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The Cultures of Hesperia (Italy)

Copyright Daniel M. Myers ©2001

Edited by Lowell R. Matthews for The Guild Companion

Editor's note: This article is a supplement to the article "Mythic Greece for MERP" and its addendum on the Trojans, which appeared in the May 1999 and December 1999 issues of The Guild Companion, respectively.

4.0 Culture and Race Descriptions

4.1 Humans

4.1.7 The Cultures of Hesperia (Italy)

The following are general culture descriptions of the predominant cultures of Hesperia (Italy) during the Age of Heroes. The player character creation rules outlined in Mythic Greece™ and subsequent The Guild Companion articles should be applied when creating Heroes from this area. In the Greek myths, three major cultures inhabit Hesperia: the Etruscans, the Latins, and Achaeans called by such various names as Pallantiums and Greeks. The Achaeans have already been detailed in past TGC articles and in Mythic Greece™. The other two cultures are described in the sections below.

In the myths, the Etruscans are contemporary with the Trojans and the Minoans. For example, Bellerophon, an Achaean hero, rids Lycia of Etruscan pirates; Aeneas, a hero of the Trojan War, flees the sack of Troy to Hesperia, where he battles the Etruscans. This history is acceptable within the context of the Greek myths, but in the real world, the Etruscans did not migrate into Hesperia until some three to four centuries after the Trojan War. Therefore, GM's should feel free to omit them (or move them) if they consider the Etruscans to be unwieldy in their version of Mythic Greece. The Etruscans

On Italy's western coast, between modern-day Florence and Rome, lies the land of Etruria, home to the Etruscans. This warlike but civilized people possesses the art of enjoying life, a devotion to music, a finiteness of life, yet at the same time they are conscious of fate, death, and change. Other names for Etruscans include Tyrrhenians and Tysenians. Coming originally from Lydia, the Etruscans settled Etruria sometime during the Silver Age. They soon developed an urban society drawn together into a religious confederacy of city-states. They are talented merchants, artists, farmers, fishermen, warriors, and builders. They are sophisticated enough to practice dentistry. They possess a constant interest in divination, which explains why their astrologers and seers are renowned throughout the ancient world for their skills. The women rule equally with the men; they are a liberal, open-minded people. Characteristics

Build: Etruscans are very good-looking people; their women are considered particularly beautiful. They tend to be slender with narrow waists and broad shoulders.

Coloring: Etruscans have sun-bronzed complexions with dark hair and almond-shaped eyes. They use cosmetics to enhance their exquisite facial features. Women are known to dye their hair blond or gold and to spend a lot of time styling their hair in the latest fashions. The most common hairstyles are long, piled or plaited on the neck and shoulders. Men wear their beards short and pointed and their hair long, past their shoulders.

Lifespan: Varies; most are human normal (see Section 4.1.1 in the main article).

Endurance and Resistance: Average.

Special Abilities: Due to their celebrated skill in prophecy, Etruscans receive +10 for Omen Reading and Priest skills. Culture

Lifestyle: Etruscan daily life is governed by a liberal set of religious rules and obligations. Each city is ruled by a king, who is supported by the aristocratic families and priests called haruspices. These haruspices are considered by other peoples of antiquity to be masters in the art of divination. In some instances, they hold as much power as does the ruling king. The cities form a loose political and religious confederacy that convenes annually at the shrine of the Voltumna, a fertility goddess known as the Titan Rhea to the Greeks. There, the warrior-kings and head-priests discuss matters of importance and resolve disputes. Lucumones, magistrates elected annually from the nobility, help govern the cities. Mining and metalworking are major trades. Most Etruscan cities are laid out in the form of a quadrangle with fortifications and walls reinforced by double gates and towers. Women play an influential part in Etruscan society, especially in religious affairs, and are treated as equals to men. An Achaean would be surprised at the sexual freedom the women enjoy, which is equal to that of an Achaean male, and the openness with which lovemaking is performed at feasts, in public, and so forth. The Etruscans worship the Olympian gods but under altered (to the Achaeans, distorted) names.

Marriage Patterns: Lineage is passed down on either the mother's or the father's side.

Fears and Inabilities: Etruscans are fatalists and are aware that, like everything else in the world, they must come to an end. Therefore, they are preoccupied with death.

Demeanor: Etruscans are moody, mercurial, and domineering at times. They have been known to laugh at funerals and weep at banquets.

Prejudices: Etruscans detest Achaeans, against whom they war and practice piracy. They dislike Carthaginians and tend to look down upon Latins and Celtics due to their (relative) lack of sophistication. Other Factors

Profession Restrictions: An Etruscan can be a Lesser Hero, Greater Hero, or Demigod. An Etruscan's Watcher is likely to be Zeus, Hera, or Athena, their chief deities; or Hermes or any other Fertility or Enlightening god. Additionally, Etruscans have no profession restrictions.

Languages: All Etruscans speak their native tongue, Etruscan, to rank 5, and Latin to rank 3. Because of their trading relations with Achaeans and Carthaginians, they may learn either Greek or Phoenician to rank 2. They may learn one of the following extra languages: Pelasgian, Sintian, Phoenician, Luwian, Lydian, Greek, Celtic, Egyptian, or Libyan.

