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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Yes poor on luxury, technology etc. There is no evidence on scarcity of food for instance. Also depending on what you mean by 'poor'. Did it sustain large city states, no it didn't. But 'poor possibility for farming' is also wrong. I doubt poor farming possibilities were the driving factor for viking raids (which was what was suggested in the post I answered). Agricultural regime was very different, to be sure. Also some places like the large rivers (Nile, Euferat etc) had much higher output. But I don't think your yield per acre on wheat would be much smaller than say southern France, or the amount of animals a field could support etc.
    A likely factor here is that parts of Italy and North Africa were much more agriculturally productive during the mid-to-early Roman period. (On the subject of 'climate change', it seems likely that the empire's collapse was at least partly triggered by profit-oriented land mismanagement/deforestation exacerbating soil erosion. Possibly killed off the silphium and papyrus industries, too.)

    It's also quite possible for 'tribal' societies (which can span the whole gamut from mesolithic nomads to agrarian kinship-confederacies using bronze and iron) to have better average living standards than urban civilisations with massive centralised kleptocracies. (Not necessarily life expectancy, since the former tend to die of violence more frequently, but hunting/gathering can diversify food sources, and disease spreads less between dispersed communities.) If you're defining wealth/poverty in terms of how many silk hangings show up in the chieftain's hut, that may paint a very different picture...
    Last edited by Lacuna Caster; 2016-09-04 at 09:42 AM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Yes poor on luxury, technology etc. There is no evidence on scarcity of food for instance. Also depending on what you mean by 'poor'. Did it sustain large city states, no it didn't. But 'poor possibility for farming' is also wrong. I doubt poor farming possibilities were the driving factor for viking raids (which was what was suggested in the post I answered). Agricultural regime was very different, to be sure. Also some places like the large rivers (Nile, Euferat etc) had much higher output. But I don't think your yield per acre on wheat would be much smaller than say southern France, or the amount of animals a field could support etc.

    Its like comapring Japan to modern Denmark: Japan have 130mil people to Denmarks 5mil, Japan clearly builds various "crazy" large towns, buildings etc, which Denmark does not. Does this mean that Denmark is poor today (as I haven't noticed that). Similar comaprison could be made Between Denmark (or Norway or Sweden) with the USA. There is no doubt who the superpower is, that doesn't mean that the other countries are "poor". See the worlds list of GNI today. That does not mean you do not see more fancy technology in Japan than in Denmark, or more huge 'villas' in the USA than in Denmark.

    Of course wine could not be produced (well it is today, but only as a really minor niche thing, and there is no indication during neither the Bronze age warm period or the roman one that it was produced in Denmark), and had to be imported (which it was, so they must have had something to trade with...).
    You're comparing apples with oranges. Denmark in antiquity was a barely-populated land of the occasional band of migratory herders.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    ...Barely-populated? There were iron-age farmers across the channel by then. You're telling me Denmark was somehow stuck in the early neolithic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I don't have a system in mind, I haven't found anything that fits -- spellcasting or otherwise.

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    ...Part of it is, I'm stuck in a gap. I don't care for level & class systems or Vancian casting or vast HP pools... but I also don't care for a lot of what's been done in "response" to those concepts, such as "conflict resolution" rolls (I entirely prefer discrete attempt resolution). One of the systems I do like is 4th or 5th HERO, but it doesn't scale down to "normals" as well as its proponents might assert, and the segment/phase actions system isn't so great for fluid combat. Plus, I'd have to do a gob-ton of work building everything up from the ground.
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    I don't think conflict-resolution has much to do with nixing HP and class/level combos per se- it's focused on negating a quite different dungeoneering shibolleth. As I understand it the idea is to eliminate entry-points for GM-fudging (conscious or otherwise) by nailing down potential outcomes before rolling dice in the open. (The whole 'stake-setting' aspect is prone to misinterpretation, but in theory plausibility concerns aren't supposed to be hand-waved away.)

    I suspect that we're alike in a fondness for the quasi-scientific, reductionist-determinism paradigm that crops up in a lot of simulationist systems, so my personal take is that task-resolution minus time-wasting is basically indistinguishable from certain forms of conflict resolution. (For example, if you have a 5% chance to hit a target from 40 feet away, but unlimited time to repeat attempts without significant cost in risk or materials, then you can assume eventual success- there's no need to roll, because there's nothing at stake. It's only if something important hinges on hitting the target before you run out of time, arrows, credibility or whatever, that you'd need to roll. It's the emergence/recognition of stakes/conflicts that calls for the dice, and not vice versa- and whether those dice get rolled once or ten times per volley as required is a secondary system concern.)

