The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed - Coming in December and available for pre-order now
Page 13 of 13 FirstFirst ... 345678910111213
Results 361 to 386 of 386
  1. - Top - End - #361
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Dixie
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Glad to see this project's still alive. I've been watching for a while but haven't posted--I like the theme and the general level of realism that's going into this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    E: And then on top of that I need to find of create a system that actually works for what I want. So far, I've found no extant system that really hits all the buttons and avoids all the no-go elements.
    I can't remember the exact systems that you've had suggested or all of the things you're trying to avoid, but have you looked at WEG's d6 system? Skill based system, no scaling HP (the wound system is pretty quick and reasonably realistic--at least more so than HP), and generic enough that you can build to the setting. Special abilities give the option for particular PC power options but their availability can be tailored, and the magic system is generic enough you can build in the restrictions you want. And best part is the core books are free at the above link.

    Apologies if I'm just repeating a plug for something you've already considered or has obvious elements you're trying to avoid, but I didn't see mention of it when I re-skimmed the thread and it didn't seem too far off the mark for what you're looking for.
    A worldbuilding project, still work in progress: Reign of the Corven

  2. - Top - End - #362
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Hoosigander's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2015

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Part of the problem I'm having is finding research sources that aren't pop-history pablum, and yet aren't written by academics for academics who seem at least as interested in learning to in turn write for other academics. I'm serious about the subject matter, and deeply curious, but I am not and never will be an academic.

    Askhistorians has a list of recommendations for books ancient Near Eastern history, many of them seem intended for a broader audience. I hope this is helpful.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistoria...ient_near_east
    Even the wise cannot see all ends. -J.R.R. Tolkien
    Don't destroy it! That alter to Lamashtu, Demon Queen and Mother of Monsters, is historically significant!

  3. - Top - End - #363
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoosigander View Post
    Askhistorians has a list of recommendations for books ancient Near Eastern history, many of them seem intended for a broader audience. I hope this is helpful.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistoria...ient_near_east
    Thank you. I've ordered a few of their recommendations that looked right, and frankly it's a bit of a slog. Part of the problem is that a lot of what I want to know is swamped... the history is buried in historiography, the beliefs and practice of the religions are buried in comparative religion jargon, the daily lives and food and family structures are buried in "we found the following potsherds in locations X, Y, and F..."
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  4. - Top - End - #364
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    Glad to see this project's still alive. I've been watching for a while but haven't posted--I like the theme and the general level of realism that's going into this.



    I can't remember the exact systems that you've had suggested or all of the things you're trying to avoid, but have you looked at WEG's d6 system? Skill based system, no scaling HP (the wound system is pretty quick and reasonably realistic--at least more so than HP), and generic enough that you can build to the setting. Special abilities give the option for particular PC power options but their availability can be tailored, and the magic system is generic enough you can build in the restrictions you want. And best part is the core books are free at the above link.

    Apologies if I'm just repeating a plug for something you've already considered or has obvious elements you're trying to avoid, but I didn't see mention of it when I re-skimmed the thread and it didn't seem too far off the mark for what you're looking for.
    I loved WEG d6 Star Wars, but I'm leery of big die pool resolution rolls for this project, and I'm not sure how I'd fit in some aspects of the combat that feel important to the setting (active use of shields in combat, etc) and the magic.


    Project is not going to die, even if it ends up quiet sometimes because of life interfering.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-12 at 11:05 AM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  5. - Top - End - #365
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    System aside:

    What I'm roughly looking for is something with a fixed number of dice for resolution for a known curve, something like 3d6, or 2d12, depending on what curve works best. Instead of DCs/TNs going up and down, I think I like something resembling HERO's fixed skills (rolls are "9 or less" or "12 or less" or whatever) better, with modifiers applied when necessary. Using HERO directly would be hard because of the Speed/Segments/Phases system (not fluid enough), and the compressed range of stats for non-superhuman characters. So the scale for "normal to heroic" characters would need to be stretched, and I'd prefer something like an "action point" system (so something like each "turn" a character has X number of action points, and different actions with different weapons or otherwise take different numbers of APs from that pool, until everyone is out for the "turn").

    In general, dissociated mechanics need not apply. "1 per day" or "once between rests" abilities are right out. No vancian spellcasting. No classes. No levels. No high-scaling hit points that represent this, that, all of it, or none of it, depending on what's being "explained" at that moment.

