Page 4 of 13 FirstFirst 12345678910111213 LastLast
Results 91 to 120 of 365
  1. - Top - End - #91
    Troll 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 Lacuna Caster View Post
    ...Shoot, go ahead. It all sounds very rich and textured, but I'm not certain I could comment in much depth without further specifics on what city-states map to which style of worship or political structure or economic base.

    What's the rough size of the global pantheon that you're aiming for? How many local/patron deities or spirits/ancestors per state?
    I finally filled in the rest of the abridged "secret history of the gods" here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/shows...3&postcount=73 It includes the currently-intended "global pantheon", although how global they are I'm still very much not set on. There's a conflict between the appeal of having "foreign lands and foreign gods", and the nature of their backstory. There's room for foreign local city gods and family "gods" either way, but strict adherence to that history would make the detailed pantheon unique.

    Sticking to the detailed pantheon at the moment, I have ten of them. They aren't split up quite like most "pop-mythology" or RPG pantheons are, both because I wanted to avoid the same pattern, and because it reflects their origin. They're ALL gods of war, so a separate "god of war" is incongruous. There's no "god of love" because "love" isn't a single thing and all the different types and ways and actions of love are split up between the ten listed. Etc. I am willing to entertain the suggestion that I missed something that leaves a giant hole, and that it's not covered by one of the ten, however.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    What's the spectrum of governance? Absolute monarchy to gerontocracy to merchant-princes to aristocrat-republics to holler-yourself-hoarse Athenian democracy?
    In the states themselves, the political structure will be as complicated as I can reasonably make it while still remaining functional. There's a lot of public works, flood control, fresh water supply, drainage, irrigation control, etc that need to be administered and maintained, so there's a place for a strong ruling figure and their extended family and a "loyal" administrative class; the temples are also strong; and there's likely an underlying elite/oligarchy made up of successful international traders, craft guilds, etc, who can't directly oppose the ruling nobility or the temples, but have resources to work against them behind the scenes of their interests not considered.

    Out beyond the states, in the marches and the wilds and the highlands and steppes further inland, most the social structure will be clans / tribal, think Keltic or pre-Christian Germanic or maybe Scythian.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    To what extent does magic get mixed up in manufacturing, medicine, entertainment or agriculture? (e.g, can you transmute lead to gold at economically viable rates? Are there spells to fight infection or provide anesthesia? Do the nobles use illusion in cosmetics or theatre? Does sacrificing infants to the Rain God actually net a good harvest?)

    EDIT: I guess my point would be that even relatively understated or high-cost magic could have a profound influence on the social fabric well before you enter the Tippyverse (or even Ebberon.)
    I don't think I can fit human sacrifice into the main civilization -- nature and ancestor spirits probably don't care, and I can't see the main pantheon approving of it, given their origin.

    There's no transmutation of the "lead into gold" sort. Refinement and forging of metals can be enhanced by appeasing and communing with the spirits in the metal and fire. Natural materials can be made more resilient, waterproofing is less of a mess, etc. Nothing that's overwhelming.

    There are alchemical and herbal concoctions, not quite potions, that help fight infections and kill pain and resist/survive diseases. There's fairly reliable birth control, and death in childbirth is less common as well*. Again, has to do with appeasing and communing with the spirits while create the concoctions.

    Illusions and mind-magic will be hard, and subtle, and rare, not the sort of thing that one throws around for cosmetics.



    * see "fudging the setting to be less gender-disparate for the sake of fun and other reasons" in earlier post
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-05 at 09:29 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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  2. - Top - End - #92
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lacuna Caster's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2014

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I finally filled in the rest of the abridged "secret history of the gods" here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/shows...3&postcount=73 It includes the currently-intended "global pantheon", although how global they are I'm still very much not set on. There's a conflict between the appeal of having "foreign lands and foreign gods", and the nature of their backstory. There's room for foreign local city gods and family "gods" either way, but strict adherence to that history would make the detailed pantheon unique.

    Sticking to the detailed pantheon at the moment, I have ten of them. They aren't split up quite like most "pop-mythology" or RPG pantheons are, both because I wanted to avoid the same pattern, and because it reflects their origin. They're ALL gods of war, so a separate "god of war" is incongruous. There's no "god of love" because "love" isn't a single thing and all the different types and ways and actions of love are split up between the ten listed. Etc. I am willing to entertain the suggestion that I missed something that leaves a giant hole, and that it's not covered by one of the ten, however.
    Very nice. I don't see any gaping holes per se... though I also don't see anything particularly ahistorical about having patron deities for love/war, given that 'deified heroes emerge after violent rebellion against the primordial titans' is a common theme in many ethnic mythologies. Up to yourself, though.

    I noticed the names of the major deities sound vaguely Sumerian, which I guess has a nicely antedeluvian ring to it. The Sumerians, Greeks, Aztecs, etc. all had a habit of selecting a patron deity for a given city-state, so it might be an idea to have some kind of political mapping there? Speaking of which-
    In the states themselves, the political structure will be as complicated as I can reasonably make it while still remaining functional. There's a lot of public works, flood control, fresh water supply, drainage, irrigation control, etc that need to be administered and maintained, so there's a place for a strong ruling figure and their extended family and a "loyal" administrative class; the temples are also strong; and there's likely an underlying elite/oligarchy made up of successful international traders, craft guilds, etc, who can't directly oppose the ruling nobility or the temples, but have resources to work against them behind the scenes of their interests not considered.

    Out beyond the states, in the marches and the wilds and the highlands and steppes further inland, most the social structure will be clans / tribal, think Keltic or pre-Christian Germanic or maybe Scythian.
    Yeah, I gathered that much from the previous post, but surely there's some variation in terms of which factions have the upper hand in which cities? e.g, where the traders and craft guilds are pulling the strings, or that verge on theocracy, or where fat eunuch-bureaucrats monopolise the civil service, etc.? (It would seem odd to exclude elective government entirely, since that cropped up to varying degrees in both India and the Mediterranean during the period.)