    Anyway- as far as system approaches go, I should caution that Hero Wars is definitely conflict-resolution based (sometimes with one or two rolls, sometimes with twenty.) Burning Wheel is somewhat similar in that respect, though the various modular subsystems are much more tuned toward blow-by-blow minutia.

    Did nobody mention GURPS? It's very vanilla, but pretty solidly built up from baseline simulationist assumptions. There must a couple of iron-age supplements... right?

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

    So Denmark in antiquity had several million people able to sustainably live there, and multiple cities with hundreds of thousands of people living in them? Course not, it was at a completely different level of development and complexity. There's a good reason entire peoples were migrating southwards continually in the period, because living there was hard and it was much easier to sustain a larger population further south.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-09-04 at 12:35 PM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    As much as I appreciate all the meaty feedback and information -- could we summarize and move on from the gristle of this "Denmark debate"?
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-04 at 12:49 PM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    You're comparing apples with oranges. Denmark in antiquity was a barely-populated land of the occasional band of migratory herders.
    What? Migratory herders? Wonder why my Archaeology professors never told me about hem, but instead shoed me agricultural village after agricultural village (sometimes within sight distance of eachother). Occasional band? Really? Is that your answer? That sound like someone in Antiquity could say (well, no not even then).

    We even have some large scale defences from the time period, yes compared to limes it is primitive, and short (something like 2-5km lonh, between two rivers so it didn't need to be longer).



    But it show some kind of communal organisation, beyond the band society.

    OK lets try our best here:

    Lets compare northern, inhospitable Denmark with only the occasional herder which aparently is ill suited to agriculture, and lets assume that the (low) estimate of 500.000 is correct. Thats 1/10th of today (roughly 5.5mil). According to this list, that makes it 128 people per square kilometres today. So 1/10th of that would make 12.8people per square kilometres, some areas would be higher, some lower.

    Now let us look at say, Romanized France. On wikipedia it is estimated at 5.5mil in AD1, growing to 7.2mil in 120AD, falling again to 5.5mil in 400AD. That is (by an large) 1/10th of the present day 62mil (slightly lower in AD1 and 400, slightly higher in 120AD). Today the density is 114people per square kilometre (so lower than Denmark's!). So it would be below 11.4 in AD1 and AD400, but higher in AD120.

    So lets compare this horrid outback of Denmark, with a large Roman province, shall we? The density seem about the same..... Higher in Denmark in AD1 and AD400, but perhaps lower in 120AD.

    Yes, I know France isn't Italy. So lets look at Italy: how large was the population in Italy? I think you mentioned 4-5mil by the time of Augustus, maybe we should say 6mill? Thats (well - surprise) a 1/10th of today. Well today Italy have 200 people per square kilometre. So that would indeed be higher, around 20 per square kilometre. OK we could also say 8mil or so, and that would put Italy at twice Denmark in density, but then again Italy imported grain I believe..... (at least post Augustus).

    So the densities ARE comparable. I Know centres where bigger (giving Italy a large density), but many regions are comparable, France, Spain, etc. So I doubt you can point at a poor agricultural climate to explain it all.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    As much as I appreciate all the meaty feedback and information -- could we summarize and move on from the gristle of this "Denmark debate"?
    Sorry for this. But I think it IS important (well not Denmark per se, but the overall thing), but the ideas giving rise to the descriptions of Poor tribes" living only in places where hardly anything grows. It is for me one of the most die hard myths of the ancient world, which is completely bonkers, invented by classical writers as propaganda.

    You are of course allowed to have only tribals which are completely living up to the myths, but I think it should be done on an informed basis (that is knowing it is a stereotype).

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Sorry for this. But I think it IS important (well not Denmark per se, but the overall thing), but the ideas giving rise to the descriptions of Poor tribes" living only in places where hardly anything grows. It is for me one of the most die hard myths of the ancient world, which is completely bonkers, invented by classical writers as propaganda.

    You are of course allowed to have only tribals which are completely living up to the myths, but I think it should be done on an informed basis (that is knowing it is a stereotype).

