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BRP Narnia?


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My wife recently said she'd role-play with me if I could come up with a Narnia-based campaign, something she'd consider kid-friendly. After pondering the books by C.S. Lewis, it occurs to me that BRP might be good fit. The protagonists (player-characters) aren't movie action heroes or superheroes, they're normal people -- even the mythological ones. They typically avoid or outsmart enemies rather than going toe-to-toe with them. Combat, when it occurs, is as gritty and dangerous as a BRP fan could desire. Defeating a warrior, wild animal, or giant serpent is a major achievement. Taking out a dragon, giant, or sea serpent may not be possible. And many of the potential PC non-human races and animals are already in the Big Gold Book, the Mongoose RuneQuest SRD, and Basic Creatures -- just roll INT normally for talking animals instead of using the fixed stat for regular beasts. Also, Narnia characters defy D&D style classifications and don't "level up," although they do improve somewhat with experience. Overall, it seems a good match.

What do you think?

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Narnia is an excellent fit for BRP.

Combat seems very basic with no special effects, which BRP can do standing on its head.

Most Narnian creatures are, as you say, based on real world creatures or standard mythological creatures. Using 3D6 INT for talking creatures is easy.

Magic might be a little bit trickier. There is Sorcery of some kind, but few people can use it. Spells seem to be stored in rarely found spell books and are of very variable strength/power. You'd have to write the spells up or not give them to PCs.

There are magic items, but these appear to be one-off things. Healing potions, magical swords, magical bows, warning horns and so on. They should be easy to write up.

Powerful people might cause a problem. The White Queen should be an ultra-powerful sorceress. Aslan doesn't really need stats as he is basically unkillable and only appears as a plot device.

If you play real world people/children in Narnia then you would need to have some kind of character generation for them, without many high skills. They would start as beginning characters. If you allowed Narnians as PCs then they would have a fantasy-based character generation, possibly with high skills.

But, you should be able to run a Narnia campaign using the maps in the books and a bit of handwaving.

Edited by soltakss

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 


Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Magic might be a little bit trickier. There is Sorcery of some kind, but few people can use it. Spells seem to be stored in rarely found spell books and are of very variable strength/power. You'd have to write the spells up or not give them to PCs.

There are magic items, but these appear to be one-off things. Healing potions, magical swords, magical bows, warning horns and so on. They should be easy to write up.

Powerful people might cause a problem. The White Queen should be an ultra-powerful sorceress. Aslan doesn't really need stats as he is basically unkillable and only appears as a plot device.

Thanks for the input. Your suggestions are helpful. I was planning to skip trying to use a magic system and keep magical effects as atmosphere or GM fiat. In the Narnia-verse, good guys (aka the player-characters) for the most part don't sling spells; with a couple minor exceptions, magic users are NPC villains like the White Witch or the Lady of the Green Kirtle.

Edited by seneschal
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One thing that I think would be neat is to somehow incorporate the Pendragon Traits system and tie it to some sort of power system. Skim it down a bit to five or six pairs and allow for a successful check to augment a roll, bumping it up a success level or something. I haven't put much thought into it yet so I'm not sure how it might work. Succeeding at the good traits should bring good characters a bonus. Heck, maybe succeeding at bad traits gives bad characters a bonus. Maybe it works so that when a trait is just average there's no bonus. Once it starts floating to the extreme, one way or the other, the character starts wracking up bonuses on their roles.

Thing is, I agree that over all Narnia's a pretty 'gritty' world. There is a sense of the extraordinary that comes through though, and it's not always necessarily tied to overt magic or mysterious items or creatures. A lot of the heroism comes when the characters are being moral (and a lot of the complications come when the characters are being immoral).

Just some thoughts. I've wanted to run in Narnia for a long time now. I hope it works out for you!


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Here's some of the notes I've been compiling as I think through the campaign. Hope they're helpful.

General guidelines, based on The Chronicles of Narnia:

Morality is black-and-white. Heroes honor and obey the laws of Aslan, son of the Emperor Over the Sea. Villains don’t. No excuses, you’re responsible for your choices. When talking animals transgress Aslan’s law, they risk losing their intelligence and becoming mere beasts.

