Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cool Stuff from Actual History

OK - So I’ve been reading Anabasis by Xenophon. The only reason I started is because I discovered that it was in some ways the inspiration for the movie The Warriors - a truly excellent picture!
Anyway, I’m not liking it all that much, but it has had me looking up some other junk on the history of warfare. I think this should be part of pretty much every GMs list of things to do. Here’s a couple of examples as to why:
Did you know that the elephants Hannibal used were not the African elephants we know today but instead some much smaller species that was “only” 8’ tall. They aren’t that much smaller than “forest” elephants, but these are not those huge African elephants you think of. Still - 8’ at the shoulder isn’t 13’ at the shoulder, and you can see a person riding it more like a horse. Still a formidable steed. Now I just have to figure out the stats.
This does play into one of my favorite things: Making an idea my own. Now I get to create a “new” animal. Maybe I’ll add plains elephants who are 7-8” at the shoulder and live on grass, not trees. I already made up my own kudos as the main prey animals for the Central Plains, maybe these elephants will be for the Southern Plains mingled in with the antelopes. Eons ago, I created a pigmy elephant (I think they are the Island Elephants). These little guys are never more than 4’ tall (at the head), but because of the gold deposits they are eating, their tusks get marbled with gold. Hey - It’s a fantasy game!
One of the things I’ve pulled directly from Anabasis is the continuous discussion of providing for the logistics of the army. You can’t carry enough food with you, so you have to pick it up as you go. Sometimes you pillage them. Sometimes you buy them. Sometimes you might even be able to harvest them, but wow that would slow you down. Reading how ancient soldiers failed miserably at hunting ostriches was pretty funny!

1 comment:

  1. You're right, those are cool bits of history. Doubtless there is plenty of such tidbits to supply a whole series of blog posts on historical facts that are cool to use or be inspired by for roleplaying. Hint, hint! :-)