    In general, narrative rules need not apply. A little metacurrency to smooth out odd occurrences and insulate against strange failures isn't a bad thing, but something FFG's Star Wars is a total non-starter.

    Resolution should be attempt/task based, NOT conflict based. This doesn't mean that all rolls are succeed/fail, it can also be "how long did it take you" or "how well did you do", but each resolution (each roll) needs to result from and resolve the outcome of an attempted action or task, not from a "conflict". What does that mean? If the character is trying to open a safe because he wants some documents that he thinks are inside it... the documents are either in the safe, or they're not -- I don't care how well the player rolled if the documents were never there to begin with. The character is trying to be quiet to sneak past the guards or to con the guards, then his opponent on those rolls would be the guards... if there's a wall to climb, then the wall is the "opponent" -- that his larger "conflict" is with "the lord of the fortress" is meaningless to that task.

    I want combat to be, overall, active vs active. If one character attacks with a sword, and the other tries to block the attack with their shield, both should roll.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  6. - Top - End - #366
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Post Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Sample of the research...

    Medimnos -- ancient measure of dry volume, typically noted as being 50 to 60 liters equivalent. Estimated as 40kg of wheat or 31kg of barley. There were several smaller units expressed generally as fractions of a medimnos

    So, to make it a bit easier to mentally picture, I went with the following:

    Medimnos 60 liters
    Tritaios
    1/3 medimnos 20 liters
    Hekteus
    1/6 medimnos 10 liters
    Hemiektos
    1/12 medimnos 5 liters
    Choiniv
    1/48 medimnos 1.25 liters
    Kotyle
    1/240 medimnos 0.25 liters


    Silphium -- Medicinal plant. Depending on the preparation, it can be used to treat respiratory maladies, eye troubles, and other ailments (disorders and diseases of the "wet surface tissues"). Also a critical component in contraceptive concoctions. Silphium is sensitive to soil and weather conditions, and grows poorly in mass cultivation, and there are constant worries about the demand wiping the plant out.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-31 at 11:09 AM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  7. - Top - End - #367
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Working on one of the older colonies, and as usual getting any kind of solid population estimates for IRL colonies to inform my numbers is proving an exercise in frustration.

    The place is called Anabasis, upriver and thus inland, to the north of most of the cities already discussed.

    Colony was founded by colonists and soldiers from Atavgea. The founder was a general (risen from common origins) who was exiled while on campaign because the aristocrats of the city considered his ascendance an affront to the power of their bloodlines. They consulted an Oracle at the time and the response was "A warrior will die and be buried in a far away foreign land". The fact that the general's tomb was built at the center of the city he founded with those troops who stayed loyal to him fulfilled the prophecy, though not in the way the aristocrats "back home" were thinking.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-15 at 02:45 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  8. - Top - End - #368
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    I have not abandoned this, just working slowly.

    The last two weeks have featured multiple 12-hour work days, including a Saturday, a visit from my parents, a friend in need of some help, and a kitchen fire that was minor but easily could have been total disaster if my cat hadn't freaked out about the smoke and come tearing into the office at the far end of my place, meowing bloody murder and running in circles.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  9. - Top - End - #369
    Sheriff in the Playground Administrator
     
    Roland St. Jude's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Sheriff: Moved to World Building where you're free to revive it. Do give a wide berth to real world politics and religion as you continue this discussion, though. There are at least some passing references (including in the OP) that should be removed/avoided.
    Forum Rules

    Roland in the Dark by Djinn in Tonic

  10. - Top - End - #370
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Working on this again, finally. Figure I'm betting putting my mental energy into this, rather than into frustration with other gaming things.

    Monsters... I'm thinking it should be a combination of real-world extinct mega-fauna (seriously, cave lions were almost 6 feet tall at the top of the head, that's a "monster" from real life), and creatures from Greek myth and legend carefully adapted to work in a plausible ecosystem.


    (Also, thanks to the mods for the move to the Worldbuilding subforum.)


    Edit -- just saw red post above this, concurrent posting. I'll take a look at it the OP as soon as I can today.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-02-25 at 12:48 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  11. - Top - End - #371
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Cavalry in 3.000BC? Many researchers still argue whether or not the horse was really domesticated at this point....

    There are many indications of Horses at that time, true, but they have butcher marks and no or little (skeletal) evidence of being used for riding or pulling stuff. General use as meat-animal is more likely.

