Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bronze Age

I have been on a bit of a bronze age kick lately. After re-watching season 1 of HBO's ROME, I just started watching season one of History Channel's BATTLES BC. Clearly they are basking in the glory of "300" with the presentation of Battles BC, but I still find it entertaining (unlike most of the paranormal crap they show on History Channel). This has really got me wanting to play in a bronze age setting, or develop a bronze age campaign sandbox. Initially I had thought of doing a river valley setting much like the Nile except it would be the Yondalla river valley and the culture would be entirely Halfling based (using 1E AD&D with the level limits from UA). Meaning there would be clerics, druids, fighters, and thieves - and that is it. I have not started that project (other than a very rough map), and I wonder if anyone has run a purely demi-human based campaign before? Would you as a player, play in a game if all you could play was a hobbit? Especially a bronze age setting, with spears, shields, and maybe a chain shirt for armor?

I am still not convinced that would work well. Also, I have been looking into the Deluxe Edition of RuneQuest, a game I have owned for over 20 years, but never played. It screams BRONZE AGE ADVENTURES at me, but I am not sure I like the whole magic system (which honestly I could cut out painlessly). Then again, it would be cool to actually play this game once...


  1. Maybe take a look at Mazes & Minotaurs?

    As for an all-hobbit campaign, I would surely play. But I'd also ask what for. Why is important? Class restrictions? Level restrictions? Size restrictions?

  2. I have seen Mazes & Minotaurs, and think it is awesome. But I am looking more at other cultures than the Greeks.

    As for Hobbits, mostly for the size, and class restrictions. I think it would be cool to play in a world where you are outmatched physically by all other races/tribes. That, and I love hobbits. :)

  3. Interesting idea…sounds a bit like Willow meets Orkworld meets ElfQuest. ESPECIALLY the latter (EQ) if you are intending to use 1E AD&D.

    I, of course, would use B/X as my system of choice (‘cause I’m all punk like that). But consider THIS:

    - All PCs are bronze age halfling/hobbits (max level 8)
    - “Priestly” hobs are possible: just use the same stats (and limitations) as clerics, give ‘em halfling racial abilities and saving throws, and restrict them to 8th level
    - Hob thieves can be added, too (though don’t you want your bronze age guys wearing bronze armor?); again, they have all thief restrictions (including D4 hit dice), but use halfling saves and are restricted to 8th level
    - Heck, you could even do the same with Magic-Users. In all cases, use the LEAST favorable XP table (Halfling or alternate class) for advancement


    - Halflings are the “middle” of the food chain. Humans are Neolithic spear-chuckers and 1HD monsters, while dwarves and elves are more advanced (steel and mithril) civilizations, possibly in decline and dangerous (rare and deadly monsters)
    - Everything else is pure D&D fantasy…not limited to Greek or “classical” monsters

    Sounds to me like the kind of psychedelic scifi-fantasy of the 60s and 70s…McCaffery, Bradley, “Gor,” etc. Personally, I think it sounds awesome…if you set-up an on-line game, I’d like in!

    Oh, and in answer to your actual questions: I have never run an all demi-human campaign before, but I have often contemplated it (I especially like the idea of occasionally turning the humano-centric world view on its head by putting another race in the spotlight…do this with elves and you’ve got the Silmarillion, for example). And I already consider D&D to be a perfect setting for the Bronze Age (change the default metal to bronze and make +1 arms and armor the equivalent of “dwarf steel”).

  4. Neat.

    I've never played in a demi-human centric campaign, but we did play a gritty, low fantasy, scarce-iron campaign back in the 80's. I think we multiplied the gold value of iron armor by a factor of 10 and scaled the price of metal weapons similarly.

    Fighters were running around with daggers and shortswords, clubs and flails, as the heavier metal weapons were too expensive.

  5. Hey, have you heard of/read Zenobia? Paul Elliot's done a huge honking bit of work for you if you're interested. It uses it's own system, which is pretty old-school, but the setting stuff rocks hard! It's free, and you can pick it up here: http://www.geocities.com/zozergames/zenobia.html

    He also has Warlords of Alexandria (available here: http://www.geocities.com/mithrapolis/games.html), which uses the Basic Roleplaying system to do that timne period

    (Sorry edited for posting too fast!)

  6. Good stuff JB, I know your stance on B/X. :)

    @Buddha: Thanks for the link! I will check this out for sure.

  7. Good food for thought. I'm not down with the all-hobbit campaign, but Bronze Age gaming sounds awesome. Tinkering with my own system, the first "fantasy" setting I want to develop for it would be a late bronze age / early iron age setting.

    Might have to scribble up a column of my own about this...

  8. So, nobody votes for Runequest? It certainly screams bronze age, since that's the setting. I use RQ2 though, not RQ3, and I definitely like the RQ2 magic system better.

    I'd play in a one-race-only campaign, but if it were all hobbits, I'd probably want to play in the Shire.

    Wow, I totally want to play in Prax now...