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 Post subject: Campaign Research
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:08 am 
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Good evening! I've been following TROS for some time now and finally made it to the forums. I was wondering if anyone was interested in or would be willing to help me work up something for a new campaign I'm setting up for my group. We've been playing homebrews for ages now (never could get into D&D) and I've been slowly introducing more and more Riddle to them. Now I've decided its time for them to put on their big boy pants and we're making the leap into full-on Riddle of Steel.

Now for my question. Well. Questions. It's something of a big project for me. Partially inspired by some of the fine posts here, I'm starting a pseudo-bronze/ageofmythology sword and sandals type of campaign. It's going to be based on a handful of sources, from classical greek to biblical, egyptian and so on. There is actually an amazing book called The Secret History of the World by..Mark Booth, I think..that dives into and theorizes a unified history as told by the Ancient World and preserved by the secret societies and texts. It's quite brilliant - though I don't necessarily believe it. Makes for an incredible idea for a campaign setting though.

The world will be antediluvian in nature, the mythology tying in aspects of proto-Greek, Egyptian, Babylonian, jeudochristian, etc.. as well as bits of more "Atlantian" themes.. with touches of Lovecraftian and Hyborean mythos. Some of the notes in other threads floating around were handy and really solidified some of the themes I had been playing with - but now i have further questions.

Firstly, I need to work to adapt some of the TROS rules to the cultures/period. I need to work up new Proficiencies to cover the fighting styles of the era. Much of the TROS stuff covers weapons that wouldn't yet exist, and I'd like to give my players more diversity than "sword and shield" "mass weapon and shield" and "pole arms."

Which brings me to the second point - I need to work up a more thorough weapon/armor list.. Which comes once again for the desire for there to be a broader kit list specific to the era. TFOB is handy, but is once again geared for that later era in time. I also am debating if i want to include more "advanced" elements into the mix.. perhaps mythological metals or better armors, weapons, whatever.. as the Antediluvian/Atlantian era was considered to be a technological epoch in many traditions. I'd like to at least hint at that in the setting..though not to the point of making crystal-powered-batteries or anything mood-breaking like that.

Hm. There's certainly more.. but it is after 1am and I get up in but a few short hours so this will have to do. I look forward to anything you have to say on the above, and any ideas/sources/inspiration/insights/pretty pictures/etc you might possibly have in addition to..

And finally, I can't count how much time I've spent hidden and reading these forums over the last year or so. You've all helped more than you know already in steering my group and I and inspiring.. God(s.. well. given the theme) knows how much carnage on the battlefields of our imagination.

Thanks, everyone.

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 Post subject: Re: Campaign Research
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:46 am 
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First of all, welcome, KazianG; great to see a long-time lurker step forward.

The I would like to say how glad I am that somebody is trying to leave the well-trodden path of pseudo-medieval fantasy and try something different. Super! :D

As a lurker, maybe you are already aware of these threads, but if not, here is a discussion about how fundamentally different ancient religions were from what we perceive as religions that should come in handy for an Antediluvian campaign, and here is a pdf of a fully-fleshed out and tested Sword&Sorcery setting that might further inspire you.

Another source of inspiration might be pictures. I’ve a decent collections of both reconstructions and merely mood artwork on my harddrive, and I’ve thrown together something that might be useful for you. It’s a 29 MB document I’ve uploaded to here.

If the historical reality of weapons interests you, remember that chaimail is not yet invented and that the metallurgy is not sufficiently advanced to forge or cast long blades. Very little armour would be worn, mostly leather, and then scale and lamellar armour, and plate armour, almost invarialy of the non-formfitting type, more a hodgepodge of plates strapped to vital areas, with huge gaps in between. Quilted armour does not play a large role, due to the prevalent high temperatures. Spears, axes and simple maces are the main weapons, augmented by daggers and short swords – medium-length or longer swords could not yet be manufactured. The Akinakes from TFoB is pretty representative of most “Biblical” swords.

