Small-scale invasions, such as raiding parties, barbarians, or pirates, are fairly common (or perhaps should be) in most gaming worlds. However, some invaders come full-force, and are a previous unknown to the current inhabitants. This can be either a military invasion, or a steady influx of immigrants. Uncertainty & fear will both follow and preceed these new invaders. They will have cultural, linguistic, and perhaps technological &/or magical differences with those who came before them. This can be successive waves of newcomers, as people generally stop thinking of themselves as “new” and become natives after a generation or two. That is, if they are not kept down by those that came before them, by limiting jobs, education, & property ownership, or making them live in ghettoes, work mines, etc. Depending on the game world, these new visitors may be a completely different species or subspecies.
Do the newcomers fully integrate into the native society, losing their language & customs? Do they become the dominant culture (possible even without military conquest or superior numbers)? Are they kept apart from native society in some way? Variations on these are possible. To use some real world examples, ancient Romans incorporated Etruscan culture into themselves, and made their customs Roman—this was long before Rome became a military & political powerhouse. Following the Norman invasion of England, a new King took the throne, and society was shuffled at the upper end, but for the common peasant, not much really changed, certainly not quickly. Much of the world is seeing an invasion of American culture, even without being invaded by Americans themselves (although some might feel that this fact is soon changing—with military conquest only a matter of time—such is beyond the scope of this thread). In the United States, there is a current increase in number & culture from Spanish-speaking areas.
An invasion need not be an actual invasion, nor need it be considered a bad thing. It all depends upon one’s viewpoints.
In My World
Midian suffered a pretty significan invasion a couple of millenia prior. So drastic was this fated to become, that psychics & seers on the other side of the globe forsaw visions of the event. Even the very sky bled when these violent newcomers arrived. These invaders are intimately familiar to the readers of this site: Humans.
Most of them left their original point of invasion in southern Osterre (the eastern continent) within a few decades. They quickly hopped islands in the southern portion of the Greatsea, and swept through Suditerre (the southern continent). Little traces of any pre-Human inhabitants survive there, especially in the southern areas—now known colectively as the Elder Kingdoms. There, Humanities numbers grew immensely, as did their knowledge, especially of warfare & its related industries. As Humans’ growth stretched their boundaries ever northward, they eventually encountered the southern edge of the Olde Empire of the Hobgoblins. The Olde Empire was ill-equipped to defend itself on its remote reaches in Suditerre. Humanity quickly spilled north across the Grim Sea into Norditerre (the northern continent), home of the Olde Empire. For the Humans, this was simply emigrating to a new area, to find cultural freedom, and to escape overcrowding. To the Hobgoblins, this was a full-scale military invasion, the likes of which they had never before encountered. The Humans had a number of innovations to the art of war unknown to the Olde Empire, such as horsemanship, superior ships, tactical formations, advanced polearms, leaders who led by means other than direct physical intimidation, and the Humans had somehow replicated the Elven art of archery. The ancestors of what is now the Formourian people landed on the southern tip of Norditerre, and began a program of agriculture, fortified defense, population growth (possible far beyond the means of the Hobgoblin’s hunter-gatherer & herder society), and conquest. Meanwhile, the ancestors of the Heldanns who spearheaded the invasion travelled further north along the coastline. They pillaged and raided (and some say never fully gave up this habit). Since the Human’s ships, nautical skills, and weapons were superior, and since the Olde Empire’s coasts have long suffered from the occassional bout with the Killians, the proto-Heldanns and their few super-warrior Gaijin sailed north without even being slowed by the Olde Empire’s efforts.
