"Modern" things in your game?


Stratified social structures are actually an artifact of a more advanced civilization. During the Dark Ages, and many other periods (ie any time there was a frontier, or any more loosely governed territories) one could rise as high as one's abilities allowed. Where do you think 'nobles' came from? The founders of the noble family were either rewarded with land and title for service, or they had land and title because they took it. The very concept of the adventurer eventually becoming a noble, often by taming a wilderness region, building a stronghold, etc., is fairly realistic...if one assumes a Dark Ages equivalency rather than High Medieval. Note that the same thing happened in nearly every era during colonization, like in the Americas.

I actually feel like there is less upward mobility *now* than in many historical periods. Do you actually know anyone who has gone from rags to riches? If so...do the old money actually accept them? Its possible, sure. But not common.

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WizarDru said:
One thing that is quite modern, though, is the rugged individualism of D&D PCs. Medieval citizens never travelled very far (except the occasional pilgrimage, except for merchants), travel was dangerous. Strangers were viewed with suspicion, particularly someone who had no ties to the local community. D&D PCs travel from town to town with virtually no negative reaction, and consider it commonplace and obvious.

Not to mention that no person would carry the kind of enormous wealth with them that D&D PCs do. ;)

A huge number of modern people have never left the town in which they were born. As one of the few people I know who has moved around extensively (Navy Brat) ...most of the people I know, even my friends, have never lived anywhere but where they live now. That *is* changing, but most people (in my experience) are still pretty insular. And if you'd been the new kid as often as I have, you'd realize that most modern people are insular and suspicious of strangers as well.

It isn't that rugged individualism is modern. The US was basically founded on it. It's that rugged individualism is *rare*, and those who possess it are more likely to succeed at extreme undertakings. Like adventuring.

But i have to agree with the money thing. D&D economics is whacked.:)


First Post
Argent- the 20 miles things was travelled, not relocated. Most people in modern times have at least visited a place more than 20 miles from their home.

Buttercup- Wizardru's suggestion of the Gies book "Life in a Medieval Village" is a good one. Anything by the Gies family is fairly up to date, however more up to date is the book "The Year 1000 : What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium by Danny Danziger, Robert Lacey" They use a pretty strong primary source backed up by archeology to make thier points. In fact they take on the teeth and hight thing right out of the gate. The book only covers england though. If they have a bibliography that would be the place to look for more info. (I can't recall if they do). Danziger has teamed up with another guy to write 1215, a book about life in the High Middle Ages (in England) and how it affected the creation and signing of the Magna Carta. The Gies books are probably better for a general overview.

Interesting thing about the plague- I noticed when researching it while reading this thread that there is a huge area that the plague never got to. I would really like to know what the condition was to keep the plague out. Did the people there know somthing? Was it climatic? Did the flea have a natural predator in the region? Looks interesting.



jester47 said:
Buttercup- Wizardru's suggestion of the Gies book "Life in a Medieval Village" is a good one. Anything by the Gies family is fairly up to date, however more up to date is the book "The Year 1000 : What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium by Danny Danziger, Robert Lacey"

And I'll turn right around and point out that Jester47's recommendation is also quite good. While limited purely to England (as opposed to the Gies work, which is focused on France, but touches on other locations), it's a great work, drawing on lot of documented material to discuss some interesting revelations about the period (and clearing up a few misconceptions). It's a little dryer reading than the Gies, but shorter.


First Post
Ziggy said:
Apart from the usual ones (mainly gender equality, literacy and univeral coinage) I've also introduced insurance. The most popular (mainly for NPC's) is life insurance. Of course horribly expensive, and therefore only for adventurers and the really well to do. And of course in several variations, from the basic "if you bring the body we will resurrect it somewhat cheaper than normal" to the "we'll divine if you are alive every morning, if you are not we'll divine your location, pick you up and then resurrect you" variants. With extra fee for difficult pickups of course ;)

- Ziggy

Why have you ignored the material component of THOUSANDS OF GOLD PIECES OF DIAMONDS for the resurrection spells?


Lots of people do it and it's getting REALLY ANNOYING hearing people maon about how resurrections are so "easy" in D&D.


First Post
Most of mine are modern conveniences that have been replicated magically in one way or another.

Cell phones: Well, of a sort. They're called "message coins" or "ansible coins", they're linked to each other so you can only call one person, and at 100 gp/minute they're a bit more expensive than my cell phone plan--but the point is the same. World-leader types have larger ones that cost upward of 50,000 gp each that are more permanent links to other world leaders.

Zemala's: The Wal-Mart of my campaign world. Many campaigns probably have something like this, but I took the time to flesh it out with a backstory and everything.

