Ozymandias Monument
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I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Ozymandias P. B. Shelley

Basic Information

The Ozymandias Monument is a setting building device, most useful in those settings which occur after the end], or otherwise contain traces of a fallen civilization and/or precursors. It may be some vast piece of civil engineering (such as a road, viaduct or dam) or a piece of memorial sculpture (as per the source text) or even some technology that can no longer be reproduced.

Whatever shape it takes, the monument demonstrates the power and capabilities of the fallen ancients - often in a way their heirs can non longer match and serves to illustrate how far those heirs are below the state of what went before. They may also (as per the source text) serve as a warming against hubris - depending on why exactly the precursors fell (or why they are thought to have fallen. Which may not be the same thing at all.).

Occasionally, such a monument may serve as an out of place artifact, appearing in a place it has no right to be and indicating that things have not always been as they are … perhaps providing a clue to the existence of the originating culture, of which no other trace can be found.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • These things can stretch as far as being wonders of the world - built by bygone cultures and maintained with varying degrees of competence by those that remain (a lot of Roman architecture served in this role in Northern Europe).
  • Statues on the edge of the wilderness may turn out to be the border markers of a lost civilization.
  • Roads and aqueducts pointing out to see may hint at the existence of somewhere like Ys or Atlantis.
  • Generally these can be used to hint at lost cities awaiting looting by PCs.
  • The Sphinx is often considered to be something like this by people who don't hold with the official state of pre-history.
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