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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I tried Illyrian because someone said the description of the setting reminded them of that region, but evidently there aren't any known surviving Illyrian texts and that has made recreating the language troublesome.
    That was me. I knew about the karst terrain there from some development another person I know did of a place with similar terrain, and I remembered the Illyrian pirates from Roman history.

    And yeah, I didn't think there was much of any linguistic material surviving, but I figured I'd suggest it just in case you were able to find any.

    Sumerian/Akkadian is, I hope, supposed to evoke ancient lost people and places, figures emerging from the mists of protohistory.
    Yep, that's what it would make me think of first off.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I tried Illyrian because someone said the description of the setting reminded them of that region, but evidently there aren't any known surviving Illyrian texts and that has made recreating the language troublesome.

    Sumerian/Akkadian is, I hope, supposed to evoke ancient lost people and places, figures emerging from the mists of protohistory.
    Honestly, I think this is just a minor subset of a larger question. Any hypothetical player will eventually want to know 'what does State <X> look/feel like'? i.e, what are the typical costumes, aesthetics, ethics and architecture? Is it togas and doric columns or stelae and pyramids or lammasu and curly beards? Some blend of the above? Varying from place to place? Do they all speak the language, or diverging dialects thereof, or only distantly related vocabularies? How does marriage or jurisprudence or weights-and-measures work?

    If you wanted to get really old-school, you could try mashing together syllables from PIE, or maybe say, 'State A invented salad forks, therefore this particular combat implement is named for the egyptians, state B invented kebabs, so this particular implement is quasi-persian.' Or (assuming the history buffs don't throw conniptions,) just fill the gear listings with random rule-of-cool entries, like the linothorax, scutum and khopesh, which at least sounds archaic and non-denominational.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Speaking of the Anzillu...
    Spoiler
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    You mentioned wanting to know more about them.

    Anything in particular? More interested in the "untime" before, or their time as as "gods" before the rise of the Kataru, or sometime else?
    I'd quite like to know about the Anzillu as individuals- what their specific purview or fixations were, degree of in/sanity or other 'personality' traits, associated city-states, cult practices or mortal pets (if any), etc. The 'untime' sounds like it might be a little tricky to convey, but I'd be curious about how they were sealed away, and how their followers might attempt to reverse the process? And if mortal veneration wasn't required, to what extent, if any, did it augment their powers or presence?

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

    Sorry Max_Killjoy I will stop arguing now.

    Kiero: I do not agree with your assessment and descriptions of Northern Europe, lets leave it at that.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Honestly, I think this is just a minor subset of a larger question. Any hypothetical player will eventually want to know 'what does State <X> look/feel like'? i.e, what are the typical costumes, aesthetics, ethics and architecture? Is it togas and doric columns or stelae and pyramids or lammasu and curly beards? Some blend of the above? Varying from place to place? Do they all speak the language, or diverging dialects thereof, or only distantly related vocabularies? How does marriage or jurisprudence or weights-and-measures work?
    True, but some real world historical cultures come with more baggage than others.

    Sumerian/Akkadian gets your lammasu and curly beards and Gilgamesh, and at the worst the mish-mash of the Scorpion King.
    Not really that much.

    Togas and doric columns or stelae and pyramids comes with a LOT more, as there is simply that much more Roman and Egyptian based material floating around.

    For what Max said:
    "Sumerian/Akkadian is, I hope, supposed to evoke ancient lost people and places, figures emerging from the mists of protohistory."
    The lammasu and curly beards gets that exactly for me, without pushing me to think of pyramids or Hercules as well.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Honestly, I think this is just a minor subset of a larger question. Any hypothetical player will eventually want to know 'what does State <X> look/feel like'? i.e, what are the typical costumes, aesthetics, ethics and architecture? Is it togas and doric columns or stelae and pyramids or lammasu and curly beards? Some blend of the above? Varying from place to place? Do they all speak the language, or diverging dialects thereof, or only distantly related vocabularies? How does marriage or jurisprudence or weights-and-measures work?

    If you wanted to get really old-school, you could try mashing together syllables from PIE, or maybe say, 'State A invented salad forks, therefore this particular combat implement is named for the egyptians, state B invented kebabs, so this particular implement is quasi-persian.' Or (assuming the history buffs don't throw conniptions,) just fill the gear listings with random rule-of-cool entries, like the linothorax, scutum and khopesh, which at least sounds archaic and non-denominational.
    It is a subset of that larger question, yes. And I've started on the clothing, food, architecture, daily habits, ritual variations, etc, but it's all in a very rough state still so I haven't posted any of it. There's a lot of lists and notes, and that's it so far. Part of the purpose of this thread was to help me pin some things down before going back to those parts of the setting, and I keep coming across new ideas as I do more research.

    I get very wrapped up in immersion and verisimilitude in my worldbuilding, and honestly I have to keep reminding myself "This also has to work as a setting for a game." Even if it never goes beyond a file on my computer and these posts, I want to avoid "silly RPGisms" in the setting, like "one-handed long swords" and "studded leather".


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    I'd quite like to know about the Anzillu as individuals- what their specific purview or fixations were, degree of in/sanity or other 'personality' traits, associated city-states, cult practices or mortal pets (if any), etc. The 'untime' sounds like it might be a little tricky to convey, but I'd be curious about how they were sealed away, and how their followers might attempt to reverse the process? And if mortal veneration wasn't required, to what extent, if any, did it augment their powers or presence?
    Let's see, where to start... one problem here is separating the core truth of each entity, from the breadth of mortal beliefs that each one indulged -- which varied from place to place, and between various cults.

    Spoiler
    Show

    I'm still trying to work out the finer details of what mortal veneration offered them besides something that "tasted good", an ego boost and something to one-up each other with, and pliant playthings, um, I mean servants.

    The Seals... the Anzillu could not be destroyed, even the collective Kataru lacked that sort of reality-altering power. So, they imprisoned each of them away in a separate artifact of stone and metal, locked with ten Seals, and hid the artifacts (I know there's a name for such a thing but it's escaping me the way that "apotheosis" did) far away from each other, to avoid any possibility of proximity weakening the Seals. Each of the artifacts has a variety of obstacles and semi-unwitting guardians blocking access.

    After the Kataru's victory, their zealots and priests engaged in a bloody purge of those who would not renouce their allegiance to the Anzillu, but in some ways it wasn't necessary. The Kataru had attracted many converts, and the "religion" of the Anzillu was largely dying on its own. After just a few generations, those who would have sought the Anzillu's return were few and far between. A few cults remained in the far hidden corners of the world, and even there, beyond the organized faith of the Kataru, the veneration of local gods, grear spirits, and ancestor-heroes took center stage.

    There are ways to break the Seals, and open the artifacts, if someone was able to get their hands on one. In fact, one of the possible plot-arcs deals in part with that fact.


    Adding more detailed write-ups one at a time... keep in mind that there is always a degree of affectation in these forms and personas, and that the Anzillu were almost always "wearing masks" when interacting with mortals. In pinning them down like this a risk of losing that strange and evocative nature of the names.


    Zarruzassa, the Vermilion King
    Seen as the deity of rulership, authority, government, and splendor. He was fascinated with structure and order as aspects of the new reality; after ruining several existing city-states through war, intrigue, and religious strife to "see how they worked", he founded the red stone city of Dara, where he ruled "in person" from the opulent Scarlet Court and Red Temple. All aspects of government, worship, and daily life were highly ritualized, complex, ornate, and exacting. Law, as decreed by Zarruzassa and his Lakur, was strict and punishments harsh, with no exceptions and no mercy. The city was a constant tug of war between the maddening obsessive aura that seeped from his presence, and the dictates of propriety, order, and ritual; those who couldn't withstand the dissonance seemed fine and proper... and then suddenly snapped, often violently.

