Fantasy Late Bronze Age / Biblical Era Setting

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MachinaMandala
Joined: 2018-02-13 07:07
Fantasy Late Bronze Age / Biblical Era Setting

I've been thinking of running a game set during the late bronze age in a fantasy world version of Mesopotamia.

The over-arching concept is something similar to 4e's default setting which is "Points of Light". Civilisation is isolated, most of the world hasn't been explored (at least by human hands) and there's something to find around almost every corner. On top of that, civilisation is much more primitive than is standard in ACKS but still advanced than what people usually think.

The rough concept of the area the players will be in is that the majority of the "Land of Rivers" is controlled by a bunch of loosely connected city-states ostensibly ruled by a single king (Ensi). However, they're disparate as they have their own various city-gods and local-gods on top of the general pantheon of the region. Most of these gods would be considered (by us modern people) to be barbaric as they engage in animal sacrifice, weird cult rituals and various other things, but they still sway lawful / neutral in terms of ACKS. The Land of Rivers has a relatively extensive road and canal system (although the canals regularly get filled with silt and the roads covered with sand and dust) which the Ensi is responsible for maintaining.

To the north-east are the upstart tribes of the black sea who worship dark gods who should have been abandoned by man.

To the north-west is the rising empire of Chasea, who have learned the ways of iron from their earth-god.

To the west are hills filled with hillmen who worship a single god, ignorant barbarians that they are. Beyond the hills is the sea and a nation of fantasy Phoenicians who worship a variety of gods focused mainly around the sea, trade and sailing.

To the far south-west, beyond the Desert Bridge of the Sea, is the ancient lands of An-Khemet. After the fall of the last of their emperors fell to treachery from their sorcerer-priests. Now it is ruled by worshippers of formerly forgotten gods with animal heads, demon-aspects of the deserts themselves.

To the south-east, the land is dead and desert for miles, despite the fact it should be just as fertile as the Land of Rivers itself. This will be the primary adventuring area, as the desert is obviously of magical make.

And all around, desert tribes, relatives of the hillmen of the west, prowl, ransacking caravans and getting fat off their own trade.

Players can come into this as any of the people listed (or maybe even something from further afield, if they're interested in that).

I'll be handling coinage just by stating that the Land of Rivers has its own (pseudo) coinage system, although weights of gold and silver are generally considered acceptable in most cases.

Armour will literally just be each +AC is another piece of armour put on / body part covered. Ironically this is probably better suited to the ACKS armour rules than the standard setting is.

What I'm deciding on is what classes to build / include myself. Some ideas I've had are:

Standard Classes
Fighter
Thief
Paladin (possibly) - Champions / temple guardians. My only worry is that paladin isn't completely suited for all of them.

Slightly Reworked
Zahirans - To be suited to the people to the north-east.

Built Classes
God-blooded (Gilgaki) - Equivalent to the nephilim from the Bible / demi-gods from Greek mythology. These are the dudes that live 500 years and found dynasties.
Priests (maybe) - With specialities suited to whatever god they worship.
Magus - Mages using the ceremonial rules.
Sorcerers - People using magic from some evil entity (not a god, so to speak).

Almost all magic users will be using the ceremonial rules. The only difference will be the sorcerers. Does anyone have any other recommendations class-wise?

I just felt like getting this down and seeing if anyone else had any ideas.

Jard
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

you can certainly reflavor the paladin, but I personally think of them as being more medieval: they're supposed to be the type of warrior that goes on a crusade.

Assuming you've had a chance to get your hands on the Heroic Fantasy Handbook, you're definitely going to want to take a look in the magic item section.  it has several tables for what KIND of weapon a magic item is, based on the setting, and I think there's at least one or two categories that would be a good fit for what you're going for.  I would say go a step further and make sure that all the NPCs predominantly use only those kinds of weapons.

As for armor, there's several tacks you can take, depending on how fiddly you want to get.  Somewhere in the annals of these forums, a guy named Kiero who went into great detail about his historical ancient greece setting, and he also detailed new kinds of armor to help fill the gaps from missing plate armor.  Other options include assuming armor made from inferior materials is more likely to break, and when it does break, use the "defects" tables from the core rules, it's near a section about scavenging equipment from dead foes.

I think going ceremonial only is a great choice for the setting you're trying to accomplish.  You'll have to do a bit of homework on your own, but coming up with your own traditions and their preferred spell lists will go a long way for further flavoring the world.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

This sounds fantastic! I love Bronze Age settings very much. They're a great fit for ACKS.

For armor are you thinking something like helmet (+1), pauldrons (+1) and corselet (+1) or cuirass (+2), sword-arm vambrace (+1), pair of greaves (+1), tassets (+1)?

For iron weapons, I've heard conflicting theories, some stating that what made iron better was it was lighter and sharper, but others that early iron was not as good as the bronze of the time, but much cheaper. What will you do there?

For classes - God-blooded sound like they could be built like Chosen. Chosen is what I (personally) use to create Achilles etc. Or perhaps a spin-off of Nobiran.

What is the source of magic items and monsters in the setting? Typically D&D is "post-apocalyptic" in that the magic items come from an earlier age. 

