Any good early medieval and / or gritty medieval / fantasy games out there?


Video Games


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As the title says, I'm looking for some medieval or fantasy game set in something similar to the early medieval/migration period, and/or something a bit more gritty than the standard late medieval/renaissance high magic worlds.

So, thinks I'd like in no special order of importance:
- Migration period/early medieval
- Historical would be a bonus but not necessary
- Low or no fantasy
- Low or no magic
- Low tech
- A bit "low-key". This is hard to define, but I guess less of the massiveness of Lord of the Rings and more of the personal struggles of the Thief series?

Game type genre is less relevant than flavor genre; I'm not much for straight-out RTS's unless they're unusually good, but first-person sneaker or action, classical RPG, turn-based strategy, action RPG or anything similar works.

So far I've found the thief series (which where great, at least the first two, though a little too high-tech) and Mount & Blade (especially with the Brytenwalda mod which is set in the 600's of the British Isles).

Any ideas? :D

The Exchange

All that comes to mind at the moment are three options:

Age of Chivalry, which is absolute madness but has good fun medieval combat. If you enjoy Mount & Blade, you'll likely enjoy the combat style in Chivalry.

The First Templar... it doesn't have magic in the traditional sense but it has prayers which can do fairly mystical things.
It's somewhat linear and the story isn't too spectacular, but overall I enjoyed it.

The King's Crusade which is primarily an RTS (fairly good one) with elements of RPG. It's set during the 12th century in the Middle-Eastern crusades near Jerusalem and is historically authentic (not necessarily accurate)... as in names, locations, weaponry, combat tactics and general details, also other than being able to use relics to add some bonus abilities it doesn't use magic.


Mmmm...

Well, there are a few options which can cater to some, or all of your desires, to one degree or another.

Dark Ages Cthulhu and Shadows of Esteren, seem the most clear choices.

Dark Ages Cthulhu has a setting that is indistinguishable from real world early medieval, for that is the world in which is it set, with the one exception being that ancient horrors for ye vasty deeps dwell at bottom of the Mandelbrot set and thing you taste good with ketchup. Like all Cthulhu settings it works best when meticulously research real world history is remixed with sections of Mythos lore.

Shadows of Esteren is a low fantasy setting based loosely in Celtic myth, with a few odd additions, add anachronism to generate weirdness.

An interesting setting, it largely meets your desires with low key magic, low fantasy setting, and more than its fair share of grittiness; but does include a small amount of higher tech level material, such as gas lights. Not an easy setting to describe, and one I suspect you'll only know if you like for not by reading.Fortunately there is a quick start guide.

Moving on, Pendragon can be all of these things at times, but also something very different thanks to its strong ties to Arthurian legend. It is interesting game, with a huge pre-written campaign attatched. However, it's focus is squarely on life as a knight. You simple shouldn't consider playing this game is the idea of playing an Arthurian knight does not appeal to you.

Ars Magica is one of the best games of medevial european fantasy going, but while it does do gritty, nominally low fantasy and quasi-historical fantasy, it does not leave magic at the door. Magic is the primary focus of the game and can be insanely powerful. It has an unusual troupe style of play with each player having multiple character, including their wizard, and his companions, with you the player deciding who you'll send out on a scenario.

If you can stomach higher levels of fantasy and later time period, but what you really want is gritty, it is widely held that Warhammer fantasy roleplay is the single best, high grittiness fantasy setting going. I'd suggest sticking with 2nd edition, though others might advise you towards 1st. While there maybe corporal undead menices, and orcish hordes in the warhammer world, they are all but entirely ignored in WFRP, with the focus being very firmly on rural and urban stories within the empires boundaries, where enemies tend towards being corrupt humans, rather than other threats the world contains.

There is also the excilent old school clone/remix, Lamentations of the flame princess, which is alone a perfectly good rule system for running a game in the kind of world your discussing. If you can cope with your other demands, but move your time period forwards to the english civil war, then you'll find the horrific adventure 'the god that crawls' fit your nature as well as any of the above.