Molessi's: Think Chase Manhattan, but bigger and with magical accompaniment. They produce the bullion trade bars that much of the world uses. They also produce Molessi's Magical Moneychanger. For a small fee, you can have exact change at your fingertips all the time, and not have to worry about actually carrying money around.

UPT: United Parcel Teleport. Yep.

Most of these actually work more for humor value than anything else, but they create plot devices that make adventuring a bit easier, and DMing a bit easier. As well as still, for the most part, fitting the idea of a world where magic is prevalent.

Warrior Poet

Rabelais said:
Our biggest modern convenience is our Fantasy FedEx. Not sure precisely where our GM got the concept for the White Riders, but they operate essentially as an Overnight delivery system. We had killed an Adult Red in his lair, and to get the statuary and other heavy items out, we stuck what amounted to routing stickers on the packages. A few moments later the items teleport to our groovy adventurer's pad. Very expensive, but man alive, those statues were priceless. :)

Very cool! I had an idea in a campaign a few years ago that took place in a walled city by the coast: messengers. Instead of bicycles, or horses, they were runners, the fastest, fittest runners in the kingdom. They wore distinctive uniforms, carried satchels, and competed in an annual fair where they displayed feats of athleticism like footraces against horses (which, needless to say, they did not always win, but still ...). The campaign was fairly low magic, so spells like sending and so forth were not readily available. The party would see them in the streets occasionally, dodging crowds, leaping carts, on their way with some important paper to deliver. Always thought it was kind of a cool guild: partly inspired by bike messengers, partly by that poor guy who ran 26.2 miles to the village of Marathon in ancient Greece, delivered the message about the war, and then keeled over dead lo those many centuries ago.

Warrior Poet

jester47 said:
It really depended actually. Mainly on who, time, and place. Newer research indicates that those who could afford it bathed fairly regularly up until the Black Death. It was after the Black Death that people developed the idea that bathing was bad. Again, teeth was a class/diet thing rather than a no technology thing. This was a society without sugar. Honey was pricy. Tooth rot was not as common as once believed . . . The assumption was that obviously nobles had a better life and so if they were missing teeth . . . This is not to say that the middle ages were all hunky dory. If you were injured, you were pretty much forked for life, and considering that most peasentry was involved in the agrarian sector, farming injuries must have been common as well as some random brutality . . . back in the dark ages of my youth jungle jyms were made of steel, and we hit each other with sticks, and we liked it!!

That post rocks! :) That is all. We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion of anachronisms in game.

Of which, incidentally, my games tend to partake of muchly, including gender equality, some democratic institutions (with a fair number of totalitarians thrown in for flavor), extensive libraries with bound books, etc.

Warrior Poet


Buttercup said:
And let's consider hygene. Bathing was considered dangerous, so everybody stank like the alcoholic street bum on the corner. Everybody had lice, and fleas and probably lots of rashes and oozing sores as well. Being in a crowded venue such as a church must have been a torment.

I would like to cast "Dispell Misconception" on this. Here's a nice little quote written by James F Dunnigan and Albert A Nofi on the subject of hygeine in the medieval era. You can find all sorts of information on this in your average college history text or with a quick Google search. In a nutshell, the above quote statement is highly inaccurate.

Medieval people understood that a clean water supply and lack of body lice (they itch, for one thing) were desirable. They didn't undestand the science behind it, but they knew that cleanliness was a good thing. Naturally, the nobles had an easier time keeping themselves clean, as well as having well scrubbed servants in attendance. Contrary to the popular myth, bathing was popular in the period. The clergy, who wrote most of the surviving history, railed against the popular public baths. These institutions, a descendant of the enormously popular Roman baths, were often staffed by young women who did more than just pass the soap and towels. The clergy didn't like it, the bathers did. However, bathing when the weather was cooler and without benefit of a specially constructed and heated bathing establishment could easily prove fatal. Until recently, the saying, "catch your death of cold" had real meaning. A case of pneumonia could be easily caught and would ruin your days permanently. Medieval people liked being clean, and knew what natural plants and herbs made them smell good also. During the warm weather, on one of the scores of official holidays that crowded the Medieval calender, you would easily find freshly bathed, cleanly dressed, and sweet smelling peasants. Those plunging necklines on the women's dresses and tights on the men didn't hurt either. This was what made special occasions special and, to a large degree, it still does.

Popular myth, including television, movies, and fiction, all tend to view the medieval period through the lens of the Renaissance authors who wrote about it. If, however, you look at contemporary source material, you will find that the average medieval was at least moderately clean. Now, they were not as clean as modern standards would like, but they were not generally covered in lice, dirt, and open sores either.

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