Interest check: Mesopotamian Adventures


Recruitment

1 to 50 of 52 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Google doc link

.

.

"I have a word to tell you,
a message to recount to you;
the word of the tree and the whisper of the stone,
the murmur of the heavens to the earth,
of the seas to the stars.
I understand the lightning that the heavens
do not know,
the word that people do not know,
and earth's masses cannot understand.
Come, and I will reveal it."
--The storm god Baal

These lines were written more than three thousand years ago, when the mystery sang alive still in the water and singing birds. This campaign seeks to recreate the sense of boundless possibility, resonant myth, and familiar strangeness that imbues the oldest stories ever told.

The world of Ashshirru is young. Grandsons of gods sit on the thrones of city-states. The written word, carved in stone and impressed in clay, is a secret known only to magicians, priests, and sages. The great and the noble ride chariots to war, and steel is rarer than gold; Everywhere, battle is lit by the gleam of bronze.

The spirit world is terrifyingly close. Great evil does not dwell beyond a gate, awaiting the chants of cultists to loose it on the world; It is present in dark graveyards, abandoned towns, and wild places, and slinks into homes by night to bedevil mortalkind. No town is afflicted with plague, no well befouled with poison, no child beset with nightmares, save by malign, otherworldly forces.

The greatest magic comes not from within oneself, but by manipulating the demons, ghosts, and spirits that are omnipresent in the world. Some magicians bargain with or even serve those more powerful than they, while others subjugate hordes of lesser spirits and control them through hidden knowledge or by right of birth and blood.

The gods themselves are real, and those who travel to the highest mountains can touch Heaven, or descend into the depths and wander the caverns of Hades. The hierophants of holy sites see gods face-to-face.

By turning back the clock, everything old is new again–literally. Do you want to be the first in the world to do something most campaign settings take for granted? Now is your chance.

Ashshirru draws on (but is by no means bound by) the history and mythology of the Ancient Near East, which includes Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, Elam, Israel and Judah, the Hittites, the Medes, Canaan, Ugarit, Tyre and Sidon, and Old Kingdom Egypt.

Don't let that list scare you! You do not need to be a historian or scholar to participate; you don't even need to skim the Epic of Gilgamesh.

––––––––––––––
End pitch
––––––––––––––

I'm sure many of you have questions. If you're interested, tell me! If there are questions you'd need answered before deciding if you are interested, be sure to post them. Even if you're already hooked by concept and description alone, give a sentence or two (or three or four or five or…) about what you expect from such a campaign.


Epic of Gilgamesh! Good manga, but I get the distinct impression that this one is not the epic you were talking about?

Also, how much will real life religions play into this game?


Very interested in this whole time period, up to and through the Bronze Age Collapse. As well as other fantasy influenced by this period, like Conan.
I'd be most interested in this game if the world were human-centric and heavily superstitious. Where the fantastic is viewed with dread and/or awe, not taken for granted.
If magic is unpredictable and dangerous, I'd be interested in playing some sort of caster.


Joseph Bonkers wrote:
Epic of Gilgamesh! Good manga, but I get the distinct impression that this one is not the epic you were talking about?

The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient poem from Mesopotamia, one of the earliest pieces of literature that has (mostly) survived until present day. I can only assume that the manga is based on it.


I'm... intrigued. To answer your question of what I'd expect, I think just experiencing what you've put forward in that sum-up would be fantastic. A grim world where dark forces lurk behind every corner. A world of classic sword and sorcery, where warriors (more likely to wear hide and wield an axe than plate and gleaming swords) fight for vengeance and glory, rogues slink in the darkness, and foul magicians make pacts with forces beyond their reckoning. But also a world of wonder, where the righteous and devout might truly be blessed by the very gods themselves, endowed with holy strength and the power to shape the world into a better (or worse) place.

Any thoughts on system for this one? I don't see any mention of it. I'd assume Pathfinder, but I could see a number of subsystems working well--particularly E6 or E8, perhaps Gestalt or limited Mythic for true heroes and villains. (Personally I think low-level Gestalt/Mythic does wonders to capture the feel of old myths and legends, where characters are powerful beyond the scope of normal men, but still bound by reality in the important ways.)


Color me interested!


Indeed!


HMMmmm


This sounds interesting. Will you allow 3PP if it fits into setting?

Grand Lodge

Interesting an Oracle would be awesome here!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This setting does have the potential to have a very "Conan the Barbarian" feeling with all kinds of neat potential! Definitely dotting!

