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Gothic Earth PC Information Thread
« on: August 12, 2022, 09:06:00 AM »
The Cultures of Gothic Earth

Players wishing to play a character from Gothic Earth should first read the Gothic Earth Resource Thread.

This thread aims to provide a non-exhaustive overview of some Gothic Earth cultures with RP resources to help you flesh out your characters.
You are not restricted to the cultures presented here.

Though it attempts to be accurate, remember that some facts have been simplified for the sake of the game.

Time periods do not exceed 1650 C.E. as this is the latest year a character from Gothic Earth may be from.

Note that the entries for native Americans and African tribes and civilizations are not necessarily tied to specific cultures or groups. The proposed pantheons for these cultures attempt to summarize complex sets of beliefs from several sources into coherent pantheons for practicality.

CultureLocationTime PeriodCultural LevelFaiths
Western Asia   c. 4500 BCE – c. 1900 BCE   
c. 2600 BCE – c. 240 CE
c. 2334 BCE – c. 2154 BCE
c. 1895 BCE – c. 539 BCE
Bronze to Iron age   Mesopotamian Deities
Ancient Egypt   
Northeast Africa   c. 3150 BCE – c. 641 CE   Bronze to Dark AgeEgyptian Pantheon
 Ancient China
 Early Imperial Era
 Mid Imperial Era
 Late Imperial China
Eastern Asia
c. 2070 BCE – c. 221 BCE
c. 221 BCE – c. 589 CE
c. 589 CE – c. 960 CE
c. 960 CE – c. 1650 CE

Bronze to Iron Age
Iron Age to Classical
Classical to Early Medieval
Early Medieval to Renaissance
Chinese Pantheon
 Antiquity Era
 Dark Age Era
c. 2000 BCE – c. 449 CE
c. 400 CE – c. 850 CE

Bronze to Classical Age
Dark Age
Celtic Pantheon
Abrahamic Religions
Southern Asiac. 1500 BCE – c. 1650 CE Bronze Age to RenaissanceHindu Pantheon
FinnEuropec. 1500 BCE – c. 1650 CEBronze Age to RenaissanceFinnish Pantheon
Abrahamic Religions
Ancient Greek
Europec. 1200 BCE – c. 10 CEBronze Age to Iron AgeOlympian Pantheon
Ancient Roman
Europec. 753 BCE – c. 476 CEIron to Dark AgeOlympian Pantheon
Abrahamic Religions
Western Asiac. 550 BCE – c. 330 BCEIron AgeZoroastrianism
 Dark Age Era
c. 43 CE - c. 1066 CE

Dark Age to Early Medieval
Celtic Pantheon
Abrahamic Religions
PictEuropec. 400 CE – c. 950 CEDark AgeCeltic Pantheon
Abrahamic Religions
 Dark Age Era
c. 449 CE – c. 1066 CE

Dark Age to Early Medieval   
Anglo-Saxon Deities
Abrahamic Religions
 Dark Age Era
 Viking Era
c. 550 CE – c. 800 CE
c. 820 CE – c. 1030 CE

Dark Age
Early Medieval
Slavic Deities
Norse Pantheon
Abrahamic Religions
Slavic Tribes
Europe & Asiac. 600 CE - c. 1650 CEDark Age to RenaissanceSlavic Deities
Europec. 800 CE – c. 1000 CE   Early MedievalAbrahamic Religions
Feudal Japan
Eastern Asiac. 1185 CE – c. 1333 CEMedieval EraJapanese Pantheon
Mesoamericac. 1300 CE – c. 1521 CEBronze AgeAztec Pantheon
 Elizabethan Era
c. 1550  CE – c. 1650 CE

Renaissance Era
Abrahamic Religions
Native American
North AmericaVariesVariesNative American Faiths
African Tribes & Civilizations
AfricaVariesVariesAfrican Pantheons
« Last Edit: February 13, 2024, 09:42:43 PM by EO »
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Dark Ages of the British Isles
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2022, 09:17:53 AM »
Dark Ages of the British Isles (449 to 1066 C.E.)

In 410 C.E., the Roman forces that had occupied Britain since 43 C.E. withdrew from the Isles as part of the attempt to halt the downward spiral of the Empire. This retreat left Britain open and largely defenseless against the Germanic pirates of Northern Europe, who were poised to attack what was one of the richest jewels in the Roman Empire's crown. Piratical raids by the Germanic tribes foreshadowed a full-scale invasion around 449 C.E. The Jutes, Angles, and Saxons came to the Isles in force, with the sole aim of wresting control of the richest regions of Britain from its Romano-Celtic inhabitants. An age of war began in the Isles, one that was virtually unrelenting for over four centuries, as the Germanic invaders first fought the Britons, then each other, then themselves faced invasion at the hands of the Danes and the Vikings. The backdrop to an Anglo-Saxon campaign is one of almost constant war, as kings fight kings, and pirates and raiders battle anyone with something worth taking. Add to this the progression of the pagan Anglo-Saxons into Christianity, and you have a campaign setting with elements of warfare, political and religious intrigue, and the constant quest for more power and influence by the nobility-toward the holy grail that was the position of King of All England.

Cultural Level: From the Dark Ages to Early Medieval

Heroes of Dark Ages Britain

Cultures of the British Isles: Heroes of the British Isles during the Dark Ages come from one of these five main cultures: the Anglo-Saxon, the Britons, the Celts, the Picts and the Scandinavians.

Typical Dark Ages Britain Classes: Barbarians, fighters and rogues are the most common classes of this era. Bards, beguilers, sorcerers and wizards can be found in greater number than in later ages, but must be cautious of keeping their magic abilities well hidden and seldom use them lest they attract the attention of the Red Death. Warlocks and hexblades face the same dreadful reputation they ever did throughout the ages and are hunted down. Clerics, favored souls and rangers are present as well, but are not recognized as such since they possess no divine powers or spellcasting abilities differentiating them from others while on Gothic Earth. The druid, monk, paladin, voodan or warmage classes are not available to heroes of Dark Ages Britain.

Remember that divine spellcasting classes, with the exception of voodan, do not receive any divine powers while on Gothic Earth. Player characters from this era would obtain such powers only once in the Demiplane of Dread, but only if the D&D alignment rule is followed.

Recommended Skills: Antagonize, Discipline, Parry, Spot.

Recommended Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (all), Blind-Fight, Bullheaded, Called Shot, Dirty Fighting, Disarm, Great Fortitude, Luck of Heroes, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatsword, longsword, battleaxe, greataxe, halberd, spear, shortbow, dart).

Languages: Primary - Varies by culture: Old Saxon (Anglo-Saxon), Brythonic or Goidelic Celtic dialects (Briton, Celts, Picts), Old Norse (Scandinavian); Secondary - Latin, languages of other British cultures.

Names: Varies by culture.

Religions: Pagan religions mingled with Christianity the during the Dark Ages. The practice of druidism is however long extinct. Christianity is a rising faith throughout the isles and would come to be embraced by virtually all by the end of the Dark Ages (around 800 C.E.). It is worth noting that in the early stage of the Dark Ages, the Celts themselves had already adopted Christianity and no trace of their old faith remains in their societies, although some Picts and Britons may still venerate the old Celtic pantheon. The Scandinavians follow gods that would eventually be known as the Norse gods, possibly a blend of Slavic and Anglo-Saxon deities.

Available religions per culture
Anglo-Saxons: Anglo-Saxon Deities, Christianity
Briton: Celtic Pantheon, Christianity
Celts: Christianity
Picts: Celtic Pantheon, Christianity
Scandinavians: Anglo-Saxon Deities, Christianity, Norse Pantheon, Slavic Deities

Cultures of the British Isles

The Anglo-Saxons
"Anglo-Saxon" here refers to the three main Germanic tribes that participated in the invasion of Britain: the Saxons, the Jutes, and the Angles. The Anglo-Saxons invaded the eastern shores of Britain, gradually subduing the Britons, who had been stripped of their protective force in the form of the Roman Legions. From 449 C.E., the Britons lost such major battles as Aylesford (455), Deorham (577), and Fethanleag (584). The Germanic advance was, however, checked for roughly fifty years by their defeat at the hands of a Briton general, a dux bellorum, or "commander in wars," at the Battle of Mount Badon in 516 C.E. This general, who died on the field at the Battle of Camlann in 537 C.E., is known on Gothic Earth as King Arthur Pendragon.

The Anglo-Saxon community was basically rural, with all levels of society living off the land. This made land the greatest of commodities, and the quest for more land is largely responsible for most wars during the period. Men were both warriors and craftsmen-farmers. Their responsibilities were divided between service to their community (in the form of craftsmanship and maintenance of the land) and service to the fyrd (the army, pronounced "feared"). Each man, with the exception of the theow (slaves), was expected to keep and maintain his own armor and weaponry, for use when called into the ranks of the fyrd.

The Anglo-Saxon social hierarchy went as follows:
  • Bretwalda - High king. The position of bretwalda distinguishes between petty and great kings. A bretwalda not only ruled his own domain but also held influence over all or part of neighboring kingdoms.
  • King - The ruler of a kingdom. Kingship, in Anglo-Saxon society, was relative. The rulers of minor kingdoms, for example, could not hope to approach the prestige or influence owned by the great bretwaldas, but he could perhaps contend, politically and in war, with a neighboring king of equal or lesser station.
  • Aethling - The princes and would-be kings. These individuals had common ancestry with the king and held the right of succession to the throne. They had special responsibilities, including military command. Being aethling, however, did not guarantee succession. The witan, a council of leaders formed of the eoldermen, had the power to select the best individual for the position of king from the ranks of the aethling.
  • Eolderman (ul-dur-man) - The nobility. Responsible for administration of regions of land, and the people therein, and for the mustering of the fyrd. Eoldermen also formed the nucleus of the witan. In the tenth century, the upper ranks of the eoldermen became known as eorls, forming, with the bishops and archbishops of a kingdom, the high witan.
  • Thegn (thane) - Warriors, forming the backbone of the Anglo-Saxon military. Good service from a thegn could be rewarded with riches, land, and promotion into the ranks of the eoldermen. All thegns were in service as professional warriors to the eoldermen or the king himself. The king's thegns were synonymous with the knights of later periods, and they were land-holders occasionally called to sit in the witan.
  • Ceorl (kurl) - Free men. They administrated regions within the domains of the eoldermen. It is from the ranks of the ceorls that the fyrd was mustered. There were three ranks of ceorl: geneatas, who paid rent for their land to their eolderman, and who were responsible for the maintenance of that land and any fortifications, farms, and so forth that existed on it; the kotsetla, who performed tasks for the geneatas in return for general freedom and living; and the gebur, peasants who were totally dependent on their lord and whose lives were dominated by labor. Ceorls could, through good service, rise to the rank of thegn but could not become eoldermen.
  • Theow (thow) - The lowest social rank in Anglo-Saxon society, the theow were slaves and bondsmen. They were not permitted to the ranks of the fyrd, but were allowed to own property, could expect food and shelter from their lord, and could earn money in their spare time. In this, the theow were more privileged than the slaves of most societies.
The Celts
During the Anglo-Saxon period, the people of Wales and Ireland were still of Celtic stock. With few exceptions, however, the old Celtic culture and religion had been replaced by Christianity and a society in which kings, not priests, were the dominant force. The Celts of the Dark Ages had learned well from their experiences as neighbors to a major Roman province. The age of mighty Celtic warriors was also past, and most Celts of adventuring classes are therefore scholarly in nature. Celts were shorter than their Anglo-Saxon contemporaries. Celts had reddish to black hair and green to hazel eyes. They had darker complexions than their Anglo-Saxon neighbors. Cyngen, the last native Celtic king of the Welsh realm of Powys would die in 852 C.E.

The Picts
The Picts of what is now Scotland remained a minor irritation to the northern Anglo-Saxon kingdoms throughout the Dark Ages. Minor, that is, since those who bore the brunt of warfare with the highland barbarians were the Briton and Celtic kingdoms that neighbored them. It was not unknown, however, for Anglo-Saxon and Briton kings to employ Picts as mercenaries, although such mercenaries were seen by the Anglo-Saxons as being secondary to the fyrd. Picts were strong and hardy. They lived in the coldest regions of the British Isles and could continue to war even in the depths of winter. They were not great learners or scholars, though. Picts are of average height for humans They generally have dark brown to black hair and hazel to brown eyes. Their complexions lie between those possessed by Celts and those of the Anglo-Saxons.

The Celtic peoples of Britain, although afforded the freedom of the Roman Empire, were still seen as secondary to Roman citizens. They did benefit from Roman learning and technology, but that still gave them little hope of safety when the Legions left and the Anglo-Saxons arrived. The Britons, at the time of the initial invasions by the Anglo-Saxons, were a fairly advanced civilization, more than the Celts of Wales and Ireland. Without the Romans, though, they were militarily weak, and only the actions of a few heroic generals managed to slow the rate at which their society was dominated by the Germanic attackers. Their main advantage lay in cavalry, which the invaders largely lacked. But even that could not save them. In the Dark Ages, there are three types of Briton: those under the domination of the Anglo-Saxons, those in unconquered kingdoms, and those who have taken to the hills, to survive by raiding the villages of those who drove them away. Britons are similar in physical build and coloration to their Celtic cousins. A few Britons, after the terrible years following the withdrawal of the Roman legions, have turned back to their old gods.

As stated in the Anglo-Saxons entry, in the 6th century, king Arthur Pendragon checked the Germanic advance for roughly fifty years. Under Arthur, learning flourished once more, civilization began to reassert its order throughout the weary British Isles, and the seeds of knighthood and chivalry took root, to blossom in later centuries. Most importantly, within the heart of Camelot, Arthur’s great castle, a strong and powerful qabal grew, ready to take up the mantle of the Defiance against the Red Death. This qabal, which called itself the Stone, had as its leader none other than the legendary adept now known as Merlin, though his real name remains a mystery.

The Scandinavians include the Danes, Norsemen, and Vikings who attacked the British Isles from the late eighth century, leading to invasion of the north and eastern regions of Anglo-Saxon England in the late ninth century. The climate of northern Europe makes the Scandinavians hardy and strong. But they had a lower level of learning and technology, in comparison to that possessed by the other peoples of the British Isles. Scandinavians generally have blond to sandy hair and blue or gray eyes.

A Brief Timeline for the Dark Ages (all years C.E.)

410 - Roman legions withdrawn from the British Isles.
446 - The "Groans of the Britons" an unsuccessful appeal by the Britons for aid against Saxon raids.
449 - Germanic invasion of Britain begins. Hengist and Horsa found Kent.
455 - Jutes defeat Votigem’s Britons. Horsa slain.
477 - Aelle founds Sussex.
495 - Cerdic and Cymric found Wessex.
516 - Battle of Mount Badon. Britons, under Ambrosius Aurelianus, check Saxons for many years.
526 - Kingdoms of Essex and Mercia founded.
547 - Ida founds Bemicia.
560 - Aella founds Deira.
588 - Ethelric unites Bernicia and Deira, forming the kingdom of Northumbria.
598 - St. Augustine sent to Kent by Gregory the Great, converts Ethelbert, and becomes first Archbishop of Canterbury.
626 - Penda becomes king of Mercia.
627 - Edwin of Northumbria is Christianized by Paulinus, who becomes first Archbishop of York.
633 - Battle of Heathfield, Penda slays Edwin of Northumbria, in alliance with Caedwalla, a Welsh-king.
634 - Battle of Heavenfield. Oswald retakes Northumbria and slays Caedwalla.
642 - Oswald defeated and slain by Penda.
655 - Penda defeated and slain by Oswy.
664 - Synod of Whitby. Debate between Celtic and Roman Christian Churches. Oswy finds for the Roman Church.
731 - Completion of Bede's Ecclesiastical History.
733 - Ethalbald of Mercia becomes overlord of Wessex, Sussex, Essex, and Kent.
740 - Ethalbald becomes overlord of East Anglia.
757 - Offa becomes king of Mercia and England.
777 - Offa defeats Cynewulf of Wessex.
825 - Egbert of Wessex defeats West Welsh (in Cornwall), Mercia, and Kent. Essex submits.
829 - Egbert conquers Mercia.
865 - "Great Army" of Danes under Ingwar and Hubba in East Anglia.
867 - Danes capture York and overthrew the kingdom of Northumbria.
871 - Danes invade Wessex. Ethelred I dies soon after the Battle of Marden; Alfred the Great becomes king.
878 - Danes under Guthrum attack Wessex. Alfred defeated at die Battle of Chippenham, and is forced to flee. Alfred defeats Guthrum at the Battle of Ethandurn. Treaty of Wedmore between Alfred and Guthrum. Guthrum Christianized. Danes are allowed to settle in East Anglia.
899 - Death of Alfred the Great. Succeeded by Edward the Elder.
916 - Edward recovers Eastern Mercia and East Anglia from the Danes.
919 - Edward receives the homage of all the northern kings.
924 - Death of Edward the Elder. Elfward, then Athelstan, succeeds him.
937 - Battle of Brunanbuth. Athelstan defeats a combined force of Scots, Danes, and Northumbrians.
939 - Death of Athelstan. Edmund I succeeds him.
946 - Edmund I murdered by Leofa, an exiled thief. Edred becomes king.
947 - Erik Bloodaxe defeats Edred and takes Northumbria.
954 - Edred defeats and slays Erik Bloodaxe.
955 - Death of Edred. Edwy becomes king.
957 - Mercia and Northumbria renounce Edwy in favor of Edgar.
959 - Edwy dies. Edgar sole king.
973 - Edgar becomes "Emperor of Britain".
975 - Edgar dies. Succeeded by Edward the Martyr.
978 - Edward is murdered. Ethelred II The Unready becomes king.
991 - Battle of Maldon. Ethelred II buys off the Danes - instigation of Danegeld tax.
1002 - Ethelred II marries Emma, daughter of Richard, Duke of Normandy. Massacre of the Danes on November 13 (St. Brices Day).
1013 - Sweyn Forkbeard invades England. Ethelred II flees to Normandy. England conquered by Danes.
1014 - Sweyn Forkbeard dies. Succeeded by Canute. Ethelred II returns. Struggle for the throne begins.
1016 - Ethelred II dies. Saxons choose Edmund Ironside as king. England partitioned, but Edmund dies, leaving Canute the sole king.
1035 - Death of Canute. Hardicanute (Harold I Harefoot) becomes regent, with Harthacanute disposed defending Denmark from Norway.
1037 - Harold I Harefoot becomes king of England.
1040 - Harold I dies. Harthacanute becomes king.
1042 - Harthacanute dies. Succeeded by Edward the Confessor.
1051 - Earl Godwin of Wessex exiled for anti-Norman views. Edward promises the throne of England to William, Duke of Normandy.
1053 - Death of Godwin. Harold becomes Earl of Wessex.
1066 - Death of Edward (January 6). Harold claims the throne as Harold II. Harold II defeats Norwegian invasion at Stamford Bridge (September 25). William invades England to claim the throne. Harold II defeated at the Battle of Hastings (October 14). William I becomes king. Beginning of the Norman Conquest.

