Thursday, November 10, 2011
The Mug of Annwn
I just had a dream which involved a pretty neat game idea in an excellent format. While shopping in a dusty antique-store-cum-Goodwill I came across a mug from the 70s with a D&D clone printed on it. The game was fairly simple, about four columns of text, with enough space left over for a weird (unrelated?) woodcut-like picture of a menacing steam engine pointing pneumatic cannons at people on an Edwardian streetcar track. (Have at it, Freud.) The game seemed to be about some Romano-British era soldiers having gone through a gate (possibly the Ninth Gate) in search of allies in their war against barbarians and bandits in their land. Coming back (I guess) with their original twenty-plus force, two archers, and a 'Knight in a divers war' (or something like that) a Lewisian-Merlin-type figure known as Cael, Caeal or Caelus. I think that means someone gets to play a magic-user, but he's, like, A Big Deal, or is a resource the players can only draw upon via negotiation with the GM. What followed that was a pretty opaque set of stats and level modifiers (you got HP and things but I don't know what it said about using them) and then twenty or forty-odd adventure ideas, stuff about drowned churches in a lake and Loch Ness and stuff. It all had very English tone, like the original Dragon Warriors books.
Anyway, here's a rough outline. It might be fun to work up some character creation rules, maybe in True20 or a microlite version of something.
Characters are part of a loose warband of two-dozen fighters in 6th century Albion, trained in sword, shield, spear and bow, who follow the advice and auguries of a spiritual being or mystic Druid named Caelas.
The band is tasked with defending the realm from the strange forces that seep out of Annwn or Anaon, the Otherworld, a misty realm with many wonders beyond it. Among these forces are:
-The Hounds of Arawn, who hunt the Borderlands between worlds.
-The great serpent, with men's souls tortured in the folds of it's flesh.
-The Host-Bearer, a great beast with a hundred heads and a massive maw who spews goblins from it's neck and under it's tongue.
-The great frog-beast, with a hundred claws and a black groin.
-The great boar, who bears sticks and spears and claws in it's hide from the numerous people who have tried to kill it.
-Giants, who live in Roman ruins reclaimed by the mists.
-Beautiful and life-hungry maidens, the secret aristocracy of the barrow-realms.
Other mortals fight for control of Albion, too:
The Saxons and their brutal ways, conquering, enslaving and sacrificing to their hungry spirits.
The Gaulish Romans and their lost glories, sending sainted emissaries to bend local churches to Rome's will.
The Picts and their strange rites, raiding from the high northern lands, allies of the courts of Annwn
Even among the Britons, there are lone, elf-touched warriors who train in abandoned churches and ruins and treasure-hungry warlords of rival bands.