Created By: VincentQuill on August 31, 2013 Last Edited By: vincentquill on October 10, 2013
Troped

Medieval Prehistory

Pre-industrial humans in a vaguely prehistoric world

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Prehistory is full of creatures that could pass for fantastic; mammoths, sabre-toothed cats, dinosaurs and millions of others. The problem is, you might think of prehistoric human society as boring. The solution? Medieval Prehistory.

Medieval prehistory involves vaguely prehistoric plant and animal life, or climate and environmental conditions, with knights, castles, and princesses coexisting. Doesn't necessarily have to be set in Medieval Europe or a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to it, but it does have to involve a pre-industrial society. So Ancient Grome and Ancient Africa or even Mayincatec etc. are permitted. Stone Punk which usually involves a more modern-type society, is an entirely different trope.

Subtrope of Anachronism Stew (though usually technically does not fit under that heading due to being set in a secondary universe) and often Alternate History or Historical Fantasy, usually based on the premise that the asteroid did not wipe out the dinosaurs or that somehow other wildlife managed to survive up until the medieval era or something involving Time Travel. Don't expect the wildlife to live in the areas they did in reality.

Related to Dinosaurs Are Dragons and often overlaps with Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Not to be confused with One Million B.C., which involves stereotypical stone-age 'cavemen' living alongside creatures such as dinosaurs, or Prehistoria, its video game equivalent. Can contain elements of The Dark Times and The Time of Myths, or Ambiguous Time Period.

Examples:

Comic Books

Film

Literature
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
  • A small element of The Lord of the Rings uses this. The Dr˙edain west of Gondor differ greatly from the normal humans, and even from the nonhuman races, and it has been suggested that they are actually Neanderthals. Though not explicitly so, creatures like the Műmakil and Wargs could be seen as exaggerations of mastodons and dire wolves respectively. Justified as according to Word of God it is set in the Time of Myths in the distant past of earth.
  • The Garrett, P.I. novels, gumshoe-style mysteries set in a fantasy-world city, count both dinosaurs (thunder lizards) and assorted Pleistocene mammals among their Verse's typical fauna.
  • A few times in The Elenium, the villains use time portals to make enemies from the prehistoric past attack the protagonists. These include a Tyrannosaurus rex and a hoard of "dawn men" (the common ancestor of humans and trolls in this 'verse).
  • The Conan the Barbarian franchise counts as an example, being set in a prehistoric ater-earth.
  • Similarly Lyonesse and its sequel Green Pearl take place in a pre-Migration Period world with fantasy elements and a vaguely medieval culture.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons has stats for dinosaurs, dire wolves (among other "dire" beasts), mastodons, and megalodons. Plus several others. Though whether or not they're actually part of the setting depends on the campaign.
  • The Hollow World facet of the Mystara D&D setting is home to several classical- or Dark Ages-era civilizations, existing alongside vast tracts of dinosaur-populated wilderness.

Video Games
  • Skyrim has sabre-toothed cats and mammoths as well as vaguely medieval humans.
  • World of Warcraft is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink setting with many medieval and Tolkienesque elements. Many creatures resemble or are directly based on prehistoric animals: there are raptors, sabretooth cats, woolly rhinos and mammoths; the kodo beast resembles a brontothere and the plainstrider look like a terror bird. Also, there is Un'Goro crater, a Lost World filled with pterosaurs, stegosaurs and Devilsaurs (which are, essentially, Tyrannosaurus rex).
  • Age of Conan has mammoths and wooly rhinos along with civilized humans. It takes place in the Hyborian Age.

Web Comics
Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • August 31, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Dungeons And Dragons has stats for dinosaurs, dire wolves (among other "dire" beasts), mastodons, and megalodons. Plus several others. Though whether or not they're actually part of the setting depends on the campaign.
  • August 31, 2013
    Hodor
    Hmm, there may be something here. Just a note, curious what your source is for the giants and unicorns in ASOIF being prehistoric creatures. Seems unlikely with the giants, given that they can speak human languages, which I would assume that ape couldn't.
  • August 31, 2013
    SharleeD
    • The Garrett PI novels, gumshoe-style mysteries set in a fantasy-world city, count both dinosaurs (thunder lizards) and assorted Pleistocene mammals among their Verse's typical fauna.

