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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    BTW, I am seriously interested in the mentions made here of bronze being an important material in armor and weapons about a thousand years into the Iron Age.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    If you're drawing heavily on the Hellenistic era, Paul Elliot's Warlords of Alexander is a useful source to draw upon.

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Bows of any sort will be rare, and not very powerful unless in the hands of an elite bowman (i.e. one who's spent years training for the job). Slings are a very popular alternative, and for most people just as effective.
    That's not really true even of the Classical period in the east or the steppe. Composite bows are common there, it's only the west that had underpowered self bows.

    Slings are certainly popular in the west, and with a cast bullet, rather than pebble or stone, can outrange western bows.

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Armour will be partial, and mostly solid plates. Chainmail may be just about starting to appear, but it'll be confined to the elites at this time - mass produced chainmail is probably still some way away.
    Again, not really true of the Hellenistic era being drawn upon. While the hoplite panoply is the heavy standard, there's still scale and lamellar thoraxes, as well as textile armour for the torso. Any of which can be supplemented with greaves. Add a helmet and shield (almost everyone had these two) and you're set.

    Note the shield is the most important defensive item in this period, not armour. With a helmet and body shield, you're pretty well covered as well as being mobile.

    Mail is common among Celtic nobles and beginning to appear more widely. You're right that mass-produced mail didn't appear til later in the Roman era.

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Spears are by far the most popular weapons.
    True, as are javelins. Lots of line infantry had javelins to throw before melee contact - something inspired by the Celts who used it very effectively.

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Money is not nearly as important as it later becomes. An awful lot of trade doesn't involve money at all - who you are, who your friends and family are, is more important than how much arbitrarily-designated metal you've got jangling in your pouch. If you're from the right family or the right patron, everything is pretty much free to you anyway.
    Once more, not true of the Hellenistic era. Once the treasuries of Persia had been looted, ther was a lot more coinage around. Gold devalued from being worth 27 times as much as silver to 10 times as much, because there was so much of it washing around. Persian money (especially gold darics) were a common way for mercenaries to be paid, and the Greek currency (silver owls, etc) were close to a common currency. Along with bars of silver/gold for trading volumes of transaction. Though many more advanced states would have used a credit system to spare the risk of pirates carrying off your wealth.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-08-18 at 03:04 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    BTW, I am seriously interested in the mentions made here of bronze being an important material in armor and weapons about a thousand years into the Iron Age.
    Of course it was; the notion bronze is "inferior" to low-grade iron is a gamer myth. Well-worked bronze is as good as low-grade iron but is about 10% heavier. That's it. And it's easier to make large plates with, not to mention being a superior material for ship's rams.

    Iron is cheap and plentiful, that's the advantage it has. Because to make bronze you need tin, which is rare (and thus expensive).

    Furthermore, you don't throw away perfectly serviceable armour just because new, cheap iron armour is around. The "hand me down" effect with panoplies shouldn't be underestimated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'm pushing that one back to that very earliest date, because I like the idea of writing the contrast / transition between chariots and mounted fighters.
    That happened long before the Hellenistic era; by 300BC the chariot was basically irrelevant in warfare. Chariots-as-cavalry are a bronze age thing, primarily, not iron age. By the iron age where they exist at all (Britain, limited parts of what is now Austria and northern Italy, selected areas of Romania) they're "battle taxis" that carry a noble to the fight, where he can dismount, fight and re-mount to get out again.

    By the Hellenistic era, horses are more than big enough to carry a man in armour. Even if they were, for the most part, smaller than the horses of the medieval era.

    Quote Originally Posted by RossN View Post
    I think people might be underestimating how much cavalry was in use in the 4th century BC even beyond the nomads. The Persians of course had a very extensive horse cavalry arm and the Thessalians were also famous for their horse. Then you have the Macedonians...

    True even the heaviest of cavalry wouldn't be hurled face on at a phalanx but they were certainly being used for heavier duties than simply skirmishing.
    Precisely, heavy cavalry was all over the place in the Hellenistic era, you don't need the stirrup to charge home, all it provides is side-to-side stability that is useful (but not essential) for archery and standing melee. The Nisaean horse was a famous, large, eastern breed (now extinct) that overtopped western horses according to the literature of the period.

    Frontal charges into formed infantry were not a thing; they charged into the rear of an engaged formation, or drove off lighter cavalry. Hammer and anvil; pin the infantry down at the front with your infantry, charge your cavalry into their rear/flanks. While the Thessalians and Makedonian Companions were famed in the west, it's the east where all the real heavies were. The Persians had many Iranian peoples to draw upon here, not to mention the heavy cavalry fielded by the nobles of the steppe.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-08-18 at 04:51 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    For swords, you have three general types. First one is kopis, and it basically looke like Sting from LotR and Hobbit. It's primarily a stabbing sword with added cutting capacity, used as a backup for when your spear is lost or ineffective. Second type is makhaira, and it's more or less an oversized kukri, or, to get another Hobbit reference here, Orcrist. Third type is a long, triangular balde with fine point that can't cut worth a damn, but is good for stabbing.
    I suspect you're talking more about the Classical than Hellenistic era for the most part.