Narnia is a magical land of talking animals and mythological creatures but good guys don’t use magic, which is a usurpation of the power of the Emperor Over the Sea. There are rare exceptions, but magic-wielders are generally evil (e.g., Jadis of Charn, The Lady of the Green Kirtle). Narnia requires a human king to provide order and protection for the talking animals (since humans introduced evil there) but men are a distinct minority, not more than 1/5th or 20% of the population at most..

Player-characters (the heroes) tend to be normal human outsiders, either from Earth or the fringes of society. Possible non-human PC races include talking (usually mammalian or avian) animals, centaurs, dwarves, fauns, marsh wiggles. In the movies, good-guy minotaurs and antelope-men are possible. Nymphs and wood gods, while important to Narnian society, are too tied to one location to make good adventurers.

Talking animals have human-level intelligence and possess the advantages and limitations of their various species. Large sentient animals are typically smaller than their bestial cousins (elephants, bears) while small sentient animals are usually much larger (rodents, rabbits, hedgehogs). Small animals may be swifter and more agile than humans but are more fragile. Quadrupeds (horses, deer) may be strong and swift but lack manipulative appendages. Carnivores have their claws and hunting instincts but may not eat intelligent prey.

Narnian creatures that wouldn’t make good PCs include wood gods and nymphs (too tied to one location), giants (too powerful, too bulky), Duffers (too dumb). Minotaurs and deer-men appear as heroes in the movies but are clearly bad guys in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Villains tend to be scheming would-be conquerors or evil magicians. Evil creatures include typical fantasy monsters from Greek mythology and European folklore – giants, hags, werewolves, bad dwarves, wolves, dragons, sea serpents, etc., nothing too exotic or bizarre.

Human groups include Narnians (the royal family and retainers, inhabitants of the Lone Islands), Archenlanders (from a friendly human kingdom south of Narnia), Telmarines (pirate invaders who took over Narnia for a time), and Calormen (citizens of a Persia-like empire beyond the southern desert). Human society is generally feudal and medieval, Iron Age technology. No mechanical gadgets exist, and magic items are extremely rare gifts from Aslan.

Outsiders can stumble into Narnia if Aslan wills it, usually to enable them to complete a specific quest. The gates between Narnia and Earth are gradually closing. Earth outsiders return home at the exact moment they left. Thousands of years may have passed if they happen to stumble back into Narnia since time flows at different rates in the two worlds.

There are other beings and civilizations in and beneath Narnia and in the sea, each doing their own thing and usually unconcerned about Narnian affairs. There are also multiple worlds, accessible via the Wood Between the Worlds. Charn, home world of Jadis, the White Witch, was one of these. Visiting and interfering with worlds other than Narnia is discouraged by Aslan.

It is implied that there is a whole lot more going on than the books tell us, and that the world Narnia is part of is bigger than what we’ve been shown. C.S. Lewis’ novels provide brief slices of Narnian history, usually crises when outside human intervention was needed. There are indications that whole civilizations, human and otherwise, have risen and fallen over the course of the seven novels, but the blanks were never filled in.

One necessary difference between the books and a role-playing campaign – the player-characters in a RPG session can’t depend on Aslan to always bail them out at the last minute. He may give purpose, guidance, and occasional aid but he won’t guarantee that the PCs’ failures and mistakes won’t be fatal. The Silver Chair and The Last Battle demonstrated that the good guys could fail and could die. The other books contained many near-disasters, even when Aslan was present. The characters’ responsibility to do his will, to do their best to do the right thing, even if it costs them their lives.