    It is true that there are relative recent suggestions that the Boltai used horses for riding as early as 3.500BC (though thier main evidence is for a. milking, and b. meat production), but the people I meet an conferences etc (both people working with bones and people working with DNA), hold a more conservative view of riding OR charioting beginning at around 2.500BC-2000BC (depending on researcher).

    Cavalry (as in horse borne warriors) on the other hand is generally believed to appear around 1.000BC (as you also note).
    Sumer used donkey-pulled chariots before the introduction of the horse, there is a stele where a minister implores a king to restore the cities dignity by going back to donkeys.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

  12. - Top - End - #372
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Have you considered the GURPS Low Tech line of pdfs from Steve Jackson Games?

    While supplements for GURPS, there's a lot of real world info there that's system agnostic.

  13. - Top - End - #373
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
    Have you considered the GURPS Low Tech line of pdfs from Steve Jackson Games?

    While supplements for GURPS, there's a lot of real world info there that's system agnostic.
    Thanks.

    I did track down a copy of GURPS Greece that's been a very good source of research seeds.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  14. - Top - End - #374
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Thanks.

    I did track down a copy of GURPS Greece that's been a very good source of research seeds.
    Here's the link I forgot to add. Digital only, Warehouse 23:
    http://www.warehouse23.com/products?...words=low+tech

    It includes some Pyramid issues as well.

  15. - Top - End - #375
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
    Here's the link I forgot to add. Digital only, Warehouse 23:
    http://www.warehouse23.com/products?...words=low+tech

    It includes some Pyramid issues as well.
    Are those pretty heavy on setting / information, similar to how GURPS Greece leans towards that vs system info?
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  16. - Top - End - #376
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Are those pretty heavy on setting / information, similar to how GURPS Greece leans towards that vs system info?
    I don't own any Low Tech specifically, so I can't comment on them.

    But based on my other GURPS books, there will be plenty of system agnostic information. GURPS supplements are known for their research, sometimes even approaching being reference material themselves (forex: GURPS Dinosaurs).

    You can head on over to forums.sjgames.com for GURPS users' reviews.

  17. - Top - End - #377
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    On the Anzillu (the old gods) and the Kataru, from another thread.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    First off, I tend to think of gods as being less like unstoppable forces of nature and more like being kings run through a metaphor machine backwards. They have immense, overwhelming power, but only because their servants give it to them. God, church, and congregation are in a big symbiotic relationship, and any one without the others would suffer. This doesn't mean they're not "a meaningful element of the setting," of course, any more than kings aren't meaningful just because they die. (Not directly relevant to the discussion, but still an interesting point.)

    Second, worship doesn't have to be about getting more supernatural powers. It could be about gaining influence in the world, or some kind of legitimacy or prestige, or simply feeding one's ego. (Of course, when you're as powerful as Orcus is, even getting more power is probably about feeding one's ego as much as anything else.)

    Finally...if feeding on souls gives you power, and being worshipped gives you power, wouldn't an archdemon who gained worship (or a god who ate souls) be even more powerful? Even if Orcus and Vecna were on the same level, if Orcus could get on a high higher level by securing a congregation while still eating souls, that would be plenty of motivation to do so.
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    One of my settings has both, depending on when in the timeline you're looking.

    The current deities are post-apotheosis mortals who in part rely on the belief of mortals (just belief will do -- it's enough that people tell the stories and their legends continue and knowledge of them is passed on, they can even argue over which stories are true, etc... offerings and devotions are an added benefit) to maintain their status as actual deities.

    The ancient deities they overthrew and locked away were effectively the multiple "souls" of reality itself, older than the form of reality that mortals know and understand, which is why they can't be destroyed, only contained. They can't be destroyed any more than gravity, or mass, or light, or entropy. And beyond a sort of morbid fascination, they largely didn't care about mortals any more than gravity or entropy would, and they don't inherently understand mortal concerns or limitations. To them, being worshiped was a game or a tool or an annoyance or whatever, depending on which one, but on a base level it mattered to them no more than it matters to the Planck constant or a hurricane or 679nm light.
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    So, some themes from the Cthulhu Mythos crossed with the cyclic-pantheon-overturning of classical mythology and a bit of man overcoming the "natural" order of things? Nice.
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Thanks.

