I started writing a series of short stories a while ago about a band of barbaric pirates that lived seventy two million years ago, raiding the islands (now mountains) of New Mexico's ancient shallow sea. Recently I decided to start GMing a 2nd ed DnD game placed in this world in order to help myself develop it more. Any comments would be greatly appreciated, especially from those who have played a prehistoric campaign.
Images: Seventy million years ago, New Mexico, a desert today, is covered by a vast shallow sea with only todays mountain tops breaking the waters surface and providing habitable homes for the fledgling human society.
Flora/Fauna: Gymnosperms still make up the majority of the planets temerate vegetation with dense fern-jungles filling the tropical regions. However, humans are rapidly developing and adoption agriculture of the far more palatable angiosperms, fueling the angiosperms eventual rise to power as the most prodominate plantlife today. The wide spread success of the adaptive and nutrient-rich angiosperms has allowed for the larger, and more well known, herbivorous, and consiquently carnivorous also, dinosaurs to thrive. the likes of hadrosaurs, anklesaurs, triceratops, and tyrannosaurs share the land with the humans while pterosaurs and some birds rule the sky. The oceans team with brachiopods, crynoids, ammonites, ichthyosaurs, and pleseosaurs. There are also a number of small mammals, like Purgatorius, that have developed along with humans.
Resources: Most potable water is collected during the monsoons in late summer, freash water springs are scarce and coveted. Farming is prevailent but crude. Most villages produce gather enough cycad greens, which can be boiled until tastless and edible, and grow tuberous angiosperms, such as hekima, as a source of starch. Most coastal communities gather brachiopods from the ocean and on larger islands villages hunt for smaller dinosaurs.
Races and Peoples: The humanoid population is comprised of Humans, the larger Troglodytes, and the small, reclusive Menahuni. The Menahuni were the most prevailent race on the islands but have been pushed almost to oblivion by the growing presence of the larger humanoids. Troglodytes more commonly known today as Neanderthalls, are typically stronger and less clever than their true human counterparts and also seem calmer, less emotional than humans.
Cultural Overview: There are three different societies, to go along with the three different races, struggeling for dominance on the islands. The humans depend most on new developing technologies, namely agriculture, and their villages are begining to develop specialization and trade. The Troglodyte culture is more stable. Each village is self-sufficient as Troglodytes, with full use of their wisdom teeth and appendixes, can eat just about any vegetable matter. The only trade the Troglodytes have going on between their villages is the trade of tales and lore. The Menahuni are individualistic and secretive, even amoung themselves. They never developed a true civilization and only socialize with eachother during mating. They mostly scavenge for food.
Calander: In both Human and Troglodyte societies, the calander in use is similar to that of today, sans months. There are twenty four hours in each day, due to the fact that 108 degrees, the distance from one horizon to another, can be broken into twelve fists, held at arms length. The year is divided into the four typical seasons and the equinoxes and solstices are observed. Time lengths less dependnt on the natural seasons, such as funeral wakes, are generally based off the lunar cycle. As an aside, the Troglodytes generally count in a base 5 system, using one hand for the ones digit and the other for the tens digit.
Institutions-Major: At best, each island has its own governmental system, although more often each village is a completely seperate political entity with completely different political structures. Villages are likely to become loose allies in the face of natural disasters or against other races but that's as far as it is likely to go. Villages leaders commonly come to power through royal blood, military or material power, or appointment by the local religion. There are also ruthless bands of pirates, gangs of sea fareing roughians who exert little political control but hold the srrounding villages in an iron economical fist. Juxtaposing the pirates are the merchants, which travel from island to island performing all manner of service to the inhabitance, from religious rights to entertainment to peddeling of wares.
Laws and Morals: The laws of the land are similar to the political structure, ergo fragmented. Generally there are no absolute laws but a much more ambiguous rule by the village leader or the village mob. In someplaces there are strict rules governing life laid in place by abnormally zealous tyrannts or local religious institutions. Because of the fractured nature of the societal landscape, within a relatively small space, the entire moral spectrum can be found.
Family: All three races hold family at different levels of importance. Humans derive most of their societal structure from the family, living in villaged composed of extended family and basing alliances on kinship. Of course, this structure would lead to inbreeding were it not for the wife-merchants. The Troglodytes live in matriarchal societies where family is not quite as important. Families seem close-knit until a child hits maturity (as decided upon by the mother) at which point all of the village's new adults for that year are sent out to find their lives and other villages in the world, never to be seen by their families again. The Menahuni, of course, place little value in family at all. After mating, the male will return to his own territory, leaving the female, who raises the children until they can take care of themselves.
Economics: There is no established economic system. All trade is done through barter.
Religion: Religion can be just as variable as the political structure but there are some common figures that pop up repeatedly. The humans and the Troglodytes tend to make totems of the creatures, that surround them everyday. One village might deify the ant as a symbol of growth, expansion, and war while another might worship miasaurs as embodiments of homelife, saftey, and planning. The cockroach, all ways presant wherever humans are, is generally though of as unhappy dead spirits whi will bring good luck to whoever completes their lives, letting them rest in peace. A quickly growing religion worships the god Chiaroscuro, who is symbolized by the firefly, proclaiming that everything in the world can be broken down into good and bad parts. Priests of Chiaroscuro try to define good and bad, compiling long lists of what actions are good and what are bad in order to help people become more good than bad. Also, ancestors are thought to hold a source of power and many try to see the future through the patterns projected the past through ancestors. The Menahuni don't appear to have any formal religion although they do hold a strong belief what they call "the dark". They belive that whoever knows the most secrets, have explored the most mysteries, will somehow win life.
Technology: Being a very primative society, softer metals like copper are expensive and iron is all but impossible to find. Most tools are made out of wood, bone, or pottery. Leathermaking and weaving are also developed. Agricultural principals are begining to develop with feilds of specific plants weeded by the village. Most construction is done with wood and covered in hide although some things can be built out of stone. Magic is not common in this world although some items might be blesses or posessed by spirits. Also, tatoos can hold some supernatural properties.
Transportation: Boats and rafts are commonly rowed between islands. Sailing has not yet developed.
Arts/Literature: Some craftsmen in human villages have developed their skills beyond that of their peers. Their wares, though completey functional, are highly prized. In Troglodyte groups, the narrative is a developed skill and stories can be delivered orally or visually, when painted on rocks or other objects.