Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-13-2020, 05:23 PM   #1
lwcamp
 
lwcamp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: The plutonium rich regions of Washington State
Default A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

A random thought - combine ancient Greece with the Messinian salinity crisis. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Messinian salinity crisis was when the Mediterranean sea dried up. You end up with a 3 to 5 km deep basin where the air is super hot (around 50 to 60 degrees C or so) and parched dry, made up of vast salt flats.

But how do you get the very sea-faring ancient Greece to be anything like the ancient Greece we know and love without having a sea for the sea-farers? Easy! We make them steampunk ancient Greeks. We'll wave our hands and mumble something about Hero of Alexandria, Archimedes of Syracuse, Pythagoreans, and the Antikythera mechanism, and completely ignore any distinction between Mycenean, classical, Hellenistic, and Roman-era Greece. Because it is steampunk, of course there are air ships. So we have ludicrous dirigibles with rams on their prows, carrying armored hoplites with bronze swords and spears. Airships trading across the seas. Athenian air galleys clashing with Persian airship armadas, or disgorging phalanxes to battle the Spartans. And because it is steampunk and Greek, they have solar powered Archimedean heat rays on their airships as well! Because of course they do.

Their mythology probably has Athena teaching Argus the shipwright how to build the Argo, the first airship. Acrisius locked DanaŽ and her infant Perseus into a chest, attached them to a balloon, and tossed them off to float in the void. Odysseus wandered over the abyss for ten years in airships, and the Achaeans took a fleet of airships to sack Troy. In this setting, Poseidon is probably also the god of the void as well as the seas and horses and earthquakes, because we need him to fill a similar role to superstitious void sailors venturing out over the Mediterranean abyss. Atlantis sank into the - wait, the Atlantic is still there, so Atlantis is still underwater. Nyah! But surely there are bizarre people and monsters and lost civilizations lurking deep in the Mediterranean void.

Of course, since we are pandering to a modern audience, we'll play down the more distasteful aspects of Greek culture. Like all that slavery. Ugh. The Spartans are mighty warriors, but we'll just ignore how they maintain their culture without oppressing the helots. And all that patriarchy - gotta go. We want our warrior princesses here! Players inspired by Athena or Artemis or Hippolyta or Atalanta should be free to make awesome female player characters. Now, in these more enlightened times, we certainly don't have to play down Greek homosexuality. Be sure to have plenty of scenes of naked wrestlers facing off, or well-muscled warriors stripping off their armor after a campaign and cleaning off their bodies with olive oil. And let's not forget those Amazons, or the island of Lesbos, lest the ladies miss out on the fun.

For proper ancient Greek adventures, the gods should be active and magic should be afoot. Athena or Hermes or Herakles just might help out aspiring heroes, with magic items or advice or inspiration or a bit of a boost to any die roll. Zeus might flirt with an attractive PC, risking Hera's wrath. The oracle at Delphi can actually see into the future, and staring at animal entrails or observing the flight of birds really can give you clues about what is about to happen, or things that are happening far away. And of course we have to throw in nymphs and satyrs and centaurs and cyclopes and dragons and the occasional titan (with a note that dragons are of the Greek kind - limbless, like giant serpents, but often with multiple heads).

Okay, that's my very silly thoughts inspired by a bizarre clash of ideas. I hope you can all have fun with it.

Luke

Last edited by lwcamp; 08-13-2020 at 07:42 PM.
lwcamp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 06:48 PM   #2
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

Without the resources of the Mediterranean Sea, Ancient Greece would not exist as a civilization , as they would have lacked sufficient calories to feed a reasonable amount of peoppe. Now, you could have the Black Sea with its own TL1 civilization conquering Greece and then sending Greek slaves into the depths to mine for valuable resources.
AlexanderHowl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 07:15 PM   #3
ericthered
Hero of Democracy
 
ericthered's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: far from the ocean
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Without the resources of the Mediterranean Sea, Ancient Greece would not exist as a civilization , as they would have lacked sufficient calories to feed a reasonable amount of peoppe. Now, you could have the Black Sea with its own TL1 civilization conquering Greece and then sending Greek slaves into the depths to mine for valuable resources.
Oh, its not supposed to be likely or make sense. Its supposed to be visually striking.
__________________
Be helpful, not pedantic

