[HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth (Setting Overview)

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[HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth (Setting Overview)

Post by Havard »

I've posted many threads about this setting over the years, but I think we need a more general thread to organize things a bit. The HR series are not the only TSR/WotC books to detail a fantasy version of Earth, and other companies have also produced D&D and D20 material. We have had many discussions on how to combine various materials of these lines.

Let's look at the core products first:

The AD&D Historical Reference (HR) series(TSR)
Chronomancy and connection to other official D&D Worlds
Also worth mentioning right away is Roger Moore's Chronomancy article, since it assumes that the Earth described in the HREF series is the same as LaTerre from the Mystara Setting and Gothic Earth from the Ravenloft subsetting, Masque of the Red Death as discussed here. Dragon Magazine also had tons of material.

Other TSR and WotC Modern and Historical Games
TSR published a wide range of RPGs and other games that can be used to flesh out the setting of historical earth. Games like Boot Hill, Gangbusters, Top Secret, Amazing Engines, Alternity and many others. See a complete list here. During the d20 Era, Wizards of the Coast published d20 Modern. You can find a product list for that game here.


Connection to 3rd Party D&D Settings
The main product lines that cover earth-like settings for the d20 system are: Developing Fantasy Earth Further
We also have several threads developing this setting of Fantasy Earth one region at a time:
Does this summarize the most important things we have so far?

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Last edited by Havard on Tue Mar 10, 2020 9:15 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

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X2 - Castle Amber by Tom Moldvay is based on Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne stories, and set in the fictional medieval French province of "Averoigne".
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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by Ashtagon »

Probably about half the back-catalogue of GURPS 3rd edition dealt with specific historical regions of our Earth. I'm told that some were so well-researched that colleges actually recommended them as basic primers on their subject matter to history students.
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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by Morfie »

BECMI's Module IM1 The Immortal Storm went into 1980's New York and Chicago... although the "historical" and "fantasy" parts are very tenuous..

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by pawsplay »

Pathfinder's "Rasputin Must Die!" is set on 1918 Earth.

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by apotheot »

A bit non-canon, but the adventure Castle Greyhawk has a portal that leads to Bombay India.

Also, Moore's article isn't the only place, it specifically says the HR series is the same as Gothic Earth in the Masque of the Red Death box set.

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by timemrick »

I've forgotten the title, but there was a Dragon Magazine adventure that took characters to modern-day (1980-something, at that time) London. IIRC, they had to retrieve the Mace of Cuthbert from the British Museum.
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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by The Dark »

There were also the Dragon Magazine "Cities of the Ages" articles: Baghdad 800 AD (#288), Novgorod 1241 (#290), Paris 1248 (#289), Venice 1320 (#286), London 1589 (#284), Prague 1599 (#285), and Edo 1673 (#292).

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by ripvanwormer »

timemrick wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:50 pm
I've forgotten the title, but there was a Dragon Magazine adventure that took characters to modern-day (1980-something, at that time) London. IIRC, they had to retrieve the Mace of Cuthbert from the British Museum.
"City Beyond the Gate," Dragon #100.

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by Big Mac »

Havard wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:49 pm
I've posted many threads about this setting over the years, but I think we need a more general thread to organize things a bit. The HR series are not the only TSR/WotC books to detail a fantasy version of Earth, and other companies have also produced D&D and D20 material. We have had many discussions on how to combine various materials of these lines.

Let's look at the core products first:

The AD&D Historical Reference (HR) series(TSR)
You are talking about combining all of these products (and that's a valid way to go) but I wondered if they were originally intended to be standalone things.

And then I read something about them being written to work in pairs (although there are an odd number of them, which would imply that HR8 went missing).

I know HR6: Age of Heroes comes with a circular map (like a flat earth) that had that part of the world surrounded by a circular sea. I think that would either be something that cuts off the idea of the world being spherical and other cultures being beyond that sea...

...or you would have to say that things in some or all of the HR books are "incorrect".

I also don't think they all cover the same time period, which kind of makes them a little bit harder to use together. Not in a "realistic" way, anyway.

And I'm not sure that the combinations of magic...and PC magical abiliities...are all on the same level as each other. HR3: Celts Campaign Sourcebook seems to cut down religious spellcasting to the Druid class, while other books don't do that. But Wizards seem rare everywhere.

They all seem to be lower in magic level than standard D&D.

I can't say I've figured out how to use any of them. I avoid them in the past, but have been looking at them a bit more recently, with thoughts of seeing if they can be used as the basis of a Spelljammer crystal sphere. (I did specifically buy HR6: Age of Heroes to use in Greatspace.)
Havard wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:49 pm
Chronomancy and connection to other official D&D Worlds
Also worth mentioning right away is Roger Moore's Chronomancy article, since it assumes that the Earth described in the HREF series is the same as LaTerre from the Mystara Setting and Gothic Earth from the Ravenloft subsetting, Masque of the Red Death as discussed here. Dragon Magazine also had tons of material.
I wonder how much this was a continuation of the original Historical Reference plan, under a new brand identity...

...and how much, this took the opportunity of building on top of the canon from the HR books, in the same sort of way that the Spelljammer boxed set used Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk as background themes for three crystal sphere outlines that Jeff Grubb developed.

I think that the Masque of the Red Death link is especially opportunistic. It's genius really. You have someone making a RPG product based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe and loosely connected to Ravenloft. They need real-world stuff and raiding the HR series gives them a bunch of extra stuff, without doing all the extra work.

This kind of reminds me of how Spelljammer connects to a few campaign settigns..while Planescape links to more campaign settings.

