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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    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.

    Speaking of roughly this period in China -- what do you think of this whole "chrome plated bronze sword" thing?

    My initial premise allows for anything across all of Eurasia, so that would include, if I wanted, crossbows and different sorts of pole arms from warring states China, and steel from India, and so on.

    (And relevant to my aforementioned muddled timeline on chariots, Chinese chariots were still in use, although waning, throughout this period.)
    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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    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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  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    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)
    The weapon of choice for the Companion was the xyston, which averaged at 4m in length and was used two-handed. That was braced for an impact charge, which they did without stirrups.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Speaking of roughly this period in China -- what do you think of this whole "chrome plated bronze sword" thing?

    My initial premise allows for anything across all of Eurasia, so that would include, if I wanted, crossbows and different sorts of pole arms from warring states China, and steel from India, and so on.

    (And relevant to my aforementioned muddled timeline on chariots, Chinese chariots were still in use, although waning, throughout this period.)
    From what I understand crossbows MAY have been in use in the Mediterranean in the 4th century BC; they were definitely in use by the 1st century BC in the form of Greek gastraphetes.

    Have you thought about what, if any, magical or mythical creatures you'd like to include?

    For some reason the talk of these ancient cultures is also making me think about their storytelling cultures; the Greeks loved plays, India was producing its Sanskrit epics some time around, and a personal favourite; an ancient Sumerian beer hymn.

    On that note I feel like, because it's not mechanically important, food is ignored in many RPGs, when in reality it's such an important part of culture and people's lives; food was something important to the ancients too.

    Sorry, not a lot thats particularly useful from me but thats my two cents :)
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    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.
    Partly true. If you see the test i linked, the author tries to calculate this (it is not a linear development), and concludes:

    From the calculations above, The 110 lb longbow at full 250 yd range will equal the 75 lb longbow in momentum at point blank range. I used 10 yards for safety reasons to simulate point blank range (Figure 2).
    Now 250 yards is a long way off, most arrows would be shot at a closer distance. Note that if you go to the Linothorax you can see their poster, were its clear that at 50 feet the 60lb bow still penetrates 30mm, though at 100feet it only does so 10mm (like not a problem for the wearer). But as they report no data on bows (relavant as eastern re-curves transfers energy to the arrow better than selfbows), type of arrow-head (as some arrowheads penetrate much farther through cloth than others), weight of the arrow (matters as the effect of the bow will diminish if you shoot a light arrow with a heavy bow), the results are not really that informative.

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

    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.
    Well the shield was you primary defence against all types of attacks. But I agree that in general body armour shouldn't be the primary defence against arrows, but that's what they tested. In general though a good spear-trust can do more damage than arrows from a 60lb bow (due the much higher weight of the spear).

    A good sword cut should also fare better against cloth than arrows (see the movie I linked with sword against two gambesons).

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    I happen to have a number of historians on tap, through my work on Europa Barbarorum II, and got this from one of them:

    Seems pretty plausible to me; mail was invented by the Etruscans, but popularised by the Celts after the originators had mostly abandoned it.
    I noted that Etruskan is also some times contributed to the invention of mail, but I find it doubtful (at least mail as we consider it). It seem that (in broad terms) historians favour an Etruskan origin and archaeologist an Celtic one. Well historians always want things to come out of Italy or Greece (or possibly Persia or Egypt), this is related to where they have text and they see these as "primary" cultural hotspots. Archaeologist (like myself) consider material culture and tries to see where things develop.

    Now the argument for Etruskan mail hinges on items such as these:



    It is definately rings, but if it is mail is more debaed. They do not form an interlinked pattern, and is mainly seen hanging from a belt-thingy. These are from th 7th century, and the link to celtic stuff in the 4th century is weak (if non-existing outside a desktop historean point of view)-

    If anyone is interested I recommend see this thesis by a guy who have written a PH.d-thesis on the subject: Die Panzerung der Kelten

    It is in German, but has a short summery in English in the end, here is a quote:

    The synthesis of the different aspects shows that the chain mail first appeared in the course of the La Tène culture and was in use from the 4th century BC until the Roman period. Against this background the passage of Varro – that the chain mail is a typically Celtic weapon – wins plausibility (chap. 2; appendix). Following recent research it is more than probable that the chain mail is an invention of the La Tène culture

    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.
    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.
    That is bull****. Surely they produced a lot of things themselves: as you might note I stated that they began Iron extraction in Denmark in around 200BC. There were many differences in the material culture in the period; the problem is that they do not follow our ideas about "Celtic" and "Germanic" areas (the whole discussion on the term *Germanic is in itself interesting, as it is a word first apearing in Ceasars work about a small tribe in Belgium ('ish, modern borders didn't exist).

    The things they imported was prestige goods from the centres of the Celtic world: most 'Celtic' areas would likewise have their own (local) material culture and items imported from the centres. Separating the 'Celtic' localities from the 'Germanic', is problematic as in both cases its local stuff combined with prestige stuff from the centres.

    "resource-poor Germania"

    Is also somewhat an historian viewpoint, as most Celtic areas didn't have more resources, and that Baltic amber (from Northern Poland and Scandinavia - thus 'Germanic' areas) was part of a big trade network. Even in the Bronze age where copper and tin was the metal resource and it all had to be imported, Scandinavia had a lot of bronze.


    I was simplifying; unlike a xiphos or kopis, for example, they look the way someone familiar with medieval swords would expect one to look.
    Fair enough. It is just that I think the Celtic swords look more like Bronze age swords, or even xiphos than to medieval swords. And if anything the Xiphos look more like medieval swords than La tene swords do: they sometimes have a real medieval looking crossguard (which is how many lay-people identifies swords I suppose):


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

    Quote Originally Posted by kraftcheese View Post
    From what I understand crossbows MAY have been in use in the Mediterranean in the 4th century BC; they were definitely in use by the 1st century BC in the form of Greek gastraphetes.

