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  1. - Top - End - #301
    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    No, you don't know me from any other forum, I am new to all of this fancy internet stuff, as in I have been reading the comic for a while, and I decided to take a look at the forums because I had never participated in anything like that before, and this thread caught my eye. I don't know why I have not posted in any other threads, probably because they haven't been of that much interest to me. I would participate in the play by post, but I am separated from my books for the moment.

  2. - Top - End - #302
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    Another new idea to ponder: Making social status part of the character sheet.

    "Ordinary" fantasy worlds are often very egalitarian, distinguishing only between royalty, evil ******* nobles, and the rest. The vast majority of good nobles treats commoners just like other nobles, and those who don't are automatically evil. Going with the themes of the setting, I think enforcing a more hierarchial social structure would be quite interesting and enriching.

    Right now, I have 6 categories in mind:
    Noble: Kings, chieftains, sub-chiefs, and their children and grandchildren.
    Clansman: The "true citizens". Warriors, farmers, and craftsmen.
    Freeman: People who live on the land and in the towns and villages of the clan, but are not clan members with no say in clan politics. Often paid laborers and servants, but very successful as merchants in "free" towns and cities.
    Slave: Captured enemies and their descendants who are owned by the clans as servants and laborers.
    Outcast: People who have been exiled from the clans or freemen who live outside of clan society. Usually treated with great mistrust or hostility.
    Monk: People who gave up any former allegiences to clans or lords and instead joined a neutral, but respected organization. Unlike outcasts, they are not regarded as untrustworthy traitors or criminals and can be highly respected.

    I'm not a fan of lots of modifiers or pretty much purely cosmetic abilities, so social status should mostly provide previlegs and restrictions instead of affecting a characters stats.
    For PCs, clansmen or freeman are the assumed social ranks. Slaves can also make good characters if paired with another PC of clansman rank. Nobles and Outcast probably work only in a small number of special campaigns, in which they should be doing fine, but are usually not suitable for common games. Not quite sure about the Monks yet, who of course still need a proper name.

    The clan is the primary form of social organization and plays a very great role in an LBK game. It is the main indicator if you are a friend or an enemy. There is few racism, but if you hate someone on principle, it's because of his clan. Loyalty within the clan is extremely important in all societies and even if you hate each other, nobody can stand by and watch injustice done to a fellow clansman by an outsider. Attacking a clansman or a noble is an attack on the whole clan. Depending on the relations between the two clans, the matter can be solved between sub-chiefs or village headsmen, or clansmen on both sides start attacking each other in mass. Usually, it does more good than bad, as it gets people to avoid conflict with other clans, since the chieftains can be very displeased about warriors starting minor wars because of a minor insult. But the clan also offers protection, since clansmen defend each other, as well as freeman and slaves loyal to their chieftain. If you don't have a clan to back you up, you're pretty much fair game to everyone.

    Nobles have a huge amount of previlges. Even in societies that don't have an officially recognized nobility, people from the ruling families have great power over the other clansmen. As a son of a chieftain, it is assumed that one speaks and acts on behalf of the chieftain, unless the other person is aware that it is directly against the chieftains will. But they still need to follow the laws just like any other clansman and can't simply do what they want without fearing punishment, unless the family maintains a tyranical rule over the clan.
    On the other hand, nobles have to be very careful about what they say and do, as it will be asumed that they are acting as official representatives of the clan. Clansmen are responsible for their own actions, but everything a noble does is also politics. When a clansman starts a fight in a tavern, this can usually be solved without much trouble. But when a noble does, its not done with an appology to the villages headsmen.

    Clansmen also enjoy all the previleges of a clan. They can own land, can speak in councils, and can become village elders or headsmen. They are protected by the clan and have to commit serious crimes to be stripped of their status.

    Freemen are very similar to clansmen, but have much fewer previleges. While under the protection of the clan, they can not own land and it is a lot easier for chieftains to expell them from the clans lands if they become a burden. Freemen have no right to speak before councils (but may be represented by a patron) and can hold no official positions. Freemen who distingish themselves in their service to the clan can be elevated to clansmen by chieftains and sub-chiefs.
    Freemen have to stand up for their crimes and may face more severe punishments, but it usually has less effect on the relations between clans when a crime or attack involved freemen instead of clansmen fighting each other.

    Slaves have few right or even none in some cases. They only have the right to a few personal possessions of no monetary value (though masters can choice to grant much greater previleges), can not leave their service, and need permission from their masters to marry. While the punishments for crimes against slaves are less severe than for those commited against freemen or clansmen, it is still a crime and depending on the severity can be punished quite harshly. In many societies, slaves are technically owned by the chieftain, who can be quite displeased if they are treated badly by their masters and revoke their previlege to have slaves. Slaves have very low protection from the clan and rely entirely on their masters. But since their masters are clansmen or nobles, life as a slave can be even more safe and secure than for a freemen.

    Outcasts are people who have no clan or other organization to back them up. Most outcasts have been exiled from their clans, and even if it was an enemy clan, nobody trusts people who have turned against their own clans. People who manage to be exiled are capable of anything in the eyes of others. Outcasts need to be very careful, as there will be nobody to avenge them if they are attacked or killed and there is very low danger in doing so. On the other hand, outcast can do things that nobody else can. Their actions have no repercussions on a clan and there are no superiors they have to respect. Most assassins and many thieves are outcasts, since there's a lower chance that they are recognized and the crime be traced back to a clan leader who hired them.