    That first sword you describe is a xiphos, not a kopis. Kopis and machaira are basically interchangeable terms for curved/forward-weighted choppers. That triangular sword you describe is a late Hellenistic machaira (no idea why it's called a machaira, but apparently it is).

    You've left out Celtic-inspired swords, which look pretty much the way you'd expect a medieval sword to, though their hilts are different. And Iberian swords which look like a hybrid of xiphos and Celtic longsword.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Played and ran a lot of Vampire: TM, and one of the striking ironies of that game is that instead of the stereotypical human (and human-like) characters of fantasy gaming who have few ties and travel around leaving the consequences of their actions behind them, the PCs are immortal predators... who are usually stuck in one city, live in an often stifling ancient social network of nearly-inescapable ties, and walk a tightrope over a pit of potential consequences every night. Combat is something that most of them try to avoid (they're either very good at combat, very good at avoiding combat, or don't last long, plus there are "laws" against killing each other). So you have "inhuman monsters" who are deeply invested in the locale, and try to solve their conflicts mainly through means other than killing each other. (We focused far more on politics, mystery, and character interplay than we ever did on characters wangsting and fretting over their lost humanity.)

    Much of that was in the 90s for us. I don't think Mr Edwards hit on anything revolutionary on that particular point, he just wraps it up in high language and terms of art. ( EDIT -- so much so that each time I reread that article, I realize I've misunderstood something, and I'm about ready to open it up on the second screen here with Google open on the other. )

    ...After the last game I tried to run kinda flopped in part because of PC vs setting disconnect, despite my efforts to prevent it, and a very sandboxy setting, my next campaign will have a lot more PC-centric prep work.
    I didn't mean to patronise- I'm sure the author would be first to say that techniques like this have been 'invented' independently by a lot of different gaming groups going back to the early days of the hobby. So nothing revolutionary in that sense, just a how-to guide for the uninitiated.

    My own exposure to Vampire is limited, but I was personally struck by the potential richness of the quasi-fuedal setting and plot-hooks during chargen, and I'm glad you wrung value out of those. However, the impression I get is that most groups' play was firmly in the 'story before' category- e.g, the GM preps plot and the players prep PCs largely in isolation from eachother, and welding them together happens later (or might not happen at all.)

    Maybe that has something to do with 'setting vs. PC disconnect', and given you're investing a lot of thought in this setting, I'd hate to see that under-appreciated.

    I will say I've always found the term 'sandbox' to be faintly derogatory, though, since it kind of implies a very safe, passive environment that patiently awaits sculpting by PC agency, rather than an inhabited, simulated world. We need a better name for the latter.

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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Mail is common among Celtic nobles and beginning to appear more widely. You're right that mass-produced mail didn't appear til later in the Roman era
    In the 4th BC century mail is a relatively new invention though. Early history is a bit clouded and uncertain, many ascribe it to Celts, but some to Etruskan. They appear quite frequently in Chieftains graves in the 3rd century, but I haven't seen any from the 4th century cases. Mostly they are found in the eastern part of the 'Celtic'-area (Romania and Bulgaria and further east to Turkey).

    To my knowledge the earliest find of mail is still the weapon deposit at Hjortsping on Als C14dated to 350calBC (so in the 4th century). How many were found is uncertain as preservation was terrible and they were excavated in 1920'ies so they are now lost. The original author suggest 10-12 or so, but that is likely very exagerated (its based on the area where rings were found, but they were scattered).

    A discussion can be found here.

    Though that ignores that the earliest is found in the northern area, and that it is likely that the lack of mail to the north and west could be due to lack of evidence (no pictoral evidence and different grave contexts). The Celts in the east were "foreign" overlords or invaders, and thus where more heavily militarised than those in the west.

    So for a 'classic' (Greek etc) PC mail could be made 'exotic' and great loot (if the GM so wished).

    It should also be noted that there is very little to separate 'Celtic' and 'Germanian' material culture in the 4th century BC (there are more differences within each group). These really develop later (around the 1st century BC).

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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    You've left out Celtic-inspired swords, which look pretty much the way you'd expect a medieval sword to, though their hilts are different. And Iberian swords which look like a hybrid of xiphos and Celtic longsword.
    The la tene swords (which I assume you mean when referring to Celtic swords) are considerably wider and less pointy than medieval counterparts:



    And here are some swords found together with the early mail at Hjortspring (and many Celtic shields as well as spearheads, a boat and more items):



    These are thus also 4th century and possibly made in a Celtic oppidum in somewhere in Europe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Of course it was; the notion bronze is "inferior" to low-grade iron is a gamer myth. Well-worked bronze is as good as low-grade iron but is about 10% heavier. That's it. And it's easier to make large plates with, not to mention being a superior material for ship's rams.

    Iron is cheap and plentiful, that's the advantage it has. Because to make bronze you need tin, which is rare (and thus expensive).

