Things I Learnt about How to Present a Historical Fantasy RPG using OpenQuest Recently

A couple of months ago, I re-edited and brought up to date Paul Mitchener’s Ancient Roman OpenQuest adventure Non Semper Erit Aestas (or “It will not always be Summer”). It’s set in the immediate aftermath of Emperor Nero’s death, the Roman Rhineland, here’s Paul’s quick pitch for it.

In the year 68AD, the Roman Empire is torn apart from civil war, and the Empire’s defences are drastically weakened, in particular those on the Rhine frontier. The player characters are Vigilis Nocturni — special agents of the Empire who investigate hidden threats, both mundane and supernatural. Both types of threats threaten the local capital of Colonia Agrippina, and the player characters are the only ones who can prevent it from falling to barbarians and foul sorcery.

Editing it was quite an enlightening process and I learnt the following things about Paul’s approach to Historical RPGs from it.

  • Not everyone goes around armed to the teeth or laden with equipment and treasure.
  • Weapons and armour are more of a status symbol.
  • Magic is not as prevalent as standard OQ. In Paul’s adventure, only Priests and dedicated cult members get magic, even Personal Magic.
  • Deities can be in the physical world and encountered as creatures.
  • That historical fact can form the backdrop for events in the adventure, but the future is not certain, and the player character’s actions do lead to meaningful changes to the timeline.

I have no plans to make this available in print because Paul will be using it as the basis of a standalone game, set in the Ancient Roman period known as the Age of the Four Emporers, powered by OpenQuest in the new year. More about that here, as it progresses.