    Monks are similar to outcasts in many ways, but since they chose to remove themselves from the clan to pursue a higher purpose, instead of being thrown out for crimes, they don't face the hostility and mistrust shown towards outcasts.
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  3. - Top - End - #303
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    The problem I see with making clans as important as they are in LBK is that adventuring parties tend to be very diverse in composition, often being all of different races. This would mean they're all from different clans. How will that work? Do you expect DMs to enforce an "every PC must be from the same clan" policy? Or are PCs freemen with little or no allegiance to clans by default?
    Last edited by Swooper; 2012-03-11 at 03:19 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #304
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    I think it actually add a lot more interesting aspects to the game than obstacles. With hundreds of clans, GMs and players are quite free to make up their own ones which can be allied, neutral, or enemies as it fits the campaign.
    Characters from the same clan working together is the easiest way, but you can also work together with PCs from other clans, who are currently working to solve the same problem that affects their own clans. Or some of the characters are from rather far away clans with no direct relationship to the clan of the other PCs, so there is no enmity between them.
    I think it adds a lot of options for the relationships within the party while not really preventing any combinations of character concepts. Getting an outcast to work well with a group of nobles would be challenging, but that's probably what you're in for when you want to make such a party. And when everything fails, you can always play a freeman from one of the free trade cities who is completely neutral in the whole clan and status system with no ties or restrictions on him.
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  5. - Top - End - #305
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    I like the idea of social status actually being very important in this setting, as it has been for pretty much all of human history. I have a question, though: are freemen ethnically the same as the clanmembers of the lands they are in? If so, does that make clan-members effectively minor nobles?
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  6. - Top - End - #306
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    Good question. I woul say most are, as ethnicity is mostly shared language and customs. The subject of ethnicity has come up a couple of times in my university classes, and those really are the two hard factors that define them. Everything else is mostly "mythology" with no historic backing.
    However, freemen are much more geographically mobile, as they can pledge themselves to any chieftain, regardless of his clan or ethnicity. For a clansmen to leave his clan and be adopted into a new one is a lot more difficult. Getting out is easy, but then people will ask why you did it and regard you as an outcast, unless you already have a new clan to adopt you.
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  7. - Top - End - #307
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    Building the Barbarian Library

    A world only comes to live through the story that take place in it. But comming up with good stories is hard, so it's a lot more effective to salvage plots from other places. For the Lands of the Barbarian Kings, stories need to be about actions and not peoples minds, as it is primarily intended for RPGs, and they also need to not be about preventing the end of the world/universe/kingdom, because I want the setting to be explicitly not about this, because it makes the individuals rather exchangeable.
    I want to compile a list of stories, that would work very well in the Barbarian Lands, just by switching out the people and places. If you have any suggestions, please contribute.

    Raiders of the Lost Arc: Prevent a bad person to get his hands on a magic artifact that helps him doing more evil than he already does.
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Prevent a bad person to get his hands on a magic artifact that helps him doing more evil than he already does.
    Princess Mononoke: Stop whatever is causing spirits to turn into monsters.
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: It's complicated.
    The Seven Samurai: Defend a village against a large gang of bandits.
    Conan, the Barbarian: Find the warlord who destroyed the village and kill him.
    The City of Dreaming Books: A mysterious work of art leads to the search for the artist, whose trail leads to a strange city of exotic sites and eventually ancient catacombs, while apparently helpful locals try to sabotage the effort.
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (comic): Escape from your masters who killed all their students and want to get you as well, while also finding proof that you are not the murderer.
    The Witcher: Get back the magic items stolen by a sorcerer, that can be used to create monsters for an army.
    Icewind Dale: Det out to investigate what is threatening a remote village during a harsh winter.
    Dragon Age - Broken Circle: Find out what killed the mages of a tower and stop it before it breaks out into the outside world.
    Dragon Age - Nature of the Beast: Kill the creature that sends monster attacking locals (and discover why it does it).
    Dragon Age - A Paragon of her Kind: Find a missing noble who can end the dispute for the kingdoms crown.
    Dragon Age - The Urn of Sacred Ashes: Search for a lost artifact to save a dying lord (which happens to be be in the possession of a dangerous cult).
    Mirror's Edge: An outlaws sister gets framed for the murder of a politican and needs her innocence proven, while someone is hunting down the outlaw gang.
    Bad Company: A group of soldiers deserts and tries to steal a treasure from the dictator their army is about to defeat.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-03-15 at 10:58 AM.
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  8. - Top - End - #308
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    need to not be about preventing the end of the world/universe/kingdom, because I want the setting to be explicitly not about this, because it makes the individuals rather exchangeable.
    I'm sure you've already seen something like this, if not the page itself. Regardless, what you said is exactly Heroic Fantasy (TV Tropes link. Beware.)

    On that note, I would say that literally all of the Conan stories would make for excellent plot hooks. Even the ones that involve trekking across the country with an army in tow are about "local" problems.

    Some other good examples:

    High Plains Drifter: The Chaotic Neutral Evilish version of Seven Samurai.
    Most Westerns: Very rarely do you find a western that has to do with wide-reaching problems.
    Lone Wolf and Cub: Revenge against the lord that disowned you... with your three-year-old child in tow.
    10,000 B.C.: Girlfriend abducted by slavers. Make them regret it. (Yes, I went there)
    Pulp in general: Most pulp stories are about individuals solving local problems. I don't know of many that involve saving the world.

    By the way, I only check up on this once in a great while, but I think it's a VERY cool project. Good job!
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  9. - Top - End - #309
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    I never got myself to read Conan, and I really should get around to Lone Wolf.
    However, I have developed an alergy against Roland Emerich and Michael Bay. Just too much retarded nonsense that cancels out all the tiny bits that are somewhat good.
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  10. - Top - End - #310
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Examples:

    Watership Down (Richard Adams): A clan has been destroyed by natural disaster, the survivors move somewhere else but come in conflict with a different clan. Bunnies optional
    The Drenai Chronicles (David Gemmell): The whole series is about badassess going on quests, usually to save friends or family, but these quests tend to have larger effects.
    While it is a series with low magic and the combat is more important, magic in the series is still quite prevalent and has numerous examples of demons possesing humans, demons attempting to fully pass over, people being merged with an animal,...