    * Royal officers who were at once consorts, priestesses/priests, and high judges.

    The presence of the less-ordered cults of the other Anzillu in his city was always a source of contention, and indeed his city was one of the last places the "hero cult" of the Kataru gained a foothold.


    Ravishu, the Fallen Star
    Worshipped as the lord of the stars, endless wanderer, and breaker of preconceived notions, the Starlurker had long since abandoned his search for the secrets of space and time , and was in truth debauchery incarnate, that "friend" who cheerfully drags you -- or an entire city -- out for a night everyone knows they'll regret tomorrow. Intoxicants and carnal acts of all variety, experienced through his followers and anyone else caught up in the bacchanal, often past the breaking point, were his distraction from the fruitlessness of his efforts to turn back reality to before it all fell apart and he lost his beloved sibling.

    Was said to be always watching, always waiting, "just behind the stars", for the opportunity to "open the doors of the flesh and of the mind" for mortals (and through them for himself). In truth, he was always trying in vain to recover the sort of total unfettered contact that was possible only with the others of his kind in the "untime".

    ( If Ravishu were released into our modern world, his avatar or high priest would be (the on-screen persona of) Dave Wyndorf -- no, really, it's true. (NSFW) )


    Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli, Margrave of Ashes
    Old Goddess of the Demon Marches... Dalkhu Queen... Ashen Lady... taker of souls, ruler of the underworld, and master of the black blood... Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli was seen as the overseer of dark pacts and bitter omens, a patron of warlocks and ill sorcery. She was the prime ruler of the Dalkhu and their "home", a twilight realm of drifting ashes, leaden skies, distant lightning, and dark troubled waters. The "black blood" was (and is) the leftover substance of creation, the rejected primal material, inimical to light and life. The Dalkhu were born of this, and Kalesh was the undisputed master of this vile essence, above all other Anzillu.

    What mortals never understood was that her dictates created a check on the Dalkhu. It was by her design that the dark spirits were beholden to pacts and subject to bindings, limited in their ability to interact with the mortal world and slowed in their urges to corrode creation. It was her eternal and unbreakable law that any soul taken by the Dalkhu must be given willingly by its rightful possessor. Do not mistake this for anything like mercy, love, or moral qualms. Rather, there was a promise made in The Before... and a free-for-all seemed rather unsporting, or perhaps less interesting.


    Narzalak, Haunter of the Outer Depths
    Deity of borders, crossroads, reflections, transitions, and places between. Lord of the Dawn and Lady of Twilight. Horizon-god, found where the stars are mirrored on the ocean and where distant clouds look like mountains. Ever changing, of many forms and none. Utterly alien, and yet utterly familiar via the constant of change. Invoked at birth, coming of age, marriage, divorce, death, coronation, etc, and supplicated by those desperate for change.

    Change always comes with a price, however -- something left behind, something lost, something transformed irrevocably. Narzalak always demanded a price.


    Evettazi, the Waking Dreamer
    Deity of dreams and transcendence, patron of theurgy. Those initiated into her White Order learned the ways of molding reality through "waking dream", bringing the power of the mind to shape the world from the realm of lucid dreams into the physical realm. The price of this magic was the risk that one would prove too weak-minded and utterly lose oneself to The Dream, unable to tell the real from imagined. Initiates with the will and strength to maintain their sanity went on to become the greatest wonder-workers of the age.

    Behind the mask -- Evettazi never gave up hope of unmaking reality, returning the universe to the dreamlike primal state of The Before, and restoring the Anzillu's lost sibling. She sought to make all things once more into a reflection of her thoughts, unfettered and effortless. To this end, she was building an ever-growing network of theurges whose minds and souls were secretly connected to her own, using their efforts to expand her own understanding, ever searching, ever learning. Despite the rather benign front persented to mortals, she was perhaps the most dangerous and deceptive of the Anzillu. Most of the initiates who "went insane" had actually had an epiphany or revelation... and when Evettazi pulled that spark of knowledge to her, their insufficient mental strength resulted in her tearing it out instead of duplicating it.

    When Evettazi fell, her last desperate attempt to escape ripped at the minds of her White Order. Most were left empty husks, some were lucky enough to just lose the secrets of power and understanding, and a scant few were able to retain their mastery.


    The other three are proving harder to pin down...

    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-16 at 11:03 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Kiero: I do not agree with your assessment and descriptions of Northern Europe, lets leave it at that.
    And I don't agree with your attempting to draw equivalence between northern Europe and the most populous parts of the Mediterranean basin. But yes, let's leave it be.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Kiero: I do not agree with your assessment and descriptions of Northern Europe, lets leave it at that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    And I don't agree with your attempting to draw equivalence between northern Europe and the most populous parts of the Mediterranean basin. But yes, let's leave it be.
    I'd be quite entertained to see a separate thread on the topic, mind you. (Unless that violates the forum guidelines.)

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiktakkat View Post
    True, but some real world historical cultures come with more baggage than others... ...For what Max said:
    "Sumerian/Akkadian is, I hope, supposed to evoke ancient lost people and places, figures emerging from the mists of protohistory."
    The lammasu and curly beards gets that exactly for me, without pushing me to think of pyramids or Hercules as well.
    There does seem to be a shortage of decent hollywood cinema set in persia and babylon, now that I think of it. (Znyder's 300 was so wildly inaccurate that I don't think it would even spark recognition if you showed the source material.)

    Ooh, ooh ooh- mental image: Huge natural limestone spire looming above the flood-plains, carved out with internal staircases and a fortress on top. Tower of Babel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Adding more detailed writeups one at a time... keep in mind that there is always a degree of affectation in these forms and personas, and that the Anzillu were almost always "wearing masks" when interacting with mortals. In pinning them down like this a risk of losing that strange and evokative nature of the names.
    Eh, don't worry- you can always unwrite it later. I can see you're busy, so I might come back to this later.

    Spoiler
    Show
    The Seals... the Anzillu could not be destroyed, even the collective Kataru lacked that sort of reality-altering power. So, they imprisoned each of them away in a seperate artifact of stone and metal, locked with ten Seals, and hid the artifacts (I know there's a name for such a thing but it's escaping me the way that "apotheosis" did) far away from each other, to avoid any possibility of proximity weakening the Seals. Each of the artifacts has a variety of obstacles and semi-unwitting guardians blocking access.
    ...It's not 'phylactery', is it? Sounds a bit vanilla to me.

    Y'know... this is actually a scenario where hero-questing might fit rather well (given that 'time' and 'causality' are only loosely applicable to lovecraftian horrors.) Or maybe some kind of metaphysical/intellectual trials necessary to unwork the seals? A lock where the key is the sound of a mother's weeping, or a dodecahedron's shadow scribed on black paper, or carved from dragon bone, or the taste of a blue moon, or something else thematically appropriate?

    I'm loving the details on Zarrazussa so far- I guess the obvious question is what became of Dara and the Lakur after the rebellion? Did any remnant of the old state survive, or are there only charred sandstone ruins under a gleaming desert sky?

    Waitaminute... Are the Dalkhu undead? Like... zombie-style undead? Or more in the mold of necromancers/warlocks/liches, striking infernal pacts for immortality? I thought it was a generic label for human cultists.

    I'm a little puzzled about Ravishu. The nocturnal-debauchery connection makes sense, but in many cultures astronomy is associated with ideas of scientific observation, fate and predestination. (Sounds like a fun guy, though. 'Ravish-You'. heh.)

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

    So, coming back to the subject of weapons and armor while I work on other things.

    Are there any weapons or armor that are period-appropriate that you'd like to see more of in a setting?
    Remember that you can go outside the obvious "Greeks and their enemies" box here.

    Here's what I'm looking at for weapons so far (names are just for familiarity, not sure what I'm doing on naming yet).