The proto-Formourians spread west—assisted numerically by further Human migration across the Grim Sea, north following the Heldannic efforts inland, and began pincering the Olde Empire. The Humans carved new lands for themselves from what was once unopposed territory of the Olde Empire. Within a few generations, the balance of power had drastically shifted. The final death-knell of the Olde Empire came when the five Duchies of what would become the Kingdom of Formour were united under an adventurous couple who acted as war-leaders (who later became the first King & Queen of Formour following unification). In the north, the Heldanns had encountered a resistance movement of Dwarves, who had been long enslaved by the Hobgoblins. The very presence of the Humans, and the promise of alliance, gave the Dwarves the courage to rebell across the Olde Empire. The combined Dwarf & Human army (aided by Gaijin & Troll) conquered the mountains & northern forrests, driving many Hobgoblins into the inhospitable area known as the Farreaches. The Formourians swept north & west, and eventually surrounded the last dying remnant of the former government. The Great-grandfather General, warlord & sovereign of the Olde Empire, was trapped in a densely wooded area with his kinfolk & few remaining imperial guards. To their credit, the Hobgoblins never actually surrendered. The Great-grandfather General eventually died from infection of his wounds, and the remnants of the Juran tribe (his kinfolk and guards) remained in what is now known as the Hobgoblin Enclave, where their descendants still survive today. These are a sad reminder of their own glory days. The eke out a living selling trinkets to tourists, keeping small herds of goats, and gathering what they can from the forest. Two other tribes were forced back south, into the very heart of Human-dominated lands. There, they were largely incorporated into local society; many of them no longre even speak Gobley. Those Hobgoblin tribes that escaped to the Farreaches have far more difficult lives than their Enclave bretheren, albeit one with greater dignity intact. There, they try to maintain their traditional lifestyle—and as much of their culture as could be remembered—while incorporating the techniques they learned from the Humans: horse, bow, & tactics.
An additional Human invasion occured much later, and with far less fanfare. Two tribes of the Goths—those Humans who stayed near the original invasion point in Osterre—emmigrated to southern Formour & northern Byzant (in Suditerre). Coincidentally, the areas that are now inhabited by these Goths (as much as 50% in some cities), are the very same lands where Humans first began their conquest of the Olde Empire.
Additional Ideas (1)
When two societies intersect, peacefully or militarily, the interaction will generate new ideas, new applications of old ideas, and there will be social friction. Where two societies meet, they are both changed in someway. If there is a winner, the winner will change less, but change will still occur. Eventually the winner and loser will become one, changing both.
Lets take the concept of conquering Norman Knights and men at arms trying to pick up Saxon barmaids or getting things from the peasants. This interaction generated the Norman pigeon language, English. As Normans and Saxons got cozey with each other, using English, and the distance between the English Normans and the Continental Normans kept them seperate, they developed into their own unique peoples.
When America "conquered" Japan, the Japanese adapted western cultural elements (some of which were forced upon them...). It is the marriage of their ancient culture, the drive for modernization (which brought the Military to power causing the war), and the elements of the West, developed into a unique cultural powerhouse in the world today. So much so, the Japanese managed a cultural invasion into the US/ West. The West has absorbed many uniquely Japanese elements. So while it takes time, when two cultures clash and interact, change occurs.
If invasions occur from "outside" the people's expectations things will probably change radically. The New Invaders will establish a new order, based upon their cultural expectations. Eventually this culture will "trickle down" into the conquered people. As the invaders determines the norm, the local culture will adapt to it. (Also, the Invader's culture might pick up a few elements slowly from the victims... an interesting new art form, some elements of technology that they do not have... as long as the aspect of the victim's culture has some perceived value to the invaders, then it will be absorbed).
On Arth, The Elventi have invaded lots of places unexpectedly.
When they found the Dwarventi, they gave the Dwarventi council a polite ultimatum... which they declined. They then used their seriously powerful forces to conquer the Dwarventi (12 High Elventi and a few hundred Elventi Militia conquered the 170,000 Dwarventi of the time over the course of three months). If it was not for the Dwarventi acceptance of personal surrender without dishonor (after being disarmed or knocked about), with the Elventi polite acceptance of that rule, the death toll would of been huge. The Dwarventi since then have become more militeristic (so when the Elventi come again, it will take a hundred of them several years to conquer them), more fatalistic (think Slavic/ Eastern European), and morose (they are no longer the master of their world). So now the Dwarventi must pay their tax to The Imperium, and obey certain rules. While the rules are not difficult, nor the tax really worth mentioning, the principal of being a subject of the Imperium under threat of eventual death, grates upon them.
