This is the wiki for Tyche's Favourites, a historical game set in Massalia and the western Mediterranean 300BC, using the Adventurer, Conqueror, King system.
It might seem a strange idea to use what is essentially a fantasy system for an entirely historical game, but this is an era perfect for exactly that genre. The Hellenistic era offers a lot of the standard fantasy tropes - a fallen empire, numerous warring states, opportunities for adventurous types willing to risk their lives for glory, a common spoken language and universal culture understood by many people, a well-known pantheon of gods - but in a historical context. It offers exactly the right balance of some rich, thematic sources to give the broad sweep of the age, but without the day-to-day detail to inhibit our taking license with events.
The choice of Massalia as the base location for the game also follows in this trend. The western Mediterranean was something of a backwater, as far as the conflicts between the major Hellenistic powers went, the preserve largely of the Carthaginians, and later the Romans. Massalia was a power in its own right throughout this period, though one basically holding its own rather than putting its stamp on the region. Add in a quartet of ambitious Player Characters, and who knows how things might turn out differently? The choice of a Greek colony, with its clash of cultures is also intentional, in this instance the meeting and sometimes fusing of Greek and Celtic culture is an appealing facet to all of this.
It should be noted that this is not an alternate history game insofar as there's the addition of magic, monsters and the supernatural to give those familiar touchstones. It's entirely straight in that there is nothing otherworldly, beyond that which contemporary people might be given to believe was magical. That said, the PCs are still exceptional and unusual people, paragons of their age and already marked in some way by the goddess Tyche, her favourites. But she is a fickle mistress, and her favour could turn just as easily as it was granted. Even those with luck on their side need to ensure they capitalise upon it with skill, experience and ruthlessness.
Herein are all the important people in the game.
The Player Characters and their retinues
Rhyanidd - a princess of the Lugii, from the most northerly fringes of Keltoi influence bordering with Germania, she is an experienced warrior and warleader. Like many aristocrats amongst her people, she is an excellent horsewoman and has served in the role of mercenary cavalry since her mid-teens in the wars of the Greeks. She was on the winning side at Ipsus, seizing much plunder.
- Rhyanidd's Bodyguard - a band of Celtic cavalry sworn to protect the Lugian princess. They are devoted to her, they have earned wealth, status and renown following her (and in some cases, freedom).
Meshullum - an Alexandrian Jew originally from Tyre (evacuated as a child from the siege that resulted in its destruction at the hands of Alexander), perhaps it was that early dislocation that led him to his wandering lifestyle. He is a mercenary captain of archers, having been involved in all the major conflicts, since the Gaza campaign, and changed sides more than once.
- Meshullum's Archers - a squad of his most loyal archers, and his nephew; a doctor from the Alexandrian school.
Septimus - a Latin from central Italia, he is an enterprising man who considers himself the foremost merchant of war in the Hellenistic world. He provided Demetrios with siege equipment during his famous siege of Rhodes. But he is no idealist allied to the Antigonid cause, he goes where the profit is.
- Septimus' Agents - a mixture of assassins, savants and a trio of Cilician pirates.
Philipos - a giant of a man from Macedon, he was a hypaspist like his father before him, wearing a fortune in heirloom armour purchased with Persian plunder. On the battlefield he is bronze god of war, almost impervious to harm. He was on the losing side at Ipsus, but came away with his honour intact.
- Philipos' Companions - comprising his closest companions; Greek officers, a dubious Ionian former oikonomos, his valet and his nephew who is his shieldbearer.
Other NPCs of Note
Other NPCs - a listing of anyone else we need to remember.
Since it's the base location of the game, the settlement and it's environs deserve a little focus.
One of the great things about using history as our setting is that there's loads of material already out there. Here's a few of the essentials.
The Eastern Hemisphere in 300BC - Because you can't have an RPG without a map! These are the main political boundaries as at 300BC.
The Hellenistic Period - A leaping-off point into the defining characteristics of the era in which the game is set. Important articles include:
- Hellenistic Culture and the process of Hellenisation.
- Religion and Philosophy.
- Science (including astronomy, mathematics and geography) and Art.
The Wars of the Diadochi - The defining conflicts of the age, where Alexander's companions all vie to take control of his empire.
- The Fourth War of the Diadochi - The recent series of conflicts for control, spanning 308BC to 301BC, culminating in:
- The Battle of Ipsus - The most recent major engagement, where the ambitions of the Antigonid faction were thwarted, and the passing of the last chance to unite Alexander's empire under one ruler. The players and the board were shuffled once again.
The Onomastikon - A dictionary of ancient names, from various cultures, extremely useful.
List of Greek place names - For those inevitable times when we get the modern or Latin names of places confused with what Greeks, and thus the Greek-speaking PCs would have used.
I've made some fairly extensive changes to ACKS as written, to accomodate what is a straight historical game. By that I mean there's no magic, no monsters and no dungeons. Fortunately, there's still plenty of meat left in ACKS, even after excising those parts, especially around domain management, economics and mass combat. All of which I hope to make use of as we go.
This hack is called Mercenary, Liberator, Tyrant, and I'll list the various changes here. I'll also explain in each why I made the changes I have. If you want to discuss any of those changes, please see the thread on RPGnet.
Character Generation - Changes to Chapters 2-5, all of which impact on character generation in some respect.
Adventures and GM-side - Changes to Chapters 6, 9 and 10, which either impact play or the GM's side of the screen.
Milestones - An alternative experience system which we'll give a try.
In Sanity We Trust Productions. This is where our podcasts are hosted. Here you can listen to the sessions, mostly as they happened (we've only edited out dead air, not the general blather, noise of clattering dice and so on) for yourself. All are broken into two parts for ease of digestion.
Podcast listing If you'd rather get them directly from here instead.
The Actual Play thread on RPGnet - the place to discuss anything you hear in the 'casts or read on the wiki.
Character sheet - full character sheet for use on the wiki.
Other works from us
The campaign wiki for Mass Effect: Transcendence
Mass: the Effecting
The Unforgiving - Mage: the Awakening
Acrozatarim - A homebrew fantasy game using 13th Age.
The Library - a semi-historical Mutants and Masterminds game about a team of occult investigators in the British Empire during the Victorian era.
City of Light - Our Werewolf: the Forsaken 2nd edition game set in contemporary Paris.
Other related links
Autarch's site - The creators of Adventurer, Conqueror, King, the system we use for this game.
Europa Barbarorum - A fan-made, total conversion modification for Rome: Total War, which was one of the inspirations for the game.
Hippeis - The World of Christian Cameron - Website for the author and re-enactor Christian Cameron, another major influence for the game.
Warlords of Alexander - An excellent BRP game in this era written by Paul Elliott. An original influence in how to turn this era into a game-able setting.
Philos Basilikos - A free GURPS netbook on the era, a nice little primer for players without being too detailed.