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Homebrew Celtic Setting notes


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Since Trifletraxor expressed interest, here's some basics on the setting I'm developing:

Basically, as said, it’s a Celtic myth influenced/inspired setting. It is NOT a historical Celtic setting, nor even (to my mind) a “fantasy earth” setting. Drawn heavily from GURPS Celtic Myth, a bit of Pendragon, and lots of ideas from various Celtic-influenced fantasy – Lloyd Alexander’s books, Morgan Llewellyn (“Druids” and “Lion of Ireland” especially), “The Mists of Avalon,” Moorcock’s “Corum” books, and “The Dragon and the Unicorn” by A.A. Attanasio, an unusual retelling of the Arthur legend, inspired a lot of ideas, too. So did the film “Excalibur.” And the “Slaine” comics.

I’ve roughly mapped out a land region that’s basically England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales picked up, turned around in different directions and then mashed together into one land mass, with several outlying islands. Some parts of Glorantha are getting transplanted into this area, too, although with some major changes to make them fit (Dorastror, Griffin Island, and Dragon Pass).

There are three main dominant cultures - the main one is based on the Irish as depicted in the Pendragon: Pagan Shore supplement, with some modification. In Gloranthan terms, they’re a bit like the Orlanthis mixed with the Western Culture – in other words, a little less “barbaric” – they actually build major cities and have a bit more structure and organization. I’m probably calling them “Erainn” - names are a problem – I have trouble coming up with ones that sound right and satisfy me. Their gods and heroes are based on gods and heroes from Celtic myth (Dagda, Nuada, Lugh, Morrigan), but generally they will have different names and some different attributes.

The second culture are basically the “Picts” – again, drawn heavily from Pendragon (“Beyond the Wall”), with a dash of Robert E. Howard. Again, speaking in Gloranthan terms, kind of a combo of the Hsunchen and Orlanthis. They are basically shamanic and have a very powerful, stag-headed god (this comes from Attanasio) who figures into things. The “Erainn” also have a place for this god in their religion.

Finally there is a third culture, foreigners who have invaded, raided, and established kingdoms in the land. These are, for all intents and purposes the Saxons (again, Pendragon supplements have come in handy in defining this culture). They will no doubt have a Norse-type religion, again with certain changes.

All three of these cultures are in various forms of conflict/alliance.

I was definitely taken by the treatment of the “Otherworld” and the Sidhe in GURPS Celtic Myth, so they will be a part of things as well. I was also intrigued by the concept of the Fomorians, so I’ve adapted them (in my concept they’re an evil, Sidhe-like race – larger than men (small giants), able to appear as either very beautiful or very hideous; powerful magicians with a particular talent for conjuring cold and storms. They’re going to lurk in the background as major villains.

Since I’m using the Sidhe, there’s no elves. There are dwarves (Tolkein/Mostal/D&D-like miners) though they are not a major part of things. Oh – and there’s Broos.

The magic took a long time to work out. The dominant magic users are (surprise!) the Druids. The Druids are a loose order – not quite a cult – but with a hierarchal structure (there is a big chief druid somewhere). They are sorceror/priest/sages and tend to have specialties (that’s an idea from Morgan Llewellyn), so one might specialize in healing, or divination, or religious ceremonies, etc. For game purposes, they pretty much follow the initiate/acolyte/priest structure of RQ cults.

Those druids who devote themselves to religious concerns (not all do – some of them I imagine as devout, others rather perfunctory in their piety) have access to divine magic. All druids have access to spirit magic, modified by their own set of “arts” (as in Sandy Petersen’s Sorcery rules), which are pretty much lifted from the Lunar priesthood in Gods of Glorantha. They have pretty much the standard spirit and divine magic spells, plus any number of unique and powerful spells of their own. Ritual and Summoning are just like in Sandy’s sorcery. Instead of Presence I use INT+POW. They also learn “Great Shapeshifting” (adapted from GURPS Celtic Myth), so shapeshifting duels ala “The Sword in the Stone” are possible.

That’s about it right now. I’m currently working on developing the map and the kingdoms of the land. I’m sure it sounds like a weird mish-mash, but when I’m done I think it will work pretty well. Again as mentioned, I’m not attempting any real fidelity to Celtic myth or history – I’m after more of a Celtic “feel” than anything else, and I’m pulling in and cannibalizing those things that resonate for me, changing or discarding what doesn’t. If people are interested in more, I can post about it as it develops.

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Guest the Bromgrev

Katherine Kerr's books might provide useful additional inspiration. The setting is an extrapolated "what if the celts hadn't been romanised" kind of place, with some quite interesting ideas about magic.

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I'd love to see your setting notes.

well, It's just started. But I'll give you an overview of differant parts/ideas that I have stolen from the differant sources.

magic is based on MRQ Slaine(if your not familiar with it-mainly each spell is a skill costing EP, Earth Power, gained through different means -The system in MRQ Slaine has a real celtic feel to it) to cast with addition of certain things from Pendragon 4th and Nephlium Liber Ka(mainly times of year, lunar phase and EP, gained specifically towards spells.)

professions include

tribal warriors,chief,thieves,blacksmiths, hunters, druids, witches,etc... with special groups like the red branch, society of the Ravens(Zimmer-Bradley/Paxson), Enchantress (pendragon), honor guards for enchantress, cults, and schools teaching combat(from celtic myth and Slaine).

Races include humans, dwarves(slaine), warped ones(slaine) and the races from the Corum rpg suppliment mainly for npc's.

each tribal group has bonuses to skills as well as passions(pendragon/thieves world)

starting point is a small clan dun with characters performing differant roles in the dun. Idea is to start on personal/small scale and then move to more epic scale as things start happening to the characters dun. cattle raids, hunts, festivals, famine, marriage, warfare(clan/viking/fomorian/eventually against roman legions) and encounters with the otherside are all planned. I plan on using Pendragon's idea of phases. So the characters will eventually die (one way or another)and their children will continue on and face the upcoming challenges.Trying to capture a more mythical feel than a historical. So far everyone is pleased with the campaign. I'll post more if you want it later.


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i've been feeling the same celtic vibe that's going around, it seems! love the worlds you've created, aycorn & tal. if i ever get to start the fantasy prehistory sort of game i'm thinking of, i'll have to add your folks' notes to my bibliography, so to speak.

i need to pick up pendragon, too. the seasonal element sounds like a neat touch for any game.

It is better to have loafed and lost than never to have loafed at all.

-James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)

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