    Given what I know just about the pre-Romanized people who fall under the umbrella of "the Celts", and how varied their customs, sophistication, social structures, and wealth were (setting the other reading I'm doing aside), there was never much danger of "tribes are poor, civilization is rich" in this setting.
    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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    So Denmark in antiquity had several million people able to sustainably live there, and multiple cities with hundreds of thousands of people living in them? Course not, it was at a completely different level of development and complexity. There's a good reason entire peoples were migrating southwards continually in the period, because living there was hard and it was much easier to sustain a larger population further south.
    No, not really. As you can see above the densities are not that different between Denmark and some Roman Provinces. Also, yes some of it was migratory, but some of it was just really large war bands (the difference is the lack of women).

    The reason is not lack of food (as they ate welll most of the time, better than many in Rome), but the availability of wealth.... Germanic people LOVED gold (in spite of what Roman writers say, some actually claimed they didn't care for metals). As goold (and other luxery) is not avalable you got to get it somehow.

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

    While I have some other details percolating...

    Been poking around with the sorts of gear and tactics we might see. Not sure if the archetypical phalanx of the era fits a good deal of the terrain, but then, the terrain of Greece, Anatolia, etc, is often quite rough. Have been looking at several "typical" sorts of soldier, with their variations and varying uses.

    Peltasts, Thureophoroi, Thorakitai, Hypaspists, Hoplites, archers and slingers, various forms of cavalry, horse archers, etc, and all the weapons, shields, and armor that would imply. From the Chinese of the same time I'm tempted to pull in items like the crossbow and "dagger axe".

    Oh, just found this -- definitely going to have to read through it when I get time: THE INFLUENCE OF WEAPONS AND ARMOR S BETWEEN PERSIA, INDIA, AND GREECE DURING THE IRON AGE

    One of the possible issues I'm looking at is whether I want to use "Greek" for the "present day" terminology in the part of the setting I'm focusing on, and if not, what sort of terminology I want to use for weapons and armor that are typically referred to "IRL" by Greek names.
    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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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    So Denmark in antiquity had several million people able to sustainably live there, and multiple cities with hundreds of thousands of people living in them? Course not, it was at a completely different level of development and complexity.
    Of course it was (and the point about agriculture being tough up north at the time is, as it happens, perfectly valid.) But you made an unsupportable remark about the local population being somehow limited to nomadic herdsmen, which I would find offensive if it weren't so astonishing.


    At any rate, there are definitely GURPS supplements for ancient greece, if MK wants to look into those.

    I'm not sure about what the appropriate fantasy-equivalent terminology for military kit would be- I imagine it would have to match up with whatever the look and feel of the civilisation as a whole were? What's the visual reference? (Oh, speaking of which- have an eldritch horror.)

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

    @Max: I'm debating adding my two cents but am unsure of where to start. Could you give me a summarized version of what you want this campaign to look like? In other words, what things have you already established and what things do you want to explore further?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    While I have some other details percolating...

    Been poking around with the sorts of gear and tactics we might see. Not sure if the archetypical phalanx of the era fits a good deal of the terrain, but then, the terrain of Greece, Anatolia, etc, is often quite rough. Have been looking at several "typical" sorts of soldier, with their variations and varying uses.

    Peltasts, Thureophoroi, Thorakitai, Hypaspists, Hoplites, archers and slingers, various forms of cavalry, horse archers, etc, and all the weapons, shields, and armor that would imply. From the Chinese of the same time I'm tempted to pull in items like the crossbow and "dagger axe".
    For clarity, those likely predominated at different times, though there was also a good deal of moving back and forth along the Hoplite-Phalanx-Thureophoroi continuum, in terms of whatever was vogue for a particular state/power at the time. If your hoplite-based polis was defeated by another one focusing on the pike phalanx, you might shift to imitate them, for example. One of the reasons the thureophoroi-style soldier became popular was because of the amount of patrolling, raiding and garrison duty being carried out - a light, flexible panoply is well-suited to that, compared to pitched field battles.

    Also beware of the term "peltast", which can mean different things entirely, depending on who you read and how you interpret what they say. There's a useful article on the evolution of Hellenistic infantry, which touches on this.

    Also beware of Romanocentric authors claiming the Thorakitai were an "imitation legionary", along with claiming virtually every soldier who fought in mail with a large shield was an imitation of Roman tactics.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    No, not really. As you can see above the densities are not that different between Denmark and some Roman Provinces. Also, yes some of it was migratory, but some of it was just really large war bands (the difference is the lack of women).