    Xiphos
    Kopis / Falcata
    Akinakes / Achaemenid sword
    Daggers
    Long sword (very very rare, foreign/exotic, 2-handed hilt, not meant in the way D&D uses the term for what was an "arming sword")
    Harpe
    Sagaris / Achaemenid axe
    Maces

    Spears (various lengths)
    Dory
    Xyston
    Sarissa
    Falx / Rhomphaia
    "Dagger-axe" (Chinese weapon of the same period)
    "sword-spear" (shortish spear / pole-arm with larger two-sided blade; various names over time)

    Javelin
    Sling (variants)
    Bows (variants)
    Crossbows (as these were in use in China by this period and add another opportunity for variation in state forces)







    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    There does seem to be a shortage of decent hollywood cinema set in persia and babylon, now that I think of it. (Znyder's 300 was so wildly inaccurate that I don't think it would even spark recognition if you showed the source material.)
    Yep, exactly. (And double exactly. Fun movie, but nowhere near "based on", and barely qualifying for "inspired by".)

    Ooh, ooh ooh- mental image: Huge natural limestone spire looming above the flood-plains, carved out with internal staircases and a fortress on top. Tower of Babel.
    HAH!
    Perfect!
    That's going in my file for future use.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    There does seem to be a shortage of decent hollywood cinema set in persia and babylon, now that I think of it. (Znyder's 300 was so wildly inaccurate that I don't think it would even spark recognition if you showed the source material.)

    Ooh, ooh ooh- mental image: Huge natural limestone spire looming above the flood-plains, carved out with internal staircases and a fortress on top. Tower of Babel.


    Eh, don't worry- you can always unwrite it later. I can see you're busy, so I might come back to this later.

    Spoiler
    Show

    ...It's not 'phylactery', is it? Sounds a bit vanilla to me.

    Y'know... this is actually a scenario where hero-questing might fit rather well (given that 'time' and 'causality' are only loosely applicable to lovecraftian horrors.) Or maybe some kind of metaphysical/intellectual trials necessary to unwork the seals? A lock where the key is the sound of a mother's weeping, or a dodecahedron's shadow scribed on black paper, or carved from dragon bone, or the taste of a blue moon, or something else thematically appropriate?

    I'm loving the details on Zarrazussa so far- I guess the obvious question is what became of Dara and the Lakur after the rebellion? Did any remnant of the old state survive, or are there only charred sandstone ruins under a gleaming desert sky?

    Waitaminute... Are the Dalkhu undead? Like... zombie-style undead? Or more in the mold of necromancers/warlocks/liches, striking infernal pacts for immortality? I thought it was a generic label for human cultists.

    I'm a little puzzled about Ravishu. The nocturnal-debauchery connection makes sense, but in many cultures astronomy is associated with ideas of scientific observation, fate and predestination. (Sounds like a fun guy, though. 'Ravish-You'. heh.)

    I'll take a look at links this weekend.


    Spoiler: The Dalkhu...
    Show

    ...are spirits spawned from all the stuff leftover when the "living world" was created, with powers similar to nature or conceptual or ancestor spirits, but unbound by the "feedback loop" of emotion/belief and power and malleable nature, and more parasitic when unconstrained. "Dalkhu sorcerers" are mortal cultists and warlocks who make sacrifices and pacts to obtain power from these spirits. ("Dalkhu" is a Sumerian/Old Akkadian word for "evil spirits".) Consider the "black blood" to be the spiritual equivalent of antimatter, without the mutual annihilation.


    Spoiler: Ravishu...
    Show

    ...was once associated with secrets found in the stars and opening the mind to "larger realities", and was said to always be waiting "as close as the stars". His debauchery had an element of despair and ennui because his own searching had failed. ( Also, "Rahv-ee-shoo" )

    Also, I'm iffy on divination, especially for an RPG setting. I've played and run games in settings where divination is a known quantity, and it really seems to mainly serve as a way for stories to be short-circuited -- as soon as players know it's possible, they tend to flock to it, IME.


    Spoiler: Dara and the Lakur...
    Show

    There's probably more "grist for the story mill" if some hidden element of the Lakur survived. I haven't decided on what happened to The Red City. It might be interesting to see what the Kataru would have done with the place besides "salt the earth".


    Added another Anzillu to the earlier post.

    Also, love the idea of "the spire", and there are some places it would fit in.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-09 at 06:39 PM.
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    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    So, coming back to the subject of weapons and armor while I work on other things.

    Are there any weapons or armor that are period-appropriate that you'd like to see more of in a setting?
    Remember that you can go outside the obvious "Greeks and their enemies" box here.

    Here's what I'm looking at for weapons so far (names are just for familiarity, not sure what I'm doing on naming yet).

    Xiphos
    Kopis / Falcata
    Akinakes / Achaemenid sword
    Daggers
    Long sword (very very rare, foreign/exotic, 2-handed hilt, not meant in the way D&D uses the term for what was an "arming sword")
    Harpe
    Sagaris / Achaemenid axe
    Maces

    Spears (various lengths)
    Dory
    Xyston
    Sarissa
    Falx / Rhomphaia
    "Dagger-axe" (Chinese weapon of the same period)
    "sword-spear" (shortish spear / pole-arm with larger two-sided blade; various names over time)

    Javelin
    Sling (variants)
    Bows (variants)
    Crossbows (as these were in use in China by this period and add another opportunity for variation in state forces)
    On swords: you don't appear to have any cavalry swords in there. Both Celtic/Skythian straight swords and lengthened versions of the xiphos and kopis. They'd be longer than the versions used by infantry, for obvious reasons.

    It's a small point, but the akinakes and sagaris were steppe weapons, adopted by the settled Iranian peoples; both are horseman's weapons.

    You've left out two-handed axes. They're more of a Classical than Hellenistic thing (the Carians, for example, were famous for them), but they're an option.

    How ubiquitous do you intend javelins to be? Celtic influence in the Hellenistic era was such that virtually everyone used them unless they carried a pike; even hoplites might have a heavy javelin/throwing spear (longche) as well as their doru, especially if they had a shieldbearer at their shoulder. If your weapon stats are granular enough, it's worth making distinctions between light javelins (like the akontio - too flimsy to use in melee) and heavy ones (like the longche - which can double as a fighting spear, or indeed the framea, pilum or soliferra) and make throwing a doru generally a poor choice.

    Not just Celts, though, the javelin was of course a good horseman's weapon. The classic steppe warrior's loadout was a composite bow, a pair of javelins, a spear/lance and an akinakes or two.

    Moving on to armour and shields. I'd expect at least the following armour to be present:
    Leather, iron and bronze helmets of various sorts and varying coverage
    Arm protection in the form of chieres/manica, metal vambraces and bridle gauntlets
    Leather/linen/quilted other textile thoraxes
    Pteryges, ie groin protection
    Bronze and iron cuirasses
    Leather-backed scale and lamellar - both thoraxes and full-body suits
    Mail with or without doublers over the shoulders (but not full-body mail)
    Thigh plates
    Greaves - leather, bronze and iron

    Along with rules for combining different bits and pieces together. Wearing helmet and greaves, along with a shield to provide coverage for most of the body should be an option. Along with opting for nothing but a shield. This isn't the medieval era, after all, where armour was king.

    Talking of shields, don't fall into D&D's trap of treating them as an optional accessory and virtually indistinguishable. Again if your system is granular enough, there should be distinctions between a pelte, thureos and aspis. One way to help distinguish them is different properties against melee and missile attacks. Bigger shields can have a much bigger bonus against missiles than they do melee attacks. There's also the impact on formation fighting to consider - small ones would give little benefit to a cohesive unit, whereas big ones where men can cover each other would.

