One the fairly cute ideas for an RPG setting that has been buzzing around my head for some time now is a fantasy based upon the speculations of the late Stan Gooch. This is a world of nocturnal prehistory made alive by the coming of the Sun-worshippers.
Stan Gooch was a psychologist who also dabbled in the study of prehistory and spirituality. Most notably, Gooch was the originator of the 'hybrid-origin theory'.
This theory is nicely summarised as follows:
From other human species, Cro-Magnon man evolves in Northern India during a long period of isolation, develops and practices sun worship and hunting magic; the culture is patriarchal.
Elsewhere during the same period, different forms of Neanderthal man evolve in Europe and the Middle East, while moon worship and earth magic is developed and practiced; the culture is matriarchal.
Around 35,000 years ago, Cro-Magnon abandons India and heads west through the Middle East into Europe, overrunning Neanderthal. By 25,000 years ago, the predominant type in Europe is Cro-Magnon.
In the Middle East a hybrid population, a cross between the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal types, emerges. Pure Neanderthal has largely ceased to exist either here or in Europe.
By 15,000 years ago, pure Cro-Magnon man has also ceased to exist, driven out of north and west Europe, into southern Europe, by renewed glaciation, absorbed by the hybrid type (that is, modern Homo sapiens).
Excerpt from Wikipedia, referring to Gooch's 'Guardians of the Ancient Wisdom' (1979).Birth of a setting...
My idea, then, is to build a prehistoric setting in which the two major cultures, that of Gooch's Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal opposites, clash in an epic tale of survival. Adding some elements of fantasy to the mix, such as making the magic potent and the addition of legendary beasts, would complete the picture.
Here is a setting born of epic fantasy, drawing on the traditions of Conan's sword and sorcery, but adapting it to the technological limitations of prehistoric life. Exploring the rise of the hybrid Human would also be good fodder for tales of the coming of a new people.
Overall, the setting inspires me because it drops the conventions of both traditional fantasy and the pretensions of scientific orthodoxy to present a nearly-historical fantasy of struggle, magic and the clash of patriarchy and matriarchy. Imagining the Neanderthal hunters having to learn to become warriors in order to survive the violent incursion of the Cro-Magnon is compelling.
I haven't yet got a name for this new setting but, by jingo, I fancy giving it a crack.
Oh, and if you want to know more about Gooch's ramblings I'd recommend:
The Neanderthal Legacy: Reawakening Our Genetic and Cultural Origins.
Labels: cromagnon, fantasy, neanderthal