  11. - Top - End - #311
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    Getting to the subject of ideological differences, I've been giving some thought on religions. I don't think I've explored this very much yet.

    The religion of the Kashakai Lizardfolk has already been established in a quite definite concept. It's a kind of demi-monotheism that evolved from shamans praying to the sun to grant them magical powers to overthrow their naga masters, and when they were successful it was attributed to the sun which then became the ceremonial head of state of their new civilization. It is represented by a council of five high priests who interprete the suns will and appoint a king to govern the empire.

    The human Vandren arrived only 300 to 400 years ago in the Barbarian Lands and many of them were semi-nomadic plains people before that. Since they left the lands of their ancestors, their gods needed to be mobile. If you worship the spirit of a river but move away from the river, the spirit loses its value as a god. As plains people and being on the move, the spirits of the sky would make an excelent chief deity for the Vandren. You can take them everywhere. The shamans would make contact with the spirits of their new homelands, but they don't have any of the tradition of the old gods, so they are not that special. Another thing would be the spirits of ancestral heroes who became immortal on their death and remained to watch over their people. Since the hero spirits are the gods of clans, they would also move where the clan moves. If they had a shrine in the old lands, that was just a building they would live in and not their bodies, like in the case of a mountain or a river. So the Vandren could make small portable shrines, ask the ancestor to hop on, and take it with them. Once a new village is found, a new shrine is build and the ancestor may take its new residence.
    So the sky and Hero spirits would be the major faith. Sun and Moon would also work, but I would limit them to small groups, as I want them to be the major gods of other people.
    Some would chose to find new deities, preferedly some that are not so easily lost. Which is the perfect opportunity for cults that worship demons or ancients.

    Now a very curious thing about all religions that I know about is that they all regard physical existance as a problem. Supressing all desires and removing yourself from the physical form is found in every single religion I know. Even Tantra buddhism, which is the only religion I know that encurages endulgence, does so only so you can get it all out of your system so the desires won't distract you when you become ready to start the path of meditation. So what this setting needs is a religion that has a positive attitude towards a physical existance. It's a concept that actually shows through in other aspects, like the way spellcasting works. And I think the wood elves would make great candidates. For the elves, there is no seperate soul and to be alive means being a physical being. Without a body, there is no person. There is still a spirit, which can be torn out and trapped in gems, or go on an astral journey. But the spirit is not inhabiting the body, but is a product of the body. The spirit is generated by the body. It is like a flame of a fire, and the body is the wood. Once the wood is gone, there's no flame. However, this does not mean that the body is in control. The body is the source of a person, but it can not preserve itself. It is the role of the mind to keep the body well. But at the same time, only preserving the body while denying its desire is like being a walking dead. Finding the right balance of enjoying life as a physical being and keeping the body healthy and safe is the primary issue of elven religion. "Gaining the most enjoyment from the least amount of strain" would make a good concept for a certain sect of elven faith. "Burn bright and fast, since you could fall off a ladder at any moment anyway" could be another.
    The Earth deity, as the most "solid" of the major gods, would make a great primary deity. The ground, the trees, and the animals would all be prominant in such a religion. The spirits of the sky would also make good secondary deities in the aspect of wind. It's more insubstential than earth, but still has force and speed and activity, which would also be appealing. I also want to have the moon somewhere in there, but right now I am not sure how it fits as potentially the most insubstential and of the greater gods. But it would make a good counterpart to the god of the earth, but complementing it rather than being its opposite. Something along the line of enjoying the more subtle aspects of life like art and emotion.

    The Tameshin elves would obviously worship the sea as the main deity, being an island nation of sailors. The sky would also play a role, but right now I would think more of something like helpful assistance instead of protectors and guides. Thank the winds when they are in your favor and hope they don't get the idea of opposing your journey. However, being from the sea myself, the sea is a very powerful entity. It can be the basis for sustenance and prosperity through cargo trade and fishing, but has a terrifying destructive force that completely overshadows earthquakes, draughts, volcanoes, or inland storms. The sea can keep any ship and any sailor at any time it wants, and it can annihilate entire islands within moments without any warning. The sea is life, or the sea is death, just as it fancies at the moment. You better show it a lot of thanks and offerings and never even think of being able to defy it. Every time you go out on the sea, it will decide if it will let return or keep you.
    Marine animals will play a great role as symbols and messenger of spirits of the sea and the winds. Also a lot of superstitions about which animals to see at sea are good or bad omens. With dolphins near your ship, you are perfectly safe. If certain sea birds follow you at a slight distance, you are already dead.

    I've also described a kind of buddhist-communist religion originating from the kaas and also having gained some gnomes, elves, and trolls. It's mostly about finding your perfect place in life, so you can live content with your lot and don't get into conflicts with others. In the cosmos, everything is part of a greater whole, and the way to a good life is to find the place where you fit into it. If you get the wrong job or family, conflict and unhappiness will result. So it involves a lot of contemplation of what one wants and needs. It's not the primary kaas religion though.

    That's just some thoughts I have right now. If you have any ideas related to that, just throw them in.
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    I love the bit about the Vandren packing their gods up and marching with them to their new home The rest is cool too, but that in particular made me grin.
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    I think it's from Thailand or Malaysia. When people build a house, they have to deal with the former residents, or the spirits will keep pestering you to chase you from their home. So you need to build a small model house and get a shaman who asks the spirits to move into it.
    When there a lots of accidents on a construction site, you have to get the shaman again and get a bigger and more fancy miniture house for the spirits. That usually helps.
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    While I did not know that, I do know that many major ancient cultures including the Romans, the Chinese, and many Native Americans took shrines of ancestral gods with them to pray to, in particular the nomadic plains tribes.
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    Or the Jews.

    In Japan many festival consist of processions in which the spirit is carried through the village and the countryside and returned to its home in the evening.
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    On the danger of being pretentious, let's give some thoughts on the issues of the Lands of the Barbarian Kings.