    Furthermore, you don't throw away perfectly serviceable armour just because new, cheap iron armour is around. The "hand me down" effect with panoplies shouldn't be underestimated.
    All true, but this is many 100s of years after the "end" of the bronze age, and I have read that loss of access to tin sources was a big factor in the collapse of the bronze age material culture of the near east and Mediterranean. I would have thought that the lack of new bronze being made, and the effects of time, would have seen bronze armor gone.

    And yet here I am reading up on the Macedonian forces, and while they largely didn't use metal body armor per these sources, when they did, it was usually bronze ("muscle cuirras", greaves, helmet, some other possible pieces). Per same, there's indication from art and artifacts that they could make iron in large enough plates to make the same sorts of armor, but it would have been the province of the extremely elite or wealthy.

    I do recall that good bronze is better than bad iron.

    What's your thought on the idea of cloth and heavy hide armors in common use, bronze armor for those who can afford it, and good iron / early steel in use for elite and exotic armors?



    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    That happened long before the Hellenistic era; by 300BC the chariot was basically irrelevant in warfare. Chariots-as-cavalry are a bronze age thing, primarily, not iron age. By the iron age where they exist at all (Britain, limited parts of what is now Austria and northern Italy, selected areas of Romania) they're "battle taxis" that carry a noble to the fight, where he can dismount, fight and re-mount to get out again.

    By the Hellenistic era, horses are more than big enough to carry a man in armour. Even if they were, for the most part, smaller than the horses of the medieval era.
    Again, you're correct, and I was confused -- I did a lot of research on the pre-Roman peoples of Britain and Ireland for a friend's RPG project, and it continues to blur my mental timeline of the chariot even all these years later.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Precisely, heavy cavalry was all over the place in the Hellenistic era, you don't need the stirrup to charge home, all it provides is side-to-side stability that is useful (but not essential) for archery and standing melee. The Nisaean horse was a famous, large, eastern breed (now extinct) that overtopped western horses according to the literature of the period.

    Frontal charges into formed infantry were not a thing; they charged into the rear of an engaged formation, or drove off lighter cavalry. Hammer and anvil; pin the infantry down at the front with your infantry, charge your cavalry into their rear/flanks. While the Thessalians and Makedonian Companions were famed in the west, it's the east where all the real heavies were. The Persians had many Iranian peoples to draw upon here, not to mention the heavy cavalry fielded by the nobles of the steppe.
    I think some sources may overstate the impact/importance of the stirrup...
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-08-18 at 11:38 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    What's your thought on the idea of cloth and heavy hide armors in common use, bronze armor for those who can afford it, and good iron / early steel in use for elite and exotic armors?
    That is was pretty much the default standard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    That is was pretty much the default standard.

    Do you think it would be workable and fun as part of an RPG setting?


    One thing I would not do is fall back on the standard RPG trick of making cloth armor or heavy hide-based armor into something only the destitute and desperate wear -- having seen several tests on these types of armor, they appear to be quite protective, and I assume that if they didn't provide much protection, no one would have bothered spending time and money on them, marching around with them, wearing them in the blazing heat, etc.
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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    All true, but this is many 100s of years after the "end" of the bronze age, and I have read that loss of access to tin sources was a big factor in the collapse of the bronze age material culture of the near east and Mediterranean. I would have thought that the lack of new bronze being made, and the effects of time, would have seen bronze armor gone.
    Well in "Northern Europe", the Bronze Age dosnt end before 500BC. So only a few centuries later (and the period 900-500BC is the Bronze riches period). And Bronze was still imported and used frequently for a few centuries.

    I really doubt the "collapse" of Bronze trade theory for the introduction of Iron. As if it collapsed you would also see the effect on areas with no natural Bronze sources (neither tin or copper) such as Denmark. Also Iron was first used among the elite, then spread out, so the whatever qualities they were looking for they found iron preferable (perhaps weight?). If you dont have DnD fighters high carrying capacity an armour weight reduction of 10-20% might come in handy.

    And yet here I am reading up on the Macedonian forces, and while they largely didn't use metal body armor per these sources, when they did, it was usually bronze ("muscle cuirras", greaves, helmet, some other possible pieces). Per same, there's indication from art and artifacts that they could make iron in large enough plates to make the same sorts of armor, but it would have been the province of the extremely elite or wealthy.
    While Iron is in theory more plenty full than copper/tin, there is also the question of technology, knowledge and infrastructure: the people already knew how to work bronze, knew were the sources were and finally they already had the infrastructure organised around copper and tin.

    For example Denmark have many bog Iron sources, but the first certain evidence of them being exploited are 200BC, and the major peiod of extraction is 1-550AD (and then again in the 12-14th century AD). They first have to get a good working on the process, the fuel use etc.

    Its true that we see a partial collapse of some of the copper mines, but in general I think Iron won in a fair competition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Do you think it would be workable and fun as part of an RPG setting?
    I think it looks good.