    What's the general fashion for cavalry and shields? Cavalry using shields in the Hellenistic era was another thing attributed to Celtic influence, most Greek and Persian horsemen at the start of the period preferred to do without. Later, though, they became pretty commonplace.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    On swords: you don't appear to have any cavalry swords in there. Both Celtic/Skythian straight swords and lengthened versions of the xiphos and kopis. They'd be longer than the versions used by infantry, for obvious reasons.

    It's a small point, but the akinakes and sagaris were steppe weapons, adopted by the settled Iranian peoples; both are horseman's weapons.

    You've left out two-handed axes. They're more of a Classical than Hellenistic thing (the Carians, for example, were famous for them), but they're an option.

    How ubiquitous do you intend javelins to be? Celtic influence in the Hellenistic era was such that virtually everyone used them unless they carried a pike; even hoplites might have a heavy javelin/throwing spear (longche) as well as their doru, especially if they had a shieldbearer at their shoulder. If your weapon stats are granular enough, it's worth making distinctions between light javelins (like the akontio - too flimsy to use in melee) and heavy ones (like the longche - which can double as a fighting spear, or indeed the framea, pilum or soliferra) and make throwing a doru generally a poor choice.

    Not just Celts, though, the javelin was of course a good horseman's weapon. The classic steppe warrior's loadout was a composite bow, a pair of javelins, a spear/lance and an akinakes or two.
    Thank you -- that helps fill in some gaps.

    I'll certainly differentiate between the various javelins, multi-use spears, and not-really-for-throwing spears.

    The widespread presence and use of javelins also gives an immediate sense of "you're not in Medieval Mashup Fantasy Land now, Dorothy", I think.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Moving on to armour and shields. I'd expect at least the following armour to be present:
    Leather, iron and bronze helmets of various sorts and varying coverage
    Arm protection in the form of chieres/manica, metal vambraces and bridle gauntlets
    Leather/linen/quilted other textile thoraxes
    Pteryges, ie groin protection
    Bronze and iron cuirasses
    Leather-backed scale and lamellar - both thoraxes and full-body suits
    Mail with or without doublers over the shoulders (but not full-body mail)
    Thigh plates
    Greaves - leather, bronze and iron

    Along with rules for combining different bits and pieces together. Wearing helmet and greaves, along with a shield to provide coverage for most of the body should be an option. Along with opting for nothing but a shield. This isn't the medieval era, after all, where armour was king.
    Even more than the somewhat cosmetic sword differences, and the javelin use, I think it's going to the armor differences that give combat in his setting a different feel.

    Heavy near-full-coverage armor is going to be used mainly by core heavy infantry, heavy cavalry and specialist forces. Mail will be something usually only seen on the wealthy and elite/professional soldiers, and wearing mail is a sign that you're important and/or dangerous, and that you mean business.

    Most other troops will be more concerned with mobility, both on the march and in battle. They'll be relying mainly on their shields, wearing a helmet of some sort, and other bits to help protect that that doesn't protect.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Talking of shields, don't fall into D&D's trap of treating them as an optional accessory and virtually indistinguishable. Again if your system is granular enough, there should be distinctions between a pelte, thureos and aspis. One way to help distinguish them is different properties against melee and missile attacks. Bigger shields can have a much bigger bonus against missiles than they do melee attacks. There's also the impact on formation fighting to consider - small ones would give little benefit to a cohesive unit, whereas big ones where men can cover each other would.

    What's the general fashion for cavalry and shields? Cavalry using shields in the Hellenistic era was another thing attributed to Celtic influence, most Greek and Persian horsemen at the start of the period preferred to do without. Later, though, they became pretty commonplace.
    Shields are one of the reasons I want whatever system I finally decide on to feature active defensive actions/rolls, not just abstracted passive "defensive rating" or the like. I want shields (and weapons) to be the primary defense for most fighters, and for different shields to have different uses / advantages.

    Cavalry's preference of shield will vary between the states, and the other cultures. I do plan to have most of the states maintain a relatively small professional force, along with the standard of calling up able-bodied citizens to serve, and one type of professional force will be a sort of troubleshooting medium troops trained to fight mounted and on foot, a sort of "thorakitai dragoons" -- with mail shirts, good helms, supplementary armor, shield, spear, sidearm, and light throwing javelins.
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    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'll certainly differentiate between the various javelins, multi-use spears, and not-really-for-throwing spears.

    The widespread presence and use of javelins also gives an immediate sense of "you're not in Medieval Mashup Fantasy Land now, Dorothy", I think.

    Even more than the somewhat cosmetic sword differences, and the javelin use, I think it's going to the armor differences that give combat in his setting a different feel.

    Heavy near-full-coverage armor is going to be used mainly by core heavy infantry, heavy cavalry and specialist forces. Mail will be something usually only seen on the wealthy and elite/professional soldiers, and wearing mail is a sign that you're important and/or dangerous, and that you mean business.

    Most other troops will be more concerned with mobility, both on the march and in battle. They'll be relying mainly on their shields, wearing a helmet of some sort, and other bits to help protect that that doesn't protect.

    Shields are one of the reasons I want whatever system I finally decide on to feature active defensive actions/rolls, not just abstracted passive "defensive rating" or the like. I want shields (and weapons) to be the primary defense for most fighters, and for different shields to have different uses / advantages.

    Cavalry's preference of shield will vary between the states, and the other cultures. I do plan to have most of the states maintain a relatively small professional force, along with the standard of calling up able-bodied citizens to serve, and one type of professional force will be a sort of troubleshooting medium troops trained to fight mounted and on foot, a sort of "thorakitai dragoons" -- with mail shirts, good helms, supplementary armor, shield, spear, sidearm, and light throwing javelins.

    It sounds very well thought out. I just want to add some additional points which might trigger some ideas.

    Jevelins and throwing spears: one thing to note is that some javelin-heads have barbs or similar to prevent them from being removed from a wounds. This might add some versatility in the use of javelins compared to other spears.

    Shields: I agree on the more active and varied use of shields: do you have any idea how this will be implemented in practise?

    I have a few thoughts on the variability.

    The main distinction I think is not size, but rather "grip-method". Shields frequently have centre grips (Celtic shields, thureos etc) or is to some degree strapped to the arm (aspis). I think this really affect how you use the shield. All shields are "active" or at least can be in some situations (you move them about and can also attack with them) but I think centre-grips should be used more "pro-active" if that makes sense. They can be used at a greater distance to trap enemy weapon even before their attack, and as part of your attack.

    The there are the materials: I think Peltes is made of wicker or leather or other soft materials (is that correct Kiero?), while other shields are made of wood (most Celtic shields, as well as aspis and thureos types, and later scutum types). Some have parts in metal (central boses, edges etc) or is covered in metal sheets (some of the aspis type shields). Thus you can within a "size" have three degrees of weight: light materials, heavier wood (perhaps with sheets of leather and a metal boss), and metal reinforced wood (I think full metal shields is rare in the period, but I may be wrong).

    So strong shields for elite heavy infantry, with wooden shields for normal purposes, and lighter shields for fast moving troops (such as skirmishers etc).

    The there are the shape: round, oval and rectangular (with some Celtic shields best described as rectangular-oval or oval-hexagon). There are more shapes, but most fall within these groups. Is there a difference in the use? Round shields tend to be better balanced for soem manuvres, but offers less leg-prtection compared to size/weight ets. This might be too small to model in a game?

    Another shape aspect is curved or flat shields.

    Then there are size, but most shields from the period is rather large.
    Last edited by Tobtor; 2016-09-10 at 06:38 AM.

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

    Depends on the kind of pelte; those half-moon shaped ones and the lighter sort are certainly wicker, leather or the like. The Makedonian "pelte" used by pikemen and some better qualities of skirmisher (which is of course given the same name...) is basically a small aspis. There's also those small, rectangular Skythian shields that appear on their artwork and goods.

