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Maelstrom is a role-playing game by Alexander Scott, published in 1984 by Puffin Books as a single soft cover book. The book provided a wealth of information for role-playing in a 16th century or 17th century European setting although the rules could be easily adapted to any time period or location. Firearms (readily available in Europe at this time) are conspicuously absent from the setting.

The game provided a very realistic combat system (especially with all of the advanced rules incorporated), and innovative game mechanics to cover wounds/healing, experience, aging, livings and magic.

Maelstrom has maintained a small but loyal following since it was originally printed in part because of the depth of background and information presented, and because of the innovative game mechanics. The herbal pharmacopoeia present at the end of the book, representing herbal knowledge of the time, has become legendary in roleplaying circles and is believed to have been a major source document for many subsequent RPG herbals (only some of which credit Maelstrom).

Maelstrom has been republished as a PDF in 2008 by Arion Games, under license from Puffin Books.

Source: Wikipedia, "Maelstrom (role playing game)," available under the CC-BY-SA License.

Note: This game should not be confused with Maelstrom (LARP), a live action role-playing game campaign run in the United Kingdom by Profound Decisions.

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Maelstrom is a largely-historical RPG set mainly in Tudor/ Elizabethan Britain, i.e. 16th or 17th centuries. Players choose a character class called a "living" from the more ordinary (blacksmith, noble, clergyman, beggar, merchant, and many more) to the more exceptional (mercenary swordsman, herbalist, pickpocket, assassin and more). The 'mage' living is outlawed and rare. In fact, the game allows the option of a non-supernatural variant without mages.

A skilled referee can adapt the rules to other settings, such as in other parts of Europe or the Caribbean or South Seas.

The Maelstrom core rulebook provides a sample of how characters of different livings might interact as an adventure begins:
"A group of four players and a referee have met to play Maelstrom. The players are Patrick, Adam, Sue, and Michael. The session starts with the players deciding what characters they want. Patrick decides he wants a noble, but the referee decides that a noble would not be appropriate for the adventure he has in mind. When the players have decided what characters they want to become, they go ahead and deal with character creation.
"Patrick creates a tailor. This character is also a mage, though none of the other players know this. Patrick wanders outside with the referee to fix this, and they decide that Patrick will either communicate by notes or go outside to talk to the referee when he wishes to cast a spell. Patrick's character is called Simon LeFevre, though his French origins are somewhat doubtful.
"Sue creates a bladesmith called Mary Venn. Michael's character becomes a mercenary called Diggory Williams, though he decides to pose as a labourer. Adam's character, Christian Porelight, becomes a labourer.
"Once the characters have been created, the referee takes the players outside individually to explain what their purpose is in this adventure (a journey to London). Simon (Patrick's character) and Mary (Sue's) are being paid to guard someone called William Grote (a 'non-player' character, played by the referee) who is travelling with the party. Christian (Adam's character) is taking a large barrel of ale by horse and cart to a tavern in London. Diggory is searching for witches, though he will tell the other players that he is looking for work." [Maelstrom, pg. 109]

Source: Wikipedia, "Maelstrom (role playing game)," available under the CC-BY-SA License.

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