Age of Chivalry: Played it, but didn't like it. I have a hard time for strict multiplayer games without any real "world" or story about it; a game like that doesn't immerse me, it just feels like an arcade game (which can be fun, but I don't much care for the flavor in arcade games)

The First Templar: This looks really interesting, I'll look for a demo or something to try out. Thanks for a good tip! It's seems a little late era and high magic/too flashy, but I'll test it out and see if it's good :3

Kings Crusade: Looks a lot like Medieval 2, which I enjoy. Definately gonna give this a shot though it isn't exactly what I'm looking for right now.

Zombieneighbours: Ah, was looking for PC games - sorry for not clarifying that. Thanks for putting all that effort into it though :$


Hackmaster (5e) might be worth taking a look at based on your criteria.


Video games forum


Now it's too late to edit the OP so I'll just write it here in capitals so noone else has to waste their time due to my sloppiness in the OP (sorry for that):

I'M LOOKING FOR PC GAMES OR PS2 GAMES, NOT PnP GAMES

(capitals are so people notice it, not to sound screamy. again, sorry)


uh, this uses mice instead of people, but maybe check out the Mouse Guard RPG?

I'm not sure if it's still in print, tho...


Wikipedia has a fairly good list of dark fantasy games. Not necessarily medieval settings though.

Skimming over the list, the game that stands out for me is Path of Exile. It's a Diablo clone with a ridiculously huge skill tree. I've played the beta a whole lot (I think it's still in open beta actually, either way it's supposed to be free to play). While it plays a lot like Diablo, the setting is a lot more early middle ages and the magic is a fair bit more low key. It's also not nearly as over the top.

Could be worth checking out of the aesthetics appeal to you.

The Exchange

I thought it was fairly clear you were talking about computer games by the mention of Thief and Mount & Blade, RTS and first person action in the first post.

Anyway, just thought of another RTS game... fairly old one but it's on offer at the moment on Steam.

Knights of Honor
http://store.steampowered.com/app/25830/
It's fairly popular among die-hard RTS fans, but might feel a little dated depending on your view on older games.

Looking at the games in the genre, It's quite shocking that the majority of games in a medieval or renaissance settings seem to require the inclusion of magic. It's sounds like a lot of developers think it won't be fun without magic to add a special element to the gameplay/story.


I have no issues with games being old, heck, I'm mentioning Thief 1 as being the type of game I want ;) Age isn't an issue for me, though I tend to stay away from the type of first-person round-based RPG's that where popular during early 90's, like the the Might and Magic series.

Knights of honor looks like a good game, but not really what I'm looking for; a bit too late-era for an RTS to catch my fancy.


Fantasy/no fantasy is less of an issue for me if the game is set a bit earlier though... For example, I just realized Rune is a bit like what I'm looking for, though it has magic.

So early medieval up until viking age really.


Ilja wrote:

As the title says, I'm looking for some medieval or fantasy game set in something similar to the early medieval/migration period, and/or something a bit more gritty than the standard late medieval/renaissance high magic worlds.

So, thinks I'd like in no special order of importance:
- Migration period/early medieval
- Historical would be a bonus but not necessary
- Low or no fantasy
- Low or no magic
- Low tech
- A bit "low-key". This is hard to define, but I guess less of the massiveness of Lord of the Rings and more of the personal struggles of the Thief series?

Game type genre is less relevant than flavor genre; I'm not much for straight-out RTS's unless they're unusually good, but first-person sneaker or action, classical RPG, turn-based strategy, action RPG or anything similar works.

So far I've found the thief series (which where great, at least the first two, though a little too high-tech) and Mount & Blade (especially with the Brytenwalda mod which is set in the 600's of the British Isles).

Any ideas? :D

I ran a game set in medieval Poland involving pretty much how you want it. Low fantasy, low magic, migration, war, gritty.

There were zombie Rus, it was pretty fun. Ran for a few sessions, then it finished.


Ilja wrote:

As the title says, I'm looking for some medieval or fantasy game set in something similar to the early medieval/migration period, and/or something a bit more gritty than the standard late medieval/renaissance high magic worlds.