    The reason is not lack of food (as they ate welll most of the time, better than many in Rome), but the availability of wealth.... Germanic people LOVED gold (in spite of what Roman writers say, some actually claimed they didn't care for metals). As goold (and other luxery) is not avalable you got to get it somehow.
    Why are you arbitrarily picking random Roman provinces, when I was expressly talking about densely-populated places like Sicily, Carthage, the Levant? There's nothing remotely comparable, in Denmark to the Nile Delta, for example. Also why look at Roman provinces at all? Romanisation drained the provinces of resources and population (when the original conquest itself didn't seriously depopulate them, like Caesar's campaign against the Gauls), I was looking at these places independent of Rome (and earlier).

    It's like people have this blind spot with the Hellenistic era; they go Classical Greece to late Republican Rome ignoring a span of two centuries before Rome's ascendancy.

    And I reject your premise that it was lack of material wealth that caused migration. You don't go to all the hassle and risk of moving your whole family unless there's a push pressure. That being famine or disease or threat from outsiders.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-09-04 at 06:52 PM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    For clarity, those likely predominated at different times, though there was also a good deal of moving back and forth along the Hoplite-Phalanx-Thureophoroi continuum, in terms of whatever was vogue for a particular state/power at the time. If your hoplite-based polis was defeated by another one focusing on the pike phalanx, you might shift to imitate them, for example. One of the reasons the thureophoroi-style soldier became popular was because of the amount of patrolling, raiding and garrison duty being carried out - a light, flexible panoply is well-suited to that, compared to pitched field battles.

    Also beware of the term "peltast", which can mean different things entirely, depending on who you read and how you interpret what they say. There's a useful article on the evolution of Hellenistic infantry, which touches on this.

    Also beware of Romanocentric authors claiming the Thorakitai were an "imitation legionary", along with claiming virtually every soldier who fought in mail with a large shield was an imitation of Roman tactics.

    I'm aware of the way even some modern historians tend to get all gushy and mushy about Rome.


    At any rate, like the rest of this research, looking at those sorts of troops is just to form the basis, as this is about inspiration rather than imitation. The peltasts I'm thinking of are the sort who fought as skirmishers with Phillip and Alexander -- javelins, light shields, smallish swords.


    One thing I do want is for each state to have a smallish standing force of professional troops, because of the threats from raiders and pirates and creatures, general security, etc. Those with traditionally hostile neighbors might have a larger force. I'm thinking something like "thorakitai dragoons" who can fight mounted or on foot, so that they're mobile and flexible.
    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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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Worth noting that Philip and Alexander's "peltasts" were probably just pikemen who'd swapped their pikes for javelins. Philip's original levies were cross-trained to ensure they could perform both roles (see the article I linked - pikemen aren't very useful in a siege), and Alexander inherited most of those men. Gives you quite a bit of tactical flexibility when you can choose to tell off a portion of your main infantry to act as skirmishers or assault troops.

    Oh, and tying in with one of your earlier points regarding the Celts; it's likely that much of the evolution of Greek/Hellenistic and other nearby people's military expressions were driven by contact with the Celts, rather than the Romans. Given how traumatic the Hellenistic meeting with the Celts was, that's not terribly surprising. You can see that in the adoption of both mail and lozenge-shaped body shields (not necessarily at the same time) and looser formations.

    The Romans own development away from the hoplite phalanx was a response to fast-moving Celts and Samnites who caused trouble for less flexible formations.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-09-04 at 07:31 PM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Worth noting that Philip and Alexander's "peltasts" were probably just pikemen who'd swapped their pikes for javelins. Philip's original levies were cross-trained to ensure they could perform both roles (see the article I linked - pikemen aren't very useful in a siege), and Alexander inherited most of those men. Gives you quite a bit of tactical flexibility when you can choose to tell off a portion of your main infantry to act as skirmishers or assault troops.

    Oh, and tying in with one of your earlier points regarding the Celts; it's likely that much of the evolution of Greek/Hellenistic and other nearby people's military expressions were driven by contact with the Celts, rather than the Romans. Given how traumatic the Hellenistic meeting with the Celts was, that's not terribly surprising. You can see that in the adoption of both mail and lozenge-shaped body shields (not necessarily at the same time) and looser formations.

    The Romans own development away from the hoplite phalanx was a response to fast-moving Celts and Samnites who caused trouble for less flexible formations.
    On the peltasts -- setting all that aside, I'm thinking of troops armed with the shield the name comes from, the javelins, and the lighter sword, and intended for skirmishing/flanks. If that's not precisely what was going on with those troops at Gaugamela, etc, then I blame the sloppy sources for presenting a misleading or simplified picture.

