This post was original presented at My Patreon on 16 Aug 2019.
While the research for Sagas of the Sea Peoples continues, I have begun writing the game itself. I wanted to share the introduction with you, in which I try to encapsulate the aesthetic of the game.
The stories of the Sea Peoples are heroic tales of the Bronze Age untold by the conquerors. These are chronicles of trade, raids, and migration. Your characters are destined to become great leaders of warrior cultures, but the warrior ethos to which many cling may be a hindrance to success even as it is gains one prestige among one’s people.
Welcome to the Late Bronze Age. Iron is on its way but hasn’t made its full impact on cultures, and many of the dominant polities of southwest Asia and the east Mediterranean Sea coast have collapsed or have seen their power and prestige decline. Economic turmoil and war have created a churn of disarray, leading to suffering and desperation.
In the middle of all this are the Sea Peoples. Led by Mycenaean migrants and joined by the dislocated from around the Aegean Sea and beyond, these groups are seen as pirates, raiders, and barbarian invaders by what remains of the great powers – the Hittites, the Levant city-states, and the Egyptians. There are certainly those among them who have profited from the vast ungoverned space of the Mediterranean and its shores, but there are many more pursuing a better life for their families, seeking opportunities and freedom from oppressive hierarchies.
The characters in Sagas of the Sea Peoples have been pushed to the periphery, and now they have decided it is time to push back. Better to die on your feet than on your knees. They pose a threat to the status quo because they are the other – the outsider and the barbarian. They represent something different, something that is motivating change, and the elites do not like change. While belonging to an egalitarian society which struggles with a conservative need to rebuild the structures of the past, the characters seek to overturn the status quo and avoid a return to the hierarchies that destroyed their society. They cannot escape violence – who in this world can? – but they are special because they have recognized the trap of the warrior ethos and they are seeking something else, something that will preserve their lives, their families, and their peoples.