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  1. - Top - End - #241
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    I didn't read the entire thread, its very long. One thing of note from the OP was mention of stirrups. The Asian nomads did not bring them to Europe until the middle ages and they were not developed until about 100AD by one of the Chinese Dynasties. So your cavalry will be mostly horse archers and light spear dudes as they have nothing to brace against to carry heavier weapons. I watched a show about this and they even used a pressure gauge to measure a spear thrust by a guy on a horse with no stirrups like most early cavalry, versus that of one thrust by a dude with stirrups. It was the difference from being hit buy a kid's scooter and a Mack Truck. Earlier use of stirrups would have changed the face of warfare.

    I like the ideas though, I have often thought of running a classical Greek campaign set during the run up to and the war with Troy and the Greek city states.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Corsair14 View Post
    I didn't read the entire thread, its very long. One thing of note from the OP was mention of stirrups. The Asian nomads did not bring them to Europe until the middle ages and they were not developed until about 100AD by one of the Chinese Dynasties. So your cavalry will be mostly horse archers and light spear dudes as they have nothing to brace against to carry heavier weapons. I watched a show about this and they even used a pressure gauge to measure a spear thrust by a guy on a horse with no stirrups like most early cavalry, versus that of one thrust by a dude with stirrups. It was the difference from being hit buy a kid's scooter and a Mack Truck. Earlier use of stirrups would have changed the face of warfare.

    I like the ideas though, I have often thought of running a classical Greek campaign set during the run up to and the war with Troy and the Greek city states.
    On the subject of stirrups, there was a further discussion of that.

    You're correct that stirrups were later, and did make a difference in mounted combat.

    There was however a very long gap post-chariot and pre-strirup that saw serious use of the horse in combat, including the presence of heavy "lancers" such as the Macedonian "companion cavalry".

    Part of what has at times muddled my picture of the transition from chariot to mounted warriors was the continued use of the chariot in actual combat by certain relatively isolated populations such as in pre-Roman and occupation-era Britain.
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  3. - Top - End - #243
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Stirrups have nothing whatsoever to do with the ability to mount a shock charge. They give lateral (ie side-to-side) stability which makes for a better platform for mobile archery. That can also be helpful in a standing melee.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Does anyone have a recommendation for good mapping software, with the requirement that the company making it won't try to assert an IP claim on anything I make using that software?

    Willing to pay a reasonable amount for purchased software, even.
    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

    As far as hitting an opponent, stirrups provide the platform to allow a much more powerful impact. The test I saw, it was a difference of several thousand pounds of force at a single point of impact. Without stirrups, yes spears can still be used but your power isnt much more than if you were doing it standing. The stirrups allow you to channel the power of the charge and your own force into the impact. And yes they also let them have a more stable archery platform.

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

    If we're going to have a full-on stirrups discussion, let's have it over here:

    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...stion-Mk-XXIII
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Getting back into this now that my fixation on certain new games is in a bit of a lull.

    On the subject of Inkarnate, this line from their ToS is rather chilling...
    "Ownership of and Responsibility for Content - ALL CONTENT YOU SUBMIT OR CREATE USING THE INKARNATE PLATFORM SHALL REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF INKARNATE. YOU MAY OBTAIN A LIMITED COMMERCIAL LICENSE TO USE SUCH CONTENT BY SIGNING AND PAYING FOR A SEPARATE COMMERCIAL LICENSE AGREEMENT."
    Well, shoot, missed that little disclaimer... I can't think of any other solutions off the top of my head, but do you have a rough sketch of the geography? I might try fleshing it out once you're happy with the details.

    (I actually haven't checked the main RPG forum for weeks, and then you wind up posting here yesterday. Heh. Small world.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by FabulousFizban View Post
    dont forget this was also the height of the celtic civilization! they were spread as far east as the danube at this point
    Just so long as it is authentic: widespread language and shared technology with wildly different religions, customs, morals, ethnicities, nations, and agendas. Saying "the Celtic civilization" is almost akin to saying the "European civilization".
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Just so long as it is authentic: widespread language and shared technology with wildly different religions, customs, morals, ethnicities, nations, and agendas. Saying "the Celtic civilization" is almost akin to saying the "European civilization".
    Something like that is the plan.
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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

    OK, so I have a lot of rough notes, but I'm going to try to detail out a city or similar entry every couple of days.