    Throw in a little "space rock" (King Crimson, Monster Magnet, etc) for flavor, too.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  18. - Top - End - #378
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    Apr 2019

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    I'm an enormous fan of settings that don't fall into the generic late medieval period that most tend to, if only for the much needed sense of variety. I'll be watching this thread with interest.

  19. - Top - End - #379
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Hey Max,

    Your inbox is full and I couldn't send a response, and it took me a bit to find this thread again because it passed out of listed pages (because inactive for more than 100 days).

    Placeholder post a longer pertinent response , unless we've crossed the point of necromancy. In which case, oops sorry.
    Last edited by Yanagi; 2019-07-30 at 09:27 PM.

  20. - Top - End - #380
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Yanagi View Post
    Hey Max,

    Your inbox is full and I couldn't send a response, and it took me a bit to find this thread again because it passed out of listed pages (because inactive for more than 100 days).

    Placeholder post a longer pertinent response , unless we've crossed the point of necromancy. In which case, oops sorry.
    As I understand the rule, because I directly asked you to comment and we're in the worldbuilding forum on my thread, there's no necro.

    Sorry I can't keep up with my inbox, I'll make another "saving to file" and "cleaning messages" pass tomorrow.

    10 hours a day for work, plus an hour round trip commute, plus various other stuff, has kept me from doing more than "doodling" on my settings.

    So thank you in advance, I need the jumpstart.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-07-30 at 10:50 PM.

  21. - Top - End - #381
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Jamand stood on the prow of his barge feeling the drumbeat and the surge of the vessel as the oarsmen stroked in time. He ignored the occasional snap of the lash and cry that motivated the slaves; Baq was a competent overseer who needed no supervision. His concern was with the course ahead.

    Many barges plied the waters between the Six Cities, and this attracted those who would prey on them. Ahead the shortcut between Baktuu and the rest of the Hundred Islands would be an attractive place for them to hide. And if none awaited them, it would be an attractive place to beach for the night and refill the drinking water jars.

    The headland looked strange... Altered. Perhaps a cliff had collapsed?

    No, there was a new, tiny island there with a curiously flat top. On the rocks at its feet a herd of hippocampi clustered around a large roan stallion, and when he dove from the rocks the rest of the herd followed.

    Such creatures were shy of men. If they fled the approach of the barge there were unlikely to be pirates around. But there was the new island, and it tickled his curiosity.

    The rocks were a deterrent; the barge would be smashed on them by the waves which appeared gentle out here, but which would prove devastating close to shore.

    As they came alongside the tiny island a sandy strand appeared, hidden behind the island's bulk. Jamand signalled and his starman whistled. The barge turned toward the strand.

    It slowed as it approached the strand, and beneath the barge Jamand could see the jagged black rocks against the white sand. Somehow Maen knew which to avoid and which the barge could float over. He never asked how, but after ten years he had learned to trust his starman. The barge beached with a bump and scrape.

    The captain of the mercenaries came up onto the half-deck of the barge and looked around.

    "Lord Trader?" he asked.

    "Curiosity, Captain."

    "I'll assign a squad..."

    "No need, Captain. I won't be longer than half an hour, and as you can see the island is barren."

    The mercenary's face showed what he thought of that idea, but he said nothing as he dropped back down.

    Maen came forward along the catwalk and stopped at Jamand's shoulder.

    "You going then?"

    jamand nodded.

    Without another word the bald man rolled a stiff coil of rope over the side. Jamand went down like the seasoned sailor he was.

    The water that went almost to his knees was cool, yet warm at the same time. It would be perfect for a swim, though the thought would terrify his crew, none of whom could swim well enough to avoid drowning.

    The strand lead to a sandy trail through jagged black rocks leading up to the flat peak. Jamand followed it.

    Tiny green crabs scurried out of his path as black-headed gulls glided overhead screaching loud enough to be heard over the crashing waves. The trail was smooth and gently sloped as it twisted through the sharp stones to the top.

    The peak, when he arrived, was so perfectly flat that it had the appearance of unnaturally still water. All around the peak the edges were broken, but all of the stones were flat and of the same height as the central plaza.

    Jamand slowly stepped onto the edge of the smooth surface, and realized his mistake even before he saw the pattern of swirls in the stone.

    He ran back down the trail, ignoring the pain of the sharp black stones as they sliced his sandalled feet. The island shook with a roaring, grinding sound that was painful to his ears.

    Then the land fell from beneath his bloody feet.