Typical “Missions” From the Books:

Sit on the four thrones of an ancient castle to fulfill a prophesy and end endless winter

Help the rightful king of Narnia defeat his scheming uncle

Find seven exiled Telmarine lords

Rescue a missing prince

Warn Narnia of a pending invasion

Retrieve an apple from a distant, holy garden

Help the king of Narnia against a false Aslan

The Ages of Narnia:

Age of Innocence – Narnia protected by King and by sacred apple tree. Monsters are few, rival human kingdoms are small and distant, but the exiled White Witch is scheming in the northern wilderness. (The Magician’s Nephew)

The Long Winter – The White Witch rules conquered Narnia with an iron hand and the aid of evil creatures. It is always winter, never Christmas, talking animals are oppressed by the Witch’s secret police. Monsters and evil animals are common. (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

Golden Age – Ruled by the two kings and two queens, Narnia has a period of prosperity, international trade, exploration, and growing world influence. Foreign princes come to court the queens as they grow up. Monsters and evil creatures are driven into the northern wilderness, and the northern giant kingdoms sue for peace. (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy)

Telmarine Supremacy – Pirate invaders from Earth have conquered Narnia, set up a human kingdom, and driven the talking animals into hiding. Mythological creatures have become dormant. Militaristic society, lots of political intrigue. Monsters are rare, but the Telmarine’s superstitions limit their explorations inland. Encounters with “Old Narnians” are rare. Narnians tend to be suspicious of and hostile toward humans. (Prince Caspian)

Second Golden Era – Under Caspian X and his son, Narnia regains peace, prestige and prosperity. New exploration, expanded trade, Narnian navy founded. (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair)

The Final Days – Lulled by long peace and Aslan’s absence, Narnians are fooled by a fake Aslan and oppressed by his ape “prophet.” Calormen “allies” finally successfully invade Narnian soil and capture the King. (The Last Battle)

Adventure Ideas, Brainstorming:

Giant invasion – Wars between the northern giants and Narnia are referred to in the books; characters must detect or forestall such an invasion.

Calormene assassins – Southern agents seek to kill the kings of Narnia or Archenland as part of some larger scheme to annex the north. The PCs battle a foreign secret service/secret society.

Naval excursions against pirates or slavers – Narnian slaves prized by the southern empire, player-characters must enforce King Caspian’s ban on the slave trade.

Here Come the Telmarines – Advent of the Telmarine pirates/invaders. PCs seek to fend off coastal raiders, prevent pirate settlers from getting a toehold on Narnia. Perhaps the campaign could evolve from the naval excursions campaign above.

Explore the Lantern Waste – It is part of Narnia but little travelled. What lurks there other than an otherworldly lamppost?

Yet Another Witch – Heroes have opposed the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle. Is yet another magician would-be conqueror waiting in the wings?

Mop up – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe says the White Witch’s army scattered and it took a long time to hunt down all the monsters. The PCs are part of the mop-up crew, locating and eliminating evil hold-outs.

Conquest of the Lone Islands – There are three, Felimath, Doorn, and Avra. Main population is on Doorn, Felimath is mostly uninhabited. Added to Narnia during reign of White Witch, origin never explained.


At this point, my wife wants to be a Xena-esque centaur lady, my daughter wants to play a warrior mouse, and my son wants to be Father Christmas (and thus avoid the gritty combat). If the campaign comes off, "Nicholas Kringle, Christmas Corps., Retired" will probably be an Obi Wan Kenobi type able to tell who's been naughty and nice, possess kick-butt quarterstaff skills with his holly staff, and (perhaps) be able to teleport (limitation: only through flues and chimneys).

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I know some of our RuneQuest veterans despise the use of miniatures in their games but my wife, a role-playing newbie, specifically asked for this Narnia campaign after viewing miniatures wargaming at our local game shop. She and the kids have trouble flexing their imaginations without props but she thought the fantasy miniatures armies and damaged medieval buildings were cool. She said she'd play if I could provide the set pieces and character minis she'd admired. My wife also asked, "How come they're just playing? Your games always have so much talking." Apparently she doesn't get the concept just yet that role-playing involves more than just combat. Previously, I'd run Mazes and Minotaurs and Mini Six superheroes sessions for her and the kids using minimal minis, no maps, and creating terrain on the fly out of stuff that happened to be on the kitchen table. The minimalist approach always worked for my Champions and Traveller groups back in high school and college, but my spouse and kids are very visual.

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Lewis has come in for some stick from folks like Phillip Pullman, but Pullman's criticism is both ignorant and false:


Don't forget to put a marsh-wiggle in your scenarios, they're the best!;D

Edited by Conrad
http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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