    One thing I would not do is fall back on the standard RPG trick of making cloth armor or heavy hide-based armor into something only the destitute and desperate wear -- having seen several tests on these types of armor, they appear to be quite protective, and I assume that if they didn't provide much protection, no one would have bothered spending time and money on them, marching around with them, wearing them in the blazing heat, etc.
    I have seen many different test coming to very different conclusion about cloth armour. The thickness of the cloth, the tightness of the weaving etc varies very much. This test for example find the 15 layers of linen AND a deerskin is poor at stopping arrows (yes 75pound at point blank range, but still). Now It is true that some would be thicker, but in many parts of your body 30 layers of linen is simply not sustainable (you get hampered much more than by plate armour, not to mention chain). Also note this video (previously posted by Galloglaich in the Got a real-World weapons and armour question thread), for sword cutting through cloth armour. Other test show much better protection offered by cloth: I cant explain the differences.

    As far as protection: as you note it must have offered enough to make it worthwhile, but on the other hand if it offered enough they wouldn't have made armour out of more expensive bronze or iron.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I have seen many different test coming to very different conclusion about cloth armour. The thickness of the cloth, the tightness of the weaving etc varies very much. This test for example find the 15 layers of linen AND a deerskin is poor at stopping arrows (yes 75pound at point blank range, but still). Now It is true that some would be thicker, but in many parts of your body 30 layers of linen is simply not sustainable (you get hampered much more than by plate armour, not to mention chain). Also note this video (previously posted by Galloglaich in the Got a real-World weapons and armour question thread), for sword cutting through cloth armour. Other test show much better protection offered by cloth: I cant explain the differences.

    As far as protection: as you note it must have offered enough to make it worthwhile, but on the other hand if it offered enough they wouldn't have made armour out of more expensive bronze or iron.

    I think the production techniques and quality are going to make a big difference. The UWGB team working on recreating linothorax armor seems to have found a working build.

    https://www.uwgb.edu/aldreteg/MASTER...RAX%20copy.mov
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I think the production techniques and quality are going to make a big difference. The UWGB team working on recreating linothorax armor seems to have found a working build.

    https://www.uwgb.edu/aldreteg/MASTER...RAX%20copy.mov
    Well the video dosn't show how powerfull the bow is... (in fact it gives no information on any variables)

    I found a poster on the webside and it seem to be a 25lb bow.... the arrow is also very big and bulky (thus not for penetration).

    The poster have a 60lb bow penetrating 60mm at 25feet and above 30mm at 50feet (for the 11 layer authentic patch, I assume they still use with the bulky arrow).
    They alwso have pictures of (clearly) untrained people 'hitting' the armour with various objects (presumably weapons) on their homepage.

    For a experimental archaeologist trial this is really horrible.... Its like something from the 1970'ies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Well the video dosn't show how powerfull the bow is... (in fact it gives no information on any variables)

    I found a poster on the webside and it seem to be a 25lb bow.... the arrow is also very big and bulky (thus not for penetration).

    The poster have a 60lb bow penetrating 60mm at 25feet and above 30mm at 50feet (for the 11 layer authentic patch, I assume they still use with the bulky arrow).
    They alwso have pictures of (clearly) untrained people 'hitting' the armour with various objects (presumably weapons) on their homepage.

    For a experimental archaeologist trial this is really horrible.... Its like something from the 1970'ies.

    I'll try to find the videos I saw, I didn't realize that wasn't the same one. (That's what I get for posting from work.)


    EDIT -- and either way, what might a good balance between the needs of a game, the needs of a compelling setting, and historical accuracy be on something like the linothorax?
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-08-18 at 04:03 PM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    In the 4th BC century mail is a relatively new invention though. Early history is a bit clouded and uncertain, many ascribe it to Celts, but some to Etruskan. They appear quite frequently in Chieftains graves in the 3rd century, but I haven't seen any from the 4th century cases. Mostly they are found in the eastern part of the 'Celtic'-area (Romania and Bulgaria and further east to Turkey).

    To my knowledge the earliest find of mail is still the weapon deposit at Hjortsping on Als C14dated to 350calBC (so in the 4th century). How many were found is uncertain as preservation was terrible and they were excavated in 1920'ies so they are now lost. The original author suggest 10-12 or so, but that is likely very exagerated (its based on the area where rings were found, but they were scattered).

    A discussion can be found here.

    Though that ignores that the earliest is found in the northern area, and that it is likely that the lack of mail to the north and west could be due to lack of evidence (no pictoral evidence and different grave contexts). The Celts in the east were "foreign" overlords or invaders, and thus where more heavily militarised than those in the west.
    I happen to have a number of historians on tap, through my work on Europa Barbarorum II, and got this from one of them:

    Quote Originally Posted by Power2the1
    From what I have read the thureos and chainmail seemed to be more Etruscan. The thureos shield was Etruscan and it made it north of the Alps by 700-600BC, only to resurface during the Celtic migrations and reappear in the Mediterranean world suddenly and thus we associate it with Celts/Gauls. With chainmail, again just from what I've read, it may have been Etruscan but they seemingly abandoned it and so it survived through use as a Celtic armor. So while they may not have been 'first' the Etruscan seemingly abandoned their investment and the Celts kept them. Just my opinion on what I've read. But I'd give credit for the impact of mail and the thureos in history definitely to the Celts.
    Seems pretty plausible to me; mail was invented by the Etruscans, but popularised by the Celts after the originators had mostly abandoned it.

