Portal — RPGaDay #30

The game timeline is intended to be a portal to alternate states of potential investigation, activity and adventure. The road from the sighting of Halley’s Comet in the early 1530s to the death of Queen Elizabeth in the dawning of the 17th century is a winding one.

Following the break with Rome (1533) and the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-), we see Safety Lies in Fear territory, as a supernaturally defenceless England finds itself tested by entities pressing the unravelling boundaries between worlds. The slow collapse escalates with each new visitor and failing to find solutions to these incursions means that the GM can ramp up the threat in later adventures. This is “murder hobo” or “West Marches” territory, with lawless landscapes, vacated properties and ravaged monastic estates rapidly falling into ruin by local looting and supernatural sorties. Expect ghosts, carrion feeders, minor Fae, and similar.

In the 1560, with the Queen on the throne and unrest on all sides, All Along the Watchtowers sees peril probing every weakness in unprepared defences. By the middle of the decade, Dee has secured official powers through the Dee Sanction, but his friendship with the Queen is sufficiently solid that he might pay out of his own pocket to hire agents before 1564; after that, the standard material of The Dee Sanction core rules kick in, with efforts masterminded between Walsingham and Dee.

Gathering strength and enemies alike, Empire Under Siege sees the Pope declare open season upon the English with the excommunication of the Queen (1570) and the building frustrations of King Philip II of Spain. Spies, assassination attempts, intrigue, secret assignations — all an essential part of this period, as the esoteric spy network of he Sanction gathers potency and potential.

Whilst less obviously more of the same, the Pursuit of Angels is the portal to intrigue and espionage in Europe under the guise of the a quest of angelic enlightenment. Dee and Kelley take their wives and entourage on a complex tour of the kingdoms, during the early to mid-1580s, primarily in northern and eastern Europe, but with occasion to detour — certainly no reason for the Agents to be held back from going further afield.

However, by the time Dee returns, the intrigues within the Court at home has shifted, Spain has been defeated at sea, and the Great Library at Mortlake has been looted. Dee has fallen from favour and in place of the Sanction, the School of Night has risen to prominance under Henry Percy and Francis Drake. There’s nothing to be suspicious about here; certainly no possibility that the looting of Mortlake had anything to do with Percy and his ascendence to his role as the Queen’s new Archmage. Inter-agency action ensures seeking both the defence of the realm and a hint of the truth behind the School.

Potential aplenty and the possibility of jumping between eras to refine and deepen the story over many adventures means that stories of Elizabethan esoteric espionage needs never go stale.

Every day during August (and for a fair old while into September), I’ll be writing something new on The Dee Sanction and aim to connect the word prompt of the day with the development of the game. Check out the concept, the list and the graphics over at AUTOCRATIK.

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