Monday, March 13, 2017

Some Thoughts On Dark Albion, Alice In Wonderland, EX1Dungeonland & EX2 Beyond The Magic Mirror As Old School Campaign Setting Set Up

So today I got a chance to crack open Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos; I looked into the War of The Roses a bit more closely today. One of the defining things of the conflict was the fact that both sides gained & lost the advantage multiple times. This basically puts the action of the War of the Roses center stage for the entire conflict. But center stage for whom? We'll get to that in a moment.

"The Wars of the Roses saw the Yorks and Lancasters play musical chairs with the English throne. Richard, Duke of York nearly unseated the Lancastrian King Henry VI in 1460, only to be killed in battle a few months later. York’s son Edward IV, meanwhile, crushed the Lancasters in battle and claimed the throne before being briefly deposed in 1470. He quickly won back his kingship and ruled for several years of relative peace, but his sudden death in 1483 launched yet another period of infighting that saw his heirs murdered and the Yorkist Richard III and the Lancastrian Henry Tudor both elbow their way into power. "
From Nine Things You Should Know About The War of the Roses
But really how deep does the rabbit hole go? Well, in Dark Albion there's blood split across Dark Europe because of the War. This means that there are multiple echoes going across the channel as things progress. We know that both sides did lots of risky things, this leads to all kinds of murder & betrayal at every level especially at the base of the PC's trail. This gives a strange dreamlike quality to certain events of the Dark Albion timeline which mirrors real history. A quality that I've talked about before concerning E.Gygax's EX1 Dungeonland & The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror . 


This is because Alice in Wonderland is a dark reflection of the conflict of the War of the Roses. Things & events are echoes across far different planes, these are partial planes. These are ares of chaos & fairy. Why because Alice in Wonderland is meant to be a satire of the War of the Roses. 
If we reference these modules & begin to look deeper it becomes apparent that they could mirror certain dangerously odd esoteric themes the same as those of  The War of The Roses. According to Wiki;
"Over the course of the adventure, the PCs run into variations of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland creatures and characters, presented in a Dungeons and Dragons style. For instance, instead of the Mock Turtle, a Mock Dragon Turtle is present. The March Hare is a lycanthrope, and so on.The point of the adventure seems to be diversion and novelty more than anything else." But novelty for whom? The answer is right in front of us the whole time. The answer is because the Elves have been playing favorites all this time, this is because they've been playing one side against the other and two sides against the middle throughout the War of the Roses. Why? Because it amuses them perhaps, or  Dungeonland or should I say fairyland has always been one of their prized purview locations. How can I say this? Because mirrors, keys, & gates are their stock & trade. Their influence has been with mankind since the beginning in Dark Albion and their cults of chaos are even more dangerous & murderous as the war plays out in history or during a campaign.

The weird  & dangerous aspect of the Elves or the Elven rulers in Dark Albion should not be under estimated. They are fickle, dangerous, murderous, and ancient beyond anything the PC's have encountered before. EX 1 & EX2 could be their playgrounds now abandoned with the 'toys' that they created still in play or they could be simply tossed aside for the moment. I think that the cults of the Elves might be taking advantage of these fairyland locations & trying to turn them to their advantage in Dark Albion.

So when we're speaking of the Elves of Dark Albion we're speaking of the long game. The type of long game where moves happen at the speed of thousands of years. Surely there couldn't be that many players of such games except the gods themselves? Well not really. There are other immortal highly alien players already within the OSR. I'm speaking of Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg system book A Red & Pleasant Land. "Dream planes that while based on human myth & legend are far more dangerous & totally alien then players were expecting. Once again here the idea can be to take the familiar motifs, tropes, legends,etc of mythology, folk lore, and fairytales then turn it into a balloon animal like creation for adventure fodder".  This is true but what can also be happening is that Rose War is a wild & chaotic part of the 'Slow War' of the Red & Pleasant Land setting. The PC's could very quickly find themselves as vampires or worse under the circumstances. A cure could be around the corner in wilds of darkest Russia or the surrounding lands. This puts another bloody chess piece on the border of Dark Europe.

There's an old saying of one of my history professors when it came to the War of the Roses, 'So goes England so goes Europe'. The War of the Roses was the fight for the heart & soul of England  and this is also true of the PC's. The supernatural heart is up for grabs and anyone can sit on the Throne. That's one of the great things about Dark Albion as a D&D setting, the tale isn't over yet. And what about the 'Alice'? Is he or she the wild card in the deck of the War of the Roses? Well that is up to you but when it comes to claiming their domains there are others already in those positions so how will your PC's claim their seats at the table? Next time through the looking glass.

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