Worlds Beyond Earth -- my blog

Now recruiting in PbP forum! -- Dreadstormers needs a replacement character (or more cast!)-- Special Forces with psionic powers takes over a battleship in space!
ericthered is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 07:21 PM   #4
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

I do get that, but I always try to keep in mind food sources and the like.
AlexanderHowl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 07:36 PM   #5
lwcamp
 
lwcamp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: The plutonium rich regions of Washington State
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Without the resources of the Mediterranean Sea, Ancient Greece would not exist as a civilization , as they would have lacked sufficient calories to feed a reasonable amount of peoppe. Now, you could have the Black Sea with its own TL1 civilization conquering Greece and then sending Greek slaves into the depths to mine for valuable resources.
Nah. You're doing it wrong. Sure, you can always come up with mundane issues which shoot everything down. But that's boring. No. It is much more fun to try to rationalize ways to actually make it work. It's okay, they can be very silly ideas - it's a silly setting.

So ... let's start with brine flies. These critters live around baking hot hypersaline lakes and feed on the extremophile microbes that thrive there. In real life you find them around places like Mono Lake. Here, we find them in the hypersaline remains of the Mediterranean sea, deep in the void. Then we throw in the vast swarms of Lake Malawi midges, to get vast clouds of brine fly/midges that rise up out of the void.

Now let's consider swifts. From the moment a baby swift first leaves its nest, It will not touch a solid surface for three years. The only reason they ever land is to breed - in particular, they need to lay and incubate eggs. Swifts are also insect eaters, and nest on cliffs. This is all real life stuff. But our now-dry Mediterranean drops off into the void in a series of cliffs. A Mediterranean swarming with vast clouds of yummy brine flies. A perfect habitat for huge flocks of swifts.

We can have even more fun with the swifts. I mean we've got cyclopes and centaurs, so we can easily make some species of swifts that are ovoviviparous and precocial. They carry their eggs inside them until they hatch, and the young start flying immediately. And predator swift-falcons that prey on the insect eating swifts. A whole aereal ecosystem out there, above the abyss of the Mediterranean.

And now we have fishermen ... err, swiftermen ...lowering mist nets from their dirigibles, hauling up their catches of swifts to sell in their cities.

And of course goats and olives and grapes, because Greece after all. And pita bread, olive oil, gyros sandwiches, wine and suchnot.

Luke
lwcamp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 07:44 PM   #6
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

I think you will want to assume something more like the modern concept of homosexuality than the ancient Greek concept of pederasty, and avoid the assumption that man-boy (or woman-girl) love is normal, but love between two adults of the same sex is a perversion.

However, if you look to Greek legends, you can find at least some support for adventurous women; Atalanta, for one, was among the Argonauts. Though it's worth noting that women were more encouraged in the aristocratic cultures, even including Sparta, than in democratic Athens. But maybe you don't want to have that much historical realism, either.
__________________
Bill Stoddard

A human being should know how to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse. Specialization is for insects.
whswhs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 08:12 PM   #7
lwcamp
 
lwcamp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: The plutonium rich regions of Washington State
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I think you will want to assume something more like the modern concept of homosexuality than the ancient Greek concept of pederasty, and avoid the assumption that man-boy (or woman-girl) love is normal, but love between two adults of the same sex is a perversion.
Ah, yes. Good call. Pedophilia is icky, so we'll just casually ignore it. We'll assume these Greek "youths" that older men take under their wing were all 18 and over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
However, if you look to Greek legends, you can find at least some support for adventurous women; Atalanta, for one, was among the Argonauts. Though it's worth noting that women were more encouraged in the aristocratic cultures, even including Sparta, than in democratic Athens. But maybe you don't want to have that much historical realism, either.
Yeah, that sounds like it will get in the way of fun. Unless, of course, one of the players wants to have a character story of escaping from/fighting the patriarchy, in which case we can quietly make enlightened Athens be a bit closer to its roots (funny how with such an awesome and badass patron goddess, they ended up being so extremely patriarchal).

