Historical Games?

After going through the majority of COG games (that were published, with due respect to the current wip about the spanish civil war), I’ve noticed that virtually none are historical (or close)…so what I’m asking is how come? Do people choose not to do historical-ish games due to restrictions, or is it generally seen as a no-no?

It must be a personal preference.

Vampire has a lot of historical information, although it’s obviously historical fantasy (horror?). There are all kinds of interesting references in both volumes to historical events and persons, not to mention everyday-life sort of details about the time period.

I think it would be difficult (but not impossible) write a realistic historically accurate story that is consistent with CoG’s rather progressive philosophy as to sexism, racism, and all the other isms considering world history is teemig with mistreatment of anyone not in power at the time.


I guess what I was trying to say, was a story specifically written about a historical point in time…yes, vampire does include historical info but, in my opinion due to the vampire inclusion being the main feature of the story it is not “that” historical…


Could you not write about a topic, and avoid going into that much depth about the bad parts? What I was going at is creating a COG game where you can “alternate” history in an event (say a war) due to your choices

A couple years ago I wrote about the options for writing gender in a historical CoG as I saw them:

Agree with HornheadFan: difficult but not impossible.

@BraveMustang, perhaps you could avoid most of the more offensive parts but for me (history buff), sanitizing certain events too much might be off putting. The “hard edges” of history hold the most fascination for some folks.

That being said, a story where you can stop WWII or something could be truly epic without getting into the nitty gritty of how the Nazis behaved towards certain groups.

Not meaning to self promote (sort of am) but I’m currently writing an historical cog set I the Spanish civil war, see here http://www.choiceofgames.com/forum/discussion/3597/divided-we-fall-a-spanish-civil-war-wip#Item_22
Only intro and chapter one on there atm but chapter 2 should be up next week

All the COG projects I’ve worked on have been in historical settings. For one, I’m a history student so am passionate about and interested in history, which inspires me to write. But also I actually find it easier and more rewarding to write a story in an historical setting, the reason being that the “world” in which the story takes place and the characters live is/was real and tangible. For me this makes it easier to imagine things and come up with story lines, because you can use what actually happened and what things were like.


Yes, I love historical stories/alternate history (especially your one about Byzantium) I mentioned your spanish civil war in my opening post…


That mini-article showed me some valuable pointers, thanks for linking it!


While I do agree that the more darker parts of history hold appeal for some (including me, as I love history) I also feel that some people prefer to believe that “it never happened”…could it be possible to reference or acknowledge it without going “to far”?

Well, if you liked that one, have another (more concise) mini article laying out what I think the choices are in writing about the darker parts of history.

Some people might leave it out because they don’t think it happened, but romanticized interpretations of e.g. the Wild West or Middle Ages are greatly outnumbered by grim and gritty ones these days.

@RealMustang opps, sorry, didn’t notice the mention in the OP, thanks for that! Thanks also for Byzantium comment, hopefully I will go back to it at some point!

@Havenstone I found your post about how to write historical COGs very interesting. I think my latest project fits into the 3rd category, which, as far as I can tell, seems to be in your opinion the “best” option.

Historical fiction also requires lots of research if you want to do it well, and many authors prefer to spend the time building their own settings instead - especially since it seems like a lot of us on the forums are sci-fi/fantasy fans. Myself, I love playing historical games, but not so much writing them. :slight_smile:

If you haven’t played it already, I’d also recommend @cottage14’s “Your One Moment”, a recent historical fiction game that I enjoyed very much. It’s complete, but I think may be expanded upon in the future.

I’m well on my way to finishing the first draft of Trench – which is about a British infantryman at the Battle of the Somme. Your objective is simply to survive until the battle’s end, 4 1/2 months later. Along the way you can become one of several different types of soldier – machine gunner, clerk, airplane observer, etc. – but a large part of the game is simply letting you experience what it was like to be there. Like others I’m a history buff so there are alot of things I’ve read that I then write into the game. It tries very hard to be true to life, so there are only so many seismic choices you can make, but you can certainly see different results and you can certainly see how what you do carries consequences for yourself and others.

Knightly Tale has a lot of ties with history, you might want to check it out here in the forum. Goshman was his username I think, the author. I think it will be a great game.

Alex-- yes, I’d noticed that and was excited to see it finally being tried!

If we’re mentioning the WIPs, there’s also When in Rome by @Carolyne and its very extensive beta.

I wouldn’t say that there are virtualy none historical games.

There are Showdown at Willow Creek and Choice of Broadsides, as well as hosted Tin Star, Murder in Berlin, Marine raiders and apparently Nightmare Maze.

further, there are Choice of the Vampire, Choice of Kung Fu and Sons of the Cherry which are set in a historic time although they feature supernatural things, this background seems well-researched and mentions sexism, racism and other unpleasant aspects.

I think the reason why there aren’t more is that most authors write about what they know, and they don’t know enough about other time periods to write a game without making stupid misteaks. I think it’s alos the reason why there aren’t games set in moder day but in non-english speaking countries except The Race.

@Fiogan Yeah, when in Rome and Guenevere could arguably be considered historical as it deals with Arthurian legend.

It seems like most people doing historical anything tend to skim over the historical part, probably for a few reasons; the major one in CoG being sexism and racism. However, plenty of games make note of history.

When it comes to something within living history, there’s always the risk that you’ll end up grievously offending someone who lived through, or whose family lived through those events. It’d be even worse with an earth-shatteringly traumatic event like say, the Rwandan Genocide, or the Holocaust or the Rape of Nanking, simply because you’ll both need to do those sorts of events justice, and not give your readers nightmares. In such cases, deviating from historical fact would kick up the sort of shitstorm which nobody really wants to have to deal with.

Personally, I’ve got an outline for a story heavily based on the UNPROFOR mission in the 1990s, but I’m specifically filing off the serial numbers, changing a few of the circumstances and moving the whole thing into a fictional location, because the last thing I want is for *actual* survivors of the Bosnian Genocide/Yugoslav Wars to read it and think I’m spreading lies about events they’ve lived through.

@aetheria kindly mentioned in this thread my game “Your One Moment”, which is set in 1800 or so in Nova Scotia. The MC in that game can be male or “female making her way as a man”. The setting is Great Britain vs. Napoleonic France, played out far from the main battlefields, so for me there is room to insert non-historical events into a historical setting without altering too much the bigger picture (spoiler: France does not defeat Great Britain). I had been thinking about writing a story in this setting for a long time, and LordIrish’s competition provided the right occasion.

The game is “complete” in that you can play it and get to an ending, but after reading feedback from the contest, I realize I have only written about 20% of the game’s eventual length. Ahead lie spies, romance, Hessian mercenaries, failed Loyalist settlements, secret tunnels, and a guest appearance by Sam Slick, the hero of “The Clockmaker”, Canada’s first comic novel.