Post by DM Lord Neptune on Aug 2, 2017 16:25:21 GMT
This is a very interesting thought, in my opinion. From what I know, there were the three main ages based on weapon/building material. Stone age then bronze then iron. The further back you go, of course, the less advanced things will be in terms of weapons/armor as well as culture. Even the iron age was plagued by lack of knowledge among the population. Not many people knew how to read and information wasn't very far spread.
(Side note, I'll be mostly thinking of 5E for this post). I actually went and did a little research on this to help you out, and it seems like the Iron Age idea was tackled a bit on another forum in a very clear way, so I'll go ahead and copy paste here for your reference:
Lack of information. In medieval settings, while peasants might know rather little of anything beyond the next town over, scholars at least have a pretty good idea of "the big picture". Just one example: Maps of the continent you're on exist, and while usually being pretty bad as far as scale is concerned, are more or less correct on the existence / non-existence of things. For an Iron Age setting, assume that any map - if such a thing even exists - has significant areas of white, and would have a very high chance of being simply incorrect. This need not be the "sailing off the edge of the world" thing, but more the general uncertainty of things. What's beyond those mountains? Dunno, no-one ever bothered to find out. There be dragons, me granny said.
Unrefinedness. No Sword Dancers, Duelists, Samurai, Warrior Monks or some such, but a more basic selection of Fighters, Rogues, Thieves. The same for magic user classes: Nothing refined and elaborate, but magic on a more fundamental level. Little use of quick spells or power words, more use of elaborate hour-long rituals and meditative trances. (See next point, too.)
Superstition. While most medieval-setting RPGs handle magic quite casually, in an Iron Age setting I would picture magic as thing of the gods / demons / the devil. Reverred shamans or healers, dreaded conjurers of demons, and very little in-between. If you allow magic-user PCs at all, any overt display of magic would be a "big thing", and could get them in trouble any which way: You might end up with a mob on your heels. Whoever is in power will want you on his side, or dead. Any way, you will be perceived as otherworldly, shunned, avoided, whatever. This might be taken to extremes, with magic being from the gods or demons, and wielding it being possible only to those being in servitude of either power (with all consequences). What will not happen is that you're accepted as "a guy with a different set of skills", or casually visiting the local magic library. If you have magic, you either set yourself up as the local shaman or priest, seize power and become the bane of the region, or you take pains to keep your magic subtle. One open incantation, a single fireball in front of witnesses, and you're blown, my friend.
Item availability, prizes and monetary system. Some things are simply unavailable in certain areas (perhaps even utterly unknown), others hideously expensive. (Cloths, jewelry, certain metals / alloys, certain tools etc.) Money exists, but barter is still the rule, especially in rural areas. (Money isn't the ubiquitous commodity, but still actually seen as, literally, "a chit from the king".) Few or no settled merchants, trade mostly being done by peddlers. (Personally I recommend "...and a 10-Foot Pole" from I.C.E., which has price / availability lists plus economic background information on everything from stone age to post-modern.)
Edit: And one thing I completely forgot, and rediscovered only when perusing the Rolemaster material on the subject...
Transscribing from RM material:
In a primitive (stone age) society, people live on a subsistence level, as hunters / gatherers, slash & burn farmers, or fishers. There is both little need and little space for "having slaves".
In a feudal (medieval) society, slavery might still exist (and did, in our world), and many live in slave-like serfdom, but most people are "free".
In an antique (iron age) society, however, slaves can make up a substantial percentage of the populace, to the point of actually being the majority. This will certainly color the environment, and makes "runaway slave" a background option worth considering.
It should be pretty easy to extrapolate from this to the bronze age as well. Information would be even less available. Local maps may exist, but it may be impossible to know what the world map would look like. Intercontinental travel would probably be non-existent aside from any magical means. Any huge architectural projects (castles, pyramids, etc) would most definitely be built by slavery, or at least peasants that are paid next to nothing. "Advanced" classes would probably be super rare if existing at all. Wizards wouldn't have the resources to come up with spells, but maybe Sorcerers exist since it's an internal power.
You would also want to figure out how the deities of the world interact with others. Is this a dark age where Clerics/Paladins simply don't exist due to the primitive nature of the people? Or are they actually more powerful due to the fact that technology isn't as prevalent, so the people rely far more on the gods than people in a traditional D&D setting? That second thought sounds like it could be very intriguing, especially mixed with a "there are no Wizards because knowledge is limited" setup in the world.
As for the non-magic based classes, stick to the basics that don't rely on extensive knowledge or training. People in these ages would have shorter lifespans, most likely, simply due to the lack of knowledge, so people would be thinking more basic in their class selections. Monk would probably be done away with, but you could create a brawler type class that would effectively be an archetype of the fighter where they don't use weapons at all. Rogues would work well, but no Arcane Trickster archetype. Rangers would be unchanged since nature magic would be pretty prevalent at this time period. Barbarians would be much more prominent since tribal societies would be rampant throughout the lands. And Fighters would need to drop the Eldritch Knight archetype.