    (Of course, this is also when we see Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Legalism taking root. Maybe some of that would map to, e.g, the Zahnu/Divinists, Tammites and Su Du Nam? Which leads me to-)
    I don't think I can fit human sacrifice into the main civilization -- nature and ancestor spirits probably don't care, and I can't see the main pantheon approving of it, given their origin.
    Oh, come now- you're telling me the Dalkhu don't get the itch to tear out the still-beating hearts of virgins now and then? :P (Honestly, if I don't see at least one blood-stained pyramid rearing itself out of the sultry jungle, I'll be very disappointed. I know it's a different period/tech-level, but nothing says 'hydraulic despotism in karst terrain' to me quite like the mesoamericans.)

    I am a little curious as to why the 'practical magic' examples you gave all seem to rely on animism- do the Gods/Ancestors see bestowing powers of this sort as beneath them, and just stuck to pillars of fire and ghosts of christmas past? What sort of access to divine power would the clergy receive? Can the top brass, e.g, cure leprosy X times/week, or are they just especially literate faith-healers that dispense unguents and petition miracles?


    EDIT: I don't know if you've any exposure to Hero Wars/Hero Quest, but the rulebooks there (and Glorantha/RuneQuest in general) might have a few ideas you could borrow, particularly in terms of mapping geography to social structure to trade to magic to mythology and back again. Roughly the same tech-level and spread of religious diversity too, plus some addressing of gender topics.
    Last edited by Lacuna Caster; 2016-08-27 at 09:38 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #93
    Troll 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 Lacuna Caster View Post
    Very nice. I don't see any gaping holes per se... though I also don't see anything particularly ahistorical about having patron deities for love/war, given that 'deified heroes emerge after violent rebellion against the primordial titans' is a common theme in many ethnic mythologies. Up to yourself, though.
    It's not that I think they'd be ahistorical -- it's in part because they're on the list of "default deities in both real and fiction pantheons" that I'm tempted to leave them out, and do something a little different.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    I noticed the names of the major deities sound vaguely Sumerian, which I guess has a nicely antedeluvian ring to it.
    Good catch -- they're not just vaguely Sumerian / Akkadian, they're based on digging through online dictionaries and translations to find words that relate to the concept and "sound right". I wanted words that sounded very old and different, and evoked an "out of the fog of protohistory" feeling, but weren't just randomly cobbled syllables.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    The Sumerians, Greeks, Aztecs, etc. all had a habit of selecting a patron deity for a given city-state, so it might be an idea to have some kind of political mapping there? Speaking of which-

    Yeah, I gathered that much from the previous post, but surely there's some variation in terms of which factions have the upper hand in which cities? e.g, where the traders and craft guilds are pulling the strings, or that verge on theocracy, or where fat eunuch-bureaucrats monopolise the civil service, etc.? (It would seem odd to exclude elective government entirely, since that cropped up to varying degrees in both India and the Mediterranean during the period.)

    (Of course, this is also when we see Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Legalism taking root. Maybe some of that would map to, e.g, the Zahnu/Divinists, Tammites and Su Du Nam? Which leads me to-)
    I think that's the next big piece of the puzzle I'm going to have to work on -- the actual states and their governments. The idea of

    The current plan is to have a tier of "city gods" in addition to that main pantheon, rather than "assigning" patron deities to all the various cities. However, that doesn't preclude SOME cities from having a particular patron deity that they favor above others, based on their particular history or strength of priesthood or local phenomena.



    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Oh, come now- you're telling me the Dalkhu don't get the itch to tear out the still-beating hearts of virgins now and then? :P (Honestly, if I don't see at least one blood-stained pyramid rearing itself out of the sultry jungle, I'll be very disappointed. I know it's a different period/tech-level, but nothing says 'hydraulic despotism in karst terrain' to me quite like the mesoamericans.)
    Oh the Dalkhu-worshipping cults, certainly. I'm just having trouble fitting the concept into the broader overall religious practices. Perhaps only in times of great desperation, or associated with one special astronomical event, or something very specific based on a part of the "mythology" that I haven't written yet. That is, if it's included, it's not going to be of the "and on this day, we sent to the gods blood from 400 strong young men" variety. I simply can't help seeing routine human sacrifice as a sign of a broken culture, or should the gods actually be real... a sign that those gods should be shunned rather than venerated.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    I am a little curious as to why the 'practical magic' examples you gave all seem to rely on animism- do the Gods/Ancestors see bestowing powers of this sort as beneath them, and just stuck to pillars of fire and ghosts of christmas past? What sort of access to divine power would the clergy receive? Can the top brass, e.g, cure leprosy X times/week, or are they just especially literate faith-healers that dispense unguents and petition miracles?
    I was using the animism examples more as illustrations of where I want the limits for most magic to be, rather than setting out the only source. In the case of ancestor spirits, if there's an ancestor or "hero" renowned for being great at something, one might make a prayer or offering to that ancestor, along with to the approprate local or national deity, before undertaking that task one's self, and gain some benefit in the task if they approve (speaking of the culture and religion itself, not sure how I want to handle this system-wise -- it's one of those things that's easy to write as subtle and a matter of faith for fictional characters... and harder to incorporate into a game mechanically without turning it into "insert prayer, get prize").

    The Kataru do to some extent have an "entire world" to concern themselves with (the scale of their actual "mandate" is still a bit in flux), and there's no intent to make them omniscient or omnipotent so there's a limit to their attention and multitasking, so they're not going to answer every prayer with direct concrete immediate action.

    Plus, I honestly want to avoid the bog standard D&D cleric as a PC type. Most of the priesthood should be like the priests of our real world, not a collection of spellflingers. Those who are able to call directly and blatantly on the power of a particular deity or on the spirits, and actually out "doing things that PCs do" -- as opposed to acting as the shaman of a tribe or the healer of a town or the priest at a temple -- will be a bit more special than that. Maybe the "godsworn" of the Thieves World setting are a better example.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    EDIT: I don't know if you've any exposure to Hero Wars/Hero Quest, but the rulebooks there (and Glorantha/RuneQuest in general) might have a few ideas you could borrow, particularly in terms of mapping geography to social structure to trade to magic to mythology and back again. Roughly the same tech-level and spread of religious diversity too, plus some addressing of gender topics.
    I'll do some digging -- that's an interesting link, as well.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm having trouble finding sources for researching these real-life cultures that are "at my level" -- not some 5-paragraph shallow website, but not something I need a PhD in History with a focus on the Hellenistic Near East to unpack.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-08-27 at 09:22 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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  4. - Top - End - #94
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lacuna Caster's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2014

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Good catch -- they're not just vaguely Sumerian / Akkadian, they're based on digging through online dictionaries and translations to find words that relate to the concept and "sound right". I wanted words that sounded very old and different, and evoked an "out of the fog of protohistory" feeling, but weren't just randomly cobbled syllables.
    Noice. I should probably try that sometime.

