Eemian Civilization

This entry is part of the PBM List.

Costs: free
Frequency: one per week
URL: [ dead link ]
Type: Fantasy
Last-Update: 2018Oct14
Keywords: free, open-ended, email, human, fantasy, wargame, rpg


As vast northern ice sheets recede, dinosaurs roam the southern jungles. After millenia hiding from the cold, the various races of Mankind emerge from their sheltering caves. A fresh world awaits explorers to expand into and exploit. Can YOU exterminate your foes and develop the world's first global civilization?

A classical 4x-style game, Eemian Civilization allows players to develop a fantastic civilization in an age before Atlantis. Starting with a handful of Stone Age barbarians, players send out parties to hunt mammoths, sabertooths, and dinosaurs; discovering new territories, and resources; and creating their own unique tales of adventure. The GM will challenge the players through custom-created storylines posing interesting quandaries based on their own actions in the game.

The game maps show the world divided into places. Each place has a symbol for the dominant terrain type: plains, forest, glacier, river valley, jungle, mountains, campsites, cities, and fortresses. Heavy black lines designate coastlines. Colored shading overlays places controlled by a civilization.

Players only receive maps of the places they have explored or that are directly adjacent. Each place explored has a detailed description, including the resource available and any unusual flora or fauna.

Beginning with 72 hunters and a chieftain, players are surrounded by eight places of which they know little but the type of terrain and maybe a name. Through the course of the game, they explore places, encountering hazards like raptors and troglodytes. They discover places to build cities to gain resources or herds they can hunt to increase their population. Some places give the option to choose between gaining a special ability such as horse domestication or a resource like hides. You can do like the American Indians originally did and eat all those delicious, delicious horses or take the route chosen by the Mongols and never let your feet touch the ground.

Building your first city takes 300 wealth or people and you start with only seventy-three, so you'll need to build up your population and maybe find some resources. Selling one each of two different resources gives you 400 wealth, so early on finding a couple is a big deal. Otherwise just hunting can take five turns or so to quadruple your population, assuming you can find enough animals to hunt.

When exploring you will receive the option to domesticate terror-dactyls, camels, horses, sheep, etc. or receive a resource or two. Early on, this is a big decision--do you take the resources you so desperately need and give up the special ability associated with the animal? Or forego the resources now for use of the special ability later when you can actually afford to employ it?

Sending out small parties can be fatal if they stumble into a T-Rex or a pack of raptors, so it's a good idea to stay in large groups or recruit a few scouts. In battle, archers hit first, but hunters do more damage. If you have enough archers you could wipe out the enemy before he can close to melee range, where a bunch of angry hunters will just repeatedly stab your bowmen to death with stone spears.

When/whether to build cities is another decision. Cities are expensive and there are numerous ways to increase population and resources without cities--hunting, diving for pearls, herding sheep, etc. So choosing to remain barbarians is a viable option. But cities produce a resource each turn and more resources mean more wealth. Wealth buys some of the special abilities, builds more cities, more and better-armed warriors, ships so you can cross the seas, and other nice things.

You sell resources in sets of multiple resources of different types, so the more different types in a set the more valuable it becomes. But resources are located on the map in clusters of the same type, so trade is usually necessary--unless you control a large area. Trade is only allowed with civilizations with which you share a common border, so you want to control trade routes to your trade partners. Clever middlemen can rake in additional wealth by controlling access.

In combat, higher toughness (T) people are more likely to win, not because they do more damage, but because they can take more damage before they run. Two-toughness swordsmen fighting T1 hunters only have to do half as much damage to get the hunters to run as the hunters have to do to them. Therefore, higher toughness troops contribute to victory, making special abilities quite valuable. But large numbers of low-grade fighters can still prevail. Given sufficient numerical superiority, a horde of primitive troglodytes can overcome even a disciplined square of pikemen. An unwary urban civilization can be overrun by hordes of screaming barbarians unless they divert some of their greater wealth to protection.

The Game Master (GM) runs the Non-Player Civilizations (NPCs) giving each their own personality. You can trade or ally with them just like a real player. And just like a real player, they can turn on you. The GM also throws challenges at players based on their actions in the game. You might experience a revolt brought on when your king dies without an heir or because you spend all your wealth on troops and never do any civic improvements. Perhaps you need a princess to sire an heir or a dragon (T-Rex most likely) is ravaging your lands. Maybe a holy man arrives with a warning from the gods for your impiety--do you repent? Or toss him to the crocodiles before he gets the people too agitated?

Role-playing is encouraged. If you win a battle, you earn an experience point (XP) you can use to increase the toughness of one person involved, providing you leaders and heroes you can give names to. Instead of a generic "king" now you have King Fedoric the Brave who slew that cave bear that kept killing the people's sheep. Or promote one of your legionaries to centurion and give him command of the cohort.

The object of the game is to have fun playing in a "let's pretend" make-believe world of dinosaurs and mighty heroes as civilizations rise and fall. What part do you want to play in this epic adventure?

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Greg Lindahl