    I'm still having trouble with the map beyond a rough idea in my head, so locations will be descriptive for now.

    Here's the easy one, the aforementioned Nomos...


    Nomos

    Population: 100000 full citizens, 20000 legally resident foreigners, 50000 contractually indentured persons (major city)
    Cultures: (haven't worked them out yet, but this will be a standard entry for each city)
    Species: Human majority
    Prominent Deities: Kagal-eunir
    Local Deities: The Venerated Justices (ancestor spirits endowed with the collective wisdom of many past Judges)
    Location: "bowl" plain between two ancient and worn-down mountain chains near "the middle of things", not near the sea
    Government: Secular Synedrion of 261 elected citizens (lower chamber), 13 temple-appointed Judges (upper chamber)

    Nomos shines in the light of sun or moon, a city of gleaming white stone and clean white plaster, overlooking a great open valley. Sitting atop an almost perfectly round rise of stone, the streets are laid out in precise geometry, and the buildings are constructed to strict standards. There are no twisting lanes and narrow jagged alleys here; wide streets for wheeled traffic all have room for pedestrians to each side, and intersect with open pedestrian walks at regular intervals. Buildings are all stone or plastered, and kept fixed distances apart, to prevent the spread of fire. Across the great fertile plain, roads stretch out to the horizon past fields and orchards laid out with similar care and order. No true river runs here, just streams, so six great aqueducts run to the far-off mountains to the east and west, carrying fresh water available to all citizens and travelers alike, and feeding out to irrigate the fields and bring fertility to the land.

    Here at the center of Nomos, overlooking all, is the High Temple of Kagal-eunir, the Lawbringer, and its great library, and the High Holy Court of Law. The law is the ultimate ruler of Nomos; it maintains an extensive and meticulous body of laws and precedent regarding almost every aspect of life, both business and personal. Scholars comes from across the known world to study the philosophy of law and government. Likewise, anyone who can manage to bring their case here is offered "ultimate justice" in the High Holy Court, officiated by the Justices of Kagal-eunir.

    The Synedrion and the Judges attempt to maintain cordial but unentangled relations with all the polities the city has contact with, far and wide. They offer their services as neutral arbiters in disputes, citing orderly cooperation as superior to the chaos of war. The city is not weak, however. Its walls are well-maintained, and its citizen-soldiers well drilled during their rotating service. Outposts guard its roads and aqueducts, and watchtowers stand in the distant hills to warn of any approaching trouble.

    Life here is ordered and peaceful.... but with an underlying sense of fervor and intensity. The Judges find that at times they must actually temper the citizens' passion for order and law with mediation and mercy, lest the law itself become a tyrant.


    Secret:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Under the white plaster and gleaming marble, Nomos is the “cleansed” and rebuilt Dara, Red City of Zarruzassa… chip away deep enough and the red stone is still there, like flesh and blood under pale smooth perfect skin.)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-09 at 11:21 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Aioniapolis

    Population: ~5000 (once at least 150000, if not more)
    Cultures: Random mix
    Species: Random mix
    Prominent Deities: none
    Local Deities: ancestor, death, and carnal spirits, countless in number
    Location: toward the south, on a vast flat area of limestone bedrock some distance from the sea
    Government: fluctuating mix of competing mobs, councils, zealots, and petty chiefs

    Aioniapolis, home to the greatest complex of temples and monuments anywhere in the known world. Successive oligarchs, tyrants, and zealots sought for countless generations to outdo their ancestors and their rivals by building ever more elaborate and massive symbols of their generosity, power, or devotion. Columns mightier than the great trees of the northern vale, spires reaching for the heavens, great complexes cut into the rock, arches and domes as if to encompass the entire sky... built from stone in a dazzling array of color and texture. The Great House of the Kataru standing over it all, visible from many miles around even amidst the grand skyline of this city.

    No rivers flow near Aioniapolis, but great wells bring water from below, an endless reliable source of plenty during years of storm and years of drought. Whereas other cities might use great works to bring water from afar, here great works take water to the fields and farms surrounding. Massive windworks and waterworks turn ceaselessly to pull the water up to the city.

    The people here are proud, and prosperous, and bask in the glory of gods and man alike.

    Or so it was, before a single day... a matter of minutes, to be truthful.

    The land trembled, and the buildings shook... and the very stone beneath the city gave way, plunging all the great temples and monuments and forums and markets and great houses and public works, into an abyss below. Into this great doom was also taken nearly the entirety of the largest population in the known world. Around this gaping maw, only sections of the ruined city wall, the slums of the poor who could not afford to live in the lost grandeur, and the "red district", remained. Outlying farms and villas remained, and were soon overrun with terrified survivors, who often seized what they could and continued their headlong flight from the devastation and madness.

    Those fleeing survivors found themselves often unwelcome, as word of their "accused" city spread, and fear that they carried their doom with them. Some have taken to nomadic trading, some have taken to banditry, some have tried to rebuild in the ruins around the giant pit. Most are split between those who have angrily rejected the Kataru for repaying their devotion and labors with betrayal and death, and those who find the fault in themselves and seek absolution from their highest gods. Wherever the refugees of the city are found in the world, these two sides may come to blows. Among those who are have stayed in or returned to the ruins, the two factions constantly vie for control, and where it may be a capital crime one week to venerate or preach of the Kataru, it may the next week be just as much a crime to openly deny or insult the Kataru -- those guilty of either are likely to be thrown into the great yawning void.

    Great roads lead to the doomed city, from the ports along the coast to the west, and to the Great Way to the east where it runs along the backbone of the known world. Those who still use these roads give the ruins and the madness wide leeway, preferring to lose days on their journey rather than risk getting caught up in terror or bacchanal... or both.

    Scholars who have since visited surmise that the water of the great wells was not so endless afterall, and in fact had come from a vast network of giant caverns beneath the city, which the ceaseless pumping of many centuries had greatly drained. Other places in the known world have similar sources of water, though not so extensive and not so taxed. With the chambers low on water and deprived of that internal support, and the massive city pressing down, it only took a relatively moderate earthquake to cause a chain collapse of the entire system.

    Secret:
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    Something horrible is stirring the dark unseen depths of the pit where the city once stood, awakened by death and suffering and the terrified condemned that plummet into its, or their, embrace.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-09 at 11:20 AM.
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    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

    Hmm. If you're still in the 'rough notes' stage of things, it's possible that less-is-more, description-wise. I'd honestly incline to start with the map and maybe a half-dozen adjectives apiece, and work up from there.

    With that said, I'm still very fond of the concept for Nomos, and I rather like the idea for Aioniapolis of a civilisation brought low by a combination of natural and ecological disaster, if you're borrowing from the mayan cenotes? (It's been a while since I read the older posts, so I'm afraid I'll be fuzzy on a lot of the geography you mentioned earlier.)
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    I have a problem with such a large city as Nomos not having a river, lake or the sea nearby. I can't think of any such examples. Rivers are handy because they offer fish and water, and make the plains fertile; they also make cities built on them into double travel hotspots, because 1. you can carry goods or barges down the river and 2. a city will also represent a good place to ford it and constitute an attractive spot for all travellers in the area. It gets more strange with there being a valley, which normally denotes the presence of a river.

    Otherwise, the way in which the streets are built might remind of colonies built according to the hippodamian scheme. If it's not a projected city, then there could have been a huge, centralized building project in the past; the promoter(s) would likely still be remembered as important figures.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Hmm. If you're still in the 'rough notes' stage of things, it's possible that less-is-more, description-wise. I'd honestly incline to start with the map and maybe a half-dozen adjectives apiece, and work up from there.

