Thoughts on Primeval Thule

There are no shortage of setting books for fantasy role playing games. There was a time when they were scarce, but the internet changed all that. I am fond of setting books because I find them to be a source of inspiration. That being said, I don’t commonly run adventures or campaigns set in them. I think the reason for this aversion, is that I fear I’ll get it wrong. I’d love to run a Dragonlance game, but what if my player’s know the world’s lore better than I do?

Primeval Thule by Sasquatch Game Studio is a campaign setting that I decided I could run, without the fear of getting it wrong,  or so I thought. The setting draws on the origins of pulp, sword and sorcery literature. Authors like Robert E. Howard (Conan) and Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) are strong influences on the setting. It also draws on H.P. Lovecraft (Cthulhu), utilizing his Great Old Ones and their cults as villains. Primeval Thule is a low magic setting, where magic is not something the common mortal was meant to wield. However, its an original setting and I didn’t have to worry about a player knowing more lore than me.

My current Primeval Thule campaign offered perks to players who chose classes that do not wield magic. Spell casters were not restricted, but they were not encouraged. In the end our group of six, had three spell caster. The characters are 7-8 level now and I feel the campaign has lost its low magic feel. If I were to run another campaign in Thule, I would make spell casting more of a chore. Maybe ask casters to track their spell components and have them constantly searching for more components. Another option would be to find new classes and sub-classes that don’t rely on spell casting. This would give players more options during character creation to stay away from magic users.

This idea of different classes and sub-classes makes me wonder if Dungeons & Dragons is the right system for Thule. D&D is based on a high magic, fantasy world and therefore its classes lend themselves easily to wielding magic. There was a third edition D&D setting called Iron Heroes, by Mike Mearls. Iron Heroes introduced a wide range of martial character classes. As it assumed a low magic setting. In my opinion a system like that would be better for the Primeval Thule setting. However, third edition D&D is very rule heavy and my preference is for light rule systems. I’m not sure what the fix is.

I enjoy Primeval Thule as a setting and I enjoy its source material. Its intention is to be a low magic setting with high adventure. If everyone in your party is a spell caster I feel as though you’ve missed the point. You have gotten the setting wrong. That’s where I’m at with my current Thule campaign, but fortunately it is nearing its end and I will have time to reflect before revisiting Thule.

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