Monday, September 25, 2017

Introduce Some "Period" Technology In Your Game

Despite the fact that fantasy RPGs don't take place in the real world (or, at least, most of them don't), players and dungeon masters the world over get their knickers in a twist if you introduce elements that aren't period into their games. Period, in this case, referring to a very wide definition of medieval to mid-Renaissance, depending on how fine the hairs you want to split are. Now, on the one hand, I am the first to point out that as soon as we agree that this game does not take place on Earth, then any argument using Earth history as its foundation is pretty well invalidated. On the other hand, I do think that it's a good idea for us to take fun ideas and inspiration from our actual history, and ask what would happen if we introduced it into our game worlds.

You know, like what if an alchemist guild invented soda? Or the kingdom ran a Dragon's Lottery as a way to make money without raising tax revenue? Or if there were huge billboards advertising the upcoming title fight in this year's Sand and Blood tournament?

The Iron Stallion takes on the Crimson Cad! A battle for the ages!
While that might sound sort of facetious, there is a nugget of honesty in these ideas. Because while we might think of all the comforts and technology that we enjoy today as being thoroughly modern, our ancestors were rocking a lot of the same conveniences we have, and they didn't have electricity or magic!

Cool Ancient Technologies To Make Your Game Unique

If you've never read 7 Modern Conveniences That Are Way Older Than You Think, or 30 Modern Things That Are Way Older Than You Think, you owe it to your creativity to go take a look. Because while we might be used to how we do it these days, our ancestors were no slouches when it came to luxury, convenience, or making money.

Out of these two articles, I have a few favorites.

My first favorite is the ancient Persian air conditioning system. Using the simple science of air flow, underground water, and strategic digging, the empire that went to war with Sparta could build comfortable, temperature-controlled mansions, taverns, or public buildings in the middle of the desert. The same technology was also used to create chill houses where, even in the hottest summers, the empire could store ice and food.

The places even looked like upside-down ice cream cones.
In addition to giving us continent-spanning roads, and bridges that still hold up to this day, Rome also had shopping malls as far back as 113 A.D., and they came complete with fast food joints, clothing stores, jewelry, and all the other vendor trash we're used to seeing when we go to the mall. There were probably stores that sold pipes right alongside swords that were meant more for decoration than for use in the field, too. Not only that, but about 2000 years ago, Hero of Alexandria invented a primitive version of the vending machine to dispense holy water at shrines. Add in the wishing wells that were all over most Roman cities, and you have a place that really doesn't look that different from some of our modern small towns.

Of course, there is nothing that says a DM has to do anything with this knowledge. It's just fun, and interesting, to see the looks on people's faces when they realize that it's perfectly possible to recreate modern comforts using ancient technology, if one is determined to do so. And if you live in a country where magic (even low-level magic) is commonly available... well, there's no limit to the directions you could go, if you were of a mind to do so.

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post. Hopefully it gets the wheels turning, and leads to some interesting additions to your future games. If you'd like to see more of my gaming content, take a few minutes to check out my Gamers archive. To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, and if you want to support Improved Initiative, head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page! All it takes is $1 a month to make a difference, so please, consider tossing a little change in my cup so I can keep the content flowing.

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