    With that said, I'm still very fond of the concept for Nomos, and I rather like the idea for Aioniapolis of a civilisation brought low by a combination of natural and ecological disaster, if you're borrowing from the mayan cenotes? (It's been a while since I read the older posts, so I'm afraid I'll be fuzzy on a lot of the geography you mentioned earlier.)
    There's a lot of variations on Karst geology going on, including some areas where water moves underground as with the cenotes. (And some areas like in SE China / N Vietnam, and like the Karst region in Croatia, and so on.)

    I have a very rough map in my head, an idea of how I want things to work, but it's all puzzle pieces, so I need to work out what the pieces are before I start putting them together. So I have to know the history and why cities were founded and what happened in some detail... or I end up with cities or people or battles on the far side of where I need them to be to make sense.

    Part of the reason for the level of detail here is to get something detailed so that I have a starting point for other things... I was suffering from paralysis by analysis and had to start somewhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    I have a problem with such a large city as Nomos not having a river, lake or the sea nearby. I can't think of any such examples. Rivers are handy because they offer fish and water, and make the plains fertile; they also make cities built on them into double travel hotspots, because 1. you can carry goods or barges down the river and 2. a city will also represent a good place to ford it and constitute an attractive spot for all travellers in the area. It gets more strange with there being a valley, which normally denotes the presence of a river.

    Otherwise, the way in which the streets are built might remind of colonies built according to the hippodamian scheme. If it's not a projected city, then there could have been a huge, centralized building project in the past; the promoter(s) would likely still be remembered as important figures.
    Some of the cities are going to be in places that don't make sense, because the locations and layouts weren't chosen by mortals for mortal reasons. Nomos is where it is because the original city there, Dara, was founded by a mad god for mad reasons.

    E: there weren't any symmetrical rivers, you see... they're all random and bendy and twisty.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-04 at 10:39 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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Part of the reason for the level of detail here is to get something detailed so that I have a starting point for other things... I was suffering from paralysis by analysis and had to start somewhere.
    Naw, I totally get that. Why don't you just dump what you have on the table so far and folks could weigh in and what does/doesn't fit together?

    Were the rules from Burning Wheel or any of those excerpts from Hero Wars any use? I'm still curious about system details.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Naw, I totally get that. Why don't you just dump what you have on the table so far and folks could weigh in and what does/doesn't fit together?

    Were the rules from Burning Wheel or any of those excerpts from Hero Wars any use? I'm still curious about system details.
    I didn't find anything in the Burning Wheel book that helped... I think we talked about this before, but the setting material is very sparse, and as was noted requires the reader to understand the unspoken facts of a Middle Earth or ME-expy setting. Was there something in there that you were thinking of in particular that I might have missed or that might not have clicked in the information overload of trying to take it all in from a cold start?

    The Hero Wars material was very interesting. Lots of good thinking points on the building of myths and "myth logic". The past being written in pencil aspect really throws me off, however. Or is that there's no past or future, just the mutable present and the fog of myth that surrounds it?

    System... I've given up on finding an existing system that works with this setting and my own preferences, especially right out of the box. I'm percolating ideas for my own system from scratch, which has also added to how daunting this whole task has become.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-03 at 06:12 PM. Reason: typo
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The Hero Wars material was very interesting. Lots of good thinking points on the building of myths and "myth logic". The past being written in pencil aspect really throws me off, however. Or is that there's no past or future, just the mutable present and the fog of myth that surrounds it?

    System... I've given up on finding an existing system that works with this setting and my own preferences, especially right out of the box. I'm percolating ideas for my own system from scratch, which has also added to how daunting this whole task has become.
    BW is more useful for defining social structure and character backgrounds than the setting per se (you either crib from Tolkien or use wises/circles to build it as you go) but I would have said the combat system ticks a lot of the boxes for historical simulationism.

    For Hero Wars/Hero Quest, my understanding from later editions is that Glorantha has a very definite and detailed history, and pulling off any drastic revisions is immensely difficult and dangerous, but it is possible for powerful ritual vision-questing to retroactively modify the creation myths, even in ways that tangibly impact the physical world. But I mainly thought it was worth looking at for the flavour of the various religious cults and geopolitics, which seems to be quite similar to what you're driving at. There's nothing forcing you to modify history if you don't want to- the bulk of the material should still work fine.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    BW is more useful for defining social structure and character backgrounds than the setting per se (you either crib from Tolkien or use wises/circles to build it as you go) but I would have said the combat system ticks a lot of the boxes for historical simulationism.

    For Hero Wars/Hero Quest, my understanding from later editions is that Glorantha has a very definite and detailed history, and pulling off any drastic revisions is immensely difficult and dangerous, but it is possible for powerful ritual vision-questing to retroactively modify the creation myths, even in ways that tangibly impact the physical world. But I mainly thought it was worth looking at for the flavour of the various religious cults and geopolitics, which seems to be quite similar to what you're driving at. There's nothing forcing you to modify history if you don't want to- the bulk of the material should still work fine.
    I need to read through those again, then, in "relaxed mode". Information overload is a thing when I try to do everything at once on a project like this.
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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

    As a reminder of the geology / geography:

    Spoiler
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    Geography and geology, rough summary.

    Most of the "civilized" states lie in a coastal area about 2000km in length (for reference, this is roughly the length of Norway, or the distance from Vienna Austria to Kalamata Greece.) Climate ranges from tropical in the south to cool temperate in the north. The landscape is dominated by karst geology similar to Halong Bay, Jiuzhaigou, Yangshuo County, etc. A multitude of streams and rivers meander through the region, bringing both fertility, and the threat of floods; great stretches of marshland also exist. Much trade and travel is by water, using the major rivers and the sea along the coast. Large tracts of jungle and forest dot the wilds and the marches. Many of the cities and large towns manage their fresh water supply via a series of public works, unwilling to rely directly on the rivers.

    Eastward from the coast the land rises into gently rolling foothills and long open plateaus, home to a series of great inland lakes, at the foot of a long broken mountain range that parallels most of the region's coastline, This rise in the terrain is responsible for the plentiful water of the region, ringing precipitation out of the winds blowing in off the ocean. The major north-south land route spends much of its path along the edge of this inland region, where the land is more reliably flat, dry, and open -- this does leave some parts of the road more vulnerable to bandits and raids by mountain tribes and independent clans, however.

    Beyond the mountains, lie the great open steppes. Some snowmelt and rain from the mountains makes its way down the leeward side, carefully managed with underground water tunnels and reservoirs by the towns at the foot of the range. Beyond these towns live clans of steppe nomads. What lies beyond, far to the east, is largely mystery to the people of the coastal states.

    Off the western shore, a long string of islands parallels the coast, home to fishing villages and pirate "kings". Legend has it that a great city of Anzillu worshipers sank into the sea somewhere between the mainland and the islands, taking a land of black soil and plenty to the bottom.

    To the far north lies increasingly barren land, becoming too cold and rocky for large agriculture, before giving way to a permanently frozen wasteland. Here are small villages and homesteads, making their living from hunting, trapping, and what they can scrape from the hostile ground.

    To the south of the known lands, somewhere inland from the sea, along a great meandering river, live a series of foreign peoples, with their own strange cultures, and foreign spirits and lesser gods.

    Far to the south, in lands of the jungle people, there are reported ruins of a lost empire inhabited by hostile enclaves of "the faceless". Tales of cities inhabited by inscrutable "snake people" also occasionally filter back from this region.
    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
    Some of the cities are going to be in places that don't make sense, because the locations and layouts weren't chosen by mortals for mortal reasons. Nomos is where it is because the original city there, Dara, was founded by a mad god for mad reasons.

    E: there weren't any symmetrical rivers, you see... they're all random and bendy and twisty.
    I should apologise in advance for linking college humour, but is it wrong that I get this exact urge whenever I'm playing SimCity? You know, how that promontory is a little too sharp, and I could squeeze in a nice clover-foil zoning arrangement if I just deformed the coastline a little, and it all spirals out from there?

