Sunday 17 May 2020

Playing in the eras of the Perilous Land

At the end of the Age of Magic, humanity came to Ashta, which came to be known as the Perilous Land. The giants who once ruled the land had been all but destroyed by Queen Mab after her treachery, and Gogmagog the giant emperor was put into an enchanted sleep for centuries. The gods, seeing an imbalance between mundanity and magic in the world, created humans, who turned out to be determined and industrious.

While the default eras of play is at the beginning of the Age of Valour, when the battle between Camelot and its allies against The Black Lance and the Sisters of Le Fay has begun in earnest, there are several other eras that offer different kinds of campaigns.

Dawn of the Age of Humanity

This is a new frontier where much of the Perilous Land lay undiscovered to humans. This is pretty much your points of light setting: towns and cities are being built but there are only four new small kingdoms: Escose, Norhaut, Ascalon and Hutton. Magic is absolutely rife and survival is hard. Knights weren't a thing yet, they were soldiers. Cunning folk were in their infancy and few and far between. But there's a great feeling of determination and hope. Wars aren't really happening, aside from battles between the Unseelie court. The dragons, for the time being are content with their mountain empire and are mere rumours to humanity. This era has a frontier feel to it, bands of people trying to make their way in a harsh world.

The Great Expansion

At the tail end of the Age of Humanity was the Great Expansion where new kingdoms were founded. There was more war and bloodshed between humans as they vied for land dominance, sometimes even making pacts with dark creatures to do this. By this time cunning folk were found in courts and Knights had begun to be created to defend their kingdoms. If you want the players to take a role in shaping the Perilous Land, this is a good time for it.

The Age of Camelot

After Constantine had died, Uther became king before he was ready. He was young and reckless, but had to prove himself. The most exciting part of this era for stories is the lead up to the Dragonwar against the dragon Xeran and the subsequent war. Xeran demanded taxes from Uther as an easy way to gain treasure, bit when Uther denied him his riches many villages in Camelot were set ablaze by the dragon. After this, Uther gave in and agreed to the tax, leading to Camelot becoming increasingly poorer. In this era, players could easily be refugees from dragon attacks looking to scrape a living. They could be members of Uther's court as they hatch plans to destroy Xeran. They could help Uther get the enchanted shield Pridwen and the blade White Hilt which would be used to slay Xeran.

The Age of Doom

With Camelot flourishing and Uther a hero king, something had to go wrong. Uther is killed by a young Morgan le Fay, his illegitimate son Arthur pulls the sword from the stone to become king (leading to massive disquiet in Camelot) and the Knights of the Round Table are formed as a response to the growing attacks from magical creatures around the Perilous Land. The balance had swayed too far in humanity's favourite and now it was swinging back to darkness. This was the dawn of questing and the proliferation of witchcraft in the land. During this time people aren't keen on Arthur, so he faces as many struggles within his kingdom as without. This era is perfect for hack and slash monster hunting or political intrigue. There's treachery in Arthur's court and Mordred would betray him. You have the start of the Black Lance in its infancy - cells of spies throughout Camelot who look to bring down the king. Players could be a group of spyhunters weeding out the rot in Camelot, or they could be original Knights of the Round as they're just getting started.

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