Saturday, 16 April 2011

A-Z Challenge: N – Nine Herb Charm

“A snake came crawling, it bit a man. Then Woden took nine glory-twigs, Smote the serpent so that it flew into nine parts. There apple brought this pass against poison, That she nevermore would enter her house.”

The Nine Herb Charm is a famous Old English poem (as far as OE poems go). You can read it in OE and translation here. It’s interesting and I could have used to base a system of Saxon healing magic, maybe even a Cleric/Priest class, but I decided not to go that way. Instead I gave it to the Wildling Wicce as a major healing magic. It can cure anything, poison, curse, disease, fatal wounds anything, but the Wicce can only do this nine times (and each time must pay a price).

What the Nine Herb Charm represents then, in the context of the A-Z Challenge, is that although different in feel, tone, and rules to D&D; Redwald is still D&D. Sometimes it serves the game better to ignore history, mythology, folklore, well-loved fantasy fiction, and any other influence and just use material the way you think works best for the game.  We can read history, Tolkien, and Beowulf, study mythology and folklore, but the game is the game and there should never be a situation where what is ‘historically correct’ or ‘established knowledge’ or worst of all sins ‘canon’ is allowed to get in the way of the game you and your group play at the table.

That’s why, compared to what you might think you’d find in an Anglo-Saxon Dark Ages RPG, there are things that are different, missing, randomly added, or even plain wrong found in Redwald.


  1. Hey, Lee,

    Very interesting.... Hopping over from A-Z... Nice to meet you.

    A very cool look to your blog.

  2. I agree with this sentiment, often a balance needs to be found between what is right and what actually works.

  3. @Michael Di Gesu: Cheers, much appreciated and thanks for organising this whole A-Z thing. It's great fun.

    @austrodavicus: Yeah, I also think sometimes people want to force aspects of other media such as novels, and films that just don't work with a game.