d&d is anti-medieval

Helldritch

Explorer
If you take into account the faerie tales, the legends and the general look on the societies that D&D describe, it looks a lot like a fantastic medieval setting. It's not a simulation of the known historical medieval period. It's not even close. Magic, elves, orcs and all the rest of what we love in D&D never existed.

But just like in medieval times, your PCs work for the king, help princess (and princes) in distress. They go in escort missions for caravans, merchants, guilds and even pilgrims. Yes knights were doing that. We have the famous knight in shining armor but they're not from a long time ago, they are right there! So yep, D&D is medieval enough for me. But it's not a simulation of our historical medieval period.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
If you exclude magic and optional firearms rule, D&D is with aspect to technology level mostly late middle ages(14th/15th) century. Greatswords, pollaxes, and mostly widespread fullplate is 15th century.

we use currency becuase it's easier and needed for game simulation.

ffs, people argue that D&D math is hard. You know, adding and substracting 2 or 3 single digit numbers.

And now we should calculate plate armour price in 27 cows, 3 silver bars, an emerald, 7 days of plowing fields and 9 carats of ruby dust.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
If you exclude magic and optional firearms rule, D&D is with aspect to technology level mostly late middle ages(14th/15th) century. Greatswords, pollaxes, and mostly widespread fullplate is 15th century.

we use currency becuase it's easier and needed for game simulation.

ffs, people argue that D&D math is hard. You know, adding and substracting 2 or 3 single digit numbers.

And now we should calculate plate armour price in 27 cows, 3 silver bars, an emerald, 7 days of plowing fields and 9 carats of ruby dust.
D20 Modern had a Wealth stat that nicely encapsulated PC ability to acquire stuff without the need for a cash based system, so it is quite possible to do without resorting to gold and silver coins. In my game I go even further and turn Wealth into Influence/Fealty ie the number of people that a PC can directly influence to do and get stuff. If the PCs want to consider those Fealty points to be serfs or family members is entirely up to them..
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
But then... there is no such thing as a strict medieval model! It isn't like all nations and nation-states in the era we refer to as "medieval" had exactly the same governance structures, nor was any nation even static within one structure for the entire period!
It gets worse. Depending on which medievalist you ask, "feudalism" (as described in typical fashion by the linked blog post) may not have existed anywhere. And even among those who are willing to cop to, say, the Norman French running things in roughly this fashion for a few generations, it's seen as a kind of outdated and not particularly useful term/concept.
 

Don Durito

Adventurer
And now we should calculate plate armour price in 27 cows, 3 silver bars, an emerald, 7 days of plowing fields and 9 carats of ruby dust.
I think at the level the PCs are working at, it would probably be dealing with a series of different coinages of various dubious value which are themselves often devalued by people skimming off the edges for silver.
 

Coroc

Adventurer

I've been on a dnd and classic history kick lately and ran into this blog entry.

The premise is that dungeons and dragons do not follow the medieval model.

I'm of the belief he's pretty much right (it draws as much on the classic western as any medieval trappings), but seeing if it is based on mostly the beginning, I'm asking if editions of dungeons and dragons are more or less similar and why?
DnD is in fact more Renaissance A.D. 1500+ than middle ages (800-1400 or so) concerning equipment in what is given in PHB and DMG. Of course gunpowder is purely optional, but you even got rules for that.

2e had some accessory for items and the historic campaign sourcebooks. They were a bit better to what was available. E.g. full plate started to become a thing at about 1375 or so and really saw widespread use 1420 to 1450, but at that time gunpowder weapons mostly in form of artillery started to get a big factor already.

Great swords also became a thing much later 1550 to 1650, they were a popular weapon in the thirty years war and used by special mercenaries. Although they also were the weapon of elite bodyguards sometimes, the Spanish montante has manuals teaching how to defend against multiple opponents.

These are only few of the examples where DnD hopelessly intermixes things, for the historic layperson the differences are unknown, so he will not realize anyway.

It is just common slang: Oh, knights with swords and castles, so it has to be middle ages. And btw, no one had a gun back then, these people were forced to use swords to cut through their armor to kill their foes.
:p
 

Sepulchrave II

Adventurer
TheCosmicKid said:
It gets worse. Depending on which medievalist you ask, "feudalism" (as described in typical fashion by the linked blog post) may not have existed anywhere. And even among those who are willing to cop to, say, the Norman French running things in roughly this fashion for a few generations, it's seen as a kind of outdated and not particularly useful term/concept.
I agree that, at best, feudalism can be seen as a function of certain medieval societies, rather than any kind of defining feature. It strikes me that we are considering three things:

1) The world of D&D

2) Our internal model of "Medieval" which has been filtered through art and literature for the past several centuries. It has been romanticized, historicized, scrutinized, demythologized, remythologized, Hollywoodized etc.

3) The real Middle Ages

It seems that we are looking at the difference between the first and second categories; the third category barely enters the equation.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
I agree that, at best, feudalism can be seen as a function of certain medieval societies, rather than any kind of defining feature. It strikes me that we are considering three things:

1) The world of D&D

2) Our internal model of "Medieval" which has been filtered through art and literature for the past several centuries. It has been romanticized, historicized, scrutinized, demythologized, remythologized, Hollywoodized etc.

3) The real Middle Ages

It seems that we are looking at the difference between the first and second categories; the third category barely enters the equation.
^^This puts it down perfectly on an abstract level
 

ikos

Villager
It gets worse. Depending on which medievalist you ask, "feudalism" (as described in typical fashion by the linked blog post) may not have existed anywhere. And even among those who are willing to cop to, say, the Norman French running things in roughly this fashion for a few generations, it's seen as a kind of outdated and not particularly useful term/concept.
This has more to due with the structure of a academia than the likelihood we now have a better take on the period’s social structure than a century ago. To make a name in the field, you refute, nuance, or complicate previous arguments. Marc Bloch’s work is still pretty solid. However, a generation of medievalists have needed to justify their existence since his time by bringing new ideas to the table - publish or perish. Nobody is going to read the twelfth book about how Bloch was correct.
 