 

 

MachinaMandala
Joined: 2018-02-13 07:07

you can certainly reflavor the paladin, but I personally think of them as being more medieval: they're supposed to be the type of warrior that goes on a crusade.

Assuming you've had a chance to get your hands on the Heroic Fantasy Handbook, you're definitely going to want to take a look in the magic item section.  it has several tables for what KIND of weapon a magic item is, based on the setting, and I think there's at least one or two categories that would be a good fit for what you're going for.  I would say go a step further and make sure that all the NPCs predominantly use only those kinds of weapons.

As for armor, there's several tacks you can take, depending on how fiddly you want to get.  Somewhere in the annals of these forums, a guy named Kiero who went into great detail about his historical ancient greece setting, and he also detailed new kinds of armor to help fill the gaps from missing plate armor.  Other options include assuming armor made from inferior materials is more likely to break, and when it does break, use the "defects" tables from the core rules, it's near a section about scavenging equipment from dead foes.

I think going ceremonial only is a great choice for the setting you're trying to accomplish.  You'll have to do a bit of homework on your own, but coming up with your own traditions and their preferred spell lists will go a long way for further flavoring the world.


-Jard

I understand what you mean on the paladin front, but think of biblical characters like David, characters who have "the lord's hand" and such.

I managed to send in my questionnaire form late, so I'm just waiting for Alex to get back to me on pushing it to my drivethru account, I'm definitely going to get on it ASAP though.

I managed to find it here: http://www.autarch.co/forums/general-discussion/using-acks-historical-game

It's a good resource, thanks. :D

This sounds fantastic! I love Bronze Age settings very much. They're a great fit for ACKS.

For armor are you thinking something like helmet (+1), pauldrons (+1) and corselet (+1) or cuirass (+2), sword-arm vambrace (+1), pair of greaves (+1), tassets (+1)?

For iron weapons, I've heard conflicting theories, some stating that what made iron better was it was lighter and sharper, but others that early iron was not as good as the bronze of the time, but much cheaper. What will you do there?

For classes - God-blooded sound like they could be built like Chosen. Chosen is what I (personally) use to create Achilles etc. Or perhaps a spin-off of Nobiran.

What is the source of magic items and monsters in the setting? Typically D&D is "post-apocalyptic" in that the magic items come from an earlier age. 


-Alex

I was considering something along the lines of the second one. Kiero does suggest some good ideas in his thread (just using the standard armour types of the era and assigning armour values to them) but I think just cutting up the heavier armour types to represent various levels of panoply is the best idea.

For iron weapons, it's definitely a case that iron was cheaper. The bending force of iron is 1/3 that of bronze (there's stories of warriors in Gaul during Caesar's Gallic Wars having to unbend their iron swords mid battle) so they blunt and deform a lot easier and quicker. However, iron is everywhere and you only need one material, whereas tin and copper are in very specific places and (tin especially) in limited amounts.

I was going to do God-blooded as a "fill in the slots" race like the class of Chosen, but I'll puzzle on it over the weekend.

The setting is after the collapse of a number of pre-human civilisations, and their magic and the results of their workings still permeate the setting. Also, I'm reminded (although I'm not sure where from or who it was of) of a bronze age king who stories say started a museum full of the artifacts of fallen civilisations. The area to the east (the desert area) in this setting is riffing off of the concept of the Indus Valley Civilisation, as one example.

Also, I really need the Heroic Fantasy book! :D

golan2072
Patreon SupporterPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14

I love this! Especially as I live in the real-world equivalent of the western part of your setting (Israel) and have seen quite a number of bronze-age and iron-age sites, which are quite common. In these ancient days, this land had an aboundance of small city-states, which would (in my rough estimate) be village-states in ACKS terms. Each with a king (melech). Some tribal chiefs - typically nomads - are also called kings but the Hill Tribes lacked kings for a long time (and probably lack them in your setting as well). Instead they had Judges - temporary (Chosen? They feel more like Paladins to me) leaders who arise to unite the tribes against major external threats (also good adventuring fodder).

David would probably be a Chosen, especially as he started (at level 0?) as a shepherd untrained in armor. He would also be an ACKS poster-boy, starting as an "adventurer", conquering much land, and ending up king.

Samson is another interesting example; a divine "Barbarian"? Or Paladin with the Berserkergang proficiency?

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

I think the biggest versimilitude point you can make on defensive gear is to make shields much more potent and variable. Even moreso than the Iron Age I'm modelling with my hack, the shield is the most important thing you can carry. Armour is a bonus for those few rich enough to afford any.

golan2072
Patreon SupporterPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14

So maybe reverse armor and shields? Armor grants +1 or +2 to AC while shields grant a more significant bonus, possibly to to +3 or +4 depending on size. So your main protective gear would be the shield, not the armor.

Kiero
Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2013-04-26 07:13

For my hack, I did a re-balancing of armour and shields, in particular shields give different bonuses against melee and missiles.

A reason not to tinker with the numbers on armour too much is encumbrance - at least if you retain the standard AC=Stones conversion rate.