    Now I can imagine thousands of chain-gang labourers carving the landscape to spell out 'Zarruzassa woz ere' in some extinct glyph system.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    I should apologise in advance for linking college humour, but is it wrong that I get this exact urge whenever I'm playing SimCity? You know, how that promontory is a little too sharp, and I could squeeze in a nice clover-foil zoning arrangement if I just deformed the coastline a little, and it all spirals out from there?

    Now I can imagine thousands of chain-gang labourers carving the landscape to spell out 'Zarruzassa woz ere' in some extinct glyph system.
    Heh.

    Zarruzassa is a bit reminiscent of someone playing SimCity, isn't "he"?

    "The foundation of the city must be perfectly flat, and perfectly round... and the aqueducts must be symmetrical, too. I want circular streets AND grid streets, but I hate the way these little angle... THINGS... drop in where they intersect. Ugh. Tear them out and start over."

    And worse... the Anzillu had console/cheat code access...
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Another city-state, this one intact and not in a slightly mad location.

    Keep in mind that these are somewhat rough draft and that I'm piecing the different locations into the geography as I go.


    Zarada


    Population: 50000 full citizens, 70000 free non-citizens, 50000 slaves, at least 20000 visiting traders, merchants, travelers, sailors, and itinerants at any one time (major city)
    Cultures: Mix of everything from across the known world and beyond, come together in pursuit of profit and glory
    Species: Mix of many species, all are “welcome”, human majority
    Prominent Deities: Hurasamaltu; Wasu-harrani
    Local Deities: (still thinking on these)
    Location: at the head of a great sound and mouth of a major river, far inland from the sea
    Government: oligarchy of moneyed aristocrats, guild leaders, acclaimed citizens, and Trapezitai (high priests of Hurasamaltu)

    Zaradan culture doesn’t care where you’re from, so much as where you’re going; doesn’t care what you’re eating as long as it’s sumptuous; doesn’t care what style your house is so long as it’s the best you can possibly get; doesn’t care what you’re wearing as long as it’s fabulous; and doesn’t care how you make your living as long as you’re absolutely making it. Zaradans as a whole are concerned with wealth – getting it, and displaying it. The rich want more, and many of the poor have a “get rich or die trying” attitude.

    Zarada is first and foremost a city of commerce and trade, a cultural crossroads, and perhaps the most cosmopolitan city of the known lands. It owes this in part to its location – at the mouth of the River Aphthono and near the most inland point of a great bay that pierces far in from the sea – and in part to the presence of the Great Exchange, the central temple of Hurasamaltu and headquarters of the banking system sponsored by his priesthood.

    The old north-south road passes not far to the east of Zarada, providing a land connection with several other great cities. To the south, at the border of the great flatland, it comes to the fallen city of Aioniapolis and from there lesser roads branch out to reach the other jungle city-states. To the north, it follows the base of the highlands until it reaches the border of the snow forests. The River Aphthono meanders into the city from the southeast, from its faraway foothill headwaters near the southern extent of the known lands. The great bay itself connects Zarada to the world by sea – its port sheltered from the open ocean but readily accessible.

    All people, all faiths, and all cultures are at least tolerated here, so long as they come seeking their fortune and can abide by the common culture of commerce. Humans of all stripes, Tirzuk beast-people, Gaz lizard-people, Wilder with green skin and facial markings, even Lamia serpent-people and the unsettling “Faceless”, can all be seen in the markets and forums, plying their trades and working deals. Anything and everything is available for the right price… including slaves; life and freedom are commodities just as anything else is.

    The city maintains a strong navy to protect its merchant vessels and a small but highly mobile professional army to patrol the roads for a few days travel in any direction from the city. Beyond this, the riches of the city would draw mercenaries from around the world should it ever need go to war.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-09 at 11:21 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    A generalised observation of the places you've outlined so far: their populations are all quite low. Is that a general theme of the setting, that there aren't any particularly populous settlements?

