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Neolithic Games?

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Neolithic Games?

Postby Dan True » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:13 am

I've been thinking about running a CON game set in neolithic britain.

Does anyone have any experiences with running stone-age games and how the very different equipment situation affects the game? Any other positive/negative effects?

- Dan
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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby Fall-from-Grace » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:56 am

While I haven't played a stone age game per se, I've played an adventure where we were stranded without a lot resources and had to rely on survival and crafting skills. So I pretty much think that most people in the stone age would know how to craft basics; spears or mallets or something.

One thing I'd put emphasis on is superstition. There's magic everywhere in the unfathomable vastness of the world, unexplainable events happening all the time and especially some rarer events such as aurora borealis or hailstorms would invoke sense of smallness and amazement. Also tribal soothsayers may have preserved some historical event in lore of the tribe, though from generation to generation the story would've changed from a tale to a myth or legend.

I have to admit I'm not especially familiar with the Neolithic age, so I go with assumptions and guesses here. I suppose there wouldn't be widespread trade, say merchant wouldn't go from Italy to the Baltic Sea. Unexplored terrain would be everywhere, population was small and tribes weren't that big yet. There's also a lot of mystery concerning the Neolithic Era; they were skilled and made some huge feats of engineering as the Stonehenge and (arguably) the Great Pyramids were built back then. What else they made and how?

Dan True wrote:Does anyone have any experiences with running stone-age games and how the very different equipment situation affects the game?


Of course that depends on the target of comparison, but I don't think the equipment was that different from say, Bronze Age or so. Pretty much the change is only on materials; stone and bone would be used instead of metals.

Good luck with CON game, happy to see variety of settings and games presented by Mythras. Gives good publicity ^^
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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby Matt_E » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:30 am

I, too, have not actually run a game centered around Primitive culture, as it is termed. I think that would be interesting and fun, though, and that Mythras would be a great system for it.

You are right, I think: The focus shifts much more toward reliance on skills (and probably avoiding combat), rather than on equipment (and using it to survive combat). Honestly, for most experienced Mythras players, I think that will not pose a big switch in mindset. D&Ders may be thoroughly baffled, though. ;-) At a con, you get what you get, in terms of sign-ups, so...be prepared. A word of caution in your game ad, and up front at the table, seems like a good idea--full disclosure.

I agree with Fall-from-Grace about emphasizing superstition and mysterious, pervasive, scary magic. From what I have heard on this forum, I think there's a lot about those ideas in Mythic Britain; maybe you could incorporate some of that material.

I would consider including a shaman in the party--though s/he probably would be better as an NPC. S/he would be much more powerful than the other characters, in obvious ways, which could lead to sour grapes for other players.

Over the past couple of years I have read a couple of free/PWYW products from DriveThruPRG for stone-age games. IIRC, one was a quickstart rules+setting+adventure+bestiary, using the Savage Worlds engine, and another was a standalone rules set. You might find some inspiration there.

I wish you well. Please do let us all know how it turns out!
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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby loz » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:09 am

Soltakss wrote a neolithic setting for Legend I believe. Worth looking into that.
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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby Jefferiot » Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:18 am

Dan True wrote:I've been thinking about running a CON game set in neolithic britain.

I don't know about Britain's neolithic period, specifically.

Dan True wrote:Does anyone have any experiences with running stone-age games and how the very different equipment situation affects the game? Any other positive/negative effects?

In Classic Fantasy, the stone age versions of weapons do 1 damage less. Stone weapons can be sharper than metal weapons. Perhaps the material doesn't easily lend itself to forming an optimal slicing shape or balance for war, as could be achieved with metal. Perhaps, it could be done, just not so easily for keeping an army so equipped.

I enjoyed playing Empire Earth's prehistoric and stone age epochs. Here's the stone age units from that computer game.

http://ee.heavengames.com/new/eeh/gameinfo/units/index.php?sepoch=2

I think the Hebrews in their judges era didn't have all of the unit types depicted for the stone age in that game, however. Only one man in a thousand had an axe or a spear. I think their military units fought with a club or a sling. They may have made up for the lack of a shield by using a parrying staff in the off-hand. The baggage camp follower or townsman may have fought with a make-shift weapon, like a tent stake, a mallet, an ox goad, a pottery shard, or a jaw bone of a donkey. The surrounding tribes forbade anyone provide to the Hebrews the use of metal. I'm guessing the Hebrews didn't have straight wood for making spears, bows, and arrows, in their land of milk and honey.

Popular history would have us believe man was in the neolithic period ten thousand years ago, but the Bible suggests that the technology thousands years ago was higher than popular technology is today. So, I think of the stone age not as a time in man's overall progress on the Earth, but as an interim necessity due to living on land that lacks materials for the other options, or during a time of calamity with extreme radiation from space, other extreme weather like large hail stones falling, or straight line winds. Such would push people back into cave-dwelling, just to survive the elements. And it would press the people back into using stone age tools, because materials may be limited only to whatever is in or near the protective cave. So, a neolithic period doesn't necessitate that technology wasn't at a much higher level earlier on. This is in keeping with the localized stone age of the Hebrews in their judges era, while their enemies were beginning to use iron.

