Tabletop Game: Northern Crown
A d20 System
campaign setting based in an Alternate History
version of 17th century North America, Northern Crown
is based on the idea of mashing together all the folklore and tall tales of the United States with a strange and diverse range of diversions from the normal course of history. Unlike the standard Five Races
option of most fantasy roleplaying games, characters in Northern Crown are all human- though every human culture offers different abilities, many of them explicitly magical in nature.
Two hardcover books detailing the core rules and story of the setting have been published, along with three pdf supplements and an article of bonus content
detailing the rogue state of Vandalia
. Additional supplements said to be in the works failed to materialize
when the sole author became a parent.
This game provides examples of:
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: While the setting definitely runs to the far end of the Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility, many things in the New World are more firmly based in reality. There almost was a real Vandalia.
- Anachronism Stew: In addition to the level of technology, plenty of historic figures exist in Northern Crown's version of the year 1666 who were either long dead or not yet born in the real world. Some of these have been renamed to fit the style— see the Emperor Scientist example below —but others are left unaltered except for their place in time, such as the Shawnee leaders Tecumpease and Tenskwatawa. A few do have explanations given: Felipe II is kept alive through a mix of alchemy and advanced medicine, Gustavus II Adolphus survived the Battle of Lützen, and John Dee is still alive because he's a wizard.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Johnny Appleseed is a powerful cleric, Francis L'Ollonais is a sorcerer.
- The Dark Arts: This is how most cultures perceive Arcane magic as used by the Wizard, Sorcerer, and Witch classes.
- Emperor Scientist: The stand-in for the United States of America, the Republic of Sophia, is governed by Philathelias Jeferson with influence from his tutor Chiron Franklyn, both high level Natural Philosophers. It is explicitly described as "the most technologically advanced power in the known world."
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Both played straight and subverted or averted with the Witchlings, depending on perspective and play: they're not Always Chaotic Evil as the other cultures would have you believe, but their leaders are explicitly stated to be members of the Witch character class, which gets its magical powers from making a Deal with the Devil. However, many witches also choose to twist the infernal origin of their power to good uses.
- Historical-Domain Character: Loads of them, though many have been moved from their appropriate time period, per the setting's Anachronism Stew nature.
- The Imp: A Witch's familiar is actually an imp in disguise, though at higher levels it can take on a Horny Devil form by turning into an erinyes.
- Magical Native American: Played straight, but then there are also Magical Englishmen.
- Magic-Powered Pseudoscience: Natural Philosophy goes from being a period term for experiment-driven sciences to this, though many of the results might be better termed Magic from Technology. It also overlaps at times with:
- Non Sequitur Causality: England is ruled by Elizabeth's half-fairy daughter, a nation of actual witches exists near Puritan New England, and Isaac Newton may have been kidnapped by Laputans.
- Shout-Out: Many, but especially to The Tales of Alvin Maker- characters can have psionic "Knacks", and much of the map seems inspired by Orson Scott Card's vision of a fantasy America.
- Standard RPG Classes: Played around with. While Northern Crown uses many of the base Dungeons & Dragons character classes, it also introduces several new classes (including some that explicitly replace classes deemed inappropriate) that are a better fit for the setting's flavor: Agent, Natural Philosopher, Raider, Rake, Scout, Soldier, and Witch.
- Witch Species: The Witchling culture has overtones of this, though whether they actually develop any magical power beyond some uncannily sharp senses depends entirely on what class they take.