So, thinks I'd like in no special order of importance:
- Migration period/early medieval
- Historical would be a bonus but not necessary
- Low or no fantasy
- Low or no magic
- Low tech
- A bit "low-key". This is hard to define, but I guess less of the massiveness of Lord of the Rings and more of the personal struggles of the Thief series?

Game type genre is less relevant than flavor genre; I'm not much for straight-out RTS's unless they're unusually good, but first-person sneaker or action, classical RPG, turn-based strategy, action RPG or anything similar works.

So far I've found the thief series (which where great, at least the first two, though a little too high-tech) and Mount & Blade (especially with the Brytenwalda mod which is set in the 600's of the British Isles).

Any ideas? :D

Hmm.

Might be a bit obvious but THE WITCHER? It's inspired by Medieval European history and is somewhat low magic (though you do have magic potions and there are wizards in the game, though you are not one, but can use some magical powers).

The GAME OF THRONES RPG might be another choice. Whilst based on the books/TV show, it's much, much 'lower key', with a personal storyline that really affects your main characters and a few others. The game is low-to-almost-no-magic (a sort of telepathic link between one of the two playable characters and a dog is as far as it goes, I think). The writing is a bit rough, especially for the first couple of hours, but then it gets a lot better. The story and twists are extremely impressive. A couple of cameos aside, it also has nothing to do with the books/TV show, and foreknowledge or appreciate of them is not required.

For strategy games, something like the STRONGHOLD series or MEDIEVAL II: TOTAL WAR (you can set it to an early medieval game without guns or heavy armour) might suffice.


Burning Wheel's default setting is like a cross between really genuine Middle-Earth and a well-researched take on the 14th century. The author cites a lot from Barbara Tuchman's wonderful non-fiction book A Distant Mirror. That work was clearly used in devising the character creation system. It's not for everyone, but if you really want to depict medieval society, especially the Anglo-French conflicts in the age of chivalry, that game is quite well suited to the task.

Be warned, however, you'll have to be quite knowledgable about the period in order to get the most out of that game. I find it a little intimidating at times, but I learned a lot about history from it.


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mount and blade warband more mideval than fantasy though.


Werthred:
Tried the witcher, didn't like. Partly because it was very high-fantasy (though low-magic) and partly because of the rampant sexism... Much more than in the average game, just too much for me to really handle. GoT RPG sounds kinda nice, though I never really fancied the show (and haven't bothered with the book) the setting seems kind of what I'm looking for. Gonna try that one out.

Evil Lincoln: Are there any computer games based on burning wheel? I searched but the closest I could find was a car racing game ;D

Doctor Wu: As mentioned in the OP Mount & Blade is one of the few games I've found, especially with the Brytenwalda expansion. It's a fantastic game and honestly what got me in the mood for more games set in that kind of setting.

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I am totally surprised no one said Mount and Blade.

This is an FANTASTIC set of games historically based and very fun to play. To date there have been 3 installments that I know of and M&B II in the works.

It is very inexpensive.

I'd say try it because to date this is one of the best hands down Historical based games

Mount and BladeTale Worlds

EDIT: Correction... Four. Mount and Blade Napoleon Wars which is Multi Player and looks fun

Liberty's Edge

The Bard's Tale remake.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

IceniQueen: I said Mount and Blade in the opening post and doctorwu suggested it and others have mentioned my mention of it ;D

It IS a fantastic game, and I fully encourage anyone with a PC to try it (and some of it's mods/modules like Floris, Brytenwalda, or Sword of Damocles).

Besides minecraft and planescape torment easily the game that has gotten me most fun per swedish krona spent.

Though I am fearful that mount and blade 2 will wait for many years, and likely never be finished... It's sad, but I think it's what we have to count on. The excellent homebrew modules keep the game floating though.

Krensky: The bard's tale seems neither low-fantasy, early medieval or low-key... I'm not sure I want to spend the little cash I have on it. Care to sell me on why it matches my requests in the OP? Thanks a lot.


