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Better fantasy setting: Medieval or Greek?


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#1 Tech priest support

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 11:22 PM

A lot of fantasy settings in RPGs have a distinct medieval slant to them, thanks to things like the Arthurian fixation in western culture and Tolkien's influence, but how about ancient Greece as a fantasy setting?

Ancient Greece created plenty of epic fantasy long before Europe rose. The odyssey, Jason and the argonauts, the legends of Hercules, etc.

Greek characters tend to be less black and white than many medieval stories which are often simply straight good vs evil tales. Almost all Greek heroes had flaws and many villains had justifications for their actions.

Intelligent non human creatures, tragic monsters, flawed heroes, gods who were far more accessible to humans and were far some perfect....Greek fantasy has a lot to offer in RPG terms.

So do any people into fantasy settings do ancient Greece themed settings? A friend of mine is running a fantasy campaign involving ancient Greece and ancient Aegypt at war along with their pantheons of gods.
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#2 Nolgroth

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:15 AM

Not sure why this isn't in Fantasy Hero, but I'm game.

 

Greek mythology informed my gaming for many years. I think it is not only a viable setting, but a desirable one to play in. While most of the epics concentrated on a singular hero, there was Jason and the Argonauts, the Odyssey, the Trojan War and probably a few others that had more ensemble casts. As a setting, what more could you ask for? You got gods, heroes, magic items, oracles, magical gifts like Achilles virtual invulnerability, and monsters beyond monsters. I mean, Lernean Hydra, Nemean Lion, the Minotaur, the Cyclops, and Cerberus to name a very few. Heck, most of the monsters were unique, named beings (Medusa, Polyphemus, etc.). Every hero gets a quest or 12 and can rise to challenge the gods themselves.

 

I would personally love to game in a Greek mythology based setting.


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#3 Tech priest support

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:34 AM

Ach. Well, it's here because I'm not totally familiar with this site yet.

I'm pretty sure you could find an approximation of the stereotypical D&D classes and character types in Greek terms. Fighter? How about a spartan? Wizard? The Greek myths had powerful mages like Medea, Circe, etc. Non humans like elves? Satyrs, hinds, etc. Clerics? Oh, please.

Also, you know, technologically speaking the differences between ancient Greece and a medieval setting are fairly minor. Maybe the biggest thins might be iron. But both used horses and sails for transport, wagons, wood burning stoves and ovens...pretty similar in most ways.
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#4 Christopher R Taylor

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 10:57 AM

It depends a lot on what you want the tech level to be.  Greeks used bronze mostly but had higher tech in some instances than medieval peoples.  Archimedes made some pretty amazing things, as did other inventors.  In the place of the wizard you might just have the engineer, who can move mountains.... with a big enough lever.


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#5 massey

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 03:54 PM

I'd say that standard D&D is a good mix of a Medieval and Greek setting.  On the one hand, you've got the familiar Arthurian landscape.  Castles, wizards, dragons, etc.  However, a lot of the monsters come from Greek myth, as well as the fantasy polytheistic religions.  



#6 Cancer

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 12:41 AM

Well, real medieval Europe had a very heavy blanket of obligate monotheism on top of it (and a very intolerant monotheism in particular), something all but absent from Greece a thousand years earlier. All legitimate temporal governments had to have the appropriate ecclesiastical authority figure give his official blessing. The early Church reinforced this by recasting older legends into versions with acceptable Christian trappings, or suppressing them if there wasn't any way of making that happen.

RPGs have mostly overlooked this and grabbed bits from Classical Greek (and Roman) mythologies, and Norse and Celtic and whatever else sounded novel at the time, dropped them into a big bowl, shaken vigorously, and served that tossed salad without worrying about the social structures from which each source came from.
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#7 Lucius

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 10:32 AM


I have long thought that city states as in ancient Greece would be a more useful model for adventure gaming than either feudal kingdoms or a sprawling empire.

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#8 Christopher R Taylor

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 12:40 PM

I like Egypt better, myself, or even earlier like Sumeria.  Bronze and low tech with lots of mysterious spiritual stuff and charms against evil spirits, etc.


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#9 Nolgroth

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 03:34 PM

I want to go back even further, to a fantastic version of the Neo-Lithic era.
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#10 assault

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 03:38 PM

It would be easy to merge "Medieval" and "Greek". Just "modernize" the Greek stuff - knights/heroes on horses rather than in chariots etc.

 

Fantasy Neolithic could be awesome. With enough magic, technology wouldn't need to advance as much.


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#11 TheQuestionMan

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 08:34 PM

Hercules, Xena, Jason and the Argonauts.

vs.

Crusades, a Game of Thrones, and the Supernatural.

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#12 Ninja-Bear

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 09:55 PM

I like Egypt better, myself, or even earlier like Sumeria. Bronze and low tech with lots of mysterious spiritual stuff and charms against evil spirits, etc.


