The Anarchy of King Stephen
The year is AD 1139, and Western Europe is in the grip of turmoil. King Henry I died without a clear heir, and now two contenders vie for the throne of Wessex: Stephen, heir designate and favored by the Anglo-Saxon nobility, and Matilda, Widow-Empress and champion of the Normans in Wessex. War is a constant threat, and lawlessness covers the land.
Worse, something in the world has changed. Mystical creatures and horrors from half-remembered nightmares, long thought vanquished from the land by Christ and the Saints, now stir in the deep places of the Earth. When they emerge, they maraud the countryside and terrorize the peasantry.
It seems as though the end of the world has come. What are you to do? The nobles are caught up in their struggles, half the farmers in the fields are mustered for war, and brigands and highwaymen are to be found around every turn. Nothing else for it but to take up your sword and grab whatever riches you can before your short life comes to an end in the darkening world…
The Anarchy of King Stephen is primarily an old-fashioned dungeon crawl, hearkening back to the days of the old Red Box. However, it uses a ruleset based on the d20 system, with elements of other RPGs thrown in to streamline the experience. The game is an open table — if you’re interested in playing, just show up and we’ll roll some dice.
The Kingdom of Wessex is loosely based on medieval England during the time of the Anarchy. It is a low-magic, low-fantasy setting wherein the player characters are as likely to be seen as marauding brigands as they are as heroes. Humans are in the overwhelming majority and demihumans rarely adventure forth from their enclaves over the seas. Feudalism and manorialism are firmly entrenched, and life is short and brutal even for the nobility.
The only sources of solace and respite most people have are the Church and the great tales of adventure by mighty heroes. Every peasant dreams of becoming a knight, and every knight dreams of dying in the service of God and chivalry.
Inspirations for the setting include The Canterbury Tales, The Song of Roland and Robin Hood. It was initially developed by Jeff Rients, of Jeff’s Gameblog.
Dates and Times
The game is played at Boldo’s Armory, located at 891 Monroe Avenue in Rochester, NY. It runs from 2 to 6 pm on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of every month. The game is an open table, and no prior experience with the game is required. Character sheets and dice will be provided. All you need to bring is enthusiasm, an adventuresome spirit, and the ability to play well with others!
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