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Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras

Dark Eras

In Chronicles of Darkness we tell stories about fears and monsters that have been told since time immemorable, so here are tools to aid in telling your stories in any era you please. Some of the characters in our stories have lived through many generations, perhaps you would like to tell of their origins or earlier life. This isn't a history book, but it does convey something of the essence of each era covered - from the ancient Near East to more recent times, history to younger players but years that some of us older gamers lived through.

Each era discussed is honed specifically towards one or more of the Chronicles of Darkness game lines. There are sixteen eras in all, quite specific in place as well as in time, matched to the most appropriate game line(s). There are notes about choices, and about being clear within your group what sort of game you want. Most players like to think that character actions matter, so it is best to avoid situations where nothing can be done. In delving into real history, there may be events that touched one of your players or their ancestors... for example, I avoid 1912 as one of my players lost a great-uncle on the Titanic, and since 9/11 my group has decided that they never want to play out a plane hijack scenario. There are also notes about era-specific skills - a character in the 1600s will not know how to use a computer but he's far more likely to be able to ride a horse or wield a sword than a present-day one, unless those are recreational activities for him.

The first era is set some 5,000 years before the birth of Christ (or BCE - before the current era - if you prefer). Aimed at Mage and Werewolf games in particular, the notes here present a mix of fact and fiction about an untamed world in which Mages are the Wise, leaders amongst men... and Werewolves are apex preditors who may be accepted or banished by communities of men. It's a heady mix that provides resources such as daily life, attitudes, what people did and liked and believed... the stuff you need to make this particular setting come to life, grounded in realism but not swamped by it. Find out what weapons were available (complete with game stats, of course, for when they are used), discover the threats of disease, starvation and wild animals that have to be faced, learn which spells are known, and which will work. There are notes on character creation, providing the skills and abilities necessary to live in this time. Detailed material covers the specific abilites Mages and Werewolves will have, how they live and more. Several story seeds are provided to get you started, and there are notes about further resources you could access for inspirations.

And that's just the first of sixteen eras presented! The rest take similar form, as appropriate for the era and the game lines featured. Each era is distinctive and appealing -it's going to be a struggle to decide which one to try out first! They are: To the Strongest, 330-320 BCE, the latter stages of Alexander the Great (Mage); Three Kingdoms of Darkness, 220-280 AD, early China (Changeling and Geist); The Wolf and the Raven, 700-1100 AD, the Vikings (Werewolf and Geist); After the Fall, 1453-1458, Constantinople (Demon); Beneath the Skin, 1486-1502, the Aztec Empire (Skinchangers and Demon); Requiem for Regina, 1593, Elizabethen London (Vampire and Changeling); Fallen Blossoms, 1640-1666, Japan (Hunter); Lily, Sabre and Thorn, 1600s-early 1700s, the swashbuckling times of the Sun King in France (Changeling); Doubting Souls, 1690-1695), Colonial America (Hunter); A Grimm Dark Era, 1812-1820, the Brothers Grimm in Europe (Changeling); The Ruins of Empire, 1893-1924, the age of European empires is fading but mummies have suddenly become collectables (Mummy); A Handful of Dust, 1933-1940, the American Great Depression (Promethean); God's Own Country, 1950s in New Zealand (Geist); Into the Cold, 1961, Berlin at the height of the Cold War (Demon); and finally The Bowery Dogs, 1969-1979, New York City (Werewolf). You may question the featured game line - Elizabethan London would suit Mage, for example - but using the material herein and a good working knowledge of your chosen game line it ought not to be too difficult to flip things around to accommodate your choices.

Overall, it's an epic work which will inspire and support chronicle after chronicle. Perhaps I shall dig out old material that took a group of Vampires from neonates in the time of Christ right up to the present day - after all, given luck a vampire can live that long! - and see how this material can be used to effect. Even if your chosen period of history is not represented, this should give you a starting point, suggestions of what you ought to consider as you create your own stories. Get it. You won't regret it.

Return to Dark Eras page.

Reviewed: 2 June 2016