    On the Celts -- to me it seems that there's always been an undercurrent of "Greco-Roman inevitablism" in history as presented to the general public, but it's clear that history could have gone differently... the Persians and the Carthaginians are the commonly-presented "what if?" scenarios, but it's the Celts who intrigue me the most.

    Not sure how much I'm even looking at the Romans for inspiration/material at this point.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by NRSASD View Post
    @Max: I'm debating adding my two cents but am unsure of where to start. Could you give me a summarized version of what you want this campaign to look like? In other words, what things have you already established and what things do you want to explore further?
    When I started out, I thought I had a chance to run something in this, but all my potential players are for various reasons "too busy" (in scare quotes because frankly at least one of them just doesn't know how to manage their freaking time).

    So, for the moment, this is purely a worldbuilding exercise.
    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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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Why are you arbitrarily picking random Roman provinces, when I was expressly talking about densely-populated places like Sicily, Carthage, the Levant? There's nothing remotely comparable, in Denmark to the Nile Delta, for example. Also why look at Roman provinces at all? Romanisation drained the provinces of resources and population (when the original conquest itself didn't seriously depopulate them, like Caesar's campaign against the Gauls), I was looking at these places independent of Rome (and earlier).
    I chose France since my original claim was that Denmark wasn't poorer than "lets say southern France". I also originally said that "Also some places like the large rivers (Nile, Euferat etc) had much higher output." So It does not seem we are in disagreement there. I chose to also add Spain/Italy as a further stressing that its not (purely) about a north/south axis, but about different agricultural regimes. I also included Italy, as Rome was one of the cities where the numbers of citizens are very high. Also I couldn't find estimates on the other provinces (apart from your Sicily one, and frankly a very small area might have a high population density without it reflecting the amount of food produced in the local area -therefore whole of Italy was better suited)?

    It's like people have this blind spot with the Hellenistic era; they go Classical Greece to late Republican Rome ignoring a span of two centuries before Rome's ascendancy.
    So what was the population density of Greece or Macedonia during the Helenistic era? Or the Greek Turkish coast?

    And I reject your premise that it was lack of material wealth that caused migration. You don't go to all the hassle and risk of moving your whole family unless there's a push pressure. That being famine or disease or threat from outsiders.
    As I clearly stated, many of the wars where fought by large war-bands rather than migrations. The migration-trail is indeed the exception. Many migrations by the way happen with (mainly) a pull factor. There is no "climate" cooling triggering the Viking expansion for instance (in fact it is overlapping the medieval warm period), and while there were a cool period in the pre-Roman Iron age in Northern Europe (sometimes called Celtic Iron age), there certainly wasn't during the expansions of the Goths, Vanddals, Markomans etc, similarly Geghis Khan of the much later period did not become a powerful ruler because of climate change. But when we don't know the Genghis Khan of the prehisotry, we assume it was a climate event.

    We do know that both later "germanic" warriors (Vikings, AnglO Saxons etc) was supposed to go to missions abroad to earn wealth, and we also have Roman historians claiming the same (that they needed to raid every generation because of it). Most of the time this would have been low scale trading or feuding, but whenever a charismatic/successful leader arose, t would grow into large sized invasion forces.

    By the way Lacuna Caster: The supposed migration in the 500-1BC is only attested in the very late part, in the first centuries we actually see an large expansion in the number and size of villages compared to the late Bronze Age. Also new areas of central Zealand was now occupied. There is an abandonment in the last century BC (only in Jutland however), where sites such as this fortified settlement was abandoned (which happened roughly 100BC):



    However, at this time we have entered the Roman Warm period, and the weather got warmer. The abandonment of settlement do match the date of the Cimbrian/Teuton migration (yes this one seem to be a migration, though there might be more male than females participating).

    What triggered it is unknown, the climate cooling does not fit (that happened 700-600BC, and getting warmer from around 200BC). Sandblowing from the North Sea is known from the Bronze Age onwards, but doesn't affect Himmerland were Borremose is situated. What we do know is that the local inhabitant had far ranging networks of contact, such as seen by the local find of the Gundestrup cauldron made in Thracia (or by Thracian smiths working for the Celts...).

    So perhaps a situation happens within their alliance network which triggers them? Note that their route takes them close to Thrace:



    Perhaps they were responding to tales of riches beyond their wildest dreams from Celts living in that area? Who they met during trade/exhange (we see alot of exchange to that region in the period).

    Combined with charismatic leaders, I can see that starting migrations from all over Northern Germany/Jutland, a collecting more people along the way.
    Last edited by Tobtor; 2016-09-05 at 02:51 PM.