    I really need to dig out Hero Wars again myself. I can't say enough good things about the almost hypnotic 'draw' of the setting, where there's a frequent blend of real-world parallels and exotic recombinations, and alighting one a single sticky thread of culture-description gets you rapidly tangled in a vast web of mythology and politics.

    It's take on divinity is unusual as well- (IIRC, the Gods are both omniscient and omnipresent but lack consciousness, learning or agency- they sort of 'merge' with the metaphysical fabric of the world and become a locus of power and insight that ethically like-minded folks can draw on. Not sure how that sits with your own ideas, but thought I'd mention it.)
    Oh the Dalkhu-worshipping cults, certainly. I'm just having trouble fitting the concept into the broader overall religious practices. Perhaps only in times of great desperation, or associated with one special astronomical event, or something very specific based on a part of the "mythology" that I haven't written yet. That is, if it's included, it's not going to be of the "and on this day, we sent to the gods blood from 400 strong young men" variety. I simply can't help seeing routine human sacrifice as a sign of a broken culture, or should the gods actually be real... a sign that those gods should be shunned rather than venerated.
    To be fair, the heyday of the practice in the RL Old World was probably well past by the 4th century, given the rise of the self-abnegating manichaean superego-religions. Any state or tribe that still practiced would be something of a throwback, or saving it for special occasions.

    I will raise two points in it's defence, though- (1) Sacrificial rites are great at instigating drama, especially when integrated directly into spellcasting, and in theory this might tie in with the 'moral mileage may vary' nature of polytheistic worship that you seem to be aiming for. (2) Human sacrifice occupies roughly the same 'space' as slavery, fundamentalism, or patriarchy- a generally repugnant and ferociously touchy but at-one-time pervasive subject that's hard to gloss over entirely.

    I know you're trying to avoid posing a conveniently-labelled Civilisation of Evil Hats, so for context I'll say that, e.g, Aztec practices had significant overtones of 'death before dishonour', population control and voluntary apotheosis, aside from nonlethal forms of bloodletting and self-mortification. (Also massive death-toll inflation for propaganda purposes, both from European sources and the Mexica themselves.) Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of victims were exactly that- unwilling casualties of a predatory blood-greased war machine. But that's hardly unique to the place and time, and there's no law saying the PCs have to like it.

  5. - Top - End - #95
    Troll 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 Lacuna Caster View Post
    Noice. I should probably try that sometime.
    When I have to come up with words or names for a particular culture or place, I try to find something that evokes a bit of the feel I'm going for, and work from that.

    Not from this setting, but I have a people whose language lacks certain consonants (B, P, G, J... when they try to pronounce J as in "jack", to comes out something like "zh", for example), and uses compound words (as German is prone to), which contributes to the bits of their language that come up invoking a sort of complex, shadowy, inhuman feel that most other cultures think of as sinister.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    I really need to dig out Hero Wars again myself. I can't say enough good things about the almost hypnotic 'draw' of the setting, where there's a frequent blend of real-world parallels and exotic recombinations, and alighting one a single sticky thread of culture-description gets you rapidly tangled in a vast web of mythology and politics.
    Is this an available product still? It sounds very interesting as grist for the mill if nothing else.

    E: looking at RPG DriveThru, it appears to be available as inexpensive PDFs -- any suggestion as to which to order?


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    It's take on divinity is unusual as well- (IIRC, the Gods are both omniscient and omnipresent but lack consciousness, learning or agency- they sort of 'merge' with the metaphysical fabric of the world and become a locus of power and insight that ethically like-minded folks can draw on. Not sure how that sits with your own ideas, but thought I'd mention it.)
    Well, in a way it's almost the flipside of how I have things set up in this setting.

    Here, there's no such thing as omniscience or omnipotence -- those things "died" when the world was born (see section of the earlier post regarding the "secret cosmology"). However, the more powerful a spirit, the more individual identity it has, and retaining identity helps to contribute to its power; it's part of that feedback loop with power and the reverence of mortals.

    One comment I read in the linked Vinga article you linked that certainly doesn't fit this setting I'm working on, if taken literally: "(This is, of course, the mythos as it is known in the 1600s: and, therefore, the mythos as it has always been, just as the present Yelmalio mythos is the same as it has always been)." This is at its heart an objective reality -- what people believe at any given time does not change the facts of the past.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    To be fair, the heyday of the practice in the RL Old World was probably well past by the 4th century, given the rise of the self-abnegating manichaean superego-religions. Any state or tribe that still practiced would be something of a throwback, or saving it for special occasions.

    I will raise two points in it's defence, though- (1) Sacrificial rites are great at instigating drama, especially when integrated directly into spellcasting, and in theory this might tie in with the 'moral mileage may vary' nature of polytheistic worship that you seem to be aiming for. (2) Human sacrifice occupies roughly the same 'space' as slavery, fundamentalism, or patriarchy- a generally repugnant and ferociously touchy but at-one-time pervasive subject that's hard to gloss over entirely.

    I know you're trying to avoid posing a conveniently-labelled Civilisation of Evil Hats, so for context I'll say that, e.g, Aztec practices had significant overtones of 'death before dishonour', population control and voluntary apotheosis, aside from nonlethal forms of bloodletting and self-mortification. (Also massive death-toll inflation for propaganda purposes, both from European sources and the Mexica themselves.) Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of victims were exactly that- unwilling casualties of a predatory blood-greased war machine. But that's hardly unique to the place and time, and there's no law saying the PCs have to like it.
    I think you're right in that it does need to somehow be integrated, it's just a problem of, as you say, avoiding "evil hats".

