22 October 2010

Sorry, Sicily

I am thinking about destroying Italy.
File:Pompeii the last day 1.jpg
Not literally, but in terms of my basic Mediterranean geography.  Let's say, for example, that the Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD didn't just bury Pompeii.  Let's say it was cataclysmic in nature, blowing off the bottom of Italy's boot and turning most of the peninsula into islands.  The southern-most of these islands are still, hundreds (thousands?!) of years later, within an active volcanic zone.  Shrouded in mist and smoke, and inimical to navigation, these islands have become a haven for not only strange beasts, but also for those who seek to hide from the region's powers -- pirates and criminals.  Few dare the Straits of Fire.

The explosion ended the reign of a powerful and dominant Empire, whose culture, architecture, and language still pervade throughout the region.

It also caused religious upheaval.  The ash that blotted out the sky lasted for years, not only obliterating the Empire's native religion, but giving rise to various Sky Cults. Three of those cults grew into the dominant religions of the present -- the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars.

The north literally fractured into island city-states.  Over time, they grew into dominant cultural, political, and social forces in the region.  Many ships headed East-West travel through these islands to avoid the Straits of Fire.  Tariffs, trade, and smuggling have enriched these states significantly.

Of course, all of this makes my "just use the map of the Mediterranean" idea only somewhat worthwhile, but I think this significant geological event is just the thing to get me going on many of the ideas I have for the setting.

3 comments:

  1. I love the idea of a Volcanic apocalypse. And from the follows an assortment of interesting ideas (like the celestial cults that you mentioned... and a still-active Straights of Fire). Keen!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What about the disaster leading to a survival of the Roman Empire in Spain or France? Or even Britain? That could explain the deflection of Vikings to further south.

    And you could have have a Varangian Guard in the court of New Rome, wherever it ended up.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Risus -- Thanks! I think deciding to destroy Italy was the best decision I have made to date.

    @seaofstars -- Wonderful idea. The Lost Roman Legion has set up shop and ruled parts of Northern Europe or England for hundreds of years. And the Varangian guard idea is awesome as well.

    ReplyDelete