    The thureos is the other innovation often attributed to the Celts, the oval/lozenge-shaped body shield that offers a good trade-off between protection and mobility compared to the pelte or aspis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Power2the1
    The migration era that EBII begins [272BC] in the Celts at this time used short or medium length swords on the whole. The shields were also smaller generally. There is overwhelming evidence of this which is born out in early units. Also, these things tell us they had a more offensive nature to their style of warfare, again generally speaking as they were people on the move. For example, the existence of the sword chain belt, which keeps sword/scabbard more or less upright and from bouncing all over the place, let's us see how important it was for warriors to be able to move fast while keeping their sword secure and ready to be drawn. A sedentary warrior culture would not have like developed something so specialized for offensive activity!

    In the middle era (after the migratory era ends) the iron boom occurs in the warrior burials as the Celts settle down somewhat and focus less on expansion and more on economy, trade, and mining - and iron mining and manufacturing made a big jump! More than ever before warriors are drowning in iron weaponry. There is an upsurge in the numbers of iron swords found in burials. Bronze, almost completely, gives way to iron (not in Britain though) on the continent's warrior gear. More shields are found that are progressively becoming larger and made with more iron components thus increasing sturdiness to blows. Spears trend towards longer, heavier spear points. Whereas previously many warriors carried something like 2-3 javelins, now in burials we start to see this reduced to often a single javelin (not a rule, but generally speaking) in favor of a nice sturdy heavy spear that could be thrown (the gaison/gaesum). So as the Celts begin to 'settle down,' we see these things as weapons show a change in warfare shifting from an offensive to defensive style.

    Related to this post-migration settle down period an entire tribe need not be under arms for survival like with the migration era through hostile lands and so the defense and protection of the tribe fell increasingly on the nobles who consolidated their power. Instead of entire tribes mobilizing for war, tribe vs. tribe warfare was typically (but not always) a smaller scale, but equally violent, affair among the wealthy and their retinues/vassals which protected non-combatants. This helped spur the changes in La Tene weaponry as well to more deadly styles of weapons, especially in the west as changes occurred in your tribe and all around you while in the east La Tene weapons reigned supreme and the Celts there held a temporary advantage over native eastern European tribes who readily adopted La Tene weapon technology.

    Due to historical record and archaeology we know more how the Gauls developed as their La Tene culture lasted longer. Their oppida were more nucleated and France has tons of oppida and the western fortified sites are much more complex than those in the east. The industrial might of the west Celts outpaced that of the eastern Celts, possibly due to population and closer ties with the Mediterranean cultures. The east Celts and their identity/power sort of fizzled out by 150-100BC. In the east the level of oppida and industrial centers, while sharing much of the west's development, never reached the same level nor in the same numbers. In addition eastern Celts are thought to be less 'advanced' politically by retaining kings and older tribal structures while the west Celts (especially in the southern half of France) were centralized feudal-like societies on the verge of, or just reaching, legitimate statehood. As far east as these developments are know to have reach is Noricum, which is the exception. But, personally, I think the Boii or Volcae Textosages in South Germany may have had something approaching the Gauls as dynamic and organized as they were, but other than places like Manching and a few other scattered oppida in the east, I have no definitive proof. But truely, as a rule of thumb, the farther the Celtic people were from southern/central Gaul the less 'advanced' (I use the term 'advanced' with some protest in this case) or complex the La Tene world was politically and economically.
    Which again touches on the importance not merely of technology, but sociological changes which then have impacts on how people equip themselves and fight. Here it's the distinction between migration and settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    It should also be noted that there is very little to separate 'Celtic' and 'Germanian' material culture in the 4th century BC (there are more differences within each group). These really develop later (around the 1st century BC).
    That's a really misleading extrapolation of the finds, it implies that Celtic and Germanian material cultures were both producing the same sorts of things. Which wasn't the case, as I understand it. Rather resource-poor Germania adopted a lot of Celtic material culture, as indeed did lots of other peoples who came into contact with the Celts.

    EDIT: As I've been informed:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brennus
    Only in the 1st century BC, with the rise of the Jastorf, Pommeranian and Przeworsk cultures, do we see a clear difference. In "Germanic" areas where the archaeological record does yield sufficient data for the 4th century BC, such as the Netherlands, the pattern we observe is generally a lack of high status material, and that which does appear is La Tene.
    Point being "Germanic" areas didn't have anything they produced themselves until 1st century BC. Ie until then there was no Germanic material culture. They imported and adopted Celtic goods.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    The la tene swords (which I assume you mean when referring to Celtic swords) are considerably wider and less pointy than medieval counterparts:



    And here are some swords found together with the early mail at Hjortspring (and many Celtic shields as well as spearheads, a boat and more items):



    These are thus also 4th century and possibly made in a Celtic oppidum in somewhere in Europe.
    I was simplifying; unlike a xiphos or kopis, for example, they look the way someone familiar with medieval swords would expect one to look.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    All true, but this is many 100s of years after the "end" of the bronze age, and I have read that loss of access to tin sources was a big factor in the collapse of the bronze age material culture of the near east and Mediterranean. I would have thought that the lack of new bronze being made, and the effects of time, would have seen bronze armor gone.
    As mentioned, I think it's exaggerated. Usage of bronze continued extensively into the iron age in Europe, for armour plates, helmets and lots besides.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    And yet here I am reading up on the Macedonian forces, and while they largely didn't use metal body armor per these sources, when they did, it was usually bronze ("muscle cuirras", greaves, helmet, some other possible pieces). Per same, there's indication from art and artifacts that they could make iron in large enough plates to make the same sorts of armor, but it would have been the province of the extremely elite or wealthy.