    Space.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-08-30 at 01:17 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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  6. - Top - End - #96
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Bristol, UK
    Gender
    Male

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

    Don't forget another form of what is effectively human sacrifice: funeral games. They being bouts to the death between combatants, which later morphed into the gladiatorial games for pure entertainment. It doesn't have to be people being butchered like animals would be to perform the same function.
    Wushu Open Reloaded
    Actual Play: The Shadow of the Sun (Acrozatarim's WFRP campaign) as Pawel Hals and Mass: the Effecting - Transcendence as Russell Ortiz.
    Now running: Tyche's Favourites, a historical ACKS campaign set around Massalia 300BC.
    In Sanity We Trust Productions - our podcasting site where you can hear our dulcet tones, updated almost every week.

  7. - Top - End - #97
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2010

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Don't forget another form of what is effectively human sacrifice: funeral games. They being bouts to the death between combatants, which later morphed into the gladiatorial games for pure entertainment. It doesn't have to be people being butchered like animals would be to perform the same function.
    Those actually originated as "blood sacrifice" in the purest form: the spilled blood of the victims empowered the spirit of the honored deceased in the underworld, allowing them to feel alive and communicate with the living (compare the famous conversation between living Odysseus and dead Tiresias / dead Anticlea in the underworld). The earliest forms involved no fights at all and worked more like straight-up executions.
    Last edited by Berenger; 2016-08-30 at 06:41 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #98
    Troll 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 Berenger View Post
    Those actually originated as "blood sacrifice" in the purest form: the spilled blood of the victims empowered the spirit of the honored deceased in the underworld, allowing them to feel alive and communicate with the living (compare the famous conversation between living Odysseus and dead Tiresias / dead Anticlea in the underworld). The earliest forms involved no fights at all and worked more like straight-up executions.

    Hmmm... blood empowering spirits makes for an interesting way to work this in... perhaps a sign of one's seriousness when petitioning a spirit (nature or ancestor) is to offer blood to the spirit. Or at least some kinds of spirits. Normally it would be a symbolic amount of one's own blood. Blood oaths become a serious deal beyond just the cultural level.

    Hmmm.
    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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  9. - Top - End - #99
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2010

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

    Or at least some kinds of spirits.
    I'd say that it applies to the spirits of dead persons, e.g. ones deceased ancestors. It wouldn't be needed to make a deal with the spirit of a lake, since that spirit is presumably still alive on its own and there is no need to "restore" it to a semblance of life.

    You could also use it for interaction between ordinary people. In this case, the blood is used to enable appropriate spirits to witness the agreement and supervise its fulfillment. For example: At court, you swear by the honor of your dead grandfather to tell the truth and spill some drops of blood. If you don't stick to your vow, your own vengeful grandfather will punish you when you die and enter the afterlife. Obviously, such oaths work best if you are from a honorable family and your culture promotes respect for your elders.

    Larger amounts of blood might enable spirits to interact with the world of the living. That would be akin to blood-magic.
    Last edited by Berenger; 2016-08-30 at 12:14 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #100
    Troll 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 Berenger View Post
    I'd say that it applies to the spirits of dead persons, e.g. ones deceased ancestors. It wouldn't be needed to make a deal with the spirit of a lake, since that spirit is presumably still alive on its own and there is no need to "restore" it to a semblance of life.

    You could also use it for interaction between ordinary people. In this case, the blood is used to enable appropriate spirits to witness the agreement and supervise its fulfillment. For example: At court, you swear by the honor of your dead grandfather to tell the truth and spill some drops of blood. If you don't stick to your vow, your own vengeful grandfather will punish you when you die and enter the afterlife. Obviously, such oaths work best if you are from a honorable family and your culture promotes respect for your elders.

    Larger amounts of blood might enable spirits to interact with the world of the living. That would be akin to blood-magic.

    If we're specifically looking at blood "restoring" the spirit, you're right. That also might work for the Dalkhu.

    I do like some variation on the "blood oath", especially for the less-urbanized, more-animistic cultures. In the cities, where the worship of the high deities is more prevalent, I'm thinking it's now more likely that they'd swear an oath to or "in the sight of" Kagal-eunir, or perhaps Ebabarra.

    Spilling enough blood to bring an ancestor fully back into the world of the living might be considered necromancy or blasphemy.
    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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  11. - Top - End - #101
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

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

    New subtopic -- populations.

    What sort of demographics should I be looking at for cities, towns, and rural populations at this time? Percentages of population in different general occupations, socials statuses, etc?

    I've got links to sources on "medieval" demographics, but not for this.
    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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  12. - Top - End - #102
    Orc in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2012

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    New subtopic -- populations.

    What sort of demographics should I be looking at for cities, towns, and rural populations at this time? Percentages of population in different general occupations, socials statuses, etc?

    I've got links to sources on "medieval" demographics, but not for this.
    I have mainly seen sources from the southern European area, but do not have any at hand.

    I remember that estimates for Denmark is typically around 500.000, and I have seen one for Norway at 200.000-300.000, but that is rough estimates, and could likely vary depending on various factors. So they could be of by a rather large margin.

  13. - Top - End - #103
    Troll 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 Tobtor View Post
    I have mainly seen sources from the southern European area, but do not have any at hand.

    I remember that estimates for Denmark is typically around 500.000, and I have seen one for Norway at 200.000-300.000, but that is rough estimates, and could likely vary depending on various factors. So they could be of by a rather large margin.
    So that's 500 thousand total people for all of Denmark, and 200 to 300 thousand for all of Norway, at least per those estimates?
    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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  14. - Top - End - #104
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Right behind you!
    Gender
    Male

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

    One thing you might make a system for how Assyrian style combat. I've heard an argument that they were the last great infantry army out of the eastern part of the world, and that the later ones were based around cavalry with mediocre infantry. (The Ottoman Empire had good infantry - but they basically raised their own western infantry via The Janissaries.) Frankly - they were the only primarily infantry army who figured out how to beat steppe horse archers until the invention of the gun.

