Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I've blogged before about the genius of the "Hyborian model" of campaign design; the idea of very thinly disguising real cultures as fantasy cultures by renaming them, but giving them enough markers that they resonate with readers as obviously similar to a real life culture that they can then identify with. Robert E. Howard's Hyborian age is the perfect (and one of the originals) example of this: for example, his Æsir and Vanir cultures were obviously Vikings, his Stygians were obviously ancient Egyptians, his Turanians were obviously Turks, his Corinthians were obviously ancient Greeks, etc.

For my Pleistocene Sword & Sorcery setting, which has been perpetually on the backburner as I've developed my other main setting, here's some examples of the correspondences I'd like to use. Calques, if you will, where one culture is migrated from the real world setting into the fantasy setting with an almost one-to-one correspondence. Certainly, unless claimed otherwise, you can assume that something that you know about, say, the Vikings will apply to the Vendel, my fantasy version of them. Here's the list:

Vikings : Vendel
Saxons : Hæstingas, "Haestings"
Celts (Scottish/Irish) : Gaidhel
Byzantines : Komnenians
Slavs : Kayazy
Turks : Vatheks
Algonquins : Mawrocs
Iroquois : Manahatts
Chinese : Fusangians
Plains Indians : Tatankens, Nakota, Nuumu Komantsi
Cliff dwellers : Kayenta
Aztec/Maya/Toltec (combined for ease of use) : Tlanoc
Mound builders : Cahokia

I might need to come up with some North African, Sahelian, and Middle-eastern calques as well, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. And, of course, I've got Muans, Lemurians and Atlanteans to deal with as well. That's certainly more than enough to get up and running, covering almost all of Europe and North America. That's more than enough setting for the time being.

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