The Wizard has left, for his own occult reasons, for Vinland (the Viking colony in North America) via Greenland with the players in pursit

Now their are a number of different tropes and influences that can play into this:

  • Is the magic reason for the quest to the frozen north somehing to do with Clark Ashton Smith’s  (CAS) occult pre-history empire of Hyperborea and the worship of the toad god Tsathoggua.
  • Whether unconnected or instrinic to that could the quest lead the characters to Edger Rice Burrough’s ‘Land that time forgot.’ (Is a dinsoaur part needed for whatever magics the Wizard is after having avenged hiis father.)
  • Does another relic of some sort belong to a Viking village in Vinland requiring the players to help defend it to foil his plan (Magnificent Seven.)
  • Once in Vinland will the Wizard call upon sympathetic skraelings (native people, perhaps North American Voormis (from CAS fiction)) to protect him with echoes of the 13th Warrior ?
  • What is the Wizard’s goal in Vinland – a ‘classic’ Call of Cthulhu scenario type quest for world domination? Or is it to cast magics enabling the establishment of a ‘secret empire’ with him dominationg events behind the scene (if the players ‘fail’ that could lead into a campaign set in an other era.)

Just a few thoughts with other demands this won’t see light of play for many a month (year?) but it feels good to get a few ideas out here in my virtual commonplace book.

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One comment on “Scenario Idea: Once Upon a Time in Vinland

  1. Ah, this is one of my favourite ideas. I picked up rumours of mentions of Vinland and more specifically Baffin Island and the North-West passage region being mentioned as home to a powerful sorceror in a lesser known saga (I can’t remember which one). I loved the idea of Medieval PCs pushing to the very limits of what is known and possible to reach. It would be literally a trip into the unknown. It would also allow some wonderfully evocative sessions based in greenland in the dying colonies there. I was thinking it might be set in the declining years, as the little ice age started to take a grip.

    In my rough thoughts on this the PCs would start in Iceland and have to pick up the trail. This would lead them to Greenland, but a Greenland that is foundering: rarely visited anymore and increasingly hard to reach due to the growing amount of sea ice clogging the shorelines. Various investigations there, possibly involving the debased remnants of the Catholic clergy, would lead them to set off west again to semi-mythical lands to track down their adversary.

    I like the Cthulu mythos link ins here. As well as Tsathoggua, Ithaqua would be an obvious one. There are also various cryptid artic beasts that could be incorporated and why not steal the ice wraiths from Skyrim? I was personally tempted to run this straight. It would be a straight up Medieval quest with all the hardships and incredible risk of going to the Arctic islands of Canada in the 15th century. The wizard might be no more than a myth or a cypher, someone to blame for the terrible climatic breakdown of Greenland and the terminal spiral of decline of the poor Greenland Norse. Or it might be a real person but no more than an eccentric or innocent. This would be a more grim and dark interpretation.

    Alternatively it could be high fantasy with snow wyrms breathing frost breath at the Viking heroes as they try to slay the evil wizard. The adventure could include the odd dungeon, say Greenland burial barrows, labyrinthine chambers beneath an Icelandic volcano, ice mazes in Baffin Island. The PCs could be full-on Norse heroes with magic warhammers and gods as antagonists or allies.

    It could even be transported into space, sic-fi Vikings pushing to the very boundaries of known space to track a techno-savant to a planet on the very edge of the range of human ships in largely uncharted space.

    Another line which occured to me was to mix in the Templars and their alleged trip to bring the Grail to America, away from the clutches of their enemies. This could be the link to the wizard who is in league with the Temple and is abetting their flight to New England. It might alternatively be set after the death of the colonies, following some clues to search for this lost wizard and picking through the ruins of the dead Norse settlements.

    It is a region ripe with possibilities, the peripheral settlements clinging on for dear life in the increasing cold and deepening isolation as the trading vessels from Europe dwindle away to nothing.

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