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HR2 Charlemagne's Paladins Campaign Sourcebook (2e)Click to magnify
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HR2 Charlemagne's Paladins Campaign Sourcebook (2e)


Lay on, soldiers of France! This day we win or die!

Charlemagne. Conqueror, statesman, lawmaker, the greatest medieval king of Europe. His reign lasted forty-four years, but his influence was felt for a thousand. From the chaos of the dark ages, he forged a kingdom that rivaled Roman Byzantium in its power and prestige. Join the noblest heroes of the age - mighty Roland, Bradamant the warrior maiden, arch-bishop Turpin, and Malagigi the wizard - on royal quests and wars against the Lombards, Moors, Saxons, and Vikings.

Find adventure at the dawn of chivalry.

Product History

HR2: Charlemagne's Paladins Campaign Sourcebook (1992), by Ken Rolston, is the second Historical Reference book for AD&D. It was published in July 1992, just two months after HR1: Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1992).

About the Historicals. The later Historical Reference (HR-series) books generally follow in the footsteps of HR1: Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1992).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 deepness of this integration would vary from book to book and was never as strong as in the first release, Vikings. The HR line ran for a short time, from 1992 to 1994.

Paired Releases. Charlemagne's Paladins was purposefully paired with its predecessor, Vikings; the two eras overlapped, and the two books could be used to create adversarial characters.

Charlemagne's Paladins in D&D. More than most of the other Historical References, Charlemagne's Paladins is largely an example of a historical setting for AD&D that doesn't go too far from the game's core. (The same would be true for the last book in the series, focusing on the Crusades.)

To offer some variety, Charlemagne's Paladins suggests three varieties of campaigns, historical, legendary, or fantasy, which defined where the line is drawn between a historical RPG and a "pure fantasy" RPG. (The same classifications would be used in the last couple of HR products as well.)

A pure historical campaign (which only allows for the play of fighters, clerics, and thieves) would clearly be the most different from the D&D norm, though it's easy to see it as kind of a purist D&D game: like the original D&D (1974), plus thieves from Greyhawk (1975), with those silly magic-users removed. On the other hand, a fantasy campaign allows for everyone but full-out mages, psionicists, and druids, and thus would be quite close to your standard D&D game.

Surprisingly, the focus on knights is pretty light in Charlemagne's Paladins, though Charlemagne's paladins and King Arthur's knights were actually somewhat different archetypes. Nonetheless, this seems like somewhere that the book could have broken new ground for 2e. Overall, there isn't a lot in Charlemagne's Paladins that's particularly new to the D&D game, but by offering a real-world Middle Ages campaign, Charlemagne's Paladins might have been one of the most widely useful books of the whole Historical References series.

TSR had previously published stats for a few chivalrous warriors of Charlemagne's age in "Lords & Legends" in Dragon #125 (September 1987) and #127 (November 1987).

Charlemagne's Paladins in Other Games. This appears to be the only major release about gaming in the Carolingian Empire. King Arthur Pendragon (1985) covers knightly roleplaying in much more depth.

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 References campaigns.

About the Creators. Charlemagne's Paladins was written by Ken Rolston just before he went over to Avalon Hill to kick off the "RuneQuest Renaissance." Ironically, he'd previous written GAZ7: The Northern Reaches (1988) for TSR, which portrayed a Viking-like society. Charlemagne's Paladins was Rolston's last work for TSR, as he'd leave the industry following his short tenure at Avalon Hill.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

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.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
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Discussions (3)
Customer avatar
paolo S April 08, 2023 8:51 am UTC
I recently bought this as a backup for the original one i own.
But i found that this pdf version doesn't show the map of the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne.
Customer avatar
Thorin T February 07, 2022 7:30 pm UTC
Please make HR1-7 available as print on demand!
Customer avatar
James B October 22, 2014 3:06 am UTC
Missing poster map as of July 16, 2014.
Customer avatar
paolo S April 08, 2023 8:55 am UTC
Seen this comment after i posted mine. As of April 2023, the poster map of the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne is still missing.
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File Last Updated:
January 22, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.