    Basically they were mostly archers, but the archers had cover from spearmen in front who had humongous wicker shields - each providing cover for nearly a dozen archers. They also had heavy infantry (their version of the hopilite) mixed in to hold the line when their units were charged. Because - that's basically the only way to beat horse archers. They have ranged attacks an maneuverability, so you need more firepower/cover since you can virtually never catch them anyway. (That's why the Parthians slaughtered the Romans sent against them - they generally only had about 5% missile troops.) That's also why the horse archers were trounced once armies had muskets. Not because muskets were awesome (inferior to a bow in many ways) but because 95% of the infantry had one.

    Anyway - those seem like different group roles to me. Archers/Wicker Shield wielders/Heavy infantry - plus variants thereof. You could have rules for heavy chariots which are made to carry the whole party. (Unlike the Egyptians, the Assyrians favored large/heavy chariots.)

  15. - Top - End - #105
    Orc in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2012

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    So that's 500 thousand total people for all of Denmark, and 200 to 300 thousand for all of Norway, at least per those estimates?
    Yes. I believe they are a bit low, but not extremely so. Also there are some fluctuations, for instance we see some abandoned villages around the 2-1st century BC, so it might have been higher before that (or they just started to reorganise). The numbers are reached by extrapolating backwards in time from Medieval/Viking age estimates, and then adjust for settlement size etc. I think you might go a bit higher for Denmark something like 600.000-800.000 in "high" periods.
    Last edited by Tobtor; 2016-09-02 at 06:01 AM.

  16. - Top - End - #106
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2010

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Spilling enough blood to bring an ancestor fully back into the world of the living might be considered necromancy or blasphemy.
    You should specify what is meant by necromancy in your setting - the bastardized D&D version with zombie armies, black death rays and becoming a lich is very different from the antique nekromanteía which is literally "divination by means of the dead (body)".

    Population: I have no numbers of my own, but I wouldn't base people-per-area off Denmark. I believe that the most important factor in the maximum size of a population in this time (and also the percentage of non-peasant persons, e.g. aristocrats, priests, artisans...) is the ability to generate (and distribute) food. As far as I understand, the comparatively poor opportunities for farming in Denmark were a driving force behind "going viking" and invading other countries. Your setting, on the other hand, sounds closer to the Fertile Crescent.
    Last edited by Berenger; 2016-09-02 at 06:24 AM.

  17. - Top - End - #107
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Bristol, UK
    Gender
    Male

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I have mainly seen sources from the southern European area, but do not have any at hand.

    I remember that estimates for Denmark is typically around 500.000, and I have seen one for Norway at 200.000-300.000, but that is rough estimates, and could likely vary depending on various factors. So they could be of by a rather large margin.
    OK, but why look only at sparsely-populated northern Europe? Southern Europe and the Levant had much higher population densities than this, being better suited to support large numbers of people and often featuring more centralised states.
    Wushu Open Reloaded
    Actual Play: The Shadow of the Sun (Acrozatarim's WFRP campaign) as Pawel Hals and Mass: the Effecting - Transcendence as Russell Ortiz.
    Now running: Tyche's Favourites, a historical ACKS campaign set around Massalia 300BC.
    In Sanity We Trust Productions - our podcasting site where you can hear our dulcet tones, updated almost every week.

  18. - Top - End - #108
    Orc in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2012

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    OK, but why look only at sparsely-populated northern Europe? Southern Europe and the Levant had much higher population densities than this, being better suited to support large numbers of people and often featuring more centralised states.
    I did not say you should mainly look for northern Euroe. I said I had seen many for southern Europe, but didn't have them available (which I had for Northern Europe). Thus if he want to include a "northern " area (tribal society) he would have an idea. I agree Southern Europe had higher densities, I just cant say what ballpark (though I remember seeing a suggestion that Athens had like 100.000+ people in the urban area, and as many in the suburbs and rural areas, so something like 200.000-250.000 in the city state, but I cannot remember were I got it).

  19. - Top - End - #109
    Orc in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2012

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Berenger View Post
    .Population: I have no numbers of my own, but I wouldn't base people-per-area off Denmark. I believe that the most important factor in the maximum size of a population in this time (and also the percentage of non-peasant persons, e.g. aristocrats, priests, artisans...) is the ability to generate (and distribute) food. As far as I understand, the comparatively poor opportunities for farming in Denmark were a driving force behind "going viking" and invading other countries. Your setting, on the other hand, sounds closer to the Fertile Crescent.
    I don't think there are poor conditions for farming in Denmark as a general rule. Ever since we have sources (medieval) we have been an exporter of agricultural products (really large scale exporters of fish as well).

    The vikings lived healthy lives, shortage is not seen in the sceleton material and there is no evidence for hunger being a driving factor for raiding. technology (better ships where developed in the 750-800AD range), and culture (prestige in wealth) was more important factors.

    Denmark is however poor in many luxury products (silver, gold, wine, silk, spices, olive oil) and in this time frame also metals (bronze is absent and the iron was first extracted later), thus they had to import these things (and did). Only tradeable resources are amber and agricultural products (and fish etc).
    Last edited by Tobtor; 2016-09-02 at 07:06 AM.

  20. - Top - End - #110
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Bristol, UK
    Gender
    Male

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I did not say you should mainly look for northern Euroe. I said I had seen many for southern Europe, but didn't have them available (which I had for Northern Europe). Thus if he want to include a "northern " area (tribal society) he would have an idea. I agree Southern Europe had higher densities, I just cant say what ballpark (though I remember seeing a suggestion that Athens had like 100.000+ people in the urban area, and as many in the suburbs and rural areas, so something like 200.000-250.000 in the city state, but I cannot remember were I got it).
    Syracuse, Carthage, Antioch and Alexandreia were some of the biggest cities in antiquity in their various times of ascendancy, not to mention Rome. All surpassed 200,000; apparently in the late Roman era Carthage had about half a million; Cicero said Syracuse had a population of about 300,000 at its height; Antioch was around half a million in the late Hellenistic era; Alexandreia about 300,000 in the Roman era.

    Greece is the wrong place to look at examples of large settlements or high population density, since it wasn't well-suited to either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    I don't think there are poor conditions for farming in Denmark as a general rule. Ever since we have sources (medieval) we have been an exporter of agricultural products (really large scale exporters of fish as well).