Liberty's Edge

What game system are you looking to play? Levels? any special races? Special magic rules? Sounds very interesting depending on the rules and such!


Dot. Interested. I would like to echo Loup Blanc's sentiments, and add that doing something such as answering the riddle of steel should require forming a pact with a god or a demon or going on a quest or an Odyssey-like journey. I would expect PCs to be as epically heroic as Hercules, Conan, or even Cohen the Barbarian - demigods who are head and shoulders above the common man.


I'd be interested in most power levels, from 15-pt buy E6 to a 25-pt buy Mythic campaign that ends at level 15. Zero interest in gestalt, though.


If there are three things I want to get out of this campaign, it's that we crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of the women.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The setting is fascinating. I think it is enough to have me intrigued. I'd be very keen to know more about what you envision as a game, or if you are looking to craft that after deciding on characters, or if it is a sandbox.

My knowledge of Mesopotamia is weak - I know the basics of things like the code of Hammurabi, and I've played civilisation, but I would be pushed to name three mesopotamian heroes without using wikipedia. That's actually one of the reasons I'm so hooked - I like to play in different worlds.

'Grandsons of gods sit on the thrones of city-states' gave me my character concept. The son or grandson of a king - one of many - gone out into the world to prove himself to his father. In a time when nobility was less entrenched, and a king's reach extended only as far as his chariots could ride, what is in a name? That does make certain presumptions about the game, though.


very interesting topic. I'm mildly familiar with Mesopotamia and early bronze cultures. It would have the potential to have a Hyboria feel to it.

What sort of races and classes would you allow?

It seems like it should be 'low magic' in the sense of purchasing items. But it should also be 'low tech' because of the bronze age. Almost a 'Dark Sun' feel to it.

Hmmm a Mixture of Hyboria and Athas with a dash of mythology....yeah, count me interested


Robert Henry wrote:
What sort of races and classes would you allow?

Regarding classes:

Akkadian/Sumerian class name equivalents:

Alchemist . . . . . . . . . . sha-gabêshu
Antipaladin . . . . . . . . parriṣu
Arcanist . . . . . . . . . . . kakugallu
Barbarian . . . . . . . . . . urshānu
Bard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . nuāru
Bloodrager . . . . . . . . . maḫḫû
Brawler . . . . . . . . . . . umāshu
Cavalier . . . . . . . . . . . mār damqi
Cleric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . sangû
Druid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . nēshakku
Fighter . . . . . . . . . . . . zakkû
Hunter . . . . . . . . . . . . māḫiṣu
Magus . . . . . . . . . . . . multēpishu
Medium . . . . . . . . . . mushshipu
Mesmerist . . . . . . . . . . mupashshir shunāti
Occultist . . . . . . . . . . . . shagammāḫu
Oracle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . shā'ilu
Paladin . . . . . . . . . . . . . qarrādu
Psychic . . . . . . . . . . . . . shabrû
Ranger . . . . . . . . . . . . . dayyālu
Rogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . guzallu
Shaman . . . . . . . . . . . . kāribu
Skald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ṭabbālu
Slayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . ṭābiḫu
Spiritualist . . . . . . . . . kashshāpu
Sorcerer . . . . . . . . . . . kalû
Summoner . . . . . . . . . sha-shipti
Warpriest . . . . . . . . . . arīru
Witch . . . . . . . . . . . . . āshiptu
Wizard . . . . . . . . . . . . ummânu

Don't worry, you won't need to memorize any of those. I just thought it might be neat to have lying around.

As to appropriateness of classes to the setting:

Highly appropriate: barbarian, brawler, hunter, medium, oracle, ranger, rogue, shaman, spiritualist, summoner, witch

Appropriate: bard, cleric, druid, fighter, mesmerist, occultist, psychic, skald, slayer, sorcerer, warpriest

Adjustments/discussion required: alchemist, arcanist, bloodrager, cavalier, magus, paladin, sorcerer, wizard

LOLnope: antipaladin, gunslinger

------
As to races, I'm still working on that, and debating how much effort to put into de-Tolkienizing them. And of course, the problem of what the hell you're supposed to do with gnomes, the Kato Kaelin of races.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

RE Races:
How much difference do you want between the different 'lineages' of humans (Akkadian, 'Cimmerian', etc). Potentially that could be the race equivalent? If you do, I'd be careful to point out that any changes are pretty much due to their divine forebears, rather than risk tying it to real world racial stereotypes.
This'd be problematic for small races, I should imagine, but it'd be easy enough to do resizing (+2 Str, -2 Dex).
Even simpler; let people trade out the human bonus feat \ skilled for racial advantages ala Race Builder. The vast majority of people are bog-standard humans.
The big issue, I think, is going to be technological and social development. If dwarves have iron, that's huge. If elves can grow trees with the tensile strength of steel that's a giant advantage.
Don't feel pushed to have races just because standard pathfinder does.