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    *sigh*

    *sigh*
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Big tangent upcoming-
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    I don't think conflict-resolution has much to do with nixing HP and class/level combos per se- it's focused on negating a quite different dungeoneering shibolleth. As I understand it the idea is to eliminate entry-points for GM-fudging (conscious or otherwise) by nailing down potential outcomes before rolling dice in the open. (The whole 'stake-setting' aspect is prone to misinterpretation, but in theory plausibility concerns aren't supposed to be hand-waved away.)

    I suspect that we're alike in a fondness for the quasi-scientific, reductionist-determinism paradigm that crops up in a lot of simulationist systems, so my personal take is that task-resolution minus time-wasting is basically indistinguishable from certain forms of conflict resolution. (For example, if you have a 5% chance to hit a target from 40 feet away, but unlimited time to repeat attempts without significant cost in risk or materials, then you can assume eventual success- there's no need to roll, because there's nothing at stake. It's only if something important hinges on hitting the target before you run out of time, arrows, credibility or whatever, that you'd need to roll. It's the emergence/recognition of stakes/conflicts that calls for the dice, and not vice versa- and whether those dice get rolled once or ten times per volley as required is a secondary system concern.)

    Anyway- as far as system approaches go, I should caution that Hero Wars is definitely conflict-resolution based (sometimes with one or two rolls, sometimes with twenty.) Burning Wheel is somewhat similar in that respect, though the various modular subsystems are much more tuned toward blow-by-blow minutia.

    Spoiler: System tangent...
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    I do prefer mechanics/systems that I think would be called simulationist, as long as they're not prone to dragging the game to a halt, turning a 1-minute skirmish into a 3-hour roll-a-thon.

    If I'm GMing and there's a situation in which the players will eventually accomplish the task, I don't have them roll over and over again until they "hit", I have them roll once and use the degree of failure or success determine how long it takes, etc. It's still a task resolution, but it doesn't bog down at those moments.

    That whole conversation you linked to about stakes-setting is rife with examples of why I don't like conflict-resolution and narrative dice. I don't know, there's just that touch of smug about the whole thing that rubs me the wrong way. The whole discussion also seems to be tangential to the real issue -- adversarial GM/player in-game relationships -- and they even admit that the stakes-setting gets just as adversarial, and is prone to oneupsmanship.

    This example in particular makes me want to bang my head on the table:

    With conflict resolution, that problem simply disappears. Is the conflict between this very guard and the character? Is it between the character and the Duke, with the guard as a proxy/medium for the Duke? Whose interests are really opposed such that we even want to roll dice in the first place?
    UGH. Just... ugh. It's not about "interests", it's about the event that's happening right then at that moment, and the task at hand. We don't "want" to roll the dice, the dice are the "neutral arbiter" of the attempted task.

    I know they're not directly in response to the HP and level/class stuff, but it seems like so many games that have come out that could have been alternatives to the "D&D standard rule stuff", or that have really interesting settings, have also been built around those concepts.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Something that provides an alternative to the tribal or city state government model would be the Persian model of government. While information about Persia is always hard to come by, they appear to have had a very light hand over their vassals. Archaeological and historical sources suggest that the Persians left their vassals with quite a lot of autonomy, but also tried to enforce their religion upon their subjects. It would be interesting to run a game where one of the major governments in the area is so big and so distant that almost nobody has ever actually interacted with one of their representatives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I chose France since my original claim was that Denmark wasn't poorer than "lets say southern France". I also originally said that "Also some places like the large rivers (Nile, Euferat etc) had much higher output." So It does not seem we are in disagreement there. I chose to also add Spain/Italy as a further stressing that its not (purely) about a north/south axis, but about different agricultural regimes. I also included Italy, as Rome was one of the cities where the numbers of citizens are very high. Also I couldn't find estimates on the other provinces (apart from your Sicily one, and frankly a very small area might have a high population density without it reflecting the amount of food produced in the local area -therefore whole of Italy was better suited)?
    Roman provinces are completely irrelevant to the discussion of the 4th century BCE, which is the premise of the thread. At this time, as I already said earlier, some of the biggest cities were Syracuse, Carthage, Alexandreia, Antioch and Rome. Places which were depopulated by later conflict with Rome, and then drained still further by Romanisation directing all resources towards that city.