    The vikings lived healthy lives, shortage is not seen in the sceleton material and there is no evidence for hunger being a driving factor for raiding. technology (better ships where developed in the 750-800AD range), and culture (prestige in wealth) was more important factors.

    Denmark is however poor in many luxury products (silver, gold, wine, silk, spices, olive oil) and in this time frame also metals (bronze is absent and the iron was first extracted later), thus they had to import these things (and did). Only tradeable resources are amber and agricultural products (and fish etc).
    Compared to the Fertile Crescent, Italy, north Africa before historical climate change, Denmark was poor.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-09-02 at 07:12 AM.
    Wushu Open Reloaded
    Actual Play: The Shadow of the Sun (Acrozatarim's WFRP campaign) as Pawel Hals and Mass: the Effecting - Transcendence as Russell Ortiz.
    Now running: Tyche's Favourites, a historical ACKS campaign set around Massalia 300BC.
    In Sanity We Trust Productions - our podcasting site where you can hear our dulcet tones, updated almost every week.

  21. - Top - End - #111
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

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

    Do we have numbers from other parts of the world at this time, such as China, Indochina, or India?
    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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  22. - Top - End - #112
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lacuna Caster's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2014

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Is this an available product still? It sounds very interesting as grist for the mill if nothing else.

    E: looking at RPG DriveThru, it appears to be available as inexpensive PDFs -- any suggestion as to which to order?

    ...One comment I read in the linked Vinga article you linked that certainly doesn't fit this setting I'm working on, if taken literally: "(This is, of course, the mythos as it is known in the 1600s: and, therefore, the mythos as it has always been, just as the present Yelmalio mythos is the same as it has always been)." This is at its heart an objective reality -- what people believe at any given time does not change the facts of the past.
    The emphasis of the rule-set has changed substantially between editions- Runequest started out as a relatively gritty, mud-guts-and-skill-bookkeeping challenger to D&D, whereas Hero Wars & HeroQuest are more focused on the high-end mythology and fairly explicit campbellian narratives with 'freeform' rules. Both still have their own publishing lines. Your Glorantha may vary, as the saying goes.

    As for the faintly clap-your-hands-for-Tinker-Bell-Orlanth idea of retconned-reality... well, strictly speaking, yes. There is scope for that interpretation. Ritual heroquesting on the various spiritual planes can, with great difficulty, modify the history of the setting, and having a passel of believers doesn't hurt.

    I think you're right in that it does need to somehow be integrated, it's just a problem of, as you say, avoiding "evil hats".
    Actually, looking back over your descriptions for the Kataru and their origins-

    Spoiler
    Show
    She loves those who nurture domestic animals, even in knowing that those animals will be sacrificed to the good of the family...

    He teaches that the cycle of life is greater than all things, greater than any individual, and that a father must sacrifice everything for his family if that is what’s needed...

    She brings the soft touch of a warm day and the inferno of purgation, the spring thaw and the killing drought...

    His favor is the bounty of the waters, his wrath is the raging storm, the great wave, and the hungry deep...

    Her embrace can kill and her wrath is the endless white death, but she is also the guide, protector, and judge of the dead...

    And yet she is also the bloody-minded goddess of wild abandon and survival of the fittest, her only mercy a quick ending for the taken prey...
    To be quite honest, if it weren't for the specific details of their apotheosis I could easily see these deities having absolutely no problem with stone knives and runnels down the altar. (Or bog bodies, or stake-burnings, or whatever else might be thematically appropriate.)

    It could be that you have the Kataru sandwiched neatly between the Cthonic, inhuman excesses of their Anzillu precedessors and the rather dry, Apollonian moralising of the eclectic philosophies, so... maybe their stance on sacrifice is 'sometimes, with a compelling reason'? I'd be quite interested so get some more details on the Anzillu themselves, if you have time.

    Yeesh... I dunno why I'm getting so excited about this. Just don't get me started on cannibalism (because long pork is delicious.)


    Anyway, sugue-ing into the topic of population sizes... Tenochtitlan was also pushing about 300,000 people just prior to Cortes' arrival (which is another reason I tend to mentally associate Mesoamerica with this kind of dense ancient-urban milieu.) And the Mexican hinterland as a whole might have sustained 20 million people.

  23. - Top - End - #113
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

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

    Geography and geology, rough summary.

    Most of the "civilized" states lie in a coastal area about 2000km in length (for reference, this is roughly the length of Norway, or the distance from Vienna Austria to Kalamata Greece.) Climate ranges from tropical in the south to cool temperate in the north. The landscape is dominated by karst geology similar to Halong Bay, Jiuzhaigou, Yangshuo County, etc. A multitude of streams and rivers meander through the region, bringing both fertility, and the threat of floods; great stretches of marshland also exist. Much trade and travel is by water, using the major rivers and the sea along the coast. Large tracts of jungle and forest dot the wilds and the marches. Many of the cities and large towns manage their fresh water supply via a series of public works, unwilling to rely on the rivers which often

    Eastward from the coast the land rises into gently rolling foothills and long open plateaus, home to a series of great inland lakes, at the foot of a long broken mountain range that parallels most of the region's coastline, This rise in the terrain is responsible for the plentiful water of the region, ringing precipitation out of the winds blowing in off the ocean. The major north-south land route spends much of its route along the edge of this inland region, where the land is more reliably flat, dry, and open -- this does leave some parts of the road more vulnerable to bandits and raids by mountain tribes and independent clans, however.

    Beyond the mountains, lie the great open steppes. Some snowmelt and rain from the mountains makes its way down the leeward side, carefully managed with underground water tunnels and reservoirs by the towns at the foot of the range. Beyond these towns live clans of steppe nomads. What lies beyond, far to the east, is largely mystery to the people of the coastal states.

    To the north lies increasingly barren land, becoming too cold and rocky for large agriculture, before giving way to a permanently frozen wasteland. Here are small villages and homesteads, making their living from hunting, trapping, and what they can scrape from the hostile ground.

    To the south, along a great meandering river, lie a series of foreign peoples, with their own strange, cultures, and foreign spirits and gods.

