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Offline Strolen

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Reality as Fantasy.
« on: February 09, 2004, 03:37:58 AM »
Have you ever thought of using parts of real world history as a basis for your own world's history? The great thing about history is that it already happened. Using it as a shell for your fantasy world does a few things

1) Saves you from coming up with everything from scratch. From scratch is good but it takes time to come up with a cohesive history that works on all levels without sounding forced.

2) Gives a sense of realism since many of the major points you use did in fact happen. Even if the facts are totally changed and skewed (which I am sure they will be) they hold the ring of truth and realism that may just make your world more believable.

3) If told you world is based on colonial North America it is much easier for the players to understand what the world is like in an analogous sort of way. An in depth knowledge of real history is not needed to understand the overview of the world, just the broadest terms need to be defined for them and they won't have to learn an entire new history to easily enjoy your world.

 For instance, North America. Without knowing anything you know Indians, The North, The South, slaves, war with Britain, independence, western expansion, war with Indians, civil war.

Right there is all you need to help develop the world.

Indians: Any indigenous species of the land that gets bullied and pushed around. In my world this will be the dwarfs. They originally owned the land and were pushed to the mountains by the invaders.

The North: All you really need to know is that there were two types of settlers and define them how you will but I am going to use the fact that the Northern settlers were community driven and industrially motivated, mostly because of the land was bad for farming and their religion promoted tight communities. (very basic, don't want to argue about the subtleties) So I will make the North the Elves. The elves I will organize in tight communities dotted around the land. I will have them live in the areas that are bad for farming so that is not their main sustenance, mostly live off the land and trade. The elves were the first one to come before "The South" settlers arrived.

The South: Mostly farming. This will be the humans. Farming and livestock are their trades. They have cities but are in a somewhat isolated area.

Slaves: In my world slaves will be found in an isolated area in the NW. It is available by land but secluded by a large area of badlands and Mountains. Defensible ports in the badlands have been made and slaves are only used by one section of the developing country. Slaves will be used exclusively in a small section of "The South" that is on a peninsula sectionalized from the rest. This area is heavy agriculture with a large mining of rare metals available as well.

War with Britain: The humans that settled rejected the rule of those they left and so the announced their own king which erupted in war with their home country. The Elves, because of the war, retreated to a defensibly position in the SE and kept to themselves.

Independence: Human settlements finally had their king acknowledged after years of war. Influx of new settlers to the new kingdom.

Western Expansion. Human settlements, with their newfound freedom, started expanding in all direction. Forced the elves farther into their woods and any dwarves that were left around were forced to mountain living. Elves wouldn't let them in the woods and the humans were everywhere else.

War With Indians. War with dwarves. Almost continuous but more so now as the humans expand their settlements.

Civil War: I am leaving the slaves isolated and now the slave holding humans want freedom from the other human settlements that don't use slaves. Since the slave kingdom is geographically and economically separated from the regular human kingdom the split makes sense. The slave kingdom declares their independence and war breaks out. In but my world "The South" is going to win and slaves will remain. Their own king is acknowledged by the other human settlements and now there are two distinct human kingdoms.

And this is the time that my adventure takes place. This is very generic but the general idea is there.

If you need/want more there are wars against the French, Spanish, and Mexico to mess with as well as the melting pot racial issues that pop up everywhere. All you need to do is look and you will find pretty much any kind of conflict you could want in any history.

The history of Europe is even more fascinating, if not more complicated, and has a wealth of history to be exploited for the fantasy world setting as well.

Has anybody else used real world history in their games? If you have, please share your experience.

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Offline gottgen

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I've never used this theory...but I think I'll look into it!
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2004, 12:20:00 AM »
I had considered it, but never thought myself able to come up with anything that wasn't an OBVIOUS allegory for real life.  