Kingdoms of the British Isles

  • Bernicia & Deira: Major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, founded in 547 and 560 respectively and then unified into the kingdom of
    Northumbria by Ethelric in 588.
  • Chintern Saeten (Middle Anglia): Minor Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Founded c.526, the kingdom was short-lived, eventually becoming part of Mercia and East Anglia.
  • Cumbria: Major kingdom of the Britons. Eventually absorbed by Northumbria prior to the ninth century.
  • Dumnonii & Durotriges: Celtic and Briton kingdoms generally untouched by the Romans during their occupation but later absorbed by Wessex. The Durotriges were conquered by Wessex in c.825.
  • East Anglia: Major Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Founded c.526, but never quite attained the level of power demonstrated by Mercia, Wessex, and Northumbria. Conquered by the Danes c.866-870 and later given to the Danes under Guthrum by Alfred the Great as part of the Treaty of Wedmore in 878. East Anglia was eventually recovered from the Danes by Edward the Elder in 916.
  • Elmet: Minor kingdom of the Britons that was absorbed by Northumbria and Mercia during expansions in the seventh century.
  • Essex: Major Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Founded c.526. Submitted to Wessex, under pressure due to Egbert's successes against Mercia and Kent, c.825.
  • Gododdin, Rheged, and Dumfries: Minor Briton kingdoms absorbed by Strathclyde and Northumbria during the seventh century. Dumfries survived into the early ninth century.
  • Kent: Major Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Founded in 449 by the Jutes Horsa and Hengist - the first of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to be established. The region was given to the Anglo-Saxons by Votigern in payment for promised aid against pirate attacks. Seeing the weak state of the Britons, the invitation led to invasion, and Votigern was finally defeated in 455. Kent was finally conquered in 825 by Egbert of Wessex.
  • Lindsey: Minor Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Short-lived as an independent kingdom, Lindsey became a province of (variously) Mercia and Northumbria.
  • Mercia: Major Anglo-Saxon kingdom. One of the last kingdoms to become Christianized. Became the most powerful (and feared) kingdom under the reign of Penda (ruled 626-655), dominating both Northumbria and Wessex, and again under Offa (ruled 757-796). Conquered by Egbert of Wessex in 829, Mercia became subject to Wessex until Danish invasions finally destroyed the kingdom in 874. Although the region was recovered from the Danes c.916, Mercia, as a political region, was effectively extinct.
  • Northumbria: Major Anglo Saxon kingdom formed by the unification of Bernicia and Deira in 588. Dominated briefly by Mercia (under Penda) from 642 to 655 until Penda was slain in battle by Oswy (ruled 651-670). Under Oswy, Northumbria reached the height of its power. It was host to the Synod of Whitby (664), where Oswy decided for the Roman Church over the Celtic as the single form of Christianity to be followed within the whole of England. Northumbrian influence was effectively ended in 685 with the death of Egfrith in battle against the Picts under Brude. Conquered by the Danes in 867, Northumbria remained under Danish rule until Erik Bloodaxe was defeated by Edred, king of the English, in 954. Northumbria became an earldom from that point.
  • Strathclyde: Minor kingdom of the Britons, constantly pressured by Northumbria and the southern Picts, arid by occasioned clashes with the kingdom of Dal Riada until finally being subdued by a combined force of Picts under Angus and Northumbrians under Eadbert in 756. Remained a pacified kingdom until 870, when Olaf the White (a Dane) invaded from Ireland and forced Artgal, king of Strathclyde, to flee. Malcolm II of Scotland brought Strathclyde under the control of his kingdom in 1016.
  • Sussex: Major Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Founded by Aelle in 477, the kingdom played little part in the power struggles that existed between Mercia, Wessex, and Northumbria.
  • Wessex: Major Anglo-Saxon kingdom founded by Cerdic and Cymric 495. The royal lineage of Wessex eventually formed the basis for the Anglo-Saxon English royal house and included such luminaries as Alfred the Great and Ethelred I (St. Ethelred). Wessex began its rise to power under Egbert, who conquered the West Welsh, Kent, and Essex in 825, and Mercia in 829. Ethelwulf became king of England in 839. In 1066, upon the death of Edward the Confessor, Harold, Earl of Wessex, was chosen by the Anglo-Saxons as king in spite of the succession of William of Normandy established by Edward in 1051. The Battle of Hastings (14th October 1066) finally ended the Wessex line of English kings.
  • Dal Riada: Established c.500 by the Ulaid Irish tribe of Dal Riata (Dal Riada Ulaid) fleeing from the encroachment of the Ui Neill people. The kingdom grew and interacted with the Pictish kingdoms to its north and east. Eventually, in 844, Kenneth I Mac-Alpin, king of the Scots, also became king of the Picts and united the Scots and Picts into the kingdom of Scotland.
  • Picts: The Picts were a scattered people, most of the time only nominally under the rule of their monarch (or monarchs). Saint Columba set up his church on the island of Iona as a mission to convert the Picts to Christianity in 563. Until the unification of Picts and Scots in 844, the Picts fought against all of their neighbors with varying degrees of success. It sometimes appears, when reading the histories of the northern regions of the British Isles, that they fought for each of their neighbors at some point too!
  • Brycheiniog, Buellt, Glywising, and Ystradtowy: Minor Welsh kingdoms, generally dominated and/or absorbed by the kingdoms of Gwynedd, Gwent, Dyfed, and Powys during the seventh and eighth centuries. Brycheiniog, a small mountain kingdom, was never actually conquered and lasted until the tenth century.
  • Dyfed, Gwent, Gwynedd, and Powys: Major Welsh kingdoms that play roles to varying degrees within the tales of The Mabinogion. The royal lineage of Dyfed claimed origin from Ireland, and its people were bilingual (Welsh and Irish). Powys was the most privileged of the Welsh kingdoms during the Roman occupation. The death of its last native king, Cyngen, was recorded in the Annales Cambriae in 852. Cadwallon of Gwynedd (ruled 625-633) was an ally of Penda of Mercia and aided him in his campaigns against Northumbria.
  • Unlike the kingdoms of Wales, England, and Scotland, the Irish never came under Roman control or influence and remained largely true to their Celtic roots (if not religion) throughout the Dark Ages. The northern Irish kingdoms suffered invasions and raids by the Vikings, and Dublin became the seat of power of Olaf the White and his heirs. The first attacks probably came from the Outer Hebrides (the "Sea-King of Lewis"). The Norsemen established independent kingdoms throughout Ireland during the ninth and tenth centuries, only to have their dominance end through their inability to stave off the Irish once their resistance to occupation began.
Island Kingdoms
  • Aebudae: Located on the islands now known as the Outer Hebrides, these islands were populated by a tribal people. The islands were eventually dominated by Danish invaders.
  • Man: The Isle of Man lies about halfway between Ireland and England. It was populated by a Welsh/Irish mixed people until it was conquered by the Vikings in
    the tenth century.
  • Orcades: Similar to Aebudae, the Orcades were a tribal people until coming under Danish rule as the Jarldom of Orkney.
  • Thule: Situated in the modern Shetland Islands (probably), Thule was a place of near-legend. The pre- and early Celts of Britain considered it to be the northern extremity of the world. The Shetlands came under Danish rule prior to the tenth century.
  • Wight: An independent island kingdom before it came under the jurisdiction of Wessex in the late fifth to early sixth centuries.

Source: Adapted from AD&D 2nd Edition articles The Dark Ages from Dragon Magazine #257 and Hearth and Sword from Dragon Magazine #263 by Ian Malcomson to fit the Masque of the Red Death setting.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2024, 03:07:01 PM by EO »
Best Regards!

Dev. Relationist for the Dark Powers.
1 Castle Road, Castle Ravenloft, Village of Barovia.


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Elizabethan Age Europe
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2022, 09:18:30 AM »
Europeans in the Elizabethan Age (1550-1650 C.E.)

This era of European history goes by a lot of names: The Elizabethan Age, the Shakespearean Age, the Counter-Reformation, the Pike-and-Shot Era, etc. These can all be used interchangeably. For simplicity's sake we'll call it the Elizabethan Age, even though that era technically ended with Queen Elizabeth I's death in 1603.

This was a time of tremendous change in the Western World. Society was changing from the old, feudal, medieval ways to the modern. The mounted warriors who formed the backbone of the feudal system were no longer masters of the battlefield. A handful of peasants armed with muskets and pikes could defeat the heaviest knights. As the nobility's military power evaporated, so did its usefulness. The middle class was emerging, and it wielded a new kind of power: mercantile trade. Along with that came a new kind of identity called nationalism, which ultimately replaced religious unity and feudal loyalty. Science and discovery began to clear away superstition and mysticism. It was a time of conflict, upheaval and chaos: just the sort of atmosphere where bold adventurers thrive.

Cultural Level: Renaissance

Heroes of the Elizabethan Era

Typical Elizabethan Age Classes: Fighters and rogues are the most common. Beguilers and bards are present but rare. They must also remain conscious not to publicly use any arcane powers. Clerics are numerous; they were an influence on the Thirty Years' War. Wizards are not unknown by the 16th century, but are often unwelcome due to the inherent dangers of magic and are assumed to traffic with evil spirits. Hexblades, sorcerers and warlocks are almost always seen as agents of evil and are persecuted. Monks (as the character class) are only found in Asia. Voodan has virtually no adepts among Europeans, but people of African ancestry may be practitioners. Paladins and barbarians are a dying breed in this era and would be rare. Favored souls may exist but would be unaware of their latent abilities. There are no druids nor warmages in this era.

Remember that divine spellcasting classes, with the exception of voodan, do not receive any divine powers while on Gothic Earth. Player characters from this era would obtain such powers only once in the Demiplane of Dread, but only if the D&D alignment rule is followed.

Recommended Skills: Appraise, Influence, Listen, Lore, Parry, Spot.

Recommended Feats: Alertness, Careful Handling, Delven's Maneuver, Called Shot, Disarm, Gearling's Superposed Loading Technique, Iron Will, Luck of Heroes, Skill Focus, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (rapier, musket, flintlock).

Languages: Primary languages depend on the nationality of a character. French started to be the language of diplomacy among nations at that time. Secondary languages often consist of those of neighboring countries.

Names: Varies by culture.

Religions: Christianity dominates as the main religion of Europe. It's far from being a unified church and this is an age of religious strife. It is fractured into several religious movements.
  • England: Anglican, Roman Catholic, Puritan (Calvinist)
  • France: Roman Catholic, Calvinist
  • Ireland: Roman Catholic (Calvinists can be found in Ulster and Anglicans in Leinster)
  • Holy Roman Empire: depending on the region:
    -Roman Catholics are found in Alsace, Augsberg, Austria, Bamburg, Bavaria, Carinthia, Carniola, Cologne, Franche-Comte, Liege, Lorraine, Lusatia, Luxemburg, Moravia, Munster, Parma, Piedmont, Salzburg, Savoy, Swiss Confederation, The Milanese, Trier, Tuscany, Tyrol, Valtelline, and Wurzberg.
    -Lutherans are found in Anspach, Bayreuth, Brandenburg, Brunswick, Holstein, Moravia, Oldenburg, Pomerania, Saxony, Silesia, and the Upper Palatinate.
    -Calvinists are found in Berg, Bohemia, Bremen, Cleve, Hesse-Cassel, the Lower Palatinate, Mark, Mecklenburg, Nassau, and the Swiss Confederation.
  • Italy: Roman Catholic
  • The Netherlands: depends on the region:
    - The "Spanish Netherlands" (Hainault, Cambresis, Artois, Flanders, and Brabant) are Roman Catholic
    - The United Provinces (Gelderland, Zealand, Holland, Utrecht, Overijssel, Drenthe, Friesland, and Groningen) are Calvinist.
  • Spain: Roman Catholic
  • Denmark: Lutheran
  • Hungary: Roman Catholic
  • Ottoman Empire: Islamic and Roman Catholic
  • Poland: Roman Catholic
  • Portugal: Roman Catholic
  • Scotland: Roman Catholic and Calvinist
  • Sweden: Lutheran
  • Transylvania: Lutheran and Calvinist

European Societies in the Elizabethan Era

Gender Roles: The 16th and 17th centuries where male-dominated and chauvinistic. Men fought wars; men held public offices; men were scientists and artists and philosophers and merchants. Women were wives and mothers, with one exception: they could also be queens.

The obstacles that littered the path of an ambitious woman assured that those women who achieved any degree of power tended to be strong, intelligent, and determined. Queen Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scots, and Maria de'Medicis are three outstanding examples of women who ruled countries and dominated the age.

There are very few queens, however, and many women. Rather than sticking to pure history or disregarding it altogether, the best course is to assume that female adventurers are exceptional characters. History is full of cases of women disguising themselves as men and joining the army, or even of women joining the ranks of male-dominated society without deception. Anne Bonny was a notorious pirate of the period. Queen Christina of Sweden abdicated her throne to pursue a life of adventure. Why not a lady musketeer? In this setting such characters are outstanding, and will always be treated as exceptions; if a lady strolls by in doublet, breeches, boots, and baldric, she will draw unabashed stares and attention.

Religion: Obviously, in an era called "the age of the wars of religion," a person's religious beliefs could be a bone of contention. Modern readers must understand that from the Dark Ages through the middle of the 17th century, religion was much more than a system of beliefs and faith. It impacted every aspect of life. Religious activities and observances were part of the daily routine. The bond of religion was a unifying force much stronger than language or culture or national identity. Most people believed that it was more important for the citizens of a country to all be the same religion than to speak the same language.

The Reformation broke that religious unity. By the time of the Council of Trent in 1555, six major religious groups existed in Europe: Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists, Jews, and Muslims. Anabaptists and Jews were minorities everywhere; Muslims only lived in Ottoman Turkey and the Levant, though Islamic merchants visited Venice and other Mediterranean ports. Pockets of the Eastern Orthodox church still existed within Ottoman territory.

Religious intolerance was the norm. Allying or trading with heretics was likely to get a person or country shunned, but it could be done carefully. This does not mean Catholics and Protestants regularly brawled in the streets like gangs or drew their swords whenever they met. They rarely had the opportunity because, for the most part, they lived separately. Spain, Italy, and France were Roman Catholic; England, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands were Protestant; the Holy Roman Empire was a mix of both.

Education: Literacy at this time was common among the well-to-do, not so common among the peasants. Most people in the middle classes could at least read painstakingly and slowly. Grammar schools existed mainly to teach Latin. Universities and learned societies taught civil and ecclesiastical law, philosophy, arithmetic, and rhetoric. Notable by their absence are history and science. People interested in these subjects had to do their own research and teach themselves or find a suitable tutor.

Medicine: Licenses to practice medicine were granted by the church. Medical education, however, was undertaken by universities, the best being those at Padua, Heidelburg, Leyden, Basle, and Montpelier. There was no official internship but most aspiring doctors began their careers by working with an established physician. In spite of all this, mankind's understanding of real medicine was woeful. Superstition played a larger part than real science. Some folk remedies had real recuperative properties but most were useless, if not actually harmful. The prevailing view was that a person was composed of four "humors": blood, phlegm, choler (urine), and melancholy (feces). An imbalance made a person sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, or melancholy, and a serious imbalance made a person sick. The cure, logically enough, was to restore balance: a sanguine person would be bled, a melancholy person would be given laxatives.

Physicians specialized in treating illnesses and humor imbalances. Surgeons, on the other hand, dealt with those cases where blood would be spilled. They were generally held in lower regard than physicians because dissection was considered vulgar and impious, but dissections led surgeons to be scientific in their research, a definite step forward. Many barbers were also licensed to pull teeth and bleed sanguine patients. Apothecaries mixed and sold drugs and medicines. They were generally honest, but who's to say what might be found at the bottom of the back shelf? Remedies for diseases and ailments can range from the simple (rest and quiet) to the absurd (breathing the vapors of burning dill and feathers while closed inside a pickling barrel). It seems nothing was too outlandish.

Science: During this period science struggled valiantly to overcome the traditional beliefs and superstitions which ruled men's thoughts. Astounding things could be learned by carefully observing the simplest phenomena. The real obstacle was not the scientific method, which was well understood, but the closed minds of men. The most startling discoveries were made in the fields of astronomy (Copernicus's theory that the earth and planets revolve around the sun) and physiology (Harvey's discovery that blood circulates). But other sciences and pseudo-sciences were also active: astrology, chemistry, alchemy, mathematics, and botany were practiced by learned men and taught at prestigious universities.

From the 2nd Century all astronomy was based on the theory of Ptolemy, that the Earth was the center of the universe and all other heavenly bodies revolved around it, fixed to transparent, concentric celestial spheres. In 1543, a polish student named Copernicus lay dying. From his death-bed he sent off the manuscript for a landmark book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, in which he accounted for the observed motions of the planets by assuming the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of the Solar System. Copernicus knew that this idea bordered on heresy, so he couched it in very tentative terms, calling it only a "hypothesis" and stating "It is not necessary that hypotheses should be true, or even probable: it suffices that they lead to calculations which agree with observations." Ultimately, this is what happened. The Ptolemaic system could not explain the observations of men like Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo, and the Copernican system could. Gradually it won over men of science, even though it was officially opposed by Rome.

Belief in astrology was still common, although it was regularly attacked by pamphleteers and learned men. (When Gustavus Adolphus was born, his father Charles IX of Sweden asked illustrious astronomer Tycho Brahe to produce a horoscope; Brahe, a man of science, cautiously responded that there was a chance the boy might someday become king.) Astrology was divided into three branches: horary, judicial, and natural. Each branch dealt with a different aspect of life and required a different sort of observation. Horary astrology answered questions about immediate concerns and business. Judicial astrology predicted upcoming events months, or sometimes years, in advance. Natural astrology foretold a man's destiny from the planets' configuration at his birth.

Chemistry as we know it today did not exist at this time, but alchemy was well-established. Its underlying assumption was that everything, everywhere, is made of primary matter, a sort of universal stuff which can take on a multitude of forms. These forms were classified according to whether they were hot or cold, dry or moist. The four conditions could join together in four ways: hot and dry, hot and moist, cold and dry, cold and moist. These four combinations corresponded exactly to the four elements from antiquity: fire, earth, air, water. But these were not considered elements in our modern sense of the word. They were simply conditions in which everything existed. If the elements were balanced in a substance, that substance was perfect and its elemental character was hidden. If one element predominated, that substance was imperfect and had elemental characteristics. Metals, for example, were considered to be nearly perfect, being a balance of earth, fire, and air. Gold was the most perfect metal of all.

Alchemical reasoning was by analogy. Thus:
  • When the elements are balanced in a human body, that body is well;
  • when the elements are imbalanced in a human body, that body is ill;
  • among minerals, the elements are perfectly balanced in gold -- gold, therefore, is like a healthy body;
  • among other minerals, the balance of elements is not perfect;
  • if the balance of elements in base minerals could be perfected, those minerals would "heal" like a human body and become gold.
This type of analogy guided the search for all sorts of "cures." The two most powerful were the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life. Both, through their powerful attractive properties, could impose perfection on imperfect but purified matter: the philosopher's stone on mineral matter, the elixir on living matter.

It must be stressed that transmuting base metals into gold was not the sole purpose of alchemy. It was a scientific discipline aimed at understanding the nature of structure and existence. Until sufficient knowledge had been gathered to construct the periodic table of elements, alchemy was a well-reasoned alternative. It was also fertile ground for charlatans. Many of the best-known alchemists were nothing more than con-men who duped wealthy patrons into subsidizing their research with the promise that they would share in the riches and glory which would surely result.

Pastimes: Among the nobility and gentry, certain leisure activities enjoyed great popularity: hunting, particularly with hounds on the chase; falconry or hawking, which was phenomenally popular among country folk; coursing (dog racing); fowling (hunting and trapping birds); angling (fishing); fencing and swordplay of various types and schools; riding; bearbaiting and bullbaiting (pitting a single bear or bull against a half-dozen or so fighting dogs); cockfighting, dancing (much to the concern of the Calvinists); athletic games (running, jumping, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, ball games); and card games and gambling.

Among ball games, tennis deserves special mention. It was particularly popular in France and England, but was played everywhere. It was a game which could be played by both gentlemen and adventurous ladies. Even the Three Musketeers enjoyed an occasional match of tennis.

Gambling was a way of life for Elizabethans. While it was discouraged or even condemned by certain people and religious groups, it thrived among the masses of gentlemen, adventurers, commoners, and soldiers. Diceplay was the most common gambling game, with card games a close second. But anything with an uncertain outcome was fair game: cockfights, bearbaiting, wrestling matches, tennis matches, duels, battles, the weather, even romance.

Honor: In spite of the fact that the armored knight with his feudal trappings was a dying breed, his code of honor and chivalrous ideals were very much alive. Anyone who considered himself a gentleman (which had more to do with perception than actual social condition) was bound by a code of honor.

The code of honor demands that a character:
  • must be devout to his lord and loyal to his sovereign
  • may not suffer himself to be insulted, slandered, or mocked
  • may not allow a lady to be insulted, slandered, mocked or mistreated
  • must be discreet in all dealings with the opposite sex or when trusted with a secret
  • must pay his debts honorably
  • must abide by his word
  • must never falter in courage or resolve
  • must carry out his duties to his fullest ability
Any transgression of this code results in the character being disgraced (see below).

Insults: A gentleman may take offense at the slightest off-center remark or action, especially if it comes from someone of lower social standing. Likewise, a gentleman will rarely back down or step aside in favor of someone of lower social standing for fear of what may happen to his reputation.

Dueling: Many disputes of honor can be settled immediately with a duel. This is, in fact, the preferred method among most gentlemen. Such duels can be formal affairs at an arranged time with seconds, but most often they are impromptu; insults are exchanged, tempers flare, and swords are drawn. Duels are rarely mortal. Most often, the fight lasts only until the first wound is inflicted. The wounded party apologizes, everyone's honor is satisfied and the affair is at an end. It sometimes happens, however, that the duelist who suffers the first wound is not willing to surrender. He may feel that he was struck unfairly or that the wound is negligible. He may simply be unwilling to admit defeat. Occasionally a duel will even be fought to the death, though this is rare. Dueling is discouraged, if not illegal, in most civilized places. Offenders are usually fined or jailed for several days, if caught. By the 17th century, killing an opponent in a duel is generally considered murder and self-defense is difficult to prove.

Disgrace: A character is disgraced if he violates the code of honor: allowing himself to be insulted, compromising a lady's reputation, breaking his word, running in fear from a fight (retreating is okay, running is not), failing to pay his debts, etc. A disgraced character is shunned by his friends, his business acquaintances, even strangers on the street seem to whisper and jeer behind his back. To regain his honor, the character must do something outstanding: be conspicuously brave in battle, risk his life to defend a lady, undertake a dangerous sea voyage, rescue the crown jewels, uncover a plot against the queen, etc. The general guideline is that the deed must be on a scale similar to the misdeed.

Source: Adapted from AD&D 2nd Edition HR4 A Mighty Fortress Sourcebook to fit the Masque of the Red Death setting
« Last Edit: May 14, 2023, 02:24:54 PM by EO »
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The Franks
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2022, 09:19:28 AM »
The Franks (800 to 1000 C.E.)

The Franks (Latin: Franci or gens Francorum) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the Lower Rhine and the Ems River, on the edge of the Roman Empire. Later the term was associated with Romanized Germanic dynasties within the collapsing Western Roman Empire, who eventually commanded the whole region between the rivers Loire and Rhine. They imposed power over many other post-Roman kingdoms and Germanic peoples. Beginning with Charlemagne in 800, Frankish rulers were given recognition by the Catholic Church as successors to the old rulers of the Western Roman Empire. Though it was not known as such as the time, it gave rise to what is now dubbed the Carolingian Empire.