    Sicily was a breadbasket, it produced enough food to export to Italy, as well as feed the million or so people living there. That's why the slave risings were treated so seriously and recorded. Though that intensive agricultural production, learned from the Carthaginians, was one of the reasons there was so much trouble. It's the hinterland for Syracuse, one of several major settlements on the island, and a reference point I made.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    So what was the population density of Greece or Macedonia during the Helenistic era? Or the Greek Turkish coast?
    Again, irrelevant, Greece and Makedonia were never particularly populous places, nor ones I referenced at any point. They're also not the focus-points of the Hellenistic era. Greece was largely an afterthought, a place Hellenistic kings might try to claim kinship or association with to add to their legitimacy. Two of the major powers weren't even in Europe, they being Ptolemaic Egypt and the Seleukids in Syria/Iran. One estimate said there were about 4 million people in Makedonia, though I don't now remember exactly when and it was regularly tapped for fighting men by all the Diadochi.

    At it's height in 1st century BC (again outside the window), Egypt had around 7 million people and Alexandreia over 300,000. The Seleukid domains had an estimated 30 million people - not terribly surprising given it covers the cradle of humanity in the Levant which had many very productive regions and large settlements (Antiocheia, Damaskos, Babylon, etc).

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    As I clearly stated, many of the wars where fought by large war-bands rather than migrations. The migration-trail is indeed the exception. Many migrations by the way happen with (mainly) a pull factor. There is no "climate" cooling triggering the Viking expansion for instance (in fact it is overlapping the medieval warm period), and while there were a cool period in the pre-Roman Iron age in Northern Europe (sometimes called Celtic Iron age), there certainly wasn't during the expansions of the Goths, Vanddals, Markomans etc, similarly Geghis Khan of the much later period did not become a powerful ruler because of climate change. But when we don't know the Genghis Khan of the prehisotry, we assume it was a climate event.

    We do know that both later "germanic" warriors (Vikings, AnglO Saxons etc) was supposed to go to missions abroad to earn wealth, and we also have Roman historians claiming the same (that they needed to raid every generation because of it). Most of the time this would have been low scale trading or feuding, but whenever a charismatic/successful leader arose, t would grow into large sized invasion forces.
    There's no way conflict is going on in an area, especially regular, larger-scale conflict, without people being displaced. We see it even in the modern world, conflict displaces far more people than it kills. Conflict pushes people out of an area, even if they're not directly affected.
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    Spoiler: return of the system tangent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If I'm GMing and there's a situation in which the players will eventually accomplish the task, I don't have them roll over and over again until they "hit", I have them roll once and use the degree of failure or success determine how long it takes, etc. It's still a task resolution, but it doesn't bog down at those moments.

    ...UGH. Just... ugh. It's not about "interests", it's about the event that's happening right then at that moment, and the task at hand. We don't "want" to roll the dice, the dice are the "neutral arbiter" of the attempted task.
    It may be something of a truism, but... that is you wanting to roll the dice. Wanting a plausibly neutral arbiter to decide the outcome of a fictional event that you and some other folks decided to describe... is an agenda. That's your interest, right there.

    Or... if we talk strictly about in-fiction events that are instigated by fictional persons, then the motives and assets of said characters- right then at that moment- tend to be very pertinent. It determines what tasks they'll attempt, and the circumstances under which they'll stop. Setting those interests as the salient parameters to resolve strikes me as entirely sensible. That may well involve a certain amount of 'metagame' discussion (people lie about their motives after all), but for me it's a price well worth paying.

    (I will say that discussion was specifically focused on games in a relatively unpolished state, so I don't think, e.g, Polaris is particularly prone to chesting. But I don't know the specifics of the systems you played, how the sessions turned out, or your own GM-ing style- your tastes might well be fundamentally different.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    *sigh*
    Do not call up that which you cannot put down...

    Apropos of nothing, barbarian migration routes always remind me of football plays. Is that weird?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Apropos of nothing, barbarian migration routes always remind me of football plays. Is that weird?
    Not weird at all. There might even be some shared origin in old military battle/movement maps.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Do not call up that which you cannot put down...
    Speaking of the Anzillu...

    Spoiler
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    You mentioned wanting to know more about them.

    Anything in particular? More interested in the "untime" before, or their time as as "gods" before the rise of the Kataru, or sometime else?

    (Keep in mind that much of what follows is unknown to all but a handful of mortals within the setting.)

    While they were no longer limitless masters of "pre-reality", any one individual Anzillu was clearly and objectively more powerful than any one of the Kataru, able to warp or even corrode the very fabric of reality as an act of will. They were, however, fractious, stubborn, individualistic, and in some cases utterly insane. Alone, they could be overpowered, and the Kataru had their own combined might, bolstered by the faith of entire nations.

