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Bronze Age Fantasy

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
Sure, but it is hardly as if it is "Real World Bronze Age with Magic or Bust" here or, for that matter, "BRP or Bust" either. I personally find this mindset so weird. It's about like insisting that D&D is the ONLY way to play medieval European fantasy.

Indeed, I was being provocative, since you seem quite dismissive without much or any experience of (for example) Mythic Britain or the not yet released Mythic Babylon.

Imagining fictional Bronze Age settings is very much my hangup as I thought I'd made clear. I quite liked Glorantha in the 80s although I'm not so sure about it being a great Bronze Age setting now.
 
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Bilharzia

Fish Priest
The problem is deeper than that — for some.

Good luck getting all the players on with all 4 elements.

I would be quite amused if a player wasn't interested in a setting because they didn't like the weather! ;)

What's important from my point of view is those things that directly influence the players and their characters, during a game. it's your point 4 that's the most tricky and to some extent point 3, which is what I was saying with 'social structures and beliefs'.

I'm not sure why you frame a setting like this as a "problem", and a deep one - although I completely agree with (4), that one is the trickiest and hardest to realise, but you're characterising the setting as a "hard sell"? I suppose to a player group? I'm not sure that's true.

I'm very curious why you think the technology as a hard design problem - why do you think that's a hard one?
 

Aldarc

Legend
Indeed, I was being provocative, since you seem quite dismissive without much or any experience of (for example) Mythic Britain or the not yet released Mythic Babylon.
Being dismissive of what you are pushing does not mean that I am not familiar with Mythic Britain, Mythras, and whether these games meet my particular preferences. And it only takes a cursory glance to Mythic Britain's page on DriveThruRPG to see why I would likely summarily dismiss it from either the perspective of Bronze Age Fantasy or my own preferences:
It is the year Four Hundred and Ninety Five, as the Christian scribes reckon it, since the birth of the infant Jesus Christ...
Yikes. First line, and we already know that we are dealing with things I would prefer not deal with in a fantasy game (i.e., real world religion) nor are we in the Bronze Age, since we are approximately 2000 years removed from it based on this date. Given that Mythras's Mythic Constantinople, Mythic Rome, and Mythic Britain all follow similar patterns of taking place in the real world, why should I not be dismissive of Mythic Babylon when it would likely also take place in the real world?
 

I would be quite amused if a player wasn't interested in a setting because they didn't like the weather! ;)

What's important from my point of view is those things that directly influence the players and their characters, during a game. it's your point 4 that's the most tricky and to some extent point 3, which is what I was saying with 'social structures and beliefs'.

I'm not sure why you frame a setting like this as a "problem", and a deep one - although I completely agree with (4), that one is the trickiest and hardest to realise, but you're characterising the setting as a "hard sell"? I suppose to a player group? I'm not sure that's true.

I'm very curious why you think the technology as a hard design problem - why do you think that's a hard one?

They're designer problems, not of need GM/Player ones.

Most people are used to simple tools of modern, fairly durable, design. And a smaller portion are familiar with iron tools and weapons. Bronze weapons are cast, not forged; cast, then ground sharp. Tempering is a good bit different, too. Bronze weapons are not as brittle, nor as hard, as cast iron, but are more brittle than forge-steel. There should be (for a true bronze age feel) a risk of snapping, and most bronze swords are only stable for thrusing use; there is a significant risk of snapping if they are used as swinging weapon. Further, no longswords nor greatswords due to the bronze being too brittle for long blades. Also, the tech is surprisingly good for many things: saddles are comfortable, chariots can be built with suspensions (Celtic or Chinese styles)...

There are some things even RQ gets wrong... Looking at the GW RQ3 list.
RQ should have only two of its 6 types of sword: shortsword and cutlass. The bronze cutlass is also heavier than an iron one, because it's cast with more thickness and width to stand the slashing use. The broadsword, bastard sword, greatsword, and rapier all are too fragile for swinging when cast in bronze; the rapier is a thrusting weapon inherently, but bronze isn't springy enough. A bronze knife is good for cooking, but not for combat.
Parries need to be more careful, as well... the more brittle blades break easier.

The tech really is the hardest part to design right - combining both the lack of durability and the material limits.

The designer's job with culture and religion can be readily cribbed from historical sources, paraphrased. Tedious, but easy.