    Worth considering whether you want any of the martial cultures to take on Greek mores regarding shields: that they symbolise a warrior's honour. Being cumbersome, they're the first thing you'd throw away in flight, so if you retain it, you're proving you're not a coward.

    Something else I forgot to mention regarding javelins: throwing aids. The ankyle/amentum was a loop of cord attached to the bottom which when used correctly extended the throwing range and power.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-09-10 at 07:36 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    The main distinction I think is not size, but rather "grip-method". Shields frequently have centre grips (Celtic shields, thureos etc) or is to some degree strapped to the arm (aspis). I think this really affect how you use the shield. All shields are "active" or at least can be in some situations (you move them about and can also attack with them) but I think centre-grips should be used more "pro-active" if that makes sense. They can be used at a greater distance to trap enemy weapon even before their attack, and as part of your attack.
    Yes -- I've read that center-grip is better for fighting in lose formations or solo duels, with shorter bursts of action, with the user protecting mainly himself and doing so actively, getting the shield into the enemy's attacks before they reach full extension/power; whereas the strap is mainly better for tight formation fighting where they overlap with the shields comrades on either side to form a "wall", and there's a long pressing grind.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Worth considering whether you want any of the martial cultures to take on Greek mores regarding shields: that they symbolise a warrior's honour. Being cumbersome, they're the first thing you'd throw away in flight, so if you retain it, you're proving you're not a coward.
    I think that is appropriate to the setting and atmosphere I'm trying to create -- thank you for the reminder/pointer on that aspect. "With your shield... or on it." is often attributed to the Spartans -- was it common in the rest of the Greek world as well?


    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Something else I forgot to mention regarding javelins: throwing aids. The ankyle/amentum was a loop of cord attached to the bottom which when used correctly extended the throwing range and power.
    Imparted spin too, didn't it?
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-10 at 06:04 PM.
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    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Yes -- I've read that center-grip is better for fighting in lose formations or solo duels, with shorter bursts of action, with the user protecting mainly himself and doing so actively, getting the shield into the enemy's attacks before they reach full extension/power; whereas the strap is mainly better for tight formation fighting where they overlap with the shields comrades on either side to form a "wall", and there's a long pressing grind.
    Yes I generally agree; however centre-grip shields are also used in wall formations (such as Vikings, Romans etc): perhaps not as tight, though there is some debate on how tight the Greek (etc) formations actually were. The aspis advantage is that its well suited to pushing (using your shoulder), while not loosing too much of the offensive capabilities. I would also think it worked better at bracing against cavalry charges (you feel more secure with a shield braced against your shoulder).

    Another difference I have noted is whether a centre grip is orientated horizontally or vertically (image of two reconstructions of shields from Hjortspring):
    Horizontal grip:


    Vertical grip:


    So what is the difference? I havn't seen any suggestions, but it seem most Roman scutum etc have a horizontal grip, this also seem the most common on Celtic shields.

    From playing around with mainly round shieds (where you can turn your hand as you please), but also some experience with scutums here is my take:

    The vertical grips allow you to do the things discussed by ThegnThand and Roland Warzecha (which are very good if you want to know how to fight with round shields in general. Especially since these techniques relies on rotation in some aspect.

    Thegn Trand

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kutX9FvjePI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqb2UuvdVXo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Agp6IO7vuOk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGL3I9uP4eA

    Roland Warzecha
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkhpqAGdZPc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsLb0-33ang

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrzOHN2rzE8

    For completion you can also see Skallagrim and scholagladiatoria

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0nuOu95uCo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaCxOwzGTLE

    These techniques are indeed very 'offensive' and active. But very hard to pull of with a shield with a horizontal centre grip, such as many Celtic shields (though not all) and scutums. So why having a centre grip horizontally? As they mainly appear on oblong shileds (hexagons, oval or rectangular) I think it is because it allows you to push your shoulder against the upper part of the shield in a push, and thus get some of the advanteges of the Aspis (though not as much), while still retaining the possible reach advantage of the centre grip. This might also be the reason behind the curved scutumes, which cannot be used as Theng Thrand and Roland suggest Viking shields to be used (the flatter oval scutums can to some degree). Also horizontal grips lower the shield, allowing better leg protection in a shield wall.

    So: holding the centre vertically is when the shield is used very offensively, horisontally more defensive and in formations, and the aspis style strap might be better for very heavy shields (better resting on your body) and for very intense pushing/bracing against cavalry.

    Of course there is also the way shields were used on horseback, and here I thing a horizontal grip is far the best for protecting your legs (though again very little have been done on this by re-enactors as working with horses is difficult). Again a round shield can be used "turned" both ways of course combining the two techniques in one shield.

    Another thing a strap on the shield can do for you is freeing your hand (or at least part time freeing it), for other purposes, such as reining a horse or shooting a bow, something like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG5xkbUxXrg

    I do not know how common this was in the period.

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

    Pikemen often had a shield strapped to their shoulder, while retaining two hands on the pike.

    A couple of images of the ankyle/amentum:



    Last edited by Kiero; 2016-09-11 at 06:09 AM.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post

    A couple of images of the ankyle/amentum:

    Spoiler
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    That certainly looks like it would create spin.

    I'm guessing they pre-wrapped so that the thrower could just hook the finger, line it up, and throw.
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    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.

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    Lacuna Caster -- I added some additional Anzillu to the post above.

    Additionally, I'm thinking about rewriting the existing entries to have two sections -- the most common mortal perception of the Anzillu in question as a deity, and then a "behind the mask" with more about what's making that Anzillu tick.
    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobtor View Post
    Spoiler
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    Yes I generally agree; however centre-grip shields are also used in wall formations (such as Vikings, Romans etc): perhaps not as tight, though there is some debate on how tight the Greek (etc) formations actually were. The aspis advantage is that its well suited to pushing (using your shoulder), while not loosing too much of the offensive capabilities. I would also think it worked better at bracing against cavalry charges (you feel more secure with a shield braced against your shoulder).

    Another difference I have noted is whether a centre grip is orientated horizontally or vertically (image of two reconstructions of shields from Hjortspring):
    Horizontal grip:


    Vertical grip:


    So what is the difference? I havn't seen any suggestions, but it seem most Roman scutum etc have a horizontal grip, this also seem the most common on Celtic shields.

    From playing around with mainly round shieds (where you can turn your hand as you please), but also some experience with scutums here is my take:

    The vertical grips allow you to do the things discussed by ThegnThand and Roland Warzecha (which are very good if you want to know how to fight with round shields in general. Especially since these techniques relies on rotation in some aspect.

    Thegn Trand

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kutX9FvjePI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqb2UuvdVXo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Agp6IO7vuOk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGL3I9uP4eA

    Roland Warzecha
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkhpqAGdZPc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsLb0-33ang

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrzOHN2rzE8

    For completion you can also see Skallagrim and scholagladiatoria

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0nuOu95uCo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaCxOwzGTLE

    These techniques are indeed very 'offensive' and active. But very hard to pull of with a shield with a horizontal centre grip, such as many Celtic shields (though not all) and scutums. So why having a centre grip horizontally? As they mainly appear on oblong shileds (hexagons, oval or rectangular) I think it is because it allows you to push your shoulder against the upper part of the shield in a push, and thus get some of the advanteges of the Aspis (though not as much), while still retaining the possible reach advantage of the centre grip. This might also be the reason behind the curved scutumes, which cannot be used as Theng Thrand and Roland suggest Viking shields to be used (the flatter oval scutums can to some degree). Also horizontal grips lower the shield, allowing better leg protection in a shield wall.

    So: holding the centre vertically is when the shield is used very offensively, horisontally more defensive and in formations, and the aspis style strap might be better for very heavy shields (better resting on your body) and for very intense pushing/bracing against cavalry.

    Of course there is also the way shields were used on horseback, and here I thing a horizontal grip is far the best for protecting your legs (though again very little have been done on this by re-enactors as working with horses is difficult). Again a round shield can be used "turned" both ways of course combining the two techniques in one shield.

