Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Another campaign idea

Saturday, August 4th, 2012 11:55 am
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
[personal profile] gridlore
Just finished the epic history of Byzantium I've been reading. (Spoiler: Constantinople falls at the end. Also, Manuel II Palaiologos was actually Keyser Söze.)

Which led me to consider yet another fun campaign setting.

One of the biggest trade items in Medieval Europe was in holy relics. No monastery or cathedral was complete without a reliquary stuffed with bones, vials of blood, bits of clothing, and other tangible remains of the saints. Constantinople boasted of owning, along with the True Cross, the crown of thorns, Jesus' blood, his robe, three robes worn by the Virgin May, her shoes, and a letter written by Jesus. All of which protected the city. Relics were also placed in charms and in the hilts of weapons to bring the protection of God.

Now, about the Eastern Roman Empire. After centuries of warfare against the Sassanid Empire, both states were shocked by the explosive expansion of Islam in the seventh century. The Persian states simply vanished, while the Byzantines began a centuries-long defense of Europe, slowly losing ground to the Arab states.

Now replace the Islamic states (which in many ways were better organized and better run than their Christian counterparts; witness what the Crusaders did when they entered Jerusalem vs. what the Muslim Army did when they retook the city) with your monstrous horde of choice. Hordes of orcs pouring out of Arabia and seeping over the cities of the Levant and Anatolia. States crumbling overnight, and hordes of refugees fleeing west. Half the empire is lost in a matter of years. This is pretty much what happened in reality.

But rather than the highly organized and empire-minded Muslims, these are monsters. So the ruined cities still hold their treasures, for the most part. More importantly, the abandoned churches probably still hold their relics! The Empire is too weak, and beset by foes to organize a crusade, and the near-barbarians of the West are too fractured and quarreling to come to the aid of the Center of the World.

So it falls to small bands of brave heroes to venture into the lost lands and rescue the lost relics (along with a lot of gold and magic) and maybe eventually lead the Crusade against the dark forces.

One thing I'm not addressing is what cause the monster invasion. Something off-screen, deep in Arabia, caused this massive migration. That can be a late-campaign quest.

What do y'all think?

crossposted to [personal profile] gridlore and [community profile] tabletop


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