Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Real Hyborian Age

James Mal had a good post yesterday about how much fun historical fantasy RPGs can be. He was doing a retrospective on an obscure game called Man, Myth & Magic which sounds interesting. The first exposure I had to this kind of thing was Avalon Hill's RuneQuest (3rd Ed.), which wasn't set in the original setting of Glorantha, but in a "Fantasy Earth" of c. 10th century A. D. They even put out a very good Vikings supplement. And of course there are more recent games like Sengoku, High Medieval and Qin.

As much as I enjoy the world building that goes into most fantasy games and novels I think there's something to be said for a fantasized historical setting.  The truth is the average RPG game world is usually rather undistinguished. There's very few that achieve the originality and depth of a Tékumel or Talislanta. And it becomes especially appealing when you realize that there is an historical period that can match even a setting as famous as R.E.H.'s Hyborian Age. I'm thinking of the Hellenistic period.

I won't go into detail, but this is a perfect setting for a barbarian Celts, tattooed Illyrian pirate, or Chaldean wizard to go adventuring in. There were exotic cities, like Alexandria and Babylon.  Exotic lands like Hyrcania, the Maurya Empire or the Kingdom of Kush. There was even a lingua franca in the form of koine Greek.

I'm not the only Martian on the block when it comes to this. There are games like Paul Elliot's Warlords of Alexandria for BRP and Volker Bach's Basilikos for GURPS. So if you haven't guessed already, when it comes to historical fantasy, I'm game.

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