Thinking about armour:
can I suggest allowing http://www.d20pfsrd.com/equipment/armor/armored-kilt/ (or some equivalent). Normally I don't like it, but it gets around the issue of nonexistent heavy armour types, and means you don't have to rebalance every class that has Heavy Armour Proficiency. I've played in some metal-free campaigns, and it has a weird effect on game balance. You'll also need to decided if Dragonscale (and similar special materials) is possible, as that makes it possible (though prohibitively expensive) to get heavy armour without metal. There's also stoneplate, though that one has always struck me as a bit weird.

How are you planning to do chariots? Just thinking that classes with a Horse like animal companion should probably have that switched to chariots. Ride would be crazy rare in a world like this - unless you want to state that a single horse can pull a chariot, or that animal companion horses are semi-divine 'giant' horses, or have a way of domesticating creatures like elephants.
Actually, on reflection, that'd be pretty awesome.
I ask because I was looking at how to build a charioteer paladin (mostly out of curiousity).


The wizard and arcanist are appealing due to the spellbook, since "writing=power" is thematically very appropriate for the period. Or perhaps a version of the 3.5 Archivist, a divine caster with a spellbook. Some sort of rune-caster prestige class (like Cyphermage) could also work. The idea being that writing is a rare and mysterious power, and those that have mastered it can use it to speak to spirits or gods. Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon, priestess, and the first named author, could be a powerful figure of some sort.


Monte Cook, 3E author, went on to write Arcana Unearthed (AU) and Arcana Evolved (AE), which have a very Middle Eastern, non-Tolkien flavor and fill the gap between European-flavored standard D&D and East Asian Oriental Adventures. Some races from there that may be appropriate are humans, a sort of half-giant, litorians (lion-men), and sibeccai (jackal-men).

For an Egyptian flavored Spelljammer style world I was working on, some of the races are Fengari (ibis-men, Thoth's people, my creation), Giff (hippo-men, a classic Spelljammer race), Gnolls (hyena-men), Harrid (vulture-men, an AU/AE monster), Inshon (frog-men, an AU/AE monster), Litorians (lion-men, an AU/AE race), Lizardfolk (crocodile-men), Minotaurs (bull-men), Rhodin (goat-men, an AU/AE monster), Sibeccai (jackal-men, an AU/AE race), Takashi (hawk-men, Horus's people, my creation), and Yuan-Ti (snake-men). Some of these may be usable in this campaign or inspire other ideas.

I made a size small variation of the minotaur that I called the "pygmy minotaur" (or "mini-minotaur") which could be a PC race with no level adjustment.


AE races would fit in perfectly in a Mesopotamian campaign!
Considering a brawler, maybe litorian, giant or pygmy minotaur. Love those pygmy minotaurs!

Sovereign Court

Fascinating!


Sounds very interesting ill agree. First things that spring to mind are either a Sorcerer or an Alchemist. Gonna have to give this some thought.


Aldizog wrote:
The wizard and arcanist are appealing due to the spellbook, since "writing=power" is thematically very appropriate for the period. Or perhaps a version of the 3.5 Archivist, a divine caster with a spellbook. Some sort of rune-caster prestige class (like Cyphermage) could also work.

Yeah, I've been trying to figure out how to make it work. The problem is, clay tablets weigh a buttload.


Carved on bone? Lots of surface area and relatively lightweight. Also potentially badass/intimidating.

Dark Archive

No interest in playing this, but I've always liked the idea of a wizard with their spellbook tattooed on their skin.


Papyrus could work, or bone or ivory. Alternatively, a high-level wizard would need a warded tower or vault to store their spell tablets, not being able to carry the full supply with them. Your spell selection would be for the entire adventure, bringing only a few key tablets to refill expended slots. Or, there are spells like Secret Chest.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmmm. Easy way to make spellbooks work is to simply shrink the 'page'. If each spell took 1 square inch per level, a tablet a foot high and eight inches wide would be about the same as a spellbook. Would weigh more than 3 lbs though - depending on the thickness - but not necessarily much more. Could tweak the numbers. This would make each 'character' the equivalent of a normal page.
Probably needs to be some hybrid though - a square inch doesn't sound like much. Possibly enough for a word or two.