    All good art is about something. Even if the stories are simple at the surface, they have a subtext that relates to the basic facts of life. Not all fiction does, but I think all art that I enjoy does. Lord of the Rings is about Plurality vs. Authorianism. Ghost in the Shell is about how the loss of a biological body affects the mind. Star Wars is about Freedom versus Order. Blade Runner asks about the value of artificial life, Inception is about dealing with the uncertainty of percieving reality. Baldur's Gate is about Free Will versus Predetermination. The Witcher essentially revolves around the question at what point resolving to violence prevents more harm than it causes. Even Dragon Age 2 is, very telling of the 2000s, about the balance between Freedom and Security. And Metal Gear Solid is just weird as hell.

    I think Lands of the Barbarian Kings would benefit greatly from having a core issue it adresses that underlies the design of the various aspects. I am a huge fan of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which is all about danger and weapons, but since I was 18 or so action has started to bore me. It is the descisions to fight or not, and what happens when you won, that always interest me the most. Action scenes really only get my attention when they are portryed in a way where you follow the thoughts and descisions of the characters what weapons and tricks to use. All the sword swinging and explosions are rather boring. I only have the first two Lord of the Rings movies and usually don't watch the last half hour or so at all. A good game is not about the fights, but about thinking about the situation and coming to descisions. Deceding when to fight and when to flee. Deciding whom to spare and at what point surrender. Deciding which sides you pick and whom you'll save and whom you let die. Lands of the Barbarian Kings is not a world of philosophy. But I want it to be a world that provides a good background from which to draw to come up with interesting stories that encourage difficult descisions. Nothing that forces itself into every story, but something that allows people who tell stories to make the descisions based on the world itself and not just entirely on the original characters. Not exactly what you would expect from a conanesque Points of Light setting.

    Now write about what you know. And I think the issue that interests me maybe the most is the question how to balance Conformity with Individuality. You might call me a Technical Pacifist. I have absolutely no interest in arguing and fighting with people, even if I know they are wrong and I feel mistreated. I don't get angry and have a desire to make the other side feel bad. There's no point in insulting or hurting people, it doesn't solve anything but only causes the conflict to continue and me enduring more of it. I've always been that way. I just don't feel hatred or a desire for retribution. On the other hand I don't oppose the use of violence or agressive action per se. Sometimes negotiations and appeals are just not an option, because someone will cause more harm in the meantime than what is required to stop them. When you know people will die or seriously harmed, then strike fast and hard so it won't be as many.
    While I am a huge fan of being polite, humble, and considerate of the people around me and generally avoid direct confrontation as much as possible, I am also fiercely protective of my privacy, absolutely hate any intrusion in my affairs, and greatly value my right to express myself as I feel right. This is a kind of conflict. I like loud music, but don't want to anoy my neighbors. I demand tolerance for minorities, but don't want to offend peoples sensitivities. But instead of being a mindless slave of social norms or being an obnoxious and irritating individualist who doesn't care if his actions make others uncomfortable, there is also a large middle ground of finding a balance between your own happines and a harmonious relationship with others. Now I am form Germany, which I would call an extremely individualistic country, but I am also highly interested in East Asia, which is in general on the very opposite of the spectrum with personal desires being expected to be pushed back behind the needs of a harmonic and ordered community. It's a conflict that can never be avoided, but one that needs to be solved to be happy. And I think this make for a great underlying issue for a fictional work. The best opponents are the ones you rather would not want to fight.

    From the abstract, let's get a bit more specific. While I am formulating it only know, you will find this issue in a lot of aspects, that I've created quite some time ago:
    - The concept of the clans is one of the prime examples. The default role of PCs is that of a clan warrior. The clan is depending on them. It needs them to be safe and to survive, but the same thing goes for the PCs themselves. Without the clans they are outcasts and have no home or allies. So in the case of conflict, going separate ways is not an option, both sides will have to find a compromise. Unity within the clan is important, but what if the chieftain is irresponsible and putting the clan in danger? He needs to be stopped, but causing a split through the clan is even more damaging to the clan than the chieftains bad descisions. Also warriors have to do what is needed to do to protect their people, but also everything they do will reflect on the clan. Even if you decide to sacrifice your own honor for your clans survival, this often means damaging the clans reputation, which can also destroy it as allies break away and become enemies.
    - Warlocks and demon worshippers are dangerous, because they cause Taint that is harmful to the world and its creatures. Many would want them to disappear, but in a pluralistic world, you can't just decide to remove a group you don't like. Peace between the clans is maintained by the trust that your neighbors won't attack you. And if a clan attacks another clan that worships demons, who else will they attack because they don't like what they are doing? Warlocks are a danger, but you don't want to start a war because of this.
    - Not all demons are evil. But all demons cause damage to the world. Some might even be helpful, but accepting their help means the spread of Taint.
    - The draft for the eleven spirituality embodies this conflict. Keeping the body healthy and a clear mind conflicts with enjoying life as a physical being. Both the hedonist and the ascetic are destroying themselves.

    Some other ideas:
    - Join forces with bad people, because right now you have the same goal. (Mass Effect 2)
    - Villains who do great charitable work. (Princess Mononoke)
    - Heroes who use unacceptable methods. (Ghost in the Shell, 2nd season)
    - Good leaders who really hate your methods.
    - Former allies who think the villain has the right idea. (Metal Gear Solid)

    Again, if you have thoughts or ideas, please share.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I think it's from Thailand or Malaysia. When people build a house, they have to deal with the former residents, or the spirits will keep pestering you to chase you from their home. So you need to build a small model house and get a shaman who asks the spirits to move into it.
    When there a lots of accidents on a construction site, you have to get the shaman again and get a bigger and more fancy miniture house for the spirits. That usually helps.
    Heh. Sounds quite similar to local customs regarding construction...

