Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wonders of the World are Losers?

Building both on Monuments - The Really Big Ones and Even the Losers Get Lucky

What happens to the losers when they are really huge? I’ve always been fascinated by the Seven Wonders of the World - even before wasting enormous portions of my life playing Civilization I-V. Did you know that of the Seven, only one still stands today? Only the Great Pyramid can still be seen in the modern world. What happened to the other six? Well, most were destroyed by earthquakes or other natural issues. But shouldn’t they still be “visible” even in ruins? Nope!

I think the best example is the Tomb of Mausolus. Though at one time the most magnificent tomb in the world, in the end, it was dismantled and used to build castle walls. The stones can still be seen today as “bricks” in the massive walls. Worse yet, the statues were burned to make quicklime for the mortar of those castle walls. That’s just insulting and embarrassing. The Colossus of Rhodes was originally built (depending on who you believe) either from the equipment left behind after a failed attack on Rhodes or from the profits from the sale of that equipment. That’s where they got all that bronze. So the Colossus is both born from a loser and later (only 56 years later) becomes a loser itself when it collapsed. But they left the “corpse” there for hundreds of years until a conqueror sold the bronze as a war prize.

So - Where are the ruined monuments in your world? Were they carried off as trophies like the statue of Zeus? Are they possibly mythical, as some believe the Hanging Gardens to be? (I’m in the camp that they simply weren’t Nebuchadnezzar, but instead Sennacherib, but that’s not the point of this post.) Were the pieces and parts used for another project, perhaps one equally as impressive or maybe pathetically not so? The number of castles that no longer exist because the locals treated them as quarries is countless.

OK - for the gold farmers - Why should you care? Well, the statue of Zeus was ivory and gold - HUGE wealth. In a fantasy world, it seems most likely that projects of this size would have used magic. That magic would still be left behind. Think about massive religious magical artifacts - something powerful enough to have a massive temple built around it. Even in ruins, that magic should still be there. Even if it is not - Did the guards have magic of their own that might still be there, in use or not? We all know ruins can be valuable, especially those that were set up for important (monumental) but not practical purposes.


  1. Us Canadians have a huge monument at Vimy Ridge, where our forces bravely (and by order of the 'real british" generals) took the front line and heroically won the day against massive losses and enormously dire odds. Then I think of other War memorials, the Statue of Liberty, that place down in the States with all the president's faces...Mount Rushmore? I'm sure if one sat down, they could think of many modern examples. If the ISIS apocalyptics ever follow through on destroying all traces of the Christian West, what would they do with these monuments? Makes one wonder. Also there is the Forbidden City in China, though I'm not sure if its origin in modern days is from antiquity or a rebuilding / propaganda project. Still, it's massive and practically, but not culturally, irrelevant. Such places and pieces (like Lady Liberty) have such a powerful impact on the viewer, in a fantasy world such creations (as you say) would surely be or be built upon places of great magic. The great abbeys like Yorkshire Abbey are wonders, as is the Basilica of St. Peter. Surely some powerful Mage would would love to grab one of these for a home? Or perhaps a new religious order (think of the Muslim Temple that was a Cathedral in Greece, Turkey? I can't remember, it has a recognizable name. It was taken over and renovated into a Muslim Temple (I know they have a name, it's not a good name memory day for me). They removed all of the "idolatry" (Christian Artwork) and replaced it with their amazing geometric patterns (which have a magic of their own, so to say, both in myth and in the viewers imagination. Surely they were designed upon mathematical and astronomical muses (magic).

    I definately see the value now of great monuments in a campaign world; something I never put that much thought into before.

    Thanks again, as always,
    NSD / A.

  2. Your comments made me think of some of the more recent alien invasion movies. What do they do for the huge dramatic effect? They destroy a major monument. How many times has the White House been blown to bits in movies? OK, not actually a monument, but they do the same to the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. I hope I’m helping to prove my point about monuments being important even when they lose. Can you imagine the morale loss if the citizens of Paris (a few hundred years ago) watched as Notre Dame burned?