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I’m happy to ramble about my setting, but I’ll try to be concise before your eyes glaze over…

I’m playing solo (if this is new idea to you, which it was to me until recently, there is a ton of work out there for solo TTRPGs), so I don’t have to worry about anyone else needing to buy into my ideas. I get to do the hand-waving where I want, and put the verisimilitude where I want.

My world-building started out with two main ideas: 1) I’ve always been fascinated with the idea in mythology of the first generations of humans being incredibly long-lived, and 2) Learning how much of what I’ve been assuming to be social advancement is actually just window-dressing, and trying to strip as much of it away as possible and still be able to run adventures in a low-tech or “primitive” world that can be as complex as adventures in a standard D&D-ish setting. The book “The Dawn Of everything” has been priceless in this regard.

I’ll skip the creation story, which is arbitrary and the details of which are irrelevant. Suffice it to say there was an act of creation: the world somehow or other poofed into existence, and was almost immediately populated with populations of what we would consider natural lifeforms. There is a kind of spirit responsible for this, but she is merely recognized as the progenitor, not worshipped, and she is not known to have taken any action since creation.

I find most invented theologies boring, and I’m sure mine is no different, but for background purposes, I need to quickly run down the four types of spirits. The reason I find defining the spirits necessary is to drive home the point that although there are spirits, none of them are stand-ins for the concept of gods. The four spirit types: 1) non-human animal species all have one representative spirit called totem spirits 2) non-animal life, and non-living objects have kami-like spirits 3) The spirits of humans are more individual than totem spirits, which don’t come into play much for the living, but they do live on after death, giving rise to ancestor worship 4) Independent entities of the spirit world, not tied to humans, animals, or non-animals. When they manifest in the material realm, it is often as trickster spirits.

None of the spirit types have exceptionally high power levels, and humans can circumstantially find themselves on an equal footing with some of them, so there’s nobody worth calling a god here.

The world is only about 300 years old at the time of the campaign. The first generation of humans are roughly analogous to the Greek titans – seemingly aloof and unknowable, and great sources of knowledge, should they choose to share. They differ from the titans in that they mostly do choose to share, and are generally good stewards of their descendants. It is not known if they are immortal because none have yet died from old age, but they can be killed (although they put up a better-than-average fight). Their appearance is of early middle age. The have a preternatural knack for engineering, which is why humanity already benefits from the invention of some basics like the spear, bow and arrow, fire, torches, rope, canoes, leather, and shelter construction.

The second generation (the children of the titan-like generation, just to remind you that there is no more “creation” going on) are meant to be analogous to the Greek gods – passionate and hypocritical, but also able to exemplify lofty ideals. Some of this generation have died of old age (but they were nearly 200 years old at the time), and those with a less-charitable view of this generation define them by their jealousy of their parents, who are possibly immortal. Since the first death of from old age, there’s been a bit of a panic about dying through-out humanity, which was alleviated somewhat when communication with ancestor spirits was found to be possible.

The third generation are analogous to the Greek heroes: the tension between the 1st gen and 2nd gen humans is above their paygrade – this world is the hand they were dealt, and they don’t resent it. They never had any hope of immortality, and they are here to leave their mark for future generations to marvel at. If they don’t die from misadventure, they live from between 130-150 years.

Subsequent human generations have a normal lifespan. The human population at this point is about 5000 people (starting with 50 humans in the first gen, and a population growth rate of 1.5%), leading a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The yearly route of neighboring tribes and chiefdoms is more or less known to any particular tribe or chiefdom, and there are usually feasts, sporting events, and other regular meetings of tribes and chiefdoms. The grand-daddy of them all, though, is the Sodality. This is held in the same spot every 8 years, and consists of all surviving 1st-gen humans, plus hand-picked secondary attendees. For those 1st-gen humans furthest from the centrally-located meeting spot, this takes them away from their chiefdom for about six months. They hand pick an honor-guard to accompany them, and being picked for this is one of the highest honors you could hope for. There is some small ceremony and celebration while the Sodality is in session, but it’s mostly business. The discussions are in private, and the attendees usually return to their chiefdoms without providing any detail of what was discussed, only with what the results of the decisions will mean for their people.

There are no domesticated animals. The totem spirits wouldn’t allow it. The totem spirits don’t object to respectful hunting, but attempted domestication is a degradation they will rise up against.

Rules for social interaction are going to play a big part, but that is the least fleshed-out part of my game. For combat opponents, it will be an equal mix of humans, wild beasts, and, a bit more rarely, fantastical beats. Everybody’s hit points will be scaled back just to represent “meat”, and not include any abstraction about rolling with the punches or whatever.

Technologically, I don’t think these guys really need much more than what I mentioned several paragraphs back. With my titan-like 1st gen humans, I can hand-wave any kind of technology being available, even metallurgy, but I don’t see much of a need for more. The only thing I miss in this setup is the iconic fantasy RPG weapon of the sword. But I’ve been learning that RPG rules have rarely given the spear the respect it deserves, so I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of a swordless world, and playing a spear-fighter.

But then in a spear-only world, I’m missing out on the brilliant reach vs speed weapon ratings in Codex Martialis, and stuff like having a dagger-wielder trying his damnedest to get from onset to melee range. Since wild beasts are going to be a major source of threats, I will still get some of that reach-vs-speed in combat, but human-vs-human is always more fun.

If you suffered through this whole thing, thanks for reading.