    A wave of white foam roared across the former island and slammed into him. The churning chaos resolved into a swirl of bubbles which hung suspended around him, within which the blood from his feet made a smaller red swirl.

    A shadow knifed through the water toward him then, and he felt himself being dragged. He resigned himself to the God of the Waves.

    Then his head broke the surface and he choked as he gasped for air. And something slid on his shoulder!

    He grabbed the serpentine form and realized it was a rope, still dangling from the prow of the barge.

    Hand over hand he climbed, finally feeling the pain of his tortured feet, until a hand grabbed him and hauled him to the deck.

    "What did you do?" asked Maen.

    "Holy place... Your god..." Jamand choked. "You should have gone instead..."

    "The sea god chooses those whom he wishes to test."

    From the stern a call sounded: "Ship ahead to starboard!"

    "Pirates?" Maen asked.

    "It's the way to bet."

    Maen helped him to stand, his sandals leaving bloody tracks, then the starman was running aft along the catwalk to his starboard.

    Jamand looked toward the oncoming ship and thought, "The god of the seas has already tasted of my blood. Now he will taste yours!"
    Last edited by brian 333; 2019-07-31 at 10:29 PM.

  22. - Top - End - #382
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Okay, so I've been taxed in real life and its to the point where I'm not writing at all, so I'm going to cut the Gordian Knot and summarize.

    All of the Anzillu/Kataru lore is good unto itself, but the next steps I'd recommend are:

    (1) Integration of lore elements into a mythos.

    Right now, you've got a frame in need of a painting. The frame has Howardian--entire civilization age destroyed leaving only lingering odd remnants--and Lovecraftian--beings beyond comprehension nudging up against squishy humans--stylings but is built of classic myth elements like chaoskampf and a self-destroying creator.

    At some point, these elements need to actuate into proper stories. And in telling those stories you're going to find yourself inventing new details and complications that make the game world more interesting.

    (2) Create an order to the supernatural.

    So right now you're talking about the various beings-that-can-be-worshipped largely in terms of power when you should be talking in terms of their respective menus and how they interact with people and the world. Right now there's mention of spirits, small gods, big spirits that function like gods, boilerplate polytheist gods in a late Semitic mold (Kataru), and alien chaos demiurges that functioned as gods in the past but are now sealed (Anzillu).

    But what do they do? Both for supplicants and just under their own power?

    (3) Create a setting embedded understanding of "what a character would know" about any and all of this.

    Admittedly, I'm affected by lived experience with polytheism and animism, but...what is the "normal" level of interaction with the supernatural? Because people who live in a world of spirits have taxonomies and lexicons of "this is normal" and "this is strange" and "this is truly outside expectation and we need specialists" because the spirit world is not seen as exceptional or separate...it's just there and knowing what's going on is like knowing the weather; a good idea.

    On the other hand, 4th century is the world of Herodotus. There's travel and knowledge exchange but there's also speculation and rumor that inflates the farther you get from the speculator's home region. The stories about Persia--a place that's far away but there's a bunch of interaction with--at least sound feasible, but at the same time there's flying snakes in cinnamon groves and pygmies fighting storks.

    What I don't get from provided material is any sense of what an Average Person would know about gods, the supernatural, etc...and in turn, how the supernatural would impact player and nonplayer characters. Given that a thing you've emphasized repeatedly is how there's remnants of a strange, product-of-Anzillu-whim world civilization (including magic cities and maybe some of the non-humans), establishing "normal weird" versus "weird weird" is kind of important.

    Which makes me circle back around to story-telling as opposing to worldbuilding. The supernatural has bones, now it needs muscles and skin.

  23. - Top - End - #383
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Yanagi View Post
    Okay, so I've been taxed in real life and its to the point where I'm not writing at all, so I'm going to cut the Gordian Knot and summarize.

    All of the Anzillu/Kataru lore is good unto itself, but the next steps I'd recommend are:

    (1) Integration of lore elements into a mythos.

    Right now, you've got a frame in need of a painting. The frame has Howardian--entire civilization age destroyed leaving only lingering odd remnants--and Lovecraftian--beings beyond comprehension nudging up against squishy humans--stylings but is built of classic myth elements like chaoskampf and a self-destroying creator.

    At some point, these elements need to actuate into proper stories. And in telling those stories you're going to find yourself inventing new details and complications that make the game world more interesting.
    I struggle a bit with creating myth, as opposed to detailed "setting facts"... myth and ritual are largely foreign to how my brain works... so for me it's always a somewhat artificial-feeling construct. I think my best attempt so far was probably in another thread here unrelated to this setting, which was just written free-form without any thought to the underlying "facts" of a setting first.


