In April of 2017 I started playing in a Epic6 campaign being run by the ever excellent Z. We’ve known each other for over 15 years and been playing RPGs together for about half that time. One of us usually ends up as GM because… well, you know how it goes. Z has his own reasons for running the E6 variant, but I am especially enjoying it because the simple modifications to the 3.5e ruleset keep the game from taking the typical D&D3.5 leap into a game of superheroes. Not that I have a problem with superheroes, but if I want to play a superhero game I’ll get a group of friends together and play some Mutants and Masterminds. Which will likely last two sessions before we either give up or encounter our own versions of kryptonite. I’m playing D&D because I want a well-tested game system to provide a common framework for an adventure in the vein of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, or Beowulf.
The setting is completely home-brew. I’ll leave it to Z to explain the details (he has suggested that he might want to start a blog or series of GitP posts about it), but in the few sessions we’ve had the story has become so wild that I decided that I have to document it. Moreover, I’m really enjoying the character that I play, so I’ve decided to document events in character.
This campaign takes place in an alternate history sometime around the third century AD. Rome is at the height of its power around much of the Mediterranean and Europe. The Celts are resisting occupation in the north. A monotheistic faith based on the teachings of a carpenter is picking up steam and beginning to spread out from the middle-east.
Oh, and the Greeks and Egyptians are still as powerful as ever, thanks to their wielding of divine power. It’s easier to resist Roman occupation when you have manticores on your side or can plead to your god-king to send snakes to bite your enemies.
Our adventure began in Northern Europe, somewhere around modern day Denmark or Belgium. The game is entirely sandbox, with at least four major factions all pursuing their own goals. As players, we can choose to grab on to plot hooks and try to effect the course of history, or simply ride the fiery roller coast of murder-hobo into the apocalypse while wondering where the sun has gone.
If you’ve ever played an RPG before, you might be able to guess what choices we’ve made thus far.
Your narrator for this adventure will be…
Gundahar 👑 the Learned
Gundahar 👑 is a viking prince.
Well, technically he should be a viking king, but his cruel uncles deposed him and send him into exile.
OK, if we want to be technical about it, Gundahar 👑 might have read one too many treatises on the art of warfare and listened to too many epic myths about the powers of Thor and Loki, then taken the wrong lessons from all of it. Gundahar 👑 is brilliant, but not especially wise, so when he stages a coup to depose his father, older brother, and older sister, he doesn’t plan for every other member of the royal clan banding against him. He’s the Odin-blessed hero of his own legend, damn it, and he’ll be dragged down to Hel by a frost giant before he takes the blame for his failure.
As you’ve probably noted: I just use my own character sheet in a Pages document. I’ve found that I make mistakes in math, statistics, etc. even when I use an official character sheet. I’m not what you might call a power gamer. In that whole GNS Theory of role-playing games, I fall solidly into the Narrative camp. I won’t actively cheat at a game, and I do try to learn the rules so that I don’t continually annoy the more Game and Simulation focused players, but my objective in playing RPGs is to have fun with friends and tell a good story. I’d probably have just as much fun playing a good board game and reading a book, but RPGs let me scratch both itches simultaneously.
Gundahar 👑 will narrate the story in weekly updates for as long as he survives. In the event of his death, I will try to convince the other players to bring him back or, failing that, convince Z to let him return as a zombie, or a messenger of the gods, or some such crazy thing. All else failing, I’ll create a new character and continue the story from their viewpoint.
Don’t expect deep character development or dialogue. I’m updating this story as a hobby between writing my novels, learning Swift, and teaching middle school English. What you can expect is a madcap adventure told in brief posts of about 3 pages per week.
The tale will be told by an incredibly unreliable narrator, so if you actually know me (or are playing in the game), then don’t be surprised if I’m not always accurate to the events around the table. Gundahar 👑 is in every sense the hero of his own adventure and his only quest is to stay alive long enough to gain magical powers and retake his throne. And even the “stay alive” is negotiable, so long as he receives sufficient power to become the undead king of the vikings.