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Michael Hopcroft

Alternative Napoleonics

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A sudden life change has given me a bit of urgency to find and do a project I want to write. There are a couple I'm thinking of. One of them involves a sort-of  Alternative Napoleonic Wars setting for which Renaissance would be ideal. I'm ruminating on a few ideas but need to get something into electrons.

Would anyone buy a book like that? What would it need more than anything else to be viable?

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Having just completed such an effort, though for a different era, I can tell you to prepare yourself for a huge investment of your time researching the history, imagining the story and the characters, fleshing out the locations and perils, a thousand details.  I went so far as to travel abroad to the sites where I had imagined the action taking place; it adds a lot to a fantasy game, paradoxically, to have real experiences to draw upon, to know first-hand the flavor of Picon before writing about a 17th century merchant thereof.  

And let's be honest, in this day and age there is not a huge market anymore for any book.  Video rules.  You won't get rich, but then neither did Van Gogh.  I think W. Somerset Maugham wrote in "Of Human Bondage" that the only reason to be an artist is that you have no choice.  Because you love it.  I have had so much fun with this!  To imagine something that seemed outrageous, only to discover that it was true history or true legend.  Because it is Lovecraft, perhaps I realized that meaning is the superimposition of humanity over a fundamentally alien universe, but that the superimposition of sanity over madness is hope, faith, love, all those things that make human life tolerable.  It is worthwhile to defend the light, even an artificial light, from the darkness.  Otherwise, there is nothing left to see... 

Another free bit of advice, play the game with total strangers.  I did this at Gencon last year, braving some strong BO on the convention floor, in the process, fortunately not from the gamers who played my table (why is it that some gamers have a strange aversion, apparently, to soap and water?  Van Gogh was also reportedly malodorous, but I have no idea why personal hygiene should be inconsistent with artistic genius.).  Besides having a great time running the game and getting feedback from those playing it, it really started to gel for me as a game people would actually play.  Perhaps I developed greater sympathy for the GM and the player as the result of those sessions.

In the end, games are about having fun, and I really believe there is more fun in making a game others play and enjoy than just showing up with a six pack in hand.

One of my favorite quotes, by the way, is from Victor Hugo's description of the aftermath of Waterloo in Les Miserables, when I believe he said, "the wind in the grass was like the departure of souls."  And I always wanted a t-shirt that read "I am Jean Valjean!".  I have also toyed with the idea of a game based on the expedition of Napoleon to Egypt with the savants.

Have fun!

Edited by Julich1610
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11 hours ago, soltakss said:

I would buy a book that allowed a Sharpe or Hornblower themed campaign.

Yes, yes, yes. 100 times yes to this for Renaissance.

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I would buy it... Sharpe's Rifles and Hornblower would be very nice. I also watched the 2016 TV series War & Peace and that got me wanting Napoleonic's in Russia type setting. Then that got me over to the West Coast of the United States where the Spanish were colonizing with their missions and the Russians coming down from Kodiak Alaska to Fort Ross in central California... i'm going off on a tangent. Yes, i would gladly buy it, love the whole setting.

(Also watching Taboo and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell which are very conducive to alternate Napoleonic's)

Edited by 10baseT
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I'd be interested as well. Lots of potential there I think.

I could happily run it straight historical, but I'd also be tempted to bring in some weirdness and have a go at The Brothers Grimm movie... its depictions of rational Frenchmen and technology coming up against the legends in the ancient forest.

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On 2/18/2017 at 9:05 PM, Michael Hopcroft said:

A sudden life change has given me a bit of urgency to find and do a project I want to write. There are a couple I'm thinking of. One of them involves a sort-of  Alternative Napoleonic Wars setting for which Renaissance would be ideal. I'm ruminating on a few ideas but need to get something into electrons.

Would anyone buy a book like that? What would it need more than anything else to be viable?

I think this has a lot of possibilities.

There's the War, of course; you may want some Naval Combat and grand-scale Army-vs-Army (Battle of Waterloo!) stuff.  Also look at the English Regency milieu -- get some serious "Social Conflict" and "Narrative" rules for that:  remember the "Regency Romance" genre of novels is its own whole niche, and you probably don't want to lock yourself out of it, since you're smack-dab in that era.

Honestly, I would consider those two (the "historical warfare" military-simulation rules, and the social/narrative rules) to be the pieces needed "more than anything else."  I note that these go in largely-opposite directions, but don't have an answer/solution for that (other than "do more work").

Because it's solidly within the BRP family, you don't really need to add any supernatural elements -- the customer can just swipe stuff from Pirates&Dragons or Advanced Sorcery or pretty much any other BRP family-member they want... "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" & done... Or, add summoning & a bit of magitech and it could hit very-near (though a bit early for) Stroud's "Bartimeus".  Etc.

That said, I think having 2-3 short mini-campaigns -- each introducing one (or a very few) supernatural elements -- would be a nice asset:  playable right out of the gate, and demo's extensibility / versatility.

 

Edit:  I have a plan (when/if I have more time) to do something much like you describe.  If you beat me to it, I'm good with that:  I don't expect it mine to be a salable product so it's not like I'd be losing money or anything... and you may save me a TON of work!  But my plan is (was?) to gather the bits of BRP (likely using Renaissance as the core, simply because of their existing products) needed to implement Naomi Novik's "Temeraire" novels.

Edited by g33k
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I wonder if Cakebread & Walton could not work out a deal with Omnihedron Games to release a Renaissance-based version of Omnihedron's Duty and Honour and Beat to Quarters.  (It looks like Duty and Honour and Beat to Quarters has a project by Omnihedron as been allowed to go fallow.) No need to reinvent the wheel when one can instead change the spoke structure.

http://www.omnihedron.co.uk/news/light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/

 

 

Edited by Mysterioso
missed a h in has
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I would definitely be interested in such a project.  Mine the heck out of the Aubrey-Maturin (Master &Commander) novels for period touches, political intrigues and espionage.  My wife would be an easy sell for such a campaign.

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