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Old 04-02-2010, 11:34 PM   #1
Dangerious P. Cats
 
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Default Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

Last night I was sitting at home doing nothing productive and consequently decided to challenge myself and make a setting based around whichever setting books I could grab, which turned out to be Celtic Myth and Ice Age. So far I have enough of a setting to make continued development worthwhile, but not a whole setting so advice & ideas would be greatly appreciated. What I envisioned was kind of a mix of much of Northern Europe's history and peoples prior to Roman conquest or at least influence, meaning the setting squishes everything from the stone age up till the Iron Age in the way we tend to do with Europe's Medieval history in Fantasy settings. So far I've decided to have around four distinct cultural groups, none of whom are unified nations, but rather collectives of tribes & the like. The wildlife was inspired by that of the end of the Ice Age, so many modern animals exist albeit closer to their non-domesticated form, alongside Mammoths, woolly Rhinos and Sabre Toothed Cats (I'm not even close to expert in this field by the way). The societies that exist are as follows:

Neanderthals (or Thalls as their called in the setting)

First off I rejected the idea of Neanderthals as Orc surrogates, they are not violent and brutish generally, well no more so than humans (that said i don't tend to write Orcs that way). Thalls live in collections of family groups and family is very important to their society. When a child marries into another family the family will often insist of trading their family member for another (though trading for something of value is occasionally practices). This is not an economic exchange, there is no sense that people have different values, simply that leaving one family with fewer people is seen as unjust. Sometimes Thalls will give family members to another family if there have lost many family members to disease and the like. Thalls live in grass huts or natural shelter modified by placing grass mats to keep weather out. Thalls are capable of making Bronze but have no iron working skill, their lands are rich with copper and there are large tin deposits in some areas. Families who have settled around areas with lots of Tin or Copper tend to use mines as housing also, or will build their huts over mine entrances. Thalls have also been known to make Bronze with Copper and Arsenic when making weapons exclusively for war (as opposed to hunting). Young males will often work as Mercenaries to build wealth before marrying, their strength makes them popular among humans. Being crippled is not as much a disadvantage in Thall society as one's family will care for the injured and injured Thalls will often marry as permanent injury will often seen being prepared to risk one's self for the family. Thalls fight with large bronze tipped spears, thick wood and hide shields and large cleaver like bronze swords. They know little of the use of missiles. They often wear armour made from sheepskin with bronze plates riveted to it, the wool acting as padding. Thalls have simple agriculture, consisting of gathering seeds from wild plants when they are eaten and burying them nearby, though most of diet is meat and vegetable agriculture is often fed to livestock. Thalls keep both pigs and sheep for meat and leather and sheep are also used for wool, which the Thalls can weave, though their dying technology is limited and coloured wool is valued trade good. Hunting and foraging are still a major part of the Thall's food production, with Cows, Mammoths, fish and horses being the most common prey. Thalls will trade with other groups mainly for coloured wools, Linen, dried foods and glass, mostly selling copper, bronze and willing soldiers. The Thalls distrust Iron and will rarely trade for it.

Matriarchs

This group/culture was inspired mainly by early "goddess" civilisations and theories about them. The Matriarchs are, unsurprisingly, a matriarchal society. Men cannot own property and are for the most part the slaves of their wives. That said a women may have as many husbands as she wishes or as many wives for that matter and women will marry. Property is owned collectively between all wives within a marriage (or the wife if there is only one). Although marriages general involve a ceremony marriage is seen as having occurred after intercourse, meaning that a man who sleeps around can cause some truly messy legal disputes, though the man will almost always be worst off as a result. Women can choose to divorce their husbands but men cannot choose to divorce their wives. Divorce is a dangerous prospect for a man if he does not have another wife (divorce is generally a means of trading men) as while an unmarried man's possessions are owned by his mother, a divorced man owns nothing. Men who have been divorced or fled their marriages will often try and become mercenaries or bandits. Although women can, and often do, learn the arts of combat, only men can be professional warriors. Armies and raiding parties will be made up of men, but lead by the women who own them. For war women will often temporarily trade husbands to a war leader, often for some payment if there is not an apparent threat. Weapons are primarily made of iron, with warriors often fighting with a sword, round shield, spear and several throwing spears while wearing padded cloth or leather armour, and a metal helmet if lucky. Fighting naked is a common practice to show courage and intimate the enemy, with some men forsaking shields in favour of great axes. War also includes the use of hunters (who are seen as a type of Auxiliary) who fight with Bows backed up by small shields and large knives, axes and occasionally swords. Hunters are often also brought with a force to provide it with food. The matriarchs draw most of their food from agriculture, which is exclusively a women's domain, eating wheat, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and harvesting linen for clothing. Sheep are kept for wool, meat and milk and horses are kept for milk and transport, though the matriarchs don't use them for war or labour. Each matriarch tribe is ruled by a Maiden Queen, a women appointed by the Elder's council to rule. The Elder's council is made up of women past their child bearing age who have achieved note in society, usually by being members of the priesthood. The religion of the Matriarchs centres on the worship of the Earth Goddess, though other deities are known and the priesthood (also exclusively women) acts as repositories of knowledge, healers and judges in legal disputes (much like druids only all female). Temples are often at the heart of villages and divination is very important to society.