    Or do their immediate hinterlands have a much larger number of people in them?
    Last edited by Kiero; 2017-08-09 at 08:18 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    A generalised observation of the places you've outlined so far: their populations are all quite low. Is that a general theme of the setting, that there aren't any particularly populous settlements?

    Or do their immediate hinterlands have a much larger number of people in them?
    I can adjust them once I get a better handle on a few things.

    Part of my difficulty is that population figures for the Greek cities in this period are a mess to wade through. For any given figure, it could be "citizens", or everyone, and that ratio changes depending on the custom and law of that city; it could be in the city proper or it could be for the entire polity including farms and so on out to the "borders". And it's often not made clear what the writer is talking about.

    For example -- "The city of Athens in the 4th century BC had a population of 60,000 non-foreign free males. Including slaves, women, and foreign-born people, the number of people residing in the city state was probably in the range of 350,000 to 500,000 people, of which 160,000 normally resided inside the city and port."

    I'll also need to pick a standard and stick with it and make it clear.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I can adjust them once I get a better handle on a few things.

    Part of my difficulty is that population figures for the Greek cities in this period are a mess to wade through. For any given figure, it could be "citizens", or everyone, and that ratio changes depending on the custom and law of that city; it could be in the city proper or it could be for the entire polity including farms and so on out to the "borders". And it's often not made clear what the writer is talking about.

    For example -- "The city of Athens in the 4th century BC had a population of 60,000 non-foreign free males. Including slaves, women, and foreign-born people, the number of people residing in the city state was probably in the range of 350,000 to 500,000 people, of which 160,000 normally resided inside the city and port."

    I'll also need to pick a standard and stick with it and make it clear.
    The problem with looking solely at "Greece" - meaning the Greek mainland - is that their populations were quite low. Much of the terrain is hilly or mountainous and doesn't support a lot of people - one of the many reasons why Greek settlements were responsible for a wave of colonisation to other places better suited to higher densities of people. Ionia had bigger cities, as did Italy and Sicily. Syrakousai had something like 300,000 people at its height - just in the city itself - there were well over a million people on Sicily. Places like Carthage, Alexandreia, Babylon and so on were huge, largely because they were capitals and seats of power where resources flowed into.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2017-08-09 at 08:58 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    The problem with looking solely at "Greece" - meaning the Greek mainland - is that their populations were quite low. Much of the terrain is hilly or mountainous and doesn't support a lot of people - one of the many reasons why Greek settlements were responsible for a wave of colonisation to other places better suited to higher densities of people. Ionia had bigger cities, as did Italy and Sicily. Syrakousai had something like 300,000 people at its height - just in the city itself - there were well over a million people on Sicily. Places like Carthage, Alexandreia, Babylon and so on were huge, largely because they were capitals and seats of power where resources flowed into.
    It's definitely something I haven't set in stone, and I appreciate the feedback on this or any other aspect of the setting.

    Do you think it would be more clear to include just the city population itself, or the entire area directly associated with the city?

    Considering that the landscape here is not entirely like that of Greece, would something more like 150,000 to 200,000 be more appropriate for "large cities" ?

    Will definitely not be engaged in the conceit of counting only the "adult male citizens" in the figures.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-09 at 09:32 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    I think for the time being it might be worthwhile to include a general description of the town next to its population. Something like "major city" or "minor trading post" or the like to give an estimate of what it's meant to be. Even with specific population numbers it's hard for anyone looking at it at a glance to know what is and what isn't large for the time period.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Actana View Post
    I think for the time being it might be worthwhile to include a general description of the town next to its population. Something like "major city" or "minor trading post" or the like to give an estimate of what it's meant to be. Even with specific population numbers it's hard for anyone looking at it at a glance to know what is and what isn't large for the time period.

    That might be a good idea.

    Not sure whether to use "metic" or "paroikoi" as the term for free (non-slave, non-indentured) non-citizens.


    E: changed the population entries above.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-09 at 12:58 PM.
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    Here are the rest of the ideas I currently have, not sure if I posted them before.

    If there are any that jump out at you, or give you ideas, let me know, and I'll work on that one next.

