Running historical campaigns

So I’ve been reading through BWG and the Codex, and it’s stated in a few places that the game works perfectly for 14th century France - with that in mind, I’ve been thinking about running a game set in medieval England/France during the Hundred Years War.

This seems to go against all the Setting Burning stuff written in the codex, as all that stuff is supposed to emerge through conversations with the players.

Anyone got experience of running a historical-themed game?


The Hundred Years War occurred mostly in 14th century France, with the end in the 15th century. It’s a perfect fit.

That said, as long as your spatial and temporal setting don’t diverge too far from BW lifepaths’ assumptions, it’ll work. If they do diverge, it’ll still work. I’ve used BW for Bronze Age to early Industrial Age. As long as everyone buys in, it works.

Setting burning doesn’t need to be a formal, drawn-out process. “I want to play a game set during the Hundred Years War. Anyone interested?” That’s a fine start. You also want to hammer out exactly what it means; playing soldiers, Joan of Arc and retinue, or courtiers would make for quite different games.

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That was my thinking - there’s plenty of scope in the period for lots of different games. The process of getting buy-in seems quite intimidating, so I guess I was leaning on the setting burning stuff a bit hard.

[quote=“Wayfarer, post:2, topic:23199”]…as long as your spatial and temporal setting don’t diverge too far from BW lifepaths’ assumptions…

…Joan of Arc…

@Wayfarer potentially highlights the biggest setting-burning thing you need to agree with historical settiings for BW: Faith and Sorcery.

Some BW lifepaths/skills/traits assume magic is real or the divine answers prayers. Almost everyone in C14th France believed the same thing in some way or another. However, a common modern Western view is magic and overt miracles make a story fantasy rather than historical.

So, you need player agreement on whether or not Sorcery and Faith work in your version of historical Europe at all, and if so how: this is of course different from whether characters believe they work. It could also, if you want to preserve the mystery, be an agreement of possibilities rather than a locked-down single mechanic; for example, players agree that Sorcery might or might not work, and if it does it requires complex rituals and can only grant subtle effects, then leave it to the GM to decide if it is real or confirmation bias; similarly, as Joan of Arc is likely to feature as a major part of the background even if she isn’t a key part of the character’s personal stories, gain agreement on whether or not she might have miraculous powers.


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