As usual Jeff put up another post that stirred a disused corner of my imagination:
Cave man days, through the lens of a D&D fork.
This is something I used to give a lot of thought to back in the day. GURPS Ice Age seemed like such a neat idea, but I didn't love the system and couldn't figure out what to do for adventures (Fighting wolves and tribes all the time? Hunting a lot?). Acquisition of non-subsistence stuff isn't typically a big part of the caveman way of life.
One possibility would be tribesmen stumbling across Lovecraftian horrors, but I had doubts about losing player interest while trying to build a backdrop of normalcy before contrasting it with the first unnatural discovery.
Another thought was contrasting current neolithic era with finds of lost pre-existing civilizations of human or inhuman origin. It's an idea I like, and I think it could work well used appropriately.
The Lithic setting wouldn't really work as a part of the same planet in which Owl Light is based, simply because things are so much more advanced in Owl Light already, despite the Cataclysm War. But Lithic could be the remnant of a world left elsewhere when Owl Light was created. A piece of Lithic became part of Owl Light and the old Lithic civilizations collapsed . . . or something else.
Other elements to include in Lithic:
Two magics - Witchdoctors vs. Shamans
A price for magic - There's always a price to gain magical abilities. Natural magicians are often epileptic, schizophrenic, autistic, or have some other mental or physical quality that gives them an unusual perspective on things. This is not to say that all people with these qualities gain magical abilities, nor that all of them even consider these aspects of their life to be a price.
Those who lack innate mental and physical conditions that set them apart, may still be able to gain magical ability through some other means: Near-death experience, trepanning, injury of an eye, extreme temperature exposure or starvation, massive injury, odious personal habits, outcast status. However, no matter what the "price" is, there should always be some way that it ties into the magician's abilities.
Demi-human races - Possibly homonid offshoots, some truly alien or advanced (lizard men, gnolls, insectoids, etc.). Probably a lot of splitting of lineages and re-interbreeding.
Extinct animals - Mostly mammoths and other mammalian and avian megafauna, but in tropical areas also dinosaurs.
Skills - Hunter, gatherer, mender, elder, sneak, chief, etc. Warrior and Magician are the only ones specifically linked to classes.
Cultures - Based partially on earth cultures, even advanced neolithic cultures. In rare cases a bronze age culture, or scavanger culture.
Real World Stuff to look into:
- Skara Brae (as mentioned by Justin Alexander)
- The Olmecs
- Ötzi the Iceman
- Dorset & Thule cultures
- Jōmon period Japan
Suggested reading, viewing, & playing:
(Note: Not sources are specifically related to paleolithic or neolithic life, but most convey some interesting portrayals of tribal communities, animism or lost artifacts and forgotten cultures that fits what I'm looking for.)
TV & Movies
- 10,000 B.C.
- The Croods - Surprisingly interesting tone for a fantastic and anachronistic prehistoric romp.
- Mark & Olly: Living with the Tribes
- The Quest for Fire
- The Scorpion King
- American Gods - Neil Gaiman (especially the forgotten gods and the first people )
- Guardians of the Tall Stones - Moyra Caldecott
- The King's Ankus - Rudyard Kipling
- Kirinyaga - Mike Resnick
(This page updated periodically.)