Greek myths describe periods of hundreds or thousands of years when humans were around and the Titans ruled. And before Cronus was born there was a long time where just the primordial deities were around hanging out and doing whatever primordial deities do.
So how far back does my timeline of Cimmeria go? A hundred years from current events? The Trojan War? The war between the Titans and the Olympians? The birth of Gaia from the void?
I picked the birth of Deucalion as where my timeline would start.
For those of you who don’t know, Deucalion is the Greek mythological version of Noah. A lot of religions have versions of Noah. Archaeologists link these stories to flood events at the end of the last ice age.
Deucalion is the “Father of Humanity” in Greek mythology, so he is a natural starting point for a timeline about Humans.
But where do I line up Deucalion with an actual historical timeline?
Fortunately, there is a event in Greek myths that has a counterpart in reality, the Trojan War!
The remains of Troy have been found with multiple layers of cities built on top of each after the previous layer was destroyed.
Two of the layers are reasonable candidates for what was destroyed at the end of the Trojan War. These two layers are called Troy VI and Troy VII.
Troy VI was destroyed first around 1250BCE and Troy VII was destroyed around 1183BCE.
So which was the Troy the Greeks destroyed?
Luckily the myths give us an easy answer. Troy was attacked and damaged a few decades before the Trojan War by Heracles. Thus if we were to line up mythical and historical events we would claim that Heracles destroyed Troy VI in 1250BCE and the Greeks destroyed Troy VII in 1183BCE.
From there it’s a matter of counting backwards generationally from the Trojan War to Deucalion.
It turns out that Patroclus is the best candidate for counting backwards to Deucalion. Figuring out Patroclus’s age is somewhat dependent on Achilles’s age.
The good news is that Achilles’s age is given in the Epic Cycle. He is eight years old when Odysseus takes him off to the Trojan War. It takes two years to get to Troy and the Greeks are there for ten years. That means Achilles would’ve been 19 or 20 near the end of the war.
Patroclus is meant to be Achilles’s older cousin and pederast. I guessed that he was seven years older.
So we count backwards 27 from 1183BCE and we get 1210BCE as the birth year of Patroclus. Patroclus was the second son of Menoetius. We count backwards for Menoetius, assuming that he had his first child at 25 (typical for Greeks), with a 2 year gap per child. Continue this process until you reach Deucalion and then add a bunch of years to Deucalion because he lived longer than normal Humans do just like Noah.
Obviously, I could use a similar system to date many of the events in Greek mythology, but that’s a huge pain in the ass. It’s enough that you know that all the heroic myths take place over a roughly 200 year period, with most of them concentrated around the 50 years leading up to the Fall of Troy.
And without further ado, here is the first installment in the Cimmerian Timeline.
1421BCE: Deucalion is born. 1339BCE: The Great Flood happens, signaling the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Heroic Age. 1196BCE: Paris steals Helen and the call goes out among the Achaeans. 1195BCE: Odysseus finds Achilles at Scyros and the ships sail to Troy, ravaging almost every settlement enroute to the great city. 1193BCE: The Achaeans arrive at Troy. 1183BCE: Troy falls, signaling that the Heroic Age will end soon. 1173BCE: Odysseus returns home. 1159BCE: Odysseus is killed by Telegonus, his son with Circe. Telegonus takes Penelope and Telemachus back to Circe’s Island. Telegonus marries Penelope and Circe marries Telemachus. This death and marriage signal the end of the Heroic Age and the beginning of the Iron Age for Greece.
Syncretismnoun syn•cre•tism: the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.
My campaign world, Cimmeria, uses the Hellenic pantheon but Cimmeria is not Greece, it’s Cimmeria. The Greek gods get pretty active in Cimmeria, but why Cimmeria instead of Greece where they’re supposed to be getting up to all their shenanigans?
The meta/out-of-game answer is that I wanted creative freedom for geography and historical events. Tying myself to a real world location would’ve restricted those choices. I still needed Greece around to draw on the myths of the Greek gods, but I didn’t need my campaign to physically be in Greece or the Aegean.
The in-game answer is that the Greek gods wanted a fresh start after the Trojan War. They moved away from Greece, only occasionally interacting with their followers in that region. Cimmeria became the new playbox for the Olympians.
But what does this move from Greece to Cimmeria have to do with syncretism?
Well, do you suppose there might have been gods living and being worshiped in Cimmeria before the Hellenic pantheon showed up?
If you said yes you win the prize!
There are multiple pantheons within my campaign world outside of the region of Cimmeria.
Other pantheons include the Egyptian, Norse, Sumerian, Abrhamic (more of a monotheon, but whatever), and a few other minor deities that could be represented by the Greyhawk/Faerun pantheon.
Prior to the arrival of the Olympians in Cimmeria a pantheon of Goblin deities ruled the region.
The Olympians engaged these gods in some sort of battle for the region and emerged victorious. The old Goblin religion has all but disappeared.
Each of these different religions contain their own rules about the underworld and the realm of the gods. How can all these pantheons have different underworlds? How does that make sense?
The ancients had an idea called syncretism. That’s when one god is equal to another god in a different religion. Zeus = Thor is a fairly obvious one.
Another one people did was Dionysus = Osiris, because both of them came back from the dead by being sewed together. The problem with that one is it means Dionysus must also be Hades because Osiris is the ruler of the underworld. But Osiris is also the father of Horus who would be Zeus or Helios in the Greek pantheon. Does that mean Dionysus/Hades is also Cronos, the father of Zeus? Or even Hyperion, father of Helios?
It’s my belief that the ancients didn’t really have rules for this. I think that when they contemplated this issue with syncretism they just said something like, “Who can understand the immortal gods?” or more rarely, they expressed a monotheistic belief where every god was simply a reflection of a singular deity. Thus, I believe that even the people who actually practiced these religions in their original forms would’ve found syncretism confusing.
Are there rules for how syncretism works in Cimmeria? Nope, sorry. I went with what I thought worked best in each situation.
There are occasional instances of syncretism, but for the most part each pantheon exists separately from other pantheons. Each rules over its particular worshipers and regions without interfering in the other regions unless some large event precipitates such interference.
What does this decision mean for the cosmology? First, it means that most of the Goblin deities were absorbed by the Olympians through syncretism.
It also means that a character’s access to other planes besides the Material and closely connected planes (Astral, Ethereal, Shadow) is heavily limited.
A Hellenist cannot travel to the Pharaonic afterlife. It simply isn’t possible unless the Hellenist travels with a Pharaonist or is somehow cursed to go to the wrong afterlife.
Another effect is the weakening of divine magic when within another pantheon’s realm. Clerics find their spellcasting powers diminished to those of a cleric half their level when not in their pantheon’s region. This means that Greek priests are weaker than their Cimmerian counterparts, as the Greek pantheon abandoned Greece for a new region, Cimmeria.
That hopefully answers a few questions about how different pantheons work in the world around Cimmeria and provides some background for the move of the Greek pantheon from Greece to Cimmeria (and later on Rome).
A note before I get into the meat of this update. I adapted this city from a previously created city posted on the Thieves Guild. The Thieves Guild is a great old website with lots of ideas for roleplaying games. I’d definitely recommend checking out the Thieves Guild if you’re a DM/GM and in need of some inspiration. The original content for this city post is called the City of Stormfront by The Guildmaster and can be accessed using this link. The Guildmaster also made a map of Stormfront that I’ve adapted for Bradel Fields. The map has little numbers on it denoting the locations that are marked in the writeup with numbers like this (#).
Bradel Fields, a city with population of close to 30,000, was originally a monarchy. The kings were fair and just, and slowly gave the citizens democratic concessions as they were demanded before abdicating. The noble family split into six smaller families after the Bradel Council took over. The castle was converted into a guard barracks and the royals moved into the castle courtyard, now called Noble Way. The Bradel Council originally gave a pension to the nobles, but the pension fund dwindled over the years and the remaining nobles have sought other forms of income. Most have become entrepreneurs, army soldiers, navy sailors, or taken positions in the Council.
The new Bradel Council rules from the old courthouse (2). The three new sections at the sides and back have been added to hold the growing democratic bureaucracy. The Bradel Council is split into different parts which discuss and vote on different issues. The different sections are Police, Army, Agriculture, Commerce, Internal, and Supreme. The supreme section has the power to override any decision made by the other sections. When new councilors run for office they must choose the section they are running for. The term of a councilor is six years with thirty councilors elected every year. Each building in the city gets one vote to appoint councilors. All bills are passed by majority.
The arena (1) is a large pit used for battles to entertain or deliver justice. Spectators look down from the upper level, witnessing bloodshed of all kinds. Gladiators walk out along a special platform and down a ramp into the pit for battle. This platform is ten feet lower than the spectator stands, and ten feet higher than the bottom of the pit. At the northwest section of the pit through a large wrought iron gate animals and monsters are brought in whenever they are required to fight. There is a betting parlor near the entrance where the labor is all Elves. The arena is a business venture started by the secretive Elves of Valor’s Forest.
The temple (3) is surrounded by an eight foot wall with large iron gates which are always open. The interior of the wall is decorated with a large flower garden adorned with statues of the twelve Olympians. The temple itself sits at the far end of the garden, on the other side of the main gates. The temple is a tall majestic building with golden towers and glistening gates. A small bridge on the second floor extends from the rear of the temple over the nearby street, connecting to a small building across the way where the clergy reside.
The Hall of Knowledge (4) is a large wooden library with a stone foundation. Inside are hundreds of shelves of books, tomes, and papers containing information of all sorts. The library does not rent out books and ones containing spells are restricted to citizens who have had library cards for over a year.
The knight’s guild (5) is nestled close to the city docks and guard barracks. The noble warriors of the city reside in this large stone keep near the waterfront. The keep was built long ago to provide protection for the city, and looks to be a military masterpiece of protection. Yet, regardless of the building’s strong exterior, it is rather comfortable and welcoming inside. The guild is in charge of the city’s army. The current Guildmaster is Cheregon one of the noble lady-knights from House Tiisson. Entrance into the guild is restricted to citizens of the city.
There are about five hundred policemen based at the city police barracks (6) who keep trouble off the streets and out of the farms and slums if they can. They are trained at the city guard training area. Two galleons and six frigates take port at the city navy base (7). Members of the knight’s guild are the sailors on board when needed. The Harbor Master (10) collects the fees for any trade goods brought in by sea and for docking your ship, dependent on size. The ranger’s guild (20) is a two story wooden building that provides the home for the rangers of the city. The forest gate (27) leads directly to the forest and the city’s graveyard.
Between the courthouse and the arena is a statue (9). It shows a marble Zeus dropping a granite mountain on top of an obsidian Typhon. The eyes are gems, Zeus’s clothes gold, and the point of Typhon’s tail is Adamantite. The city is immensely proud of its statue constructed by Phidias the sculptor.
Bradel Fields is unique in having a jail for punishment instead of just holding people before trial. The city’s jail (11) is a large building standing three stories high. There is only one entrance, through the front gates. Guard towers are posted on the roof, looking down on the crowded streets of the city. Dim lights can be seen through the few barred windows of the building. Rumors have it that the jail goes several stories below ground, housing more than criminals, but demons and other monsters as well. Some say there is even a connection to the Underdark. Of course such things are only myths the Bradel Council says.
The super store, the Red Dragon Warehouse (12), is the hot spot for adventurers and people wanting something you that cannot be obtained anywhere else. The three story high building sits near the private docks of the noble merchants, and is surrounded by a twelve foot high wall. The prices are more expensive here, but the selection is almost endless. Seagulls constantly circle the flat roof of the building, where several smaller buildings sit. The owner is Trobador, a Halfling who inherited the business and has been expanding it even further.