Your post asking for advice has been quite broad and I feel unable go into any more detail on all aspects of it. If you want to know specifics about something, fire away. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Campaign Research
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:36 am 
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I've always been interested in historical arms and armor, though I will freely admit my area of expertise is far better grounded in later eras than what we discuss here. Part of what I've always liked in renaissance era settings is the sheer variety of weapons and weapon styles (TFoB made me all kinds of happy). I'd like to try to bring some of that depth of choice into this setting as well.

Were there any real notable variations among swords, spears, etc.. built for different purposes/styles? The falcata, Akinakes, short sword and falx come to mind immediately from TFOB, but they are all covered under the same proficiency, more or less. I'm also really interested in regional variants that might have been unique to the cultures of the era - the egyptian khopesh (originally a canaanite weapon, if i recall..but still) is an example.

That's another question - How was the Khopesh actually used? It looks as though it would be a cross between a sword and an axe in usage.. but most have hooks and things that might catch a weapon, etc. I could also be reading too much into it though.

Something I really want to do is preserve some of the flavor of the individual regions. If I can find enough variety, I'd like to do this in martial traditions/weapon selection/fighting styles as much as other cultural elements. I've no idea if there's any historical basis to the idea.. but I would really like to see Egyptian martial arts have a different feel to them than, say, someone from the more barbarous north, primitive pictish tribes, or the greeks.

As I was saying earlier, I want a semi antediluvian quality to the setting.. not quite in real history yet.. but enough so that the age of heroes is in its last days, so to speak..and that the Atlantean "golden age" cultures are already past.. Part of that I'd like to see in more "Rare" weapons... the alegory of Numorean Steel weapons comes to mind from the Tolkien world.. or even the serpent in the steel special pattern-welded Norse blades, etc in our world. I haven't figured out exactly what kind of "lost art" quality weaponry I'd like to have scattered as nonmagical relics just yet. Any mythology I've overlooked about special metals, etc? heh. ..barring mithril, etc etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Campaign Research
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:41 am 
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KazianG wrote:
Were there any real notable variations among swords, spears, etc.. built for different purposes/styles? The falcata, Akinakes, short sword and falx come to mind immediately from TFOB, but they are all covered under the same proficiency, more or less.

Not really, as far as I am informed. The weapons from TFoB you are mentioning are not so much specialized weapons but rather regional variations of the basic type “sword” – most of them did not exist alongside each other at the same time in the same geographical locale.

Also, it is worth noting that Bronze Age weapons were cast, not forged. It was therefore quite impossible to make long blades, and the majority of swords would be treated as either Akinakes or Broad Daggers; actual short swords should already be rare. If you’ve downloaded my pics, you’ll have found a depiction of the two so-called Swords of Nebra from about 1550 BC – fairly typical in their dimensions.

Anyhow, on the southern Balknas one could find the Machaira (i.e. Falcata), the Xyphos (i.e. a short sword with leaf-shaped thrusting blade) and both the one-handed and two-handed Rhomphaia (i.e. Falx and Rhomphia) as specialist designs alongside each other at the same time.

Axes were practically invariably hatchets, with two exceptions. The Egyptians were using a two-handed axe looking almost exactly like a short-hafted Kern Axe with the axe-head weighted with an additional lump of metal opposite the edge, to lend more power to a blow; one might use the stats of the Bhuj. And the Minoan Greeks had a double-headed axe, the Labrys; it was almost certainly only a religious implement and not a weapon, but that need not keep you; the stats of the battle Axe, with a second blade in lieu of the back spike, might be useful.

Speaking about axes, if you are looking for regional differences I would say that sword dominated in the eastern Mediterranean, with maces and axes being extremely uncommon, whereas axes and maces dominated Mesopotamia, with swords being somewhat uncommon; Egypt had a decent mix of both. Spears were of course used everywhere.