    I do recall that good bronze is better than bad iron.

    What's your thought on the idea of cloth and heavy hide armors in common use, bronze armor for those who can afford it, and good iron / early steel in use for elite and exotic armors?
    Something I think you're missing out on here are the sociological changes to the nature of military service in the Hellenistic era. Your average classical hoplite was a farmer who probably worked his land himself, or at least shared the labour with his slaves. Fighting was a summer-time activity, where he and his peers would gather up their panoplies, sons/nephews/cousins and retainers, and march off to fight some battles before returning home for the harvest. A heavy panoply enhanced his changes of surviving the clash of bronze and getting home safe, and besides he didn't have to take it far, nor worry about the weight of it when not fighting (since he had servants/slaves for that)

    By contrast the Makedonian tenant levied to war by Philip and others could be mobilised for years on end and might never return home, instead settling on spear-won lands or turning to mercenary work. When you are expected to lug all your gear around yourself (because slaves/servants are extra mouths to feed on campaign) and spend most of your time patrolling and raiding, rather than fighting pitched battles, having a full bronze panoply is more of a liability than asset. Not to mention how much more care it takes to maintain.

    Furthermore, there was a general lightening of panoplies in the era anyway. For lighter sorts of troops, only a shield and helmet was an absolute necessity to be able to content in melee, mobility around the field being better protection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I think some sources may overstate the impact/importance of the stirrup...
    A great deal, and armchair historians that many gamers are seize upon this as some sort of immutable truth, that without stirrups you can't have useful cavalry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    One thing I would not do is fall back on the standard RPG trick of making cloth armor or heavy hide-based armor into something only the destitute and desperate wear -- having seen several tests on these types of armor, they appear to be quite protective, and I assume that if they didn't provide much protection, no one would have bothered spending time and money on them, marching around with them, wearing them in the blazing heat, etc.
    Yeah, don't do this, given as above it isn't even a realistic reflection of why people make the armour choices they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I have seen many different test coming to very different conclusion about cloth armour. The thickness of the cloth, the tightness of the weaving etc varies very much. This test for example find the 15 layers of linen AND a deerskin is poor at stopping arrows (yes 75pound at point blank range, but still). Now It is true that some would be thicker, but in many parts of your body 30 layers of linen is simply not sustainable (you get hampered much more than by plate armour, not to mention chain). Also note this video (previously posted by Galloglaich in the Got a real-World weapons and armour question thread), for sword cutting through cloth armour. Other test show much better protection offered by cloth: I cant explain the differences.

    As far as protection: as you note it must have offered enough to make it worthwhile, but on the other hand if it offered enough they wouldn't have made armour out of more expensive bronze or iron.
    To be honest, the amount linen armour protects from arrows is an irrelevant test for the period. You didn't wear body armour to protect you from arrows, that's what your shield and helmet were for. Body armour was to protect you from spears and swords.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Thinking about it more... in a way, wouldn't the "lighter" arrow test be more representative of the arrow striking from a typical range, when compared to the "100 pound bow, arrow from 5 paces" test often seen in these things?

    Maybe not -- just wondering on that.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Do you think it would be workable and fun as part of an RPG setting?


    One thing I would not do is fall back on the standard RPG trick of making cloth armor or heavy hide-based armor into something only the destitute and desperate wear -- having seen several tests on these types of armor, they appear to be quite protective, and I assume that if they didn't provide much protection, no one would have bothered spending time and money on them, marching around with them, wearing them in the blazing heat, etc.
    Ah! That is the thing.

    I expect it will depend a lot on the system, and whether the difference between the armor types is the critical factor in survival, or at least whether the players perceive it to be the critical factor and get angsty when they cannot find any bronze breastplates and iron greatswords.

    As for the quality of the armor, I agree completely.
    Perhaps if you looked at some Late Renaissance material for inspiration on making cloth armor more appealing than metal armor? After all, what sort of swashbuckling musketeer wanders around in a heavy breastplate when a buffcoat is not merely better suited to acrobatics, but also much more stylish!
    At the least, any sort of metal armor should make people suspect the PCs are nobles, which invites jealous plots, and if they are revealed to just be lucky commoners the thieves should come hunting to make the PCs "share".

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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    I think there's a far more important issue that hasn't been addressed here; how are you handling retainers/servants/slaves? The classic PC party of a handful of unaccompanied heroes would look very out of place. No one would take them seriously, since they'd just look like a collection of vagabonds or bandits. People of substance have followers.

