Finally finished the detailing on my Orc Stronghold. I'm still calling it a stronghold even though it's utility has evolved during the physical construction of the narrative I'm building for the board. It is now a toll both on an ancient highway. The only way to traverse a fast flowing, white hot lava river.
I intend to build a world that has more depth than the B movie mythos from which it draws much of it's aesthetic.
I think my ancient world has a globalised society a lot like our own, with intermingling cultures and races spread all over the planet. The technology level is stone, and the international population is a lot lower than our own, although it is more diverse in terms of intelligent species. Where we have one, Savage Lands has thousands.
Magick and remote viewing powers are common, as well as intelligent beings with the power of (winged) flight, meaning that the global continental layout has been known for as long as anyone can remember.
The location and cultural oddities of each locale are fuzzily present in the back of the average citizen's mind (much like the average man on the street today). There are nothing as crude as national boundaries however, cultures, languages and traditions blend together over vast, fantastical prehistoric landscapes. There are crazy stories of far off lands, exotic peoples and unimaginable weirdness. All the superstitious, wild and seemingly exaggerated travellers tales are true in this world of myth and gigantic monster.
This ancient network of cultures is linked by thousands of trade routes of different sizes. Some always have (pre-wheel) traffic, and others are almost disused, with dangerously under maintained pathways populated with bandits and lowlifes. There is no police force or central ruling body, the land is lawless, or rather each situation is dealt with according to local tribal custom.
There is no problem with pollution or overcrowding, and capitalism is still at the level of bartering. The richest members of society having more livestock than their neighbour, they also occupy man made or even fortified dwellings. These individuals are unusual however, and tend to collect around the trade routes, exploiting the footfall of the ancient world's busiest thoroughfares.
The idea of capitalism has not taken full hold of the collective consciousness yet. The tribal centres, their populations never bigger than two hundred, are for the most part not in touch with the idea of property gain and retention. Skilled craftsmanship, and specialised areas of expertise are shared freely among the tribal kin. Most races still prefer to forage and hunt dinosaurs for sustenance, but there are some who exploit greed, necessity or the weakness of others in order to survive, and for those in the know there is a thriving network of barterers, traders and black market dealers spanning the the whole ancient world.
Foreign weapons, spices, timbers, livestock and magickal wares are much sought after for their exoticism, despite serving similar purposes to their local counterparts.
This is a global culture on the ascension but it has it's problems. Magick "technology" is getting better, but with magickal items becoming more and more easily accessible to the inexperienced, and the lure of the open road never greater now the highways have become so well maintained, the young, the foolish and the brave are travelling ever further from the familiarity of traditional tribal life. Further towards danger, daring and bikini clad adventure.
There are also societal problems in the "bad parts of town". The shanty villages that accumulate around crossroads and necessary passes are full of beggars, muggers and people addicted to magickal herbs and fungi, bartered for dinosaur blood in back "street" shamanic drug dens. Language is on the cusp of becoming written, road signs are the first examples of this. With the network of roads came the need for warnings of perils ahead, landslides, rock falls and bandit country were among the first uses of written words.
Pretty much all the detail on this tile is GW. From the resin skulls sprue, the Savage Orc kit, the Temple Guard sprue and the Mordeheim tufts box. The punctured cadaver is a mantic zombie from a sprue donated by hybrid horde. The Archaeopteryx feasting on his entrails is from Tamiya. His wingspan is the same as a human man.
The graffiti on the Orc Gatehouse is just the name of the Orc scammer that runs the gatehouse. It is his name expressed as a threat. Any written word is read as a warning at this time. As a result most travelling people are "literate" as there are only a handful of written words, themselves derived from pictograms.
There are a few hints that this gatehouse is not a place to stay for long....
Stay tuned for the big reveal later this week. Until you see all three tiles together it's hard to see this as point on an ancient trail. I'm pretty sure it's going to work and has a suitably dangerously gritty but humourous vibe. The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the rickety bridge under construction in the background. This is the bridge that the Orcs control for their personal gain. They Guarantee "safe" passage at a cost. The board is two nights away from completion...
The narrative of my game will take place mainly on these highways, between strange and diverse cultural centres. The next village we encounter will be the underground Mushroom Kingdom.