    • The Hollow World facet of the Mystara D&D setting is home to several classical- or Dark Ages-era civilizations, existing alongside vast tracts of dinosaur-populated wilderness.
  • September 1, 2013
    VincentQuill
    @Hodor, it's a fan theory I read somewhere that's surprisingly plausible. It's slightly Artistic License Biology, granted, but small fictional elements could be added to prehistoric ones, I suppose. The same way Tolkien's Dr├║edain aren't completely neanderthals but it is reasonable to suggest they were based on them.
  • September 1, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work names, grouped examples by media, corrected an improper Example Indentation.
  • September 2, 2013
    MetaFour
    • A few times in The Elenium, the villains use time portals to make enemies from the prehistoric past attack the protagonists. These include a Tyrannosaurus rex and a hoard of "dawn men" (the common ancestor of humans and trolls in this 'verse).
  • September 3, 2013
    Snicka
    The Empire of Blood in The Order Of The Stick may qualify, with civilized humans and dinosaurs coexisting, although the humans are more on the technological level of an antique culture, with spear-wielding warriors and gladiatoral games.

    This is also related to Dinosaurs Are Dragons.

    Do Fantasy Kitchen Sink worlds count, if they have not only medieval knights and castles along with mammoths and/or dinosaurs, but a lot of other stuff too? (e.g. World Of Warcraft, Dungeons And Dragons, etc.)
  • September 3, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^^^ If you're including Fanon information in examples, it should probably be designated as such. Nobody in LotR actually calls the Druedain Neanderthals in-universe, after all.
  • September 3, 2013
    Snicka
    If the Druedain are neanderthals, we may also say that mumakil are based on mammoths, mastodons or some other type of prehistoric elephant. And with a slight stretch, wargs are not unlike direwolves, Hyaenodon, or Andrewsarchus.
  • September 3, 2013
    DaibhidC
  • September 3, 2013
    VincentQuill
    ^^^ Not so much Fanon as much as being easily comparable to a prehistoric creature. But preferably explicitly so, I suppose.
  • September 3, 2013
    Lumpenprole
    One other possibility is that time travelers became stranded in the past, lost their advanced technology, and formed pre-industrial societies that left no traces due to erosion, ice ages, sea level rise, etc. So this could be science fiction as well as fantasy or alternate history.
  • September 4, 2013
    aurora369
    In fact, Lord Of The Rings and the rest of Tolkienverse was supposed to happen in the prehistoric past of Earth. So neanderthals, direwolves, mastodons etc are a given.
  • September 6, 2013
    VincentQuill
    So, should I launch this or not?
  • September 6, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^ Heck no, it's only got one hat and maybe 10 examples.
  • September 6, 2013
    SharleeD
    Putting the other examples into the trope page with the rest could help attract more hats, VQ.

    Changing the description slightly, to allow for cultures that are more Bronze Age or Renaissance than pure medieval, might also help. Limiting it too strictly to stock-fantasy-Middle-Ages seems a bit too narrow; tropes are flexible, and the basic idea (historical civilization alongside prehistorical wildlife) would remain the same even if the culture is more classical-Greece than medieval-England.
  • September 7, 2013
    VincentQuill
    ^ Good idea. Changed description to fit. What do you mean by putting the other examples into the trope page, though? Moving the examples from the replies into the draft?
  • September 7, 2013
    SharleeD
    Yes, so people can see how many examples have been judged acceptable without reading the whole thread of replies.
  • September 7, 2013
    randomsurfer
    ^^Not technically moving, but copy-and-pasting. Click the "show all markup" button at the top for ease of copying.
  • September 8, 2013
    VincentQuill
    okay, done that.
  • September 8, 2013
    Snicka
    The film Ten Thousand BC, with a pyramid-building culture using mammoths as beasts of burden.
  • September 8, 2013
    dspeyer
    Seems to overlap with a lot of the time tropes in the Settings index. Maybe needs a more precise definition?
  • September 8, 2013
    VincentQuill
    ^Which specifically?
  • September 9, 2013
    Snicka
    Another Video Game example:

