Entire Campaigns in a Single 24-Mile Hex Inspired by Regal Rome
I am currently working my way through Mary Beard's SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. She covers Rome from its legendary founding to the point where all free people of the Empire were granted citizenship. She closely examines the legends of very early Rome such as the founding by Romulus and Remus, the Regal period, and the early Republic. For all of these periods we have no contemporary written history, being forced to rely on archaeological evidence - any written histories of those periods were written centuries later.
What I found striking was her description of warfare in the period around the end of the monarchy. She wrote:
Military activity is another good case in point. Here geography alone should give us pause. We need simply look at the location of these heroic battles: they were all fought within a radius of about 12 miles of the city of Rome. Despite the style in which they are recounted, as if they were mini-versions of Rome against Hannibal, they were probably something closer, in our terms, to cattle raids. They may not even have been ‘Roman’ engagements in the strict sense of the word at all. In most early communities, it took a long time before the various forms of private violence, from rough justice and vendetta to guerrilla warfare, came fully under public control. Conflict of all sorts was regularly in the hands of individuals with their own following, the ancient equivalents of what we might call private warlords; and there was a blurry distinction between what was conducted on behalf of the ‘state’ and what on behalf of some powerful leader. Almost certainly that was the case in early Rome.
- Beard, Mary. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. Liveright Publishing Corporation. New York. 2015. Kindle Edition.
As I read that it struck me what a perfect sort of environment that would be for an RPG. It is difficult to get out of our modern mindset as far as nation go/ Here we see examples of independent warfare being conducted in a region the size of a single 24-mile hex in many fantasy role-playing games. I have visions of an extremely detailed regional map, detailed enough to show small hills, large buildings, et. A village is not represented by a dot in a hex but actually portrayed in a map - something like USGS maps. Not everything needs be totally known by the characters, even in such a "small" hex. My own commute to work is a 15 mile car ride and there is countless space along the sides of the highway that I've no idea what is there. For all I know there could be a cave complex to an orc lair along the ride. Seems unlikely, but one never knows.