The "Medieval" descriptor only seems to refer to the level of the development of technology in medieval Europe: More advanced than the stone-age, and no widespread use of gunpowder and steam engines yet.

Other continents (i.e. the Americas) did not have this age, hence the choice to call it European.

It would have been more correct to state that D&D rulebook is for "Fantastic War Games infused with exclusively the technology and by no means the other cultural, societal or governmental aspects of the Middle Ages centered around the year 1300-1500". But that is just a bit too long for a front page.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
I think D&D was more influenced by American Westerns than the entire Medieval World or Western Europe.

Its' the idea of a bunch of cowboys (Adventurers) going after that hidden gold buried in them thar hills, or fighting off the bandits raiding the local towns, or fighting off the local evil Sheriff (Lord).

There's a LOT of the American West found in D&D.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I think D&D was more influenced by American Westerns than the entire Medieval World or Western Europe.

Its' the idea of a bunch of cowboys (Adventurers) going after that hidden gold buried in them thar hills, or fighting off the bandits raiding the local towns, or fighting off the local evil Sheriff (Lord).

There's a LOT of the American West found in D&D.
Which is interesting, given that many of the tropes of Westerns come from other sources. Fighting off bandits? That's The Magnificent Seven, which comes from The Seven Samurai. Fighting off the local evil Sheriff is totally Robin Hood.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Which is interesting, given that many of the tropes of Westerns come from other sources. Fighting off bandits? That's The Magnificent Seven, which comes from The Seven Samurai. Fighting off the local evil Sheriff is totally Robin Hood.
Traveling to dangerous lands, fighting off dangerous enemies and getting rewarded is as old as mythology.

So you could say that D&D is a mix of greco-roman mythology with some norse, celtic and a smattering of other European lore. All thrown in a blender with pseudo-medieval technology, magic, westerns, 50s sci-fi, cheap plastic minis from Hong Kong and fantasy novels. The list goes on.

It's not one thing and it was never meant to be.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Which is End times in fact, and a great read.
It is a great read, and it's the "other" after Tolkien that's the obvious big influence, medieval and western influences are side influences that come from the background. Partially because of the midwestern origin and there being no resource other than the library to check out books on late medieval stuff. Where do the huge dungeons come from? Those don't make any sense without Tolkien or Vance, definitely not western or medieval.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
Which is interesting, given that many of the tropes of Westerns come from other sources. Fighting off bandits? That's The Magnificent Seven, which comes from The Seven Samurai. Fighting off the local evil Sheriff is totally Robin Hood.
True, but when you combine many of the items from D&D and AD&D, you get a distinctly American feel.

It comes out even stronger when you get to name level. There you can gain titles and such, but it is strongly hinted that you are taming/settling the frontier or new lands by building a stronghold and such.

Europe overall had people building castles, but in many ways taming the land and wandering through the wilderness was more of an American ideal.

Looking at it's origins in the US, and how popular Westerns were from the 30s - late 60s and early 70s, I'd say Gygax and Arneson probably had a great deal of influence from Westerns...far more than from Medieval or even fantasy movies. With Books he had the influences of Tolkien and others, but with everyday media I'd put a stronger correlation to the Westerns that dominated his youth and younger years as a strong influence that we can see on D&D and AD&D (well, OD&D - AD&D 1e...which influences the rest of D&D to this day in it's foundational aspects).
 

Derren

Adventurer
I mentioned in a other thread ages ago that D&D as written has a lot of American influence in it.

The right to bear arms everywhere, the free acquisition of land when you put down your home there and the general lawlessness and the expectation that the PCs are their own boss, not accountable to anyone and can go where they please.

Those are all american values and history which have nothing to do with the European medieveal period. The only thing that can be said about D&D which is more European than American is the existing of a old but now destroyed high culture which ruins you plunder and the trend that old stuff is often better than stuff you can make now.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
True, but when you combine many of the items from D&D and AD&D, you get a distinctly American feel.

It comes out even stronger when you get to name level. There you can gain titles and such, but it is strongly hinted that you are taming/settling the frontier or new lands by building a stronghold and such.

Europe overall had people building castles, but in many ways taming the land and wandering through the wilderness was more of an American ideal.

Looking at it's origins in the US, and how popular Westerns were from the 30s - late 60s and early 70s, I'd say Gygax and Arneson probably had a great deal of influence from Westerns...far more than from Medieval or even fantasy movies. With Books he had the influences of Tolkien and others, but with everyday media I'd put a stronger correlation to the Westerns that dominated his youth and younger years as a strong influence that we can see on D&D and AD&D (well, OD&D - AD&D 1e...which influences the rest of D&D to this day in it's foundational aspects).
Robert E Howard was from Texas and spent his early life amongst real Cowboys, his influences were Jack London and Rudyard Kipling as well as Norse and Greek Mythology and his stories combine Texas sensibilities with the Weird fantasy genre.
He is most famous for Conan but other notable stories are the Daughter of Erlik Khan (set in the exotic wilderness of Afghanistan, where an adventurer from El Paso is able to establish himself as chief of a hill tribe) and also one of the first Weird Westerns.
Anyway I’m guessing it was those Weird Pulps and Freebooting adventurers like Conan and El Borak that influenced Gygax and Arneson rather than ‘Westerns’.

The point remains however that all of these are part of the same tropes of ‘Western fantasy’
 

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