Check out Testement RPG. Men of Steel in the age of Bronze.

To the OP, I also like the old Sinbad movies. They would work well with Ancient Greece.
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#13 Burrito Boy

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 07:13 PM

I haven't read it yet so I'm not sure if it's any good but there's a game called Mazes & Minotaurs. Its page on DriveThruRPG describes it this way: "Mazes & Minotaurs is what the first fantasy roleplaying game could have been if its authors had taken their inspiration from Jason & the Argonauts (yes, the 1963 movie with all the cool Ray Harryhausen monsters) and Homer’s Odyssey rather than from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings or Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts & Three Lions."

 

Here's the link: http://www.drivethru...-Players-Manual


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#14 Pattern Ghost

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 01:10 AM

They did take their inspiration from Jason and the Argonauts and a slew of other material. Half the monsters in the old editions are from Greek mythology. They just didn't narrow it to the one era.


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#15 Tech priest support

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 06:30 PM

On a slight tangent here but only slight, "Jason and the argonauts' was mentioned here. Man I can not believe that no one has remade that yet! Honestly, it might even be a good remake if they tried.

The Sinbad movies were mentioned, and yeah some of them were good. Especially the one with Caroline Munroe (Drool....)

But I don't see those being remade in today's america. Sorry guys, but a movie with a hero who says things like "By Allah!" and "Blessed be Allah's mercy!" probably isn't going to get greenlit by any big studios today...

That's not meant to be anything but an observation on modern reality.

Back to gaming, there have been some Arabian nights themed gaming products. Here's a cover pic of one, even if it does look like the cover to an adult DVD....

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#16 Christopher R Taylor

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 09:53 AM

I agree that the Sindbad stories and such really do need remaking.  They were as good as you were going to get from the times but could be done so much better now.


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Jolrhos Bestiary
Two Kings Keep

Elenthar's Tower

 

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#17 Nolgroth

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 12:14 PM

But I don't see those being remade in today's america. Sorry guys, but a movie with a hero who says things like "By Allah!" and "Blessed be Allah's mercy!" probably isn't going to get greenlit by any big studios today...

That's not meant to be anything but an observation on modern reality.

 

I think a historic fantasy would be a lot more acceptable than something more modern. Besides, the American public is shortsighted and has the attention span of a small puppy. Make the effects lavish enough and it will only be two days after they see it that it dawns on them that "Allah" was used in a non-pejorative. Besides, there is name recognition among the not-quite-middle-aged to middle-aged fans. Would love to see a good remake of Sinbad and I am arguably one of those intolerant Sharia-phobes (not really scared of Muslims but Sharia scares the HELL out of me).

 

Now see, gaming-wise, some sort of fictional (for me - it's a hangup) version of the Mediterranean where Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Persia would be awesome. I would even be okay with adding elements of Christianity and Islam, as long as neither of them were dominating the scene. Small, fractured cults, as it were, with no real similarity to their modern counter-parts. I'm seeing an almost Assassin's Creed aesthetic but dialed back a few centuries. Now I am going to have to get Assassin's Creed Origins so I can see an ancient Egypt AC. One of the best parts of those games is the detail that they put into their worlds.

 

Anyway, a game like that would provide plenty of fodder for adventures. You have at least three major mytho-historical cultures to draw from and a fairly self-contained environment. Heck, even if the characters stray but a little, there are probably other historical cultures that you can draw from. Now the trick is not getting so wrapped up into research (I love history and mythology) that I get lost and forget why I am researching. :)



#18 assault

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 03:30 PM

Now see, gaming-wise, some sort of fictional (for me - it's a hangup) version of the Mediterranean where Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Persia would be awesome. I would even be okay with adding elements of Christianity and Islam, as long as neither of them were dominating the scene. Small, fractured cults, as it were, with no real similarity to their modern counter-parts. I'm seeing an almost Assassin's Creed aesthetic but dialed back a few centuries. Now I am going to have to get Assassin's Creed Origins so I can see an ancient Egypt AC. One of the best parts of those games is the detail that they put into their worlds.

 

Anyway, a game like that would provide plenty of fodder for adventures. You have at least three major mytho-historical cultures to draw from and a fairly self-contained environment. Heck, even if the characters stray but a little, there are probably other historical cultures that you can draw from. Now the trick is not getting so wrapped up into research (I love history and mythology) that I get lost and forget why I am researching. :)

 

It sounds like the sources you need are: Mythic Greece, Mythic Egypt and Testament.

 

The first two are already (old) Hero System sources. The latter is by Scott Bennie.


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#19 Nolgroth

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 07:58 PM

It sounds like the sources you need are: Mythic Greece, Mythic Egypt.


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#20 assault

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 10:06 PM

Sadly not available in the Store.

 

They were published by Iron Crown, not by Hero Games.


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