Cultural Level: Early Medieval

The Frankish Heroes

Typical Frankish Classes: Warrior classes are the most common of classes. Fighters and paladins being most numerous, with rangers and barbarians living in the fringe of civilization. Rogues are also common. Clerics are respected and growing in number thanks to the rise of monastic orders. Bards are the prevalent arcane casting characters, but most do not practice magic due to its inherent dangers. Wizards and sorcerers play no recorded part in the history of the Carolingian Empire, but do appear in the romantic tales of Charlemagne legends, usually as antagonists. They are uncommon, feared and avoided. Beguilers, hexblade and warlocks are just as rare and systematically hunted down. Favored souls may exist but would be unaware of their latent abilities. Druids, monks (as the character class), voodan and warmages are not found in Frankish culture.

Remember that divine spellcasting classes, with the exception of voodan, do not receive any divine powers while on Gothic Earth. Player characters from this era would obtain such powers only once in the Demiplane of Dread, but only if the D&D alignment rule is followed.

Recommended Skills: Antagonize, Discipline, Parry, Spot

Recommended Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (all), Blind-Fight, Bullheaded, Called Shot, Dirty Fighting, Disarm, Great Fortitude, Luck of Heroes, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatsword, longsword, battleaxe, greataxe, halberd, spear, shortbow, dart).

Languages: Primary - Franks; Secondary - Gaelic (Ireland), Saxon (England), Slavic (Russia), Latin (the Church), Arabic (Moors), Greek (Byzantium).

Frankish Names: During this period, people were known by one name; they did not use last names. To distinguish one Egbert or Charles from another, a nickname may be added. The nickname may either identify the person by his father (Charles, son of Pepin), by his home, birthplace, or lands (Charles of Aquitaine, Egbert of Metz, Hemming the Dane), his title (Count Charles of Ardennes; Egbert, Count of the Breton Marches), or a descriptive phrase (Charles the Bald, Egbert the Wise, Grifo the Fat).

Remember that server rules do not allow the use of titles or nicknames in a character name, but indicating the land of origin is fair game.

Men's Names: Adalbert, Adalhard, Amalwin, Anshelm, Amulf, Bernard, Bertrich, Carloman, Charla, Donatus, Drogo, Eberhard, Egbert, Egfrid, Einhard, Emmon, Fardulf, Frederich, Fulbert, Gerold, Gervinus, Grifo, Guntbald, Halitgar, Hardrad, Hegibert, Hilduin, Hruodmund, Hugo, Lothair, Louis, Mathfrid, Meginhard, Nordbert, Odulf, Otgar, Pepin, Reginhard, Richard, Rudolf, Sigimund, Suidger, Theobald, Theodoric, Unroch, Vivian, Warin, Welf, Wido, Worad.

Women's Names: Ada, Adelind, Alberta, Anselma, Berta, Binga, Brunhilde, Charlene, Della, Eadith, Emilia, Ertha, Francesca, Frida, Geralda, Gerta, Gisela, Halfrida, Helga, Hildegard, Hruodtrude, Idelle, Irmengarda, Jarvia, Judith, Karolina, Leoda, Liutberga, Lorelei, Matilda, Odelia, Olga, Rica, Rilla, Rolanda, Solvig, Thora, Ulrika, Uta, Velda, Winifred, Yetta, Zerlina.

Religions: Christianity is the dominant religion in the Carolingian Empire.

Frankish Society

Gender Roles: In a typical historical campaign, all warrior player characters and almost all priest player characters are men. Strong-willed women play a part in Carolingian history, but typically they are portrayed as villains-scheming, beguiling, and misleading the noble rulers and counts. Grounds for divorce were few, but many husbands discarded wives almost casually. A "free" woman was forbidden to live according to her own free will; by law she must always remain under the power and rule of men. The option to play female characters obviously takes precedence over strict historical accuracy on our server.

Charlemagne's Authority and the Law: In Charlemagne's Empire, interest in education was not simply aesthetic. He had the practical desire to improve the efficiency of his administration. Through the schools he was teaching the future counts and administrators of the empire to read and write Latin and to understand laws and capitularies with the intent to centralize government administration.

Charlemagne's empire was divided into counties. For each county a graf or count was appointed by the king. The counts appointed the local lords beneath them with the approval of the king; counts and local lords alike swore oaths of loyalty to the king. Within the counties, answerable only to the king, counts had ultimate authority as a royal deputy with wide-ranging powers. Each count, was responsible for publishing the king's wishes to the local freemen and for collecting taxes and tributes. Some of these taxes were forwarded to the king; other revenues were retained by the count to carry out public works. The count assembled the local troops for campaigns or in local emergency musters and led them in combat. The count also presided over the local law court and administered justice. In return for his services, the count was awarded one-third of local taxes and court fines; he also often received gifts of lands from royal estates within his county or from remote regions of the empire. A count’s office was granted for life; if he were competent, the count could expect his title to be handed on to a son or a member of his family.

In theory, the counts were to be extensions of the king’s authority and concern for the welfare of the people. In practice, the counts and nobles were a landed class eager to increase their wealth and power. Where the interests of the nobles and the commoners conflicted, they of course favored the nobles. The nobles also competed with one another for land, power, and wealth.

Initially Charlemagne's successful yearly campaigns provided him with abundant lands and wealth that he could distribute to encourage and assure the loyalty of his counts. But as conquests became difficult and newly acquired lands farther flung, and as the strain of administering and protecting the lands already conquered grew, the empire's needs outstripped its resources for rewarding loyalty to the king. The problem was, simply stated, that land was the source of all wealth in Frankish Empire. To purchase the loyalty of his counts, the king had to reward them with land, but once the counts had received the land, they held the power of the land. Only while the king could continue to hold out the promise of reward could he ensure the cooperation of his nobles.

When the king no longer had new lands and booty to reward his counts, ambitious nobles had to prey on one another, on the lands of the Church and monasteries, on the lands of the free peasants, and on the wealth and power of the king. As power tended to accumulate in the counts, there was no central authority or system adequate to hold the centre together.

Social Classes: The Franks divided themselves into three basic groups: those who fought, those who prayed, and those who toiled. Those who toiled - the artisans and peasant freeman, serfs, and slaves who worked the land - were generally despised by those who fought - the noble warrior class. Those who prayed were generally judged, not according to their piety and learning, but according to their wealth and noble or common birth.

The Western Church: It is hard to know what people really believed twelve centuries ago, and harder still to generalize about the different personal faiths of millions of people in Charlemagne’s time. Nonetheless, it appears that Church rituals and superstition were more widely accepted than the Christian ethic and spirit. A jeweled reliquary containing the bones of a saint was a more powerful, concrete, and accessible symbol of religious faith than the cross symbolizing Christ’s sacrifice and redemption of man.

Christian Ideals: The worldly higher clergy and the ignorant parish priests were poor vehicles for preaching by word and example the higher spiritual values of the Western Church. Copies of the Gospels and commentaries were rare and valuable, and literacy was extremely limited; at best most folk would have had to rely on the sermons and homilies of priests with doubtful educational qualifications. Some points could be made clear and simple: Baptism was essential to salvation, and salvation was essential for gaining everlasting life after death and avoiding eternal torment in the fires of Hell. Members of the Faith were taught to embrace the Seven Virtues: Faith, Hope, Charity (these three called "the Christian virtues"), Justice, Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance (called "the natural virtues"). They were also told to avoid the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth.

In spite of the corruption and worldliness of its ecclesiastical hierarchy and the poor qualifications and education of the typical priest, the Church was a powerful symbol of aspiration to higher moral and ethical virtues. Perhaps the cathedral and monastery communities were the best example of the Christian virtues in action, with their dedication to charity and education, the food, shelter, hospitals, and orphanages. Church members of high and low birth alike were reminded by the clergy to do good works, and many wealthy nobles must have been sincere in their generous endowments of churches, monasteries, and relics.

Finally, Charlemagne's legend features many anecdotes that tell of his piety and his preference for earnest, well-educated clergy over greedy, ill-tutored priests. Charlemagne's numerous military campaigns and services to the Pope and Church were presented as crusades to extend the Faith and chastise the pagan. Whether or not Charlemagne actually took any effective action to reform the clergy, he nonetheless did much to add elements of the Christian ethic to tribal customary law. In the later Middle Ages, Charlemagne became a symbol of the pious and virtuous Christian monarch who upholds law and justice, protects the Church, defends and advances the Faith, and rules in accord with Christian principles.

The Carolingian Empire

Francia (Frankland, or Empire of the Franks): Francia, land of the Franks, is the nation Charlemagne inherited from his father, Pepin. It comprises five major regions: Austrasia and Jura Mountains and Neustria (the lands of the East and West Franks, respectively), Burgundy, Aquitaine, and a Medient and rebellious terranean region (Septimania and Provence, two non-Frankish lands added to Francia through conquest).

Austrasia (East Franks): This heavily forested province along the Meuse and Rhine Rivers formed the political core of Charlemagne's Empire. Here were the loyal Frankish horsemen who were the backbone of the Carolingian military machine. The Carolingian Renaissance, a brief flowering of respect for scholarship and classical culture, had its focus at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) in the court of Charlemagne and in the Palace School of Alcuin of York. Here also some of the great Roman cities along the Rhine-Cologne and Maim, among others-survived the barbarian invasions after the collapse of the Roman Empire. The churchmen of these cities and other Frankish cathedral cities surviving from Roman times became the conservators of the heritage of law, order, and culture that lingered as memories from the Pax Romana. To the north along the North Sea was the Great Plain, the future Low Countries (the Netherlands and Belgium). The Great Plains proximity to the sea and numerous navigable rivers provided easy access for trade - and for the fierce Viking raiders of the later Carolingian period. The central heartland of Austrasia was hilly and heavily forested, drained by the Meuse and Moselle Rivers, and bounded on the east by the high Vosges Mountains and the Rhine Rive valley.

Neustria (West Franks): More Romanized than Germanic, this wine-and-wheat producing province flourished along the banks of the Seine and Loire. Here along the old Roman road net, many of the great Roman cities survived the Dark Ages to become cathedral towns that preserved the civilized legacy of Roman Gaul. This province was to play a major part in later French history.

Burgundy: This wealthy and powerful non-Frankish province of Francia was centered in the trough of the Rhone-Saone River valley, bounded on the west by France's central highland plateau and on the east by the Jura Mountains and the Alps.

Aquitaine: This independent and rebellious southwestern province of Francia, with its genial climate and wine and wheat, was an important Roman province. It retained the thoroughly Romanized customs, culture and economy of Roman Gaul much later after the fall of the Roman Empire than did the Germanic Lands. Early in his reign, Charlemagne put down the Aquitainian revolt inherited from his father Pepin. During Charlemagne's reign, the province was relatively loyal to the empire, if only because it depended on the empire for protection against the incursions of the Spanish Moors and the Moorish pirates.

Septimania and Provence: These southern provinces shared the warm, dry climate, agriculture, and heavily Romanized culture of the Mediterranean. Here olives, fruits, and grape vines flourished, and the summer drought limited the forest evergreen trees and shrubs such as olive, myrtle, cypress, stone pine, and the evergreen oak. These provinces were frequently troubled with Moorish raids and invasions during Carolingian times.

The empire also add a number of subject lands including: Lombardy, Saxony and Thuringia, the Italian States, Brittany, and the Spanish March.

Source: Adapted from AD&D 2nd Edition HR2 Charlemagne's Paladins Campaign Sourcebook to fit the Masque of the Red Death setting.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2022, 03:22:42 PM by MAB77 »
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The Vikings
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2022, 09:20:04 AM »
The Vikings (820 to 1030 C.E.)

Vikings primarily hail from Norway, Denmark and Sweden and were active circa 820-1030 C.E. As the Vikings were explorers and conquerors, they also established colonies in places such as the Orkney Islands, the Hebrides, the Faroe Islands, Iceland (after 870), Greenland (after 986), Vinland (present-day Newfoundland in Canada, after 1000), and carved out new territories in Ireland (after 820), England (the Danelaw after 865), Russia (after 870) and France (Normandy after 911).

Cultural Level: Early Medieval

The Viking Heroes

Typical Viking Classes: Fighters are the most common Viking class, followed by rogues. Viking bards, known as skalds, are well-known, though they tend towards poetry more than song and seldom use arcane magic. Barbarians and rangers typically live on the fringe of Viking society. The usual stigma accompanying spellcasters on Gothic Earth applies to Viking arcane casters. Wizards are rare as Viking runes do not suit standard wizard magic, they are always treated with suspicion and fear by their fellow Vikings. Sorcerers are slightly more common than wizards, but no less feared. Beguilers, hexblades, warlocks are hunted down if discovered. Favored souls may exist but would be unaware of their latent abilities. Druids, monks (as the character class), paladins, voodan and warmages are not found in Viking culture.

Remember that divine spellcasting classes, with the exception of voodan, do not receive any divine powers while on Gothic Earth. Player characters from this era would obtain such powers only once in the Demiplane of Dread, but only if the D&D alignment rule is followed.

Recommended Skills: Discipline, Antagonize, Parry, Spot

Recommended Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (all), Blind-Fight, Bullheaded, Called Shot, Dirty Fighting, Disarm, Great Fortitude, Luck of Heroes, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatsword, longsword, battleaxe, greataxe, halberd, spear, shortbow, dart).

Languages: Primary - Old Norse; Secondary - Gaelic (Ireland), Saxon (England), Slavic (Russia), French (Franks), Latin (the Church), Arabic (Moors), Greek (Byzantium).

Viking Names: Vikings only went by one name, a personal name. Surnames were very rarely used. To differentiate, most would add patronymic --"father's name"--to the end of the name. Thus, Thorolf, son of Harald, became Thorolf Haraldson. Women tended not to carry their father's name. On occasion, the person was indicated by his home, i.e. Thorolf of Trollwood, but this was not as common.

Men's Names:
Aella, Agdi, Agnar, Alrek, An, Angantyr, Aran, Armod, Arnfinn, Arngrim, Asmund, Atli, Auda, Bard, Barri, Beiti, Bild, Bjarkmar, Borgar, Bosi, Brand, Brynjolf, Budli, Bui, Drott, Eddval, Egil, Einar, Eirik, Eitil, Erp, Eylimi, Eyolf, Eystein, Fafnir, Finnbogi, Fjolmod, Fjolvar, Fjori, Franmar, Freki, Fridleif, Frithjof, Frodi, Frosti, Fyri, Gardar, Gauk, Gauti, Gautrek, Geirmund, Geirrod, Geirthjof, Gilling, Gjuki, Glammad, Gothorm, Granmar, Grettir, Grim, Grimhild, Gripir, Grundi, Gudmund, Gunnar, Gunnbjorn, Gust, Guthorm, Hadding, Haeming, Hafgrim, Hagal, Hak, Haki, Hakon, Halfdan, Hamal, Hamdir, Harald, Harek, Hauk, Havard, Hedin, Heidrek, Heimir, Helgi, Herbjorn, Herthjof, Herverd, Hildigrim, Hjalm-Gunnar, Hjalmar, Hjalprek, Hjorleif, Hjorvard, Hlodvard, Hlodver, Hlothver, Hodbrodd, Hogni, Hoketil, Holmgeir, Hosvir, Hraerek, Hrafknel, Hrani, Hreggvid, Hring, Hroar, Hrodmar, Hroi, Hrolf, Hrollaug, Hrosskel, Hrotti, Hunding, Hunthjof, Hymling, Idmund, Illugi, Imsigull, Ingjald, Ivar, Jarnskeggi, Jokul, Jormunrek, Ketil, Kjar, Knui, Kol, Krabbi, Kraki, Leif, Melnir, Neri, Odd, Olaf, Olvir, Orkning, Orr, Otrygg, Ottar, Reavil, Raknar, Ref, Rennir, Rodstaff, Rolf, Runolf, Saemund, Sigmund, Sigurd, Sinfjotli, Sirnir, Sjolf, Skuli, Skuma, Slagfid, Smid, Snaeulf, Snaevar, Snidil, Snorri, Sorkvir, Sorli, Soti, Sorkvir, Sorli, Soti, Starkad, Steinthor, Storvirk, Styr, Svafnir, Svafrlami, Svart, Svidi, Svip, Thjodrek, Thord, Thorfinn, Thorgeir, Thorir, Thormod, Thorstein, Thrand, Thvari, Tind, Toki, Tryfing, Ulf, Ulfhedin, Vidgrip, Vignir, Vikar, Visin, Voland Yngvi

Women's Names:
Aesa, Alfhild, Alof, Arnora, Asa, Aslaug, Aud, Bekkhild, Bera, Bestla, Bodvild, Borghild, Borgny, Brynhild, Busla, Dagmaer, Dagny, Edda, Edny, Eyfura, Fjotra, Freydis, Galumvor, Geirrid, Gjaflaug, Grimhild, Groa, Gudrid, Gudrun, Gullrond, Halldis, Hallfrid, Hallveig, Hekja, Helga, Herborg, Herkja, Hervor, Hildigunn, Hildirid, Hjordis, Hjotra, Hleid, Hrafnhild, Hrodrglod, Ingibjorg, Ingigerd, Isgerd, Kara, Kolfrosta, Kostbera, Lofnheid, Lofthaena, Lyngheid, Nauma, Oddrun, Olvor, Ragnhild, Saereid, Sigrid, Sigrlinn, Silksif, Sinrjod, Skjalf, Svanhvit, Swanhild, Sylgja, Thjodhild, Thorgerd, Thorunn, Throa, Thurid, Tofa, Unn, Vaetild, Yrsa

Religions: At the onset of the Viking era, most worshipped the deities of the Norse pantheon, but they all gradually converted to Christianity starting in the 10th century. By the end of the Viking age, Christianity fully replaced the old faith.

Viking Society

Gender Roles: In Viking society, men were expected to be warriors and explorers, while women were expected to stay at home and manage the property. Because of this, women warriors and adventurers are rare in Viking society. This isn't to say Vikings felt women weren't capable of being effective warriors, just that they weren't supposed to in their society. Truly exceptional female warriors usually became compared to Valkyries and are viewed by many Viking men with superstitious awe.

Under Viking tradition, women had many rights. They could own property and inherit lands. Women were expected to manage everything in the household, and wives often supervised the estates while the husband was gone. With such a warlike people, there were many widows, who kept the family farms and made the prosper. A woman had the right to divorce her husband (he, of course, also had the same right).

Social Rankings: At the bottom rung of the social ladder was the thrall or slave. The Vikings did practice slavery, although not to its cruellest extremes. Thralls did much of the heavy farm work. They were not without some rights, though these were few. Thralls' lives were counted as no more than those of cattle under Viking law. Thrallry was not inescapable; the thrall's master could grant the thrall freedom, another person could buy the thrall's freedom from his master, or the thrall himself could buy his own freedom (thralls were allowed to own a little property and livestock and engage in business).

The largest social class in Viking society are the free farmers, the karlykn or freemen. Unlike most of Europe, the farmers of Scandinavia were truly free. Their farmland was owned outright. Earls and kings had no claim on a man's land. A freeman enjoyed full protection under the law, although lawsuits at the time depended on power and alliance. Most freemen were farmers. Others were retainers, smiths, warriors, merchants, shipwrights, skalds, woodcarvers, and any number of other trades.

Above the freemen were the men of authority -- local chieftains and earls. These were the men who kept retainers (freemen house-carls or huskarlar). They were the commanders in battles, had influence on the selection of the local lawspeakers, collected tribute, tended the king's estates, and enforced the king's decrees.

Warriors in Viking Society: The warrior was the central part of the Viking culture. One of the ways a man earned respect was through his sword. Combat was not the only way, but it was perhaps the easiest. It did not require special study, inborn talents, or even a heavy investment for equipment. Anyone with a club could become a brave warrior. Most, though, preferred a stout shield and good sword. A warrior could follow his occupation in a variety of different ways: as a duellist, a house-carl or member of a warrior society.

Law: For all their warlike behavior, the Vikings were a very legal-minded people. Although they had a king and nobles, the people founded semi-democratic assemblies virtually everywhere they went. These assemblies existed to hear disputes between men and to pass laws concerning the governing of the district. An assembly was known as a thing. Things were composed of freemen; the nobility were barred from participating. The things existed to hear lawsuits.

Trade: Raiding and warfare were not the sole occupations of Vikings. Indeed as time passed, prime raiding targets became places for settlement and trade. Trade was vital for the Vikings because their homeland was poor in many necessary goods and skills. Trade was conducted for both useful and luxury goods. Although poor in some things, Scandinavians had many desirable resources to trade: thralls, iron, horn, furs, walrus ivory, honey, ropes, fish and timber. What they wanted in exchange were silver, glassware, swords, wool, salt, spices, silk, and wine.

Religion: Few men worshipped only a single god. People worshipped a variety of gods depending on the need and situation. There were few proper temples of the gods in Scandinavia. However, there were many sacred sites out-of-doors. These included mountains, islands, groves, fields, rocks and trees. Ceremonies would sometimes be conducted at these sites and other times at a farmhouse that also doubled as a local temple.