Speaking of spears, I know of no specimen considerably taller than a human. The Short Spear seems the appropriate choice for most spears, and the and the VL reach of the Spear from TFoB should probably be reduced to merely L.

Bows were not very powerful; it’s probably best to use Short Bow stats. At least in Egypt, and maybe also in other locales, I don’t know, a throwing stick like the Cateia was in use, though more for hunting than for warfare. Other ranged weapons would of course be javelins, including Weaver’s Beam, and slings, but neither axes nor daggers/swords were really balanced to be thrown.

Maces were neither flanged nor spiked, their heads were usually spherical or near-spherical affairs of either stone or, more rarely, cast bronze.

The Scythians and similar steppe horsemen were using a rather slender-looking horseman’s pick; you might use the stats of the War Hammer, with blunt damage reduced by 1.

KazianG wrote:
How was the Khopesh actually used? It looks as though it would be a cross between a sword and an axe in usage.. but most have hooks and things that might catch a weapon, etc. I could also be reading too much into it though.

The reliable reconstruction drawings I’ve seen make the Khopesh clearly come down on the short sword side, though of course that of chopping short swords. As to how exactly they were used – I don’t know, and I think that nobody knows; its not the kind of thing the Egyptians would have left records of. But I can definitely see the Khopesh perform the Hook maneuver. I’d probaly stat it out like a Falcata, with slightly less powerful swing and greater awkwardness and much reduced damage on the thrust, but with the ability to Hook and possibly a slightly better DTN, due to its more slender and less tip-heavy blade that should therefore be slightly faster.

KazianG wrote:
Something I really want to do is preserve some of the flavor of the individual regions. If I can find enough variety, I'd like to do this in martial traditions/weapon selection/fighting styles as much as other cultural elements. I've no idea if there's any historical basis to the idea.. but I would really like to see Egyptian martial arts have a different feel to them than, say, someone from the more barbarous north, primitive pictish tribes, or the greeks.

Historically, there is very little to support great deals of regional variety. Records of the kind you are looking for don’t exactly abound for such early times, so research will get you nowhere – there is just no evidence. From what evidence ther is (almost invariably archeological and pictorial) variety was decent with armour and helmet styles and slight with weapons but appears nonexistent with unarmed styles. If you want to infuse weapon technology and martial arts with much regional unique flavour, you will have to add a lot to the bare bones of history. You will have to make up things yourself.

One method to infuse warfare technologies with variety would o course also be war chariots vs. proper (early) cavalry vs. only footmen, of course. Cultured areas would have chariots, less cultured only footmen, and the steppes of the southern Ukraine and Asia horsemen (starting somewhere in the latter half of the 2nd millennium BC).

KazianG wrote:
Any mythology I've overlooked about special metals, etc?

I guess you are aware of Orichalcum. A metal mentioned by Pliny as a good bronze-alloy is not legendary but has a cool-sounding ancient name you might want to use: Hepatizon. And then there is Noric Iron, a kind of low-grade steel or high-grade iron from the eastern Alps; not exactly legendary and woefully misnamed by Wikipedia, but at least a special kind of metal, even though already very late for your period.

Edited to clear up a really embarrassing instance of dyslexia.

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Last edited by Grettir on Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Campaign Research
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:30 pm 
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Welcome to the boards KazianG! :)

I was going to suggest that if the close combat weapons are too similar and there's no adequate solution for it, maybe encourage the use of different ranged weaponry? A free proficiency point or two shouldn't be unbalancing... Different weapon for different background? Something like that. Sure the players could spend the points themselves, but nothing encourages the players to go in the direction you want like a free point or two.

As for the metals.. they called damascus steel watered steel sometimes.. maybe use that term? Not watered bronze but.. say.. watered blade, etc... or *insert smithy gods name here* blade... Vulcan's blade sounds cool, but it's too late for you probably... just some thoughts. :)

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