    World Of Warcraft is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink setting with many medieval and tolkienesque elements. Many creatures resemble or are directly based on prehistoric animals: there are raptors, sabretooth cats, wooly rhinos and mammoths; the kodo beast resembles a brontothere and the plainstrider look like a terror bird. Also, there is Un'Goro crater, a Lost World filled with pterosaurs, stegosaurs and Devilsaurs (which are, essentially, Tyrannosaurus Rex).
  • September 9, 2013
    VincentQuill
    Any other improvements to be made to the format?
  • September 13, 2013
    Snicka
  • September 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    We don't list works that "may qualify". That The Order Of The Stick example either is or isn't an example, decide which.
  • September 14, 2013
    Snicka
    It does qualify, definitely. Civilized humans and dinosaurs, it is exactly this trope. (I wrote "may qualify" back then when it was limited to medieval civilizations - the Empire of Blood is more like a mix of ancient Babylon and ancient Rome.)
  • September 19, 2013
    vincentquill
    So... Launchable yet, do you think?
  • September 19, 2013
    Snicka
    One hat added.
  • September 20, 2013
    DAN004
    Sort the medium better plz.
  • September 20, 2013
    vincentquill
    ^^ Thanks

    ^Done
  • September 22, 2013
    Snicka
    Prehistoria is a video game setting. One Million BC is the non-videogame equivalent.
  • September 22, 2013
    vincentquill
    ^ Changed description to recognise that.
  • September 25, 2013
    vincentquill
    Any more suggested changes?
  • September 25, 2013
    Snicka
    Alphabetically, Tabletop Games comes before Video Games. Otherwise, all's cool.
  • September 25, 2013
    Snicka
    Oh, also: this picture would make an excellent trope image, but you should ask the artist's permission for that.
  • September 25, 2013
    vincentquill
    ^^ Oops... didn't see that. Corrected now.

    ^ Looks good, but I have no idea how the image-picking process works....
  • October 1, 2013
    DRCEQ
    ^ First off, you'd need to ask the artist of that picture for permission to use it. Next, you would need to take and crop the picture down to a size no wider than 350x, then load it up using the image uploader in the tools menu on the sidebar.

    Not gonna lie: WIDE pictures like the one above very rarely ever make good images, because trying to scale them down to 350x compresses them so much that you can't make it out anymore.
  • October 2, 2013
    vincentquill
    ^ Okay (Some questions though; Does 350x mean 350 pixels? By 'ask permission' do you mean just sending a PM to the artist asking if it can be used, and then using it if they say yes?), I'll look through some more images then.

    This might be narrow enough?
  • October 2, 2013
    Snicka
    ^ I think the answers to your first two questions is yes, and yes.
  • October 2, 2013
    m8e
    Yes, 350 pixels wide. Contact the artist in some way. PM, comment, email.

    Both work, the first one just needs to be cropped.

    Found an other image that might work. Really like it being a photograph, but there's some parts that's too modern.(Asphalt, concrete block, people with modern clothing in the back.)
  • October 3, 2013
    Snicka
    Another Video Game example:

  • October 7, 2013
    vincentquill
    So... this doesn't seem to be attracting hats. Is there a point where one can just launch it without all of them?

    (Also, sent a 'note' to the artist of Snicka's suggested image on Deviantart. Haven't gotten a reply though sent it a while ago)
  • October 8, 2013
    Snicka
    I hope this trope will get two more hats, I think it's a really cool one.
  • October 8, 2013
    pawsplay
    Lyonesse and Howard's Conan stories are both set in a prehistoric alter-Earth.
  • October 9, 2013
    vincentquill
    ^^ Thanks!

    ^ Can you specify which Lyonesse? Google has brought up a number of examples and I'm not sure which one you mean.
  • October 9, 2013
    pawsplay
    Sorry, that's Lyonesse and the sequel, Green Pearl, both by Jack Vance. They are written as preceding the Migration Period.
  • October 10, 2013
    vincentquill
    Do my eyes deceive me or is that five hats? Does this mean I can launch this? (*hovers cursor over launch button*) Do most YKTT Ws launch straight after getting their hats or wait around a bit gathering examples?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3enr7glqqichvx1sp7arbyws&trope=MedievalPrehistory