    Quote Originally Posted by Yanagi View Post
    (2) Create an order to the supernatural.

    So right now you're talking about the various beings-that-can-be-worshipped largely in terms of power when you should be talking in terms of their respective menus and how they interact with people and the world. Right now there's mention of spirits, small gods, big spirits that function like gods, boilerplate polytheist gods in a late Semitic mold (Kataru), and alien chaos demiurges that functioned as gods in the past but are now sealed (Anzillu).

    But what do they do? Both for supplicants and just under their own power?
    If the Kataru come across as on the border between time periods, then at least I got that right. I do think the "ascended mortals" aspect isn't as common, though it's not known to the mortals living in the setting today beyond a bare few (more on that later).

    What the active spirits and various "tiers" of gods do for mortals is largely in the form of enhancements and protections and blessings... their magic is rarely overt or flashy or spectacular.

    Short version, the various entities are somewhat specialists, in that if you want to cast a protection ritual for your family, you contact an ancestor spirit or a lares, if you're blessing your forge you contact an ancestor or hero associated with great forge work and probably the goddess of the forge herself, if you're blessing the fields you contact an ancestor associated with farming and the fertility goddess and god, etc. Having an active ancestor spirit who is associated with a certain task is quite helpful, so this somewhat reinforces people staying within the traditional jobs their ancestors did.

    A great forge master might be favored by the goddess herself, or just that skilled on his own, or both... people accept that either/or could be true, but don't take chances. The forge master who is just that skilled probably still makes offerings and prayers lest they risk the displeasure of the goddess and ancestors and guild spirits for (real or perceived) hubris.


    Quote Originally Posted by Yanagi View Post
    (3) Create a setting embedded understanding of "what a character would know" about any and all of this.

    Admittedly, I'm affected by lived experience with polytheism and animism, but...what is the "normal" level of interaction with the supernatural? Because people who live in a world of spirits have taxonomies and lexicons of "this is normal" and "this is strange" and "this is truly outside expectation and we need specialists" because the spirit world is not seen as exceptional or separate...it's just there and knowing what's going on is like knowing the weather; a good idea.

    On the other hand, 4th century is the world of Herodotus. There's travel and knowledge exchange but there's also speculation and rumor that inflates the farther you get from the speculator's home region. The stories about Persia--a place that's far away but there's a bunch of interaction with--at least sound feasible, but at the same time there's flying snakes in cinnamon groves and pygmies fighting storks.

    What I don't get from provided material is any sense of what an Average Person would know about gods, the supernatural, etc...and in turn, how the supernatural would impact player and nonplayer characters. Given that a thing you've emphasized repeatedly is how there's remnants of a strange, product-of-Anzillu-whim world civilization (including magic cities and maybe some of the non-humans), establishing "normal weird" versus "weird weird" is kind of important.

    Which makes me circle back around to story-telling as opposing to worldbuilding. The supernatural has bones, now it needs muscles and skin.
    For starters... to get into somewhat spoilerish territory, the Kataru allow competing and conflicting stories and philosophies and beliefs about them to exist and flourish, and don't push a single truth, because it helps hide the truth, so long as these beliefs stick to a few core "facts". The mortals argue over details that don't matter to the Kataru, instead of digging into things that do.

    Those quote-unquote "facts" are that the Anzillu were interloper alien entities who destroyed whatever divine order came before, that the Kataru were the rightful divine heirs to that order, and that when the Kataru either destroyed or exiled the Anzillu they were restoring the proper rightful order of things. The Kataru fear what would happen if people no longer believed these stories, as they were part of the trick of their direct apotheosis and why they had to create hero cults around themselves before they could ascend -- they needed the people of that ancient time to believe they were the rightful heirs of lost gods, or the reincarnations of lost gods, or otherwise returned to claim their rightful place in the universe.

    So as some examples you get:

    Spoiler: a few of the Cults and Sects
    Show

    Encoders - adherents of the Ara Principle; strive for order and structure in all things, make and live by rules, pay attention to the smallest details; there is a right way and a wrong way for even the smallest task; order is holy and divine; especially revere Ebabarra and Kagal-eunir.