    Even today, roads are routed around rocks that "elves" (fey) are believed to inhabit, even if it would be more practical to blow up the rock and pave over it. Sometimes "seers" are fetched to commune with the elves and request their permission for construction projects. I don't remember any attempts to carry the elves away, although occasionally elfstones are moved (with a seer's voucher that the elves are okay with it, of course) with heavy construction vehicles

    Slightly more on topic... Dragons. They seem like the kind of thing primitive cultures might turn to worshipping, even if they are not actual spirits. I'm asking because one of the cultures in my own setting worships dragons, at least partly, alongside other spirits/gods. Any thoughts on this for LotBK?

    Edit: Whoa, crosspost. Interesting thoughts... Although, aren't themes like this something that should apply more to the stories in the world, rather than the world itself?
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    Yes.

    I was thinking of making dragons turn into spirits at the final stage of their natural life. Not many make it that far, but those who do often become immortal spirits of the land. Old living dragons would be on the border between living creatures and spirits.
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    Oooh, excellent twist. I approve.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Now write about what you know. And I think the issue that interests me maybe the most is the question how to balance Conformity with Individuality. You might call me a Technical Pacifist. I have absolutely no interest in arguing and fighting with people, even if I know they are wrong and I feel mistreated. I don't get angry and have a desire to make the other side feel bad. There's no point in insulting or hurting people, it doesn't solve anything but only causes the conflict to continue and me enduring more of it. I've always been that way. I just don't feel hatred or a desire for retribution. On the other hand I don't oppose the use of violence or agressive action per se. Sometimes negotiations and appeals are just not an option, because someone will cause more harm in the meantime than what is required to stop them. When you know people will die or seriously harmed, then strike fast and hard so it won't be as many.
    While I am a huge fan of being polite, humble, and considerate of the people around me and generally avoid direct confrontation as much as possible, I am also fiercely protective of my privacy, absolutely hate any intrusion in my affairs, and greatly value my right to express myself as I feel right. This is a kind of conflict. I like loud music, but don't want to anoy my neighbors. I demand tolerance for minorities, but don't want to offend peoples sensitivities. But instead of being a mindless slave of social norms or being an obnoxious and irritating individualist who doesn't care if his actions make others uncomfortable, there is also a large middle ground of finding a balance between your own happines and a harmonious relationship with others. Now I am form Germany, which I would call an extremely individualistic country, but I am also highly interested in East Asia, which is in general on the very opposite of the spectrum with personal desires being expected to be pushed back behind the needs of a harmonic and ordered community. It's a conflict that can never be avoided, but one that needs to be solved to be happy. And I think this make for a great underlying issue for a fictional work. The best opponents are the ones you rather would not want to fight.
    This whole part above breathes 'foundation series' in my opinion.
    The whole technical pacifist part is basically what the series is about, they solve all their problems without violence. In fact, one of the main characters of the first book has this as his most famous quote: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent"
    Balancing comformity with individuality is also very important in the series, especially in the later books. Spoilers here, don't read if you still want to read the books.

    Spoiler
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    The books are about the Seldon Plan. Hari Seldon invented psychohistory, basically a mathematical oracle, and used it to predict that the current galactic empire would fall, so he established two Foundations to make sure that the period between galactic empires would be a 1000 years of anarchy in stead of 30000.
    It has 3 mayor organisation
    The First Foundation is very individualistic, focusing on peacefully expanding their territory, technological progress and trade. In later books they control half the galaxy and are doubting between taking it over by force immediatly or waiting for the Seldon Plan to unfold and taking the galaxy following the plan.
    The Second Foundation is an organisation almost dedicated to conformity, they predict the future to shape civilization into their creator's vision. They are the keepers of the Seldon Plan. They wish see the First Foundation create the new galactic empire so that they can rule behind the scenes, predicting the future so that humanity will survive.
    Gaia, from the later books is more about searching a balance between the two, they are a semi-hivemind of humans, animals, plants, planets,... Basically everything is connected and it gives them amazing mental powers. Their goal is to make the whole milky way into one giant organism/mental union. It gives them a lot of power and safety, but they sacrifice a lot of their freedom for it, they can never again be alone in their minds.
    They even refer to themselves as "I/We/Gaia".

    Too bad Asimov didn't know how to end the series and he has since passed away.


    From the abstract, let's get a bit more specific. While I am formulating it only know, you will find this issue in a lot of aspects, that I've created quite some time ago:
    - The concept of the clans is one of the prime examples. The default role of PCs is that of a clan warrior. The clan is depending on them. It needs them to be safe and to survive, but the same thing goes for the PCs themselves. Without the clans they are outcasts and have no home or allies. So in the case of conflict, going separate ways is not an option, both sides will have to find a compromise. Unity within the clan is important, but what if the chieftain is irresponsible and putting the clan in danger? He needs to be stopped, but causing a split through the clan is even more damaging to the clan than the chieftains bad descisions. Also warriors have to do what is needed to do to protect their people, but also everything they do will reflect on the clan. Even if you decide to sacrifice your own honor for your clans survival, this often means damaging the clans reputation, which can also destroy it as allies break away and become enemies.
    Looks like clans in LBK are going to be very much alive, i like that a lot.
    I still have one question though: you've written a lot of great clans that really stand out, but will you also create some 'generic' clans, that players can shape the way they want?

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    My current plan is to eventually get to 1/6 detailed, 2/6 rough, 3/6 left open. This goes for towns, important people in towns, and also clans. The first category will be stuff that is fairly well detailed and described and can be used out of the box and will hopefully become large enough to allow GMs to run games almost entirely with only those and minimal requirement to create their own content. The second category will be stuff for which I provide a rough outline. A name, some basic data, and a short overview and quick hints how to expand them to become part of a campaign. The last category will be left almost entirely blank.