The Dwarventi have come to accept most of the Elventi standards (distance, monies, etc), and the presence of Imperial Roads (which they find somewhat useful when going to places not directly linked by tunnels). They have found a new market for their goods, as long as they are fey embellished (Dwarven Art was simple, linear, and utilitarian), now they add engraved patterns, some additional sculptings. Dwarventi are taking to this new style, which they grudgingly admit takes a great deal of skill to perform, quite well because it takes a great deal of skill to perform and they have that skill. Elventi traders delight in Dwarventi metal and stone goods. They are even accepting the equality of races and that there is nothing to hide.
When the Elventi first sent an Imperial Army squad to new area that is now called MaskLand, they were expecting some serious conflicts. The locals were so "alien". The MaskLanders, realizing that they were not home anymore (The new biome division of their lands was a dead give away) and not knowing all the rules of the world, actually embraced The Imperium.
When the Elventi sent a squad and an ambassador to ForthLand, they were hopeful that these people would be as reasonable as the last. The coastal Lamic people, originally were aggressive. They accepted the amabassador to be polite and give their demands. They could not believe that warriors could hold such power. So, after checking that the building did not have some special historical or religious significance, one of the Squad pulled his magic sword, made a slashing motion and cut a wall in half. Then did it again three times, destroying every wall between the audience chamber and the outside street. The Leader surrendered. The squad was required to perform this and similar feats of power and prowess in every city in every biome. After that, they all surrendered. When the Elventi found there were violent primatives in the interior, they sighed and expected to do the same thing they had to do in ThirdLand... hunt them down... beat them all up... then force them to obey. The Elventi found the "barbarians" in the center of the land to actually be more civilized (in the Elventi sense) than the Lamic people. As long as the Elventi would not interfere and take their KeyStones that maintain their lands, they would peacefully and joyfully be part of their union.
The most important invasion in the History of the Known World was not military. The Bronze and Stone Aged Humanti of SecondLand were being attacked by the Zenophobic Wapti and their animal armies. Many of these people fled into the sea, finding their way to FirstLand. (And after finding good land, sent messangers back to have others come).
The FirstLand Elventi initially did not know what to do about these smelly invaders, but eventually accepted them as guests of sorts. However, there was no reason for Guests to be rude, so they took to the process of "uplifting" (civilizing) them. Humans found a place in Elventi society as servants and workers. Humanti developed a lesser reflection of Elventi society as their own.
Eventually, when their numbers became so great, they were taught the way of wars and sent back to SecondLand to retake it. (The Elventi thought it would be both rude and demeaning if they conquered SecondLand and gave it back to the Humanti as a gift). With a few military advisors along for the ride, the Humanti retook SecondLand and set up their civilization there. They too got to uplift the Left Behinds (HighLanders). Since then Humanti has become the primary members of the Imperium. They have helped colonized new places, civilizing and uplifting various peoples there (with limited success with the Plainsmen of ThirdLand), and working for and with the Elventi.
The Elventi gave Humanti civilization. The Humanti did manage to impact Elventi society. They taught the Elventi about Domestication (an unheard of concept) and SeaCraft (which the Elventi had no skill in). Those skills have been limitedly added to Elventi culture.
In only one place has Elventi culture been notably changed- WhiteCliffs. There, Humanti's abilities managed to save their Elventi hosts. The Elventi, realizing the folly of their society, embraced Humanti ways.
( http://www.strolen.com/guild/index.php/topic,1319.msg18799.html#msg18799 )
A new cultural invasion is brewing. The technological revolution found in Antioch (Impressors) is begining to change the way in Antioch. Even given the conservativism of the Ways in other biomes, it will impact them.