Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Comes the Darkness

With the power out for the fourth time in the last month, not surprising with the many violent storms we have had, I’ve been reflecting on just how dark it must get in many Medieval Fantasy settings for common folk.  It’s true enough that in a world where magic exists, and many items and spells can be used to create artificial light, sometimes as bright as daylight, anyone with enough access never need live in the dark.  But for most in the setting, those lowly masses without means, the darkness must be terrifying and a nightly occurrence.   Sure, often a fire can be struck but imagine a stormy night when no fire can be kindled.  Then the only light is the flash of electricity across the sky.  That sort of light brings it own terrors.

There's a book from 2005 by Historian A. Roger Ekirch called At Day's Close: Night in Times Past.  It attempts to present what life was like for Westerners prior to the advent of modern lighting.  It delves into the many dangers from simple stumbling and drowning to criminal activity such as robbery, poaching, and worse.  It is a must-read for any GM looking to enhance his descriptive abilities for setting presentation.

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