Thursday, 21 May 2015

Mentzer D&D - the first Romantic Fantasy RPG?

I've been running my Mentzer Basic/Expert D&D 'Grand Duchy of Karameikos' game for 6 weeks now, aiming to hit all the classic fantasy tropes - knights, dragons, princesses, noble rulers & dastardly villains. I have a mixed-sex group and a 'child friendly' policy since my son (7 3/4) is a player.

I've noticed that in this environment a lot of what are considered modern 'romantic fantasy' tropes seem to naturally arise among the dungeon-bashing, eg there are lots of PC & NPC relationship issues, romance, the two female PCs both have a lot of backstory and motivation re overcoming their family issues and proving themselves in a man's world - and they're cousins, one, the Fighter, being a noble Vorloi in good standing but seeking to avoid a dynastic marriage and become a Knight, the other, The Thief, the illegitimate child of the Baron Vorloi's disowned youngest daughter looking for the man who fathered her and ruined her mother's life.
One of the male PCs, the M-U, likewise has issues with proving himself good enough to his aristocratic Dmitrov family - possibly difficult now that last session a curse in an evil wizard's library has given him the head & tail of an ass.

The setting (GAZ1 Grand Duchy of Karameikos), the simple Classic D&D rules, and the clean Elmore art all seem perfectly suited to this style. There's also modern stuff like same-sex relationship issues, the PC Baron who threatened to 'ban being gay' to stop his daughter running off to sea with a female Elf ship captain - with the twist that far from being True Love, the Elf Captain Anastasia was happy to take a massive bribe to make herself scarce.

So, I guess my thinking is, who needs 'Blue Rose' when you have Mentzer & Elmore?  And the mildly patriarchal, 1980s-family-values type morality of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos setting actually seems to fit far better to most of the genre than does Blue Rose's feminist utopia.

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