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HR4 A Mighty Fortress Campaign Sourcebook (2e)


All for one, and one for all!

From 1550 to 1650, Europe was torn apart by constant warfare. Social order collapsed under countless religious and civil wars. This was the age of Elizabeth, Francis Drake, Cromwell, Richelieu, D'artagnan, and Captain Blood. Bold mercenaries carved kingdoms out of the chaos; inquisitions and witch hunts raged; brazen pirates plundered the Spanish Main.

A Mighty Fortress blends the AD&D game with this swashbuckling era. Flourish a rapier, shoulder a musket, and step into the golden age of adventure!

Product History

HR4: A Mighty Fortress Campaign Sourcebook (1992), by Steve Winter, is the fourth of the Historical References and the most unusual, with its basis in the Elizabethan Age of 16th and 17th century Europe. It was published in December 1992, at the end of a busy year that saw the appearance of four of the seven books in the HR series.

Sources. The name of this book comes from "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," a hymn written by Martin Luther in the late 1520s. It's been called the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation" and thus is a reflection of some of the changing views of the time.

Winter wanted to write A Mighty Fortress because it was his favorite historical period. However, he also saw it as the final act of the Age of Adventure, making it a fine bookend to AD&D adventuring.

About the Historicals. The later Historical Reference books generally follow in the footsteps of HR1: Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1992). They were a brand-new leatherette line that covered brand-new ground for TSR: historical settings. One of their most important elements was a tight integration of systems and settings that was atypical for TSR, though the depth of this integration would vary from book to book and was never as strong as in the first release, Vikings. The Historical line ran for a short time, from 1992 to 1994.

Not a Paired Release. Many of the Historical References were published in pairs that allowed them to be used together (Vikings & Charlemagne's Paladins; and Celts & The Glory of Rome). However, A Mighty Fortress stands on its own.

A Mighty Fortress in D&D. Of all the Historical References, A Mighty Fortress is the one that varies the most from standard D&D. The supplement really locks those changes down by restricting players to just ten player kits, from among the fighter, rogue, bard, cleric, and mage classes (with the spell-casting kits being quite limited).

However, the changes in A Mighty Fortress go beyond altering just character classes. Social class is important, while the supplement also includes optional rules for dueling rather than typical D&D hack-and-slash fighting. There's also the suggestion that adventures should have more of a political bent. That idea was increasingly big in the broader gaming field of the early 90s, with the release of Vampire: The Masquerade (1991), but almost unknown in D&D.

Oh, and of course there were firearms. TSR had introduced gunpowder (smokepowder) to the Forgotten Realms in the avatar event (1989), but none of TSR's campaign worlds had ever seen such a preponderance of near-modern weaponry.

Overall, A Mighty Fortress was arguably the most innovative of all the Historical References; it offered a fairly unprecedented sort of D&D game, both then and now.

A Mighty Fortress in Other Gaming. The swashbuckling genre of RPGs got a very early start with GDW's En Garde! (1975), one of three early RPGs released at the first Origins convention. After that FGU published the next big swashbuckling RPG, Flashing Blades (1984). There have also been many RPGS and supplements focused on the piracy of the 17th century, while the Australian Lace and Steel (1989) is based on 17th century swashbuckling, but is set in a fantasy world.

In more recent years, the steampunk genre - set centuries later than swashbuckling games, but featuring a number of the same tropes - has probably captured a lot of the interest that previously went to swashbuckling. R. Talsorian's Castle Falkenstein (1994) and Wizards' Eberron (2004) are two very different examples of the genre.

Future History. "Seeds of Evil" in Dragon #249 (July 1998) describes how to use the Masques of the Red Death (1994) campaign with all seven of the Historical Reference campaigns.

About the Creators. Steve Winter was a long-time editor in TSR's Design Department. He was integral to a lot of important products, but he didn't usually get designer credit. A Mighty Fortress was one of the few books that he received sole credit on, following PHBR5: The Complete Psionics Handbook (1991) the previous year.

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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Ryan H February 03, 2024 4:22 am UTC
POD please!
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James W April 01, 2022 9:34 pm UTC
Pod please.
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Bill R March 13, 2022 12:52 am UTC
To echo the other 2 comments... POD please...
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Ilias L July 31, 2021 6:28 pm UTC
pod please. for this whole series.
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Simon W April 05, 2021 4:16 pm UTC
Please make a Print On Demand option for this book. :)
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File Last Updated:
October 21, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.