I'm sort of at a sticking point with the Underworld. On the one hand I want it to be Swords & Sorcery with dinosaur-riders, and on the other hand I'd like it to have a flavor more resembling 500 BCE instead of the 15th century CE. I've also been rereading the old 3.X supplement Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia and now I'm really jonesing for a similar sort of campaign, but I don't have the mental fortittude to use 3.X again in the near future.
So I was wondering if any of my fellow bloggers have ever run or currently run a campaign based on the cultures of Antiquity instead of Late Medieval Europe. I'm particularly interested if they were based on Ancient Greece and the Levant, but I don't mind things about other ancient peoples.
What version of D&D did you use? How did you handle the different classes? How did you handle the different races? Did you change the types of monsters the players fought? Did you use dungeons? Did you have a hexmap? What did you do with the equipment list?
Other comments are fine too.
I'll still be offline mostly for the coming days, but I'll try to check up on replies and things.
There were some historical setting sourcebooks released for AD&D2; you can see them here.ReplyDelete
Are they any good? I've heard some bad things...ReplyDelete
You might be interested in Mazes & Minotaurs, which is mostly based on ancient Greece (there's some stuff about Vikings and Egypt as well):ReplyDelete
I know that the player-focused books (the brown ones) were pretty bad, but I've not heard anything negative about the setting books; the worst I've heard is that AD&D2 isn't really designed for historical gaming, but that's no fault of these specific books.ReplyDelete
I've heard they're not filled with anything I couldn't find on wikipedia with far less time, but wikipedia doesn't really do D&D stats does it?ReplyDelete
I haven't run a campaign in this period but it was my second choice when thinking about the current one (ended up going with late 15th century).ReplyDelete
Second edition had a pretty good sourcebook called Age of Heroes for Greece in antiquity. It's worth checking out and adaptable to earlier editions of D&D (the class kits are the biggest challenge though).
If you want to go further afield than D&D you might consider Runequest 2nd or 3rd edition as they were both for a Antiquity setting.
I ran a brief Roman campaign during the early AD&D 2nd edition era, then a slightly longer Roman-like fantasy campaign. Then later on, I ran a longer ancient Celts campaign, but I used the TSR historical reference book for that one, with some additional materials. I usually liked the HR series, the ones I read anyway, but they always needed supplemental material for them to really work for me. The first one (Vikings) was the best and the quality seemed to decline pretty quickly after that. They seem to have used the first as a template and then filled in the blanks with X from whatever culture the supplement was about. If you don't mind doing some research of your own or using supplements from other game systems (I am looking at you GURPS) they give you a pretty good framework for fitting D&D to a historical setting.ReplyDelete
I see you already have Redwald in your sidebar, but perhaps that's not early enough?ReplyDelete
With regards to the equipment list, when I considered setting up a b/x Mesopotamian campaign, I found that the Mesopotamians had everything on the list, except for chain mail, long bows, crossbows and war hammers.ReplyDelete
They had plate if you class a breastplate with studded leather and greaves as plate mail.
Yeah that's a bit more Early Middle Ages. It is awesome though.
Where did you do the research for that? I'm glad to hear it, because I'd imagine that'd carry over pretty far. I'll probably come up with three knew armor types to replace the leather/chain/plate division. Possibly linen/scale/breast plate but I'm not sure yet.
I just looked up Mesopotamian military and equipment on wikipedia, and also read through a book on Babylon, but I can't remember its name, and an old How and Why book on arms and armour I got when I was a kid.ReplyDelete
So what about Hobgoblins? Do you guys let Orcs and Gelatinous cubes run around with Sargon?ReplyDelete
Not Ancients, but in a campaign based on a mix of Tang China, Han China, and Warring States Japan (3.5E/OA), I had Gelatinous Cubes, orcs, were-beasts, dryads, and several other 'normal' D&D critters, just with a bit of Asian flavor text thrown in, and it worked just fine.ReplyDelete
I think China and Japan are a bit easier to do that with, what with all the demons and goblins and things. Not sure it would work as well in Ancient Greece or Sumeria.ReplyDelete
I know it's not much, but the PHB of AD&D 2e has a nice section about equipments in various ages (from classic to renaissance). There are also rules for equipment of non standard materials (i.e. bronze and iron instead of steel).ReplyDelete
If I had a copy of 2e I'd take a look. Sadly, I only have the Monster Manual.ReplyDelete
My Doom & Tea Parties campaign is set in a pre-historic setting, where people ride terror birds and smilodons and use mammoths for heavy construction. Think that crazy "30,000 BC" movie but with more bronze and some iron.ReplyDelete
I've kept the same classes as the usual Labyrinth Lord mix, with a few fantastical additions, stole liberally from 2e's Al Qadim equipment list for flavor, but otherwise it's mostly just a matter of flavor more than anything else.
Agreed, I was just wondering how other DMs used monsters and classes and equipment to help add to that flavor.ReplyDelete
I'll be sure to check out your posts on that campaign though.
Hey, I have the Viking sourcebook from AD&D2 Kelvin linked to. I really like it although I haven't actually run a game with it. It is full of flavor and suggested changes to D&D to make it more Viking themed- like have hacksilver armbands instead gp,changes to monsters to make them fit better,real world timelines and history etc. Also it is actually very rules light which makes it an excellent reference no matter what edition you play.ReplyDelete
Hope that's useful.
I always liked the AD&D Green Historical Reference series.ReplyDelete
Another source is Iron Crown's old series of Campaign Classics - designed specifically for Hero Games and Rolemaster but with tons of good ideas. As far as I know there were at least five books: Mythic Egypt: Role Playing in the Land of the Pharaohs; Mythic Greece: The Age of Heroes; Vikings: Background and Adventures in the Era of the Norsemen; Robin Hood: A Giant Outlaw Campaign; and one on Pirates (that I haven't entered into my database yet).
If I was designating Bronze Age armour types, I'd go with bronze scale and bronze lamellar. The Egyptian, Hittite, etc. elite troops (chariot archers, etc.) certainly wore scale armour of varying weight and coverage. The Assyrians adopted the scale early on for their elite troops, and later bronze lamellar for better armed infantry and cavalry. Without more research it's hard to say which provided better protection but there's a sense the lamellar might have been lighter, and easier to wear.
If you went as far forward as Classical Greece then bronze hoplite plate cuirasses would be in order too.