    Far to the south, in lands of the jungle people, there are reported ruins of a lost empire inhabited by hostile enclaves of "the faceless". Tales of cities inhabited by inscrutable "snake people" also occasionally filter back from this region.
    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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  24. - Top - End - #114
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lacuna Caster's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2014

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The landscape is dominated by karst geology similar to Halong Bay, Jiuzhaigou, Yangshuo County, etc. A multitude of streams and rivers meander through the region, bringing both fertility, and the threat of floods; great stretches of marshland also exist. Much trade and travel is by water, using the major rivers and the sea along the coast. Large tracts of jungle and forest dot the wilds and the marches. Many of the cities and large towns manage their fresh water supply via a series of public works, unwilling to rely on the rivers which often...

    Eastward from the coast the land rises into gently rolling foothills and long open plateaus, home to a series of great inland lakes, at the foot of a long broken mountain range that parallels most of the region's coastline, This rise in the terrain is responsible for the plentiful water of the region, ringing precipitation out of the winds blowing in off the ocean...

    ...Beyond the mountains, lie the great open steppes. Some snowmelt and rain from the mountains makes its way down the leeward side, carefully managed with underground water tunnels and reservoirs by the towns at the foot of the range.
    The details there interest/puzzle me a little, since most examples of karst terrain feature rapid drainage of incoming rainfall, and they tend to lack large rivers and lakes, so people have to fall back on sinkholes and cisterns for water catchment. It's a minor point- I'm sure you could slap on a layer of smectite or something underneath- but I had this mental image of, like, a glittering Underdark-esque cave system leading down to deltas at the coast...

    I do like the idea of semi-mountainous terrain, since that's a nice way to set up each state with defensible borders and independent cultural development.
    Last edited by Lacuna Caster; 2016-09-02 at 03:17 PM.

  25. - Top - End - #115
    Troll 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 Lacuna Caster View Post
    The emphasis of the rule-set has changed substantially between editions- Runequest started out as a relatively gritty, mud-guts-and-skill-bookkeeping challenger to D&D, whereas Hero Wars & HeroQuest are more focused on the high-end mythology and fairly explicit campbellian narratives with 'freeform' rules. Both still have their own publishing lines. Your Glorantha may vary, as the saying goes.

    As for the faintly clap-your-hands-for -Tinker-Bell- Orlanth idea of retconned-reality... well, strictly speaking, yes. There is scope for that interpretation. Ritual heroquesting on the various spiritual planes can, with great difficulty, modify the history of the setting, and having a passel of believers doesn't hurt.
    Huh. I can't open the "scope" link, I get a 412 error -- OK, got it to work by copying the link location and pasting it in, rather than trying to follow the link.

    The two big differences (I think) I see are that in the setting I'm working on, only a very few mortals have ever figured out the secrets that the Kataru did, and that the past and the physical world aren't directly changed by any amount of simple belief or reverence.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Actually, looking back over your descriptions for the Kataru and their origins-

    Spoiler
    Show


    To be quite honest, if it weren't for the specific details of their apotheosis I could easily see these deities having absolutely no problem with stone knives and runnels down the altar. (Or bog bodies, or stake-burnings, or whatever else might be thematically appropriate.)

    It could be that you have the Kataru sandwiched neatly between the Cthonic, inhuman excesses of their Anzillu predecessors and the rather dry, Apollonian moralizing of the eclectic philosophies, so... maybe their stance on sacrifice is 'sometimes, with a compelling reason'? I'd be quite interested so get some more details on the Anzillu themselves, if you have time.

    Yeesh... I dunno why I'm getting so excited about this. Just don't get me started on cannibalism (because long pork is delicious.)
    "Apotheosis"... that's the word I've been trying to remember regarding the "rise" of the Kataru. As in "tempted to smack myself on the head" looking for. Thank you.

    Given the time period I'm drawing from for inspiration and the "cults and heresies" I've already got the seeds for, I think there's space for the Kataru to be just that bit bloodier, with the nascent rise of a sort of "Apollonian and Dionysian" more philosophical view of religion somewhere just past the horizon, and someday soon to be viewed as a real threat to the power of the Kataru and their mortal religious interests. There's that truth they really don't want mortals to learn, and to be fair it could cause a cultural collapse if it got out.

    I think "sometimes, with a (very?) compelling reason" is about where I'm headed on the particular subject of human sacrifice in this setting.

    I'll work on posting some more details of the Anzillu this weekend.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Anyway, sugue-ing into the topic of population sizes... Tenochtitlan was also pushing about 300,000 people just prior to Cortes' arrival (which is another reason I tend to mentally associate Mesoamerica with this kind of dense ancient-urban milieu.) And the Mexican hinterland as a whole might have sustained 20 million people.
    The association totally makes sense, but the details I know of Mesoamerican religion don't seem to mesh with what I'm going for, I think.

    Do you see a strong parallel between the Kataru and their story, and Mesoamerican religion, that maybe I'm missing?
    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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  26. - Top - End - #116
    Troll 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 Lacuna Caster View Post
    The details there interest/puzzle me a little, since most examples of karst terrain feature rapid drainage of incoming rainfall, and they tend to lack large rivers and lakes, so people have to fall back on sinkholes and cisterns for water catchment. It's a minor point- I'm sure you could slap on a layer of smectite or something underneath- but I had this mental image of, like, a glittering Underdark-esque cave system leading down to deltas at the coast...

    I do like the idea of semi-mountainous terrain, since that's a nice way to set up each state with defensible borders and semi-independent development.
    The term "Karst" seems to apply to more than just the sort cenote-riddled landscape that is such a prominent feature of the "Mayan region" of Mesoamerica.

    Jiuzhaigou Valley
    Halong Bay
    South China Karst
    Croatian Karst


    That said, there's room for an area that's much more like the IRL Mayan region, somewhere in the south, without the rivers and streams, to put a different twist on the overall regional culture as well. I do like the idea of some part of the region having more of its rivers and water underground in the way you envisioned.

