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Old 03-20-2006, 08:17 AM   #61
joncarryer
 
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Mercator
We were also discussing that some posts ago. GURPS Greece (BTW, a very good book; you might want to get it for your game) assumes you are using the GURPS spell system and justs comments on which kinds of spells are adequate to the "feel" of the Myths and which ones should be forbidden. I don't quite like that; for a Greek setting I'd rather not have "spells" as some scientifically developed, systematic invocations of some impersonal force. I'd rather magic appeared only as "special powers" that a few people and creatures have by virtue of descending from a God.
Of course, your take on this really depends on which aspects of Classical Greek beliefs you're choosing to emphasise, and which to de-emphasise. It seems to me that you're assuming that your "return of the gods" will steer your average Hellene's thoughts back toward Bronze Age patterns, pretty much pre-empting and and disqualifying the kind of later Classical thinking that Pesterfield is referring to.

However, have you considered the potential (and the possible ramifications) of allowing both milieux to develop? For example, in my own Hellenic world, that I've referred to before, my gods have always been around, so the integration of philosophy and scientific thought with their existence will have been a gradual process, with each small inconsistency resolved as it develops. In my "present", Greece is a kind of moderately tight thaumarchic confederation, modeled loosely on Plato's Republic, with the magic of the thaumaturges being the natural-force based kind of magic that you see in the Magic book spell system. This gives them the edge to enforce their position of Plato's philosopher kings, but the reality of the gods means that they also have to be very clear in their own minds, and make this understanding very public, of the boundary between mundane political control over other men, and divine power and control over all men. The thaumaturges can use their magical power to exert political power, because it's a natural force that follows quasi-scientific rules and is controllable within the mundane sphere of mortal men. The priesthoods cannot do the same, because their abilities are gifts of the gods, and subject to the quirks and whims of the gods who grant them. At the same time, the priesthoods have to be given a position of great influence over the thaumarchs (sort of an advisory council position with a veto) because the thaumarchs have to be seen to be respecting the will of the gods and proving that their claims that their mastery of the forces of magic is a political tool that entitles them to their position as rulers of men are not evidence of hubris or attempts to usurp the natural position of the gods as arbiters of mens' fates. Thus, in my Hellenic world, thaumaturges are powerful but nervous people, walking the incredibly fine line of exerting authority over other men but showing humility before the gods.

As I said, in my world, I see this as the end-point of years of evolution. Depending on when you set your return of the gods, and whether you allow a wholly natural, mana-based magic in addition to the god-granted, sanctity-based magic, or keep magical powers solely as the province of the gods, this could be a very fruitful area for roleplaying. If you consider that mana is a natural force that appears as a side-effect of the gods' return, then thaumaturgy in your world could appear as a nascent craft, practiced and developed by the Democritus' and Aristotles of your world, who will have to wrestle with the issues of how to extend and practice their studies and powers without becoming guilty of hubris.
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Old 03-20-2006, 08:17 AM   #62
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Perhaps it is time to introduce yet another element in the setting: the Mystery Cults. GURPS Greece describes them as religious movements characterized by secret rituals and teachings. Nowadays, the most famous of them is the Demeter cult at the town of Eleusis. Each Mystery Cult revolved around a god (it seems to me that they tended toward Cthonic worship, but who knows for sure?). Perhaps all children showing divine powers are initiated into a one of these Cults; membership (and perhaps the very existence of the Cult) would be a Secret, as would any supernatural powers the members have.
Very few people knew what happened at the mystery cults' meetings because they were...well, mysterious. So basically you can use them for anything. But known offspring of gods are prime recruiting material.

Perhaps the mystery cults can serve as the PCs' Patron, sending them on quests? The mystery cults attracted people from all walks of life and they were an acknowledged part of Greece religious life.

As a side note: If Greeks come from Greece, does that mean that geeks come from geece?
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Old 03-20-2006, 08:17 AM   #63
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Bohemian Rhapsody (Thunderbolt and lightning; very very frightening)
Keyboard kill.

2 extra CPs for humor.

M.
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Old 03-20-2006, 08:55 AM   #64
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Asta Kask
The biggest problem is that Classical Greece has no inns for the PCs to hang around in while waiting for strangers... :)
No, but there's always the noble courts, where you can kill time getting drunk with the Important People while waiting for the people begging boons to show up. It actually makes a lot more sense than the medieval fantasy tavern cliche...and the central location makes it easier on the poor souls trying to locate people that can help them, too.
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Old 03-20-2006, 10:45 AM   #65
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

There's always the Agora. Everybody comes to the Agora.
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Old 03-20-2006, 03:37 PM   #66
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Party creation idea: How about the Olympics? The Olympian games featured not only athletic contests to draw the warrior types, but contests in singing, poetry, and drama. As well, there are numerous religious festivals, and anybody who is anybody has a an excuse to be there, if only as a spectator. It's not a stretch to imagine a side bet among the gods, either. Something like "whoever's son/daughter brings home the most wreaths gets ten years or twelve labors service from everybody else's son/daughter."

Meliding philosophy and religion: I think it'd work best to play these two themes off on each other. One of the charges against Socrates was placing new gods before the Olympians. Has a whole new context in the circumstances.

I like the idea of having heroic gifts modelled on a more divine blessing/ advantage pattern. Certainly, this leaves room for various odd little philosophy cults like the Pythagoreans practicing a more athiestic and regimented form of magic in remote corners of the world. Circe or other followers of Hecate might be good candidates for the wildcard spell rules. Archimedes as a TL 3 or 4 character might be kind of fun, too. Of course, that's playing a little fast and loose with the timeline, but meh?

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Old 03-21-2006, 12:39 AM   #67
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by quarkstomper
There's always the Agora. Everybody comes to the Agora.
Not me. I've got Agoraphobia... :)
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Old 03-21-2006, 12:56 AM   #68
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Not me. I've got Agoraphobia... :)
Me too. (Notice the lack of smiley.)

Still funny pun though.
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Old 03-21-2006, 02:13 AM   #69
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

Hope I didn't offend you.

Still, to return to the original question, there are plenty of possible Patrons to send out Heroes on various quests. Gods, city states, nobles, merchants, mystery cults, philosophy schools...the possibilities are endless.
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Old 03-21-2006, 08:58 AM   #70
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran
Me too. (Notice the lack of smiley.)
Still funny pun though.
Actually, probably not a pun. That is very likely the origin of the name of the phobia.
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