Setting Idea: Bronze Age Utopia

gyor

Legend
Okay I was trying to come with ideas that were different from the usual and I came up with the idea for strange Bronze based Utopia.

The basic idea is that this civilization never moved beyond the Bronze Age because Bronze is the perfect conductor of magic and because trying to use magic around iron causes it to become wild magic (which is why iron is illegal and Wild Magic Sorcerers are called Iron Blooded.)

The core civilization is based on the Fantasy Eblaites, with provinces made up of fantasy Minoans, Fantasy Kushite, Fantasy Hititties, Atlantis, Fantasy Babylonia, Fantasy Cambodia.

Currency are enchanted bronze coins, the cast a conjuration spell with the denomination being the duration of the spell. Most such coins cast a visable version of unseen servant, but there are also limited edition collectors coins that cast more powerful spells as well. There is the hour coin, the two hour coin, the five hour coin, the 10 hour coin, and the 100 hour coin.

Gold and Diamonds have little economic value compared to Bronze as their is an entire mountain range made out of diamonds, with huge veins of gold in them near the capital city.

In fact Gold is called the Peasants metal because it's so plentiful.

All silver is owned exclusively by the military as it's needed to protect against Lycanthropes that rule the Wilderness outside of civilization.

The copper mines that are key to magic and technology that has turned this primative civilization into a paradise are starting to run out so a deal with the bored Gods of various Underworlds. The deal is Adventures that come through various gates to Underworlds can loot as much copper and bronze as they can capture along with other wealth, but this wealth is guarded by monsters and traps and any adventurer that dies three times stays dead and is concidered a sacrifice to the Gods, not even True Resurrection will work on them.

Using Bronze Scrying Mirrors to watch Adventures fight in the Dungeon like Underworlds is the national sport of Civilization and Gods alike, keeping paradise from getting boring. It also keeps the copper and bronze flowing sustaining the Empire.

This Empire has no poverty, it's conquerered all it's enemies except Lycanthrope tribes which it keeps at bay with Silver so no war, and no longer has slavery as it has armies magical servants and Illusionary Steeds to do that job. But it needs a constant supply of fresh bronze and it needs entertainment to stave off boredom.

It has a class system based on types of magical skills, but some social mobility at a young age.

All magic is divine, they have no concept if a divine arcane split of magic.

Clerics are the Urban Priest-Noble class, Paladins are Warrior Priests that act as officers in the military, Warlocks are the merchants and Bankers and minters of coins, wizards are folk priests, monks are Hierodules, sex worker priests of competing sex deities and have brothels instead of monasteries, Artificers are the Priest-Smiths and not even Clerics Dare treat with disrespect, Druids are Rural Priest-Noble class and responsible for Temple owned farms and rural towns as well as nature in general. Bards are exclusive to the Imperial and Provincial Royal Families as their ability to move the nation to action is considered too dangerous for even Nobles to handle.

This world has it's own races, although sometimes adventures return from the Underworld with Elves, Dwarves, Dragonborn, ect... In tow. Of the regular D&D races Only Aasimar, Genasi, Tieflings, and Shifters are considered native.

Will develop more later.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The problem that I see with utopia is that it's boring. Now maybe that's okay because your game revolves around dungeon delving. But if it does, why create such a unique setting?

In other words, is it really utopia or is there a hidden dark side? Are the dungeon delves just something to distract the masses?

I say all that because it's a unique and fun vision, but it feels like a bit of a waste to just make the home base "perfect".
 

gyor

Legend
I came up with this idea for several reasons.

1) because I was tired of all the Grim Dark settings and I find Star Trek's Utopian Setting a breath of fresh air as well as the almost Utopian Setting of the Commonwealth (Andromeda), but I didn't want to make Spelljammer or Starfinder 2.0

2) Classical Greece, Rome, Europe, ect..., get lots of attention so I wanted to focus on a setting that is inspired by civilizations that were amazing and cool, not not as well know, such as Ebla instead of Ur, Kush instead of Egypt, Cambodia instead of China or Japan, Minoans and Lycians instead of Classical Greek, maybe I'll replace Babylonia with Niveah, and Atlantis because I wanted an aquatic province.

3- Most of these civilizations existed during a bronze age, so I decided to tap into that and when I decided on a bronze age I decided I wanted a reason besides not having Iron technology for this Bronze Age, so I decided Iron triggers wild magic making it dangerous to a Kingdom that depends on magic. Possessing Iron is the only death penalty offence in the Kingdom, and law makes Wild Magic Sorcerers (who are descended from Magic users who became iron addicts, wild magic bring addictive) adventurers upon their 18th birthday, they are too dangerous to keep around for long.
 

gyor

Legend
The problem that I see with utopia is that it's boring. Now maybe that's okay because your game revolves around dungeon delving. But if it does, why create such a unique setting?

In other words, is it really utopia or is there a hidden dark side? Are the dungeon delves just something to distract the masses?

