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Help with Worldbuilding in Historical Fantasy

Discussion in 'World Building' started by thatguy, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. thatguy

    thatguy Acolyte

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    Hello everyone! Apologies if this post could be considered too political/religious/controversial.

    I will be playing a historical fantasy game of Burning Wheel (a tabletop rpg) and novelizing it for camp Nanowrimo this year. The setting will be a mix of Ivanhoe, the Arthurian myths, and Game of Thrones all set just after the Second Crusade.

    However, I feel like I have run into some problems. I feel like when I "run" the game, I'd want to run it in such a way that LGBT+ people are accepted, can get married, etc. Yet I know that the actual Middle Ages was anything but LGBT+ friendly. Is there a way I can balance both historical accuracy and the fictional aspects of medieval ages being so incredibly homophobic? I'd prefer to keep the campaign mostly historically accurate rather than in a fictional setting.
     
  2. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    You might have to compromise.

    These relationships might still be viewed negatively when in the public eye, but behind doors and within some circles not raise any eyebrows. Or not many eyebrows.

    So for instance within a group of knights of a particular order, or among various middle east noble classes or families, the LGBT+ relationships are an "open secret" if not outright in the open among them when they are not in the public eye.

    Even the public eye might, er, heh, turn a blind eye sometimes, or make jokes about it but not seriously use it against those knights or ruling houses.

    What is historically accurate is this: no society is absolutely monolithic. Within a society, there will be a variety of opinions, viewpoints, and so forth. So you can tweak this to allow for what I've already mentioned, but you'll still probably need to have instances of homophobic opinions being expressed or even acted upon.
     
  3. thatguy

    thatguy Acolyte

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    One idea I was thinking was that most people would say something along the lines of "there are more important things to deal with than two guys being together", though like you said not everyone would have that view.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    In a word, no. Not if you're going to insist on legal and socially-acceptable marriage. There *were* such marriages in the Middle Ages, but the topic is complicated. John Boswell has written about this, as has my own medieval professor, Glenn Olsen.

    Basically you want to use modern values in a medieval setting and are asking if there's a way to have those values be medieval. Why not just establish from the outset that you are making a change, and then roll with it? We have no trouble at all in saying "here's the Middle Ages, but with dragons." The introduction of dragons is necessarily going to change some things, right?
     
  5. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

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    The easiest way to make the medieval period more LGBT+ friendly would be to change how the Church interpreted Scripture. What if the Church decided that the condemnation of homosexual acts in Leviticus was aimed at men practising such acts for religious or entertainment purposes rather than gay men? A simple change but it still largely keeps things historically accurate.
     
  6. thatguy

    thatguy Acolyte

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    I might have it reinterpret scripture, yeah. Thanks!
     
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