ROLEPLAYING IN THE WORLD OF RÆDWALD
WHAT TYPE OF WORLD IS RÆDWALD?
Like many fantasy games Rædwald is not set on our earth. Rædwald is a small part of another world. The setting is however based on parts of our earth and its history, specifically the Early Middle Ages (more popularly known as the Dark Ages) and especially the pre-Christianised Germanic cultures of the Early Anglo-Saxons and Migration Period cultures of Europe from between AD 400 and AD 700. Like many fantasy settings in Rædwald the myth and magic that was mere superstition in earth’s history is a real, if rare, force.
Primarily Rædwald is a world of men. Kings, Queens, lords, warriors, serfs, and slaves live in a land tamed and domesticated, but men are not alone and their world is not the only world. It’s not only the savage Réðealingas, the wildling men that lurk at the borders of Rædwald, or the primitive Ælfcynn, and the secretive Dweorgas who dwell in its forests and mountains. All manner of monstrous beasts might be found lurking in the marshes, hills, mountains, woods, and other lonely places of the world. Not only that, but anyone foolish enough to stray from woodland paths or misguided enough to venture underground to rob the royal burial mounds might find themselves lost in the Otherworld of the Fey, or the hell of the Underworld.
WHAT TYPE OF GAME IS RÆDWALD?
The player characters in Rædwald are outsiders and outlaws. Known as Wolfsheads they are literally outside the law’s protection. This means anyone can harm or even kill them without fear of retribution. The life of a Wolfshead is not a romantic world of merry men who gather in the woods to fight injustice. It is a life of fear, mistrust, and privation. In a pre-industrial world being excluded from society is perilous. You might survive, but you’ll be unlikely to thrive.
For this reason Rædwald assumes that the Player Characters start the game having already grown tired of being lone Woflsheads, and have banded together in the service of Thegn, a noble warrior lord, to form his Wolfpack.
To a Thegn the Wolfpack is little more than a tool, a weapon to be wielded and wielded ruthlessly. He cares little for the members as individuals; they are expendable, ignoble outlaws, to whom he owes no real loyalty. He cares only what they can do for him, and what a Wolfpack can do is threaten, beat, rob murder, assassinate, disrupt, and terrorize his enemies.
In return for this service the Wolfpack is protected by the name of their lord, and within his territory they are safe. They will also be given food and shelter, coin too. If they serve their lord well they can expect to be presented with gifts, the beauty and value of which bestow honour and status on those who receive them. In this way as the Wolfpack accomplish ever greater deeds, and serve more powerful lords, they may win back their place in society; shake off the dishonour of being an outlaw and one day perhaps even become lords themselves.
The Wolfpack should be unique in the world of Rædwald. They’re a one off, an elite force. There shouldn’t be other gangs of badass outlaw killers with access to magic. The player characters are the only ones. Other non-player characters might have access to magic, but they will tend to be lone warlocks, or a solitary sorcerer in the employ of a rival king. Perhaps later in the campaign, when their enemies cotton on to who and what they are, rival lords might form rival wolfpacks. No doubt the player characters will hunt them down and take great pleasure in ending the rivalry in a very permanent way!
WHAT DO PLAYER CHARACTERS DO IN RÆDWALD?
Playing in Rædwald is a slightly different prospect from playing in a traditional fantasy setting. Instead of focusing on a party of adventurers exploring a dangerous wilderness or dungeon in the hope of finding a hoard of coins and magical treasures, or just exploring for the sake of exploring, or a band of heroes on an epic quest to save the world characters in Rædwald carry out what in the modern world would be the equivalent of Black Ops, covert military missions.
A typical session of Rædwald might begin with the Wolfpack’s lord outlining their mission objective, followed by their plan, the execution of that plan, and any aftermath that comes about because of the mission, and end with reward or admonishment from their lord depending on how well or bad things went.
Before any of this occurs the players will need a character.