This article was first posted to Patreon on 18 May 2019
Today was the first day this year that I skimmed the pool.
Bear with me!
Skimming allows me to zone out, to kind of enter a Zen space where my thoughts are divorced from my actions. The body does what it needs to do while the mind is free to wander. So it wandered to Egyptian history.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the 25th Dynasty in order to write a history supplement for Nefertiti Overdrive, and while reading about the transition from the New Kingdom to the Third Intermediate Period, I came across mentions of the Sea Peoples, a kind of boogeyman often blamed for the Late Bronze Age collapse, which seemed to affect most of the Mediterranean civilizations. The Sea Peoples were apparently a kind of maritime nomadic group that swept in, messed things up, and then moved on until Rameses III of Egypt put them in their place – that place being the Levant. This allegedly led to the creation of the Philistines, who – according to one theory – were displaced Mycenaean Greeks.
Fascinating stuff, you say. So what?
Because I think the saga of the Sea Peoples would make a great game. Here’s why:
Often the Sea Peoples – and “barbarians” in general – are depicted as the villains. Here’s a nice orderly polity, imposing law and order on a specific region, and in come these terrible barbarians who create chaos and suffering. Except those polities were run by a very small elite for their own benefit. Often – especially with Rome – the fight was about stopping immigration. The Goths just wanted to some land to farm, but they weren’t obsequious enough with the Romans. The Gauls earlier had been pretty much minding their own business, ruling polities that had already imposed order on a wide area, but they weren’t serving Rome’s – or at least Julius Caesar’s – interests. Heck, it was a “Celtic menace” that was a factor leading to the empowerment of Marius and therefore Sulla, who led pretty much directly to the fall of the Republic. Those Celts weren’t even really interested in in the Italian Peninsula, though they did attack Roman town and forts in what might be called Celtic territory.
And there are parallels today, as elite interests attempt to portray those seeking a better life inside the elite’s polity as criminals and barbarians. The elite see a threat to the status quo as a threat to their privileges and power, and so change is bad.
I think history has been very clear that change is good.
So let’s have a game with the Sea Peoples as the good guys. Yes, they are forces of chaos and yes they threaten the status quo. But that status quo protect a rapacious elite. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Sea Peoples and other barbarians generally do not come as liberators. Most of them wanted to challenge the status quo, if only to find a place within it. But changing the status quo can be seen as good, protecting a society against atrophy.
All this to say that as this game evolves, it’ll be doing so in this Patreon. I will share here my notes, my thoughts, my intents, and my design. This will not be something for which patrons will pay, but the posts will only be open to patrons.
It will all start with design goals, and maybe even a philosophy.
Wish me luck.
Note: the development of Sagas of the Sea Peoples will be conducted at my Patreon, so if you are interested, look for it there.