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not sure if this goes here: the possibility of a new dark age

yupamiralda

New member
I used to kind of be into prepping and stuff like that. But I started wondering: what would happen if the global economic system never really got going again for like, hundreds of years?

So I think about how much the dark ages would have changed if they had had, say, the periodic table of the elements in 600 AD. I look into things like: how hard would it really be to manufacture penicillin? what could alchemists make pre-paracelsus?

I think eventually the bullets would run out, and melee combat would again become predominant. (perhaps just wishful thinking). This fits well with how, for instance, I'm trying to build dnd 4e martial characters but end up having to take breaks because I want to practice real-world martial arts after being inspired.

I'm sort of trying to design an rpg, purely out of boredom, but these thoughts keep intruding: a) why don't I go no magic and have instructions for things like how to manufacture saltpetre that actually work? and b) why shouldn't this be LARPed? People should roll less dice and get more of a sense for how a maul swings. (while practicing, of course)

I guess the whole thing boils down to: I want gaming to TRANSLATE, somehow, to real world skills and abilities. I can't feel good about escapism anymore.

This was off the cuff, but: reactions?
 

Schleiermacher

Registered User
Validated User
It's a good thought, but isn't that really just a less extreme form of prepping? Personally I think if the world breaks bad in our lifetimes, it'll be in a way where no amount of saltpetre and penicillin will make an appreciable difference.

So if you can't feel good about escapism anymore, it's better to focus on skills and activities that are applicable to preventing things from getting to that point. Activism is a noble calling, and there are more than enough battles that need more people to fight them.
 

BethDragon

nominally Good Person
Staff member
Moderator
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Guidance:

Hello! No, I don't think that this would be a good fit for the LARP section of the board. I'll try moving it to Tabletop Open.


And I would say that having the periodic table wouldn't do much for the dark ages as the concepts with using the periodic table wouldn't have been as useful at a time when spontaneous generation would have more sway than how many electrons fill a shell. Even if we entered a new dark age, a periodic table wouldn't do much for your average person trying to eke out an existence. I think I'd go more for agriculture books or engineering/metal working knowledge.
As for the alchemists and what they would be capable of, part of the problem is purification. For a lot of modern substances, purity is a high issue. Impurities can make your compound work differently or, in the case of medicines, poison your user. For penicillin, for instance, yes, you can put a piece of moldy bread on a wound, but it won't guarantee that your patient won't die because a) is there enough penicillin there and b) is there anything in the bacteria that will kill off your patient by introducing it to their bloodstream/wound? Distillation is probably the best form of purification that the alchemists had access too, but that won't work for, for example, bacteria which really needs a clean environment. Most of the chemicals and equipment for purification won't be available either.
 

E.T.Smith

A Most Sincere Poseur
Validated User
Honestly, it sounds like you've a preoccupation with melee combat, and are leaning into prepping/post-apoc scenarios to justify it. The skills that actually get a society up and running are boring things like farming and banking and raising kids, that don't involve homemade explosives or posing with a sword.

b) why shouldn't this be LARPed? ...I guess the whole thing boils down to: I want gaming to TRANSLATE, somehow, to real world skills and abilities. I can't feel good about escapism anymore.
That game already exists, it's called "Camping."
 

Herodarwin

Registered User
Validated User

Guidance:

Hello! No, I don't think that this would be a good fit for the LARP section of the board. I'll try moving it to Tabletop Open.


And I would say that having the periodic table wouldn't do much for the dark ages as the concepts with using the periodic table wouldn't have been as useful at a time when spontaneous generation would have more sway than how many electrons fill a shell. Even if we entered a new dark age, a periodic table wouldn't do much for your average person trying to eke out an existence. I think I'd go more for agriculture books or engineering/metal working knowledge.
As for the alchemists and what they would be capable of, part of the problem is purification. For a lot of modern substances, purity is a high issue. Impurities can make your compound work differently or, in the case of medicines, poison your user. For penicillin, for instance, yes, you can put a piece of moldy bread on a wound, but it won't guarantee that your patient won't die because a) is there enough penicillin there and b) is there anything in the bacteria that will kill off your patient by introducing it to their bloodstream/wound? Distillation is probably the best form of purification that the alchemists had access too, but that won't work for, for example, bacteria which really needs a clean environment. Most of the chemicals and equipment for purification won't be available either.
As a chemistry graduate I have to disagree most purification techniques are fairly basic, and can be done with simple glass ware, and a homemade acid metal battery. The problem is for many useful compounds to get usable yields you have to start with massive amount of base materials (fine chemistry is a terribly inefficient) which means with out massive factories it is unreasonable to make usable or profitable amounts.
 

Nerag

Cat Fragment
Validated User
I had an idea of running a game using an old west system and just be quiet about what it actually was, and after a few sessions hve the players realise it was actually several hundred years into the future after climate change turned the world into a desert badlands... more old west than the actual old west. I felt a modern collapse wouldn't revert back to the middle ages or dark ages, but somewhere about the 1800 makes sense.
 

Adam Reynolds

Registered User
Validated User
There is a really great book you should read, The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell. It is an overview of how some level of technology and civilization could be maintained after the end. What I liked what that it wasn't written from the perspective of a prepper. On the downside it isn't really a one stop reference as advertised, but it was certainly an interesting read, and honestly made me less worried about that possibility.

Though I would also say that you are probably better off spending your time helping solve problems before you wind up needing all of those skills. Why prepare for an apocalypse when you can help prevent it? Not saying this is an easy challenge, but it is certainly a better one than the alternative.
 

jacobkosh

Registered User
Validated User
I've been told that most of the minerals, precious metals, and fossil fuels have been mined out of the parts of the Earth's crust that a pre-technological society could access, which is why we're doing things like deep-sea drilling, shale sands and so forth. This is to say nothing about the biodiversity we're losing at a chilling rate.

What we have here, now, is kinda our one shot. The only way out is through: we gotta keep going, because if it all falls apart, there's nothing left for the survivors to rebuild with, at least for the next couple million years.
 
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