    Su Du Nam - the universe is a great clockwork, everything happens according to the turning of a multitude of perfectly interwoven gears and parts; especially revere Tabannusi and Kagal-eunir

    Revelers - “Nothing is forbidden to the gods, so to be like the gods, forbid yourself nothing.”; follow the "principles of lust", they can be heard chanting “Lalu lalu lalu!”; give special reverence to Wasu-harrani, Hurasamaltu, and to some extent Sharur

    Zahnu cult - believe there was a single great creator, a prime-mover, who brought the entire universe into being, and is now gone, with internal disagreement about whether this deity died of old age, was killed and eaten by the Anzillu, departed the universe, or met some other fate

    Divinists - a secret cult of pantheists; believe that all things are manifestations of a single unified divinity, they deny that the gods are unique or special, and assert that anyone can potentially become one with the divine -- they are considered a major heresy and efforts are made to suppress and purge their blasphemies.

    Tammites - a secret cult of ascetics, they teach that the physical world is base, wicked, and corrupt, while the spiritual world is pure and good. Considered a minor heresy, but a lesser threat and not worth purging, as they seldom have children and do not have popular appeal.


    And you have the mystery cults, such as the cult of the Great Shadow, who keep the secret that...

    Spoiler
    Show

    The Kataru were originally twelve, but the one most dedicated to War/Combat was killed during the entrapment of Avsu at the start, and another was killed during the final battle to imprison Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli. Pazzursetu is a gestalt entity who arose whole from the broken shards of both gods, to rule the underworld, to judge the dead, and protect them from the depradations of the countless dark spirits lurking beyond the borders of the living world.

    Of course, there's another secret within that secret, something terrible to the Kataru, that no mortal can ever know...
    Spoiler
    Show

    After the first Kataru was killed in battle, Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli gathered up his remains, and kept them safe. When the Kataru finally came for her deep in the underworld, she was able to hold them all off through power and guile and mastery of the dark forces of that realm... until one of the Kataru destroyed a mortal who had been dear to Kalesh. Leaving herself vulnerable to the other Kataru, she used all of her power in that instant to inflict death upon that Kataru and cram together both broken Kataru into a single entity condemned to guard the dead for eternity. The Kataru still do not understand why she did this, it still troubles them greatly, and they would act without hesitation to keep the secret.



    E: also, thank you for taking time to do this when you're busy.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-08-27 at 07:40 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  24. - Top - End - #384
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    E: also, thank you for taking time to do this when you're busy.
    It's not so much that I'm busy as that I've had a bunch of surprising events that I'm coping with the impact of. I've had a lot of days where I just don't have the bandwidth to be creative, and other days where that need to invent stuff just sort of detonates but is unfiltered and brusque.

    In the case of world-building, I have a hard time gauging how deep to go, and how to talk about big abstract concepts where I'm sometimes trying to invent language, because fantasy worlds just have implications that are hard to articulate. It's fun, but also very frustrating. I wish I could do more, but I really struggle with creative stuff.

  25. - Top - End - #385
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Yanagi View Post
    It's not so much that I'm busy as that I've had a bunch of surprising events that I'm coping with the impact of. I've had a lot of days where I just don't have the bandwidth to be creative, and other days where that need to invent stuff just sort of detonates but is unfiltered and brusque.

    In the case of world-building, I have a hard time gauging how deep to go, and how to talk about big abstract concepts where I'm sometimes trying to invent language, because fantasy worlds just have implications that are hard to articulate. It's fun, but also very frustrating. I wish I could do more, but I really struggle with creative stuff.
    A real world is nearly bottomless, and to me these worlds feel just real enough that wading in is like swimming at the top of something bottomless... I can't quite see what's in the endless down there, but I can feel it, going down and down forever, beyond my feet and beyond my sight.

    Between work, and trying to help a friend who's having some troubles, and whatnot, I've been lacking the mental energy that I'd like to be devoting to these projects, myself.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-08-27 at 07:39 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  26. - Top - End - #386
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Another secret / spoiler:

    Spoiler
    Show

    The great cosmological seals that Kalesh placed on reality to bind the dalkhu to her laws cannot hold forever, they are tied to the complex patterns of the stars, and will lapse when the cosmic sigil repeats in time.

    Will the Kataru realize this in time? Or will it fall to mortals to comprehend the coming doom? Will someone learn how to "refresh" the seals... or is the only hope for the world an unthinkable deal with the devil herself?
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •