The longest period of human civilization, the Stone Age is the period from the emergence of humans to about 7,000 years ago. Said period is when early humans wandered the landscape hunting and gathering food in small bands using and latter making tools of materials such as wood, stone and bone.
- Paleolithic: Basically everything from the discovery of fire to about 20,000 years ago. It includes a wide variety of things from primitive hominids with sharp rocks and pointy sticks to anatomically modern H. Sapiens Sapiens with tents, sewn clothes and multi-part hatchets who made elaborate cave paintings.
- Mesolithic: Roughly about 20,000 to 12,000 years ago. Things begin to get more complicated, tools get more sophisticated and specialized. Items such as bows and arrows and (in Asia) pottery shows up. Dogs and humans team up.
- Neolithic: About 12,000 to 7,000 years ago people began to farm, slowly at first by weeding out patches of food plants as they went through and seeding areas with food plants and catching pliable animals, penning them and feeding them before slaughter, killing the uppity ones first. People figure out they can make plants and animals have desired characteristics by breeding them. They begin building permanent structures and eventually settle down and build small villages, then towns and eventually small cities. Some specialize and hone their crafts. Eventually someone works out how to smelt Copper, thus bringing the Stone Age to a close.
Note: these end dates are of a first past the post nature. The Stone Age did not end for everyone the second someone started making copper tools. Technically there are a few Stone Age peoples around today in odd corners of the world. North Sentinel Island comes to mind, famously they shot two illegal and drunk Indian fishermen and a stupid American missionary dead by bow and arrow.
The appeal of The Stone AgeEdit
This is a time when the world was not yet man's dominion. Humanity was just another species struggling to get by wandering the world, scraping up what they could from the land where they were not always on top of the food chain. It was also a time in which men walked alongside megafauna such as Mammoths, Ground Sloths, Woolly Rhinos, Short Nosed Bears and Saber Toothed Cats. It even includes people dealing with other species of human such as Neanderthals. If the idea of someone wandering a great empty wilderness of stark beauty and primal terror with real monsters getting by with only their wits and a few things they can cobble together from the wilderness interests you, the Stone Age is the place to set your games.
More fantastic versions of the Stone Age include Dinosaurs. This can fall into the fantasy trip of “The Lost World,” which brings both Stone Age civilization and dinosaurs into modern times, albeit in a very hard-to-reach part of the world (such as deep beneath the Earth) where travelers are forced to adapt to the savage and primal conditions they find themselves in. Or if you want to drop a giant black tablet from space and have it teach apes the basic principles of minecraft, that works too.