Historical Inspiration for Fantasy Settings

Medieval Europe is a very common inspiration for fantasy worlds. What other time periods do you think would make good inspiration for fantasy worlds (can be European time periods, time periods specific to certain countries, or time periods specific to other continents).


I bet a story set in prehistoric times could be quite interesting.


Ancient Greece/Rome
Nineteenth-century American West
Renaissance Europe
Ancient Egypt
Imperial China (I demand magical pugs!)
The summer of 1969


you get your pugs when I get my cleopatra! :grin:

Ancient Babylone…ancient whatever at this point really. I mean, just look how many countries we have. And there are so many stories and histories there…

But the 1st to say VIKING! Gonna get a Malaka and an Anvil thrown at them! :upside_down_face:

Oh here a good read for those who are curious, don’t ask me why I was reading this though lol

Link: Vicious Acts of Revenge That Will Send Shivers Down Your Spine

It has some historic figures, some I never heard of…


Even when it comes to European inspirations it’s not equal lol, it’s largely western(ish) Europe. More Slavic settings would be awesome.

As for other regions, I would love to see more stories inspired by Hindu myth, Southeast Asian cultures, as well as indigenous cultures from all over the world (like the Aztecs/Nahuatl or the Inuit, like they did with ATLA and Never Alone). And fantasy Mongolia would be cool–imagine if their horse archers could also shoot spells from horseback!


There is/was one WIP in which you could play as Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens.

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That is because most people choose late or high medieval ages as their setting. Story I am working on takes inspiration from early medieval, late antiquity. Think fall of Rome, barbarian invasion. Much different then knights in shining armours going to king sponsored tournaments.

Early/Middle Repubblic Rome.
Ancient Egypt (any period but the Ptolemaic one, I’m tired of Cleo)
Bronze Age Greece, Arcaic/Classic Greece.
West Europe Renaissence.
West Europe late XIX century.

Little off topic but since the periods of Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, and Historical fiction are 90% the same (Imperial Rome, Julius Caesar Rome the most ancient, Cleopatra’s Egypt, late Latin Middle Age (1200-1400), Sengoku/Edo Japan…)
I really, really would like a scene like this one:

“I’ve been walking on this world for long before my people knew pyramids and chariots, Amon and Ra were different gods and iron was a rubbish material. Why do you always ask if I ever met Cleopatra?!”


I think if you took out the Witcher, 99% of people couldn’t name a fantasy setting (or a lot of other fiction) based in Eastern Europe. I don’t know what that speaks to, but that’s a real difference.

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Yeah, I think that’s one of the reasons The Witcher stood out from other fantasy novels and became as popular as it is today. The only other Slavic-inspired series that I know of is Shadow and Bone.

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The Spanish Viceregal period in America catches my attention. Or stories set in historical civilizations mixed with some kind of fiction such as the Ottoman Empire, Spanish America or the period of Imperial China mixed with Fantasy, science fiction, etc.

My big one is Victorian-era Britain (especially fairy stories; the interplay of strict fey + equally strict but distinct human rules is something I’d love to see worked with).

I have a concept in mind for a rise of Caesar story, and if you were interested in doing a fantasy angle on that, I’d be all for working with you.

A world based on cultures along the ancient Silk Road (think Han and Tang China!!! Maurya India and other classical era Indian dynasties!!! Sasanian Persia!!! the Abbasid Caliphate!!! the various Turkic-Mongol khanates!!! …in fact I’m actually working on a WIP based on this


I would love to see something actually based in Africa. Maybe a chance to see if you can succeed where Shaka Zulu couldn’t. Choosing spears over guns is pretty ballsy.

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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel is a marvellous historical fantasy book set mostly in Britain during the early 19th century, a setting which i think worked very well.

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I feel like ancient Egypt would be fun, but I might be biased because I like Anubis


Oh yes. Anubis is great.

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I know I would love to do a prehistory one. I have like 20 pages of notes, as well as some distinct paths one could take like shaman (cave art for the win), herbalist (also a gathering role, but good for medicine) and hunter.

But others have already mentioned various time periods. I know I thought about a case where an Aztec Empire was ascendant…and used to Old World diseases by say having a Mediterranean ship going off course, initiating limited contact between both areas at the time, and also limited trade. And yeah, this would be a chance to introduce horses to the New World as well but the distances would still keep most influences out for a time.


Some may find this boring but I love Flintlock Fantasy. Brian McClellan’s powder mage books and Django Wexlers Shadow Campaigns being favorites.

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