    Have you thought about what, if any, magical or mythical creatures you'd like to include?

    For some reason the talk of these ancient cultures is also making me think about their storytelling cultures; the Greeks loved plays, India was producing its Sanskrit epics some time around, and a personal favourite; an ancient Sumerian beer hymn.

    On that note I feel like, because it's not mechanically important, food is ignored in many RPGs, when in reality it's such an important part of culture and people's lives; food was something important to the ancients too.

    Sorry, not a lot thats particularly useful from me but thats my two cents :)

    I have notes on crops and foods and cooking techniques that are available per my setup.

    Same with cloth and clothing styles, and other setting details that RPGs often ignore in favor of "yet another spell" or whatever.
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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

    The gastraphetes was solely a siege weapon, and attested to in the siege of Rhodes (304BC) amongst others. In the field archers, slingers and javelineers were vastly preferred.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-08-20 at 02:05 PM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    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.
    Hmmm.

    That is a tricky one for an RPG. To begin with, does the GM take on the extra weight of running all those people on top of the other NPCs to present them as fully-fledged individuals, or does the player treat them as "part of his character"?

    On top of that, it has some very deep worldbuilding implications. Whether slavery as a universal part of the overall culture of these states is a big deal -- not to mention what sort of slavery, etc. Or maybe only some practice slavery, and others don't, and it's a point of contention.

    Would you say that slavery or other forms of obligatory servitude are universal enough across Eurasia in this time period to be an appropriate inclusion, and that the exotic nature of it compared to most game settings, would be worth the added RPG overhead?


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    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.
    That is a good suggestion... I'll have to see where it fits.
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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
    Hmmm.

    That is a tricky one for an RPG. To begin with, does the GM take on the extra weight of running all those people on top of the other NPCs to present them as fully-fledged individuals, or does the player treat them as "part of his character"?
    That's for the group to decide; personally I prefer to offload the effort onto the players for the most part. While the GM might "voice" them, they're responsible for managing them at whatever is the appropriate level of detail.

    Might be worth looking into troupe play as an option - give the players multiple characters in the wider group at different levels of society. Thus in a situation where a noble lord would be out of place, then have a commoner or even slave who can engage with things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    On top of that, it has some very deep worldbuilding implications. Whether slavery as a universal part of the overall culture of these states is a big deal -- not to mention what sort of slavery, etc. Or maybe only some practice slavery, and others don't, and it's a point of contention.

    Would you say that slavery or other forms of obligatory servitude are universal enough across Eurasia in this time period to be an appropriate inclusion, and that the exotic nature of it compared to most game settings, would be worth the added RPG overhead?
    In history, slavery is a universal part of every society that settled; not just in Eurasia, but everywhere. There's nothing exotic about it, except to a Judeo-Christian viewpoint in the 20th/21st century, being so removed from slavery as we now are. In many developed nations it was only outlawed in the 19th century.

    It's not going to feel very much like any authentic sort of antiquity without slavery. It doesn't have to be the chattel slavery of the old American south, nor the industrialised slavery of the Romans, but it should be considered.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Kiero -- I read through your Tyche's Favourites pages. Interesting stuff.

    Looks like you already have some interest in this general subject.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    That's for the group to decide; personally I prefer to offload the effort onto the players for the most part. While the GM might "voice" them, they're responsible for managing them at whatever is the appropriate level of detail.

    Might be worth looking into troupe play as an option - give the players multiple characters in the wider group at different levels of society. Thus in a situation where a noble lord would be out of place, then have a commoner or even slave who can engage with things.
    Since if I ever get to run this I'm likely to have a small group, one possibility is to have each player make both a "hero" and "retainer", and play both. Hopefully it becomes an issue I actually have to address.

    Also going to look at how the system you're using in your campaign handles this issue of followers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    In history, slavery is a universal part of every society that settled; not just in Eurasia, but everywhere. There's nothing exotic about it, except to a Judeo-Christian viewpoint in the 20th/21st century, being so removed from slavery as we now are. In many developed nations it was only outlawed in the 19th century.

    It's not going to feel very much like any authentic sort of antiquity without slavery. It doesn't have to be the chattel slavery of the old American south, nor the industrialised slavery of the Romans, but it should be considered.
    When I said "exotic", I was thinking more about how few RPGs deal with cultural aspects like slaves/bound servants in a matter-of-fact way, rather than making it "that icky thing the bad kingdom over there does".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-08-22 at 10:47 PM.
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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.
    This is an interesting problem, and not one that limits itself to this timeperiod: most medieval people of substance would also have at least one "servant/retainer" etc. Most would have more. Similar each of the musketeers in Dumas works have a servant, and higher up people might have more.

    So there is a series of ways to handle this, also slightly dependent on system:

    1) (already discussed) Just to let your PC'ies have followers. This can range from one to dozens of servants. Here the game system is important, as too many can bog down battles. Also you don't want it to develop into war games with dozens of characters if all needs multiple followers (well maybe you do, but you need to consider it).
    In this it is also important to figure out how important the servants are: how much fighting can they do, do they have special abilities etc. If you read Dumas musketeer novels, the servants often serves a role but never overshadow the narrative (they stand guard, reloads muskets etc). They are also often taken out of action for one reason or another (secrecy, the need to do other stuff etc).

    2) Don't let your PC's be persons of substance. In any period there would be people without followers. This works for low level campaign though, as when they get money/fame they would be expected to get servants. A young man looking for employment might not have a servant, a messenger might work alone, so can an assassin, a hunter in the forrest etc.
    Here the problem will be to bring together the group together and what to do if they get to place where followers are important.

