When they are a little bigger, I hope they'll enjoy playing Swords and Wizardry with me (although I doubt darling wife will ever join in). By that time I hope I'll have a well-developed 'world' for them to adventure in. I've made a start on the first part of it: the northen Marches of the Kingdom of Averaigne. Given my overwhelming attraction to all things chivalric, it'll come as no surprise that Averaigne (and its neighbouring kingdoms of Lombria, Calthus and Ferrand) are inspired by western European countries of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.
I haven't drawn a map yet (although I have the outline in my head) but I have written a couple of imagined overheard conversations of the folk who scratch out an existence in the Marches. Here's the first, from a pessimistic old fellow, deep in his cups.
Life in the Marches can be hard.
Not like in the broad vales and wide, gentle plains of the Near Shires with their abundant harvests. Nor like the peaceful Forests in the Earldoms and Baronies of the Founding Families, with their common grazing and the security of the King’s Law. Nor yet like the river and coastal towns, brash and wealthy, fat on trade and the bounty of the sea. Up here the winters are hard and long, the soil scarcely rewards its ploughing and the forests are dark and unwelcoming.
We may not have to worry about armies marching under the banners of other kingdoms during the short-lived wars that flare up around the border towns and fortresses but, nevertheless, we are under constant siege. Too far from the King’s palaces to be considered a prize, we are also too far to attract much notice or concern. Out of sight of the rich and powerful, monsters thrive. In the mountains and the forests, the caves and long abandoned ruins, they make their lairs and strike when bold or desperate enough. It has always been so.
Kings and kingdoms have risen and fallen down in the plains but, whatever flag has fluttered above the seats of power, their writ has never truly extended here so it has ever been a place for the desperate, the mad, the monstrous.