Laying out the map, remembering to get the distributions of city/wilds right, and the types of government is a little harder than the culture and religion, because they have to actually understand the intertwining of the religion and culture with government... or just rename realworld ones, say, by mirroring the map then rotating it...

Further still, a good game will explain the tech paradigm.
 

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
There should be (for a true bronze age feel) a risk of snapping, and most bronze swords are only stable for thrusing use; there is a significant risk of snapping if they are used as swinging weapon. Further, no longswords nor greatswords due to the bronze being too brittle for long blades. Also, the tech is surprisingly good for many things: saddles are comfortable, chariots can be built with suspensions (Celtic or Chinese styles)...

You represent the arms, armour & equipment appropriate for the time, I don't think it's that difficult, it goes without saying you don't include weapons from later periods beyond the setting. I'm not sure about "there is a significant risk of snapping if they are used as swinging weapon" really? Then why was the swinging & slashing & hacking weapon like a khopesh so common? This idea that the weapons are likely to snap isn't supported by the evidence.

There are some things even RQ gets wrong... Looking at the GW RQ3 list.
RQ should have only two of its 6 types of sword: shortsword and cutlass. The bronze cutlass is also heavier than an iron one, because it's cast with more thickness and width to stand the slashing use. The broadsword, bastard sword, greatsword, and rapier all are too fragile for swinging when cast in bronze; the rapier is a thrusting weapon inherently, but bronze isn't springy enough. A bronze knife is good for cooking, but not for combat.
Parries need to be more careful, as well... the more brittle blades break easier.

No one pretends Glorantha is an accurate model of the Bronze Age, least of all in its metallurgy. Gloranthan bronze looks like bronze and is the "standard metal" of the setting but that's about it. Bronze comes from the bones of gods and does not have to be created by an alloying process.

The tech really is the hardest part to design right - combining both the lack of durability and the material limits.
Beyond using historically appropriate technology I just don't see this as something that's in any way difficult. The setting just uses what's represented by the historical evidence....and that's it. The players aren't going to be swinging greatswords around because there aren't any. It seems odd that you bring up weapon differences because it's trivial to exclude anything that doesn't fit the period.

What I might agree with is relative expense and availability of things like bronze weapons and armour, these things are not going to be as common as iron and steel in a (for example) late medieval setting. Depending on the period bronze weapons and tools are going to co-exist with stone age technology which in an Iron Age is going to be less common.

The designer's job with culture and religion can be readily cribbed from historical sources, paraphrased. Tedious, but easy.
This drastically underestimates designing a game of this period. If you ignore this as a design problem and say "Those are GM/Player problems" then you aren't doing a good enough design job. It's significantly more work (compared to representing technology) to emulate the behaviour of a bronze age person and society because that behaviour is so distant to a contemporary mindset, unless you just don't care about this, in which case the setting is just a Westworld-style theme park where the players are tourists.

You can look at Pendragon as an example of designing into the system ways that players behave which bring the setting alive - no, Pendragon is not historically accurate (and it's not trying to be), but it is an attempt to emulate chivalric fiction through traits and passions - this part of the game design concerns precisely the 'problems of the players'.
 

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
Yikes. First line, and we already know that we are dealing with things I would prefer not deal with in a fantasy game (i.e., real world religion)

Ah, you have my sympathies, as a fish-priest of Dagon myself, I find the Call of Cthulhu RPG deeply offensive, but I'm quite looking forward to Mythic Babylon, finally, some proper representation.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Ah, you have my sympathies, as a fish-priest of Dagon myself, I find the Call of Cthulhu RPG deeply offensive, but I'm quite looking forward to Mythic Babylon, finally, some proper representation.
Your snide comment and feigned sympathies miss my point here and presumes too much about my preferences here.
 

Sepulchrave II

Adventurer
Ah, you have my sympathies, as a fish-priest of Dagon myself, I find the Call of Cthulhu RPG deeply offensive, but I'm quite looking forward to Mythic Babylon, finally, some proper representation.

Dagon/Dagan was not a fish-god; the association is a back-formation based on a folk etymology. His cult was centered around Mari in the 3rd Millennium BCE. Associations with grain, storms, and the underworld have all been suggested, and all have problems. The name Dagan may be pre-Semitic, and its meaning remains opaque.

So I somehow doubt that Mythic Babylon will offer "proper representation."
 


