Note 2018-06-05: Eldritch Realms has been renamed to Magonomia
Hot off my keyboard, I have a first draft of the introduction to Eldritch Realms. This will no doubt be revised and may end up being rewritten entirely. That said, here is what I have to say about the upcoming game.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. --
Act I, scene 5
The European Renaissance was a golden age of magic. Alongside the blossoming of art, mathematics, and natural philosophy was a corresponding flourishing of astrology, alchemy, and mysticism. Queen Elizabeth I of England (reigned 1558-1603) had, for many years, a court magician: not a mere entertainer, but a serious adviser named Dr. John Dee. Alchemy was not merely a quest to turn lead into gold, but the noble science of transforming matter, which was hoped to cure sickness and perhaps even extend the human lifespan. Astrology was a required subject at medical school so doctors could diagnose patients' ailments from their horoscopes. Yet magic was not just for the elite: astrological almanacs were best-selling books, second only to the Bible in popularity.
We now know that natural philosophy, which modern people call simply “science,” was the branch of knowledge that would bear fruit, while the branch called “magic” ultimately proved barren. What if it had been the other way around? What if, in an imaginary world, it was magic that contained the keys of truth and gave mankind mastery over nature?
This is the world of Eldritch Realms: a world of historical fantasy where the magical lore of Renaissance Europe is basically accurate. The stars do guide people's fates. Conjurers can call spirits to project images of distant places into a crystal ball. A host of invisible spirits, good and evil, swarm through the world and can be commanded by those who know their names and the proper rituals.
The world of Eldritch Realms has all the perils and villains of historical Europe -- tyrannical barons, conspiracies against the Crown, war, rebellion, fanatical witch-hunters, corrupt businessmen and officials, highwaymen and pirates -- with an added layer of the supernatural. Rival wizards scheme to steal your magical secrets. Fallen sorcerers become the pawns of evil spirits in their subtle and wicked games. Werewolves prowl the moors and forests. Vengeful ghosts torment the living. Faerie princes lure mortals into their hollow hills, never to be seen again. Eldritch England is a place of wonders and perils, ripe for adventure!
This book contains all the information you need to create adventure stories in Eldritch England, our fantastical version of Britain during Elizabeth I's reign. Your character is a wizard, one of the very few who possess the cleverness, dedication, and strength of character necessary to work magic. If she knows the right spells, she can wield the powers of legend: to turn invisible, spy upon distant places with a crystal ball, to become nearly invulnerable in battle or even to forecast the future. The story you create will be partly about how your character chooses to wield this great power. Together with your friends, you decide how your character's destiny unfolds!
I would love to hear your feedback on this. Please use the comments to share your thoughts!