Anno Domini 1252 is a solo RPG from Coleman Piskins Roleplaying Games. Designed by Giovanni Poli, the game is set in 13h century Brittany during the reign of the Holy Inquisition.
Geek Native had the chance to talk to Giovanni Poli about the game. It’s worth noting that Giovanni is also the talent behind the Italian language version of the RPG too.
Why did you decide to write a tabletop roleplaying game?
Everything comes from my passion for this world, which began in the late 80s, with falling in love with that “red box” that many of us loved, and in fact never ended. Dozens of role-playing games went under my nose, many of which I managed to play with some continuity. From these premises, it was easy for the spark to try to write something of my own.
Anno Domini 1252 is set, as the name implies, in the Middle Ages. Why this choice?
I thought that setting the game in a real world, and not fantasy, could paradoxically represent a novelty, a hint of originality. And what historical period, if not the Middle Ages of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Heresies, the Knights Templar, the Monastic Orders, the plagues, would have lent itself better to this purpose?
The Middle Ages is always my favorite historical period, and the game was in many ways inspired by many of my passions. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, with the Benedictine Monastery, the diatribe between the Franciscans and the Papal Delegation, Bernardo Gui and his hunt for the “Witches”. Ladyhawke (by Richard Donner), Highlander (by Russell Mulcahy), with his Victor “the Kurgan” Krugen. To characterize the different Character Classes, all represented by solitary, melancholic, cursed creatures, many ideas came from classic genre fiction. Elric of Melnibonè, by Michael Moorcock. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rice’s Witches (Witches’ Hour) and Vampires (Interview with the Vampire).
Why set the RPG in Brittany?
We liked the idea that in the veins of your character flowed Breton blood, blood of a people of Celtic origins, proud, tenacious, and very unwilling to be subjugated, to be put their feet on someone’s head. We needed the elements, in short, that fully justified the fact that, at some point, you decided to rebel against the system. To fight it with the means, and the ways, that you decide to make your own for the war on Power that you are about to move.
Thirteenth-century Christian Europe was a decidedly hostile place to live. Brutality, violence, corruption, had cast their grim shadow over everything, and everyone. The Rules of the Religious Orders, originally devoted to poverty and total dedication to a monastic lifestyle, were increasingly deceived, ignored, replaced with ambitions that had little, or nothing, to do with the charitable spirit that had given birth to them.
Keeping such a turbulent, explosive social context under control was certainly not a simple operation. In the Palaces of Power, therefore, it became increasingly urgent to find a “culprit” to blame for everything that was going wrong. This explains, at least in part, the birth of the Religious-Military Orders, of the first Crusades, of that immense, terrible cog that was the Office of the Holy Inquisition. And here we are, talking about you… a Beast of the Underworld, a Heretic, a Shapeshifter, a Necromancer, a Witch, or a Vampire… whatever Class of the Character you choose, it is obvious that you represent exactly that “different”, that “monster” that the society of the thirteenth century was not willing to accept.
Anno Domini 1252 is a solo RPG. Why not a traditional tabletop RPG?
It is the setting, the gaming experience, that requires it. Your character will be a Beast of the Underworld, a Vampire, a Witch, a Heretic, a Shapeshifter or a Necromancer. A cursed and solitary creature, in short, that would hardly accompany someone else. In Anno Domini 1252 you will represent the villain, the “monster”.
What differentiates your game from the many solo roleplaying games that have come out in recent years?
Solo role-playing games are, by their nature, generally skewed towards the Dungeon Crawler. In Anno Domini 1252 we tried to create a scenario, a story, a thread that links one adventure to the next. There is a big wrong at the base of everything, a plan of revenge and a precise enemy, with a name and a surname: Gustave Letienne, the Holy Inquisitor. All adventures, even those generated with the procedural system of the Dungeon Random Generator, will revolve around this central strand, representing the pieces of a story.
Do the core rules contain everything you need to play?
Absolutely, there are all the necessary rules and tables, including the first adventure and a rich appendix with everything you need to play in Dungeon Random Generator mode, which will guarantee you endless hours of autonomous play.
Are the rules complicated? Could this be someone’s first solo TTRPG?
We have tried to simplify all procedures as much as possible. Everything revolves around four characteristics – Physical Strength, Alertness, Strike Terror, Self-Control – and two skills – Roll to Hit and Roll to Defend.
Then there will be the magic formulas, concoctions, evil eyes and other powers typical of the class of the character you choose, but without ever weighing down the gaming experience.
Fans of RPGs sometimes like to buy for the collectibility of games, cartography, the aesthetics of layout and the game’s art. Do you think Anno Domini 1252 holds up?
And we, as authors, agree with them! It is useless to hide our love for everything that unites under the banner of the Old School, of those manuals with the scent of cardboard, of black and white printed paper, of ink illustrations, that many of us still remember and love.
I can only thank Fabrizio Peraldo Neia, for the passion and attention he has put into every detail of his beautiful designs. Jonathan Repetto, for the patience put into drawing by hand every single piece of every single map that you will find in the manual. Moreno Paissan, whose wonderful maps will embellish the historical-geographical expansion module that will be published in the coming months.
Can you help readers enter the world of Anno Domini 1252?
I can give you the first adventure, the one contained in the Rules Tome, with a pre-generated character and a summary of the main rules necessary for the game. Have fun!
- DriveThruRPG: Anno Domini 1252.
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