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 How medieval is a medieval game?

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Bruzynski

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PostSubject: How medieval is a medieval game?   Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:28 pm

I was reading Lalanne's post on skill granularity and I wonder how medieval his world is. I also wondered how we each resolve our conception of the word in which we play.

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kubera

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PostSubject: medievel   Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:40 am

I think it's wrong to consider fantasy worlds as medieval unless you are purposely referencing the period and you remove the magical factor.

For me medieval represents a fallen and slowly recovering culture that has lost a great deal of previous high culture and technology. We know most of these fantasy worlds don't reflect the real ignorance, isolation, lack of physical and social mobility of the real medieval period. Fantasy's older civs are often talk about more high magic rather than tech, tech wise they seem to be eternally stagnant.

most of our characters have been illiterate yet few of us have histories that would justify our ability to read in medieval. While not being born to money or priveledge we all escaped the pre plague medieval obligation to our parents serfdom, ie slavery to the land and our lord. Our abliity to mingle in high circles, to sieze lands and delcare oursleves rulers within a days ride of Civilization.

Magic itself distorts the true medieval setting. Unlike the fall of clasical civilization neither historical or technological should ever be lost in a magical realm as the normal tools of books, word of mouth, archeology, are suplemented by the ability to talk to rocks, other planes and other worldly beings. Magic in the form of teleport, scry, talking over distances etc, as well as various psionic abilities shrink the world physically so that news, knowledge and even luxury goods should spread much faster and much more evenly around the world

Magic can also alter the normal development of technology as mystical metals and procedures replace or slow normal tech advances. For example with the existence of light spells would the rich and powerful bother funding scientific investigation or inovation into better lanterns, cleaner fuel.

With potions and clerical healing would the rich fund medical investigation or schools. Sure there would still be bone setters and the making of simple poultices for injuries but when real magic works would the development of normal medicine, surgery, anatomy ever develop. Is that why our fantasy worlds advance in slow motion compared to the our real mediveal example that led to the renaisance and industiralization..

On the other hand magical inquiry could and probably should lead to much greater understanding of the body , are not the creation of monster races actually high level genetic manipulation or at least the could be if they were doing it methodically and not just casting some wierd ass merge spell.

If magic were used as a tool like the scientific method, fantasy worlds could jump a lot of the intermediate stages of scientific knowledge and should have a great deal of mismatched technologies out of the normal progression, like horseless carts or even flying carts and outhouses at the same time.
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kubera

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PostSubject: Re: How medieval is a medieval game?   Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:56 am

and no I did not mean flying out houses. rather the co existence of high and low tech as normal
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SteveL
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PostSubject: Re: How medieval is a medieval game?   Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:20 pm

Bruzynski wrote:
I was reading Lalanne's post on skill granularity and I wonder how medieval his world is. I also wondered how we each resolve our conception of the word in which we play.

more on this later
It's European Medieval in tech level and in "veneer" (e.g., institutions such as feudalism). Above all, everything is my interpretation of these things (which I try to make internally logical and consistent).

Running a campaign set in the real world would be a challenge because players might have more knowledge than the GM, and this could screw things up.

It'd be great to invent historical cultures from scratch, but I suspect players might balk if they can't intellectually map an alien culture to a real-world counterpart.
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SteveL
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PostSubject: Re: How medieval is a medieval game?   Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:20 pm

kubera wrote:
[...]

We know most of these fantasy worlds don't reflect the real ignorance, isolation, lack of physical and social mobility of the real medieval period.

[...]

most of our characters have been illiterate yet few of us have histories that would justify our ability to read in medieval. While not being born to money or priveledge we all escaped the pre plague medieval obligation to our parents serfdom, ie slavery to the land and our lord. Our abliity to mingle in high circles, to sieze lands and delcare oursleves rulers within a days ride of Civilization.

[...]
My world/approach does call attention to such things.

kubera wrote:
[...]