    Another thing a strap on the shield can do for you is freeing your hand (or at least part time freeing it), for other purposes, such as reining a horse or shooting a bow, something like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG5xkbUxXrg

    I do not know how common this was in the period.
    Had a chance to watch / listen to some of the videos, and, yeah... my dream ideal game takes all of that into consideration while allowing for fast and tense combat resolution. I'm not sure if such an ideal is achievable in the mundane world we physically inhabit.
    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Lacuna Caster -- I added some additional Anzillu to the post above.

    Additionally, I'm thinking about rewriting the existing entries to have two sections -- the most common mortal perception of the Anzillu in question as a deity, and then a "behind the mask" with more about what's making that Anzillu tick.
    I might suggest leaving 'em in the top post- have a sort of central reference point there?
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'll take a look at links this weekend.
    They're not really deep scholarly references- just some flippant/humorous efforts at framing the right ambience. :) Oh, speaking of which- have some more eldritch horrors. Or perhaps a more stately soundtrack?


    Spoiler
    Show
    [The Dalkhu] are spirits spawned from all the stuff leftover when the "living world" was created, with powers similar to nature or conceptual or ancestor spirits, but unbound by the "feedback loop" of emotion/belief and power and malleable nature, and more parasitic when unconstrained. "Dalkhu sorcerers" are mortal cultists and warlocks who make sacrifices and pacts to obtain power from these spirits. ("Dalkhu" is a Sumerian/Old Akkadian word for "evil spirits".) Consider the "black blood" to be the spiritual equivalent of antimatter, without the mutual annihilation.
    Yeah... that sounds very reminiscent of the 'negative energy plane' from standardised D&D cosmology, which I always thought sounded like a naive mechanical handwave-explanation for mindless undead. Tangentially, I always preferred the idea of treating zombies and ghouls and shades as individual personages who had to bought, bullied or cajoled into service (even if a given deity's patronage gave you a certain degree of leverage)... but I imagine that'd be an apt description for the Dalkhu/sorceror relationship?
    I'm iffy on divination, especially for an RPG setting. I've played and run games in settings where divination is a known quantity, and it really seems to mainly serve as a way for stories to be short-circuited -- as soon as players know it's possible, they tend to flock to it, IME.
    It'd be interesting to discuss the game-system implications, alright, but my main point was that most cultures associate stars and constellations with rationalist, systematising concerns, and here you have this very unruly, hedonic, dyonisian entity instead. It's an odd pairing. Did Ravishu explicitly tell his followers he had some kind of astrological connection or did they draw that parallel themselves? Evettazi and Narzalak sound fine in any case, but I'm really itching for the geographic specifics on the dudes beside Zarruzassa- i.e, which cities, cultures or mortal representatives were they connected with?

    Evetazzi sounds like a very 'Belle Dame Sans Merci', realm-of-fae/dreamtime sort of creature, so by default I'd imagine her being popular in the untamed outback, but maybe some urbanised, decadent, lotus-eater intellectuals would be the primary cult adherents? Addiction might be a common complaint(?), but it'd also be easy to imagine a prematurely-woken dreamer leaving their 'materials' in a half-transmogrified state- plenty of Cronenberg-esque possibilities there, along with impossible, non-euclidean landscapes.

    I'm imagining Narzalak having small shrines in each town within the major empires, and enchanted milestones stretching along the routes between, plus stone circles on hilltops or remote islands as a means of dimensional gating. Maybe a 'neutral zone' between the various political powers and sanctuary for criminals... with a certain proportion bent backwards over the milestones and disemboweled to keep the wards active?


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Had a chance to watch / listen to some of the videos, and, yeah... my dream ideal game takes all of that into consideration while allowing for fast and tense combat resolution. I'm not sure if such an ideal is achievable in the mundane world we physically inhabit.
    EDIT: I recall the Riddle of Steel got some kind of official stamp-of-approval from a proper medieval martial arts association, but it's been largely superceded by Burning Wheel these days. (I still reckon Hero Wars might be your best shot for integrating a wide range of religious/magical practices though.)
    Last edited by Lacuna Caster; 2016-09-14 at 10:14 PM.

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

    @ Lacuna_Caster -- I replied within the spoiler below to make it easier to keep straight.

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Yeah... that sounds very reminiscent of the 'negative energy plane' from standardized D&D cosmology, which I always thought sounded like a naive mechanical handwave-explanation for mindless undead. Tangentially, I always preferred the idea of treating zombies and ghouls and shades as individual personages who had to bought, bullied or cajoled into service (even if a given deity's patronage gave you a certain degree of leverage)... but I imagine that'd be an apt description for the Dalkhu/sorceror relationship?
    There's no "planar cosmology" of the D&D sort here, really... there are pocket realms and reflections and spaces between, but no "astral plane" or "elemental planes" as such.

    And I'm thinking no mindless undead, no shambling hordes. I've never really understood how zombie horror became a default part of fantasy RPG settings. If there are undead of any sort, they'll have more to do with the misuse of spirits, vengeance from beyond the grave, that sort of thing. They'll be intelligent or just inscrutable, infused with menace or tragedy or...

    The Dalkhu aren't supposed to be undead. They're a conjunction of old beliefs about "unclean spirits" and demons, "ashes and dark waters" imagery from several places (for example, Pink Floyd's Sorrow) that fascinates me, and the nature of the setting's creation. All of reality is, in crude terms, the corpse of an infinite entity from before time, and what she did was more "mad science" than noble sacrifice. There was bound to be "stuff" out of that infinity that wouldn't work, wasn't needed, as part of the living world of finite, independent, discrete things and spirits she was trying to make. They're the ashes and embers left from her fire, all the parts that would have made the living world eat away at itself...

    And when I saw this image, my immediate thought was "that's Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli", or at least her wearing a mortal mask...

    Spoiler: Margrave of ashes and shadow... master of the black blood...
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    She's also the one you haven't commented on yet...


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    It'd be interesting to discuss the game-system implications, alright, but my main point was that most cultures associate stars and constellations with rationalist, systematising concerns, and here you have this very unruly, hedonic, dyonisian entity instead. It's an odd pairing. Did Ravishu explicitly tell his followers he had some kind of astrological connection or did they draw that parallel themselves?
    In part, yes, he presented himself as a "star god" -- that's his story and his imagery. Part of it is the idea of "sex, drugs, and enlightenment". And in part the disconnect is because he started out as a "rational" searcher for the ways of time and space, for a key to unlock the world, but lost all hope, and turned to things that were both distraction, and grasping for a lost oneness with others. (And frankly, I really like the imagery that comes out of Monster Magnet's music and the Anzillu-appropriate bizarre disconnect with the rest of the setting.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Evettazi and Narzalak sound fine in any case, but I'm really itching for the geographic specifics on the dudes beside Zarruzassa- i.e, which cities, cultures or mortal representatives were they connected with?

    Evetazzi sounds like a very 'Belle Dame Sans Merci', realm-of-fae/dreamtime sort of creature, so by default I'd imagine her being popular in the untamed outback, but maybe some urbanised, decadent, lotus-eater intellectuals would be the primary cult adherents? Addiction might be a common complaint(?), but it'd also be easy to imagine a prematurely-woken dreamer leaving their 'materials' in a half-transmogrified state- plenty of Cronenberg-esque possibilities there, along with impossible, non-euclidean landscapes.

    I'm imagining Narzalak having small shrines in each town within the major empires, and enchanted milestones stretching along the routes between, plus stone circles on hilltops or remote islands as a means of dimensional gating. Maybe a 'neutral zone' between the various political powers and sanctuary for criminals... with a certain proportion bent backwards over the milestones and disemboweled to keep the wards active?
    I like the "Belle Dame Sans Merci" comparison for Evetazzi. She offers the seduction of ultimate power, smiling benignly and with seemingly gentle touch, but at the risk of total loss of self, because there's so little compassion and mercy there.