    3) Have your PC's be persons of substance, but in disguise/undercover making servants out of place. The reasons for being undercover can be many (spying, fleeing powerful enemies, running away from a marriage etc). All of them tend to be 'plot heavy'. This possibility can be great for especially city adventures of any periods.

    4) The PC are a 'special' group (ranging from outlaws, a squad of special troops sent to investigate stuff etc).

    5) Have one PC be the person of substance and the others his followers. This requires the consent of the group, but can work really well. I tried it with a medieval setting: one was a knight, another his squire, then there were his hunt-master/falconeer (ranger type), the his advisor (magic user) etc. He had a castle from were campaigns were organised. But of course such a set-up require the group to work well together (agreeing on who is the person of substance).

    6) Have an NPC person of substance as above with the PCs as servants, but have reasons for him not to partake in adventures (keeping up with politics, being too old etc).

    It generally depends on what sort of game you want which possibility is the one for you.

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

    While I'm waiting on some reports to process and need a mental break...

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Spoiler: Previous post for ease of reference
    Show
    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 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.

    ... more on this topic, for anyone who is interested.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Orthodox religious teachings assert that the most-high gods, collectively known as the Kataru, are the great lords and teachers, blessing mortals with life, prosperity, and civilization. They are the rulers of all creation, the lesser deities and spirits, and all mortals, and are to be revered, venerated, and worshiped, in placation and supplication.

    Long ago, in the mists of prehistory, the most-high gods fought and vanquished ancient "ungods" -- the Anzillu. These entities were alien, uncaring, and strange... disconnected from the thinking and needs of mortals. Only fragments of that time remain, scattered in the hidden, lost, and forbidden places of the world. In seizing lordship over the universe, the most-high gods made the world safe for mortals -- and all living things -- to prosper and flourish.

    As noted in the last post on this subject, most people offer placation and supplication to all the deities in turn (along with the local gods, ancestor spirits, local spirits, etc) depending on the situation.


    Spoiler: The most-high gods as I have them set up right now...
    Show


    Ersetuki, the Good Earth
    Er-seht-oo-kee

    Ersetuki is the tireless patron of family, of motherhood and children. The Great Earth Mother, she encourages large families, tempered only by the need to care for every child, and considers it the duty of all women to bring new life into the world. She teaches that family means more than the individual, and that every being must have and know their place in the greater family of all living things. She loves those who nurture domestic animals, even in knowing that those animals will be sacrificed to the good of the family.


    Belumeru, the Green God
    Behlum-ehru

    The Great Green Father, Belumeru is the god of the living cycle and the seeds of life. He looks with great favor on all plants, both in the wild places and in the fields, and on those who tend to them. Ersetuki is his mother-wife – in the newness of the year he is the son, and in the fullness of the seasons he is the father, repeating the cycle eternally. He teaches that the cycle of life is greater than all things, greater than any individual, and that a father must sacrifice everything for his family if that is what’s needed. He views those who try to escape their greater fates with scorn.


    Ebabarra, the Eternal Sun
    Eh-ba-bahr-ah

    Ebebarra is the goddess of the sun, of life-sustaining light and warmth. She is the eternal pure light of truth, and she hates even the kindest wavering from unrelenting honesty. She brings the soft touch of a warm day and the inferno of purgation, the spring thaw and the killing drought. She lovingly encourages perfection, and mercilessly demands it. She only relents from her burning stare because the other gods demand it.


    Ninagal-ea, Lord of the Great Waters
    Nihn-ah-gahl-eeah

    The oceans, seas, and great rivers are the domain of Ninagal-ea, and he is the patron of those mortals who work that domain. His favor is the bounty of the waters, his wrath is the raging storm, the great wave, and the hungry deep. The waters are plentiful, but can be uncaring, and their vastness and power dwarf any man.


    Kagal-eunir, the Lawbringer
    Kah-gahl-eeoo-neer

    Kagal-eunir is the patron of ordered life, of law and cities. He favors all things well planned, the life lived with calm foresight, and laws written wisely. He loves justice, and teaches that law and process followed rightly always reveals truth and always leads to justice. He teaches that there is a right order in all things, and that mortals fight it at their peril; a place for everyone and everyone in their place.


    Tabannusi, the Maker
    Tahb-ahn-noo-see

    Tabannusi is the goddess of hearth and forge, of crafts and industry. She favors the making of things and the pureness of hard work done well. The making of things is her concern, less than the rewards that might come from it or the resources used; she teaches that work well done should be its own reward, and that no amount of effort is excessive in the making of things.


    Wasu-harrani, the Wanderer
    Wahsoo-hahrahni

    Wasu-harrani is the god of travel and freedom, who teaches that those who wander are not lost. The Wanderer demands a laissez-faire world with no restrictions, and no law beyond “do what thou wilt” and “don’t get caught.” He favors those who travel, explore, and never tie themselves down. He is the god of severed bonds, but also of severed ties – loathing slavery but also skeptical of family and government.


    Hurasamaltu, Prince of Plenty
    Hur-ah-sahm-altoo

    The Price of Plenty is the god of ambition, opulence, wealth, and luxury. He teaches that deprivation and unfulfilled needs are unnecessary evils, to be avoided through the accumulation of wealth and power. The fullest coffers, the finest things, and the greatest indulgences please him, but never so much as those who always strive for more regardless of how much they have. His followers struggle between the wanton avarice and gluttony of endless accumulation and consumption, and the grand generosity that leaves no doubt as to their righteous prosperity. Just remember that everything has a price…


    Kashavti, the Grey
    Kah-shav-tee

    Kashavti is the goddess of the great cold – the Grey Lady of winter’s grasp, the embrace of night, and the chill of death. The black night sky and the white snows are hers, as are the stars and the strange lights of the north. Goddess of dangerous journeys, secret crossroads, and hidden things.