    Keep in mind that these bullets points are just from brainstorming, nothing set in stone (except for Skala, that's literally set in stone...)


    Godorod
    * intentionally built into the walls of a tremendous ancient sinkhole (long ago stabilized)
    * much of the city is a maze-like warren of ramps, widened caves, ladders, catwalks, stairways, balconies, etc
    * has a basic wall at the surface, but much of the security comes from the daunting prospect of invading the "labyrinth"
    * water source -- very deep underground wells
    * (secret -- the Faceless may have access to the city through the deepest caves)

    Anaktis
    * Mega Nan Madol
    * located on a set of islands along the "shattered coast" of a large island facing the mainland
    * build by survivors after the disastrous great battles between the Kataru and Anzillu destroyed many miles of land along the two facing shorelines
    * cult center of various major sea-spirits, fish-spirits, etc

    Atavgea
    * Former trade hub with its harbor lost to silting.
    * The old aristocratic families cling to pride, glory, and power as the city fades.

    Skala
    * A small city built entirely inside and beneath an ancient stone spire / mesa, carved into the rock down into the roots below
    * Overlooking a vast plain or scrubland.
    * The lights can be seen from far away at night.
    * Forum, theatre, and temples are built at the top, with access to natural light

    Byrsa
    * Founded by a princess who fled the traitorous oligarchs who deposed her father and murdered the rest of her family
    * Ruled exclusively by a line of queens who refuse to take husbands (only lovers) and use mysterious means to only bear daughters

    Amphitryon
    * “harassing either side”
    * city located on a major geographical border

    Chrysaor
    * "(she) who has a golden sword"
    * center of the Sun Cult

    (no name yet)
    * city ruled by a queen, after the king died upon return from war
    * their children, other than one daughter, have not been seen in some time
    * rumor -- she had him killed, or killed him by her own hand
    * rumor -- at least one of her sons has turned up in another city
    * rumor -- the king sacrificed their eldest daughter to ensure success in war against his hated rival

    (no name yet)
    * the city the dead king of (above) put to the torch
    * it was central to the making or trade of something rare and precious and prized, I haven’t decided on what yet

    (no name yet)
    * a city in the mountains, built across many closely-packed peaks, with amazing bridges connecting it all
    * picture the area of Machu Picchu 20-times-over, with solid stone bridges over all the gaps at various levels connecting everything

    Melukha – (lost kingdom)
    * the place of black earth; was a prosperous and plentiful territory
    * home to the center of Anzillu worship in the last age
    * the entire area, city and all, was lost to the sea in a single day during the climactic battles between the Kataru and the Anzillu

    Aratta - (lost city)
    * ruined city known for metalwork and stonework, craftspeople and artisans
    * fell to ruin at the end of the last age
    * ruins can still be found, looters and adventures still go there looking for hidden riches and lost lore

    Magan - (lost city)
    * fabled place of vast wealth and luxury, shining jewel of the south in stories and legends
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-08-09 at 02:29 PM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The setting that I'm working on right now would be based on the 4th century BCE, more specifically Eurasia at the time. Not just the Greeks and Persians that might be most familiar, but anything I feel like pulling out and using -- as long as someone had a technology, weapon, food, item, etc, in that century and scope, I'm OK with using. This is the end of classical Greece and the fall of the Persian Empire, the rise and fall of Macedon, the start of the Hellenistic period, the time of many states across the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, the height of Carthage and the age of Greek colonies, the heart of the warring states period in China, the period of classical Sanskrit and perhaps the founding of Buddhism in India, and so on. The Scythians and Sarmatians control the Pontic Steppes and beyond. The iron age is firmly entrenched across most of Eurasia, as well.
    There's an OSR game that is purely based on Greek Mythology that I down loaded in pdf form a couple of years ago. We never got to play because that group never gelled.

    Mazes and Minotaurs. (2006 edition ... Granted, there's a little bit of humor imbedded in the whole deal, as described in the foreward ....)
    It's a fairly clean system, not bloated, that may be useful to you in this endeavor.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2017-08-09 at 02:56 PM.

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