[Let’s Study: Early Dark] Part 2: Atlas of History

Posted: June 19, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Early Dark, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games

To say that this particular chapter discussing the entire history of the world of Early Dark is expansive would be an understatement.

The approach taken by the authors to introduce the setting and histories of each of the Five Civilizations of the game is an interesting one, and certainly one that doesn’t shy away from page count concerns. Furthermore, any concerns people might have about the usual “Monoculture” complaint that most fantasy games have are immediately dispelled by the fact that each of the civilizations is given thorough treatment as to their beliefs and norms.

The chapter is divided between eras of history, mainly:

  • Histories and the First Age, which discusses the secret pre-history of the setting, and introduces the nature of reality as a great Tapestry. Fey creatures and beings from the Fray (the chaotic reverse-reality that lies beneath the Tapestry) are also introduced here, as well as the concept that some magics rend the Tapestry and allow creatures from the Fray to enter into the world. Mankind’s earliest days and civilizations are also mentioned, including the great First Empire that fell into ruin.
  • Age of Migrations, which detail the earliest days of the Five Civilizations, and the events that led them to settle in the area.
  • Age of Structures, wherein the Five Civilizations take root and begin to gather strength.
  • The Second Age, heralded a time when the Five Civilizations truly began to network through trade (and conflict). Magick begins to return and along with it come the Fey.
  • The Six Front Wars, detailed the largest scale conflicts that the Five Civilizations had seen among each other in their histories.
  • The Present Day, presents a snapshot of society as it is in the time of the Player Characters.

Each of these sections is further divided between each of the Five Civilizations, told in the form of legends and stories of their heroes. This approach might not be as precise as a more academic form of presenting the information but it does wonders in being able to communicate the mood and tone of each of the civilizations. The book also includes callout boxes that contain other related information, whether a small section on the Anu gods, or game mechanics that relate to the items being discussed in the stories.

One thing I will note is that this is a pretty involved read. One can’t simply just skim through this and wing it. The societies and histories presented are all very complex and nuanced, and I would highly advise anyone looking to GM this game to take his time in going through this chapter. My regret in this part of Let’s Study is that I can’t go into too much detail on each of the Civilizations as there’s a lot to go through that requires actually reading the legends to understand.

Tomorrow we take a peek at the character creation rules for Early Dark as we try to create an inhabitant of this fascinating, and detailed world.

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