    One thing is make clear is that the names and especially the "descriptors" I listed are for them are pretty much mortal-given appellations... when communication was all thoughts and ideas and images, they didn't need words and names as such, they just shared what they were conveying directly. It's not "Bob Smith", it's "that one of us who did this and that and said these things", but all in an instant. This was one of their great frustrations with living creatures -- words felt like a slow and awkward way of communicating giant ideas. They often lacked the patience to tell the entire history of a thing or person or discussion when with each other than could simply share all their memories and impressions from the entire story in merest moments. When verbally conversing, the Anzillu would seem to be "thinking sideways", making profound and bizarre connections or jumps between subjects, intensely focused and utterly distracted at the same time.

    As mentioned, it took a special mind, a strong will, for a mortal to make that sort of deep contact with an Anzillu and not be driven mad... slowly, or even quickly, depending. Indeed, a particularly cruel torment an Anzillu might inflict on an aggravating and weak-willed mortal was to force contact, ever so slowly, and allow the mortal to feel their mind spinning apart one little morsel at a time, in full knowledge of what they were losing at each moment, perhaps holding it back to take weeks of unspeakable agony and terror. Or, in a fit of pique and frustration, an Anzillu might simply strip everything out of a mind at once, taking no care to leave anything at all behind.

    Unlike spirits or "small gods" (or even the Kataru to some degree) the Anzillu were in no way shaped by mortal veneration or awe. They were certainly -- sometimes gluttonously -- able to feed on these ephemeral banquets, but this was never a matter of dependence or mutual feedback. Mortals were a curiosity, a fascination, an annoyance, and even an obsession at times.

    Almost in spite of themselves, some of the Anzillu seemed to have learned restraint and patience over time, and they were capable of becoming attached -- perhaps dangerously so -- to specific mortals. Woe was it to the person, family, or entire nation who would have threatened the well-being of such an individual.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    So as I mentioned previously, I'm basing the ancient names and terms, things from the setting's protohistory, on Sumarian and Akkadian words.

    I'm not sure I want to base the "present day" names, terms, etc on Greek... that might be making too much of a connection to that specific place and time.

    Any thoughts?

    If not Greek, any suggestions?

    Maybe any language I use other than straight "English" would have associations and implications I'm not looking to create.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If not Greek, any suggestions?

    Maybe any language I use other than straight "English" would have associations and implications I'm not looking to create.
    No suggestions, but I think you are spot on - using a particular language is likely to create associations and implications, whether you want them or not.
    I've seen that a lot in published products, and it has a tendency to force an interpretation on a setting.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    No suggestions, but I think you are spot on - using a particular language is likely to create associations and implications, whether you want them or not.
    I've seen that a lot in published products, and it has a tendency to force an interpretation on a setting.
    Yeah. I think I can get away with Sumerian because it's obscure and doesn't invoke a "living culture" the way something like Greek or Latin or, I don't know, a Slavic mashup might. Looking at Sanskrit and Egyptian, they're out, too immediately evocative.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-06 at 10:18 PM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Well, what exactly could Sumerian evoke?

    One of the FR nations uses that as the base with their pantheon, but beyond that, what does . . . "Ishtar" or "Marduk" really say thematically?
    "Gilgamesh in a tunic"
    Not that much baggage to really worry about, particularly for a precursor civilization, right in the Bronze Age.

    I'd suggest Thracian or Illyrian (if you could find enough for them), but that might come off as Greek or Roman, or pin you to actual Thracian or Illyrian themes, though . . . who knows much about them as with Sumerian?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    Well, what exactly could Sumerian evoke?

    One of the FR nations uses that as the base with their pantheon, but beyond that, what does . . . "Ishtar" or "Marduk" really say thematically?
    "Gilgamesh in a tunic"
    Not that much baggage to really worry about, particularly for a precursor civilization, right in the Bronze Age.

    I'd suggest Thracian or Illyrian (if you could find enough for them), but that might come off as Greek or Roman, or pin you to actual Thracian or Illyrian themes, though . . . who knows much about them as with Sumerian?
    I tried Illyrian because someone said the description of the setting reminded them of that region, but evidently there aren't any known surviving Illyrian texts and that has made recreating the language troublesome.

    Sumerian/Akkadian is, I hope, supposed to evoke ancient lost people and places, figures emerging from the mists of protohistory.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-06 at 11:46 PM.
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