I say all that because it's a unique and fun vision, but it feels like a bit of a waste to just make the home base "perfect".
I like the challenge of making a Utopian Setting, but it's not a perfect Utopia, it has dark sides, like Iron Addicts, raiding Lycanthropes, left over class system, a dark voyeurism when it comes to adventures and other challenges that come from over abundance. It's also okay with limited forms of human sacrifice, such as when Adventurers dying in the Underworlds. Their is also rivalries between Adventurering parties and their Patrons. It's just that it's a wealth society with no poverty and no full scale war and no humaniod slavery, where everyone has basic access to essentials and some Luxuries. So most of the dark sides comes from the outside, boredom, or the Utopias dependance on Bronze.

Plus the different Underworlds reflect their cultures of the civilization and the cultures and races and religions of the PCs.
 

Eltab

Adventurer
If you do decide to exchange Babylonia (Chaldees?) for Nineveh / Assyria, you get a subculture to fill out the Imperial Army officer corps as part of the deal. You also can have army vs magi struggling for influence in the Imperial court.
 

gyor

Legend
If you do decide to exchange Babylonia (Chaldees?) for Nineveh / Assyria, you get a subculture to fill out the Imperial Army officer corps as part of the deal. You also can have army vs magi struggling for influence in the Imperial court.
I like it.
 

aco175

Adventurer
I'm not understanding why you are not just using gold? It is a great conductor, not sure about magic though. It can be everything you want bronze to be. Some games already have bronze as the peasant metal. I like the ideas tied to magic, but could you not just use gold since everyone plays with it already and knows it is valuable.
 

gyor

Legend
For the Fantasy Minoans I'm thinking a highly Bimorphic sex race. Like they used to be humans, but a disaster happened killing their men, so they prayed to the Gods who sent them huge sentient Celestial Bulls (Titans), who fathered a new race with the human women, Minotaurs. Female Minotaurs look like Aasimar, but with small horns, and the males look like more traditional Minotaurs. The Celestial Bulls are the heads of Minotaur Clans, but they are mostly figure heads, with councils of women ruling and answering to a Cleric Queen, who in turn answers to the King and Queen of Fantasy Ebla.

To become a cleric in this society you have to practice successful bull jumping of the Celestial Bull and mate with it. The rest of the rest just reproduces with each other. The Celestial Bulls are worshipped as Demigods.

There would be huge monuments to their extinct human males and museluems for a national day of mourning.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I like several of your ideas! Sounds like a setting with potential.

I am a little put off with how you turn valuation of precious metals and minerals upside down, partly because their values were not exclusively tied to rarity. They had certain intrinsic physical attributes that made them valuable as well. But that’s a relatively minor quibble.

I wonder, though, what would happen if one of the cultures encountered a people who were magic poor but had developed iron tools and armor. What would happen to a warrior with iron armor & weapons who got targeted by magic? What would the warped magic do?
 
I would just like to point out that it is possible to have conflict in a setting without it being grimdark: see Star Wars for example.

Also, how much of this detail are players actually likely to see?
 
Certainly some interesting ideas in there.

As regards adventure despite the existence of a "utopian" society, you might want to consider how Iain M Banks handled his "Culture" novels - essentially conflict still occurs at the edges, where the Culture rubs up against other societies.
 

dave2008

Legend
I'm not understanding why you are not just using gold? It is a great conductor, not sure about magic though. It can be everything you want bronze to be. Some games already have bronze as the peasant metal. I like the ideas tied to magic, but could you not just use gold since everyone plays with it already and knows it is valuable.
Possibly because gold is very dense and doesn't make good weapons; whereas we have actual history with making bronze weapons
 
Have you looked into RuneQuest or any of the Glorantha setting materials?
Far from utopian, but does have a very similar bit with staying bronze-age because it's more compatible with magic.

BTW, I wonder if Wild Sorcerers in this setting go ahead and use iron?
And are they dangerous anarchists who threaten the utopia? A utopia that's not secretly a dystopia needs an outside threat of some kind.

Oh, and even more tangential, but might offer a bit of inspiration, I once used an isolated city of celestials, essentially immortal humans leading an idealized existence, the premise was that they were given a version of Pandora's Box, but dutifully never opened it...
….the twist (because the players were expected to open the box at some point, which of course they did) was that it didn't contain all the ills that plague humanity, but divine sparks that imparted Free Will.
 

dave2008

Legend
@gyor In general I really like what you got here, good job. Are you looking for any particular suggestions or help? My only thoughts at this time relate to your comments regarding diamonds and gold.
  • Diamonds: This is a fantasy version of RL, I don't think you need to explain why diamonds and gold are not valuable. IRL the value of diamonds is artificially inflated anyway, so no reason for them to of any particular value on your fantasy world, they are just lumps of carbon after all and a really not all that rare.
  • Gold: You have provide a story for why copper / bronze / tin & silver are valuable. There really isn't a need to explain why gold is less so. In your fantasy world gold is only valuable for artistic / rarity reasons. bronze and silver have are much more valuable in the context of your setting. No need to "explain" that gold is readily available IMO.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
There is no society so perfect that all of its members are satisfied with it.

Beyond the minds that reasonably disagree with a culture’s structures, there are always madmen. misanthropes, nihilists and anarchists.
 

gyor

Legend
There is no society so perfect that all of its members are satisfied with it.

Beyond the minds that reasonably disagree with a culture’s structures, there are always madmen. misanthropes, nihilists and anarchists.
You assume every society must produce madmen, misanthropes, ect..., I'd suggest those are only produced by societies failures.
 

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