    And, I just had a thought to tie this into something else. I wanted to have a refugee people who had in recent times fled a city lost to a disaster, without having that disaster affect the rest of the region. What if an entire city were built over an area absolutely riddled with cenotes, for access to the water, but for some reason after many many generations, there was a catastrophic collapse of the entire area into a massive sinkhole?
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-02 at 11:07 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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  27. - Top - End - #117
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lacuna Caster's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2014

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The two big differences (I think) I see are that in the setting I'm working on, only a very few mortals have ever figured out the secrets that the Kataru did, and that the past and the physical world aren't directly changed by any amount of simple belief or reverence.
    There's no particular requirement that you use hero-questing, especially during beginner campaigns- I'd suggest just looking through the sections on the different cultural backgrounds and maybe experimenting with the rule-set to see if it gives you the feel you're looking for.

    EDIT: Unfortunately, browsing the .pdfs on DriveThruRPG doesn't seem to show any matches for the edition I was thinking of. The closest match I could find was here, which seems to give a broad but rather shallow overview of the setting and has noticeably inferior art. I'll do some more digging.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The term "Karst" seems to apply to more than just the sort cenote-riddled landscape that is such a prominent feature of the "Mayan region" of Mesoamerica.

    Jiuzhaigou Valley
    Halong Bay
    South China Karst
    Croatian Karst


    That said, there's room for an area that's much more like the IRL Mayan region, somewhere in the south, without the rivers and streams, to put a different twist on the overall regional culture as well. I do like the idea of some part of the region having more of its rivers and water underground in the way you envisioned.

    And, I just had a thought to tie this into something else. I wanted to have a refugee people who had in recent times fled a city lost to a disaster, without having that disaster affect the rest of the region. What if an entire city were built over an area absolutely riddled with cenotes, for access to the water, but for some reason after many many generations, there was a catastrophic collapse of the entire area into a massive sinkhole?
    That sounds rather juicy. A kind of 'wrath of Gods' scenario, maybe?

    I was going to suggest that you reserve public sacrifice for (A) the Celti-Germano-Scythian tribes around the steppes or northern forests, who get to be tree-hugging freedom-lovers that are also savage and warlike, and (B) an odd-man-out city state next to the sourthern jungles that still practices blood magic, but is past it's prime and limited to the voluntary, gladiatorial or nonlethal versions. Maybe that rebuilt/reformed itself, though only a shadow of it's past glory, etc. Everywhere else, it's anathema.

    PCs from these backgrounds get some special spellcasting bonuses if they 'give life to the Gods', with multipliers for quantity & willingness (e.g, significant-self-injury > 10 random slaves > 100 bales of cotton grave-goods.) So, I dunno, maybe that dodges the 'evil hats' problem...

    Aztec mythology is fascinating, but more for the implied yin/yang symbology than the specific narrative. There are various stories about the Gods being willing to injure/sacrifice themselves to lay the foundations for a human-habitable world (e.g, Tezcatlipoca severing his foot to lure out the monster Cipactli so she could be slain), but that's pretty standard Titan/Jotun/Fomor-slaying stuff, so I don't know if there's a particularly close parallel with the Kataru there.


    EDIT: Anyway, sorry to hog the discussion. Do you have any specific systems in mind to support the kind of spell-casting you imagine?
    Last edited by Lacuna Caster; 2016-09-02 at 06:38 PM.

  28. - Top - End - #118
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lacuna Caster's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2014

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

    Oh, that reminds me- it's a very different beast, but give all the discussion about weapon tech I'd mention the Burning Wheel system has some extremely detailed and gritty mechanics for combat situations (and just about everything else, to be honest.) The lifepaths system used in character-generation, in particular, paints a very vivid picture of the setting's social structure.

    I should mention it would need heavy adaptation and the up-front investment is pretty high, though. (There's a strong flavour of Tolkien and nothing in the way of geographic description, for instance.)

  29. - Top - End - #119
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

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

    I don't have a system in mind, I haven't found anything that fits -- spellcasting or otherwise.

    Spoiler: Tangent about systems...
    Show

    Posted a thread a while back looking for a system, nothing that was suggested really hit the mark.

    Part of it is, I'm stuck in a gap. I don't care for level & class systems or Vancian casting or vast HP pools... but I also don't care for a lot of what's been done in "response" to those concepts, such as "conflict resolution" rolls (I entirely prefer discrete attempt resolution). One of the systems I do like is 4th or 5th HERO, but it doesn't scale down to "normals" as well as its proponents might assert, and the segment/phase actions system isn't so great for fluid combat. Plus, I'd have to do a gob-ton of work building everything up from the ground.



    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    EDIT: Anyway, sorry to hog the discussion.
    I appreciate the discussion -- I make a lot more progress if someone is asking me questions and giving feedback.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-03 at 12:09 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.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  30. - Top - End - #120
    Orc in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2012

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Compared to the Fertile Crescent, Italy, north Africa before historical climate change, Denmark was poor.
    Yes poor on luxury, technology etc. There is no evidence on scarcity of food for instance. Also depending on what you mean by 'poor'. Did it sustain large city states, no it didn't. But 'poor possibility for farming' is also wrong. I doubt poor farming possibilities were the driving factor for viking raids (which was what was suggested in the post I answered). Agricultural regime was very different, to be sure. Also some places like the large rivers (Nile, Euferat etc) had much higher output. But I don't think your yield per acre on wheat would be much smaller than say southern France, or the amount of animals a field could support etc.

    Its like comapring Japan to modern Denmark: Japan have 130mil people to Denmarks 5mil, Japan clearly builds various "crazy" large towns, buildings etc, which Denmark does not. Does this mean that Denmark is poor today (as I haven't noticed that). Similar comaprison could be made Between Denmark (or Norway or Sweden) with the USA. There is no doubt who the superpower is, that doesn't mean that the other countries are "poor". See the worlds list of GNI today. That does not mean you do not see more fancy technology in Japan than in Denmark, or more huge 'villas' in the USA than in Denmark.

    Of course wine could not be produced (well it is today, but only as a really minor niche thing, and there is no indication during neither the Bronze age warm period or the roman one that it was produced in Denmark), and had to be imported (which it was, so they must have had something to trade with...).
    Last edited by Tobtor; 2016-09-03 at 03:20 AM.

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
  •