Luke
lwcamp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 03:54 AM   #8
Dr. Beckenstein
 
Dr. Beckenstein's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

Quote:
Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
We'll wave our hands and mumble something about Hero of Alexandria, Archimedes of Syracuse, Pythagoreans, and the Antikythera mechanism, and completely ignore any distinction between Mycenean, classical, Hellenistic, and Roman-era Greece. Because it is steampunk, of course there are air ships. So we have ludicrous dirigibles with rams on their prows, carrying armored hoplites with bronze swords and spears. Airships trading across the seas.
I like really like this.

Suggestion: Down in the dry seabed a plant a plant developed a way to spread its seed by air. It collects hydrogen in a fruit that carries the seed upward until the "balloon fruit" bursts, were the hull becomes a natural parachute that drifts for hundreds of miles before it touches ground. Athena showed the humans how to collect and use this fruits.
So we got flying galleys, lifted up by clouds of small balloons, or, in short, a mix of Pixars "Up" and 300. Hollywood, take notice. ;-)
__________________
""The origin of everything good is due to games." - Friedrich August Wilhelm Froebel, creator of the kindergarten.
Dr. Beckenstein is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 06:01 AM   #9
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Beckenstein View Post
Suggestion: Down in the dry seabed a plant a plant developed a way to spread its seed by air. It collects hydrogen in a fruit that carries the seed upward until the "balloon fruit" bursts, were the hull becomes a natural parachute that drifts for hundreds of miles before it touches ground. Athena showed the humans how to collect and use this fruits.
So we got flying galleys, lifted up by clouds of small balloons, or, in short, a mix of Pixars "Up" and 300. Hollywood, take notice. ;-)
I'd suggest against hydrogen - it requires too large of gasbags for the vessels to look anything like Greek ships (you might have a trireme-looking gondola, but that's dwarfed by the massive gasbag above it), and with all the fires for producing the requisite steam you really don't want a highly-flammable gas. Honestly, you probably want the ship able to fly on its own with internal gasbags, although making a small external gasbag give improved long-range endurance (essentially having this take the place of sails) would be worthwhile. The plant idea is good, but have it produce some sort of magical/superscience gas that has better lift (markedly better, in fact) than even vacuum. The important thing is that Greek ship-to-ship combat should be largely reliant on either killing the crew (with arrows and thrown spears from a distance, or in melee combat with a boarding party) or using the ram to destroy the target outright. A giant gasbag - indeed, reliance on just about any external gasbag - means instead the tactics would be to launch arrows at the gasbag to cause the enemy ship to sink down into the void, which, while potentially interesting, isn't really what one wants for "Greeks in airships," I wouldn't think. One thing that might be worthwhile to add to the mix, however, would be small, two-or-three person airships, sort of "air chariots," that could be used as a mobile archery platform or as a battle taxi - particularly brave Greeks (that is, heroes) might even use such to board an enemy vessel on their own, keeping the crew distracted so a larger vessel could deploy marines or even taking out the entire enemy vessel solo.

EDIT: Rereading the original post, I see large dirigibles were suggested, but I really think something more like an "air trireme" with internal gasbags (and, optionally, hand-cranked propellers in place of oars) works better. Archimedean heat rays are still an option, but I'd prefer for archery to be competitive with such; perhaps the heat rays can only be used to slowly damage the ship (the crew can readily deflect them with polished shields), so you can use it to take down an enemy vessel (probably by burning through the outer hull and destroying the gasbags, although simply setting the ship on fire may also work) if you can keep your distance for a while, but otherwise you need to use arrows, boarding, or ramming (if using hand-cranked propellers, sheering is also an option).
__________________
GURPS Overhaul

Last edited by Varyon; 08-14-2020 at 06:17 AM.
Varyon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 06:17 AM   #10
Aldric
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Default Re: A wine-dark void (campaign idea)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
One thing that might be worthwhile to add to the mix, however, would be small, two-or-three person airships, sort of "air chariots," that could be used as a mobile archery platform or as a battle taxi - particularly brave Greeks (that is, heroes) might even use such to board an enemy vessel on their own, keeping the crew distracted so a larger vessel could deploy marines or even taking out the entire enemy vessel solo.
Would gliders work for that ? if the ground below is so hot, there may be updrafts that can keep them up for a while, even let them get close to the enemy and come back, of course something could go wrong, or a glider could be damaged...
Aldric is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:57 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.