Ilja wrote:
So early medieval up until viking age really.

Just to clarify, the end of the viking age signifies the beginning of the medieval age. At least for the parts of the world that had a viking age.


Slaunyeh wrote:
Ilja wrote:
So early medieval up until viking age really.
Just to clarify, the end of the viking age signifies the beginning of the medieval age. At least for the parts of the world that had a viking age.

Huh, I've always interpreted medieval as the same as the middle ages, and ranging from about the fall of the roman empire to the beginning of the rennaissance. Wikipedia refers to it as being the 500's to the 1500's which is about where I've always put it too. The viking age here in Sweden was from about 800 to 1050 (I think it's exactly to 1050, always learned that in school at least, a very precis measurement! Was some lord or another that died about then...), so kind of at the edge between the early middle ages and high medieval period.


Well. I don' know anything about Swedish historians, but danish middle ages are generally accepted to begin around the year 1000. There is some debate over when exactly to draw the line. Some think the infection of Christianity around 965 is a good benchmark. Others point to the battle of Hastings as the effective closure to the Viking chapter.

As an aside, the danish middle ages also ends later than in mainland Europe, namely in 1536 at the Reformation.

Either way, does this mean you are specifically looking for games set in the equivalence of 500AD to 800AD?


IceniQueen wrote:

I am totally surprised no one said Mount and Blade.

This is an FANTASTIC set of games historically based and very fun to play. To date there have been 3 installments that I know of and M&B II in the works.

It is very inexpensive.

I'd say try it because to date this is one of the best hands down Historical based games

Mount and BladeTale Worlds

EDIT: Correction... Four. Mount and Blade Napoleon Wars which is Multi Player and looks fun

Ran a short game in the mount and blade world recently. Set in south Rhodokia. Worked like a charm, and yeah, more medieval than fantasy.

So when they come across magic and monsters on the far fringes, it is kind of a big deal.


Ilja wrote:

IceniQueen: I said Mount and Blade in the opening post and doctorwu suggested it and others have mentioned my mention of it ;D

It IS a fantastic game, and I fully encourage anyone with a PC to try it (and some of it's mods/modules like Floris, Brytenwalda, or Sword of Damocles).

Besides minecraft and planescape torment easily the game that has gotten me most fun per swedish krona spent.

Though I am fearful that mount and blade 2 will wait for many years, and likely never be finished... It's sad, but I think it's what we have to count on. The excellent homebrew modules keep the game floating though.

Krensky: The bard's tale seems neither low-fantasy, early medieval or low-key... I'm not sure I want to spend the little cash I have on it. Care to sell me on why it matches my requests in the OP? Thanks a lot.

Try A Clash of Kings mod for mb.


I always thought Dragon Age: Origins could be pretty gritty/dark, though it is high magic.

The Assassin's Creed series is technically pre-medieval (I think the first one is set just before the middle ages kick off) and renaissance in setting, and has no magic. I thought they were all really good, though I hear gripes about Brotherhood and AC3.

While not medieval, Dishonored is a great game, low magic (only the protagonist, a god-thing, and two other characters possess it, and it's pretty low key stuff overall), but it's set in a sort of Steampunk Victorian era thing, so that may disqualify it.

I came in here to suggest the Witcher but you already said you didn't like that.


There is, of course, Crusader Kings II though it starts in 1066 which might be a bit late. Since it's really more of a strategic history simulator, there's definitely no magic in it. :)


Slaunyeh wrote:


Either way, does this mean you are specifically looking for games set in the equivalence of 500AD to 800AD?

500's to 1000's would be perfect, yeah, but it's only one of the drawing points so to speak. Pre-feudal would be interesting. Most fantasy games tend to be more in line with like the 1300's to 1400's.

3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Try A Clash of Kings mod for mb.

Will do! It looks good, I've tried the GoT submod for brytenwalda but it didn't catch me.

Rynjin wrote:

I always thought Dragon Age: Origins could be pretty gritty/dark, though it is high magic.