Not only have you reminded me that it's possible to be "original" with old material; but also that sometimes symbolism isn't a bad thing, even when it's obvious.
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Offline Maggot

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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2004, 08:12:47 AM »
I have employed this technique to great effect. If you read my post on the NPC  Baragh,you will find out that his primitive, stone age civilization of lizard men are almost wiped by invading human and dwarvish settlers. I got this idea from the British invasion of Aboriginal Australia and the genocide that followed.
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Offline Scrasamax

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2004, 08:58:36 PM »
I think drawing on historical resources is a great idea, one that I use with regularity. History answers questions that were not considered during the creation progress, adds some important figures to adapt or work with, and brings up consequences that not many people have the time or energy to develop.

Going with Strolens interpretation of the American civil war, it can be easily exchanged with other civil wars for alternatives. The various civil wars that wracked pre-Tokugawa Japan, The Bolshevik Revolution of Russia, or even the brutal warfare that plagued the Holy Roman Empire could be sources of great ideas.

One area I gain alot of ideas is reading historical books, or watching the History Channel and playing What if?. What if event X occured with the context of magic, or what if the church had real clerics and paladins at its disposal rather than censure, or discouraging remarks?

What if the American South had deployed magics against the technological American North? Who would win, who would the Elves, and the Dwarves, and the Orcs side with? What would happen after one side, or the other won?

If the techies won, would magic be dismantled along side of slavery, and the plantation system? Would the North adopt magic to complement tech? What if the magi won, would the North be disabused of their technology, their industries reduced and subdued? or would their be a new union of magic and technology?

What if? What if? What if?

What if WWII was fought out by the races of fantasy?

Read about the less well known conflicts, such as a Boer wars of South Africa, or the independence campaigns of Latin America. I'm rambling, but I am tired. Please forgive me.


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Offline Cheka Man

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2004, 05:43:15 PM »
If WW2 was fought out by fantasy races...I don't see the Nazis as orcs.More as Dark Elves who think all other races are inferior.

Offline MoonHunter

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2004, 06:21:54 PM »
The point of this article was to utilize an existing "place" and "time" as a template for your fantasy place at a given time.  

Utilizing reality as a model of fantasy allows you to have an idea of what should "happen".  So if your would is based "loosely" on WWII you would have several countries (each one may or may not be a single race) who have recovered from a previous Great War.  There is no longer the great alliances of the past. Now every country is "on their own".  The losing country from the last war, is now our new protagonist.

Plug in Aryan Elves in our German Analogy (with Germany being mixed race country), two mixed cultures of (Elves/ Humans/ et all) for France and England, Italian Dwarvesm The Russians are our Orcs (Cultured, yet violent), and splatter other peoples. (You can oppress the halflings who are minorities in every culture). You now have a feel for each society and what they will do.  From there, knowing what happened in our world, you just project where your fantasy will go.
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Offline Scrasamax

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2004, 12:22:58 PM »
1939: Ayelldolf Hytller, chancellor of the Dark Elven state, and head of the Yaryan political party stirs the country to war, entering an alliance with Joreg Stallig, the new ruler of communist Russak. The two powers engage in amssive invasion of Dwarvish Pollandd. In less than two months of fighting, the former kingdom of Pollandd is reduced to satrapies of Russak and the DES.


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Offline Sentinel

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2004, 05:01:40 PM »
What would the Americans be? They entered the war earlier and what about Japan?
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Offline Sentinel

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2004, 05:07:29 PM »
Plus there was many neutral countries in the war that were taken over by Germany, and what about the war in Africa and Asia?
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Offline MoonHunter

