Good afternoon all!
In this post, I’m going to lay out my notes for an upcoming bronze age game! Roleplaying in the ancient world has been interesting to me for a long time, but also intimidating due to a lack of knowledge. Following a quick probe on the Discord, I started cursory research. This post is a summation of the biggest findings.
Please note that I’m less interested in historical accuracy and more in the feeling of the bronze age. For example, I’m not terribly concerned with whether or not copper weapons were used in the late bronze age. All that said, if anyone sees a glaring inaccuracy or omission, please let me know! Without further delay, here are my skeletal notes!
- WEAPONS: stone, copper, but mostly bronze tools and weapons – some bone tools
- CRAFTS: lots of pottery, things are made of wood, clay, and stone
- FUEL: flint, animal fats, natural oils for fuel/warmth
- WEAPONS B: short bows, spears, axes, maces, short swords, slings, knives, staff, cudgel, sickle, javelin, nets, blow gun
ARMOR: no higher than scale (hoplite panoply) armor – mostly copper helms and studded cloaks, linen corselets, many fought almost naked, animal hides like crocodile or rhino)
- armor like bronze breastplates, bracers, grieves, shields, helms
- TRAVEL: crude roads, but mostly wild and disconnected
- WRITING: papyrus and ink – some written language and much pictoral language
- LOCKS: locks are exclusive to rulers, high temples, if they exist at all
- HORSES: no horse bardings - supplies mostly carted on the backs of animals - CHARIOTS
- NAVIGATION: no compasses, mostly SEA trade versus OCEAN trade, star gazing
- AGRICULTURE/CRAFTS B: extremely sophisticated irrigation (no plumbing), extensive use of levers, weaving and sewing and tapestries and nets and ship riggings
- MEDICINE: use of bandages, and natural remedies like HONEY for wound treatment, cauterization, questionable surgeries/incisions/etc.
- FIRE: fire is important, the dark is scary
- BIG PICTURE: city-states containing a few towns, many villages – many many nomadic groups
- RELIGION A: rulers, temples, armies into the hundreds, war is a way of life for the elite
- RELIGION B: most villages don’t have temples, just a single priest or shaman at most
- BUSINESS: an inn or two can be found in towns and villages – few private rooms, pay to sleep on the floor, signs and advertisements in town
- LITERACY: most people are illiterate, but can have basic literacy skills
- COUNTING: most people can make markings to count
- LODGING: most travelers, if no inn exists, stay with a family or communal hall
- MONEY: crude coinage - made of copper and silver only - but also lots of trade
- WORLD KNOWLEDGE: the world is not well explored, superstition is rampant, numerous gods
- TONE: a lawless time when both a good spear arm and a golden tongue to justify it
- WEALTH: amber, spices, jewels, gems, silks, lumps of metal, art, land, livestock
- RELIGION C: the numerous gods are often cruel and capricious, with all of man’s moral failings
- R I V E R S
- RELIGION D: Sacrifices, animal worship, mixing of greek, egyptian, summerian, aztec, etc.
- REMEMBER: these people are only one step removed from the late stone age, it isn’t just their tools that are primitive… attitudes, behavior, laws, skills, sense of place in the world, dangers of an ancient ecology, different challenges than in a medieval setting, different expectations from players
This is obviously not comprehensive. It’s where I’m at in my studies and preparation for a game well in the future. Still, I hope this has been of interest to you all, and a big thank you to the Discord members who helped link me resources! As always, game on!