Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ta Prohm, Cambodia and Copan, Honduras: Perfect Megadungeons

I've often talked (preached?) about how much inspiration I get from simply looking at existing things in the world and then twisting them to my own purposes. There is such a huge amount of variety in architecture, religion, ceremonies, art, etc. throughout the history of the world that the well of inspiration should never run dry. 

As such I present the temple of Ta Prohm at Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is one of the most famous architectural wonders in the world. It sees some 5,000 visitors per day, which is hardly surprising given the incredible buildings and temples that are there.

Ta Prohm was built in the late 1100s and early 1200s, and has stood since then, though if you search the Google images for the temple you can see the vines and forest creeping and overtaking the temple. 

The temple of Ta Prohm is one of these. My guess is that almost everybody has seen this photo, or one like it, even if they don't know where it's from. 

Check out redswept's Ta Prohm gallery for some more great pictures.

How could you not see that image and not be immediately inspired? The mystery of what might lie within those doors pulls at me and I want to find out.

Heading to the other side of the world I give you the artistic aesthetics of the Maya. Every time I look at them I think to myself how perfect they would be for any kind of game with horror themes, or any kind of weird fantasy type of campaign.

There's an incredible temple in Honduras that was built by the Maya around 500 A.D. At it's peak there were some 20,000 people living there. A couple of things that make this complex unique. The first is that the main temple is actually two temples. There's the temple of the original ruler and his wife. Unlike other cultures which would build a separate temple nearby, or perhaps tear down the stones of the old temple for use in the new one (the Egyptians did that all the time for example), the Maya at Copan built a temple around the original temple. Basically it's a temple inside the temple. 

The other incredible feature of this temple is that the steps of the temple are inlaid with glyphs from the bottom to the top. These glyphs tell the history of the rulers. There are some 2200 glyphs and the represent the most complete collection of Mayan text known.

The third thing that makes Copan unique are the literally hundreds of stele scattered throughout that are carved with all sorts of fantastical images. 

I find the idea of a temple within a temple to be incredibly cool. I also love the idea that the entire history of the city is carved into the steps of the temple. 

The other thing I find fascinating about this place are the weird creatures and faces carved into the stele that are scattered throughout the complex. Some examples:

How can you not be inspired by this kind of thing?

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