    Also, to bring the discussion about material cultures into useability here, the way Celtic material culture was prized by other peoples who came into contact with them is a neat touch you could apply in your game. Have one culture's goods so valued by others that they are an almost universal way of the aristocracy demonstrating how rich, powerful and cultured they are. For the Celts it was pottery, metalwork of all kinds, weapons and armour. But it could be absolutely anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Thinking about it more... in a way, wouldn't the "lighter" arrow test be more representative of the arrow striking from a typical range, when compared to the "100 pound bow, arrow from 5 paces" test often seen in these things?

    Maybe not -- just wondering on that.
    As I said, it's largely irrelevant. You have a shield to protect you from arrows, even a composite bow firing at near-point-blank isn't going to go through a bronze-faced aspis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    Ah! That is the thing.

    I expect it will depend a lot on the system, and whether the difference between the armor types is the critical factor in survival, or at least whether the players perceive it to be the critical factor and get angsty when they cannot find any bronze breastplates and iron greatswords.

    As for the quality of the armor, I agree completely.
    Perhaps if you looked at some Late Renaissance material for inspiration on making cloth armor more appealing than metal armor? After all, what sort of swashbuckling musketeer wanders around in a heavy breastplate when a buffcoat is not merely better suited to acrobatics, but also much more stylish!
    At the least, any sort of metal armor should make people suspect the PCs are nobles, which invites jealous plots, and if they are revealed to just be lucky commoners the thieves should come hunting to make the PCs "share".
    I think reality already does what we need here; try lugging a full bronze panoply around on an extended basis, and keeping it in decent condition. Furthermore, if you have proper rules for encumbrance and particularly heat fatigue, people will see the benefit of not cladding themselves in metal under the hot sun.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-08-19 at 06:23 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Something to keep in mind is that I'm not strictly trying to emulate the culture and technology of any one place or people in the world at this time. The conversation seems to be drifting that way, maybe. India, China, and other places are fair game here, for example.

    It is not my intention to create "expys" of specific real-world cultures or nations.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    I think reality already does what we need here; try lugging a full bronze panoply around on an extended basis, and keeping it in decent condition. Furthermore, if you have proper rules for encumbrance and particularly heat fatigue, people will see the benefit of not cladding themselves in metal under the hot sun.
    Endure elements + pearl of power = irrelevant

    I'm sure other systems with magic have similar easy ways to deal with such things.

    Environmental restrictions are some of the most easily subverted "obstacles" in a game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    Endure elements + pearl of power = irrelevant

    I'm sure other systems with magic have similar easy ways to deal with such things.

    Environmental restrictions are some of the most easily subverted "obstacles" in a game.

    This won't for the most part be a "high magic" setting. Magic will be subtle, slow, costly, and/or special, in some combination, in part to prevent Tippy-issues.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    Endure elements + pearl of power = irrelevant

    I'm sure other systems with magic have similar easy ways to deal with such things.

    Environmental restrictions are some of the most easily subverted "obstacles" in a game.
    In D&D, sure. There are plenty of games which have magic and still leave environmental obstacles as dangerous things.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Archery is skill like any other, and starting with someone's grandfather makes no bloody sense at all.
    I think it makes bloody sense if you don't take it too literally. It's easier to pick up skills at an early age and growing up in a family that values a certain skill and where the necessary training equipment and competent teachers (e.g. your father or grandfather) are available for free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    Endure elements + pearl of power = irrelevant

    I'm sure other systems with magic have similar easy ways to deal with such things.

    Environmental restrictions are some of the most easily subverted "obstacles" in a game.
    The OP said it's not high magic, nor should we assume it's a D&D-derived game.

    But thanks for reminding me how tedious default D&D is, and why I hate magic in games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Do you have any ideas or speculation on the competing religions/philosophies of the setting, what the states specialise in economically, their political structures and the like?
    I don't have the individual states worked out in detail, because I want to bounce more stuff off potential players if it gets that far, and then go back.

    Economically, there will be different food and material crops to trade based on each state's position along the north-south axis. There will be different mineral resources as well. It's possible that there will be different secret "techniques" jealously guarded by the craftspeople of different states, not sure yet. So, there will be a lot of trade up and down the length of the region along the coast and on the one major trade road.

    The political structure will be as complicated as I can reasonably make it while still remaining functional. There's a lot of public works, flood control, fresh water supply, drainage, irrigation control, etc that need to be administered and maintained, so there's a place for a strong ruling figure in most of the cities, but the temples are also strong, and a lot of trade to enrich merchants tangentially to those other power bases, plus maybe some cities have councils of the powerful citizens who are risky to ignore even if you're the "king".

    Religion is multilayered and multidimensional. There's animism and ancestor worship, which is very personal and local and diverse, but some spirits are more equal than others; famous ancestors and the spirits of renowned places and things benefit from a feedback loop of fame, veneration, and power. There are local and clan and "profession" deities, who blur the lines with the "ancestors" who were mythical heroes and city founders and inventors of great things and so on. And then there are universal deities who are revered across the entire region (if not world, hmmm...) and have broad multifaceted spheres of "interest". Most people pay homage to local spirits and family ancestors, and to whichever deity they need to attract or divert the "attention" of at the present moment. There will also be both priests and "lay devotees" of the individual deities and "big spirits".