Deliverance wrote:


Carved on bone? Lots of surface area and relatively lightweight. Also potentially badass/intimidating.

Like, an ox pelvis that's cracked in half? Because on a femur or skull or other not-flat bone, it's hard to read.

Oh, whatever. Sure.

I'm not opposed to arcanists or wizards being in the game, I'm just trying to get a handle on plausible ways for them to adventure outside their workshop without bringing along an extra donkey. (Though there are a few problematic spells that need changing, and a few thematically appropriate but mechanically garbage spells that also need changing; I'll fill you in on those).


Alternatively, use the common trope of "casting the runes" or using other arcane symbols like that. Even if you don't use the Words of Power system (which does feel fitting in a way), the "spellbook" could function like something related to that--a collection of runes, or carved knucklebones, or something similar, that the spellcaster pulls out in different combinations to weave their dark magic. They memorize their spells by casting the runes and reading what they have to say, or something along those lines.

Alternatively, just handwave the precise details of the spellbook: keep the function and change the flavor. You could play up the whole "pacts with spirits" thing and have wizards speak with demonic entities in much the way a cleric or oracle would pray for their spells. (Admittedly, this is pretty much what the witch does anyway.)


This is definitely interesting, real interesting.

I had thought I had enough online Pathfinder, but maybe not.

I am actually quite into ancient history. I promise not to be a pain by correcting you every time I think you do anything historically wrong. It isn't the real world anyway.

I do have some historical questions however. From the initial post:-

"Ashshirru draws on (but is by no means bound by) the history and mythology of the Ancient Near East, which includes Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, Elam, Israel and Judah, the Hittites, the Medes, Canaan, Ugarit, Tyre and Sidon, and Old Kingdom Egypt."

That draws on a long period of history. Sumer kicked off around 3,800 BC, the earliest known state. The Hittite empire was at it's height around the 14th century BC. That is more than 2,000 years later.

I know it is squished together not historical. It all predates iron [well, at least most of it does] and the first horse that a man could ride wasn't bread until around 1500. Iron is around but extremely rare, but humans need to rise a chariot. Is that right?

On character, all my current characters, and most non current, are spell casters. I wanted to try a ninja, and your rogues sound a lot like ninjas, so it may well be that.


I am thinking about playing a Stone spirit shaman dedicated to Ninhursag... possibly female... possibly human. Should the priests of any given deity be of the same gender as that deity? Which palette of races would be appropriate for such a character in this setting?


In somewhat of a combination of Harakani and Joynt Jezebel's posts, given the breadth of the civilizations in geography and time, how are you planning to handle "races" if at all? It could be simpler to make everyone human, yet there remains the issue of language and party junction at the beginning; unless you're using the supernatural to force a convention or state a particular society in which characters would exist, one would have to get quite creative.


Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Aldizog wrote:
The wizard and arcanist are appealing due to the spellbook, since "writing=power" is thematically very appropriate for the period. Or perhaps a version of the 3.5 Archivist, a divine caster with a spellbook. Some sort of rune-caster prestige class (like Cyphermage) could also work.
Yeah, I've been trying to figure out how to make it work. The problem is, clay tablets weigh a buttload.

the answer is "Tattoos"! the 'Frog Gods' game 'Razor Coast' has a wizard archetype called "Scrimshaw Fetishist"

Skrimshaw Fetish wrote:

Spell Body

The scrimshaw fetishist records his spells on his body, rather than a spellbook. The fetishist’s starting spells and the process of replacing spells or adding new spells onto his body is identical to the process of doing the same to a wizard’s spellbook.

or you could use papyrus...

Hhmmmm, sheep skin? write it on the inside of your cloths? We could figure something out...

Sovereign Court

Have you seen some of the Babylonian tablets in museums? They are tiny - like the size of a Tic-Tac box. If you used something like that, the major hurdle for wizards would be keeping them organized.


In that case, the major problem with clay tablets will be keeping them whole. A spellbook could be a padded satchel with multiple fur- or fleece-lined slots for individual tablets.

Alternatively, a spellbook could be human flesh inked in blood, like the "Sumerian" text the Necronomicon ex Mortis from the Evil Dead series. It would not be historically accurate, but it would be in keeping with historical fiction. ;)


Another possibility is an adaptation of the AE runethane.
A wizard could write sigils on any surface with, say, chalk, instilling in them spells (this could also be tattoos, similar to the Maori tribal ones, but magical).


