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Anachronism Stew / Tabletop Games

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  • Even Dungeons & Dragons and its derivatives have this. Many settings (and many more DMs) don't allow firearms, but will gladly allow many weapons that, in real life, came about after, and sometimes as a direct consequence of, the invention and proliferation of guns in real life. Rapiers, a longtime standard of Bards and Rogues, are just one example.
    • Armour also falls into this, with all types of armour being portrayed as available in the same time period and simply being a matter of personal choice to balance weight and protection. In reality, full plate armour did not exist until around the 15th century, by which time many other types of armour were obsolete (particularly scale), at least in Europe. In addition, most armour has historically been a mix of various types, frequently mail or scaled on limbs with plates or scales covering the torso, which is rarely represented in such games at all. Helmets are possibly even worse, generally all being treated as identical despite a huge amount of development over thousands of years.
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    • An oft-overlooked example is the fact that one of the standard units of currency is the platinum piece (worth more than the gold, electrum, silver, and copper pieces) but platinum wasn't seen as anything but an impurity in gold until the eighteenth century.
  • Space 1889 well, it is Victorians in Space meeting canal Martians which have a pre-industrial society with some leftover technology from a much more advanced era, stone-age Hill Martians and High Martians on Mars and stone-age lizardmen and dinosaurs on Venus.
  • King Arthur Pendragon takes a mix of all the main Arthurian myths, mostly Malory, and sets it in sub-Roman Britain. The appearance of medieval technology later in Arthur's reign is explained by magic and it all fades away after the Battle of Camlann with history re-asserting itself.
    • Pendragon is not above shout outs to later history either, including Merlin prophesying that the Pope would live in Avignon, and King Arthur quoting John F. Kennedy "ask not what your country can do for you..." before the Battle of Badon Hill.
  • Parodied in the Tabletop Games Diana: Warrior Princess and Elvis: The Legendary Tours, which take the Anachronism Stew approach to modern-day pop-culture.
  • Quirkily lampshaded by the Sourcebook GURPS Middle Ages. Its opening chapter includes a sidebar that actually explains the concept of Anachronism Stew by pointing out all the historical mismatches in its own cover art.
    • Also acknowledged in GURPS Camelot, the Arthurian sourcebook. There are three Arthurian settings mentioned - the Mythic one (Geoffry of Monmouth style, with plenty of anachronism), a Realistic one (as close as research can get us), and the Cinematic one (based on movies, with chrome armor and French castles and all the other goodies - not so much Anachronism Stew as an Anachronism Smoothie).
  • Mythic Russia has a few that are pointed out and justified in the book. The Russians drink vodka even though it hadn't yet become popular historically, because "what is a game in Russia without vodka?" The Mongols are Tengrist pagans even though the Golden Horde had converted to Islam by the time it was set, partly because it's easier to handle in the game's Religion Is Magic system and partly because of plain old Rule of Cool.
  • The Pirates Constructible Strategy Game by Wizkids is a naval combat game set sometime before, during, and after the American Revolution/War of 1812 era. When the first set came out, things were fine, but with each new expansion, they seem to be intent on adding a new crazy mechanic. They get alright justifications/Handwaves most of the time, but it is still silly. They are currently halfway between this and Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Some of these include:
    • Sea Monsters/Titans
    • Cursed pirates
    • Submarines (based off Jules Verne)
    • Vikings (Handwaved as being northerners who believe Norse Mythology)
    • Bombardiers (Ships with long-range and flame cannons attached to their decks)
    • Turtle ships (which at least existed around the time)
    • "Switchblades" (metal ships with giant pincers attached to the sides)
  • Visigoths vs. Mall Goths is anachronistic by nature, due to Time Travel bringing some antiquity-era Barbarians to 1990s Los Angeles. That aside, most of the references are true to the time period, but some of the names are more modern references for the Rule of Funny. For instance, the store Big Disc Energy plays off a 2019 meme that also has the acronym BDE.
  • The old Atlantean Trilogy by Bar Games mixed Anachronism Stew with All Myths Are True, and came up with an alternate Earth where Atlantis coexists with Avalon, Amazons rub shoulders with gypsies, and you can sail from Hyperborea to Nazca. Never mind it's supposed to be set in 15,000 BC, and the continents' geographies are radically different?
  • The defunct trading card game Anachronism was built on this trope. The idea was that you could play as, say, Ivan the Terrible while wielding a claymore, wearing Japanese armor, and with Aphrodite on your side.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG name for the Chronomaly archetype, "OOPArts", is an acronym for "Out-of-Place Artifact", a term used to describe artifacts that make no logical sense given the technology available at the time they were created. The TCG name, "Chronomaly", is a portmanteau of the word "chronology" which is the sequential order in which past events occur and "anomaly" as in an irregularity or something odd. Put together these monsters are "chronological anomalies" or "chronomalies" since these objects deviate from what would have been possible to create given the resources and technology available at that time.
    • Note that this isn't even the most notable example. From the very start, there were magicians, knights, dragons, and the like along side stuff like tanks, military infantry, and both ridiculously human and Super Robots.
  • Warhammer
    • The one most people have pointed out in Fantasy Battles is Bretonnia, which is an Arthurian-style Feudal Kingdom with your traditional knights, bows, and trebuchets, right next door to the Empire, which is nearly 2-3 centuries ahead with cannons, guns, and tanks.
      • In fact, the Empire has knights and archers (and crossbowmen!) of its own, deployed right alongside the cannons, guns and tanks.
    • Other examples in the game (there are many) include the Skaven, who have access to Gatling- oh wait - Ratling guns and Lightning cannons, while other races, such as the Elves or the Tomb Kings, still use ballistae, bows and chariots.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has this as well, with many troops (especially Orks) being armed with bladed melee weapons such as swords, axes, and warhammers, while others have machine guns, lasers, automatic bazookas, and space ships.
    • A prime example being the Imperial Guard, where you can have horse cavalry, World War I-style tanks, Chicken Walkers and Future Copters all in the same force.
    • Characterized even farther by the fact that the lore states there are planets that have slid back technologically to a Medieval Stasis from being cut-off from other worlds, which may have been used at one point in early source books to try and incorporate the Warhammer Fantasy Battle universe into that of 40k.
  • Hoyle's Rules of Dragon Poker: The author never bothers to explain why a game played at ancient Pompeii has rules for surge protectors and Weird Al.


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