    The deities are not "good" or "evil" the way many RPG settings present them, but rather most of them represent concepts and things that are valued and considered important and good by human beings and human culture, but can be very dangerous when taken to extremes (for example, both freedom and order can be dangerous when pushed to extremes).

    Cutting across those layers, there are a various ideologies and cults, some of which are considered blasphemous and heretical by the established priesthoods and therefore by many of the kings and oligarchs. There are also the shattered, scattered remnants of the veneration of the older primordial "chaos gods" who were according to the in-setting mythology were very alien and often acted without regard to human values or concerns, before being defeated by the more anthropomorphic deities of the current faith(s).


    I can go into more detail if someone wants, reveal some "secret history" in spoiler boxes.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-08-23 at 10:43 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    The OP said it's not high magic, nor should we assume it's a D&D-derived game.

    But thanks for reminding me how tedious default D&D is, and why I hate magic in games.

    It's cool, I appreciate any feedback and discussion I can get on this.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    On Stirrups. It is important to remember that much of the stuff said about what is possible with vs without stirrups is bubkips; what stirrups do is make a bevy of option far easier. A classic lance charge of middle ages fame being one of the only points where can/cannot comes into play. So really things that take skill to pull off in whatever base game you are drawing from just increase the penalties. Also ban things that require tossing your whole wieght around (for example DnD feats like Power attack, Cleave etc-perhaps require special mounted versions if you think appropriate)

    On bronze: a couple key things about bronze. Tin Bronze (vs alum-bronze or arsenic bronze-whose creation was prone to purity and ratio issues) wass generally better than most iron for a substantial period of time. But it had lots of flaws. It was expensive due to issues of needing too import tin (which is in large part why Britain stayed with bronze the major tin ore came as black cornish crystals) but also social ones-the iron sword could be made more locally, and as such linked with things such as gift giving, pledging/declaring allies or group identity, also the steel swords the nobles would usually come from the same workshops as the iron ones (which came later-on the boarders of your timeline) etc. Also bronze had great advantages over iron in many non-military uses (jewerly, saltworks, etc) and it made more sense to spend the bronze supply on these. Also very few places had bronze when they needed it-the more raided your trade routes the less bronze was available which makes a poor weapon source. So while on a pure mechanical standpoint bronze weaponry was usually better than iron it was far worse in terms of social and economic factors. Steel knocks it out completely though.

    On gems-far fewer cuts were common-mostly polished hemispheres and beveled rectangles

    On time period. One of the reasons I think this discussion may be focusing on a particular time/place is that you are aiming at a tech level and having given a place. Other places didn't necessarily have the desired teech level at the same time. So if it is tech level you want to hold consistent looking at the earlier Sahel and West African Nations could be useful. Places like Timbuktu and Benin were well into "middle ages" tech in some fields but their predecessors could have lots of good work to deal with.

    Also as much as you might dislike the cliche the warring states period seems about right in terms of tech as well. Swords becoming a thing for example. Also some amazing bronzework done in what was then not China south of Qin (today dead center of china).

    Two other groups worth taking a look at and ripping off at the desired tech level would be the Kush (very Egyptian influenced but different enough to be fresh) and Ethiopians.

    Will write more when I get home and have map/timeline/library access.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2016-08-19 at 06:25 PM.

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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    On Stirrups. It is important to remember that much of the stuff said about what is possible with vs without stirrups is bubkips; what stirrups do is make a bevy of option far easier. A classic lance charge of middle ages fame being one of the only points where can/cannot comes into play. So really things that take skill to pull off in whatever base game you are drawing from just increase the penalties. Also ban things that require tossing your whole wieght around (for example DnD feats like Power attack, Cleave etc-perhaps require special mounted versions if you think appropriate)
    Gamer myth, this is not true. Makedonian Companions and plenty of others managed proper charges without stirrups.

    Stirrups provide side-to-side stability in the saddle, not front-to-back stability. This benefits horseback archery (more stable platform) and standing melee.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Really the issue is partly the massive saddle associated with classic knights that goes halfway up the back and the associated heavy lance. Plus while aiming a lance charge the impact will not be strait back- stirrups also help torsion and keeping yourself centered while aiming.

    Again it is a matter of degree of difficulty and a stabbing lance vs a charging one. When knights mostly disappeared cavalry still existed for centuries and still charged-that it wwas a reversion to an older kind of charge and that those charges were what was referenced in pre knightly texts is the idea.

    Not every charge is a lance charge in the way we think of them from the knightly era. Charges that use swords are still charges.

    And it is not just gamers-I've known several non-gamer riders (quarter horse competition types) who have issues with that version of the maneuver (though a minority said it may be possibility-which is why I said it was an contentious issue)
    Last edited by sktarq; 2016-08-19 at 09:23 PM.

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