    In a way, I wanted to avoid too many "and this is the god of city X" or "and this was the god of fighters" associations. It's more what you were looking for, and less who or where you were, that would have determined which of the Anzillu you'd offer supplication or placation to. Zarruzassa was an exception.

    That said, there were certain types who tended to give special reverence to, or become outright devotees of, specific Anzillu. For example, the aforementioned White Order of Evetazzi, or the "warlocks" who petitioned Kalesh for knowledge of how to bind dark spirits. Narzalak would attract wanderers, and those desperate for change at any cost, and those who "transgress" boundaries, but as you say, would also be the deity called in in marking borders and boundaries, again part of the contradictions that Narzalak embodies. Ravishu had the obvious dilettantes, seekers, pleasure-workers, and addicts. I'm sure I'll come up with more and better as I work on this.

    Something I do want to preserve is a sense of subtle misalignment between what mortals care about, and what the Anzillu were able to put forth when acting as "gods". The Anzillu and mortals were mutually alien to each other, and the connections never quite lined up correctly -- even when the individual Anzillu in question was earnestly trying.


    The three names I'm still working on more-detailed motives, masks, and mortal devotees for:

    Nerzhalmanis, the Watcher in the Wilds
    Nekel of the Countless Eyes
    Avsu, the Creeping Doom

    Avsu, is I think going to be the deity of crawling things, and plagues, and unchecked consumption, a devourer-god who is largely placated rather than supplicated, begging him to turn his eye elsewhere, offering sacrifices to sate his hungers. Probably seen as the most openly antagonistic of these entities from the human perspective.

    As for the other two, I'm coming up blank, and at this point I'd be open to starting from scratch with just the name, filling some holes in what the mortals might be looking for, and working backwards from that to something that fits the Anzillu and that "off" alignment with human interests, and then attaching an appropriate but "skin crawly" sounding appellation.




    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Excellent. Very fitting for Zarruzassa.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    [Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli's] the one you haven't commented on yet...
    Mainly because I'm primarily interested in how mortals would interface with these entities, so your description of what the Dalkhu Sorcerors got up to mostly covered that for me.

    (Hmm. That pic's a little too conventionally pretty for me... I'd imagine something like unholy communion or the succubus. Actually, I'm just gonna throw Wayne Barlowe at you until you go look at Brushfire/Inferno.)

    In a way, I wanted to avoid too many "and this is the god of city X" or "and this was the god of fighters" associations. It's more what you were looking for, and less who or where you were, that would have determined which of the Anzillu you'd offer supplication or placation to. Zarruzassa was an exception.
    Yeah, that's fine- a cosmopolitan melting pot of different sects and philosophies is perfectly plausible, though that tends to go hand in hand with large, urbanised 'civilising' empires. (As such it would be something of an irony if the Anzillu period was actually more 'peaceful' than under the fledgling Kataru...)

    So... let's imagine you've got a sensual, luxurious coterminous empire, complete with concentrated elites, delegation of powers and loose bonds of feudal allegiance. That's separate from Dara, and you've got Narzalak's shrines and milestones in between as a neutral ground. (Zarruzassa himself has a rivalry with Ravishu, Evettazi and Avsu, is allied with Narzalak and Nekel, and tolerates Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli or Nerzhalmanis?)

    Anyway, I'm mainly curious about this so that you have a decent foundation for how the later civilisations 'grow' on top of the old world's wreckage (and maybe to flesh out the kind of spellcasting that renegade Anzillu-cults could specialise in. Good villains make great heroes, man.)

    As for the other two, I'm coming up blank, and at this point I'd be open to starting from scratch with just the name, filling some holes in what the mortals might be looking for, and working backwards from that to something that fits the Anzillu and that "off" alignment with human interests, and then attaching an appropriate but "skin crawly" sounding appellation.
    Well, the best I can come up with offhand:

    Nekel: A construct entity with no organic manifestation. Concerned with knowledge, divination and causality, mathematics, geometry and artifice. Crystal balls and other gems/facets serve as 'eyes'. (See the PalantÝr from LOTR or the Trapezohedron from Haunter of the Dark.)

    Avsu: Insects and fungi and parasitism. Consuming from within. Perverse forms of fecundity, growth and rape/pregnancy. Army ants and cordyceps, for a touch of zombie horror? Flooding and war as secondary attributes?

    Nerzhalmanis: Anything nature-related tends to default to 'fuzzy and wholesome', and Avsu has the biological-horror thing covered, so... symbiosis and stasis? Sacred groves with sexless, ageless 'dryad' worshippers, initiates force-fed on ichor-like sap/nectar? 'Tainted' wells and springs used for farming and irrigation? Trespassers transformed into trees or beasts-hybrids as guardians? Or something totally contradictory and unexpected? *shrugs*

    One thing that's notably missing is a deity for the Sun/Day, though I recall the Kataru are better at 'marking the stations' like that.


    That's all I got for the moment. Likely to be busy the next few days.
    Last edited by Lacuna Caster; 2016-09-16 at 01:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
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    Mainly because I'm primarily interested in how mortals would interface with these entities, so your description of what the Dalkhu Sorcerors got up to mostly covered that for me.

    (Hmm. That pic's a little too conventionally pretty for me... I'd imagine something like unholy communion or the succubus. Actually, I'm just gonna throw Wayne Barlowe at you until you go look at Brushfire/Inferno.)


    Yeah, that's fine- a cosmopolitan melting pot of different sects and philosophies is perfectly plausible, though that tends to go hand in hand with large, urbanised 'civilising' empires. (As such it would be something of an irony if the Anzillu period was actually more 'peaceful' than under the fledgling Kataru...)

    So... let's imagine you've got a sensual, luxurious coterminous empire, complete with concentrated elites, delegation of powers and loose bonds of feudal allegiance. That's separate from Dara, and you've got Narzalak's shrines and milestones in between as a neutral ground. (Zarruzassa himself has a rivalry with Ravishu, Evettazi and Avsu, is allied with Narzalak and Nekel, and tolerates Kalesh Sarrat Irkalli or Nerzhalmanis?)

    Anyway, I'm mainly curious about this so that you have a decent foundation for how the later civilisations 'grow' on top of the old world's wreckage (and maybe to flesh out the kind of spellcasting that renegade Anzillu-cults could specialise in. Good villains make great heroes, man.)



    Well, the best I can come up with offhand:

    Nekel: A construct entity with no organic manifestation. Concerned with knowledge, divination and causality, mathematics, geometry and artifice. Crystal balls and other gems/facets serve as 'eyes'. (See the PalantÝr from LOTR or the Trapezohedron from Haunter of the Dark.)

    Avsu: Insects and fungi and parasitism. Consuming from within. Perverse forms of fecundity, growth and rape/pregnancy. Army ants and cordyceps, for a touch of zombie horror? Flooding and war as secondary attributes?

    Nerzhalmanis: Anything nature-related tends to default to 'fuzzy and wholesome', and Avsu has the biological-horror thing covered, so... symbiosis and stasis? Sacred groves with sexless, ageless 'dryad' worshippers, initiates force-fed on ichor-like sap/nectar? 'Tainted' wells and springs used for farming and irrigation? Trespassers transformed into trees or beasts-hybrids as guardians? Or something totally contradictory and unexpected? *shrugs*

    One thing that's notably missing is a deity for the Sun/Day, though I recall the Kataru are better at 'marking the stations' like that.


    That's all I got for the moment. Likely to be busy the next few days.

    Appreciate it.

    Spoiler
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    Avsu -- I think we're both heading in the same direction there.