I hope that helps.
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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby raleel » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:18 pm

Jefferiot wrote:
Dan True wrote:Does anyone have any experiences with running stone-age games and how the very different equipment situation affects the game? Any other positive/negative effects?

In Classic Fantasy, the stone age versions of weapons do 1 damage less. Stone weapons can be sharper than metal weapons. Perhaps the material doesn't easily lend itself to forming an optimal slicing shape or balance for war, as could be achieved with metal. Perhaps, it could be done, just not so easily for keeping an army so equipped.



Monster Island has another model for stone weapons. They tend to alter the hit points and armor. The thinner ones tend to be brittle, but a patu (flat bladed club used by the Maori IRL) is a very tough 7/12
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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby soltakss » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:35 pm

loz wrote:Soltakss wrote a neolithic setting for Legend I believe. Worth looking into that.


Paleolithic, I'm afraid, so old Stone Age.

I would concentrate on the changes in society.

People have moved from purely hunting and gathering to a mixture of farming/animal husbandry supported by hunting and gathering. Deities shift around in power, with older hunting/gathering deities replaced by newer farming ones. The Sun becomes more powerful than the Moon. Hunters are moved further away from farming lands, with semi-nomadic hunters forced away from their traditional hunting areas.

People tend to band together more and love in larger settlements. Other settlements want what they have, either their land or their crops and they go to war. So, you have groups of people with stone maces, spears and bows going against a pallisaded village.

PCs could steal knowledge and techniques from rival tribes, bringing new crops or new ways of raising animals. They could have visions that they need to raise stones to honour the Sun and make the Sun God stronger, but they would have to persuade their people that this is the right thing to do.

Aurochs still exist and these are not tamable, but they could be hunted, both to prove the PCs' skills at hunting and also to show the PCs' superiority over the old ways of hunting and gathering.
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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby soltakss » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:39 pm

Fall-from-Grace wrote:I have to admit I'm not especially familiar with the Neolithic age, so I go with assumptions and guesses here. I suppose there wouldn't be widespread trade, say merchant wouldn't go from Italy to the Baltic Sea. Unexplored terrain would be everywhere, population was small and tribes weren't that big yet. There's also a lot of mystery concerning the Neolithic Era; they were skilled and made some huge feats of engineering as the Stonehenge and (arguably) the Great Pyramids were built back then. What else they made and how?


People did move around. I seem to remember the Archer at Stonehenge being from France, but cannot remember if he was Stone Age or Bronze Age.

Continental trade spread across the continent. In the British Isles, people traded with the continent and also with people all the way up to the Orkneys. In fact, sea trade seems to have been as, if not more, important as land trade.

The land bridge between the British Isles and the continent has not long been sunk, maybe a handful of generations, so people might have some ideas about those.
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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby soltakss » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:49 pm

Dan True wrote:I've been thinking about running a CON game set in neolithic britain.

Does anyone have any experiences with running stone-age games and how the very different equipment situation affects the game? Any other positive/negative effects?


I haven't played in or run any campaigns, but have been thinking about the setting for a while.

The Old Gods would have been hunting based, perhaps worshipping the Moon, who lights up the night, the Master of Beats or The Hunter. New Gods would concentrate on farming, so The Sun, The Earth Mother, Rain God and so on, Farmers would have brought theor own gods from the continent and introduced them into the British Isles. Your PCs might have different magic depending on which culture they are from.

Equipment is very basic, in some ways. Everything is made of stone, wood or plant material. Weapons would be spears, clubs, daggers, maces and so on. Armour would be leather, woven reeds or wicker, perhaps even flat stones acting as scale. Equipment would include stone tools, woven baskets, woven shoes, clothing made of leather, flax and so on.

Much of Britain was forested at the time, with farmers sticking to the high ground of the Downs, the Wolds and places like Dartmoor and Exmoor. Travel through the forests would be very difficult, but travel along rivers using dugout canoes would be fairly easy.

In the west of Wales, a culture grew up that harvested the sea, living on mussels, seaweed and fish, a mix of gathering and early agriculture.
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RQ Merrie England (Medieval RPG): http://merrieengland.soltakss.com/

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Re: Neolithic Games?

Postby Dan True » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:05 pm

Thanks for all your replies. Some great food for thought.

The adventure will likely be centred around a specific religious task related to the construction of a certain famous monument. Naturally, complications arise from the interplay of ancient shamanistic practices and the politics of the new land-owning elites that have arisen. The adventure will be fairly local, with only the influence of a few nearby tribes.

The reliance on skills over equipment and the very active use of Animism were things I've considered myself.

My primary concern is hitting the proper theme and atmosphere. We're used to gaming in worlds with so many additional options on top of the real world: magic, dragons, mithril etc. Here I'm essentially taking away options instead of adding them (except for magic. But since it's Animism that probably won't feel like a great boon... more like bartering with nature). The stone age should feel very foreign and dangerous, but I guess this comes down to setting the stage properly in the first few moments: I'm thinking that the objective of the adventure should be something a modern person would never contemplate doing themselves (luckily this fits well with my plans).

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