Friday, March 10, 2017

Their Finest Hour- A Historic Setting for the Victoriana RPG

As the name suggests, the Victorian era is what the Victoriana RPG is all about. Coaches, classes, and crumpets aside, the idea of putting fantasy tropes next to historic fact is brilliant. The heroic whimsy of folklore and fantasy combines with all of human history giving Gamemasters a never ending supply of story ideas and setting inspiration. This makes me wonder what happens when we take the world of Victoriana and move forward in time. What parts spark character ideas and adventure, or mismatch into uncomfortable juxtapositions? This series of posts takes the Victoriana RPG to another key time in history: The Battle of Britain.

“But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.”
- Winston Churchhill, June 18, 1940

During the summer of 1940, German forces overran the European mainland. The British army evacuated Eastern Europe at Dunkirk, France surrendered on Jun 21, and the United States of America watched and waited. Hitler’s blitzkrieg swarmed across nine countries and the British Isles were next. Confident of their air superiority, Hitler tasked the Luftwaffe with demoralizing and destroying Britain’s ability to continue the war, clearing the path for Operation Sea Lion: the Nazi plan to invade of the British Isles.

From 1940-1941 Great Britain suffered bombing of an intensity never seen before. Day and night, German bombers poured destruction onto industrial, military, and civilian targets. Frenetic dogfights between Messerschmitts and Hurricanes filled the skies, while civilians below doggedly held on to their daily lives. In London alone, bombs reduced over one million houses to rubble and craters. They held on, surviving through privations, destruction, fear, and isolation giving the Nazi forces their first major defeat. 

The scope of World War Two and the heroism of the Battle of Britain makes a great setting by itself. Adding the fantasy elements and adapting Victoriana’s rule mechanics for the Battle of Britain will be an enormous job, but I plan to keep it down to six or seven posts for now. This is just an experiment to see what happens when we move Victoriana ahead ninety years. I’m not sure how deep into the fantasy end of the pool I want to take it. Or how much steam punk flavoring, or rather diesel punk flavoring does a modern war need? Are there Nazi dragons burning down London, and giant gas powered robots activating to come to Britain’s defense?

World War Two understandably has a host of games dedicated to it. A conflict on a global scale has plenty of room for a variety of adventures and themes. The horror, secret history, superheroes, and even strictly historical sides have already been very thoroughly covered by other games, but I don’t think it’s been treated as a fantasy setting yet. Cubicle7 (the owner of the Victoriana RPG line) has a supplement for World War Cthulhu depicting London during the Blitz, so if this idea sounds good, you can preorder a copy here.

In the next few weeks I’ll continue “Their Finest Hour” looking at the sorts of characters you could play in this setting, whether or not the class rules still belong, and the associations possible for adventuring parties. Later on, I’ll talk about the types of adventures this setting opens up in Great Britain, and the European mainland.

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