Another Bucket List Setting - Colonial America



“That there is a Devil, is a thing doubted by none but such as are under the influences of the Devil.”

- Cotton Mather, On Witchcraft



I'm trying my luck with a superhero campaign right now, something I've really wanted to do for ages. We've seen the evolution of Port Henry as a place for adventure and over the next few months we'll see how good a place it really is for adventure.

While I'm not actively planning another game (I'm just starting this one folks), currently being in the Historic Triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown) reminded me of another genre in my bucket list - that of Colonial America. I love the history of 17th and 18th century North America. Make no mistake, it's not some glorious noble epic. Jamestown was settled in search of cash. Plimoth was settled for religious liberty - but only for the pilgrims, not for anyone else. The many peoples living in North America were decimated by plague and war and Africans were brought over in chains. As in Europe, a conviction of witchcraft could bring the death penalty.

But it is a fascinating period. Over the past few days I've participated in the 1706 witchcraft trial of Grace Sherwood (I voted to acquit but she was found guilty) and a Vice-Admiralty Court of 1719 trying Israel Hands for piracy (I voted guilty and he was found guilty). I've walked through the old Jamestown settlement, having the opportunity to talk with knowledgeable park rangers and archaeologists. It's strange seeing the humble first permanent settlement of British North America - a settlement which to this day is quite isolated - with a number of dead cellular zones...

Gaming in this period is a bit sparse. There is Colonial Gothic, an interesting game with a default setting around the American Revolution, though it has visited other periods such as the French and Indian War. Personally, my tastes would run a bit earlier to the late 17th and early 18th centuries, with the British colonies more established but still very much a frontier feeling.

Sixtystone Press has been talking about Colonial Lovecraft Country as a Call of Cthulhu supplement. Being a fairly small company their release schedule is a bit on the fuzzy side, though I've been impressed with the quality of all their products and really hope this sees the light of day. While a number of settings suffer from the "just add Cthulhu" syndrome (and I know I'm guilty of that myself in my gaming), the colonial era seems perfect for this. Lovecraft himself was influenced by the era, often dating his letters two centuries early and viewing the American Revolution as a bad thing. Works such as The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and "The Dreams in the Witch House" make use of colonial history.

One game which I think is very well positioned for such a setting is Cakebreak and Walton's Renaissance game, the basic for games such as Clockwork & Chivalry and its follow-up Clockwork & Cthulhu. These games take place in the 17th century under the backdrop of the English Civil War. I think there's a ripe opportunity for a 17th century American game. I know a blogger with a strong interest in American history available for such a task... :-)

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