    Sharur, the Wild Hunt
    Shah-roor

    Sharur is the patron of hunters, the protector of wild things, and the master of wild places. The untouched and the unspoiled are her domain. As the cities and farms grow, she is the ruthless force of nature that constantly presses back. As most of the other gods are said to call on mortals to take, and use, and expand, and control, she demands restraint, chiding mortals to only take as much as can regrow. And yet she is also the bloody-minded goddess of wild abandon and survival of the fittest, her only mercy a quick ending for the taken prey.


    Pazzursetu, the Great Shadow
    Pahz-ur-set-oo

    The Great Shadow is both the judge and the protector of the dead. A deity of indeterminate or perhaps dual gender, and indistinct form, who rules the netherworld and watches over the dark byways of the afterlife. Pazzursetu's stories and origins are jealously kept secrets, held fiercely in confidence by her/his mystery cult.




    Cutting across the common religious ways is a plethora of cults, heresies, and eclectic philosophies.

    Spoiler: some examples
    Show

    Encoders - adherents of the Ara Principle; strive for order and structure in all things, make and live by rules, pay attention to the smallest details; there is a right way and a wrong way for even the smallest task; order is holy and divine; especially revere Ebabarra and Kagal-eunir.

    Su Du Nam - the universe is a great clockwork, everything happens according to the turning of a multitude of perfectly interwoven gears and parts; especially revere Tabannusi and Kagal-eunir

    Revelers - “Nothing is forbidden to the gods, so to be like the gods, forbid yourself nothing.”; follow the "principles of lust", they can be heard chanting “Lalu lalu lalu!”; give special reverence to Wasu-harrani, Hurasamaltu, and to some extent Sharur

    Zahnu cult - believe there was a single great creator, a prime-mover, who brought the entire universe into being, and is now gone, with internal disagreement about whether this deity died of old age, was killed and eaten by the Anzillu, departed the universe, or met some other fate; mainstream believers consider them a bit kooky, as there is no proof and nothing is gained by beliving in such an entity.

    Divinists - a secret cult of pantheists; believe that all things are manifestations of a single unified divinity -- they are considered a major heresy and efforts are made to suppress and purge their blasphemies.

    Tammites - a secret cult that would be called "gnostic" in our world; ascetics, they teach that the physical world is base, wicked, and currupt, while the spiritual world is pure and good. Considered a minor heresy, but a lesser threat and not worth purging, as they seldom have children and do not have popular appeal.

    Dalkhu sorcerers - practice blasphemous rites and sorceries calling upon the dalkhu, unclean spirits associated with the vanquished Anzillu; it is a constant question whether those who lose their minds to these dark arts are more or less dangerous than those who are able to maintain their self-mastery in the face of such strange and wicked forces.



    The Anzillu were strange alien entities, eldritch and arcane if one wishes to fall back on such terms. Consider them kin to Tiamat, Khaos, the Titans, Lovecraftian "old gods", and the "star gods" of space-rock. Legends ascribe to them perplexing behavior, at turns both whimsical and terrible, distant and intensely focused, generous and malevolent. They are now called "anathema, "most unclean", "the great sorrows of the world", and similar. Priests and zealots fret aloud that the wickedness of mortals will act as a siren call to the Anzillu lying vanquished in whatever place serves as their undying tomb, and bring on the doom of the world.


    Spoiler: the names of some of the great Anzillu lords, as still known to those who dare learn them...
    Show


    Narzalak
    , Haunter of the Outer Depths
    Nerzhalmanis, the Watcher in the Wilds
    Evettazi, the Waking Dreamer
    Ravishu, the Fallen Star
    Zarruzassa, the Vermillion King
    Nekel of the Countless Eyes
    Avsu, the Creeping Doom
    Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli, Margrave of Ashes




    Spoiler: dark truths ahead... you've been warned.
    Show

    The Zahnu and Divinist cults are somewhat right.

    The most-high gods are lying.

    Neither they, nor any divine ancestors of theirs, created the world. In truth, no one -- mortal, god, or other -- knows exactly how things began... not even those who came first.

    Those who came first were, in truth, the beings now known as the Anzillu.

    Before their defeat, the more erudite Anzillu spoke of "before", and if asked "Before what?", they might reply, with rage or melancholy, "Before anything, before everything... before before meant anything... infinite formlessness infinitely subdivided in an infinite whole..." The plain truth is that they were the "souls" of the primordial universe, their thoughts shared at will, all of reality responding to their whim, with no consequences and no limits. "Then" one of them decided to do something new; she scattered her infinite essence across the universe, giving up her own existence to do the one thing they'd never been able to do -- create new independent life, untethered from the waking dreams of its creator(s). This fundamentally changed the nature of their reality, however, transforming it into a universe of finite objects, driven by cause and effect, which took effort for the remaining Anzillu to bend to their will. In an instant, they had become something less than they were, finite, bounded, limited, and the one to blame was also the one they were mourning. They now knew frustration, and loss, and death.

    This new reality was sundered into multiple layers as well, and the most interesting one was also the most frustrating. Here the new living things dwelled, but attempting to communicate with these new minds usually resulted in some form of spectacular and gruesome death for the little thing, releasing its spark back into the swirling gyre of energies. And even when they learned to be "gentle", the Anzillu found most of these new minds utterly simple and dull, with no new ideas and the most primal of thoughts. A few, however, could actually imagine, and think, and hold a conversation (at least until they broke).