There were generally three main ceremonies each year: one in the spring, one at mid-summer, and one in the fall. These ceremonies were marked by sacrifices of animals (and sometimes humans) and ritual feasting. All were intended to ensure fertility for the farm. Sometimes the summer festival included prayers for victory in war and raiding. Oracles were consulted and offerings to the gods were made.

Not all Vikings were a fiercely devout group. Worship was something like a bargain. In exchange for devotions, the gods were supposed to give something in return. If they did not, the pact was broken. The Norsemen did not create religious institutions like the Church or the temples of Rome. In general, each man was responsible for his own faith in the gods.

The Lands of the Vikings

This small land is one of the three countries that make up Scandinavia. During the Viking age, Denmark included the south-eastern coast of Sweden- Halland, Skane and Blekinge. Sometimes Danish rule extended to the Vik, now Oslofjord in Norway. To the south of Denmark were the Wends. Denmark was a low-lying flat land of bogs, heaths, and sand dunes, although parts were covered with forests of beech and oak. Everywhere was close to the coast, causing one chronicler to note the Danes "live in the sea". At the base of the peninsula is Hedeby, one of the most important trading centers in Scandinavia. Here Franks and Germans met to buy the goods of Norsemen. The town was protected by an earthen rampart. Not far from it was the Danevirke, an earthen fortification that separates Denmark from its southern neighbors. Other towns include Viborg, Ribe (another trading center), Schleswig, Arhus, and Jelling (where the king resided). From the beginning of the Viking age, Denmark was under the rule of a single king. Late in the Viking age these kings built several fortresses at Aggersborg, Trellborg, Fykat, and other places.

The Faeroes
These islands are steep, treeless hills rising from the ocean. Known from the beginning of the Viking age, the Faeroes were first home to Irish monks who lived on these bleak islands. The Norsemen colonized these islands during the early 800s, driving the hermits away. Buildings were made of turf and field stone. Crops grew poorly, but sheep and cattle were raised. The hardy settlers also relied on fishing, game birds, and whaling. During August, the men would drive the whales ashore and slaughter them for their meat and bone.

Discovered in the early 900s, Groenland (Greenland) was not settled until sometime around 985 when Eirik the Red led an expedition there. Named Groenland for its vast meadows (it was somewhat warmer then), the island did eventually support two main areas of settlement, the Eastern Settlement around Brattahild, and the Western Settlement at Godthab fjord. These were the only areas with adequate grazing land for farmers. Without trees, buildings were made of turf and stone, Life was hard and relied on imports from Iceland and further east. In exchange, the Greenlanders sold wool, seal hides, furs, walrus ivory, and fierce falcons. At its furthest reaches it was thought to give entrance to the cold, dark land of Niflheim.

Isaland, or Iceland, was settled by Vikings from Norway, the Shetlands, Orkneys, the Faeroes, and British Isles. The first voyages were around 860, when a few Irish monks were found living there in solitude. Serious colonization began in 870 and lasted for about 60 years. Iceland seems a harsh and forbidding climate. The land is mostly meadow with only small areas of forest. Volcanic vents and lava fields make the going rugged, and glaciers dominate the center of the island. Herding and some crops were the principal ways of life on the island. The people lived on scattered farms and there were no towns of consequence. Aside from the farms, the only other sites of importance were the things, the assembly grounds. Iceland had no king or single ruler. The farmers were independent freemen. Governing was conducted by the thing and the 36 godi of the land. For convenience, the island was divided into four quarters, one for each direction. Each quarter had its own assembly and, in turn, was divided into three districts. Three godi controlled different areas of each district. Thus, there was a clear chain of command for settling disputes and passing laws. The Icelanders were noted for many goods, particularly their fine woolen cloth. This was one of their principal exports, along with seals, eider-down, and hides. They imported lumber, grain, and luxury goods. As a people, they were fiercely independent; many were outlaws from Norway, having incurred the wrath of the king there. These men brought their families to join them in Iceland. Although it was a harsh life there, the island was also noted for its skalds. All of what was later written down came from the Icelanders. They had a great love of words.

This region lies along the southern coast of the Baltic. Although there is a large native population there, it has been heavily colonized by the Swedes, since the Dvina river, an important trade route to Kiev, passes through the Jand. The trading towns of Grobin and Truso were once of particular importance, although these towns declined early in the Viking age. Kurland was seldom the target of raiders, since there was little wealth in the land. The most useful things that could be taken from it were slaves and amber. The amber was carved into figurines and used for jewelry. Slaves from the region, since they were pagan, were sold in the markets of Hedeby (which would not accept Christians as slaves).

One of the lands of Scandinavia, Norway is a narrow strip of mountainous jand. The coastline is a jagged series of fjords, waterways that cut like gashes through the steep slopes. It is along these fjords that most of the people lived, making use of the cramped farmlands. This rugged land is one wing of the Viking homeland. Norway divides into several regions. In the south, around modern Oslo, is the fjord known as the Vikin, possible source of the Viking name. The Vikin was home to the kings of Norway. Here was the best farmland in the country and it was a close connection to the kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden. At its mouth was the town of Kaupang, an important trading center. Dividing the Vikin from western Norway is a range of jagged mountains. Low passes reach to Trondelag, but voyages along the coast were much more practical. The Norway peninsula, which stretches down from the Vikin, is a rugged region, almost inaccessible by land. Here there are many isolated valleys almost completely independent of all others. Bergen, on the coast, was a small center of trade and the starting point for many voyages west. Finally, north of Bergen along the coast was the Trondelag region, This was another region with sizeable farms and good communication. Passes led to the Vikin and Sweden. It was the seat of many important jarls. North of Norway is Lapland. Although independent, the Lapps were required to pay tribute to the earls of Trondelag. The Lapps were well-known for their skill in sorcery, although they could seldom withstand the Vikings in battle.

Orkney Islands
These islands, just off the coast of Scotland, were settled early in (or perhaps before) the Viking age. The islands were well-sited for the Vikings, close to Caithness (northern Scotland) and only a short voyage across the north sea to Norway. Travelers from Iceland, Ireland, and the Faeroes often wintered over at the Orkneys when storms were too fierce to venture on the open sea. The islands, like many in the north, were relatively treeless. Houses were made of turf and stone and the men lived by herding, fishing, and raising crops of barley and other hardy grains. Trade was in these goods, especially malt (roasted barley) sent to Iceland. The Orkney islands were ruled by hereditary earls. While supposedly subject to the Norwegian king, the earls of Orkney ruled pretty much as they pleased, since there was little the Norwegian lord could do to them. The earls had close, though not always friendly, ties to the lords of Scotland, particularly those of Caithness.

This is the third nation that forms Scandinavia. Sweden roughly divides into three parts. The southern section is mostly low-lying plains, rich with rivers, lakes, and forests and known as Gotaland. Cut off from the North Sea by the Danes and Norse, the Vikings of Gotaland turned their attention to the Baltic and the lands of the east. Thus, Swedish settlements are found in Finland and Russia. The middle section was likewise an area of forest and plains and is known as Svealand. This was the center of Swedish power. Swedish kings resided in Uppsala, while nearby Birka was a vital trade center throughout Scandinavia. Finally in the north is Norrland. Although little populated, it was an important source of resources — furs, timber, and iron all came from its woods. Svealand was under the control of a single king from the start of the Viking age. As in Norway, this king had to be approved by the people and assemblies handled much of the day to day affairs.

Meaning perhaps "grassland" or "land of vines", the Vinland explored by Lief Erikson and others is now believed to be Newfoundland and parts of the coast further south. A small settlement was established on the shore, but was attacked by skraelingar (meaning the "wretches", a contemptuous name for the Native Americans there). It did not thrive and was eventually abandoned or wiped out. The stories of this land describe it as filled with riches, although hostile skraelingar abound. Ultimately, Vinland proved too far from civilization for proper settlement.

Other lands
The vikings were aware of and traded with people of other lands, including but not limited to, Africa, Araby, Byzantium, England, the Frankish empire, Gardariki (Russia), Ireland, Karelia (Finland and Russia), Saxland (Frankish empire, due south of Denmark), Scotland, and Tafestaland (Finland). They also believed in mythical lands such as Alfheim, Asgard, Geirrodargardar, Glasisvellir, Grundir, Jotunheim, Mirkwood, Muspellheim, Niflheim, Noatown and Risaland.

Source: Adapted from AD&D 2nd Edition HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook to fit the Masque of the Red Death setting
« Last Edit: May 14, 2023, 02:27:17 PM by EO »
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The Celts of Antiquity
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2022, 09:33:31 AM »
The Celts of Antiquity (2000 B.C.E. to 449 C.E.)

The Celts were a collection of tribes with origins in central Europe that shared a similar language, religious beliefs, traditions and culture.

The origins of the Celts are lost in prehistory, but most scholars now agree that the Unetice or Urnfield Culture of Bronze Age Czechoslovakia is the most likely origin. The bronze-workers of this culture, which was active around 2,000 B.C.E., used ornamental designs that were very similar to those of the Iron Age Celts. By the 2nd century B.C.E., the Celts occupied an area stretching from modern Czechoslovakia in the east to Ireland in the west, and from Scotland in the north to Spain in the south. Although the area was broken into many petty kingdoms and tribal domains, the culture and way of life remained the same, as did (with regional differences) the language. The height of Celtic culture lasted from the 5th century B.C.E. until the Roman Empire conquered most of the Celtic heartland.

Because the Celts were not a literate culture, very little of their early history survives, so we are forced to rely upon the observations of other cultures with whom they came into contact. For the most part, we are obliged to see the Celts not through their own eyes, but through the eyes of the Greeks and Romans.

Cultural Level: Bronze Age to Iron Age.

The Celtic Heroes

Typical Celtic Classes: The heroes of Celtic literature were mighty warriors, famed for their fighting spirit and skills. Fighters, barbarians and rangers form the backbone of the ancient Celts adventurers, each and everyone of them skilled in the use of the longsword, the spear and the bow. Rogues abound as well, though thieves are not treated kindly if found. Both druids and bards are considered as part of the priesthood of the Celts and are important leaders in their communities. The Celts of Antiquity are an illiterate people with a strong oral tradition; bards therefore have a very important role as the repositories of history, law and lore - in their memories lay the whole of the unwritten Celtic tradition. Sorcerers and witches (whom can be represented by the beguiler, hexblade or warlock class) abound as antagonists in Celtic legends. Favored souls may exist but would themselves be unaware of their latent abilities. Clerics, monks (as the character class), paladins, voodan and warmages are not found in Celtic culture.

Remember that divine spellcasting classes, with the exception of voodan, do not receive any divine powers while on Gothic Earth. Player characters from this era would obtain such powers only once in the Demiplane of Dread, but only if the D&D alignment rule is followed.

Languages: Primary - Brythonic (Welsh, Breton, British Celtic, Gaulish, Cornish) or Goidelic (Scots, Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Manx) dialect. Secondary - Latin (Ancient Rome), Old Saxon (Northern Germany), Old Norse (Scandinavia), Greek (eastern Mediterranean lands).

Recommended Skills: Antagonize, Discipline, Parry, Spot

Recommended Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (all), Blind-Fight, Bullheaded, Called Shot, Dirty Fighting, Disarm, Great Fortitude, Luck of Heroes, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (longsword, battleaxe, spear, shortbow).

Celtic Names: Celtic names vary over time and space. Gaulish names of the Roman period were very different from the later Irish names, which in turn were very different from the Welsh and British names mentioned in the Mabinogion. The Roman writers who recorded most of the Gaulish names we know today turned them into Latin, adding the -us and -a word endings of most Roman names and spelling them in a way that would work in their own language. This is not necessarily how the Gauls and Britons used their names. Pages 24 and 25 of the HR3 Celts Campaign sourcebook provide an extensive list of names that would be too long to repeat here.

Religion: The ancient Celts follow the gods of the Celtic Pantheon. In later ages Celtic descendants may be actual clerics of those deities, but in the Antiquity era priests were exclusively bards or druids.

Antique Celtic Societies

Gender Roles: The first impression of the Celtic culture may be that it is male-dominated. Kings, warriors, druids, bards — all these words conjure up a predominantly male image. However, this image is only partially correct. Celtic society did feature women in powerful positions. Queens could wield power in their own right as well as conspiring behind the throne. There were female warriors, although they were rare. Cu Chulainn, the greatest of the Irish heroes, was trained by the warrior-woman Scathach, and queens like Boudicca and Medb took to the battlefield quite routinely. Druidesses are mentioned by classical sources, although it is unclear whether they had the same status as their male counterparts or whether they took some specialized role in religious observance.

Celtic women were theoretically able to do anything a man could do. In practice, though, there were social pressures which encouraged women to stay at home and bear and raise children, and female warriors — or women doing “men’s work” in any form — would raise a few eyebrows and a few pointed comments. But, provided a woman was prepared to be twice as tough, twice as dedicated, twice as talented, and twice as hardworking as her male counterparts, she could win grudging acceptance in almost any role.

Outsiders viewed Celtic women somewhat differently. Roman historians marvelled at their size, strength, and ferocity, and in many ways the "civilized" Mediterranean view of Celtic and Germanic women laid the foundations for a lasting fascination with barbarian women warriors that has left its mark on mythology and fantasy even to this day. Celtic women were certainly more liberated than their Roman counterparts.

The Tribe: The tribe was the highest focus of loyalty in Celtic society. There was no real idea of Celts uniting against non-Celts, and when the Romans began to attack the Celtic world this lack of unity and inability to lay old feuds aside was the single most important factor influencing Roman victory. The tribe gave each member a set of traditional friends and enemies, and a social structure within which the character's own position and social progress could be measured. Loyalty to the tribe was the most important requirement of Celtic society, and those who betrayed the tribe to its enemies were regarded with hatred and contempt.

Social Rankings: Like most ancient cultures, Celtic society was arranged into several classes. Not everyone was born equal, but some could hope to rise in rank through their deeds. Celtic society is generally divided into five classes: slaves, commoners, craftsmen, the priesthood, and the warrior nobility. In the Roman and post-Roman periods, royalty began to emerge as a separate class but was never as distinct from the nobility as the royalty of the Middle Ages.
  • Slave: The Celts practiced slavery, but not in the commercialized and institutionalized manner of the Mediterranean world. Those tribes which traded with Greece and Rome traded slaves as well as other commodities, but very little is known of the life of slaves within Celtic society. It seems likely that they did most of the menial work, tilling fields and serving meals. Slaves do not seem to have been a large component of Celtic society.
  • Commoner: The bulk of Celtic society was made up of free farmers and herders, and their life was little different than the lives of farmers and herders elsewhere. Their prestige was less than members of the nobility — a farmer's oath was worth about one - tenth of the oath of a minor king, for instance — but they were respected and valued members of society, with guaranteed rights in law. Commoners were subject to the nobility, but not enslaved to them like the peasant farmers of medieval Europe.
  • Craftsman: The skilled craftsmen, along with the priesthood, formed the middle class of Celtic society. A craftsman normally lived in a noble's stronghold, enjoying patronage rather than living by trade as Roman and medieval craftsmen did. Many of the most renowned craftsmen traveled widely, staying with one chieftain for a while and then moving on. Kings and chiefs would compete to attract a master craftsman, and these individuals were often treated as being of equal status to the warrior nobility.
  • Priesthood: In addition to the druids, the priestly class of Celtic society included bards. The priesthood was highly respected and held certain privileges. Druids were sacrosanct and no-one could do them violence. Classical authors write with awe of druids running between two armies that were closing for battle and preventing bloodshed by their divine authority.
  • Nobility: The warrior nobility was the highest class of Celtic society, and it is from this class that kings are drawn. Hereditary succession to kingship was common but not mandatory; in most Celtic lands, kings were chosen by election from a group of noble families.

Law: For all their fierce and wild reputation, the Celts had a detailed legal system, and some of the earliest surviving fragments of Celtic literature are law-codes rather than heroic sagas. The details of Celtic law varied widely from time to time and place to place. The following notes are intended as general guidelines:
  • The priesthood: The power of the priestly class was based as much on their legal function as on their religious position. The druids and bards, together with other priestly types, were the repositories of the whole of the Celtic oral tradition, including the laws.
  • Kinship: A major part of the Celtic legal system was the fact that the kinship group was responsible for the actions of its members. A plaintiff did not go directly to the defendant for compensation, but to his kin, clan, or tribe. Any case involved the kin on both sides, not just the individuals who were directly involved. Because of this, kin might act to prevent one of their members from doing something which could result in a dispute, for it was the kindred group as a whole who would be liable for any fine or compensation. Outside the boundaries of his own tribal lands, an individual could not count on the law to protect him unless there was some reciprocal agreement between the tribes involved — as, for example, when one tribe or leader was subject to another. The aes dana —including the priestly class — seem to have been sacrosanct wherever they went, and they are the only stratum of Celtic society that seems to have traveled widely at all. The importance of kin is also seen in the complexity of the laws surrounding inheritance and marriage, which set out in detail exactly who is entitled to what proportion of an estate, which circumstances might alter anyone's entitlement, and so on. The details vary widely from time to time and place to place, but the emphasis on being able to calculate these things exactly is constant throughout the Celtic world.
  • Conducting a case: It seems that most disputes were taken before a king or chieftain, who refereed it to his priests for judgment according to the established laws and traditions. Evidence was given under oath, and the law-codes went into considerable detail over the value of a man’s oath, which varied based on his social status. According to some codes, a farmer could swear Oaths up to a value of six sets, while the lowest king could swear for up to seven cumals. Some cases could be settled simply by one side obtaining a greater value-of oaths in its favor than the other side, although some law-codes stated that a king's oath could never be oversworn — so cases were always settled by a king's decision.
  • Redress a punishment: Most cases could be redressed by payment of a fine or compensation, and early law-codes go into considerable detail over the assessment of a man’s worth. Like the later Saxon wergild and Viking mannbaetr, each individual had a value which was used to determine just compensation for wrongs done to them. The priestly class alone had the knowledge to decide on the amount of a fine or compensation and probably decided victory and defeat, as well. Some crimes — mostly moral crimes like treason and blasphemy, where monetary compensation to an individual or clan could not redress the situation — were punishable by banishment or death. Banishment did not involve casting a person out from the tribe's territory, but simply denying that individual any part in religious rituals. In religious terms, this punishment was much like excommunication is for Catholics, and the banished person was shunned by all, even kin.
Trade: Within the Celtic lands could be found enough timber, iron, copper, and tin to support their manufacturing needs. Because of this sufficiency in day-to-day needs, they traded almost exclusively for luxury goods from the Mediterranean world. The Greeks and Romans traded with the Celts for metals—especially gold, silver, and tin—as well as slaves and surplus agricultural produce. At one time, Britain had a reputation as the best place in the world to obtain top-quality hunting dogs; these may have been an ancestor of the modern wolfhound and deerhound. In exchange, the Mediterranean world offered wine — the strongest drink available in the Celtic world at this time, since distilling was not known in Europe until the Middle Ages — and high-quality prestige items such as jewelry, silver serving-dishes, and finely wrought silver and gilt-bronze goblets. These items moved considerable distances into the Celtic hinterland, by a combination of trade and gift-giving, and have been found in places where no Greek or Roman ever set foot. The earliest major trading sites sprang up along the river Danube, which remained for some time as the boundary between the Mediterranean and Celtic worlds. As the Romans advanced into Gaul, oppida began to appear in Britain, but had no time to develop fully as Britain was conquered and the Celtic oppida gave way to Roman provincial towns. Once Roman domination over Celtic lands was established, the face of trade changed forever.

Religion: More than three hundred names of Celtic deities are known from inscriptions and literary references, but the Celts had far fewer than three hundred gods. The same deity might have been known by a different name to the Gauls, the Britons, the Welsh, the Scots, and the Irish, for instance. Beyond the major deities, each tribe acknowledged a body of nature spirits and similar minor deities residing in springs, rivers, mountains, and other prominent geographical features within their territory. Despite the work of classical authors, archaeological finds of temples and religious inscriptions, and pagan traces in surviving Celtic literature, our understanding of Celtic religion and the Celtic pantheon remains very unclear. There was apparently a great deal of regional variation, making it impossible to produce a coherent view of Celtic religion as a whole. The druids of the Celts did not dedicate themselves to a single deity; they worshipped all of them, calling upon individual deities for specific problems. The druids served the entire pantheon of Celtic deities.

Apart from the sacrifices that so shocked classical authors, almost nothing is known of the religious rituals of the Celts, and it could be that, like the Vikings, the Celts did not generally express their religious beliefs through rituals. There were four great festivals in the Celtic year, marking the beginning of each season. Samhain marked the beginning of the year and was celebrated around November 1st. This was traditionally a time when the natural and supernatural worlds were very close together. Imbolec marked the start of Spring, was celebrated around February 1st, and seems to have been a fertility festival. Beltaine was celebrated around May 1st and had to do with the well-being of the herds. Livestock was driven between two large bonfires (the name beltaine means “the fire of Bel”) to drive off evil influences. Lugnasadh, the beginning of Fall, was celebrated around August 1st and was connected with the god Lugh. It is thought that these festivals were marked by feasting and perhaps by clan assemblies; like medieval saint's-day fairs, they were probably times to renew old acquaintances and share news.

A Brief Timeline of the Celts (up to 449 C.E.)