Outfitting: Clothing material tends to be wool or linen, although silk is known. They often dye their clothing in intricate patterns of fantastic creatures and forest animals. Men tend to wear clothes that consist of a belt, tunic, and codpiece. The tunic is patterned around the neck, sleeves, and hem and down the side closure. A cape is a typical Etruscan ceremonial garment, shaped in semicircular form like half a toga. Women dress in full-length skirts that are colorful, richly patterned, embroidered, and that fit tightly around their bodies. Jewelry worn by both men and women includes anything from hairpins to collars to finger-rings. Their shoes are made of embroidered leather; they are long in shape, rise very high at the back, and are pointed and curled at the front. When waging war, they use armor and shields common to what Achaeans might use; however, the principal weapons are the battle-axe and spear. They also use the javelins, staff, bow, sling, dirk (shortsword), and club. Longswords are rare and highly prized. They, like Achaeans, use chariots in battle. Background

BGO Points: 4, due to their contact with other cultures through trade.

Stat Increases: Any stat may be increased.

Lesser Heroes’ Option: For the roll Gifts, Etruscans will possess normal weapons and items. However, for magical items, Etruscans typically wear talismans to ward off spells and evil. These items will have a +10 bonus to one RR type (Channeling, Disease, or Poison). (Please refer to the Lesser Hero Options Table 2.4.1)

Hobbies: Etruscans enjoy nature and athletics and hold the same sporting events as the Achaeans during celebrations. They may learn the following skills: Acrobatics, Tumbling, Gambling, First Aid, Omen Reading, Boxing, Wrestling, Gambling, and Sky Watching. Artistic skills are Dancing and Singing. Craft skills are Leather Working, Boat Handling, and Smithing. Lore skills are Appraisals, Bird Lore, History, Religion, and Geography. Athletic skills are Jumping and Sprinting. Influence skills are Leadership, Seduction, Diplomacy, and Public Speaking. The Latins

The Latins are simple rural folk who live south of modern-day Rome. They are a sparsely settled, semicivilized folk who mostly farm and tend their sheep and cattle. They are forest-living warrior–shepherds for the most part, easily held in thrall by more advanced and civilized people, especially the Etruscans in the north. They have their own language and worship the Etruscans' perceptions of the Olympians. These people are the forefathers of the Roman Empire. Characteristics

Build: All types, but normally of medium build.

Coloring: Variations of fair to tan or olive skin. All colors of hair and eyes.

Lifespan: Varies; most are human normal (see Section 4.1.1 in the main article.).

Endurance and Resistance: Normal.

Special Abilities: None. Culture

Lifestyle: The Latins are poor semicivilized tribesmen. Most are farmers and herders. A king is acknowledged as leader as of the tribe and rules from a town where tribute is collected.

Marriage Patterns: Monogamous. The line is traced through the male.

Fears and Inabilities: None.

Demeanor: Practical, hard-working, quiet, loyal, and often shy.

Prejudices: Latins are suspicious of most outsiders, and might hold some in awe. They are enthralled of Etruscans. Otherwise, they hold no preconceptions of other people. Other Factors

Profession Restrictions: A Latin can be a Lesser Hero or Greater Hero. Latins' Watchers tend to be Fertility, Earth, or Craft gods.

Languages: All Latins speak their native tongue, Latin, to rank 5, and Etruscan to rank 3. Due to their proximity to the Achaeans (there are Achaean kingdoms on Hesperia) and Celtic, they can learn Greek and Celtic.

Outfitting: Clothing material tends to be wool or linen. Men wear plain tunics and cloaks while women wear homey skirts. Women wear their hair in braids. Men wear beards and long hair. During war, they take their family heirlooms from above the mantle for weapons and use leather armor and shields for protection. They may use the spear, club, bow, staff, mace, dagger, sling, net, and hand-axe. Background

BGO Points: 5 normal background pints.

Stat Increases: Any stat may be increased.

Lesser Heroes’ Option: No special additions. (Please refer to the Lesser Hero Options Table 2.4.1)

Hobbies: Latins have many hobbies, such as Appraisal, Animal Handling, Cookery, Tumbling, Gambling, First Aid, Foraging, Wrestling, Gambling, and Sky Watching. Artistic skills are Dancing and Singing. Craft skills are Leather Working, Wood Craft, and Smithing. Lore skills are Plant Lore, Animal Lore, and Geography. Athletic skills are Jumping and Sprinting. Influence skills are Leadership, Diplomacy, and Public Speaking. Adolescence Skill Development (Extension to Table 2.8)

  Etruscan Latin
Movement & Maneuver    
No Armor 0 1
Soft Leather 0 1
Rigid Leather 1 1
Chain 1 0
Plate 0 0
Weapon Skills    
1-H Edge 0 1
1-H Concussion 0 0
2-Hand 0 0
Thrown 1 0
Missile 1 1
Pole-Arms 1 1
General Skills    
Climb 1 1
Ride 0 0
Swim 2 1
Trickery Skills    
Ambush 0 0
Stalk/Hide 0 1
Magical Skills    
Read Runes 1 0
Use Items 0 0
Misc. Skills    
Perception 1 1
Body Hits 2 2
% for Spells 5% 3%
Languages 4 3
Background 4 5 Conversions to Rolemaster (Second Edition) Extension to Table 6.0-A


























0 Extension to Table 6.0-B




















0 Extension to Table 6.0-C

  Soul Dep. Stat Det. Rec. Mult. Hit Die Type Max Hits




1.0x d10 150
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