    As I wrote in another post some weeks ago, in a council of 12 people, I would provide detailed information on 2 of them, a brief overview for 4, and the other 6 would be left blank. This allows GMs to use entirely "official" material, customize the hooks I provide, or come up entirely with their own creations, without having to break "the canon". If you don't like the two councilmembers I described, just have other councilmembers interact with the PCs. You can use the council, but don't have to kill some of the NPCs off because they are in the way for your own ideas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    On the danger of being pretentious, let's give some thoughts on the issues of the Lands of the Barbarian Kings.

    All good art is about something. Even if the stories are simple at the surface, they have a subtext that relates to the basic facts of life. Not all fiction does, but I think all art that I enjoy does. Lord of the Rings is about Plurality vs. Authorianism. Ghost in the Shell is about how the loss of a biological body affects the mind. Star Wars is about Freedom versus Order. Blade Runner asks about the value of artificial life, Inception is about dealing with the uncertainty of percieving reality. Baldur's Gate is about Free Will versus Predetermination. The Witcher essentially revolves around the question at what point resolving to violence prevents more harm than it causes. Even Dragon Age 2 is, very telling of the 2000s, about the balance between Freedom and Security. And Metal Gear Solid is just weird as hell.

    I think Lands of the Barbarian Kings would benefit greatly from having a core issue it adresses that underlies the design of the various aspects. I am a huge fan of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which is all about danger and weapons, but since I was 18 or so action has started to bore me. It is the descisions to fight or not, and what happens when you won, that always interest me the most. Action scenes really only get my attention when they are portryed in a way where you follow the thoughts and descisions of the characters what weapons and tricks to use. All the sword swinging and explosions are rather boring. I only have the first two Lord of the Rings movies and usually don't watch the last half hour or so at all. A good game is not about the fights, but about thinking about the situation and coming to descisions. Deceding when to fight and when to flee. Deciding whom to spare and at what point surrender. Deciding which sides you pick and whom you'll save and whom you let die. Lands of the Barbarian Kings is not a world of philosophy. But I want it to be a world that provides a good background from which to draw to come up with interesting stories that encourage difficult descisions. Nothing that forces itself into every story, but something that allows people who tell stories to make the descisions based on the world itself and not just entirely on the original characters. Not exactly what you would expect from a conanesque Points of Light setting. .
    My group has a similar setting going (bronze age technology, Howardian archaeology, etc.), and we've found a pretty good angle. Barbarians can expect to face nature and each other pretty regularly, and spirits and magic are par for the PC's course, of course (and no one should balk at this course, of course), bu twhat really define's the barbarian's place is when he goes up against civilization. To that end, we have a young empire (think Messipotamia). This gives us a bronze age civilization with power, privelage , and corruption galore!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Building the Barbarian Library

    A world only comes to live through the story that take place in it. But comming up with good stories is hard, so it's a lot more effective to salvage plots from other places. For the Lands of the Barbarian Kings, stories need to be about actions and not peoples minds, as it is primarily intended for RPGs, and they also need to not be about preventing the end of the world/universe/kingdom, because I want the setting to be explicitly not about this, because it makes the individuals rather exchangeable.
    I want to compile a list of stories, that would work very well in the Barbarian Lands, just by switching out the people and places. If you have any suggestions, please contribute.

    Raiders of the Lost Arc: Prevent a bad person to get his hands on a magic artifact that helps him doing more evil than he already does.
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Prevent a bad person to get his hands on a magic artifact that helps him doing more evil than he already does.
    Princess Mononoke: Stop whatever is causing spirits to turn into monsters.
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: It's complicated.
    The Seven Samurai: Defend a village against a large gang of bandits.
    Conan, the Barbarian: Find the warlord who destroyed the village and kill him.
    The City of Dreaming Books: A mysterious work of art leads to the search for the artist, whose trail leads to a strange city of exotic sites and eventually ancient catacombs, while apparently helpful locals try to sabotage the effort.
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (comic): Escape from your masters who killed all their students and want to get you as well, while also finding proof that you are not the murderer.
    The Witcher: Get back the magic items stolen by a sorcerer, that can be used to create monsters for an army.
    Icewind Dale: Det out to investigate what is threatening a remote village during a harsh winter.
    Dragon Age - Broken Circle: Find out what killed the mages of a tower and stop it before it breaks out into the outside world.
    Dragon Age - Nature of the Beast: Kill the creature that sends monster attacking locals (and discover why it does it).
    Dragon Age - A Paragon of her Kind: Find a missing noble who can end the dispute for the kingdoms crown.
    Dragon Age - The Urn of Sacred Ashes: Search for a lost artifact to save a dying lord (which happens to be be in the possession of a dangerous cult).
    Mirror's Edge: An outlaws sister gets framed for the murder of a politican and needs her innocence proven, while someone is hunting down the outlaw gang.
    Bad Company: A group of soldiers deserts and tries to steal a treasure from the dictator their army is about to defeat.
    There's a distinct lack of Utawarerumono on this list. The story goes from open rebellion against corrupt emperors to clashes between countries on army scale, with small strike forces being used to attack against key points and lynch pins in the defenses and offenses. At least till the later part, when
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    it's revealed the world is actually a post-apocalyptic Earth and one of the major countries uses a gift of their god, which happens to be a fleet of mecha
    but otherwise the series and game fit rather well with the ideas I think the LotBK is pursuing. The game emphasizes the strike forces part a bit more, so they can exercise the SRPG side of things, especially the PS2 version. I'd take a look, every time I watch/play the series, it makes me want to make PF characters of the main characters, which for the most part fall within LotBK class spread, as magic is limited for the most part to one country/race, who work mostly as arbiters and priests, as opposed to Tippyverse type forces.
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    Crunchy-Time!

    Unfortunately, not what you expect.
    The last days I've done some playing around with the rules of the Dragon Age system, which is really very simple with few rules and not that many options for character customization,
    Which is the reason you can make a DARPG conversion for Lands of the Barbarian Kings in one afternoon. As you may not know the system, here's the basics:

    Characters are mostly defined by 8 primary Ability scores:
    Spoiler
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    Communication
    Constitution
    Cunning
    Dexterity
    Magic
    Perception
    Strength
    Willpower


    Which are all pretty self explaining. They are not only a characters skills, but also defenses. Someone pushes you, you make a Strength roll to resist falling over. Someone distracts you, you make a Willpower roll to not be distracted. Simple.
    Starting characters have ability scores from -3 to 4 and for everything you roll 3d6 plus the ability score. At every level you can raise one ability score by one.
    In addition, you can take a focus for an ability, like Strength (Axes), Dexterity (Stealth), or Communication (Persuasion). When you do something that falls under one of your Focuses, you get a +2 to your roll. Again, you gain one new focus at each level.

    And that pretty much is it. No attack bonuses, no saving throws, no skill ranks. There are also Talents, which work a bit like feats and each have three degrees, which work like three feat feat chains. But those don't matter right now.


    A character also has one of three classes (warrior, rogue, mage) and a background. There is no race but in some cases the backgrounds can be different for different races that can take the background.
    I've come up with backgrounds for LBK characters, which is the majority of what I actually have to present here. Classes, equipment, and spells really don't need any adjustment at all.

    Spoiler
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    Here is how it works: First you generate your ability scores by rolling 3d6 and using a conversion chart, or you simply take 10 points and distribute them among the 8 ability scores. That's slightly lover than the average total, but more controlable and what I would do.
    Then your background provides you with a +1 bonus to one ability score and you chose one from two Focuses offered by the background.
    Next you roll three times on the background table, or you pick three items, with ability increases counting double.

    Because how the math works, the 7-8 item has a 30% chance, followed by 3-4, 6 and 10-11 with 14%, then 5 and 9 with 11% and 2 and 12 with 3%.

    To spare you the cross-checking: Yes, each background consists of some aquired items and a few racial items. Which are:
    Elf: +1 Dexterity, Perception (Seeing), Perception (Hearing)
    Gnome: +1 Constitution, Constitution (Stamina), Dexterity (Crafting)
    Human: +1 Cunning, Communication (Persuasion), Perception (Empathy)
    Kaas: +1 Strength, Strength (Climbing), Strength (Jumping)
    Lizardfolk: +1 Strength, Willpower (Self-Discipline)
    Unless that would make an item appear twice, then it's replaced with something else.
    Half-elf characters can pick from either the human or the elf column from their background and mix as desired.

    Highborn
    Highborn are the noble castes of the elves, gnomes, and lizardfolk.

    • +1 Cunning
    • Communication (Leadership) or Cunning (Cultural Lore).


    {table=head]2d6 Roll | Elf Benefit | Gnome Benefit | Lizardfolk Benefit
    2 | +1 Communication | +1 Communication | +1 Communication
    3-4 | Perception (Seeing) | Constitution (Stmina) | Willpower (Self-Discipline)
    5 | Perception (Hearing) | Dexterity (Crafting) |
    6 | Dexterity (Bows) | |
    7-8 | +1 Dexterity | +1 Constitution | +1 Strength
    9 | Communication (Deception) | Communication (Deception) | Communication (Deception)
    10-11 | Communication (Persuasion) | Communication (Persuasion) | Communication (Persuasion)
    12 | +1 Willpower | +1 Willpower | +1 Willpower[/table]

    Clansman
    Clansmen are the caste of warrior and wealthy landowners.
    • +1 Willpower
    • Constitution (Stamina) or Willpower (Courage).


    {table=head]2d6 Roll | Elf Benefit | Human Benefit | Kaas Benefit | Lizardfolk Benefit
    2 | +1 Constitution | +1 Constitution | +1 Constitution | +1 Constitution
    3-4 | Perception (Seeing) | Communication (Persuasion) | Strength (Climbing) | Willpower (Self-Discipline)
    5 | Perception (Hearing) | Perception (Empathy) | Strength (Jumping) |
    6 | Dexterity (Bows) | | |
    7-8 | +1 Dexterity | +1 Cunning | +1 Strength | +1 Strength
    9 | | | |
    10-11 | Strength (Might) | Strength (Might) | Strength (Might) | Strength (Might)
    12 | +1 Perception | +1 Perception | +1 Perception | +1 Perception[/table]

    Freeman
    Freeman are commonly farmers, craftsmen, and sometimes guards or mercenaries.
    • +1 Communication
    • Communication (Persuasion) or Perception (Empathy).


    {table=head]2d6 Roll | Elf Benefit | Gnome Benefit | Human Benefit
    2 | +1 Perception | +1 Perception | +1 Perception
    3-4 | Perception (Seeing) | Constitution (Stmina) | -
    5 | Perception (Hearing) | Dexterity (Crafting) | -
    6 | Dexterity (Bows) | |
    7-8 | +1 Dexterity | +1 Constitution | +1 Cunning
    9 | | |
    10-11 | Communication (Bargaining) | Communication (Bargaining) | Communication (Bargaining)
    12 | +1 Willpower | +1 Willpower | +1 Willpower[/table]

    Lowborn
    The lowborn are poor freemen, slaves, and outcasts.
    • +1 Perception.
    • Dexterity (Crafting) or Perception (Hearing).


    {table=head]2d6 Roll | Gnome Benefit | Human Benefit | Kaas Benefit | Lizardfolk Benefit
    2 | +1 Communication | +1 Communication | +1 Communication | +1 Communication
    3-4 | Constitution (Stmina) | Communication (Persuasion) | Strength (Climbing) | Willpower (Self-Discipline)
    5 | - | Perception (Empathy) | Strength (Jumping) |
    6 | | | Willpower (Courage) |
    7-8 | +1 Constitution | +1 Cunning | +1 Strength | +1 Strength
    9 | Communication (Animal Hand.) | Communication (Animal Hand.) | Communication (Animal Hand.) | Communication (Animal Hand.)
    10-11 | Dexterity (Stealth) | Dexterity (Stealth) | Dexterity (Stealth) | Dexterity (Stealth)
    12 | +1 Dexterity | +1 Dexterity | +1 Dexterity | +1 Dexterity[/table]

    Wilder
    Wilders are the true barbarians, savages that live in the wilderness.
    • +1 Constitution
    • Constitution (Stamina) or Perception (Tracking).