2000 B.C.E. - Proto-Celtic Unetice culture expands.
1500 B.C.E. - Tumuls culture develops from Unetic culture; expansion continues.
1000 B.C.E. - Urnfield culture develops in Central Europe.
800 B.C.E. - Hallstatl, the earliest true Celtic culture develops.
600 B.C.E. - Greeks found a trading colony at Massalia (Marseilles) to trade with southern Gaul.
500 B.C.E. - La Tene culture develops; Celtic culture reaches its peak.
450 B.C.E. - Celts reach Iberia (Spain)
400 B.C.E. - Celts cross Alps into Italy.
390 B.C.E. - Gauls sack Rome.
279 B.C.E. - Celts invade Greece through Macedonia, temple of Delphi plundered.
270 B.C.E. - Celts settle in Asia Minor; Galatia founded.
218 B.C.E. - Hannibal invades Italy with Celtic mercenaries.
154 B.C.E. - Celts raid Massalia; Roman forces relieve the city.
125 B.C.E. - Celts raid Massalia again; Roman forces relieve the city.
113 B.C.E. - Roman armies defeat Cimbri at Noreia.
102 B.C.E. - Cimbri and Teutones defeated at Aix-en-Provene.
101 B.C.E. - Cimbri and Teutones defeated at Vercellae.
82 B.C.E. - Romans defeat Celts in Italy; Roman province of Gallia Cisalpina formed.
71 B.C.E. - Germanic Teutones invade the territory of the Celtic Aedui.
60 B.C.E. - Aedui appeal to Rome for help against Teutones; Rome refuses.
58 B.C.E. - Helvetii try to leave Switzerland and move into southern Gaul; start of Gallic wars.
56 B.C.E. - Romans defeat Veneti at sea.
55-54 B.C.E. - Julius Caesar makes two expeditions to Britain.
52 B.C.E. - Caesar defeats Vercingetorix at Avaricum; Vercingetorix defeats Caesar in Gergovia; Caesar defeats Vercingetorix at Alesia, Vercingetorix surrenders.
10 C.E. - Catuvellauni conquer Trinovantes.
40 C.E. - Cunobelin dies.
43 C.E. - Roman conquest of Britain begins.
51 C.E. - Caratacus captured.
61 C.E. - Romans destroy Druidic stronghold on Anglesey; Boudicca rebels.
71 C.E. - Romans begin conquest of the north of Britain.
117 C.E. - Roman frontier in Britain established along the line of Hadrian's Wall; end of Roman conquests of Celtic peoples.
122 C.E. - Construction of Hadrian's Wall begins.
143 C.E. - Antonine Wall built nort of Hadrian's Wall.
163 C.E. - Antonine Wall abandoned.
200 C.E. - Saxons begin raiding the east coast of Britain.
367 C.E. - Picts, Scots and Saxons mount a coordinated attack on Britain.
300 C.E. - Cormac mac Airt rules at Tara.
406 C.E. - Gaul overrun by the Franks and their allies.
410 C.E. - Roman legions withdrawn from the British Isles.
427 C.E. - Leary O'Niall becomes King of Ireland.
446 C.E. - The "Groans of the Britons" an unsuccessful appeal by the Britons for aid against Saxon raids.
449 C.E. - Germanic invasion of Britain begins. Start of the Dark Ages of the British Isles.

The Lands of the Celts

Albu was the Celtic name for Britain; as Romans and then Saxons conquered the part which is now England, the name Albu came to apply to Scotland, The southern and eastern parts of Britain are fertile lowland and easily conquered; the northern and western parts are higher and more rugged. The southern and eastern tribes of Britain had trading contacts with the coastal tribes of Gaul and were the wealthiest in terms of cattle and gold. The northern and western tribes had a reputation for being tougher and resisted the Roman and Saxon conquerors for longer. In the century or so before the Roman invasion of C.E. 43, the strongest tribe in Britain was the Catuvellauni, who controlled most of southern England, either directly or through client tribes. In the time of Julius Caesar (around 50 B.C.E.), their capital was at Wheathampstead, but this later moved to Colchester, which would become the first capital of Roman Britain. Hilltop forts were common throughout Britain, and there was a major seaport at Hengistbury Head, trading mainly with the Mediterranean world. The mineral springs at Bath and Buxton are known to have been sacred to the Celts, and there may have been shrines at other springs and wells. The major rivers were regarded as divine, especially the Thames and the Severn, the two largest river systems in Britain.

When the Saxons were conquering Britain in the 5th century C.E., not all of the Celtic population was pushed back into the north and west. Some refugees sailed from southwest England and settled in the rugged coastal area of Armorica. There had always been links between southern Britain and the Atlantic seaboard of Gaul, and the area settled by the British refugees became known as Brittany. Shortly after this time, Brittany, like the rest of Gaul, came under the rule of the Frankish kings, so Brittany cannot truly be said to have had a free Celtic existence.

The Romans pinned Wales down with a chain of forts and legionary bases but never truly conquered this wild and mountainous country. When the Saxons invaded Britain, they were halted at the Welsh borders, and it was not until the 13th century that England was able to conquer Wales. Most of Wales consists of mountain and moor-land fit only for sheep and goats, but the sheltered valleys support some agriculture, and the fertile isle of Mon (modern Anglesey) has good farming. Man was a sacred island, and when the Romans attacked Wales, they encountered the stiffest resistance of the campaign. Some scholars believe that Boudicca's rebellion was timed to delay the Roman campaigns by creating a disturbance in the rear of the Roman forces. Wales is best known today for its mineral wealth; coal was a novelty to Roman visitors, who wrote with awe of a black stone which burned and gave heat but was not consumed by the fire. Copper was found in several parts of Wales; gold was mined at Dolau Cothi in pre-Roman times, and the conquerors took over the operation. Wales is the setting for most of The Mabinogion, which is one of the major surviving bodies of Celtic literature. It is clear from these stories that the Welsh raided and traded with the Irish frequently — the Irish Sea was more of a roadway than a barrier. In Roman times, the two major tribes of Wales were the Silures in the south and the Ordovices in the north; by the time of The Mabinogion (which may reflect events in the Dark Ages and was first written down in the 13th century), Wales consisted of six Celtic kingdoms plus the island of Man: Gwynedd in the north, Powys and Keredigyawn in the middle, and Dyved, Ystrad Tywi, and Morgannweg in the south.

Ireland was one of the few parts of the Celtic world never to be attacked by the Romans. There were four kingdoms; Ulster in the north, Connacht in the west, Leinster in the southeast, and Munster in the southwest. Ireland's fertile central lowlands are dotted with peat bogs, and in some areas dried peat is a traditional fuel. The lowlands are surrounded by several low mountain ranges, but fully two-thirds of the land can be used for agriculture or pasture. The climate of Europe was milder in the early part of the Celtic period than it is at present, and more land may have been usable for farming at that time. Ireland's main river systems are: the Shannon, running southwest through Connacht and Munster; the Erne, running northwest through Ulster; and the Boyne, running east to the Irish Sea. The Boyne, especially the area of Brug na Boinne ("the bend of the Boyne", near modern Drogheda) had been an area of religious significance since pre-Celtic times, and the hill of Tara in County Meath was a major political and religious center up until the 6th century A.D, Emain Macha, the site of the court of Ulster, and Cruachan, the court of Connacht, were also important centers. The conversion of Ireland to Christianity began in the mid-5th century C.E., and the bulk of the surviving Irish stories were written down in the 6th and 7th centuries by Christian monks. In the 9th century, Ireland was invaded by Norwegian Vikings, and after two centuries of fighting the Irish were subdued.

The Celts spread eastward as well as westward in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.E. Celts raided Greece, sacking the shrine of Delphi in 279 B.C.E. and crossing the Bosphorus in the following year. In 270, they were settled by the King of Bythinia into an area of Asia Minor that became known as Galatia. These people were the Galatians of the New Testament and survived as a recognizable ethnic and linguistic group into the 4th century C.E. Attalus I repelled the Galatians from Pergamum in 230 B.C.E.

The area which the Romans called Gaul occupied much of modern France and Belgium, extending into parts of Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. There were dozens of tribes in this vast area, and although Vercingetorix of the Arverni managed to hold together a fragile alliance of tribes to fight the Romans, there was very little true unity. Consequently, Caesar found it easy to conquer Gaul piecemeal. The Belgae were an alliance of northern tribes which had links with Britain and, according to Caesar, included some of the most powerful tribes in Gaul. As might be expected, such a large area included many sacred sites and other points of interest. Certain peaks of the Lower Pyrenees were sacred, as was the Puy de Dome in the Massif Central. Temples have been discovered throughout the area. The river Seine (Sequana) was sacred and probably had a temple at its source, The Roman general Caepio plundered a series of sacred groves and sacred lakes in the neighbourhood of Toulouse in 106 B.C, and there seems to have been at least one sacred place in the territory of each tribe where such sacrifices were made. According to Caesar, the Druids of Gaul held an annual assembly in a sacred grove in the territory of the Carnutes; some historians doubt this statement, but, if it existed, this would be the most sacred place in Gaul. The Greeks had been in contact with the Celts before the Romans, and the city of Marseilles was founded as the Greek trading colony of Massalia around 600 B.C.E. Massalia was part of an extensive network of Greek trading posts throughout the Mediterranean. Lugdunum, modern Lyons, was the major center for southern Gaul in pre-Roman times as today, and other major settlements included Avaricum (modern Bourges) and Lutetia (Paris).

The Iberian peninsula consists of modern Spain and Portugal, and was first settled by the Celts in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C, Roman historians tell us that the Iberians were very similar to the Celts of Aquitaine. The province of Hispania was added to the growing Roman empire in the second century B.C.E., after a series of vicious and indecisive campaigns matching Roman legions against Celtiberian guerrilla tactics. It took Scipio Africanus, the brilliant Roman general who had finally defeated Hannibal, to break the deadlock in Spain. Hannibal had used large numbers of Spanish mercenaries in his attack on Italy, and had relied upon the cooperation of the Spanish as he made his way from North Africa to the Alps. In the aftermath of the Punic Wars, the conquest of Spain was as much a punitive war as an effort to secure Rome's borders. The Celtiberians of Spain, like the Galatians in Asia Minor, were probably assimilated into the native population over the course of several centuries. The Romans encountered hill-forts and a tribal structure in Spain which were very similar to those they found in the rest of Celtic Europe, but the centuries of Roman rule, followed by Islamic domination in the Middle Ages, effectively wiped out any traces of Celtic culture. Little is known about Spain and the Celtiberians before the Punic Wars. There are a few scattered passages in the writings of Greek geographers mentioning that the land was rich in grain, wine, and olive oil, but their detailed knowledge only extended as far as the Mediterranean coastline, which was far from the Celtic-settled areas. The Milesians are said to have traveled from Spain to settle in Ireland as the last of the legendary invaders; it could be that they were Celtiberians.

Pictish Lands
The area of modern Scotland was occupied by the Picts until the 5th century C.E.; the Scots of the time were Irish raiders who settled on Scotland's west coast and pushed the Picts steadily eastward. The Picts were a wild people, and according to Roman writers, they were even more primitive and barbaric than the Celts. Unfortunately, almost no information survives about their culture, but they seem to have lived in partially-subterranean houses with turf roofs and walls of unmortared stone. They probably survived by a mixture of hunting, trapping, and small-scale farming, and Pictish warriors are said to have tattooed or painted themselves to look more terrifying in battle. The name "Picts" comes from a Latin word meaning "painted"; the name by which these people called themselves does not survive.

Source: Adapted from AD&D 2nd Edition HR3 Celts Campaign Sourcebook to fit the Masque of the Red Death setting.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2024, 03:07:43 PM by EO »
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Ancient Greece
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2022, 10:32:19 AM »
The Ancient Greeks

Ancient Greece was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization consisting of a collection of city-states which had their own rulers, cultural differences, laws, and alliances. The city-states battled one another as often as they fought foreign enemies. Nevertheless, Greek culture, primarily that of its greatest city, Athens, spread throughout most of the ancient world, and Greek art, drama, literature, philosophies, mathematics, medical knowledge, and theories of government formed the basis for many of the civilizations of the western world.

Cultural Level: Bronze Age (Minoan, Mycenaean and Dark Ages) to Iron Age (Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic)

The Ancient Greek Heroes

Typical Greek Classes: Fighters are the most commonly Greek Class, from mythic heroes to the hoplite soldiers. Greek Bards are common, from the many playwrights and the epic poets to festival dancers. Barbarians are rare among Greek Society, but a few who seek to emulate the rage of mythical heroes and demigods do exist. Clerics are common in Greek society, though each polis has its own way of handling priests and priestesses. From the hetaira, to pirates and scouts, to diplomats and assassins. There are a number of different sorts of professions that could all fall under the category of Rogue. Greek mythology, epic poetry, and drama offer many portraits of magic-wielding characters (beguilers, hexblade, sorcerers, warlocks and wizards) - most of them female. Tales often refer to them as witches or sorceresses, while males are called magicians. None are particularly trusted, and most are seen as potentially evil and dangerous. Greek rangers are rare as most have a fearful view of savage nature. Favored souls may exist but would themselves be unaware of their latent abilities. Druids, monks (as the character class), paladins and warmages are not found at all within Greek societies.

Remember that divine spellcasting classes, with the exception of the voodan, do not receive any divine powers while on Gothic Earth. Player characters from this era would obtain such powers only once in the Demiplane of Dread, but only if the D&D alignment rule is followed.

Recommended Skills: Antagonize, Discipline, Influence, Parry, Spot, Perform

Recommended Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (light), Blind-Fight, Bullheaded, Disarm, Great Fortitude, Luck of Heroes, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (spear, shortsword, shortbow), Shield Proficiency, Shield Parry.

Languages: Primary - Ancient Greek. Secondary - Persian/Farsi, Sanskrit, Demotic Egyptian, Coptic Egyptian, Celtic dialects, Babylonian, Latin.

Greek Names: Names in Ancient Greece were generally single names. To help differentiate people, often various bynames and nicknames could be given. So for example Eumenes of Caria or Seleukos I Nikator.

When denoting family dynasties the suffix dai was often applied to the founder of the family. So for example Agis who founded the Agiadai. Sometimes it could be applied to the origin of where they came from, hence the Argeádai which derives from Argos as their first king Karanos was said to come from Argos. This is sometimes transliterated as -id so the Antigonid is one example. More often, it was common to say "X, Son of Y" for various patrilineal descent. Diogenes, son of Anaximandros for instance.

Remember that server rules do not allow the use of titles or nicknames in a character name, but indicating the land of origin is fair game.

Male Names: Aknonios, Akrotatos, Alexandros, Alketas,, Alkimos, Amantas, Amphoteros, Amyntas, Anaxikrates, Anaximandros, Anaxippos, Andragoras, Andromenes, Andronikos, Androsthenes, Antenor, Antialkidas, Antigonos, Antikles, Antipatros, Antiphates, Antiphilos, Antisthenes, Aphrodisios, Demosthenes, Derdas, Deriades, Didas, Dikaios, Dimnos, Diodoros, Diodotos, Diogenes, Diomedes, Epameinondas, Epandros, Epikuros, Epikydes, Epimenes, Epokillos, Erasistratos, Eratosthenes, EuthykritosHarpalos, Hegesias, Hekataios, Hektor, Helenos, Heliodoros, Heliokles, Hephaistion, Herakleides, Herophilos, Hierax, Hieron, Hieronymos, Hiketas, Hippalos, Hippokrates, Hippostratos, Kleomenes, Kleonymos, Koinos, Koroibos, Krateros, Krates, Krateuas, Krenides, Ktesikles, Laomedon, Leonidas, Leonnatos, Leontios, Leosthenes, Leostratos, Leukon, Lydiadas, Lykurgos, Menon, Menos, Nikandros, Nikanor, Nikephoros, Nikeratos, Niketes, Nikias, Nikodoros, Nikokles, Nikokrates, Paionios, Pairisades, Pantaleon, Pantordanos, Parmenion, Patrokles, Pausanias, Pythagoras, Peithon, Philoxenos, Phylarkhos, Platon, Polemon, Polybios, Polydamas, Polydoros, Ptolemaios, Pyrrhias, Pyrrhos, Sosthenes, Sostratos, Sotas, Spalyris, Spartokos, Stasanor, Stilpon, Stratokles, Straton, Stratonikos, Theodotos, Theokritos, Theophilos, Theophrastos, Thoas, Thoinias, Thoinon, Thrasykles, Timaios, Timoleon, Timotheos, Tryphon, Xanthippos, Xenares, Xenokrates, Xenophon, Zeionises, Zenon, Zeuxis, Zoilos, Zopyrion

Female Names: Ariadne, Aristagora, Ariste, Aristion, Aristo, Aristoboule, Aristodike, Aristokleia, Aristonike, Aristylla, ArsinoeArtemis, Artemisia, Aspasia, Athenais, Berenike, Beroaia, Biote, Boidion, Damarate, Dorkas, Eirene,, Elpis, Eukleia, Eukoline, Euphemia, Euphrosyne, Eurydike, Euthalia, Glykera, Gygaia, Hedeia, Hediste, Hedyle, Hedyline, Herais, Hiero, Hierokleia, Hippostrate, Histieia, Homolois, Hypatia, Isidora, Kadmeia, Kalliope, Kallippe, Kallis, Kallista, Kallistion, Kallisto, Kallistrate, Kandake, Kassandra, Kellanthis, Kleagora, Kleariste, Kleino, Kleio, Kleo, Kleopatra, Kleostrate, Krateia, Kratesikleia, Lanassa, Laodike, Leaina, Leontis, Libys, Lysandra, Lysis, Lysistrate, Malthake, Mania, Megaira, Melaina, Melissa, Melitta, Meniske, Metrodora, Mika, Mnesarete, Mnesistrate, Monime, Murrhine, Narkissa, Nausistrate, Nephoris, Nikagora, Nikaia, Nikareta, Nikarete, Nikesipolis, Niko, Nikostrate, Nysa, Oinanthe, Olympia, Olympias, Pamphile, Parthenis, Patrokleia, Phanostrate, Phila, Philainis, Phile, Phileia, Philias, Philinna, Philippa, Philista, Phillo, Philostrate, Philotis, Simon, Sofia, Sostrate, Stratonike, Syra, Thais, Theano, Theodora, Theodote, Theophila, Theoxene, Thessalonike, Thetima, Thoeris, Timagora, Timarete, Timo, Timokleia, Timostrate, Troias, Tryphaina, Xanthe, Xene, Xenia, Xeno, Xenokrateia, Zopyra, Zopyris, Zosime

Religion: Ancient Greek clerics must select one of the Olympian Deities. Divine casters should read this thread on Divine Magic in Gothic Earth.

Ancient Greece Societies

Gender Roles: As in most societies of that time. Men were in charge of their respective households. Most men worked during the day as businessmen or farmers. They held most positions of importance and were expected to defend their city-state in time of wars. Only men were allowed to at the Agora, participate in or observe the athletic games.

Tradeswomen and slaves had to work for a living. Those of the poorer classes usually had booths or corners in the agora (marketplace) where they sold their wares. Slaves did domestic chores, were concubines, and worked wool. Free women grew up with the expectation of marriage and were trained to manage a household. To them fell the task of overseeing all the slaves of the household, acting as peacemaker in any of their disputes, and making sure the day-to-day arrangements for comfort were made.

The women had to care for and educate the young and instruct their daughters in the duties of a wife. Not least among their tasks were weaving cloth and embroidering clothing for the family. Most women were at least literate, and many had some rudimentary knowledge of numbers as well. They were expected to act as stewards of the house, keeping track of supplies and accounting for expenditures.

Both genders actively participated in public processions. Several religious rites and observances throughout the year were reserved exclusively for women.

Social Rankings: The daily life of Greeks differed greatly depending on the time period, location, and the social station and gender of the person in question. Though not limited to these options, here are some of the most common social ranks in Ancient Greece.

  • Slaves: Slaves provided much of the work done during the time of the city-states. They worked the mines, loaded and unloaded cargo from the ships, cultivated the fields, performed household chores, rowed many of the galleys, served as junior craftsmen to many of the artisans, acted as personal attendants, and performed as entertainers. It has been estimated that Athens had twice the number of male slaves as free men and even more slave women. Though the women did not perform the heavier physical labour, they served as craft assistants, entertainers, attendants, and cloth makers. Many slaves were trusted enough to run small shops for their masters. Depending upon his placement, the slave’s life was either truly miserable or fairly comfortable. Work in the mines usually meant poor rations, hard work, and an early death. Placement with a crafts manor farmer meant long hours, but better rations and a degree of respect for the slave’s skills. Best of all was to be sold as a household or state-owned slave.
  • Helots: The Spartan slaves, known as Helots, were noted to be treated differently even in comparison to other Slaves in the ancient word. Plutarch relates the saying that "in Sparta the free man is more free than anywhere else in the world, and the slave more a slave". The helots, were slaves owned by the Spartan state who worked the kleroi owned by the spartiates, thus the nobles owned the land but the State owned the slaves. The helots came in two big groups – the Laconian helots had lived in Sparta before the polis formed and had been reduced to helotage at that time and the Messenian Helots. The Messenian Helots originated from the neighbouring community of Messenia when it was conquered by Sparta in the early 600s, at which point almost the entire population was reduced to being helots. While both were treated harshly, the Messenian Helots were treated far worse than the Laconian Helots. There were c. 200,000 helots, vastly outnumbering every other group in Sparta, or all of them combined. Roughly 85% of the population in Sparta were Helots. This is far greater than even other slave societies of the ancient world.
  • Freemen and Foreigners: Many types of craftsmen were found in ancient Greece. Blacksmiths, goldsmiths, potters, leather workers, armourers, chariot makers, and carpenters were either citizens or metics (resident foreigners) in Athens or were like the Perioikoi in Sparta. They formed a middle class between the aristocrats and the peasants. To their number were added the small merchants, sellers of grain, produce, bread, wine, oil, charcoal, fish, myrtles (flowers), and slaves. All of these spent their mornings in the agora selling their wares. As many of the Athenians were full citizens, those who could do so usually spent their mornings attending the assembly or sitting in judgment at a trial while their slaves, junior workers, or children watched their booths. Some had the leisure to spend their afternoons at a gymnasium. Those who-were less affluent worked at their craft or oversaw junior workers or slaves who did all the labor except for the most exacting details
  • Aristocrats: In the other cities, the pattern followed that of Athens more closely. A typical day for a moderately wealthy Athenian began before dawn with a light breakfast of bread, wine, and perhaps a few figs. Following this, the women retired to their part of the house and began the day’s chores. The master of the house, accompanied by his market slave(s), visited the agora. There, the flimsy booths which could be torn down every night were erected again, and craftsmen’s wares or produce were displayed.