    ...

    Those who would become the Kataru, the "most high gods", began their lives as mortal men and women, in an age and place now shrouded in myth and legend, before the rise of the current civilizations. Warriors, mystics, princes, shamans, poets, wonder-makers, scoundrels, schemers... whatever path they were on, they were driven and different, people who would have become great heroes and villains in any age.

    The culture of that time venerated nature and ancestor spirits. There were also other spirits, powerful but dark, of unfathomable motives, demons and tricksters, disconnected from the natural world. The most powerful of these dark spirits were effectively the gods of this time... granting their favor to those who were able to please their inscrutable minds. But their presence, or even their influence, seemed liable twist or even corrupt where it lingered overlong. Only those of the strongest will dared commune with their gods, lest their minds be corroded. Some were outright capricious, going so far as to demand ten thousand one hundred and one human sacrifices, and then purging in fire the city that answered the call. But still, their worship spread and grew.

    The future Kataru were drawn to the power of these gods, and had the will and the fortitude to stand in the dark fire of their presence. Intrigued, the Anzillu took these already powerful and renowned mortals under their wings. They were granted access to the courts in the realms beyond, and dined with their deities, and partook of their pleasures and knowledge. Even as they became veritable demigods themselves, these mortals learned the terrible secrets and saw the often childlike nature of the Anzillu, and how they were by any human standard, monsters. Some even sought to unmake the world, gather the shards, and find a way to bring back their lost sibling. The mortal men and women were confronted with eventual oblivion at the hands of their own gods.

    They determined, among themselves, to put a stop to it. Through trickery, theft, or betrayal, the Kataru learned how they themselves might become gods, and how they might bind the Anzillu away from the world. They learned the ways in which mortal faith and reverence granted strength to a spirit, and how a spirit could become a god. So they sought fame, and glory, and did great deeds, and secretly arranged for monuments to themselves, and covertly spread rumors of their own divinity and the wickedness of the Anzillu, across as much of the world as they could reach. Their final mortal act was a ritual to ascend bodily into the other realms, leaving no corpses behind, and keeping their full identities in a way no normal soul would. Across the known world, they were beloved, and legend, rumored to be the children of gods or gods who had walked among mortals for a time... a self-fulfilling belief.

    One by one, they sought out and vanquished the old dark gods. Unable to destroy them, instead they left them trapped in undying tombs, lost and forgotten stone prisons, locked away for eternity. The battles boiled seas, split the earth, wrecked cities, and toppled the great civilizations of the age, resetting mortal history and leaving only legends and myths of the time. With no written records, the Kataru could teach their mortal followers any history they cared to, and so they did. They painted the Anzillu not as the tragic fallen souls of the very universe, who none the less had to be contained to save the mortal world, but rather as alien usurper demons and pretender-gods, who had overthrown the true creator of the universe and sent the Kataru into exile in a long lost time.

    As for the Anzillu, they remain locked away, and only their servants -- the Dalkhu, beings born of everything left over after the breath of life was spread across all of creation by the lost Anzillu sibling -- remained free, too numerous and scattered to be tracked down to the last.




    ...

    That's it for now.



    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-02-16 at 04:48 PM.
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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

    So, doing research, following links people have posted, following more links from there...

    Interested to know what people think regarding how necessary the idea of completing faiths and "foreign gods" might be to setting like this.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    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

    Interested to know what people think regarding how necessary the idea of completing faiths and "foreign gods" might be to setting like this.
    It very much depends on what you want to do with the adventure, and what what your players wants to know.

    If the religions (and secret cults) are to be a major art of the plot, then different religions should be somewhat expanded, but in general I try to only work on parts that might come up (and be prepared to do ad-hoc expansion if something unexpected comes up).

    One thing I feel is important is how daily life is affected by the different religions (common rituals, ways of doing/saying, attitudes toward normal 'things') rather than deeper theological issues. Is there ways of behaving that is preferred or taboo and so on can easily give a great feel, without the players need to consider the deeper theological background of every religion.

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

    1) Charges and stirrups

    Principal problem most discussions about this run into here is that there are stirrups and then there are stirrups. Knightly charge medieval-style, i.e. braced lance charge, used a very different setup for them than what people think of, and what was used for everyday riding. The primary reason you needed spurs was that if you were in a charge-stirrup configuration, your legs physically can't reach your horse, so you need some blunt sicks on them.

    Therefore, knightly stirrups do help with bracing against lance impacts to a degree, especially combined with a high knightly saddle, normal stirrups do not. That doesn't mean you can't use braced lance charge without specialized equipment - it just makes it a lot safer.

    The fact that ancient heavy cavalry didn't have specialized equipment to help with braced lance charges could mean they didn't do it all that often, or it could mean they simply didn't think of the invention, or it could mean that they deemed specialized equipment not worth the hassle.

    As an aside, knights did use normal stirrup setups when they weren't planning to charge a lot, or had to be maneuverable, hunting and travel are good examples, and some even preferred finer control normal setup gave you over your mount, Hungarian nobility was somewhat slower to adopt the knightly stirrups for exactly this reason.

    2) Bows. Again.

    Ah, the famous bow test, known as only test on the internet that is worth its salt. Somewhat. The calculations for longbow performance at 250 meters are... somewhat optimistic there, and while the equations used are better than is usual, they leave out a lot. Also, I very much doubt that bow has a .9 efficiency.

    As for ancient bows, they were not as strong. This is pretty clear, since we have records of them not getting through things that warbows could get through, but we don't know how strong exactly they were. To my knowledge, there are exactly zero studies that concern themselves with draw weight (and draw distance) of ancient bows.

