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[13 Chapters in 13 Weeks] Chapter 10 — Campaigns

July 14, 2009

Week 10. We are coming into the home stretch of this 13 week discussion of Colonial Gothic. I hope you find this interesting, and I hope that I am not boring you. This week, we deal campaigns, by that, the metaplot of Colonial Gothic. To put it simply, the history is the metaplot.


Let me write that again:

The history is the metaplot.

In a game like Colonial Gothic, where the rich tapestry of history is being drawn from for inspiration, I decided that there was no need to go crazy. There is enough strange things at play historically, that the need to make things up was not needed. Unlike other games, which create a vast sprawling metaplot permeating everything released for a game, Colonial Gothic just goes for the history. Look at the history I get to play with:

A ragtag group of colonists coming a strange land which is inhabited by strange natives and creatures. It is a land fraught with danger, as well as reward. It is a land shaped by religion, belief, and war. Survival is always at the forefront of a colonists mind. Nothing is certain, and nothing is given. This, from the first contact with the native people, to the clash of arms between world powers, is what not only I, but you get to play with it. So what does the chapter cover? A discussion about settling the colonies, and then a nice long discussion of the history, both known and secret, which has brought the colonies to the current situation of the Revolution.

When reading this chapter the run thing I often get asked is how much of this is real? I answer all of it.

A lot of the names are true, and a lot of the events are true as well. Areas where it makes sense to do so — as is the case with Sir Richard Southwell — I spin it a little. However, as is the case with the Freemasons, there were real historical Ancients and Moderns. A lot of the things dealing with Masons, I based on real history, and where is made sense, spun it to fit the supernatural horror of the game.

That being said, you can ignore this secret history, and play Colonial Gothic as a straight historical game. In fact I have done this many times, and plan on releasing a series of PDFs that give you small mini-campaigns that allow for historical play, and use more psychological horror.

With all of this, the key to keep in mind with not only this chapter, but the game is what I write at the start of the chapter:

As stressed throughout this book, you, as the GM have many options open to you. Foremost among these options is that you have the freedom to create the campaigns you want. If you want to downplay the secret history, feel free. However, in Colonial Gothic, a secret history is at its core. This history, shapes the game, and the events that are to come. Here are the nuts and bolts of what has happened before and after the arrival of the White Man to the colonies. (Colonial Gothic Rulebook, page 239)

Though this chapter might be the smallest of the book’s chapters, it is the most packed. There is a lot of history and ideas waiting for you to explore and spin into the game you want to run and play.

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