    {table=head]2d6 Roll | Elf Benefit | Human Benefit | Kaas Benefit | Lizardfolk Benefit
    2 | +1 Perception | +1 Perception | +1 Perception | +1 Perception
    3-4 | Perception (Seeing) | Communication (Persuasion) | Strength (Climbing) | Willpower (Self-Discipline)
    5 | Perception (Hearing) | Perception (Empathy) | Strength (Jumping) |
    6 | Dexterity (Bows) | | Willpower (Courage) |
    7-8 | +1 Dexterity | +1 Cunning | +1 Strength | +1 Strength
    9 | Cunning (Natural Lore) | Cunning (Natural Lore) | Cunning (Natural Lore) | Cunning (Natural Lore)
    10-11 | Constitution (Running) | Constitution (Running) | Constitution (Running) | Constitution (Running)
    12 | +1 Willpower | +1 Willpower | +1 Willpower | +1 Willpower[/table]

    Hermit
    Hermits are individuals who have removed themselves from the clan society to pursue a spiritual goal. This includes many witches and people who were raised in monastic orders.
    • +1 Willpower
    • Communication (Persuasion) or Willpower (Self-Discipline).


    {table=head]2d6 Roll | Elf Benefit | Human Benefit | Kaas Benefit
    2 | +1 Communication | +1 Communication | +1 Communication
    3-4 | Perception (Seeing) | - | Strength (Climbing)
    5 | Perception (Hearing) | Perception (Empathy) | Strength (Jumping)
    6 | Dexterity (Bows) | | Willpower (Courage)
    7-8 | +1 Dexterity | +1 Cunning | +1 Strength
    9 | | |
    10-11 | | |
    12 | +1 Magic | +1 Magic | +1 Magic[/table]

    Ass you can see, there are still many slots left open and need to be filled. Which is why I am asking you for suggestions. Here's the list of all focuses. If you think something's really needed, it may also be added as a focus.
    Spoiler
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    Communication Focuses: Animal Handling, Bargaining, Deception, Disguise, Etiquette, Gambling, Investigation, Leadership, Performance, Persuasion, Seduction.
    Constitution Focuses: Drinking, Rowing, Running, Stamina, Swimming.
    Cunning Focuses: Alchemy, Arcane Lore, Cartography, Cultural Lore, Engineering, Evaluation, Healing, Historical Lore, Military Lore, Natural Lore, Navigation, Poison Lore, Religious Lore, Research, Writing.
    Dexterity Focuses: Acrobatics, Bows, Brawling, Crafting, Initiative, Legerdemain, Light Blades, Lock Picking, Riding, Slings, Staves, Stealth, Traps.
    Magic Focuses: Arcane Lance, Blood, Creation, Entropy, Primal, Shadow, Spirit.
    Perception Focuses: Empathy, Hearing, Searching, Seeing, Smelling, Tracking.
    Strength Focuses: Axes, Bludgeons, Climbing, Driving, Heavy Blades, Intimidation, Jumping, Might, Spears.
    Willpower Focuses: Courage, Faith, Self-Discipline.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-03-23 at 01:16 PM.
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  25. - Top - End - #325
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cieyrin View Post
    There's a distinct lack of Utawarerumono on this list. The story goes from open rebellion against corrupt emperors to clashes between countries on army scale, with small strike forces being used to attack against key points and lynch pins in the defenses and offenses. At least till the later part, when
    Spoiler
    Show
    it's revealed the world is actually a post-apocalyptic Earth and one of the major countries uses a gift of their god, which happens to be a fleet of mecha
    but otherwise the series and game fit rather well with the ideas I think the LotBK is pursuing. The game emphasizes the strike forces part a bit more, so they can exercise the SRPG side of things, especially the PS2 version. I'd take a look, every time I watch/play the series, it makes me want to make PF characters of the main characters, which for the most part fall within LotBK class spread, as magic is limited for the most part to one country/race, who work mostly as arbiters and priests, as opposed to Tippyverse type forces.
    From looking at pictures and reading descriptions, I wouldn't have expected that.

    It appears to be a multimedia franchise. What thing would you say I should give a try?
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-03-23 at 05:57 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    From looking at pictures and reading descriptions, I wouldn't have expected that.

    It appears to be a multimedia franchise. What thing would you say I should give a try?
    The anime is probably the easiest to access, as the games never managed to officially leave Japan. There is a fairly nice fan patch that translate the PC version into English, though, which I enjoy though it's starting to age pretty bad, mostly in that modern hardware makes it run too fast. It's definitely possible to slow it to a playable state, it just takes a bit of effort.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Anime is fine for me.

    This looks quite interesting
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    Even though 50% less eyes would have been an improvement.

    But first Seirei no Moribito has a higher priority.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Seirei looks very Warring States era from those pictures, which is probably the time of Japanese history that some of their best stories come from.

    As for the tiger, that'd be Mukuru, the pet magical beast with an armored hide, progeny of a guardian of the local woods. He plays far less of a role in the anime than the game, though. The raptors, called woptars in-universe, are the replacement for horses and serve well as beasts of burden and for cavalry units.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Moribito also appears to have lots of spears.

    Never can't have too many spears! *stab stab*

    In other news: I'll get tested for ADD next week. Maybe this will lead to a more steadier and consistent rate of new updates once I don't get distracted every 5 minutes anymore.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    That last picture. Are those garbage bin lids?
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