It’s no secret: I love RPGs with a solid historical base. Luckily, I have a group of fellow gamers that indulges me for the most part, even if our historical games come with a liberal sprinkling of fantastical tropes. But whether we’re sitting down for some neo-Victorian Gothic Horror or I’m leading the way through another pulpy romp, nothing gets me excited like some historical accuracy.
While I could go on at length about what I enjoy about historical games, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. If one picture is worth a thousand, how many words is a gif worth?
5. THE CLOTHES
Yep, let’s just get the shallow reason out of the way. Fashion has been going downhill since the 1960s. I’m not saying I want to lace up a corset every morning (you’ve heard me complaining about Unhallowed Metropolis’ ridiculous “battle corset” notion, right?), but the basic Victorian silhouette? YES PLEASE.
4. Research, research, research
I am the sort of nerd who considered going back to school for a master’s degree simply because I like doing research and writing papers. It’s a sickness.
(And tying these two bullet points together, remember the Unhallowed Metropolis Masquerade Ball? Credit in part lays with the awesome book of historical costumes I found: Fancy Dresses Described)
3. Paying homage to forgotten badasses
History classes tend to trot out the same cast of characters over and over, ignoring huge swaths of human history in favor of another story about Important White Dudes. So when I come across a woman like Julie D’Aubigny, I want to find a way to remind people that history is full of forgotten heroes (or fashionable villains). Sometimes re-sharing a page on social media isn’t enough, so these characters will inform my playing – like when Julie D’Aubigny inspired my Numenera character.
I am well aware that, for all the faults and foibles of the modern era, as a woman I am far luckier to be living in the 21st century than the 18th. And yet, there’s undeniably something exciting about a time before all the corners of the map were filled in. This is also why, on the opposite end of historical stories, I’m a fan of science fiction, especially stories of space exploration (when I can find ones that aren’t as full of white dudes as my history books were, anyway)
And the number one reason I like playing historical RPGs is…
1. NO MAGIC
My loathing for magic can’t be described with gifs. It would take a master thesis (filled with delicious delicious footnotes) to fully convey my dislike. While I put up with supernatural creatures like The Shellycoat in Unhallowed Metropolis and allow Zap Macguffin to do silly things like touch a mysterious Soul Crystal, at the end of it all, even when weird stuff is happening, the historical games I play have a firm grounding in history and SCIENCE, above all else.
Are you a fan of historical RPGs? Tell us your favorites!
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