Aldarc

Legend
So did anyone check out Blood & Bronze yet?
I did. I think that it's a nice take on Bronze Age fantasy, with some nice OSR design, but it still takes place in real world history, which means that it's a setting that gets a hard pass from me. Doesn't make it bad, just not to my personal preferences. I still got the quick-start rules and looked over the classes, because it's still useful for mining ideas. Same with Mythras. It's not something I am interesting in running, but it's useful as a resource.
 

JeffB

Legend
I found my copy of the quick start as well. It looks like the company no longer offers it for some reason so I didn't want to post it as an attachment here.

I've got a hankering to run it- I'm digging the system mechanics.


For those who may be curious about the game

You have an Score for each Ability and a Rating. Roll 2d6 (min 3) for the Score.

So lets say your Strength Score ends up being a 10- you also get a Strength Rating of 3 (simple chart)

Active attempts to accomplish something are a small d6 pool system based on your Ability Rating and/or Skill Rating- You roll as many D6 as you have for an Ability (or Skill) Rating. So for that Strength check I would roll 3d6. A 5 or 6 is a success. One success is necessary, and additional successes boost the outcome (or unlock some better effects for skills/feats)

Reactions (Saving Throws) are D20 based and you need to roll under the Ability Score- So If I had to make a Strength Save because a rock fell on me and I wanted to react by catching the rock, I would need to roll a 10 or less on D20.

The Classes get some feat/Skill type abilities to start-just a few and you can pick new ones and/or unlock new features/effects as your character levels up.

The combat system is pretty gritty- You declare your combat "Action"

I want to cut off my foes sword hand...
or blind the foe
or disarm the foe
or XYZ

If you succeed defender can can either accept the stunt outcome, OR decline and take the rolled damage.

Better to have one hand than be dead ;)

Armor has a Score like Abilities do. This is the amount of Damage it will soak. You can either let your armor take the full brunt of the damage on a hit , or just take it off your Endurance (HP). IF you let the armor take the brunt of the damage ou must make a Save for the Armor- = to or under the Armor rating/score, the armor holds AND soaks damage up to it's rating/score. Roll higher than the rating/score- Armor takes the damage but is broken- you will need to fix (some crafting skills) or replace. If you fumble (roll a 20) the armor breaks and doesn't soak either.

I also read about the game there is a "tribute" type mechanic where you have allegiances to Gods/Factions/Cults or you can forego picking a specific one and pay tribute (monetary) to appease/get help/have the faction turn a blind eye, etc.


I'm going to pick up the full game (which is only 64 or so LBB sized pages) on my next DTRPG mega purchase.
 
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I'm not sure about "there is a significant risk of snapping if they are used as swinging weapon" really? Then why was the swinging & slashing & hacking weapon like a khopesh so common? This idea that the weapons are likely to snap isn't supported by the evidence.

Yes, actually.

Steel has much better shear, yield, and tensile strength than bronze. Furthermore, the more you strike bronze the harder it gets. Eventually you need to anneal the bronze or it will shatter.

The khopesh was, as I recall, the longest of the bronze weapons. What made it different was that it really wasn't a "sword", it was more of an axe. That allowed the primary shock of impact to be on the curved edge which you would want to be hard. The straight section was allowed to receive less shock, so it stayed more ductile.

Also, if you look at bronze axes, you'll notice that they are much longer than broad. This trend reverses when you have axes made out of steel.

You don't really see anything longer than a gladius or saex until iron / steel comes into use.
 

Warder

Villager
I would like to add something out of the left field. Namely a video crpg inspiration. Im pointing to Tyranny rpg. It is bronze age with fantasy and its pretty brutal while also fairly original.
 

pemerton

Legend
@Aldarc, I may have mentioned In A Wicked Age in the other thread. The elements of the fiction are established by drawing playing cards which correspond to "The Oracles" - a list of 208 (52 cards * 4 broad themes - A Nest of Vipers, The Unquiet Past, God-kings of War, Blood & Sex). The characters (both PC and NPC) and the situation are all established by references to these oracles.

The themes are broadly swords & sorcery, so not uniquely or necessarily distinctively Bronze Age, but on the whole suitable for that. There are nobles, slaves, wizards, wandering magic-users, strange cultic sites and artefacts, soldiers and generals, nomads, cities, merchants, etc.
 

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