J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, May 07, 2023

Replaying the Revolutionary War with Twenty-Sided Dice

This month I noticed a Kickstarter page for a table-top role-playing game called “Nations & Cannons: The American Crisis,” set during the Revolutionary War.

The crowdfunding campaign by Flagbearer Games is well over its target goal, but there are still a few days to sign up for different rewards.

I confess I’ve found Dungeons and Dragons mystifying ever since I saw another kid at summer camp surreptitiously pirating an entire manual on the office photocopier. In high school some friends played the game, but they invited me along only once (I made some unorthodox suggestion about stealing armor, as I recall).

All that means is that I have no idea what this jargon means:
Nations & Cannons is a complete historical campaign setting for D&D 5e, equipped with a brand new base class, the Firebrand, and six new subclass options for the core classes. It also includes new character creation options for a game where everyone is human. Roles, such as Officer, Scout, and Pioneer, mechanically replace the fantasy races. Heritages, such as Québécois, Colonial, and Haudenosaunee, determine your cultural background and provide an opportunity to showcase all of the different peoples and languages spoken in North America in the 1700s. Last, but certainly not least, Nations & Cannons comes with complete rules for black powder firearms, grenades, and of course, cannons! . . .

Nations & Cannons replaces spells with Gambits—extraordinary acts of ingenuity, guile, or gumption. Gambits function identically to spellcasting so that they are compatible with games that use traditional magic rules for 5e. While there aren't any Wizards, Rangers and Firebrands are casters that use gambits to create dynamic moments in combat, while exploring, or in a social encounter.
But I’m sure there are people happily in the intersection of T.T.R.P.G. and RevWar hobbies.

And the cloth hanging of Henry Pelham’s map of the siege of Boston is very tempting.

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