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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Found the exact reference in 3e Monster Manual II -- Automatons, pg 27-28.


    Still working on my reply to your long post above, have not abandoned the discussion.

    E: I pulled the post out so I can work on it a bit at a time as I get the opportunity -- with only some of my responses typed it's already 7 pages of single-spaced 10 pt text.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-22 at 11:31 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.

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    E: I pulled the post out so I can work on it a bit at a time as I get the opportunity -- with only some of my responses typed it's already 7 pages of single-spaced 10 pt text.
    Egads, this is turning into an exploration of sociology, philosophy, and economics in the name supporting logical world building in works of fantasy fiction. Which I think is good but do decide on what level of detail or grandness you want to set as a limit of what is useful to your project and damaging to your time/workflow and mental well being (says the guy with a couple thousand personality quick sketches, political, social, and secret social link maps, and details of plans and abilities, and reactions to the 2008 florida economic/property crash, of multiple centers of power in a WOD game-I really need to practice the self limit stuff more *sigh*)

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Relevant to the main topic, for now:

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    And as for the if the storm people are living at the latitudes describes in the Silurian Map (being at the north end) and you are going to include the polar bear story above you are still going to be dealing with a lot of farming issues. And the linked preservation issues. I could see them importing a lot os spices and favor additives from elsewhere that travel well but they are going to have a bear of a time growing most food crops which would limit local variety.... And honestly without a map I dont see why it work the way you described instead of the trade going in the direction of the storm peoples islands instead.

    EDIT: Okay I was looking at the large landmass in the south center as a large island, but you're saying it is more like Anatolia in cutting off the water to the west as an inland sea. Got it...I was was confusing that with the enclosed body of water defined by the triangle of the Storm People Islands and the continent. And also the Sea of Marmara equivalent body of water that the Twilight main city is on which is what I was taking as the Inland sea. It does beg the question of where the Choumin are taking this stuff. A wider view would be helpful but not critical.
    Hmm, I'm not really getting it across. To give a sense of scale, that inland sea is about the size of the Black Sea, and it connects two oceans. The islands to the east are the start of the long arc of islands that make up the greater Choumin "homeland" (similar to the arc shown on the Silurian age map, which is the reason I posted it originally). The landmass to the south is an entire continent, as is the landmass to the west and southwest. The Zath capital is at about 50 degrees north latitude, with a cool temperate climate.

    The Choumin / Storm People live across an entire range of climates, stretching south past the equator.
    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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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Hmm, I'm not really getting it across. To give a sense of scale, that inland sea is about the size of the Black Sea, and it connects two oceans. The islands to the east are the start of the long arc of islands that make up the greater Choumin "homeland" (similar to the arc shown on the Silurian age map, which is the reason I posted it originally). The landmass to the south is an entire continent, as is the landmass to the west and southwest. The Zath capital is at about 50 degrees north latitude, with a cool temperate climate.

    The Choumin / Storm People live across an entire range of climates, stretching south past the equator.
    this is starting to explain a lot. But labeling these kinds of things will help pick new names if you want but just to keep track of what we are each saying.

    The water in the far upper Right....Open Ocean beyond the Choumin isles. Pick a name but I'll refer to it as Open ocean for now
    Then we have the ocean between the Choumin Isles and continents - just to avoid confusion I'm going to call it the Choumin Sea
    Then we have the Body of water that the Zath City is on. Lets Call that the Zath Sea for now.
    Then you have a second ocean to the lower left. the Resenna Ocean perhaps?

    But since you said those were the northern Choumin isles - and we have repeated said the northern choumin isles are both rather far north and thus subarctic to polar bear levels of cold this gives us a rough indicator of how far north we can expect the Zath Cities to be located. Where the rest of the Choumin live is kinda irrelevant. All I care about is what that northernmost island is like in order to compare it to the nearby land mass.
    If you told me those isles on the map were the Southern end of the chain then I wouldn't have an issue with climactic limitations on them growing lots off different stuff. If you want to have the Choumin not be dealing with freezing their butts off you can warm the world up a couple degrees. Or you can slide the islands up farther north and work to the south to somehow send energy up north.
    But without that your Zath City is on the East Coast of the Northern Hemisphere and will thus have a climate link closer to well, Nova Scotia (or Petroplavosk on a good day) than London (they are both at 51 degrees North). The Japan Current/Gulf Stream will not be helping them in this physical location unless you mess in a kinda huge way around down near the equator to make it happen. Otherwise most of the warmth pickup up in the surface water is going to run up the Open Ocean side of the Choumin Islands (and frankly since there would most likely be a current drawing from the north against the body of the continent least to some really epic storms there....which honestly I thought you kinda planned....was that just lucky?)