The Law: Governance took many different form in Ancient Greece. Usually, the standard ingredients of a Greek polis are an assembly of all adult citizen males (often called an ekklesia, meaning "assembly"), a smaller advisory committee (frequently called a boule), and then a set number of elected officials who carried out the laws of the other two (magistrates). Different city-states could have different terms for these institutions, but the basic building blocks are there. Regardless of type of government, be it an oligarchy (like in Corinth) or a democracy (like in Athens) or a Tyranny (like in Syracuse), these units don't change but reflect the division of power.

The laws of most Hellenic cities were specific to each particular city. What was law in Athens might be merely custom in Argos or illegal in Sparta. In Athens, where most of the populace was literate, the laws were carved in stone in the agora for all to see. When new laws were proposed, the assembly voted to accept or reject them, and ordinary citizens formed the juries which heard all but the most serious criminal cases. Jurors took an oath before the proceedings in which they agreed to uphold the laws and hear each side of the argument impartially before rendering a verdict.

Spartan Government and Institutions

The Spartans had a unique constitution that while it followed some of the basic generalities of Greek Governments also had its own share of uniqueness. First it had two kings, who came from two families, the Agiadai and the Eurypontidai. These kings retained those military and priestly powers which their ancestors had practised.

The kings, along with 28 nobles who were 60 years or older were members of the Gerousia. The Gerousia decided what motions could be voted on by the Apella and had the power to cancel any decision of the Apella. It also functioned as a court, with the power to try spartiates and even the kings. Each member of the Gerousia once elected served for life.

The Apella was made up of all Spartatoi (men with Citizenship status). They rejected or approved the proposals of the Gerousia and elected all the public officials except the kings. They did not get to debate the laws, or set their own agenda. That right belonged to the Ephors and the Gerousia.

The highest authority belonged to five men known as the ephorate. They decided how property should be distributed, made all the decisions regarding the educational system, had veto power over all proposals, and decided whether a king should be deposed or not. The ephors also were responsible for declaring war annually upon the helots, allowing them to be killed without issue.

Spartan Life: This is about the life of the Spartaotie citizen class, for the life of average spartans, see Helots as helots made up the bulk of Spartan Society. At birth, they were all examined to determine if they would be weaklings. If so, they were taken into the hills to die. Boys at the age of seven would go to the Agoge, the education school for the Spartatoi class. A rite of passage for the older boys in the Agoge was membership in the krypteia. Kryptai would be sent out to the wilderness and survive for a year, during that time they would kill any Helot they found or show any spirit of resistance. This murder is part of what made one a full citizen.

Girls had greater freedom than in many other Greek states, as they were encouraged to exercise to make themselves fit to be the mates and mothers of the Spartan men. Hardship was encouraged to insure both men and women to the pains and deprivations of war. Men between the ages of 20 and 60 had to spend most of their time in state service.

Athenian Government and Institutions

Though originally under a monarchy, over time the large landowners formed the Council of the Areopagus, which quickly became the dominant power. Once in power, they abolished the monarchy. Because the council members were wealthy, they were able to survive the relatively long time it took for olive orchards and vineyards to produce usable crops. Imported grain was quite costly, and most people could not afford it. Small farmers were forced into debt, into serfdom, or into outright slavery when they could not repay the debts they had incurred. The urban middle class sided with the peasants and called for governmental reform.

Aside from the Council, the senior officials of Athens were called archons. They served as magistrates, administering the law. In 594 B.C.E., to address the concerns of the people, an aristocrat named Solon was appointed chief magistrate and empowered to make reforms. Solon Changed the laws written by Draco over a century before, and wrote a constitution for Athens. Among the alterations was the establishment of a council known as the Four Hundred, which admitted the middle class as members. The lower classes were given the right to serve in the Ekklesia. A final court of appeals for criminal cases was created which was open to everyone and elected by popular vote of all free adult males.

Some of Solon's most significant reforms were to cancel existing debts of poor farmers and to outlaw the enslavement for debt from that point on. The amount of land which an individual could own was restricted, and a new system of coinage was introduced. Athenian citizenship privileges were offered to any foreign craftsmen who would set up permanent residence in Athens, and all men were instructed to teach their sons a craft or trade.

Though they were accepted, Solon’s reforms failed to please everyone. The nobles complained that their powers had been reduced, while the middle and lower classes complained because the Council of Areopagus still held power. Public outcry and discontent eventually led to the takeover by Athens’ first tyrant, Peisistratus, who promised stable government and enrichment of the city. In 560 B.C.E. Peisistratus, backed by a great many citizens, usurped the government of Athens. Called a tyrant because he had acted illegally in taking control, Peisistratus ruled as a benevolent dictator. Under his rule, the City Dionysia was begun and the power of the nobles was further reduced. His son Hippias was cruel, however, and in 510 B.C.E. He was overthrown by a group of nobles who received aid from Sparta.

A noble named Kleisthenes emerged as the leader, and two years later he presented his reforms to the people. Kleisthenes has been called the "father of Athenian democracy" because his reforms granted full citizenship rights to all free men living in Athens. A new council was formed to act as the main governmental power called the Boule, with control over the administrative portions of government and the power to prepare proposals to the Ekklesia. Members of the Boule were chosen by lot, and any male citizen over 30 was eligible. The authority of the Ekklesia was also expanded. It could request money for certain projects, reject or approve proposals made by the Boule, and declare war.

More reforms continued as the common people found themselves in control of their own lives for the first time. In 487 B.C.E. They instituted ostracism, which allowed a popular vote to exile anyone deemed dangerous to the state for 10 years. In 462 B.C.E., the man who was to guide Athens through her golden age rose to power.

Under Perikles, the Ekklesia was given the right to initiate proposals as well as approving or rejecting those of the Boule. Magistrates’ powers were reduced to simply officiating over trials rather than acting as the judge. Instead, at the start of a new year, a list of 6,000 citizens was chosen by lot. From this, juries were formed to hear cases, though unlike modern juries, these ranged in size from 201 to 1,001 men who met to hear a particular trial. Majority vote decided the final verdict.

Athenian Life: Boys in Athens received a more well-rounded education. Though attention was given to reading, writing, poetry, music, and gymnastics, it was considered far more important to teach young men morals and good character. Each boy was given a pedagogue, a slave or old family servant whose job it was to accompany the boy whenever he went out, go with him to school, carry his books, help him with lessons, and administer punishments as needed. The school master, the pedagogue, the harp master, and the gymnastics master all tried to instill in the boy an appreciation of harmony and beauty, patriotism, dignity, loyalty, and modesty. Development of mind and body were considered equally important.

Mornings were spent at the school, where the emphasis was on learning the poetry of Homer. The Iliad and The Odyssey served as primers and moral guidance references as well as historical and geographical texts for the boys. Those whose fathers wished them to study philosophy were taught more than elementary arithmetic, learning geometry. As they grew older, they began more complex studies with the philosophers or orators. Later in the morning, the boys ate a quick meal, then went to the harp master where they learned music, choral singing, instrument playing, the group dances which were part of religious festivals, and the basics of public speaking.

Afternoons belonged to gymnastics. The boys went to the palaestrus (wrestling grounds) found near the outskirts of the city, where they were trained in wrestling, running, jumping, boxing, discus throwing, and javelin tossing. Additionally, they were given training in simple military manoeuvres. Those whose athletic prowess hinted that they might be victorious in the games usually specialized in one area, though training in all the gymnastic arts was still required. At the close of this instruction, it was time to return home for the large meal of the day and to bed.
Once these civilizing influences had their effect on him, the boy's father began taking him along to public gatherings to teach him the workings of the government. By age 18,the boy had learned what his place in the life of the city would be and readied himself to assume that position. He was then enrolled in his father's deme (a petty township or precinct of the city), his hair was clipped short, and he allowed his beard to grow. The final training for him came in the form of military service.

He went to the temple with the other boys of his age and took an oath of loyalty to the city and its laws. For the next year, he served as a guard at the Piraeus (the port and guarded harbour for Athens), was given military training, and was called an Ephebos. The next year, the state presented him with a shield and spear and assigned him to garrison duty on the border of his state's territory. After that year, he was freed from state military service, though he might still be called up for duty whenever there was need. He was now considered to be a full citizen of his state, with all the rights and responsibilities accorded a free man.

Greek Religion

Ancient Greece was polytheistic, and there were numerous gods and goddesses, big and small. From the great Olympians to local nymphs, there were many deities to worship. The Greeks liked to categorize them into different categories. For example there were the Primordials, Titans, and Olympians, and the Orounic and Kthonic categories. There also were categories covering specific areas such as the Theoi Agoraioi who were the deities for the Agora, and the Theoi Gymnastikoi who were the various deities for the Gymnasium and athletics.

Many of the more important deities had epithets and often quite a number, some of these epithets reflected just a location such as Hera Argeia (Hera of Argolis), but others reflected different aspects of the god or goddess in question. Such as Zeus Xenios which reflected Zeus' role as the protector of hospitality, strangers, and travellers, while his epithet of Zeus Ombrios reflected his role as bringer of rain.

Aside from the major deities that are well known, there were also Hero Cults. Some could be local to a particular city-state or kingdom, such as how Helen was worshipped in Sparta or how Theseus was honoured in Athens. Others were far more wide-spread, such as Herakles and Asklepios. In both cases they were said to achieve divinity upon death.

It should be noted that throughout the Ancient Greece period, be it Minoan or Hellenistic, there was no real dividing line between secular and religious. A magistrate could be a priest for a time, before taking another job or even just during a festival. Naturally there wasn't a term for the religious practice as it was just what you did.

Offerings: The central concept of worship was reciprocity with the divine. Giving so that they may be given to in return. This was not seen as bargaining as later Christian writers would try to demonize it but as a positive and beneficial relationship, one done out of love and gratitude.

Offerings could include many things, most often it would be libation (which were often either wine or water), candles, or fresh fruits and vegetables. Temples would be where animal sacrifices were given to the deities; this was also one of the only times the average person got meat as it was custom to give out the meat during most sacrifices to the attendees.

Beyond those types of offerings, Votive offerings were common. These could be simple such as a painter painting a small mural in their house shrine as an offering to the deity in question. It could also be rather elaborate, giant statues. Temples often would be where the more public votive offerings were stored after being dedicated to the deity in question.

There also were devotional activities that were common. Most of the public festivals had various activities that were done in praise of a particular deity or some of them or even all of them. From plays to music singing hymns(the most famous being the Homeric and Orphic Hymns), all of which could be a devotional activity. Even athletic competitions were seen as devotional activities, as exemplified in the various games that were thrown at festivals such as the Olympics.

Accompanying many offerings were prayers, the people would raise their hands to the sky in a v shape gesture.

Festivals and Calendars: Due to the fragmented nature of Ancient Greek Politics with the numerous different city states, numerous different religious calendars came about. Every polis had their own calendar, be it Athens, Argos, Delphi, Sparta, Elis, Thebes, etc. One standard thing about the calendars was that they were lunar following the months, instead of solar. The calendars are there to keep track of the agricultural seasons, but also just as important are the many festivals.

Each City state had their own festivals and religious celebrations. Such as the Athenian Panathenaea, the Delphic Soteria, the Boeotian Daedala, The Spartan Hyacinthia, the Macedonian Hetairideia, and, the Ionian Apaturia, just to name some of the various festivals throughout the Greek World. There were a few Pan-Hellenic festivals, the most famous of which being the Olympic, Nemean, Pythian, and Isthmian games, which were known as the Panhellenic Games.

With all the various festivals, there were also a number of different ways of keeping track of time. The Greek Historian Thucydides mentions several examples of how the ancients kept time in his History of the Peloponnesian War:

The peace, which after the winning of Euboea was concluded for thirty years, lasted fourteen years. But in the fifteenth year, being the forty-eighth of the priesthood of Chrysis in Argos, Aenesias being then ephor at Sparta and Pythadorus, archon of Athens, having then two months of his government to come, in the sixth month after the battle at Potidaea and in the beginning of the spring. [Thuc. 2.2]

One of the Calendar's reckonings that did emerge, though often shared place with these other dating measures, was the Olympiad count. There one would count from the establishment of the Olympic Games in roughly 776 B.C.E., so one might go "in the third year of the 50th Olympiad." when using this system. Another dating system would be the Seleukid Era, which started in 312 B.C.E., the date of Seleukos re-conquest of Babylon; This system is sometimes called by the Romans Anno Graecorum.

Patron Gods and Goddesses
Most cities would have a patron deity for their city, this did not mean that they were not polytheists, but just one that was particularly important and was said to watch over that particular city. Some examples of patron deities and their city states are listed below(this is non-exhaustive).
  • Athens - Athena
  • Thebes - Dionysios
  • Elis - Zeus
  • Delphi - Apollo
  • Sparta - Apollo
  • Argos - Hera
  • Syrakousai - Athena
  • Rhodes - Helios
  • Ephesos - Artemis
  • Korinthos - Poseidon
  • Thespiae - Eros
  • Samos - Hera

A Brief Timeline of Ancient Greece

2200 B.C.E. - Minoan civilization flourished.
1500 B.C.E. - Mycenaeans Become dominant.
1100 B.C.E. - The Dorian Invasion occur. Though barbaric in other ways, the Dorians bring iron weapons into Greece. Knowledge of writing is lost. The Greek "Dark Ages" lasted nearly 300 years.
1000 B.C.E. - Ionians fleeing invaders establish on the west coast of Asia
800 B.C.E. - City-states arise.
776 B.C.E. - First recorded Olympic Games
750 B.C.E. - Greek script, based on Phoenician characters, is created. The Iliad and The Odyssey are written.
730 B.C.E. - The First Messenian War. Sparta dominates the south western Peloponnese.
640 B.C.E. - The Second Messenian War is fought. Sparta becomes preeminent the native population
594 B.C.E. - Solon Reforms the Laws of Athens
560 B.C.E. - Peisistratus becomes the first Athenian Tyrant
532 B.C.E. - City Dionysia introduced in Athens, and the first Tragedies are written.
510 B.C.E. - Tyranny in Athens is overthrown.
508 B.C.E. - Kleisthenes introduces sweeping democratic reforms in Athens
490 B.C.E. - Persian Wars begin. Persians are defeated at Marathon by Athenian Hoplites
483 B.C.E. - Themistokles builds the Athenian Navy
480 B.C.E. - Spartans defeated at Thermopylae. Persians burn Athens. Athenians destroy the Persian fleet at Salamis.
479 B.C.E. - Remaining Persian troops died at Plataea. The Delian League Formed.
477 B.C.E. - Athens became ascendant.
465 B.C.E. - Sparta suffers a series of disastrous earthquakes and helot uprisings.
462 B.C.E. - Perikles begins His rise to power in Athens. Radical democracy is introduced.
431 B.C.E. - Start Of the Peloponnesian War.
405-404 B.C.E. - The Athenian navy is destroyed. Athens is starved into surrender. End of the Peloponnesian War. Sparta imposes the rule of the Thirty Tyrants on Athens.
403 B.C.E. - The Tyrants are expelled and democracy restored in Athens.
400 B.C.E. - Retreat Of the Ten Thousand under Xenophon. Sparta is at war with Persia.
394 B.C.E. - Coalition of Athens, Thebes, Corinth, and Argos defeated by Sparta at Coronea.
385 B.C.E. - Plato's Academy is founded.
371 B.C.E. - Sparta defeated by Thebes at Battle of Leuctra. Thebes briefly rises in power.
362 B.C.E. - Theban general Epaminondas killed at Battle of Mantinea. Theban power crumbles.
338 B.C.E. - After earlier victories, Philippos of Macedon defeats the Greeks At Chaeronea.
336 B.C.E. - Philippos of Macedon is assassinated and is succeeded by his son, Alexandros the Great
335 B.C.E. - Alexandros crushes resistance against his rule and begins a campaign against the Persian empire.
323 B.C.E. - Alexandros the Great dies. His empire is partitioned among his generals.
322 B.C.E. - The first war of the Diadochi begins.
319 B.C.E. - The Second war of the Diadochi Begins
314 B.C.E. - The third war of the Diadochi Begins.
310 B.C.E. - Zeno of Citium founded his stoic school in Athens.
309 B.C.E. - Kassandros kills the teenage son of Alexandros the Great, Alexandros IV and his mother Roxana.
308 B.C.E. - The Fourth War of the Diadochi Begins.
306 B.C.E. - Epicurus buys a garden in Athens in which he begins to teach Epicureanism.
301 B.C.E. - Battle of Ipsus brings an end to the Fourth War of the Diadochi following the defeat of Antigonos I Monophthalmus.
300 B.C.E. - Eukleides, Greek mathematician, publishes Elements, treating both geometry and number theory.
295 B.C.E. - Athens falls to Demetrius, The Tyrant Lachares killed.
280 B.C.E. - The Pyrrhic Wars begin.
279 B.C.E. - Gauls invade Macedon and Greece.
265 B.C.E. - Archimedes, Greek mathematician, develops Archimedes' screw, specific gravity, centre of gravity
256 B.C.E. - Greco-Bactrian Kingdom is founded.
214–205 B.C.E. - First Macedonian War.
200–196 B.C.E. - Second Macedonian War.
192–188 B.C.E. - Roman–Syrian War.
180 B.C.E. - The Indo-Greek Kingdom.
167 B.C.E. - Revolt of the Maccabees Begins.
146 B.C.E. - The Achaean War Begins. Rome annexes mainland Greece following it.
88 B.C.E. – Athens sacked by Roman forces.
30 B.C.E. - The Last Queen of Ptolemaic Egypt, Kleopatra dies. Rome annexes Egypt into their empire.

Historical Information

Minoan Period
The Minoan Civilization Was founded by people who emigrated from Asia Minor to the Aegean islands around 3,000 B.C.E. during the Neolithic era. Their culture flourished most notably on the island of Crete, where they built communities centred around huge, multi-level palaces. The palace of Minos, the king for whom the culture was named, was built at Knossos. Its labyrinthine passages, twisting corridors, and hundreds of rooms may have given rise to the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. The tale of Theseus may have been a mythologized version of the story of Athens’ emancipation from Minoan overlordship.

Good climate but limited agricultural areas led the Minoans to become great seafarers and traders (a practice which would later be successfully imitated by the Greeks). The king was a trader and administrator rather than a warlord. Accounts of imports, exports, and agricultural production were meticulously kept by his scribes, and his palace, which could house up to 80,000 people, was a centre for commerce and religious rites. Food and metal were the most common imports, while wine, olive oil, pottery, gems, and knives made up the bulk of Minoan exported goods.

Aside from their accomplishments in artisanship and literacy, the Minoans excelled as artists and engineers. They took pride in using art to enhance even the humblest item and were noted for their expertise in mural paintings (frescoes), miniature sculptures, and gem carvings. They built roads which averaged 11feet wide, and the palace at Knossos boasted both indoor running water and a light well which lit the Grand Staircase that connected the different levels. Interestingly, to enter any profession or participate in any sport they chose-even boxing! The Minoans engaged in dancing, foot races, and boxing, and built theatres to house their musical spectacles and processions. A particular sport, known as bull leaping, in which young male and female acrobats attempted to somersault over the backs of charging bulls, may have been part of their religious observances.

A monumental volcanic eruption on the nearby island of Thera in 1650 B.C.E. created great tidal waves that destroyed much of Crete’s coastline. The subsequent disturbances in temperature, rainfall and the harvests for several years thereafter cast great doubt in the minds of the people as to their priests’ ability to provide favourable growing conditions. References in ancient scrolls from this time period to prophesies concerning mysterious visitors, red fogs and growing shadows hint at the presence of a sinister being during this time.

Mycenaean Period

Around 1900 B.C.E., Indo-Europeans (also known as Pelasgir), who spoke an early form of Greek, invaded the peninsula. By 1600 B.C.E. These people had formed communities which were influenced by the Minoans, with whom they established trade. A warlike people, the Mycenaeans became the dominant power of the region, ruling from their mainland cities of Mycenae, Tiryns, Athens, and Iolkos. Each city and its territory was ruled by a king, called a wanex.