For the more magical classes, Bards might be a stretch. Like the wizard, Bards seem to be based mostly around study and technique to weave their magic. Minstrels would still exist, but no magic components at all, I'd bet. I'd make Clerics and Paladins a bit more powerful in their abilities. Maybe give advantage on their divine based things, or add another die modifier to divine damage or something. This would also make up for the fact that weapons would be less effective and probably would do less damage (1d4 instead of 1d6, 1d6 instead of 1d8, etc). Druids would be unaffected, since nature magic would be one of the primary forms of magic in the world at this point. Though, maybe they could be limited in the amounts of animals they could turn into, simply because they haven't seen many animals up close due to the difficulties of travel in this time. And Warlocks would probably be unchanged, and might be even more prevalent, as well, since it would make sense for these entities trying to take power away from the gods and make pacts with the people of the world to carve out some form of control for themselves.
For races, things can be about the same here, with maybe the caveat that most races would be distrustful of most other races. Even if there were allies between, say, the humans, elves and dwarves, there would be huge distrust simply because they are different from one another. People are very superstitious in these ages, especially the bronze age, so different usually meant bad. They took comfort in the familiar. Monster races would not even remotely be integrated into societies at this time, I'm sure. It also may be a time before the Tiefling race came into being, since that is supposedly something that happened due to humans becoming corrupted by one of the gods at one point, according to the D&D handbook. It would be interesting to use this age to explore that corruption happening, though. Other races in "civilized" society would be halflings, gnomes and half-elf (though, half-elf would be much more rare since elves and humans wouldn't trust one another enough for couplings). Most likely, the slaves in these societies would be the other types of races and/or intelligent monster races. Dragonborn and Half-Orc from the PHB would most definitely be on the lower rungs of society. Also, almost all of the races from Volo's Guide would be at that same level and probably not recommended for player characters that don't want to play the role of party slave when they come into civilization, just so they don't get messed with.
Ugh, this topic got my mind going in a thousand different directions. I love world history and trying to put some of those concepts into the D&D world. Also, by your post count, I'd like to say "Welcome" to the forums! Hopefully some of my ramblings will help with your campaign. I'd be more than happy to toss ideas around if any of this is useful to you and you want to pick more of my brain.
DM Lord Neptune (AKA Ryan) Keep on Dungeon Mastering indeed.
Thank you! That's helped me quite a bit. Some of it was going along the lines of what I had in mind. Its great to get other opinions on this.
What are your thoughts on dwarf cities? Would they be able to make such cities in mountains during this time? Unless I make it that they are older and/or more advanced then humans and could make this happen. I see elves able to start making settlements in the trees already, for the most part. I don't see dwarves taking slaves to build there cities either.
Dragonborn I figure a nomadic and these homeland is far away but same continent. Tiefling I was going the route of twisted humans created from some major event.
An idea I have that can lead to having the refined classes as the wizard could come from the gods or cosmic entity. The story of Prometheus the titan comes to mind with him giving humanity fire.
What are your thoughts about multiple pantheons for humans? In our own history we have this but how would these gods react to one another? Suppose I could go the route of a God has different names for different cultures as well.
Post by DM Lord Neptune on Aug 2, 2017 23:24:03 GMT
Dwarf cities still would work as being under mountains as they would probably be expert stone masons since the end of the stone age. Bronze tools would help them to dig further and create even more ornate stone buildings and forges for the bronze work. In a dwelling standpoint, Dwarves would be one of the more advanced races along with Elves. Elf society would probably thrive on nature magic and the ability to work very well with wood in the large groves their druids help cultivate. Dwarves would also, almost certainly, stay away from slaves as they are generally considered a Lawful Good race, for the most part. I would say that Elves would avoid slavery, too, since they are such a proud race that they wouldn't dare let any lesser race do their work as it wouldn't even remotely be up to par with an Elf's standards.
I like that idea for the Dragonborn race. A nomadic race that tends to keep away from the civilized races of the world due to a desire to explore and stay on the move. And the Tiefling idea is very cool, especially if it's during the event or shortly after it.
For the advanced arcane classes, such as the Wizard, it definitely could be a case of it being a gift from the gods. You could also, if this was a time you wanted to spend a lot of time in, have a campaign for your players where they find something hidden away by that god that effectively unlocks this knowledge which will unlock the Wizard class and whatever else may be missing due to this lack of study in the world.
