Now to fit in Dracula…

So, on and I’m off I’ve been trying to figure out how to turn Jeff Reint’s description of D&D: “You play Conan, I play Gandalf. We team up to fight Dracula” into a setting.

First, you can cheat a little and substitute Merlin for Gandalf. Second, we know Cimmeria was north of Pictland.

So, Merlin, Picts, decadent empires, and a struggle for a better world…

This screams a setting resembling northern England circa 475-500 with the last druids resurgent as Rome and the Christian Empire retreat and great barbarian warriors carve their own kingdoms out of the chaos.

If I could only fit Dracula into it.

12 thoughts on “Now to fit in Dracula…

  1. It probably won't help you much, but I was wondering if I could make a Pendragon/Call of Cthulhu crossover. The system is the same, so it should be easy…

  2. If druids are more or less the bad guys, you can reinterpret “Dracula” as something from Celtic myth that would make a good vampire/lich/undead. Maybe Annwyn would make a very Dracula-ish Dracula replacement. Or you could go with Bran the Blessed as an undead head of a giant, made undead when the cauldron of life and death was burst to pieces; he wants to drive away all “invaders” from Britain at any cost.

    If you're going with Vikings as more or less the bad guys, make Balder come back from Hel as Dracula.

    If you'd rather do a Roman undead villain, take a page from that '90s fantasy series, Roar, and use Longinus (the centurion who pierced Jesus in the side with his spear during the Crucifixion and as a consequence is now unable to die… and his spear becomes the Spear of Destiny.

  3. If you're going for Dark Age Britain, make Conan an Irish warrior: they're the descendants of the Cimmerians, and Howard's Irish heroes Cormac Mac Art and Turlogh O'Brien could be Conan's cousins. Gandalf/Merlin could be a white-haired/bearded pagan sorcerer like Gonar from the Bran Mak Morn stories.

    As for Dracula, why not something like Abhartach from Irish mythology? A sorcerer-chieftain who drinks the blood of his subjects, survived multiple deaths to return, only staying dead after a rival chieftain worked with a druid to conquer him properly (burying him upside down). “Bad Blood” in gaelic is droch fhola, which would be pronounced “drock-hola”: not far off the mark.

    The only problem is he'd be a dwarf, but dwarfs in Celtic Mythology are a bit different from the modern fantasy equivalent. Not that a vampire dwarf isn't cool in itself, of course…

    It's actually kind of interesting, as this is the setup Howard had in mind for his Dark Age Britain. It also has water monsters a la Nessie, the Worms of the Earth, cthulhoid horrors, and whatnot.

    You totally need to read “Worms of the Earth” (if you haven't already), as well as “The Grey God Passes,” “The Dark Man,” and “The Children of the Night,” “The People of the Dark,” “Kings of the Night,” and “Night of the Wolf.” They're on Wikisource, IIRC.

  4. Well, no bad guys per se, although the druids, the Picts, and their northern neighbors are disassembling the empire.

    Vikings, though, are still three centuries in the future (the Lindisfarne raid was in 793).

  5. And I would play in Taranaich campaign 🙂

    I always felt that a good semi historical campaign needs a scholar to run, but sadly, I'm not one.

  6. Put Cimmeria north of Eriador and replace Mordor with Transylvania. Or, since Conan didn’t spend much time in Cimmeria in the stories, perhaps replace Gondor with Aquilonia.

    Some of my favorite D&D campaigns have taken place in a setting that was as much of a mash-up as D&D itself. Bits of Greyhawk, The Forgotten Realms, Nehwon, and anything else slapped upon the same globe.

    A good historical campaign requires a scholar. A good Middle-earth campaign requires a JRRT fanatic. Etc. I just decide that I’m happy with it being mine rather than good and go for it. ^_^

  7. That's cool and all, but I hope you didn't miss the point of Jeff's great line. 🙂 It doesn't really need to make sense to be fun.

  8. @Herb: there weren't any *Viking* Vikings that early, but there were Germanic warriors — Angles, Saxons and Jutes. Some of the less Romanized could fill the Viking niche.

    Or, go with the original spirit of Jeff's line and just throw in Vikings. Also, Atlanteans with rayguns.

  9. @Anonymous: I got Jeff's point, but sometimes it's a fun thought experiment to take stuff like that literally and figure out how to make it work. Call it an exercise in creativity. Look at some of the great ideas people have provided, like Taranaich's excellent knowledge of Howard and Celtic myth or Robert Fisher's Fifth Age of Middle Earth (as I'm calling it).

    @Talysman: I know the Germanic migrations quite well. My SCA name is Osric and my specializations period wise is sub Roman Britain.

    And we were nothing like those savages from Norway, we were decent and honorable warriors 🙂

  10. @Robert Fisher:

    Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Númenor and Ar-Pharazôn's great armada, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Adam, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars–Arnor, Umbar, Ardor with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Eriador with its chivalry, Khand that bordered on the pastoral lands of the Rhovanion, Agband with its shadow-guarded tombs, Rhonan whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

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