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Maitreya
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06:55:54 AM Mar 8th 2013
The Finns and ancient Romans don't really make good examples of this trope.

Contrary to the contributor's assertions, both the Swedes and the Russians not only picked on the Finns, but defeated them and, between them, ruled Finland for well over 600 years.

The ancient Romans lived in one of the most bountiful regions of the world in terms of agricultural production and were typically aggressors rather than victims, so it wasn't so much that their environment was dangerous, but rather that they actively sought out opportunities for conquest (which obviously results in danger, as the victims tend to defend themselves).
GreatLimmick
Topic
06:09:56 PM May 19th 2011
There's at least one D&D setting where characters start at level 3 because of how dangerous that world is, but I've forgotten which setting it was.