The Red Dragon Casino is owned by Trobador as well. He has many interesting physical games inside as well as the normal card and dice games. A lot of the gladiators spend their winnings in the casino. The owner also does an event at the Arena once every four years. A Red Dragon is captured by his employees and gladiators go up against it one at a time for the whole day or until the Dragon is defeated. Trobador has to put some heavy wards down to protect the spectators, but the event is the biggest festival in town.
The Adventure Dome (14) is a mysterious building that gives a unique experience to anyone going inside. No one knows who built it, but the person selling tickets is a Dryad. No one knows her name, where her tree is, or what she does with the money she earns, but most assume the answers can be found in the dome somewhere.
The walls surrounding the mage’s tower (16) are smooth gray stone. They appear to be easy to climb; but in actually are extremely slippery. There appear to be no windows or entrances to the inside. Only members of the mage’s guild know how to access what’s within. They contact you to make you a member not the other way around.
The Bradel Fields tavern (17) is a large wooden building providing a place of rest for weary travelers and a space to mingle for citizens. Drinks are served at all hours in this fine establishment. Rooms are also available; one just has to ask the manager. The tavern employs over a hundred people to service its clients.
The bard’s playhouse (18) is a large modified theater no longer used for performances that houses the city’s bards. This building provides a place for bards to eat, sleep and practice. Work for actors and stage hands can be found in this cozy establishment, along with prestige and talent.
The Grand Theater & Music Hall (19) is near the richest part of the city (The noble section, located on Noble Way). Inside is an enormous theater which can seat thousands. Plays, ballets and musical performances of only the highest quality take place here once every ten days.
The psionicist’s guild (21) is located on the first and second floor of this three story building. It is the only well known place to get information on psionics or to train in its art. Many of the teachers in the guild believe that psionics is the way for humans to become equal to Angels and Devils. There is also a cartel of Mindflayer hunters in the guild. The guild owns the building, but must rent out the bottom floor to cover costs. The current renter, a bard living at the playhouse, uses it as a dance studio.
Warrior’s Rest (22) is a private establishment which caters to warriors of all types except the knights and rangers of the city. It is believed that these professions don’t need to take up space at the Rest because rangers and knights both have large guilds that look after them. The tavern also doubles as a tiny inn. Rooms are cheap and the company is often welcoming…as long as trouble isn’t started.
The Park of the Traveler (23) where exotic animals of all kinds roam this small forest, rumors say that they appeared one day as the result of some mad magician’s spell gone awry. A group of druids act as zookeepers here and train new druids to coexist with Human society. Because of the nature of some of these animals, this park can be a dangerous place, but still less dangerous then the Park of Delights.
Park of Delights (24) is a dark and foreboding place. This park is sometimes used for underworld meetings as a neutral ground. The local guards are often paid to keep clear, and most do so without payment. The park is said to be a home of evil. Disappearances occur often here and every so often a dead body turns up… Some say that an evil cult worships in this small forest, but nothing has been proven.
The city graveyard (25) is an enormous area outside of the city where the dead rest. Huge mausoleums and unmarked graves are scattered about. Grave robbery is kept in check by the local grave keepers for a price paid through the taxes of the city. As such necromancy is not a serious problem in the city.
Outside of the south gate (26) is an area where poverty stricken people reside. Too poor to afford adequate housing inside the safety of the city walls, these people tend to build crude structures from any available materials. The people here range from petty thieves to crippled indigents. A thief’s guild may exist here, but authorities have not found any evidence so far.
The Grain Gate (28) is where a majority of the city’s food is imported through. The farms surrounding the city tend to gather nearest to this gate; although there are still many other farms located near the other gates.
In recent history Bradel Fields joined the first and second Alliances against Xoria. During the first war the republic city was led by Hector, a young knight with connections to Princess Tarigananata. Hector died during the war. The second Alliance is led by Hector’s son, Astyanax. Astyanax went through a traumatic incident with a demon. After he recovered he executed Bradel Council members who were against continuing the war and assumed dictatorial control of the city. To enforce his new edicts, Astyanax drafted the goblin slaves of the city into a police force/army.