Dan Hiscutt of White Rose Games recently contacted me about a project he is currently funding on Kickstarter called Crestfallen. It is a Bronze Age roleplaying game that is power by the Fate game system. It is a challenging game in a time where life is usually incredibly hard, scary, and short.
In my opinion, there aren’t too many true Bronze Age RPGs on the market. When I use that term, I mean a game where weapons and equipment are made of bronze, wood, stone, obsidian, and other such substances. Building materials are mostly adobe, brick, stone, wood, or some mixture of those products.
Most people live as farmers or hunters and acquiring food is an essential part of life for everyone. Small villages dot the lands, but there are some cities, city states, and even empires. People typically worship local deities, spirits, or basically anything that they think will help them survive. Slavery, trade, and sailing are common tropes for the genre.
Crestfallen has all of that and much, much more. The game has a rich and unique history that starts before the world even exists. The Earth Mother, the first god to exist, decides that she has a lonely existence. To resolve this, she creates a mate and they birth a child, An-ki. Then the story takes a turn… The Earth Mother then eats her mate, mates with An-ki, has many more god children, gets mad at An-ki and rips him in two which creates two worlds, Kerun (the physical world) and the Otherworld (the spiritual world).
The Earth Mother’s rage continues and she begins to devour the rest of her god children. As her belly begins to fill with her incessant eating, she starts to become tired and weary. Her last action before she fell asleep was to freeze her most vile child, Annwn, in the mighty glacier at the top of the world. The Earth Mother then fell asleep and has not awakened since.
That is the history of the world of Kerun, which means Crestfallen in the language of the people. Kerun is a physical world that is much like our own but yet very different. The northern and southern tips of the world are covered in snowy ice caps. In the middle of these caps are a variety of land types and kingdoms separated by vast seas and oceans. Much of the world is undiscovered and unexplored.
The Otherlands is the spiritual representation of the physical world. It is an ever-changing dream world that vaguely mirrors the physical world. It has its own people, politics, and problems. All inhabitants of the Otherlands are spirits and technically immortal – though they can be killed.
Between Kerun and the Otherlands is an area called the Veil. It is a supernatural barrier that prevents easy travel between the physical world and the spiritual world. Kerun and the Otherlands are described as different colored threads in a tapestry, interwoven together into a complex pattern, and the Veil is the empty space between those threads.
Just as the world is a young world, so are its people young. Crestfallen has a diverse group of races, also called the People of Bronze, that include Humans, Arcadians (trees), Dark Arcadian (dark trees), Cyclops (large), Lupus (dogs/wolves), Naderites (four-armed, twisted Humans), Formorians (from the Otherlands), Walrus persons, Goat persons, Wooden bird people (small), Jackal persons, Sirens, and Dalkhu (nocturnal). Within each of these races, there are many different variations from different areas and kingdoms. Some of these races primarily inhabit the physical world of Kerun while the others primarily inhabit the spiritual world of the Otherlands.
The mythology of the world that includes gods, religion, and the seasons plays a huge role in the setting of Crestfallen. The Harvest Gods, Iron Gods, the World Tree, minor gods, and the four seasons are all prominently displayed throughout the book. The pinnacle of these being Annwn, the Ice Queen. She is insane and the last of the Iron Gods within the universe. Frozen in a huge glacier, she and her followers are a huge looming threat that hangs over the entire world.
Crestfallen uses the Fate game engine for its mechanics. Obviously for those that like Fate this will be a major bonus while those that aren’t a fan of that game system it will be a detriment to the game. The one bonus I see about having chosen an established system like Fate is that he’s using a system that has been successful with the gaming community and has a backing behind it. This should have a more positive effect on a smaller independent project than negative effect. In addition to Fate’s rules, the book also includes special rules for ships, sailing, and magic.
The author has obviously done extensive research into what makes a Bronze Age RPG. With that, he’s mixed in his own imaginative backstory to create a world that is both fitting for the genre but unique. The game is packed with a ton of history, mythology, and specific things that will be of higher importance in this type of setting, like diseases, poisons, flora, fauna, and more.
Overall, Crestfallen is a unique blend of a lot of real history with mythology. Dan Hiscutt takes the histories of civilizations like Greece, Egypt, Britain, Mesopotamia, the Romans, the Mayans, the Sumarians, and mixes it with Celtic lore, Paganism, prehistoric man, as well as the fiction of The Lord of the Rings, Conan, and numerous other sources of inspiration to bring about a fusion of a fantastic Bronze Age setting. If you’re interested in playing a unique Bronze Age roleplaying and love the Fate rule system, you should check out Crestfallen!
Kickstarter: This project will be funded on Thu, Jun 4 2015 2:00 PM PDT.