Mycenaean cities were built on hilltops and heavily fortified because they warred among each other and had a slave system based upon war captives. Bronze spears, swords, and daggers were the usual weapons employed by Mycenaean warriors. They wore heavy, somewhat rigid and clumsy banded armour and helmets and carried shields shaped like a figure eight. Later, these were superseded by smaller round shields and less body armour (breastplates). Though they adopted much of the Minoan culture into their own, their art was stiffer and less refined, except for their inlaid bronze daggers which showed exquisite artisanship.

The warlike nature of the Mycenaeans also found expression in their art, much of which depicted fighting, hunting, and soldiers with spears and swords. Though they used chariots for hunting, there is no evidence that these were used in warfare except for the references to Homer's Iliad. The Mycenaeans became seafarers, and their distinctive pottery became familiar as far away as Syria and Palestine. By 1500 B.C.E. they had supplanted the Minoans as rulers of much of the Aegean. Fifty years later, after earthquakes and tidal waves had weakened the Minoans too much for them to resist, the Mycenaeans took control of Crete As well.

The Greek Dark Ages
During the Dorians’ rule, migrations from the mainland to Asia Minor (particularly the area known as Ionia) and the eastern Aegean islands occurred. The people who departed did so to avoid more warfare and to find better farmlands. Asia Minor and the islands nearby would later become noted for their wealth of poets, philosophers, and artists, perhaps because they managed to preserve more of the Minoan and Mycenaean culture than the areas under Dorian domination.

During the final years of the "dark ages," the Phoenicians began a westward expansion, and the art of writing was rediscovered in Greece with the creation of a Greek script based on Phoenician characters. Attica, the region in which Athens is situated, united under the Athenian kings. The nobility of Attica settled in the city, and trade began to once more become a major part of greek life.

The Archaic Greece
During this period, the poet Homer composed the great epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey which told of the siege of Troy by the Greeks (called Achaeans in the Poems) under King Agamemnon, the Mycenaean, and the 10-year journey homeward of one hero of the Trojan war, Odysseus. These became the focus of education for most Greek cities, serving to teach reading, writing, and poetry; emphasize the need to practice sports and warfare; and give the Greeks (who called themselves Hellenes) a common heritage, philosophy of personal honour and worth, devotion to the gods, and civic pride. Though he drew upon the oral accounts of travelling bards, Homer was probably also influenced by the trade expansions and new colonies which ranged from the Black Sea coast to what would become Italy, France, and Spain.

Because of the new emphasis on expansion and trade, the Greeks became embroiled in skirmishes with the Phoenicians, the region’s other seafaring power. Conflicts over trade routes and lucrative careers as go-betweens for trade with Egypt and Arabia caused wars between Phoenician Carthage and Greek Syracuse. This led to Greek domination of the northern Mediterranean and Phoenician concentration on the southern routes, which stretched from Tyre through the Straits of Gibraltar. Later conflicts with the Etruscans, their western neighbours in Italy, secured the Hellenes against Etruscan aggression as well.

Classical Greece
The various Greek city-states were seldom at peace. Though they shared common cultural influences such as language, gods, knowledge of Homer’s epics, appreciation of the arts and sports, and civic pride, their differences led to constant bickering between one state and another. Various cities also fought against foreign enemies, either alone or in concert with other states.

The Persian Wars
The Persian war began due to Athen's expansion into the eastern Mediterranean. The mainland Hellenic cities found common cause with the Greek-speaking cities of Asia Minor, which were under Persian rule. In 499 B.C.E., these Ionian cities rose in revolt against Persia, and Athens sent ships to aid them. The revolt was crushed, and Darius, the King of Persia, decided that the Greeks should be punished. He was also well aware of the gains to be made should he manage to add the Greek polis to his empire. He sent envoys demanding tribute of earth and water, which symbolized their surrender. Though some cities agreed, others like Athens, Sparta, and, Eretria refused. Thus began the Persian Wars.

Accordingly, in 490 B.C.E., King Darius sailed with a fleet of 600 ships to attack the Greeks. They began their campaign by assaulting Eretria, which fell within a week and was looted. Next, the Persians turned their attention to Athens. A force of 20,000 men landed at the Bay of Marathon and began the overland march toward the city. The Athenians, having noted the Persian advance, sent messengers to Sparta asking for help, then mobilized 10,000 hoplites (heavily armed infantrymen) and marched to meet the Persian force. Though the Spartans did not arrive in time for this battle, Athens fought and defeated the Persians at Marathon. This defeat would be the decisive battle of the First Persian War.

Darius refused to give up and made plans for a larger expedition against Greece. He died before he could implement it, and his son Xerxes was occupied with putting down rebellions in Egypt and Babylon. Finally, in 481 B.C.E., Xerxes turned his attention to the Greek campaign. He summoned the greatest force ever assembled until that time-a quarter of a million men-and in 480 B.C.E. his thousands of vessels set sail for Greece.

Themistokles, a charismatic politician, persuaded the Athenian assembly to build 200 new warships to meet the threat of the Persians and to build their own sea power. Sparta gathered the other Greek states into the Hellenic League, which comprised some 30 states. Many others, fearing a Persian victory and reprisals, refused to fight.

As Xerxes carved his way through Thrace and Macedonia, the Hellenes decided to make their stand at Thermopylae, a slender strip of land where the mountains came within fifty feet of the shore. The Persians would have to cross through the narrow area, which was so constricting that a much smaller force could stop them. King Leonidas of Sparta, commanding 7,000 advance troops, took up position in the pass. The combined Greek navy, which consisted of 270 warships, lay in wait for the Persian fleet in the narrow waters off the coast.

In early August, King Xerxes reached Thermopylae and was stopped at the pass by the Spartans. Three brutal attacks were turned back before the Spartans were betrayed by a greedy local farmer who led the Persians around the Greek force. Leonidas discovered the danger just in time to order the main body of his army to withdraw, but he himself and 300 of his countrymen battled the Persians, first with weapons, then when those were gone, with bare hands until every one of the 300 fell. They had bought the rest of the Greek army the time it needed to withdraw safely. Xerxes rampaged through Attica, burning and looting. As his army approached Athens, the citizens fled to the island of Salamis, seeking sanctuary. Xerxes took Athens, burned it, and destroyed the Acropolis.

Helped by a storm which smashed over 400 Persian ships, the Greeks enacted a wily strategy. They lured the Persians into a narrow channel between the island of Salamis and the coast of Attica, negating the Persians’ numerical advantage. As the Persian ships entered the channel, Greek triremes moving in disciplined ranks smashed into the hulls of the enemy ships, crushing and driving the attackers into each other. The final battle of the second Persian War was the battle of Plataea. This decisive battle ended the Persian wars.

The Peloponnesian War
In 477 B.C.E., in the wake of the Persian War, Sparta retained its supremacy on land, but Athens rose to new prominence at sea. Joining with the Ionian states and the Aegean island states, Athens formed the Delian League. The states met on the island of Delos, and each freely gave money or ships to keep the Persians out of their territories and to free other Ionian states which were still under Persian rulership.

As the Persian threat abated, however, member states began to resent the dominant role Athens had assumed in the League. Several tried to withdraw or refuse payment, only to be overcome by Athens and forced to contribute. Athenian garrisons spread throughout the Aegean, and Athens forced disputes to be tried in Athenian courts. The other member states had, in effect, become vassal states paying tribute to Athens. One sixth of the treasury of the Delian League was set aside for the goddess Athena, and it was used to begin a program of public works which beautified and glorified Athens. More League funds were used to pay citizens for time spent performing public duties and to pay the oarsmen who rowed the triremes of Athens' Fleet.

In 464 B.C.E., Sparta suffered a series of disastrous earthquakes. This was followed by an exhaustive war, as the Messenian helots rose in revolt. Sensing Sparta's weakness, several states withdrew from the Peloponnesian League. These factors, coupled with Athenian expansionism, led to the Peloponnesian War, the great conflict between Sparta and Athens.

In 445 B.C.E. Sparta and Athens agreed to a 30-year truce. Athens continued with her empire-building, however, and Sparta came to distrust Athenian intentions. Corinth, Sparta’s chief ally, contested the attempt, and playing on Sparta’s fears of Athenian imperialism persuaded Sparta to make war on Athens. In 431 B.C.E., Sparta’s army invaded Attica, prepared to do battle. Perikles persuaded Athenians not to join battle, but to withdraw behind Athens’ walls. Knowing they could not defeat Sparta’s army in a land battle, they resolved to meet them at sea and provide for the city by importing grain from the Black Sea region and Egypt.

The Spartans devastated the land, They continued forays for six years. From 430 to 423 B.C.E., plague came to Athens, probably brought aboard grain ships from Egypt. A quarter of the population of Athens died cooped up behind their walls, among them Perikles who had guided Athens for over 30 years. He was succeeded by Kleon and Nikias. They continued Perikles’ plan, refusing to meet the Spartans on land while winning several battles at sea, and refused to accept Sparta’s suit for peace.

After a series of inconclusive battles, the Peace of Nikias between Athens and Sparta was made in 421 B.C.E. It was to last for 50 years. Apparently believing itself free to resume its expansion, Athens invaded Sicily and laid siege to Syracuse. Sicily appealed to Sparta for help, and in 415 B.C.E., the war resumed. The next year, the Athenian army in Sicily was destroyed, and its general Nikias was executed for his incompetence.

Wishing to punish Athens for earlier insults and interference, and seeking to regain power in Asia Minor, Persia offered to finance Sparta’s fleet in return for recognition of Persia’s claim to the Ionian states of Asia Minor. Since these states had traditionally been allied with Athens, Sparta quickly agreed. With Athens’ army demolished, Sparta now looked to vanquish her at sea. With military precision, Sparta set about cutting off Athens’ shipments and forcing naval battles.

The Spartans extended a final offer, which was rejected. At Aegospotami, the Spartans destroyed Athens’ navy in 405 B.C.E. A year later, its grain supplies cut off, left without an army or navy, its trading empire in ruins, starving Athens surrendered unconditionally. Athens was placed under the rule of a group of pro-Spartans known as the Thirty Tyrants, her fortifications were destroyed, and she was made a subject state of Sparta. Sparta now held sway over all of Greece and set up oligarchies which were supported by Spartan troops in place of democracies. They confiscated property and executed those who opposed them. Though Athens overthrew the Thirty Tyrants within a year and reestablished their democracy, most of the rest of Greece was dominated by Sparta for 30 years. Athens would never recover her political power, but continued as a centre for intellectual and artistic achievement.

Hellenistic Greece
In 335 B.C.E. a young Macedonian general named Alexandros, son of Philippos of Macedon, inherited his father’s position as ruler of Macedon and continued his father’s mission to build an empire. Alexandros' phenomenal success ushered in a Golden Age of culture throughout Persia, Egypt and Greece. Indeed, Alexandros spread Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean region. His untimely death at the age of 32 raised many suspicions among qabalistic scholars that the Red Death had marked Alexandros as an enemy.

The death of Alexandros the Great resulted in a power struggle as the various generals, known as Diadochi, fought for control of the Empire. At first they were fighting to be regent of the empire, as Alexandros had a son by Roxana named Alexandros IV, but when Alexandros IV and his mother Roxana were killed on behalf of Kassandros that was signalled the end of an attempt to restore the empire, the battle of Ipsus put an end to the attempts by the Diadochi to control the whole empire. Despite this the Selukids and the Ptolemies would go to war numerous times over control of Syria. Kassandros' dynasty the Antpatrids would be replaced by the Antigonids when they took over Greece. The Antigonids would rule Greece until the Romans came to supplement them.

Despite the division of the empire this time period was known as a flourishing of Hellenistic Civilization. When Greek culture was spread far and wide throughout the world. From the Indo-Greeks in the East to the various successor states, Greek was spread throughout the world. Numerous different philosophers came about from Pyrrhonism to Stoicism to Epicureanism to add to the milieu of the Philosophical tradition.

The Hellenistic Period ended in stages. In Greece itself there were a number of series of wars with the Romans that resulted in the conquest of Greece by Rome. In the Seleukid empire, the Parthian Conquest of most of the Seleukid empire in 137 B.C.E. left the Seleukids in Syria till they in turn got annexed by Rome. Egypt would remain the last Hellenistic Kingdom in the West till following the battle of Actium and the defeat of Cleopatra, Rome annexed Egypt. In the East the Indo-Greek kingdoms lasted until 10 C.E. After which they were conquered by other empires. With them gone the Hellenistic Age was finally over.

Glossary of Terms

Architectural Terms
  • Akropolis: A fortified hilltop which served as a stronghold.
  • Agora: The market square of a city.
  • Andron: The dining hall of a Greek house.
  • Andronitis: The court of the men in a Greek
  • Anti-thalamos: The bedroom where an unmarried adult daughter sleeps.
  • Naos: The main hall of a Greek temple in which the cult statue is housed.
  • Emporion: A commercial settlement or trading post.
  • Gymnasium: An exercise yard and sports complex with space for various athletics pursuits. Many also featured lecture rooms or libraries. The men exercising at a Gymnasium exercised in the nude.
  • Gynaikonitis: The hall of the women in a Greek household. Males who were not family members were forbidden to go there.
  • Orkhestra: The large semi-circular dancing floor of a Greek theatre.
  • Palaestra: Wrestling or exercise grounds. These were often a part of a gymnasium.
  • Skene: A building set behind the orchestra is a Greek theatre. Scenes were painted on it, and it was used to store actors’ props.
  • Stoa: An elongated hall with three sides and an open front which featured many columns. Some had two stories and shops in the rear.
  • Thalamos: The great bedroom of the master and mistress of the household.
Government and Societal Terms
  • Arkhon: A judge or magistrate.
  • Khoregos: A wealthy citizen who sponsored the chorus for a play. He paid for costumes and for food for the participants.
  • Basileus: King
  • Boule: The council or citizen assembly.
  • Deme: Petty township or district of a city.
  • Demos: The people. Root word of democracy
  • Ekklesia: The assembly of adult male citizens.
  • Pedagogue: A slave who accompanied a boy to school, helped him with his lessons, and disciplined him when necessary.
  • Polis: A city-state comprising an urban centre surrounded by agricultural lands and dependent villages.
  • Sycophants: False accusers who blackmailed their victims into paying them off rather than having to face being dragged into court on trumped and often dangerous charges.
  • Symposium: An elaborate dinner with many guests, which was followed by discussions, recitations, stories, and entertainment.
  • Wanax: A Mycenaean king.
Military Terms
  • Bireme: A ship with two banks of oars, one atop the other, literally "two-banker."
  • Hoplites: Heavily armed infantrymen, the backbone of Greek armies.
  • Hoplons: The shield of hoplites, it featured two straps or hand grips.
  • Keleustes: Flute timers. Those who provide a musical rhythm for those manning the oars of a trireme to row by.
  • Kybernates: The pilot of a trireme.
  • Sarissa: The long pike used by the infantry in Philip II and Alexander the Great’s armies. They could be as much as six yards long.
  • Strategos: A general. Usually the general served on a board of generals who were overseeing the military. In Athens, they were the chief civil authorities as well.
  • Thalamites: The oarsmen on the lowest deck of a trireme.
  • Thranites: The oarsmen on the upper deck of a trireme.
  • Toixarchoi: Oar masters aboard a trireme who oversaw the rowers and who encouraged and guided them during difficult manoeuvres.
  • Trieraulers: Stroke counters aboard a trireme who helped set the pace for the oarsmen.
  • Trireme: Literally 'Three-banker.' A ship with three banks of oars, one atop the other used as the standard Greek Warship.
  • Zygites: the middle tier of oarsmen aboard a trireme.
Clothing Terms
  • Khiton: The basic garment of the Greeks which was made from a single piece of cloth, folded and pinned at the shoulders and sides by fibulae. Men usually wore theirs at knee length, while women reached to their feet. Doric chitons were thicker, sleeveless and considered old-fashioned. Ionic ones used lighter material, often had sleeves, and fell in graceful folds.
  • Chlamys: A semi-circular cape worn in inclement weather or by travelers. Some young men wore them without a chiton.
  • Fibula: A brooch or pin used to pin the chiton together and to create artful folds in the draping of the material. Most were bronze or silver, but some were of gold.
  • Himation: Along mantle worn over the chiton, or sometimes worn alone by older men. Like the chiton, it was wrapped around the body and could be pinned or held in place.
Athenian Terms
  • Council of Areopagus: A group of wealthy land-owning aristocrats who became the rulers of Athens.
  • Ephebos: An 18- to 20-year-old Athenian doing his required two years of military service.
  • Metic: A resident foreigner in Athens. Not a citizen, but a free man with no voting rights.
  • Pnyx: Where the Assembly met. In Athens it was an open area opposite the Acropolis.
  • Akademia: The Academy was the school established by Plato.
  • Lykeion: This was the school established by Aristotle.
Spartan Terms
  • Apella: The Apella was the popular assembly of Sparta, consisting of all adult male Spartiates over the age of thirty. The Apella was presided over by the ephors and all votes were by acclamation. The Apella did not engage in debate, but could only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ The Gerousia had the power to ignore the decisions of the Apella.
  • Ephor: The ephors were a board of five officials in Sparta, elected annually by the Apella The ephors oversaw the two hereditary Spartan kings and could even bring a king up on charges before the Gerousia. In practice, the ephors – not the kings – wielded the most political power in Sparta. The ephors were also responsible for ritually declaring war on the helots every year. The institution as a whole is sometimes collectively referred to as the ephorate.
  • Ephorate: The council of five rulers who were the real power in Sparta.
  • Gerousia: The Gerousia – literally a council of old men (the members were ‘gerontes’ – literally ‘old men’) consisted of thirty members, 28 elected (by acclamation in the Apella) plus the two hereditary kings. The elected members all had to be over the age of 60. Gerontes were elected for life. The Gerousia decided what motions could be voted on by the Apella and had the power to cancel any decision of the Apella. It also functioned as a court, with the power to try spartiates and even the kings. In practice, with the ephors, the Gerousia wielded real political power in Sparta.
  • Helots: Spartan Slaves.
  • Hypomeiones: One of several sub-citizen underclasses in Sparta, the Hypomeiones (literally "the inferiors") were former Spartiates who had fallen off of the bottom of the Spartan social system, either through cowardice or being unable to pay the contribution to the syssitia. Though free, they had no role in government.
  • Kryptai: The one undergoing krypteia.
  • Krypteia: The Spartan rite of initiation in which a 19-year-old boy was sent naked into the wilderness to kill helots and survive for a year.
  • Mothax: One of several sub-citizen underclasses in Sparta, the Mothakes were non-citizen men, generally thought to have been the children of Spartiate fathers and helot mothers, brought up alongside their full-citizen half-siblings. Mothakes fought in the Spartan army alongside Spartiates, but had no role in government.
  • Perioikoi: The "dwellers around," allies or non-citizens of Sparta who acted as the middle class and handled crafts and trade.
  • Skiritai: The Skiritai were one of several sub-citizen underclasses in Sparta. Dwellers in Skiritis, the mountains between Laconia and Arcadia, they were mostly rural people who were free, but subject to the Spartan state, similar to the perioikoi. The main difference between the two was that the Skiritai served as light infantry.
  • Spartiate: The citizen class at Sparta, the spartiates were a closed ethnic aristocracy. Membership required both a Spartiate father and a Spartiate mother, as well as successful completion of the Agoge and membership in a syssitia. Spartiate males over thirty were the only individuals in Sparta who could participate in government. They were also called peers or homoio.
  • Syssitia (sing. syssition): The syssitia were the common mess-groups into which all adult spartiates were divided. Each member of the syssitia contributed a portion of the mess-groups food; the contribution was a condition of citizenship. Spartiates who could not make the contribution lost citizenship and became hypomeiones.
Religious Terms
  • Heiromenia: The sacred month of truce during which competitors and spectators could travel to and from the Olympic games under a guarantee of safety.
  • Pentathlon: The prestigious five-event competition of the Olympic games. To win, a competitor had to win three of the five events: wrestling, sprinting, discus tossing, javelin throwing, and broad jumping.
  • Theoi: the Gods.
Hellenistic Terms
  • Diadochi: Successors, the Generals who positioned themselves as the successors to Alexander's Empire.
  • Epigoni: The offspring, this refers to the children of the Diadochi.
Object Terms
  • Amphora: A two-handled wine jar with a narrow neck.
  • Klepsudra: A water clock.
  • Kothornos Boot: A built-up shoe or boot worn by actors to make them taller and more imposing.
  • Daric: A gold Persian coin worth about about a stater.
  • Drakhme: A silver coin.
  • Kantharos: A deep drinking cup which had a high footed part and upraised handles with which to grip it.
  • Krater: A wine mixing bowl.
  • Kylix: A drinking cup. It was the most common type and featured a shallow bowl on a high stemmed vase.
  • Mina: A gold coin worth 100 drachma.
  • Obol: Literally "one sixth of a drachma."
  • Stater: A gold coin worth two drachmas.
  • Stele: Stone slabs which were used for public or private inscriptions.
  • Strigil: A curved stick used to scrape the excess oil from one's body. Used primarily by Athletes who oiled themselves before competing.
  • Talent: A weight of 57 pounds, this was also a monetary amount which equaled 60 mina.
Other Terms
  • Pancratium: Combined wrestling and boxing.

