To BC or not to BC...

Well, that’s some weird serendipity.

The current duet campaign is in a bit of rut, so I’ve been contemplating new settings. Trey Causey just posted a setting sketch for the Strange Stone Age, a wild “cavemen vs. aliens” kind of thing in the vein of Devil Dinosaur and other Jack Kirby comics, and Tribality posted a look at a prehistoric/lost world D&D setting. I’ve also been thinking about a prehistoric setting over the last couple of days because I spent a few hours this weekend at Discover the Ice Age at my local natural history museum.

(Fuzzy pictures courtesy of me.)

Discover the Ice Age wasn’t exactly the greatest exhibit I’ve ever seen. The cotton-stuffing fake snow was hilarious, the sounds the animatronic critters made were goofy (especially the bleating megaloceros), and most of them were just plain fake-looking. Heck, the hipparion – which the graphs on the display clearly showed was smaller than a human – was as big as a modern horse. The whole thing was woefully shabby.

Yet that didn’t stop me from getting a frisson of excitement when the cheap puppet smilodon turned its head and looked me in the eyes.

My own thinking on a prehistoric setting runs more toward Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series (Clan of the Cave Bear, The Mammoth Hunters, etc.) which I haven’t actually read. I have, however, seen a few bits and pieces of the movie, read some reviews, and heard it described by some friends who were into it. Combine that with Devlin & Emmerich’s 10,000 BC, the Stone Age flashback in American Gods, a smattering of Princess Mononoke’s animal gods, and my benighted days as a neo-pagan and I could reasonably cook up a New Age-influenced, spiritual journey across the primitive wilds.

(Quest for Fire is on Netflix; I could always watch that for some additional inspiration.)

Obviously, I’m thinking more in terms of a duet campaign with my wife than a Friday night game with the gang. I’m sure some GMs could run this kind of introspective campaign concept with their groups, but group games for me are a chance to laugh at dumb jokes and whale on bad guys. Robin and I barely ever roll dice, so a spirit quest might actually be a better fit for us than the usual swashbuckling adventures.

I like the idea of Altellus, but it seems like that would require a lot of world-building before we got started. A prehistoric journey of discovery, on the other hand, would let me make up stuff as we go. We’d just need to start with a core cast of fellow tribesmen and go from there. (Well, I suppose we’d want to set some limits on just what kind of monsters and demihumans are allowed; I’m torn on the idea of dinosaurs and dino-people.)

This deserves some consideration…

(And, yes, I already looked at Sticks & Stones and decided against it. It looks fun for a goofy group game, but it's obviously not the tone I'm thinking of for a duet.)


  1. *BCE. ;)

    You know, I've always kinda-sorta wanted to run a Neolithic campaign myself. There's potential there for a fun mini-arc. My mom has a degree in Anthropology that she never did anything with, but it did mean that I grew up with lots of books (fiction and non-fiction) about cave-dwellers on the family bookshelf, and I remember Quest for Fire also making a big impression on me when I saw it at a tender young age. Definite potential.

    There's also room there, of course, to run a setting that features something other than the typical post Agricultural Revolution patriarchal family structures. If Robin runs a shaman/matriarch character, you could spend equal amounts of time dealing with clan politics and questing into the Spirit World.

    In that vein, HeroQuest might make for an interesting system--not sure if it's well-suited to duets?

    1. Hmm, I'll have to look into HeroQuest. Thanks for the tip!


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