Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cultural Crossroads and Forgotten Cultures


Ancient and medieval *crossroads* have always fascinated me. Some historical crossroads are well-known, of course, such as Constantinople (Ancient Byzantium), Samarkand, Palmyra, and Babylon. However, some are not nearly as well known. Various parts of ancient Greece, including Athens, were certainly cultural *crossroads*. I am also reminded of geographical regions, that served as cultural *crossroads*, such as the Ionian Coast, various settlements along the Black Sea, as well as the southern Balkan region, and later, the Hanseatic League of northern Germany and Poland.

I've also been doing some thinking about how many types of cultural types have been largely ignored by most gaming companies over the years--Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and India, as well as China all come to mind.

When I have done research for my degree in Ancient & Medieval History, some of my studies led me down the path of discovering much more information about all of these areas and cultures than the standard education typically provides.

I encourage all of you to do some reading and thinking about these different cultures, and also about the cultural *crossroads* that intersected with the *West*--and including such concepts and themes in your games. If you have done so already--how have you included them? What elements did you use, and what times, regions or cultures were you most inspired by?

Semper Fidelis,



  1. I'm reading a book on the ancient Celts by Barry Cunliffe and it is interesting to read about the cultural exchanges, particularly along the Danube, Po and Rhone.

    I've always thought Byzantium would make a great source for a campaign setting.

  2. Central Asia and the Silk Road would be another interesting setting.

  3. The one I've been considering lately has been a small corner of Spain that was on the pilgrim's route to Santiago de Compostela.

    As the Reconquista raged to the far south, tiny Leon in the north was the home to an 'Empire', yet may not have numbered more than 9000 inhabitants in the 11th and 12th centuries.

    Yet the influx of pilgrims from across Europe offers many opportunities for cultural clashes within a campaign. The locals are rich from their southern conquests, but poor culturally. Pilgrims bring new ideas and technologies which may not sit well with the locals....