The Bronze Age

Taking an ancient art history class online has reinvigorated my dormant love for bronze age societies and my interest in the absolute oldest history that I can get my hands on. Some pictures, and then some words:

Friendly Lads going off somewhere interesting for reasons lost to time. Marching for hours, almost certainly, and hopefully ending in something resembling victory. Or how about these Industrious Dudes:

Minoans trading with one another from their island homes. One man is hauling a standardized ‘oxhide’ bronze ingot, one hauling a bunch of ivory (poor elephants…), and one dude looking at some swords. Is he in conversation with the man selling pottery? Hard to tell.

This is a world in which literacy is novel and mostly limited to a set of professional scribes, where kings found walled cities and brave traders traverse long distances across sometimes untouched wilderneses to meet staggeringly diverse peoples and trade with them. (Or raid them, as they prefer). It’s a world before coinage, where you just have to barter for what you want.

Bronze, the main useful metal, is expensive because tin is rare. There are only a handful of useful tin deposits, and the folks that control them are fabulously wealthy. In hard times, they pillage and plunder their neighbors- or their population might simply start to leave, and wander to who-knows-where in search of greener pastures.

Eventually, the system will collapse catastrophically, resulting in wars that engulf entire subcontinents and in mass death, famine, and suffering. The Bronze Age Collapse upended a system of interlocking empires and city-states that had lasted for thousands of years and, within a generation, erased almost everything. Massive walled cities were destroyed by looters or upended by unrest as the starving population rebelled against their useless kings. Crops failed in the fields, and raiders destroyed the all-important infrastructure required for farming. In its place, pastoral nomads made their living, tending to sheep in the shadows of impossibly ancient cities, standing unknowingly atop ancient tombs holding kings with unknown names.

In other words, it seems a lot like the perfect D&D setting, doesn’t it?

All this to say I’ve been working on a thing, tentatively called Ziggurat. Here’s a screenshot of my Affinity page. It’s a game about trying to survive the Bronze Age Collapse by looting ancient tombs and (hopefully) either setting yourself up as somebody important or just leaving to somewhere that isn’t awful. You will also want lots of loot to bribe warlords and would-be kings, and to buy food with, and lots of other things. Good luck out there!

Mostly I’ve been playing with Affinity, but I do plan on sticking my weirdass hybrid B/X 5E 3E houserules / ideas into it and releasing it into the world.

I might just play with Affinity more, borrow a bunch of rules from Five Torches Deep and Cairn and Knave and Maze Rats and call it a day. It’s not like I’m trying to make money or whatever- I just like making things.

Anyways, I’m out of time and I want to write this before I decide it’s too stupid to post. Thanks for dealing with me.

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