Along the lines of multiple pantheons for humans, though. You could go either way and it would be interesting. You could have it where each pantheon truly does exist and they are all vying for power in the world, trying to become the last pantheon standing, eventually coming to a head like a sort of gods war or something. This could be pretty devastating to the world as a whole, though, I'm sure. The other side of the coin would be that the God of Light is the same deity, only they go by different names and different symbols depending on the culture that worships them. One thing to keep in mind, regardless of which version you would go with, is that in D&D, gods are beings that actually interact with the world directly in a lot of cases. Some gods will even send down avatars of themselves in order to interact with the people, so it would be difficult for one to believe in one god and then see a god that they do not believe in. Though, you could just have it where they worship one set of gods, but know that all of the other pantheon's gods exist as well, but they just don't care about them.
One last thought on the multiple pantheon angle, though, is that you could keep it a mystery. Have multiple pantheons, but make it ambiguous to the point where people of the world believe that they are all different gods, but maybe they really are the same gods worshiped with different names. Then, an epic level campaign could be where your players actually go to the plane where these gods reside, maybe Heaven in your world, and meet the pantheon, and unlock the mystery in the world that there really is only one pantheon and it's the duty of the players to deliver this news to the world, possibly. But, there are so many interesting ways you could go about these setups, and really, there isn't a wrong way to do it as long as everyone enjoys it.
DM Lord Neptune (AKA Ryan) Keep on Dungeon Mastering indeed.
Here is how I approach undeveloped cultures or regions. Civilization is a turn based strategy game many are familiar with. It's great. In the Civ 4 era, modders created a fantasy-based setting that overlaid a lot of D&D tropes on the Civ game. (The creator literally based the lore and content of the mod on his decade-long campaign).
The Tech tree is the most relevant part for this discussion. Very primitive techs are the same in both real & fantasy versions: agriculture, crafting, exploration, ancient chants. The next level up includes tech developed from those-- Agriculture leads to Animal husbandry & Festivals Crafting leads to Mining Exploration leads to Cartography, Fishing & Hunting Ancient Chants leads to Education & Mysticism
From that level, any faction that has developed mining can develop Bronze Working or the Way of the Earthmother (dwarvish religion). Here is the whole flipping thing: Tech Tree
How to use this in your campaign then. Well, different races would have developed differently. Some would go into hunting, tracking, animal handling-- these cultures can make rangers. A culture that focused on education could develop writing, mathematics, and then alchemy as well as alchemists. Particular schools of magic or domains have to be researched before they can be used- perhaps elves developed Enchantment school, but Gnomes are the only to unlock Evocation. Worth noting, 'taverns' can be built in the stone age as soon as a culture develops agriculture (to grow grain).
The above is just a means to organize your thinking as to how the races or cultures in your world might have developed. Late Bronze Age should have an uneven development of Iron Age advances, and I think the most exciting period to place your setting. To my understanding, D&D occupies Iron Age equivalence, so a 'fully developed' culture would have all of the above and be high-magic, just like Faerun or a typical established setting.
There is a whole wiki to understand what facilities, classes, capabilities are created with each tech accomplishment. Just search Kael & Fall From Heaven.
Post by DM Lord Neptune on Aug 3, 2017 13:26:35 GMT
I love the thought of incorporating a tech tree like this into D&D in this sort of age. It gives a great base point that you can quickly judge how developed a race/society is based on where they are in the tech tree. And you can go down the path of spiritualism more and less down the materials path with one society, then flip that for another society, and have a decent understanding of where each of those societies are and how they compare to one another. Then, trading knowledge becomes a very valuable commodity at a society level, since iron working would be an invaluable skill to a society that is still trying to figure out bronze working, etc. Then, you could go down avenues of the players discovering a new technology, or a new part of the tech tree, and they have to decide to keep it for themselves, sell it to the highest bidder, give it to their home kingdom, or give it to the world so that the entire world would benefit (depending on what it is).
Very interesting possibilities here. I love it. Also, I remember many a days playing CIV, CIV2 and a few variants back in the day. I believe there even was a fantasy variant I played at one point, but I'm not sure if it's the same one randosaurus was discussing.
DM Lord Neptune (AKA Ryan) Keep on Dungeon Mastering indeed.
The tech tree will help so much in making my setting! Thank you both so much for your help. I started listening to podcasts about bronze age greece today to refresh myself on the classical era. With that plus the info and perspective you guys have given me should speed me along.
Found an interesting source book called "and a 10 foot pole". Goes into economics for all time periods and more.
Started session one yesterday and my players are enjoying the setting and the political aspect between the races and nations. To me its a bit clunky mostly because I'm a new DM. I know in time I'll get better.
Post by DM Lord Neptune on Aug 20, 2017 23:44:13 GMT
The nice thing is, players tend to have a lot more fun than we're thinking they are. The clunk will usually be overlooked by the other cool stuff that is introduced. Glad to hear that it's starting off well, though!
DM Lord Neptune (AKA Ryan) Keep on Dungeon Mastering indeed.