Add Lost Civilizations To Your World

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1066

Been watching a lot of history videos on Youtube lately. I especially like the short ones with time lapse maps of changing settlements and populations.

For example, this one on Europe from 400 BC to present.

It’s fascinating to see how countries grow, shrink, migrate, and disappear.

On a similar note, my civilization schema for Duskfall is really paying off for me, design wise.

I thought I was being clever and deep with my 1,000 year cycles of dominance by one race or culture.

For example, there were ages of Star Elf, Gold Dwarf, Chaos, and Colossi dominance.

In the current age, humans are dominant. But humans in Duskfall have been weakened by greed, ambition, and decadance.

It’s been easy for the Dusk Lords to swoop in, seize power, and enslave eager but unwitting populaces.

A low point for Duskfall.

I thought I was making some deep history. But after learning about past Earth civilizations….there are so many! (And here’s an interesting timeline view.) I see now that Duskfall’s history remains pretty simple.

And Earth’s civilizations migrate and shift and change so much. Pretty amazing.

If there’s one overall feeling I get from these history lessons, it’s that civilization is fleeting.

I heard a stat that says a civilization, on average, lasts about 350 years.

The West started in Europe around the 1700s? Uh oh.

Meantime, Duskfall’s history now looks simple and superficial to me.

But even so, it’s paid off for my campaign planning.

For example, I wanted layers of ruins in the ground to supply plenty of adventure sites.

Each Duskfall age has created a prevalent culture with distinct architecture, reasons for building use, and technologies that serve as treasures today.

Any time I need an adventure site, I pick an age and get instant qualities for the map and location details.

For example, the Gold Dwarves tended to build ziggurats and quadrant based communities. Their history became bloody near age-end, so more resources were put into war and defence.

If I decide an adventure location is Gold Dwarf ruins, I’ve got a quick base to work from.

Today’s tip is to think about past civilizations in your world and get a feeling for how impermanent a culture really is.

Though simplistic, I’m happy with Duskfall’s 10 ages and primary civilizations. It makes adventure design easier for me.

Think about your homebrew world.

Make a short list of past cultures.

Layer and stack them over time.

Then use your ancient cultures for cool adventure sites.