Fantasy's older civs are often talk about more high magic rather than tech, tech wise they seem to be eternally stagnant.

[...]
Magic substitutes for technology, and in most cases surpasses it--as you note later in your post. If food and water could be created magically, for example, and there were no constraints on its wide adoption, the world probably would be radically different.

(Magic in my world is, generally, rare and hidden.)

kubera wrote:
[...]

Magic itself distorts the true medieval setting. Unlike the fall of clasical civilization neither historical or technological should ever be lost in a magical realm as the normal tools of books, word of mouth, archeology, are suplemented by the ability to talk to rocks, other planes and other worldly beings.

[...]
True. And who would care about lost technology if magical knowledge is retained? Of course, magical knowledge itself could be lost.

One of the themes in my world is the nature of the transmission of magical knowledge.

kubera wrote:
[...]

If magic were used as a tool like the scientific method, fantasy worlds could jump a lot of the intermediate stages of scientific knowledge and should have a great deal of mismatched technologies out of the normal progression, like horseless carts or even flying carts and outhouses at the same time.
The profound implications of magic constitute one reason why I have shied away from a full-blown high-fantasy world. Most players probably don't care, but part of the game's fascination for me is the level of realism given a set of circumstances.
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Hawkstone

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PostSubject: Re: How medieval is a medieval game?   Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:53 am

I think "medieval" is a handy springboard for a D&D campaign. A frame of reference, but no, the game is not (usually) a true medieval setting. I do think that ignorance should be more commonplace than is normally found in a game setting. I gave JB a map of Mio with some odd names, such as "the pig lands" instead of the Ashwind Plains. He thought that was strange, but the map was meant to be drawn from the point-of-view of some peasant (and a gnomish cultural perspective as well), not the point-of-view of a PC, or significant NPC, who typically come across in most games as fairly educated, and not superstitious. On my website I have an overview (which I'm always tweaking) of some of the major player character races, which contains some information that is simply wrong, but, again it is meant to be representative of what a peasant, or a 1st level PC might understand things to be (as for many people, what they understand is based on what they were told..."Well, my uncle once told me that orks can fly", and that becomes "truth" for them). Some of the information is correct, but some is reflective of superstitions, legends, whatever, of the local population, and some of it is really far fetched (as I look it over now, it seems I only added fake stuff for dwarves and gnomes..but they are probably the least understood of the demi-human races)
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SteveL
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PostSubject: Re: How medieval is a medieval game?   Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:54 pm

Hawkstone wrote:
I think "medieval" is a handy springboard for a D&D campaign. A frame of reference, but no, the game is not (usually) a true medieval setting. I do think that ignorance should be more commonplace than is normally found in a game setting. I gave JB a map of Mio with some odd names, such as "the pig lands" instead of the Ashwind Plains. He thought that was strange, but the map was meant to be drawn from the point-of-view of some peasant (and a gnomish cultural perspective as well), not the point-of-view of a PC, or significant NPC, who typically come across in most games as fairly educated, and not superstitious. On my website I have an overview (which I'm always tweaking) of some of the major player character races, which contains some information that is simply wrong, but, again it is meant to be representative of what a peasant, or a 1st level PC might understand things to be (as for many people, what they understand is based on what they were told..."Well, my uncle once told me that orks can fly", and that becomes "truth" for them). Some of the information is correct, but some is reflective of superstitions, legends, whatever, of the local population, and some of it is really far fetched (as I look it over now, it seems I only added fake stuff for dwarves and gnomes..but they are probably the least understood of the demi-human races)
Good points. Historically, there was often no distinction made between rumour and truth. (This may still be true today, in a certain sense: It seems a great deal of what passes for common knowledge is wrong--e.g., that Medieval people believed the world to be flat, that the common cold is caused by cold temperatures, that Hitler was elected, etc.)

Maps are a salient point of player/character knowledge. Each PC would have a different knowledge of geography; few (if any) would have access to the kinds of detailed maps that we have in the modern world.
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