Western Men

Most of the inspiration for them was a mental image of a Celtic Warrior riding a Mammoth. I did decide that I wanted to avoid some kind of battle of the sexes and in spite of the name (I just couldn’t come up with a better one) their society is not overly patriarchal. That said men are seen as more capable herders and warriors (and leaders during times of war or conflict by extension), however women have made efforts to control the processing of fabric (very important to society) and the brewing of booze with the craft being passed from mother to daughter. Women can be herders and warriors, but will need to work harder to prove that they can do it. Property is owned by a marriage rather than an individual and only single people owning their possessions outright. Marriage is limited to two people by their gender isn’t important, sex outside marriage is not at all taboo however. The Western Men are prolific domesticators and much of their society revolves around semi-nomadic herding and cattle raiding. Herders will travel between settlements in large caravans containing not only livestock, but traders, warriors, musicians and Druids. Druids form much of the backbone of the society having the power and knowledge to solve legal disputes, advise monarchs, maintain higher learning and conduct religious rituals. Druids are not always nomadic however, with larger settlements having Druid councils where knowledge is stored and exchanged. Leaders are chosen by nobles from among their number by vote, though voting is often backed by force and threat. The monarch can also be voted out, though this is usually done when circumstances change rather than though malice. Queens are seen as better for diplomacy and trade, while Kings are preferred for war. Settlements often house agriculture and crafts, while herders move between them herding livestock including cows, sheep, horses and mammoths. Herders provide the majority of meat, milk and leather, while animals within the settlement are kept for labour, transport and war. The use or animals in war is common, with cavalry horses, chariots and war mammoths being popular investments for warriors, though a great many still fight on foot. Warriors often fight with slings, spears (for both melee and throwing), shields and hand weapons (swords, Axes or large knives), wearing armour of leather or cloth, with the richest wearing metal helmets and chain mail. Acts of daring and the practise of fighting naked are also valued highly, with display being a large part of warfare. Warriors will usually paint themselves for battle. The use of bow is unknown for both war and hunting (for which javelins are used). Trading and raiding are key to Western Man society with young adults often leaving home for a number of years to raid or trade in order to make enough money to settle down.


Beyond that I wanted a fourth race, though I ran out of idea juice before I came up with anything. I was hoping to have another non-human race, though I wanted something more historically based rather than a made up race. I'd also like a better name than "Western Men" but naming things is hard.

So, any ideas, suggestions or questions?
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Old 04-03-2010, 12:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

I haven't got enough brain power left tonight to contribute anything useful to you. That being said, I think your mash-up of Ice Age and Celtic Myth is awesome! The idea never would have occurred to me, but I think its great.

And the mental image of a Celtic warrior riding into battle on a mammoth is just freakin' cool! Keep up the great work!!
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

I think you are off to an excellent start. You've clearly stated you didn't want the Thalls to be mere Orc analogs, but I think having an eeevil race er, culture would be great.

(Quick side-note, two of the cultures seem to have a blase opinion about same-sex marriages, but is that viable to their long term growth? We're talking major subsistence level here, where some small tribes struggle to replace losses.)

Anyway, taking the negative press the druids have gotten, I think a fourth society of wicker-man burning, blood sacrificing nutters would be a welcome addition, where the druids run things with a blood-drenched fist.

Or Fomorians with pet saber-tooth tigers. Can't go wrong there.

Either way, I love what you've done so far, and would like to see more. I'm going to track down my Celtic Myth book to see what else I can brainstorm.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

Formorians are an obvious non-human race - but so are the "wee dark folk", the Picti re-cast as non-human goblinesque dwellers in hollow hills, or a recast De Danaan/Sidhe as a shining but utterly arrogant and inhuman "master race" who demand they be worshipped by lesser races.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

Just wanted to ask if you know the comic Slaine? It's more or less "ice age celtic", well not really as it's not at all in any way historic, more mystical. But I remember it taking place during the ice age time, even if being highly anachronistic. But could maybe draw some ideas from it.
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Old 04-03-2010, 05:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maz View Post
Just wanted to ask if you know the comic Slaine? It's more or less "ice age celtic", well not really as it's not at all in any way historic, more mystical. But I remember it taking place during the ice age time, even if being highly anachronistic. But could maybe draw some ideas from it.
Well I now know where a favorite band got their name from (Lord Weird Slough Feg). Looks like a fun comic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cernig View Post
Formorians are an obvious non-human race - but so are the "wee dark folk", the Picti re-cast as non-human goblinesque dwellers in hollow hills, or a recast De Danaan/Sidhe as a shining but utterly arrogant and inhuman "master race" who demand they be worshipped by lesser races.
Oooo good stuff. Evil Sidhe would be lots of fun, campaign wise.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

Looks interesting.

If you need more info about ice age animals (preferrably for a specific continent) I can get you the info.
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:31 AM   #8
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delcar View Post
(Quick side-note, two of the cultures seem to have a blase opinion about same-sex marriages, but is that viable to their long term growth? We're talking major subsistence level here, where some small tribes struggle to replace losses.)
If I'm reading the Matriarchs correctly, a dozen women could all be equal partners in a marriage to each other, and also share a subordinate husband who they could theoretically all get impregnated by at the same time if they wanted to. With only the men serving as the professional warriors, they'll have plenty of women around and should be able to repopulate relatively quickly at need unless they're facing something like famine conditions.
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Old 04-04-2010, 07:22 AM   #9
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

Western Men: IDHMBWM but you could simply use a gaelic word for People as their collective name and place names for tribes/ clans.
eg the People, with Long-river, Big-hill, Far-trees, Black-rock, etc as clan-names. In garlic of course.
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Old 04-04-2010, 12:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Building a setting with Ice Age and Celtic Myth

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Originally Posted by Gold & Appel Inc View Post
If I'm reading the Matriarchs correctly, a dozen women could all be equal partners in a marriage to each other, and also share a subordinate husband who they could theoretically all get impregnated by at the same time if they wanted to. With only the men serving as the professional warriors, they'll have plenty of women around and should be able to repopulate relatively quickly at need unless they're facing something like famine conditions.
You're right. I hadn't taken into account the fact that while there are female -commanders- they certainly aren't the rank and file.
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