Monday, September 10, 2012

A Little History on the Codex Druidum

Twenty years and scores of play-testers (numbering from 15-25+) later, and countless revisions, my Celtic Otherworld setting and labour is now seeing print! It is almost impossible to imagine that it is going to be a reality soon and every gamer can get a copy and use my envisioned project in their own games and stories. What it is, is simply putting into a definable and playable context the ancient Celtic land of Faery. This is the pagan afterlife where gods, monsters and the spirits (reincarnated) of ancestors dwell. Time does not pass here and it is scenic and ideal. Wealth is plentiful here and valueless. In most ways, it is contrary to everything that traditional D & D gamers hold dear: treasures, endless monsters to slay, and labyrinthine dungeons to crawl. In contrast, Faery is a series of wondrous islands covered in lush wildernesses and landscapes, inhabited by a quirky and spirited population of immortal beings and beasts that seem obscene and 'wrong'.

Through the process of making this entire lost and ill-defined setting a reality, I have mastered the Celtic languages, myths, histories and numberless faery-tales and terms to make this possible. Initially it was a forested, faery-like fantasy setting by the late 80's and then my studies merged with my hobbies and it was destined that I alone take on this near impossible task. The hardest part was to put definition to a place that, even among the Celtic sources, does not agree and are terribly vague. How to map Faery? Where do you start in such a vague notion as the 'Otherworld?' Sometimes it is described as being misty and dark with eerie woodlands or mountains, other times sunlit isles and glistening seas, and universally it is the opposite to our own world. Logically, since these sources are from the British Isles and the Insular Celtic peoples, it makes sense that the Isles of Faery are essentially the British Isles in reverse and then embellished with a more fanciful touch with thousands of more little mystical isles surrounding it. What became the Faery isles as you will see in the Codex Druidum took many generations of changes and corrections, merging regions of the islands with actual named places of the Otherworld. Oddly, each fit that specified region perfectly.

Celtic sources speak of Faery being ruled by kings, populated by warriors and a heroic place, living on a level greater than our own, but with no sickness, starvation or the usual problems that our world has. It is a dramatic place where nothing is minor or unimportant, but crucial to the way everything must be for balance in the universe. The next step of logic in this was to place Mortal world organizations and institutions in Faery and making it fit. Due to a space limitation however I could not delve even deeper in everything in the Codex, because there is so much. But in this edition I will support many extra things (Ogham, tribal arrangments and society, etc) with a supplement or two. I could write an academic study, with thousands of supporting sources deriving from the ancient texts and academic secondary sources to explain every decision in the book, and I might someday. It is just that monumental of a project. To some this will just be a gaming book, but academically it has achieved many suppositions and hypothesis in a unified manner. It was no easy undertaking, to think so insults two decades of my own personal research AND three thousand years of Celtic imagination and beliefs.

As the time draws near to when the Codex Druidum will be published by Troll Lord Games I will post more observations and deeper insights into the nature of this work. On the rule mechanics level I will answer those questions on the Troll Lord Games sites, but here I will give some glimpses into the many deep and detailed elements that have made this (one of several) life's works a reality. The book will be about 125 pages in size with over 110,000 words. Gamers are already impatient for it, slavering and drooling with the tantalizing glimpses they see and that makes me proud. There are a thousand thousand ideas in this book that will inspire people to make fun characters, run amazing adventures and even produce art and fiction, for Faery has never been presented as it should. Not in literature or any other means, but I will be redeeming that over the next few years. The first novel to link this project to the literary world at large, 'The Girl with the Rainbow Eyes' is just a few chapters from completion. It is a part of trilogy +1 I have in mind. I have always had a feeling that this whole project was going to become something major, not in the way that most people are biased towards their own work and think it is surely destined for greatness just because they made it. Nope. This has been a consistent thing for twenty-years straight, and now more so since it is done.

Originally its rules were written and designed around the Adventure Maximum system, but it never got off of the ground as I hoped. The launching point I was wanting through that system never occurred, for many reasons. By chance and luck Castles & Crusades came my way and the opportunity presented itself. It will take me some time to fully comprehend the fact that this project is done, written and officially able to be used and played by millions of gamers everywhere...soon. The cover art is being worked on by Peter Bradley, while Steve goes over it and gets it into editor's hands. Next will be the maps and interior art and then the layout, and then a few careful look overs by me and then it goes to press, and to make some gaming history I believe.

Be prepared for so much new, fantastic and Celtic imagined stuff in this book that it will take a long time to go over before you roll up a faery, or faery-blooded, adventurer with unique abilities, name and combat feats. Your character can dash in the ageless forests, travel over the strange mountains and hills and delve deep into the underworld of Annwn. It is wild, feral and savage, a setting with contrasts, paradoxes and an in-human logic and guaranteed something that no gamer has done but wanted to someday, that is now here and that time has arrived.



  1. Really looking forward to taking a gander at this. Our group plays Dave Morris' Dragon Warriors "Legend" setting, albeit with the Savage Worlds system. One of the most inspirational series I read in recent years was Lawhead's Celtic cycle - and it sounds as though this might complement that nicely. I try to incorporate as much Celtic influence in my setting as possible.
    As a matter of interest, which Welsh college were you at? My wife and I are Aberystwyth alumni.

  2. I earned my Masters at Lampeter, but I plan on going back there for my PhD soon, it was the reason I wanted to go to university in the first place! I loved it! I haven't read a Celtic novel since the 90's because the fiction element is so out of bounds with the reality of the Celts it drives me nuts. This Codex has quite a history behind it. Good news is that it is entering into edit phase very soon now and should be ready by the end of the month or October! There is so much in this book that I will be writing a supplement to finish the job! Newyddion da!

  3. SavageLegend, I went to your blog and love it! I don't have a wordpress account anymore but I will find a way to join yours to keep up with it. Diolch yn fawr!