Saturday, March 31, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge...

Well, I doubt I'll make it through the entire month, as I've got at least three occasions where I won't have internet access coming up. but I might as well try.

I haven't sat down and plotted out the topics for this month, but I've got vague ideas for certain letters, which I may reveal later.


A is for Anthropology & Archaeology

The call of the past is a loud call for some.  Even though the 'normal' folk, peasants and lords alike, shun the places of past civilisations and shelter from rumours of evil things that may be awakened, hidden traps and lonely deaths far from the warmth and safety of home, other people, desperate or driven by their own demons, willingly enter these places and often awaken, discover or die there.

Possibly Trampier - found at a WoTC blogsite..
Sometimes, however, they return, bearing sacks of coin, gems, ancient but strangely effective weapons and armour, and valuable objects d'art.  Also, at times, they may weigh down their bags and sacks with ancient undecipherable writings, inscriptions, and also items of no practical use.

These latter objects are keenly valued by the true historians and scholars, that seek to peer "through a glass darkly" to understand these ancient and lost civilisations.

Just like scholars in recent times, although Victorian explorers didn't (to the best of my knowledge) have to contend with undead creatures seeking their immediate death. [Whereas any ruined structure further than half a days walk from a large city in my games is considered suspect by players if it doesn't have at least half a dozen skeletons or zombies.]

Those who value ancient knowledge that isn't arcane or magical are rather under-represented in most games I have played. Even though, your average scholar in an RPG setting seems to have a more active and complete understanding of these precursor civilisations much more clearly than we do in modern times, despite being without modern tools or scientific method, methods of independent dating, machines for analysis and peer reviewed journals.

And I don't buy the whole 'magic did it'. I've never played in a game with the spells that can unveil the deep mysteries of the world (especially Wish), but I imagine that there are many secret groups that would rather the past stays secret and will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure so.

But even in the field of modern archaeology, there are many civilisations and languages that remain little known or even unknown.  Hence the interesting word of conspiracy theories.

Well, not an ancient ziggurat...
That aside, no-one should know exactly why (for example) the Great Lizardfolk Kingdom suddenly abandoned their mighty ziggurats at the height of their war with the Elves and migrated to the interior of the Southern Swamps.  There will be theories, with the official one taught at the Royal Mages Guild being rather boring (it got too cold for them), some alternate and more interesting, but rather outlandish ones (the Elves turned all the lizard's eggs to GOLD! Let's go get some...), and some only held by wizards in lonely forbidding towers.  The same wizards that have the spell/item/intelligence that the party needs, and they will assist IF the party descends to the lowest depths of the Ziggurat in the Black Swamps to take a brass rubbing of the altar in the sacrificial chambers...

So, giving past civilisations a history is encouraged, so there are common elements in the ruins of the same civilisation, and the players experience the difference between different civilisations.  And don't overthink it.  Just like sandbox play, where interaction between players and GM steer the world, it can steer the history as well - if a player comes up with a good reason why this Dwarven ruin has elements of Elven architecture,  maybe it's true, maybe it isn't.  Perhaps it doesn't matter, but finding out one way or the other eventually makes a world seem that little bit more real....


  1. Great post and interesting thoughts :)

  2. Ooo a very interesting blog post. Those two words are both good A ones. And putting them in other contexts such as this made for an interesting read.

  3. Great to see so many RPG related posts for the A to Z challenge. Well written indeed!