    The best estimates we have are circumstantial and place the draw weight between 40 (low-end hunting bows) and 100 (medieval warbows) lbs, so draw weight of, say, 50 lbs is reasonable. There are records of archers (usually turks or mongols) shooting at 500 meters distances in sporting events, and guess what? It was replicated with a 99 lbs bow.

    Now, this is not to say they couldn't make stronger bows, but why would you? You want the bow to have as low a draw weight as possible, while still killing what you're shooting at. If there is no chain mail or plate to defeat, you have no reason to drive up your draw weight. And while you did have plate armor in ancient era, it usually had a lot of gaps you could shoot through if the enemy got to the range where you can aim at individuals, so you don't need the power even in that case.
    That which does not kill you made a tactical error.

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

    You don't need stirrups for a couched lance charge, Makedonian Companions and numerous eastern and steppe heavy cavalry managed just fine, with two-handed lances (xyston, knotos, etc), without. They did it all the time, that was the purpose of heavy cavalry.

    Talking about armour alone in the context of bows is missing the point; the shield was the primary means of protection, not body armour. Arrows are pretty unlikely to go through a shield or a helmet for that matter. Doesn't matter how piecemeal armour is if the whole body is protected by a shield anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Talking about armour alone in the context of bows is missing the point; the shield was the primary means of protection, not body armour. Arrows are pretty unlikely to go through a shield or a helmet for that matter. Doesn't matter how piecemeal armour is if the whole body is protected by a shield anyway.
    I agree, that the arrows are not likely to go through shields/helmets. The same is true of most other weapons, and by this reasoning most armour is redundant... which clearly is not the case. If you are shot at with a hail of arrows, even very large shields (classical era sized) will not stop all arrows.

    I have seen even slow-moving bulky larp arrows go through a 'shield wall' with large shields (though only about 1%, but still). Unless you go completely turtle and stop any advances, a few arrows will go over/under your shield, and might hit a shoulder etc. Cavalry might be more prone to archers as well.

    But I agree that 'classic era' armour was not primarily for arrow-defense, but for other attacks (which generally is better at penetrating armour than arrows).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post

    2) Bows. Again.

    Ah, the famous bow test, known as only test on the internet that is worth its salt. Somewhat. The calculations for longbow performance at 250 meters are... somewhat optimistic there, and while the equations used are better than is usual, they leave out a lot. Also, I very much doubt that bow has a .9 efficiency.
    I agree on your estimation of the test: its the best one I have seen, but far from optimised, and I would like to see a fuller range of variables tested, and more study into the actual force behind the arrows etc. Equally how different arrow weights would affect the study etc.

    I have also seen different calculation on efficiency, and it depends on a lot of factors. One thing worth mentioning is that eastern styled composite bows have a better efficiency for draw weight compared to longbows.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    As for ancient bows, they were not as strong. This is pretty clear, since we have records of them not getting through things that warbows could get through, but we don't know how strong exactly they were. To my knowledge, there are exactly zero studies that concern themselves with draw weight (and draw distance) of ancient bows.
    When you say ancient, do you include medieval or just bows from antiquity? There are a fair amounts of studies of medieval bows (though with a limited number of bows recorded). I have also seen some studies on the Mesolithic bows from Denmark.

    The best estimates we have are circumstantial and place the draw weight between 40 (low-end hunting bows) and 100 (medieval warbows) lbs, so draw weight of, say, 50 lbs is reasonable. There are records of archers (usually turks or mongols) shooting at 500 meters distances in sporting events, and guess what? It was replicated with a 99 lbs bow.
    Estimations (based on replicas with correct material) for the iron age bows from Denmark (from 200AD-450AD) ranges around 60 pounds, and Viking age bows also fit that range (with few estimates in the 70-80lb range). That is why I suggest around60-70lb as a good guess for iron age self bows.

    I am a bit uncertain what you are refeering to by this part " This is pretty clear, since we have records of them not getting through things that warbows could get through". From what period are the records and what war-bows are you referring to.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I agree, that the arrows are not likely to go through shields/helmets. The same is true of most other weapons, and by this reasoning most armour is redundant... which clearly is not the case. If you are shot at with a hail of arrows, even very large shields (classical era sized) will not stop all arrows.

    I have seen even slow-moving bulky larp arrows go through a 'shield wall' with large shields (though only about 1%, but still). Unless you go completely turtle and stop any advances, a few arrows will go over/under your shield, and might hit a shoulder etc. Cavalry might be more prone to archers as well.

    But I agree that 'classic era' armour was not primarily for arrow-defense, but for other attacks (which generally is better at penetrating armour than arrows).
    Body armour was optional even for line infantry in the Hellenistic era; there was a choice of whether you needed protection or mobility most. The Romans were an exception in this regard. That was a notable change from the Classical era, where any heavy infantry worth its salt was covered in bronze (some going heavier still with arm and thigh plates). As we moved into age of Alexander, line infantry tended to lighten their panoplies; the extra plates were removed altogether, bronze cuirasses were often replaced with textile ones. Some lighter infantry dispensed with body armour entirely (mercenaries especially). When you're marching around on campaign for years on end, or in mercenary service, a full bronze panoply can become a liability.

    Shields on the other hand were not optional. An aspis covers you from knee to eye, or thereabouts; add greaves and a helmet and you're mostly protected from arrows. That isn't saying it won't hurt if your shins or head are hit, but you won't be wounded or killed. Not only that, but a third of the aspis projects out to the left to protect the next man. Not all shields are created equally in creating missile-proof close-order formations, a more regular body-shield won't give as much advantage when lapping together.

    Ultimately arrows weren't that dangerous to line infantry in this period; skirmishers tended to be deployed against other skirmishers to sieze important positions, flank the line and so on.