Sources: Adapted from AD&D 2nd Edition HR6 Age of Heroes Campaign Sourcebook to fit the Masque of the Red Death setting.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2023, 02:48:27 PM by EO »


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The Ancient Romans
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2023, 11:54:53 PM »
The Ancient Romans

Rome began as a small town on the Tiber river and grew into a powerful force for civilization, law, and order in the ancient world. The Roman Republic, and its successor the Empire, was a federation of teeming cities linked by arrow-straight roads. Its peace and prosperity – the legendary Pax Romanum – were safeguarded by the invincible legions that held back the barbarian hordes.

But Rome also had a darker side: the cruelty of mass slavery and the bloody arena, the greed and opulence of the upper class, the unruly mobs pacified by bread and circuses, and the tyranny of mad emperors, such as Caligula and Nero. The Empire fell into darkness, but its ghost haunted the Middle Ages and inspired the Renaissance.

This is the Roman experience, a real epic of good and evil whose memory has inspired thousands of stories, and which provides an unmatched setting for role-playing adventure.

Cultural Level: Iron to Dark Age.

The Ancient Roman Heroes

Typical Roman Classes:
Warriors are the most common classes in a Roman campaign. Roman warriors may be serving with the legions, (either as a soldier or officer, or possibly as a barbarian auxiliary solider), be freelance mercenaries, be member of the notorious Roman street gangs, or have fought as a gladiator in the arena. The bulk would be from the fighter class, but a fair number would also be barbarians. Rogues are abundant in the streets of Rome, the city being both large and rich enough to support a number of professional thieves. Although Roman criminal law was harsh, Roman police procedures varied from nonexistent (in the Republic) to slack (in the Empire), so unless a thief is caught in the act of stealing or tracked down by private investigators, he has little to fear.

While the Red Death prevents the emergence of spellcasting clerics, priests are actually common. The religion of the Roman Republic and early Empire revolved around worship of a pantheon of traditional gods and spirits, many of whom were associated with the classical Greek gods. Their traditional worship constituted Rome’s state religion. Rome was tolerant of other religions as long as they did not disturb the peace. As Rome expanded, its citizens came into contact with foreign gods whose exotic allure attracted ready converts. Some of these became established in Rome, especially the colorful "mystery cults" and the monotheistic religions of Mithraism and Christianity.

As anywhere else on Gothic Earth, arcane spellcasters are feared in ancient Rome. The most powerful spellcasters in Roman folktales are always women. The Romans make no distinction between wizards or sorcerers, they are all witches in their eyes. The roman witch is a secretive and sinister (although not necessarily old or evil) wise woman who performs rituals and concocts magical potions and amulets. Her many powers include love spells, warding off evil, cursing enemies, healing the sick, changing herself and others into animals, and contacting the dead. Roman witches were believed to have the evil eye. Obviously, given the nature of magic on Gothic Earth, true arcane spellcasters are rare. Most people claiming to yield magic powers are charlatans although they are likely skilled in astrology, herbs, or stage magic.

Rangers and paladins are unheard of in the ancient Rome of Gothic Earth. Although Romans believed in piety and honor, the concept of a fervently religious or nature oriented warrior having special powers and abilities was alien to the Romans. The effect of the Red Death upon magic would anyway ensure that such characters be met with distrust. The Celtic druids are known to the Romans, but would see them as barbaric pagans and would not tolerate their presence. The bard, beguiler, favored soul, hexblade, monk, voodan, warlock and warmage classes are absent in Roman society.

Remember that divine spellcasting classes, with the exception of the voodan, do not receive any divine powers while on Gothic Earth. Player characters from this era would obtain such powers only once in the Demiplane of Dread, but only if the D&D alignment rule is followed.

Recommended Skills: Antagonize, Discipline, Influence, Parry, Spot, Perform

Recommended Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (light), Blind-Fight, Bullheaded, Disarm, Great Fortitude, Luck of Heroes, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (spear, shortsword, shortbow), Shield Proficiency, Shield Parry.

Languages: Primary – Latin. Secondary – Ancient Greek, Persian/Farsi, Sanskrit, Demotic Egyptian, Coptic Egyptian, Celtic dialects.

Roman Names: Traditional aristocratic Roman male names had three parts. In order, they were the praenomen, the nomen, and the cognomen.
The Pruenomen: A man’s given name, used informally. Only about 20 first names existed during the Republic, although this expanded in the Empire as more non-Romans became citizens. Particular aristocratic families often favored two or three traditional praenomens and always chose their sons’ names from them. Lower-class Roman males usually didn’t have a praenomen and sometimes lacked a cognomen as well.
The Nomen: The name of the clan or gens, which comprised all family members who traced their linage back to a common ancestor. It served as the middle name.
The Cognomen: This distinguished different family branches of the clan and served as the last name. In some families a man might have two or three cognomens. A nickname would often be tacked onto the end of the cognomen – a Scipio who distinguished himself in Africa became known as Scipio Africanus. Nicknames often evolved into cognomens over time.

Slaves might keep their own birth name, be given a new name, or use a form of their master’s nomen, changing the "-ius" suffix to the servile "-ioper." Foreign slaves with names that were difficult for Romans to pronounce were often jokingly renamed after Greek gods or mythological figures. A freed slave adopted his or her master’s nomen, but changed the "-ius" ending to "-ianus." So a slave in the household of Pinarius might be called Pinarioper, and if he won his freedom he would be Pinarianus.

Female Names: Until a woman married, her first name was the feminine form of her father’s nomen. Replace the last two letters with an "a," so Claudius becomes Claudia, Julius becomes Julia, etc. This was followed by a second name giving the order of her birth. Maior meant oldest, secundus was the next oldest, etc. Once she married, her second name took on a feminine form of her husband’s cognomen. Julia Secondus who married Lucius Plinius Plautus became Julia Plinia.

Praenomen (first name): Appius, Aulus, Gaius, Lucius, Mamercus, Manius, Marcus, Publius, Quintus, Servius, Sextus, Spurius, Tiberius, Titus.

Nomen (middle name): Aelius, Aemilius, Annius, Antistius, Antonius, Appuleius, Aquillius, Atilus, Aurelius, Billienus, Caecillus, Caelius, Calpurnius, Cassius, Claudius, Clodius, Cornelius, Curtius, Decimus, Didius, Domitius, Equitius, Fabius, Fabricus, Flavius, Fulvius, Furius, Gavius, Granius, Gratidius, Herrenius, Hortensius, Julius, Labeienius, Licinius, Livius, Lucilus, Lucius, Lutatius, Macrinus, Maelius, Magius, Mamilius, Manlius, Marcius, Marius, Matius, Memmius, Minucius, Nonius, Norbanus, Octavius, Oppius, Ovidius, Papirius, Papinius, Petronius, Plautius, Plotius, Pompeius, Popillius, Poppaedius, Porcius, Postumius, Publius
Rutilius, Servi1ius, Siccius, Sulpicius, Sullustius, Terrentius, Titius, Tullius, Turpilius, Vettius.

Cognomen (last name): Africanus, Agelastus, Ahala, Ahenobarbus, Albinus, Augur, Balearicus, Bambalio, Bestia. Brocchus, Brutus, Caecus, Caepio, Caesar, Caestoninus, Caldus, Calvus, Camillus, Caprarius, Carbo, Cato, Catulus, Cicero, Cotta, Crassus, Cunctator, Damaticus, Dentatus, Dives, Drusus, Eburnus, Fimbria, Flaccus, Galba, Getha, Glaucia, Gracchus, Laenas, Lentulus, Lepidus, Limentanus, Longius, Lucullus, Macedonicus, Mactator, Magnus, Mancinus, Maximus, Meminus, Merula, Metullus, Nasica, Nema, Numidicus, Orator, Orestes, Paulus, Philippus, Piso, Posthumus, Pulcher, Ravilla, Reginus, Rufinus, Rufus, Ruso, Satumius, Scaevola, Scaurus, Scipio, Serranus, Sesquiculus, Siculus, Stichus, Strabo, Sulla, Tuburo, Varro, Varus, Verracosis, Vopiscus.

Religion: Ancient Rome clerics should select one of the Olympian Deities, or Christianity if from a later era. Divine casters should read this thread on Divine Magic in Gothic Earth.

Roman Culture

A Roman was expected to be diligent, self-sufficient, and well-disciplined. Not every Roman lived up to this, but every Roman judged other Romans in relation to their possessions, or lack of the following characteristics:
Gravitas: The dignified and noble conduct of actions, governed by prudence, discipline, strictness, and rigid self-control.
Dignitas: The holding of a worthwhile public position deserving of respect, and the willingness to defend that position against anyone who would diminish its worth.
Auctoritus: The ability to maintain authority and discipline in others through one’s personal reputation and public position.
Pietas: An unflinching determination to fulfill one’s duty, whether to family, friends, state, or the gods.

Romans were also known for their methodical approach, practicality, and persistence. Some traits they weren’t known for are originality, boastfulness, xenophobia, cheerfulness, grace, and subtlety. Greeks tried to find out why things worked, while Romans built things that worked. The ideal Roman devoted his life to the service of the community (respublica) and the welfare of the people (salus populi).

Roman Citizenship
Roman citizenship was initially restricted to people born in Rome and its hinterland of rural towns and villas. After the Social War (89 B.C.E.), citizenship was granted to most of Italy. During the Empire, it was granted piecemeal to provincial towns and cities until in a final move in C.E. 212, the entire Empire became "Roman".

At society’s core was the patron-client relationship. A person could ask a more powerful individual to become his patron and provide him with protection, contacts, and advice. In exchange he became that person’s henchman, or client, and owed his patron loyal service and deference. The prestige of an upper-class Roman was partly measured by the number and quality of his clients.

The system was enshrined by Roman law and tradition. It was also used by the state. When Rome entered into alliances with other nations, it became the patron of that client-state. Similarly, freed slaves automatically became clients of their former owners.

It was the duty of a patron to provide his client with legal aid, to bring lawsuits against anyone who wronged him, to arbitrate disputes between his clients and to defend them against persecution. A patron used his political influence to help his clients get ahead in business. In Rome, which had no effective police and laws that favored the rich, being a client of a powerful man was a major advantage!

It was considered wrong for a client to ever sue his patron, testify against him in court, or fail to support him if the patron stood for election. But the most important duty of a client was to simply appear in public with his patron. When an influential man gave a public speech or appeared in court, he would be surrounded by a throng of cheering clients. In the civil disorder of the late Republic, politicians used mobs of their armed clients as stormtroopers to intimidate or attack rival political factions. A client who failed to perform his duties could expect no benefits from his patron – and he might even be prosecuted under the law.

A dutiful client was expected to appear every morning at his patron's house to see if he was needed; this was "the morning salute". In the hours before noon, the house of an influential Roman would be swarming with scores of clients. A proper patron was expected to see every one of them, greet them by name, listen to their problems, instruct them in any duties, and last but not least, offer a small gift (typically worth 3d6 denarii in cash or kind). Seeing clients might occupy the better part of the morning, each and every day. Some patrons neglected their clients by pleading urgent business and racing off, or staying in bed, but this was considered lazy and impolite.

Social Rankings
There were seven broad social classes in Roman society. From the highest to the lowest they were senators, equestrians, common plebeians, foreigners, freedmen, and slaves. In Imperial times the emperor ranked above the senatorial class.

The Senatorial Order
The aristocratic oligarchy that controlled Rome consisted of 300 to 600 Roman senators and their families. A senator held a (lifetime) appointment as a member of the senate and owned property worth 250,000 denarii. His income came from renting out his farmland, mines, or factories – managing a business was considered demeaning and was left to the lower orders. A male member of the senatorial order was expected to devote his life to unpaid public service. Someone who wasn’t involved in law or politics, who wasn’t a public figure, was believed to be a person of no consequence: "he will have no entourage, no escort for his sedan chair, no visitors in his antechamber."

A senatorial family maintained a domus (townhouse) in Rome and a villa (country estate) on a farm or at a seaside resort. A typical household comprised the father (paterfamilias), his wife, three children, a dozen clients, and a number of domestic slaves. Household slaves were socially invisible, but always present, even sleeping in the same room as their owners. The paterfamilias was the head of the family and held the legal power of life and death over the entire household – he could kill them, enslave them, or dispose of their possessions. Custom limited his power – for a paterfamilias to kill or beat his wife or children or abuse his slaves was scandalous, suggesting he lacked the wit to exercise more subtle means of control.

Children were raised by slave nurses and their mother. Boys and girls were taught to read and write by a pedagogue (usually a Greek slave), learning both Latin and Greek. A girl's education ended at 12, while a boy spent two to four more years being tutored in rhetoric, classics, and the rudiments of philosophy or mathematics. Boys also received martial and athletic training. A boy donned adult clothing at 14. Between age 16 and 20, a youth’s father found him his first public post in one of three positions senators considered honorable: as a lawyer, a military officer, or a junior political magistrate. He learned on the job from subordinates and colleagues. Since he was unpaid, he received an allowance from his father. A man remained under his paterfamilias’s thumb until his father’s death granted him the inheritance he needed for independence.

Thirty was the proper age to stand for election as tribune or quaestor, political posts that made him a senator for life. If he did not inherit the necessary 250,000 denarii to qualify for senator, he would usually try to find a wealthy ally, perhaps marrying the daughter of a rich equestrian.

Even when a senator wasn't actively serving as a magistrate, he filled his time with senate meetings, providing legal advice to clients, cutting deals with political supporters, and attending social events, such as parties and recitations. It was vital that a senator remain in the public eye. He spent vast sums of money to provide the public with spectacles, plays, chariot races, new buildings, and gladiatorial battles, all in order to enhance his own prestige and win support in elections for higher political office. If he were successful, he would eventually achieve a position as a provincial governor. This would allow him to make back all his expenses through military conquest or graft, and thus spend the last years of his life in comfort as an extremely rich elder statesman.

In contrast, women from senatorial families had little opportunity for a career. A girl was of marriageable age at 14. Her father would usually arrange her marriage as part of a political or economic alliance, giving her to a man several years her senior. She became a wife and adult, devoted to raising children and managing her husband's household. Most wives died in childbirth in their 30s, but if a wife outlived her husband (who might also die young) she could enjoy considerable freedom as a rich widow and heiress. Roman widows were not forced to remarry, and they could usually pursue their own interests (and be pursued by eligible bachelors).

Some senators were nobiles: those whose ancestors had been elected to the consulship (a senior government position). They formed a conservative old boys club that resisted change and made life hard for the "new men" in the senate. A few senators were patricians who traced their lineage to the legendary founding of Rome. By the late Republic, being a member of one of the surviving patrician families could imply distinction, but not privilege.

The Equestrian Order
Equestrians (equites) were originally citizens who could afford to maintain a horse and armor for military service. By 100 B.C.E.,wealth became the criteria – an equestrian was a Roman citizen whose assets were worth 100,000 denarii or more. An equestrian family usually ran a big business, such as a shipping company, gladiatorial school, bank, or factory. Some military tribunes (senior legion officers) and town councillors were also equestrians. During the Empire, equestrians gained more political power, taking over many of the Empire’s top civil service jobs.

A publican was an equestrian whose company made its profits by filling government contracts (e.g., for public works or supplying a legion). Their wealth gave them immense political clout, and they were notorious for buying the support of senators and magistrates with bribes and campaign contributions.

The most rapacious publicans were the tax-farmers. Instead of the state collecting provincial taxes, the job was farmed out to private business. The tax-farming companies submitted competitive bids to the senate; the one that bid the highest tax rate got the job. They then had to collect that tax rate from the province or pay the difference out of their own pockets – and if they collected anything more than the agreed tax, that was their personal profit! As a result, provinces were bled dry by greedy entrepreneurs. Publicans hired mercenaries who went from town to town, demanding exorbitant tithes by force, often backed up by the legions of the local governor. Most provincials weren’t Roman citizens, and so they faced flogging, slavery, and seizure of property if they failed to pay the owed tax. When a province revolted, it was often because of the excesses of the tax-farmers!

Equestrian households were similar to those of the senatorial order, except that boys received less of an education, instead learning the family business. A young equestrian male normally followed his father’s orders and usually helped with the family business. By his late 30s he would probably be married, and might have inherited his father’s enterprise or started his own. Instead of going into business, some equestrians joined the legions as military tribunes (senior officers). After a few years in the army, they usually went on to the civil service or law. If one was rich enough to qualify for the senate, he might enter politics, but unless he allied himself with a powerful senator he would have little chance of ever winning election to a magisterial post and thus appointment to the senate. If successful, he would be scorned by conservative senators as a "new man" but, in time, his family would become senatorial.

A woman was usually married in her teens to one of their father's business partners or political contacts. Her life was similar to that of a woman in a senatorial family, but she was likely to have greater involvement with her husband’s business and finances.

Common Plebeians
These were the general masses of free Roman citizenry, from the urban poor (also called proles) to peasant farmers, well-to-do shopkeepers, and common legionaries. A free citizen had various rights: He or she received preferential treatment over non-citizens in Roman courts, couldn’t be flogged or tortured by the state, and (if a man in the Republic) could vote in popular assemblies. Before Rome switched to a volunteer army (mid-first century B.C.E.),a citizen faced conscription into the legions.

The mass of common plebeians lived in small apartments in multi-story buildings called insulae. By Imperial times, many of the Empire’s plebeians were descended from freed slaves.

A common plebeian family consisted of a father (paterfamilias), wife, and three or four children. Some richer families had one or two slaves as part of the household. As in the senatorial order, the paterfamilias had total authority over his family. Boys and girls usually learned to read and write capital letters in Latin, but had little other education. Boys became adults between 14 and 16 years of age; they went to work right away. Girls often married between age 14 and 20. A child might be educated by his or her parents or sent to a school run by a pedagogue.

A young man usually learned his father’s occupation while helping him on the job. Some men also volunteered for the legions or (in the early Republic) were conscripted into them. Most commoners also belonged to clubs (collegia) of people sharing a common interest, favored god, or profession. The clubs were the center of social life. Clubs held dinner meetings, talked politics, sponsored religious festivals, and (very importantly) paid for the funerals of the poorer members. All clubs had rich senators or equestrians as patrons.

Women often mixed household duties and child rearing with professional careers, such as landlady or laundress. They weren’t allowed to join collegia. More exotic careers open to plebeian women included some priesthoods and magic or soothsaying.

Foreigners were individuals living in Roman-controlled provinces, cities, or towns who do not have Roman citizenship. Most of the inhabitants of the provinces were foreigners; there were also many foreign immigrants living in Rome and other Italian cities. Foreigners were free individuals, but they were subject to heavy taxation, were not legally allowed to marry Romans, could be punished by being flogged (unlike Roman citizens), and usually got the short end of the stick in any court cases against Roman citizens.

A freed slave was called a freedman or freedwoman. He or she usually lived like a common plebeian, except that a client-patron relationship automatically existed with the former owner. Most freedmen were shopkeepers or artisans. Like plebeians, many belonged to collegia. During Imperial times, some freedmen achieved important posts in the civil service. A freedman's children automatically became citizens. Freedwoman were often quite independent. Some of Rome's most celebrated actresses and singers were freedwomen. By the second century C.E., a majority of the Roman populace was descended from freedmen.

A slave might be a war captive, a pauper enslaved to pay debts, a sentenced criminal, or someone born of enslaved parents. Another way to become a slave was to be captured by bandits or pirates, who often claimed free citizens were slaves, and sold them in unscrupulous markets!

Most slaves were sold in the city forum (its central business district). Beautiful or skilled slaves were privately sold, often for outrageous prices, but if a war flooded the market with captives, prices for common slaves could be very low indeed. The law required slavers to notify buyers if a slave was sick, mad, zealously religious, or rebellious.

The luckiest slaves were those skilled individuals bought by a household or small business. They could then establish personal ties with their owner, and if they got along, receive fair treatment and the freedom to leave their quarters after a work day. This let them moonlight in paying jobs and save up the money to buy their freedom. A loyal slave would also hope to be freed by his owner's will.

A slave in a plantation, galley, or mine had a harder lot. He or she was under the whip of impersonal overseers – often slaves themselves – and would be chained up, fed little, and forced by beatings to work until nearly dead from exhaustion.

Others would serve as gladiators and chariot drivers. Successful ones may even gain their freedom in time, but for most this would mean death, or being maimed, in the arena.

Slaves sometimes revolted. In Italy and Sicily three revolts turned into Servile Wars, in which the rebels organized themselves and held out for years. The largest was the Third Servile War led by the gladiator Spartacus. It ended with Spartacus and all his followers crucified, but not before they had defeated several Roman legions! The Romans greatly feared slave revolts, and harsh laws punished disobedient, runaway, or rebel slaves. A master could have a slave sold, beaten, or killed. Masters sold disobedient slaves to brothels or gladiator schools.

Crucifixion was the norm for any slave who took arms against his master. If an owner was killed by a slave and the culprit couldn't be found, the law required that all a man's slaves – men, women, and children – be put to death.

Sources: Adapted from AD&D 2nd Edition HR5 The Glory of Rome Campaign Sourcebook to fit the Masque of the Red Death setting.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2023, 02:42:25 PM by EO »
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