    Nekel -- excellent, consider this idea snagged. The idea of "seeing stones" all actually functioning because they're the countless "eyes" of a single entity of strange and malevolent curiosity, watching and listening everywhere a stone rests uncovered, absolutely works.

    Nerzhalmanis -- something to do with plants rather than animals might work, yes... but I'll have to mull this over.


    You know, there's an originally-unintentional recurring theme here is that most of the Anzillu want to ________ everything. Avsu wants to eat everything. Evettazi wants to know everything. Nekel wants to see/hear everything. Ravishu wants to, um, "feel" everything (after giving up on the search for how to be everywhere/everywhen). Zarruzassa wants to control/organize everything. Narzalak wants to change/be everything. Maybe it's all different takes on the desperation to reclaim "infinity". Perhaps I just leave out the last one (Nerzhalmanis) for now, until I can think of another "______ everything" and build from that; it's not like a specific number of Anzillu has any meaning.


    Kalesh -- I didn't even consider beauty or lack thereof, as it's just a mask. It's more the imagery: the bone "armor" and dragon-skull staff, the viscous shadow flowing and forming into vaguely-shaped dark spirits. As an aside, she's also the only one who I really cannot say wants to _______ everything, and that might have something to do with she was asked to make the promise she made, and take on the role she did.
    Spoiler
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    Short version -- the Anzillu who gave up her existence to achieve true creation and shattered into all of reality, extracted a cryptic promise from Kalesh that lead to Kalesh becoming the keeper of the Dalku.



    I'm familiar with Wayne Barlowe's artwork -- I have a couple of his books. I'll take a look at Brushfire.

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    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.

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

    Also, for anyone who was following this thread based on the actual subject, I'll try to pay some attention to the actual time period that the campaigns would be set in, over the weekend.

    (I absolutely agree with the idea that the past of the present in the setting needs to be fleshed out, especially given the particulars here, but it's not what the thread says on the tin, so I need to get back to covering both.)


    I still haven't found anything like a system I care for to run this in, and while I appreciate all the suggestions, I have a looming dread that I may be doing as much system homebrewing as I am setting homebrewing by the end of the project.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2016-09-16 at 08:15 PM.
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    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.

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

    As for names, I have two suggestions. If you want to look at European languages see if you can find "Proto-x." I based a language on Proto-Germanic for a game setting and I think it escaped being sorted into a box unlike using Norse names. It also had a sort of prehistoric Iron Age feel I was trying to invoke. Proto-Celtic might also be a good candidate.

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Categ...ic_given_names
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Categ...ic_given_names

    The second option might be to look native American languages and find one to base names on. Many Historical Native American figures are known by translations of their names, so while Crazy Horse is immediately categorizable, TȟaÜ˙ŋke Witkˇ probably isn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I still haven't found anything like a system I care for to run this in, and while I appreciate all the suggestions, I have a looming dread that I may be doing as much system homebrewing as I am setting homebrewing by the end of the project.
    Better watch out for those Revenuers then.
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    Default Re: How to -- 4th century BCE setting

    Not as busy as I'd thought, so a few quick suggestions...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Avsu -- I think we're both heading in the same direction there.

    Nekel -- excellent, consider this idea snagged. The idea of "seeing stones" all actually functioning because they're the countless "eyes" of a single entity of strange and malevolent curiosity, watching and listening everywhere a stone rests uncovered, absolutely works.

    Nerzhalmanis -- something to do with plants rather than animals might work, yes... but I'll have to mull this over.
    I do rather like the basic conceit of 'wants to X every Y'. It is hard to pin down a core motive for Kalesh though.

    There might be some other background questions worth answering: How old is the world? Did humans evolve naturally (i.e, semi-accidentally) over deep geological periods and the Anzillu only noticed, like, yesterday? Or were sentient organisms a semi-deliberate biproduct of the world's creation? Is the world flat or round or toroidal or hollow? Are there regular day/night cycles and seasons? Do the planets follow elliptical orbits or get affixed to crystal spheres? Are there planets at all? Moons? Stars? How many, and since when?

    (I was thinking Ravishu might be tad more natural if there were some 'random' junk in the heavens, like wandering planets or moons with complex phases. Possibly with some connection to 'lunacy' or the menstrual cycle.)

    On Nerzhalmanis: Maybe interested in 'accelerated evolution' and species uplift? Mutation and selection, survival of the fittest? Indirectly an inspiration/guide for hybrid crop strains or mixed horticulture? Apparently passive, but immensely patient. Maybe a patron of the southern jungles and snake-men you mentioned? An attempt to reproduce the emergence of human consciousness, but with better control and rapport?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoosigander View Post
    As for names, I have two suggestions. If you want to look at European languages see if you can find "Proto-x." I based a language on Proto-Germanic for a game setting and I think it escaped being sorted into a box unlike using Norse names. It also had a sort of prehistoric Iron Age feel I was trying to invoke. Proto-Celtic might also be a good candidate.

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Categ...ic_given_names
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Categ...ic_given_names

    The second option might be to look native American languages and find one to base names on. Many Historical Native American figures are known by translations of their names, so while Crazy Horse is immediately categorizable, TȟaÜ˙ŋke Witkˇ probably isn't.
    Will dig into those suggestions as time permits this week. Thank you. Being more obscure, they might be less likely to conjure up associations (unless a player is a linguist...)



    (Side note on why I've been relatively quiet -- my dad had complications on eye surgery that came to head this weekend, I have some sort of vile 48 hour crud, and while feeling like my lungs are rotting I drove the moving truck back and forth for a friend after her other help bailed on her.)
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    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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lacuna Caster View Post
    Not as busy as I'd thought, so a few quick suggestions...

    Spoiler
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    I do rather like the basic conceit of 'wants to X every Y'. It is hard to pin down a core motive for Kalesh though.

    There might be some other background questions worth answering: How old is the world? Did humans evolve naturally (i.e, semi-accidentally) over deep geological periods and the Anzillu only noticed, like, yesterday? Or were sentient organisms a semi-deliberate biproduct of the world's creation? Is the world flat or round or toroidal or hollow? Are there regular day/night cycles and seasons? Do the planets follow elliptical orbits or get affixed to crystal spheres? Are there planets at all? Moons? Stars? How many, and since when?

    (I was thinking Ravishu might be tad more natural if there were some 'random' junk in the heavens, like wandering planets or moons with complex phases. Possibly with some connection to 'lunacy' or the menstrual cycle.)

    On Nerzhalmanis: Maybe interested in 'accelerated evolution' and species uplift? Mutation and selection, survival of the fittest? Indirectly an inspiration/guide for hybrid crop strains or mixed horticulture? Apparently passive, but immensely patient. Maybe a patron of the southern jungles and snake-men you mentioned? An attempt to reproduce the emergence of human consciousness, but with better control and rapport?

    Spoiler
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    The world (Esharra) is old, at least in sense of an "old earth / young earth" division.

    Sentience/sapience was a deliberate effect of the "creator's" act, but took time to arise from more "basic" forms. The Anzillu didn't immediately notice what was happening, having largely grown board or complacent with earlier forms of life.

    The world is spherical, with day/night cycles and seasons. The "solar system" is of the same nature as ours, with a physical sun that existed before "the sun goddess" of the Kataru, and planets, and moons, and asteroids, and comets, and so on. There are objects visible in the night sky that don't follow apparent simple paths when viewed from Esharra. Comets and other events can occur "randomly". It's not, at that level at least, a clockwork universe... no crystal spheres or anything.

    The stars are far away, but I'm not sure if I'm ever going to spell out what they are, and instead might give competing philosophical or religious claims. Although here's a random and heavy thought... what if there were other planets out there, with other sorts of intelligent beings, all interacting with the Anzillu as their deities (perhaps wearing different masks there), and the actions of this one little group of people on one little world out of so many... silenced the gods for potentially billions, who would never know why it happened.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    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.

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