    Cavalry is a different matter entirely; most "civilised" cavalry didn't bother with shields (something popularised by the Celts as the period progressed), some eastern cavalry disdained helmets and even body armour (some Iranian cultural more against them).
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    There are also often-disregarded psychological and fatigue effects from massed arrows, even against well-protected line infantry.

    Even with armor, arrows repeatedly hitting someone's shield, helmet, etc, doesn't feel good, and it forces the infantry to hold their defense and formation while being unable to fight back. (To use a different sort of example, there's a tank video game that has indirect-fire artillery units, and one of the biggest complaints people have about them is that they can't fight back against these SPGs for most of the battle... people will rage about this out of all proportion to the expected emotional impact of a bunch of pixel-tanks.) Even if an individual soldier is unlikely to be seriously hurt, he still sees or hears the man 10 feet away who is the unlucky recipient of an arrow addressed to "current resident" -- "That could be me next volley!" -- and it keeps the soldiers on-edge for some time before the formations finally clash.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-08-24 at 09:57 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Another subject -- the social position and "acceptable" roles for women. In much of the "civilized" world at this time, playing a woman within the limits of strict historical accuracy would probably be very limiting and an overall downer.

    Honestly, I think this is one where I'm most tempted to fudge, for the sake of enjoyable game over strict historical accuracy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    There are also often-disregarded psychological and fatigue effects from massed arrows, even against well-protected line infantry.

    Even with armor, arrows repeatedly hitting someone's shield, helmet, etc, doesn't feel good, and it forces the infantry to hold their defense and formation while being unable to fight back. (To use a different sort of example, there's a tank video game that has indirect-fire artillery units, and one of the biggest complaints people have about them is that they can't fight back against these SPGs for most of the battle... people will rage about this out of all proportion to the expected emotional impact of a bunch of pixel-tanks.) Even if an individual soldier is unlikely to be seriously hurt, he still sees or hears the man 10 feet away who is the unlucky recipient of an arrow addressed to "current resident" -- "That could be me next volley!" -- and it keeps the soldiers on-edge for some time before the formations finally clash.
    Why would a massed body of archers be wasting their arrows on heavy infantry, of whom they might only kill or seriously wound a handful with each volley, rather than driving off their opposite numbers? Where's the archers/slingers/javelineers supporting the line infantry? In this period the primary job of skirmishers, besides taking ground early, screening and so on, is to prevent other skirmishers getting behind the line, flanking and so on. Firing frontal volleys into formed up infantry is pointless.

    Also, see the Battle of Marathon as just one option for unsupported heavy infantry to deal with archers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Why would a massed body of archers be wasting their arrows on heavy infantry, of whom they might only kill or seriously wound a handful with each volley, rather than driving off their opposite numbers? Where's the archers/slingers/javelineers supporting the line infantry? In this period the primary job of skirmishers, besides taking ground early, screening and so on, is to prevent other skirmishers getting behind the line, flanking and so on. Firing frontal volleys into formed up infantry is pointless.

    Also, see the Battle of Marathon as just one option for unsupported heavy infantry to deal with archers.
    This would seem to be an aspect of warfare that differed greatly depending on time and place -- as far as I've read, we do know archers (bow and crossbow) were used in mass fire against opposing heavy infantry in other parts of the world and at other times.
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    Why would a massed body of archers be wasting their arrows on heavy infantry, of whom they might only kill or seriously wound a handful with each volley, rather than driving off their opposite numbers?
    Well I agree that it didn't happen alot in antiquity, but it serves multiple roles: one is to actually take some of the opponents out early: a soldier wounded by arrows would be out for the melee together with anyone taking care of him. A soldier wounded in melee might fight on for minutes due to adrenaline.

    A second role is hurting cavalry which is vulnerable (unless the horses are armoured).

    A third function is to slow down part of the enemy heavy infantry, as protecting from arrows make the men stop, so if the arrows are concentrated on one flank and if it is done correctly it allow your heavy infantry to gain momentarily superior numbers at the right spot.

    This is at least how archers where used elsewhere. They might not have done alot of it in Greece, I simply don't know.

    But you also mentions flanking as an important part of missile troops, and that must be one of the situations where you want armour, as shields can only protect you from one angle and a group of archers shooting into your formation from the side is extremely deadly. So if the archers main offensive role is to flank, then armour is exactly the thing you want you men to have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Another subject -- the social position and "acceptable" roles for women. In much of the "civilized" world at this time, playing a woman within the limits of strict historical accuracy would probably be very limiting and an overall downer.

    Honestly, I think this is one where I'm most tempted to fudge, for the sake of enjoyable game over strict historical accuracy.
    I think fudging is very acceptable in this regard.

    While Amazons and Shieldmaidens and so on is mainly the stuff of legends/myths, but then so are many creatures, gods etc. If you want "mythical" 4th century BC, they might be appropriate

    Also the role of women also varied within cultures (though never/rarely full equality). Women buried with weapons is known from the period, and from slightly later periods. Some countries left absolutely no place for women in public life, other allowed them for specific roles (priests etc), others again did accept at least the odd women in warfare situation.

  27. - Top - End - #87
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    When you say ancient, do you include medieval or just bows from antiquity? There are a fair amounts of studies of medieval bows (though with a limited number of bows recorded). I have also seen some studies on the Mesolithic bows from Denmark.
    I meant pre-medieval bows in general, in this context maybe even including migration period. You do get some reconstruction studies, like you mentioned, but nothing too extensive, usually based on a single find, or a small group of them.

