Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Other Side of the Frontier

Much has been made of the themes of colonialism in D&D--perhaps too much, not because they aren't there, but because there are a lot of ways to play D&D, and "taming the frontier" doesn't seem to be the most common approach these days. In any case, it seems to me that it would be easy to reverse the roles and have the PCs and their cultures fighting colonization (or the remnants of colonization) rather than colonizing.

We can image the ur-humanoid species (be they orcs or trolls or something else), arriving at a new world and working to suppress its technology and abducting natives for experimentation like the greph in Vance's The Dragon Masters. The humanoid invaders might be technological or employ magic, but either way their "science" would be origin of many of the monsters of latter times.

The invaders have a weakness (or perhaps several, but one big one): they are from a world with a less bright sun, so they're nocturnal and prefer underground bases. Perhaps due to the magic possessed by the natives, or perhaps due to fractionalization among the invaders, the shock-and-awe conquest becoms a protracted slog that wears down both sides. The invaders borrow in and hunker down, and maybe in some places the original inhabitants think they have been wholly defeated.

The natives, of course, have paid a price as well, being reduced in number by weird weapons and alien diseases. Their civilization has as has their population, leaving many areas as wilderness filled with ruins.

So then what happens is up to the PCs and people like them. Do they drive the former invaders from their world? Do they make alliances where they can? Is it just recovering the wealth and technology for their on benefit they are after or do they try to restore their cultures to their former greatness?

Art by William Stout

1 comment:

Anne said...

It may be apostasy to say it, but I thought "The Dragon Masters" was a much better IDEA than it was a STORY. As an idea, though, I do like it, especially the way the invaders had "giants" and the like bred out of captured humans.

You've got me thinking about Coins & Scrolls' posts about orcs as invaders:

And I had to go looking to dig it up, but your thoughts about what adventurers should do in this kind of game brought to mind an old Hari Ragat post about reconsecrating graves, defeating tomb robbers, and the like: