Lion & Dragon by Rpg Pundit has always been more then the sum of its parts for me. The hard back book hasn't left my gaming collection box of 'must use' rpg books since it came out . The Lion & Dragon system itself its own flavor of OSR D20 system that does the 'Rose War' history & adventure events quite well. Here the player's can not only change history but forge their own. The NPC's even the important one's are not only murderable but the back stage cloak & dagger intrigues make this a definitive possibility.
Dark Albion is the OSR 'Rose War ' historical setting book that has lots of goodies for a D&D Retro clone system think Swords & Wizardry here. But Lion & Dragon certainly has all of the bells & whistles for actually role playing in the historical era. What caused the Rose War?! Well the usual 'Game of Thrones' style history ; "One of the first causes of the Wars of the Roses was the precedent that stealing the throne of England by war and murder was an acceptable strategy for a future king. Henry IV of England (previously known as Henry Bolingbroke, r. ... 1066-1087 CE) in 1066 CE, had any king won his throne by murdering the incumbent monarch."
Why would you as a player make a PC for this era?! Why not is a better question. The Lion & Dragon book contains all of the PC classes, ritual magic, alchemy, demons, & more to spin out a very solid campaign. Dark Albion adds in tons of events, maps, & even adventure hooks to get the campaign off of the ground.
The English Civil War was the center of the universe as far as the fate of the throne of England according to the wiki entry it had all of the trappings of something very ugly indeed; "The power struggle ignited around social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years' War, unfolding the structural problems of bastard feudalism, combined with the mental infirmity and weak rule of King Henry VI which revived interest in the House of York's claim to the throne by Richard of York. Historians disagree on which of these factors was the main reason for the wars.
Framed print, "Plucking the Red and White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens" after the original 1910 fresco painting by Henry Albert Payne (British, 1868-1940) based upon a scene in Shakespeare's Henry VI, the original in the Palace of Westminster and a later similar painting by Payne in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, this print marked "copyright 1912 in London & Washington by "The Fine Art Publishing Co., Ltd. London", sight: 20.25"h, 21"w, overall: 27"h, 27.5"w, 9.25lbs.
The PC's can quite literally hold the keys to the kingdom but their social standing,background, and more are going to influence but not necessarily determine the fate of England herself. This isn't the England you know though,. Because of the events of the Civil War there's all kinds of supernatural elements vying to take apart the empire at its most vulnerable. The forces of Chaos herself lurk in the gaming system of the Lion & Dragon rpg & in the back lots of Dark Albion. Its here that Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos blows away the dust, rotten core, & deep weirdness of the cults themselves. The secrets of the cults of chaos are laid bare & there are even options for the PC's to play inquisitors or possibly cult members themselves.
Finally there's the RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 from Spectre Press which is the Lion & Dragon rpg equivalent of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition's Unearthed Arcana. RPGPundit Presents: The Old School Companion 1 collects the first fifty 'Rpg Pundit Presents' issues of support material for Lion & Dragon or any OSR system for that matter into one collected whole.
There's lots & lots of tools for the OSR dungeon master in all of these books & I've used em quite well in other OSR & old school rpg settings. All of the Dark Albion books & Lion & Dragon books I've used to dramatic & damaging effect in of all things Gary Gygax's Greyhawk. From the ritual magic to the PC classes everything in both Lion & Dragon rpg line & Dark Albion fits Greyhawk as campaign very nicely. It allows the DM to run a lower tier & quite gritty Greyhawk with the known campaign rules acting quite a bit differently but the material being eerily familiar in my experience.
There's a cheapness to life in this altered version of Greyhawk, the social standing rules become much more pronounced, the dangers are ever present, & the whole affair feels very much an Oerth waiting to erupt in the flames of war. All of this with the dungeon delving still in the heart of Greyhawk.
- Ritual magic becomes so much more in this Greyhawk & wizards have to watch their steps. The magic guilds become a necessity.
- Greyhawk's royals have become very vulnerable to both the assassin's blade & the wars of the Flaeness.
- There are tons of incidents of Chaos festering in the near & far corners of Greyhawk
- Many of the most well known dungeons suddenly become incredibly deadly.
- The politics of Oerth lend themselves to the social strata much more readily.
- The feel of Greyhawk changes to a much dark & far more Medieval campaign turn. Factions now gain the upper hand & kings are very dangerous indeed.
- The powers of the Flaeness are suddenly at each other's throat & many well known artifacts take on a new meaning & light.
- T1 The Village of Hommlet becomes the hot bed for a very dangerous supernatural slice of misery.
- Cults of Chaos among the underworld of Greyhawk also turn the volume up to eleven
- Greyhawk takes on a dark & gritty menace that it was meant too. Not new & improved but simply different & dangerous.