    While it does give us some idea, I'd hesitate to make any sort of sweeping conclusion based on these alone, especially since the reconstructions themselves are often not that great. Then and again, I'm not focused on mesolithic bows, so maybe there's something I missed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I am a bit uncertain what you are refeering to by this part " This is pretty clear, since we have records of them not getting through things that warbows could get through". From what period are the records and what war-bows are you referring to.
    Hm, terminology strikes again. I use warbow to refer to high-power (100+ lbs) longbow used frequently by late medieval Welsh and English. These are not stopped by chain mail very well, if at all, blast through most reasonable gambesons and are mostly defeated by plate or brigandine.

    Thing is, we have a lot of accounts of arrows not getting through the mail at all, most prominently during the battles of Dorylaeum and Arsuf, both include accounts of, and I quote Arsuf account here, knights looking like pincushions, having over a dozen arrows stuck in their armor. This armor was chain mail in this particular period, possibly with felt or woolen overcoat, which a warbow can defeat without much trouble.

    That to me means that either there was a weird dip in bow power for saracens for some weird reason, or that there was an arms race between armor and bows, and bows got steadily better as armor got stronger.
    That which does not kill you made a tactical error.

  28. - Top - End - #88
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    I meant pre-medieval bows in general, in this context maybe even including migration period. You do get some reconstruction studies, like you mentioned, but nothing too extensive, usually based on a single find, or a small group of them.

    While it does give us some idea, I'd hesitate to make any sort of sweeping conclusion based on these alone, especially since the reconstructions themselves are often not that great. Then and again, I'm not focused on mesolithic bows, so maybe there's something I missed.
    I agree that it is mostly based on single finds, as we have relatively few bows preserved. The Danish Iron age bog-finds are probably the largest collection, and the studies is rather sparse, and new modern studies would be great. There are however around 30 bows and they have a very uniform look/size (or at least 25 of them have, and then there are a few odd ones). Several estimates both on the originals and copies give strengths in the 55-65lb range, and this is what I would consider "bows for war" in the Iron Age. With hunting bows lighter.

    I am not saying that other antiquity bows are much stronger, but that their efficiency compared to draw weight/length is slightly higher.

    Hm, terminology strikes again. I use warbow to refer to high-power (100+ lbs) longbow used frequently by late medieval Welsh and English. These are not stopped by chain mail very well, if at all, blast through most reasonable gambesons and are mostly defeated by plate or brigandine.

    Thing is, we have a lot of accounts of arrows not getting through the mail at all, most prominently during the battles of Dorylaeum and Arsuf, both include accounts of, and I quote Arsuf account here, knights looking like pincushions, having over a dozen arrows stuck in their armor. This armor was chain mail in this particular period, possibly with felt or woolen overcoat, which a warbow can defeat without much trouble.

    That to me means that either there was a weird dip in bow power for saracens for some weird reason, or that there was an arms race between armor and bows, and bows got steadily better as armor got stronger.
    I think we are agreeing: the best armour of the period would defeat arrows. This is true for both late medieval plate defeating 100+lb English longbows, and earlier periods (good quality mail) defeating 60lb draw bows. At least at a distance.

    Mail from historical periods varies in quality though. So does the arrow heads. I think the best bows (possibly as strong as 65-70lbs) with a good arrow head might defeat 'iron', or poorly steel mail. Making it as you say an arms race (and also I guess that in any period some armsdealers would try to 'cheat' to maximise profits etc, thus delivering sup-par armour or weapons).

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    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....

    I can go into more detail if someone wants, reveal some "secret history" in spoiler boxes.
    ...Shoot, go ahead. It all sounds very rich and textured, but I'm not certain I could comment in much depth without further specifics on what city-states map to which style of worship or political structure or economic base.

    What's the rough size of the global pantheon that you're aiming for? How many local/patron deities or spirits/ancestors per state? What's the spectrum of governance? Absolute monarchy to gerontocracy to merchant-princes to aristocrat-republics to holler-yourself-hoarse Athenian democracy? To what extent does magic get mixed up in manufacturing, medicine, entertainment or agriculture? (e.g, can you transmute lead to gold at economically viable rates? Are there spells to fight infection or provide anesthesia? Do the nobles use illusion in cosmetics or theatre? Does sacrificing infants to the Rain God actually net a good harvest?)

    EDIT: I guess my point would be that even relatively understated or high-cost magic could have a profound influence on the social fabric well before you enter the Tippyverse (or even Ebberon.)
    Last edited by Lacuna Caster; 2016-08-25 at 05:15 AM.

  30. - Top - End - #90
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    It very much depends on what you want to do with the adventure, and what what your players wants to know.

    If the religions (and secret cults) are to be a major art of the plot, then different religions should be somewhat expanded, but in general I try to only work on parts that might come up (and be prepared to do ad-hoc expansion if something unexpected comes up).

    One thing I feel is important is how daily life is affected by the different religions (common rituals, ways of doing/saying, attitudes toward normal 'things') rather than deeper theological issues. Is there ways of behaving that is preferred or taboo and so on can easily give a great feel, without the players need to consider the deeper theological background of every religion.
    (Sorry I missed this earlier.)

    One of the potential players is the sort who'd want to know or discover all sorts of things about the cultures, including religion.

    One of the potential / eventual plot seeds centers around the secret history of the gods, but much would depend on how the PCs react to events and what "roads" they choose to take.

    Regarding daily rituals, holidays and festivals, taboos, etc -- I'm working on that, but it's a slog. There's very little "mid-level" material that's easy to find; it's either kinda shallow pop-scholarship, or hard-core academic, with very little in between that I can find, and it's that in-between space that I need, not having the time for learning and unpacking all the terms of art and presumptions of the literature, and not wanting to base things on 3-paragraph articles from random websites. I want serious, thoughtful material that doesn't require me to go get a graduate degree in history or anthropology to unpack.
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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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