- Apr 28, 2018
- Reaction score
That kind of material is also what you need in RPGs. "Who the ruler was" merits a note, for certain, along with his personal qualities... but what you need to know is law enforcement&judges, inheritance, land ownership/economic activity, trade, entertainment&sport, sex&marriage&familial relations (which might or might not be the same thing), diplomacy, spying, war organisation, status of warriors, superstitions&religion, food&food production, medicine, upbringing&professional training, matters of honour/face.My particular interest in history tends to relate more to the daily lives of average people than "great men" or "big events."
Several years ago I stumbled across a book made up of excerpts from Victorian diaries by people of various social classes (one chapter each). The most intriguing part was reading about how they entertained themselves. I was struck by how much time many of the urban ones seemed to spend taking walks in parks, going to hear lectures, seeing plays, and doing other things outside the house during the weekday. I guess I assumed that most of that would have been weekend activity, but quite a number of them seemed to go home, eat dinner, and then go wandering about.
I mean, PCs kill and rob an NPC. How is the setting going to react? Who might be unexpectedly offended? How would that impact the perpetrators?
PCs have to learn what war plans a neighbouring duchy has. Who would be priv(v)y? If you ask the wrong people, they might tell you there are no such plans...while they were in full swing, unbeknownst to your interlocutors.
Hence why I recommend setting materials focusing on those things. In the case of Medieval Europe (Central and Northern, especially) I'd recommend Streets of the fencing master, while for Southern Europe, Aquelarre is excellent.
Similarly, for China, I'd recommend Qin: the Warring States, GURPS: China and Brendan's Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate (barring some small anachronisms and changes, because it is a fantasy setting).
Some RPG books really miss the mark by a wide margin there, and the tendency is especially bad in fantasy. That's part of why even two GMs running the same fantasy setting would come with widely divergent interpretations, IMO.