Reality Makes The Best Fantasy: Ashoka the Great

Taken from Wikipedia. Ashoka being awesome.



I think the case could be made that a vast majority of the fantasy tropes are based on reality. Today’s BBEG was a part of someone’s religion several hundred years ago. Your favorite player race struck fear in the hearts of farmers, garnered protective jewelry and inspired prayers and songs to be sung in forest groves or crossroads.The tomes that have inspired game creators everywhere were themselves inspired by what many consider myths. And anyone with the History Channel knows that some of these so-called myths may be based in truth (also, how they relate to Hitler). The fossils of mammoths may have inspired tales of giants and unicorns could have been inspired by oryxes or the narwhal.It is with this premise that I hope to charge forward with ‘Reality Makes The Best Fantasy.” So many factual things in our past and present would make amazing material for a campaign or a character! A basis in reality gives individuals connections to the thing itself and makes it easier to become invested in the plot hook or character. Real world events transferred into a fantasy setting showcases the differences in norms and will challenge players to use the skills and knowledge at the PCs disposal to deal with the situation. Also, the homework is partially done for you! Hey now!
It is my hopes that as I present each bit of fact to you that I’ll be able to add a few plot hooks and a few ideas for the GM and the players. But don’t stop here, obviously! Hopefully this can just grease your brainmeats or maybe provide a kick in the right direction.

This week’s entry in Reality Makes the Best Fantasy is: Ashoka the Great!

Quick synopsis: Ashoka the Great was an emperor of India during the Maurya Empire. The Muarya Empire covered most of the Indian sub-continent, which is a lot of land. The empire itself was broken up into four provinces with their own capitals.Ashoka is noted for having a terrible temper in his youth. He once killed all 500 women in his harem because several of them made him angry and he gave some of the same to his magistrates. He built a veritable hell on earth to torture people in and expanded the empire through war. However after the battle of Kalinga, Ashoka saw the suffering of those conquered and found no joy in it. According to records, the horror of what he saw made him convert to Buddhism, taking up vows of non-violence and peace. He established universities for the common man, encouraged the education of women and commissioned the building of stupas. Ashoka also sent his own children on missionary trips to promote Buddhism and is said to be responsible for the spread of the religion. All the while, he practiced religious tolerance. The right to the throne was no longer granted by the divine but sought out for by cooporating with and earning the support of the Buddhist community. He banned slavery and hunting for sport and generally promoted peace throughout his empire and seemed to care more about the welfare of his subjects rather than the conquest and acquiring of more territory.

For GMs
-What are the results of a monarch’s religious conversion? From following a pantheon to venerating a figure and a moral code?
-How would the magistrates, nobles and ministers react?
-How does the emperor proselytize? Who does he send on his missionary trips?
-In an empire that is going through a peaceful stage, what do the soldiers do?

Adventure Hooks
-The PCs are sent to a foreign land in order to share the religion with others
-The PCs are sent to investigate why the building of a temple is not going according to plan.
-The PCs are assigned to patrol the forest in order to guard against poachers and are instructed to do so through non-violent means.

For Players
-Martial type Characters might have looked up to a bloodthirsty leader; has their leader gone soft or had a truly life changing experience? Would they reject or try to emulate their leader?
-Are the PCs followers of the same religion as their emperor? Or are they just putting on a holy face in order to keep their job?
-Was the PC already a follower of the leader’s new religion? How do they feel about new converts? About the leader’s conversion?
-Do the PCs ascribe to a life of non-violence? Are there other circumstances in their lives that might contribute to them not wishing to harm others?
-What does non-violence mean?

I hope this gets you thinking. What do you think? What plot hooks and character traits can you come up with?

7 thoughts on “Reality Makes The Best Fantasy: Ashoka the Great

Add yours

    1. Yeah, seriously. And what are those who experienced the actual history going to do? Come back from the dead and get mad that we put halflings in there?

      Oh snap, that would be crazy.


      1. ELVEN GEORGE WASHINGTON IS MAD AT HIS HAIRCUT IN THE HISTORY BOOKS!! Also, that’s not how the siege of Her’alud went down. Here’s how it REALLY went down…


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