Thelemic_Noun wrote:
I'm not opposed to arcanists or wizards being in the game, I'm just trying to get a handle on plausible ways for them to adventure outside their workshop without bringing along an extra donkey. (Though there are a few problematic spells that need changing, and a few thematically appropriate but mechanically garbage spells that also need changing; I'll fill you in on those).

Personally, I would leave the writing as it historically was. It is supposed to be very early history and low tech.

If a player wants to play a wizard or arcanist they can either carry around their spellbook on a donkey or take one of the [few] archetypes that make it easier. Other classes like Fighters that use heavy armour are going to suffer from the low tech.

Sovereign Court

Comes down to what makes the game work better and for the most fun. Using bronze age weapons and armor puts a flat modifier on the effectiveness of fighters. Dealing with encumbrance of hauling around large stone tablets is mostly spreadsheet micromanagement, which is not really fun. A better choice would be to handwave your spell storage (it's really rare for wizards to have their spellbooks threatened anyway, because who really wants to play a character with no class features?) and instead have spells that are less effective or cut certain spells out that don't thematically fit the setting - 2e AD&D toyed with this in their historical setting books where sometimes spells took longer to cast, or only certain schools of magic were available.


Galoria Ginodesa wrote:
In somewhat of a combination of Harakani and Joynt Jezebel's posts, given the breadth of the civilizations in geography and time, how are you planning to handle "races" if at all? It could be simpler to make everyone human, yet there remains the issue of language and party junction at the beginning; unless you're using the supernatural to force a convention or state a particular society in which characters would exist, one would have to get quite creative.

As to races;

Dwarves (kur-kadanu, singular kur-kadu) are the handiwork of Ninurta, who fashioned them at the same time he did the mountains themselves from the bodies of the army of Asag (which included fantastical rock-monsters, the duergar, and others). The dwarves watch over the eastern mountains, guarding them against the Rebel Lands where civilization is unknown and hostile hordes loom.

Some dwarves live on the Great Island in the Western Sea, where they source copper, tin, lead, and antimony under the aegis of Kothar-wa-khasis.

Other races I'm working on include changelings, elves, gillmen (half-kulullû), half-elves, half-orcs, halflings, humans, ifrit, oreads, sulis, sylphs, and undines. A less "Wesley Snipesian" dhampir may also be in the works, along with a strix-like race tied to that old Assyrian staple, the griffon-demon.

As to languages, there will be two or three trade languages, at least one of which almost everyone will have a working knowledge.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Alright. It certainly seems people are interested Thelemic_Noun. Could I ask you to put a post here if and when you start a recruitment; I don't spend a lot of time in the recruitment forums, but I don't want to miss it.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Very interested, I'm down.

Edit: Having read over the Google Doc, I'm even more excited. I'm always a sucker for Bronze Age awesomeness.


I have some interest in this; please let us know if you think this will get past the interest stage.

I am thinking of an Egyptian warrior or perhaps a barbarian from the desert, or possibly the hills of Asia Minor.

A slayer from a Babylonian Sect also strikes my fancy.


Dot. Dot. Dot. Historical fiction is right down my alley!

Are you recruiting? Or is this simply an interest check?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I absolutely intend to move past the interest check phase; I simply need feedback to tailor the story space and narrative domains for the campaign.

If anyone is wondering where I went for the last month, I fell down a rabbit hole while trying to get religion working. Splicing together the various creation myths of Mesopotamia and the Levant is taxing my creativity to the limit, even after I've decided which city-state's version of a god's familial and marital status to use.

The Google doc now has a better introduction to the deities.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Man, now I'm really looking forward to the game!


Thelemic_Noun wrote:

Some dwarves live on the Great Island in the Western Sea, where they source copper, tin, lead, and antimony under the aegis of Kothar-wa-khasis.

If you are using a map of the real world I would think that is the Mediterranean Sea and "the Great Island" may well be Crete.

I am really looking forward to this too.


Found myself thinking of this, and wanted to post in saying I'm still very much interested if/when it happens!

Dark Archive

I'm gonna dot in, and let me say this: paper is actually a really old invention. You simply weave plant fibers into a page and then use ink or paint to write on it. I see no issue with a wizard, mostly because paper is a fairly ancient invention.

Although there is the issue that it can't be in a book rather than a bunch of scrolls.

I'm thinking of Witch, and if your allowing them possibly a Catfolk. I can just envision a primitive Catfolk lurking in the underbrush...

1 to 50 of 52 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Online Campaigns / Recruitment / Interest check: Mesopotamian Adventures All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.