The HR products can work on their own, in pairs (apparently), as a set of seven connected lands (subsettings?) or as the backdrop for Chronomancy or Mask of the Red Death.

If we ever get a Historical Reference forum at The Piazza, I think there will be different people wanting to use it in different ways.
Havard wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:49 pm
Connection to 3rd Party D&D Settings
The main product lines that cover earth-like settings for the d20 system are:
Those green HR books should really have been boxed sets, with a sourcebook for the GM, a guide for the players and an adventure. But they were not.

These products do not truly fit the HR product line, but they are mostly different versions of the same idea. With the HR products being very small, you need more to get an entire game from them, so raiding from some of these other products is going to be essential. But with the historical roleplaying genre, I think you have different designers having different takes on mythological things, like deities, legendary creatures and how much magic a setting based on that culture should have.

I believe that Yarth was an alternative Oerth used for the Sagard the Barbarian books and that it had a lower level of magic that Oerth. (So that's Greyhawk with the magic level turned down, if I recalled that correctly.) What you might have if you try to make a big campaign out of all these product lines is slightly higher levels of magic in some. Classes that exist in some areas, but not others and different ways to implement the same idea.

It might be an idea to look for an average or skim through the different rules to find the "historical" rules that you think are the most fun, so that you can pull books towards that baseline and tweak similar things so that they work together.
Havard wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:49 pm
Developing Fantasy Earth Further
We also have several threads developing this setting of Fantasy Earth one region at a time: Does this summarize the most important things we have so far?
I'm not sure if these are the most important things we have found so far. (If there is ever enough demand for a bespoke Historical Reference subforum at The Piazza, it might be easier to see the big picture.) But the world is a big place and there must be a lot of low profile cultures that have amazing myths of monsters and awesome legendary stories, that we just have not looked at yet.
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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by ripvanwormer »

Havard wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:49 pm
Northern Star
This should read Northern Crown.

Combining this with For Faerie, Queen, and Country by David "Zeb" Cook and Carl Sargent for the Amazing Engine RPG seems like a promising avenue to explore, since "the Albians are ruled by a half-fey queen" is one of the premises behind Northern Crown.

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by Havard »

ripvanwormer wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:02 am
Havard wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:49 pm
Northern Star
This should read Northern Crown.

Combining this with For Faerie, Queen, and Country by David "Zeb" Cook and Carl Sargent for the Amazing Engine RPG seems like a promising avenue to explore, since "the Albians are ruled by a half-fey queen" is one of the premises behind Northern Crown.
Fixed, thanks! I added a link to this thread with existing discussion of Northern Crown.

Love the idea of combining Northern Crown with "For Faerie, Queen and Country". Do you think other Amazing Engine settings could also be used to expand on HREF related settings?

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by Illuminatus »

Just wanted to add a quick shout out for the Dark Ages setting by Ian Malcomson in Dragon 257. (I've been running a Dark Ages campaign since Christmas.)

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by Dread Delgath »

Havard wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:02 pm
Love the idea of combining Northern Crown with "For Faerie, Queen and Country". Do you think other Amazing Engine settings could also be used to expand on HREF related settings?
Magitech is loosely based on fantasy characters & creatures existing in the modern day (for the 90's). It really isn't a "historical reference" to anything, although the setting may include as much real historic background as the GM wishes to bother with.

The same goes for Tabloid, as it is also based on "National Enquirer" style headlines that happen for real in the game, also in modern day (for the 90's).

For Fairie, Queen & Country was the only Amazing Engine setting that really captured any historical flavour for the setting, but it was the only AE setting that really needed to spell out Victorian Era customs & history for the modern player. Magitech & Tabloid were set in [current year] when published, so no topical guidance was really necessary. (Although if you were born in the 90's or later, you might've forgotten much about history & cultural items as adults would have seen them. I know many of my players grew up in the 90's and they have a much different view on pop culture remembrances than I do!

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth

Post by The Dark »

Illuminatus wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:42 pm
Just wanted to add a quick shout out for the Dark Ages setting by Ian Malcomson in Dragon 257. (I've been running a Dark Ages campaign since Christmas.)
And Dragon 263 (which has the Saxon pantheon for priestly characters).

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth (Setting Overview)

Post by Havard »

Added another entry:
Other TSR and WotC Modern and Historical Games
TSR published a wide range of RPGs and other games that can be used to flesh out the setting of historical earth. Games like Boot Hill, Gangbusters, Top Secret, Amazing Engines, Alternity and many others. See a complete list here. During the d20 Era, Wizards of the Coast published d20 Modern. You can find a product list for that game here.

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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth (Setting Overview)

Post by AlHazred »

Mention should perhaps be made of Testament, the d20 Biblical setting, and Crusader Earth, a d20 campaign "set on (mostly) historical Earth, in the Holy Land, just following the capture of Jerusalem by the Western Christians of the First Crusade."
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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth (Setting Overview)

Post by timemrick »

AlHazred wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:48 pm
Mention should perhaps be made of Testament, the d20 Biblical setting, and Crusader Earth, a d20 campaign "set on (mostly) historical Earth, in the Holy Land, just following the capture of Jerusalem by the Western Christians of the First Crusade."
Testament is part of Green Ronin's Mythic Vistas line, which has its own link in the OP.
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Re: [HREF] AD&D Historical Reference Earth (Setting Overview)

Post by AlHazred »

timemrick wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:18 pm
Testament is part of Green Ronin's Mythic Vistas line, which has its own link in the OP.
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I think I remember a thread on Crusader Earth on the Gleemax forums before they evaporated, but I can't find anything about it now.
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