Gaming in the Ancient World

As I've been thinking about a fantasy game with domain management and/or generational play, for some reason I've also been thinking about time periods before the typical medieval-inspired settings - from Westeros to Greyhawk to Middle Earth.

I've begun reading Susan Wise Bauer's The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome. Mind you the pace is slow, between grad school, work, family, and prepping for superhero adventures (next game - an invasion from spaaace!!!)

What I've been finding in the earliest period is a much smaller and more person world. Kings rule over city-states. Uruk's population at its height was perhaps fifty to eighty thousand. Compare that with the million who would live in Rome during the height of the Roman Empire (though it would be near modern times when a city would again reach such a population!)

The potential I see in such an environment is it becomes possible to imagine PCs rising to important roles in their nation or nations, possibly even to rule of an entire city-state. In a way it brings to mind one of my favorite D&D settings of the 1990s, that of Dark Sun. Though Dark Sun is not at the dawn of civilization but rather on the far end, with the once green world of Athas now largely a burnt out desert world, its ecology in tatters.

I'm not certain its an idea I'll go far with - I've a lot more familiarity with the Late Antiquity world implied by ACKS, but ages ago I ran a Dark Sun game that was a ton of fun. Halfling cannibals... For now I'm having fun flitting from idea to idea with every possibility that we'll stay with Icons after my semester ends, wind up playing something out of left field, or return to an older game (Cthulhu's always ready and willing to destroy the world).

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