Sep 29

The Dream Heroquest of Unknown Kadath 4: Historical Figures



After a long break, the dreamquest returns with another six people to join me in a fictional game. I also nominate the dream GM and determine which system we play. As noted in the first post in this series, the idea came from other blogs.




A Recurring Dream

The fourth in the Dream Heroquest of Kadath series picks up with a new theme. Today I am choosing a group of historical figures for my game. If I define historical as not currently alive, then both JRR Tolkien and Jane Austen were previously eligible.


This dream has a few additional rules. Firstly, let us assume that everyone arrives at the peak of their fame and abilities. Nobody is diminished by age, so the physical ages around the table may vary wildly. Also, for simplicity, I assume everyone is speaking modern English, and thus there are no communication errors.




The Rules of Dreaming

Before delving into the list of Players, I first need a rules system. Despite the name of this series of articles, I cannot choose my beloved HeroQuest every time. For this Dream Heroquest, I chose Primetime Adventures by Matt Wilson, published by Dog-eared Designs. The website describes the game as follows:


Create a cast of characters, figure out what makes them tick, and put them in dramatic situations.

Things won’t always go the way you want. Will the characters prove their loyalty? Will they stay out of trouble? Will they remain friends? Play cards to find out what happens when things on your show get complicated.


Read more at Dog-eared Designs


Given that I plan to choose Players from several different eras in history, it would be cool to play a time-travel television show. I imagine a cross between Quantum Leap and Doctor Who, maybe with a bit of Bill and Ted thrown in too. For a one-shot game, this will feel like a long pilot show, hopefully with scenes focused on each of the characters.



Dream GM

My next choice is for the GM to run Primetime Adventures. The obvious choice here is Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare. He is a strong candidate for being the greatest storyteller ever, producing work over a broad range of subjects. My personal favourite is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but there are so many brilliant plays to choose from.


Read more about William Shakespeare on Wikipedia


Given William’s experience with historical, tragic and comedic plays, I am sure he could weave together a fascinating game in Primetime. I would hope for memorable supporting characters, witty dialogue and a plot which danced between the timelines of the historical Players.



Dream Players

So, with the GM and the rules chosen, it is time to look at the Players for this Historical Dream Heroquest. The rules of this series allow me six choices, one of which is the GM. Thus, I now have five Players to select to join me on the Dream Heroquest of Unknown Kadath.



James Stewart

As a foil for our playwright GM, my first choice is James Stewart, my favourite actor. Bell, Book and Candle is a Christmas tradition in our house, with other favourites including The Philadelphia Story and Rear Window. James also served in World War II, where he was a highly decorated bomber commander.


Read more about James Stewart at Wikipedia


As with Morgan Freeman in a previous Dream Heroquest, I would love to sit back and listen to James talk. His trademark drawl would melt my heart every time. James is known for portraying middle America, yet many of his Western heroes were tough guys. I would like to see James portray a charming bard in the game.



Alexander the Great

To accompany the actor with a strong military career, here is a famous general with a flair for drama. Alexander built one of the largest empires in the Ancient world and was never defeated in battle. He was taught by Aristotle and the story of how he solved the Gordian Knot illustrates an agile mind.


Read more about Alexander the Great at Wikipedia


I have long had an interest in military history, and Alexander seems a good choice for a military genius who would be willing to share the spotlight in a game. I expect Alexander to play a warrior of some sort, but it would be more interesting to bring out his strategic genius, not just another dumb fighter relying upon the size of his muscles.




My next choice is a descendant of Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s close friends. Cleopatra ruled Egypt between 51 and 30 BCE, making her another figure from antiquity. She was famed for her wit and charm and displayed great determination in trying to save her kingdom from Roman domination.


Read more about Cleopatra at Wikipedia


Cleopatra is an interesting choice for several reasons. Firstly, it would be cool to pitch William as a GM to a character he wrote about. Secondly, Cleopatra would be a strong presence at the table. I am sure her wit and charm would work brilliantly in the game. Media portrayals often show her as a femme fatale, but I would expect William to lead her to a more interesting role.



Ada Lovelace

My next choice brings intelligence to the table. Ada was the daughter of Byron and is famous as for her work with Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. She wrote the first computer programme and was the first prophet of the computer age.


Read more about Ada Lovelace at Wikipedia


I suspect Ada’s prominence in my mind is at least in part due to my recent reading of The Difference Engine. Yet, it would be fascinating to pitch Ada into a cyberpunk-style story, where she could explore the modern role of computers.



Krystyna Skarbek

If Ada is the brains, then Krystyna is the rogue, a woman of action. Krystyna was a Polish aristocrat who joined the British Special Operatives Executive during World War II. She served extensively in occupied Europe, earning many medals and the label “Churchill’s favourite spy.”


Read more about Krystyna Skarbek at Wikipedia


Krystyna is the link to hold together the group, being a noble with an extensive record of service in WWII. Her drive and ingenuity will push the group through the story, and I expect her to dream up an elaborate solution to the challenge set by the GM.




So, another six choices for a Dream Heroquest. How awesome would this Primetime game be? I suspect the game would feature a dramatic conclusion, worthy of a great action film. Yet, William Shakespeare can be relied upon for inter-personal drama too, so it will be a session with many layers.


Who are your favourite historical figures? Who from history would you want to play an RPG with? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Happy Gaming



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