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2004, 06:10:42 AM »
The point of the thread was not to determine which country should be which race, but to outline the process of using historical situations as a model for your fantasy worlds.  (We were originally discussing using the Pre US Revoluationary period). You should use what ever cultures/ races you see fit as the analogs for a given "historical place".  My German analog will be run by Aryan-ish Elves with some other races in place and halflings being oppressed, your world might be run by Militaristic Dwarves who oppress any faeries, while someone else my make them Drow or Orcs.  In my world the Americas will be a country of Humans with some Elves, while it might be different for you. My Asian countries my be other Elves or Puthi while you might make them all Drow or Dwarves.  I hope you are getting the picture. Choose what works for you and your taste.  Just model the situation after the historical one, tweak it a bit to fit the differences in the world (so newly trained cavalry instead of blitz-krieg tanks, new enchantments rather than nuclear bombs, et all), make sure the geography supports the action, and run with it.
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Offline Sentinel

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2004, 10:11:34 PM »
lol, I know that. Just being a little faceitous. Joking around and all
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Offline Akuma

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2004, 10:31:10 PM »
I think that a fantasy Cold war would be very interesting. It would no longer be a race for bigger better weapons but a race to develope bigger and more destructive spells and armies.

Offline Scrasamax

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Reality as Fantasy.
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2004, 07:11:56 AM »
I think that a magical cold war would not be cool, i think it would be a logical outcome of magic and politics. I mean, unless there is a world/realm spanning organization of magi who eschew the conflicts and such of the nations and mundane folk it has to happen.

Information - as in the adage that having it is power. Scrying and divination spells would be constantly developed and upgraded. Why? Because the other guys are constantly working on their wards and anti-scrying spells to keep their secrets while at the same time improving their own scrying spells. This assumes that magi have national sentiments (And why not, they were part of X nation/kingdom long before they were magi. If I discovered tomorrow that I could do magic, it wouldnt erase the fact that for the entirety of my life I have been an American.


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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2004, 05:25:44 PM »
The Line and Magical Cold War

Someone invents a super fireball spell that can be cast by a mage of a moderate skill level (lets say 5th). These fireballs can be lobbed indirectly and for large distances. If one can scry a great distance, one can lob a fireball there accurately. Once you have a mage that can do it, your country is at a huge advantage. Thus some quick rounds of spying and research, now many countries have it.

Now you have people, on the firing line, prepared to cast these spells, preparing to cast counter spells, maintaing the scrying defense, and trying to scry through them, and new mages or scholars  developing new spells for The Line.

Of course, the spy business will move into full swing, as everyone will want to know who can do what, who there Mage Line is and where they are, where they are stationed (are they being moved... do they have teleport spells ready to move into range?), and all the data on their research and current spells. There will be extractions of personel who have been pressed into service. There will be spying on the government to see what their mood is.  

Eventually someone will invent magic items to shoot these super fireballs.

You can see where this all goes.
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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2004, 09:37:06 AM »
Actually, I frequently use historical analogs as templates for my game worlds/ regions.  "This world is like Feudal Japan, except the population is larger and they are all Orcenti", "They are like African Plainsmen." or "They are like Ancient Greeks: philosphical, athletic, and very item poor, except they are Centaurs" is a very common short cut I use when describing things in my world. If gives the players a handle on the grouping, that allows them to fill in the blanks that I have not described. I add a few qualifiers for what is "different". That way we get a better fit for the world with least effort

This idea takes that a step farther. Rather than using reality as a shortcut, we use it as the basis for what everything is.  We model our fantasy directly on the reality.  In some ways, it is a mirror character expanded to the world. You take something real (or fleshed out) and you just change the little things to make something new for your game.

Our Cold War Examples Above are perfect examples of that. We took reality and created a fantasy to match it.
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Offline Kinslayer

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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2004, 01:13:54 AM »
I enjoy reading about history, and consider it my greatest source of inspiration.  I much prefer looking for historic analogs for my game world, than looking for other fantasy treatments.  I also don't limit myself to European history, and have found that African & Asian history have many great things to utilise for a roleplaying campaign.  

I looked at the historic model to determine how different cultures influence each other, how currency & trade could be handled, how many cultures to put into one nation, etc.  

In addition, most of my campaign ideas have sprung from historic events.
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