The Assassin's Creed series is technically pre-medieval (I think the first one is set just before the middle ages kick off) and renaissance in setting, and has no magic. I thought they were all really good, though I hear gripes about Brotherhood and AC3.

While not medieval, Dishonored is a great game, low magic (only the protagonist, a god-thing, and two other characters possess it, and it's pretty low key stuff overall), but it's set in a sort of Steampunk Victorian era thing, so that may disqualify it.

I like DA:O, but yeah, too high fantasy for me at this point xD

Assassins creed... Tried it, didn't really like it. Dishonored seems worth checking out though.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

I can't list any not already named, but now I really want an Ars Magicka video game.

Sczarni

Dishonored is great. Though it is Steampunk/Victorian. And the DLC does involve a witch.

That being said Skyrim is Viking-ish though has a lot of magic, but you don't have to use it. I think for the computer there's a mod that would turn Oblivion into basically Europe. And there might be mods to remove the magic from both.

Divine Divinity in feel maybe.

Dragon's Dogma perhaps, but again there's magic.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Crusader Kings 2 might be something you'd like. Made by Paradox like Mount and Blade, and definitely historical. Though if you want Viking age stuff you'll have to spring a little extra for the Old Gods DLC, otherwise you have to start in 1066.


I have considered mixing the shogun 2 campaign with missions and player actions. Mori seafarers for instance.


Steam greenlight might help:

Legends of Eisenwald (website includes drm-free)

Quote:

A unique mix of RPG and strategy set in a realistic medieval world, Legends of Eisenwald combines dynamic campaigns with fast-paced, yet strategic, turn-based combat.

Take on the role of a baroness, a knight or a mystic as you liberate or rule over the world of Eisenwald. Against a backdrop of danger and intrigue, you will complete compelling quests and fight in fierce battles that will change the outcome of your story.

Game Features:
Streamlined, tactical battles that rewrite the rules of turn-based combat
Dynamic campaigns and quests that react to your choices
Highly customiseable units with extensive upgrade trees
Huge variety of weapons and spells, each with unique characteristics
Richly detailed environments and atmospheric day/night cycles

The Age of Decadence

Quote:

Summary

The Age of Decadence is an isometric, turn-based, single-player 3D role-playing game set in a low magic, post-apocalyptic fantasy world, inspired by the fall of the Roman Empire. The game features a detailed skill-based character system, multiple skill-based ways to handle quests, choices & consequences, and extensive dialogue trees.

Features
23 skills, ranging from Dagger and Critical Strike to Disguise and Persuasion to Alchemy and Lore.
Tactical combat system, featuring a flexible set of standard attacks, special attacks such as whirlwind and impale, and aimed attacks at different body parts.
8 weapon types: daggers, swords, axes, hammers, spears, bows, crossbows, throwing weapons, each with individual traits.
Non-combat quest resolutions and a well-developed diplomatic path.
Over 100 quests, taking you to 22 locations: towns, outposts, archeological digs, sealed places of Power, underground facilities,
and temples.
Each situation has multiple ways of handling it, based on your skills, reputation, and connections.
An interesting world with rich history and unclear future that your actions can shape into seven very different game endings.
Detailed crafting and alchemy systems: melt items and create new ones, balance your sword, play with Greek fire, increase your poison's potency, use corrosive acid on locks, and experiment with black powder.
Hundreds of items, ranging from weapons and armor to scrolls, tools, flasks, and pre-war relics.

Scarab Sages

Crusader Kings II is on sale right now (Steam) and for the first time, the 'Old Gods' expansion you will need for early medieval period play is on sale, too.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

Starfinder Superscriber

I second CK2. Definitely get the Old Gods expansion, but if you're looking to stay with more "realism" don't turn on the Sunset Invasion expansion when you play.

One thing I will point out about CK2, however, is that the gameplay can take some getting used to. As opposed to a normal strategy game where you play the country and the ruler/ruling family is part of your country, in CK2 you play the ruler/ruling family and the countries are part of your ruler.

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