This is going to be quick and simple. NOVA is bearing down on me and I’ve got a lot of things going on, but I want to still put something out there.
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about historical accuracy and the feel of an RPG, especially Pen and Paper, and it has lead me to do research on a number of topics that I’ve not really considered before.
But, what do bridges have to do with anything? A lot, it turns out.
I’ve often got off topic when it comes to making sure my fantasy worlds feel time appropriate. I note misconceptions, rarities, vagaries and all sorts of other tidbits about the medieval period and the Roman, both of which I draw on heavily in my world, and store them away so that I can use them later. Sometimes, like the vomitorium, it is extremely hard to break the tried and true thought processes, and its worth embracing. Other times, it is simply a comfort of the world that we take for granted that means something when we remove the object from our fantasy world.
Which brings us to bridges.
These are structures we take for granted in our every day life. However, in Times before the modern suspension bridges and mass steel construction, bridges were difficult, dangerous, expensive things to build, often funded by large governments. It was almost always more practical, especially with the slow moving methods of transportation available – Namely horse and foot – to pay a ferryman. With Bridge building technology and concepts floundering from the roman period to the 1800’s, its not unwise to look at Italian, French and English Bridges of the early Medieval period for inspiration.
This detail can make rivers seem, over the course of time and using them correctly, the more daunting and dangerous barriers that they were. Simply finding your way across a swift, small river or a large slow and deep one could comprise several days or equivalent adventuring.
The second thing I’ve recently started looking into are flags. Somehow, I’d never really taken a look or put a lot of thought into the national flags of a Medieval RPG. When I did, I discovered that, strangely enough, they, for the most part, were non existent. National flags as we know them are a creation of the Age of Sail, used to identify ships sailing at sea with their homeland. They were not traditionally adopted until the late 19th century (I could be a slight off on that, as always) for the larger part of the world. Many flags we have today are constructs of post World War II.
What we had prior to this were house Colors, Family Crests, and Achievements. Heraldry at its finest. This is especially true during the time period that most fantasy RPG’s are set: Generally somewhere between 1050 and 1350, due to the prevalence of Plate Armor and the Crossbow. During this time many houses has elaborately decorated and colored flags that allowed identification of ones fighting force, their leader, and their disposition in battle.
Maybe, one day, I’ll get around to making an article series on the dumb things I’ve studied and learned over time playing, ruminating, and considering D&D adventures. I think it’d be a lot of fun and a way to keep up a little bit of history here and there.
I likely won’t get an article in on Thursday, though I will try to write on Wednesday. I will be at NOVA from Thursday night through Sunday night, so look for all sorts of photos and reports on my Accounts. I’ve started a Facebook account for this so that I can try and keep family and nerding kinda separate.