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    this is starting to explain a lot. But labeling these kinds of things will help pick new names if you want but just to keep track of what we are each saying.

    The water in the far upper Right....Open Ocean beyond the Choumin isles. Pick a name but I'll refer to it as Open ocean for now
    Then we have the ocean between the Choumin Isles and continents - just to avoid confusion I'm going to call it the Choumin Sea
    Then we have the Body of water that the Zath City is on. Lets Call that the Zath Sea for now.
    Then you have a second ocean to the lower left. the Resenna Ocean perhaps?

    But since you said those were the northern Choumin isles - and we have repeated said the northern choumin isles are both rather far north and thus subarctic to polar bear levels of cold this gives us a rough indicator of how far north we can expect the Zath Cities to be located. Where the rest of the Choumin live is kinda irrelevant. All I care about is what that northernmost island is like in order to compare it to the nearby land mass.

    If you told me those isles on the map were the Southern end of the chain then I wouldn't have an issue with climactic limitations on them growing lots off different stuff. If you want to have the Choumin not be dealing with freezing their butts off you can warm the world up a couple degrees. Or you can slide the islands up farther north and work to the south to somehow send energy up north.

    But without that your Zath City is on the East Coast of the Northern Hemisphere and will thus have a climate link closer to well, Nova Scotia (or Petroplavosk on a good day) than London (they are both at 51 degrees North). The Japan Current/Gulf Stream will not be helping them in this physical location unless you mess in a kinda huge way around down near the equator to make it happen. Otherwise most of the warmth pickup up in the surface water is going to run up the Open Ocean side of the Choumin Islands (and frankly since there would most likely be a current drawing from the north against the body of the continent least to some really epic storms there....which honestly I thought you kinda planned....was that just lucky?)
    I'll have to expand that map at least in rough form to give the full picture. There are a LOT of islands stretching out into that long arc.

    Plus some of the problem is I think my bad drawing skills.
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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: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    This is going to get big, and it's kinda a giant subthread, so I'm putting it in a spoiler. I do need to stop wracking my brain about it for a while and get back to what I was intending to work on, too.

    One thing I think might be happening is that we're going past each other. I've been concentrating on how the Zath are not human and thus unintentionally exaggerating some things and skipping over some others; and some of your responses seem to be based on how many humans might react if living in the Zath culture.

    Keep in mind that I’m also speaking of the standard, the “middle majority” here. Of course there’s variation, but it’s different plot on the graph than the plot for most human cultures would be.

    I hope you don't mind if I answer a bit out of order so that I can bring paragraphs touching on the same ideas together.


    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    The reason I point it out is their culture will produced people who are likely to be highly successful in a non-homogeneous culture. Also their focus on alchemy, strange science etc means that they will need are great variety of resources. Zath Individuals and small groups will find it highly advantageous over the course of their very long lives to come to dominate the means of production of these resources rather than unstable human domination. And since over time all human lands will have unstable periods there many opportunities for those Zath looking for advancement in really any way (as money is moderately convertible into other forms). They have the ability to do so which mean it is likely that some will have tried it....adding a cultural norm BLOCKING the idea may be good idea if you don't want people to ask why they haven't done so when they are so set up to be able to.
    In part, the border cities/towns along the eastern coast, up in the mountains to the west a couple of places, etc, are where these sorts of things go on -- Zath in defacto control, and making sure that dangerous (from their POV) cults and sects don't take hold, but mainly concerned with trading and controlling resources and running businesses. In those "client states" along the southern shore, there are human rulers in nominal control, but behind each throne or council chamber there's a group of Zath who've been around the place for generations with "concerns"... who generally want the place run in a fair and orderly manner because it's good for their "interests".

    In part, the wider world is a dangerous place, where the Zath are already untrusted, and would be targets, across much of "the west" and "the south". They're as much myth as reality out there; rumor has it that they're all necromancers or the walking dead or animated constructs; that they spread curses and poison; that they're to blame for the death of the gods; etc. The Zath who venture to those parts of the world are either insanely competent, or just a bit insane (by their standards at least) -- the Zath protagonist in the fiction side of this project is one or both of those...

    Because too many humans are strange, and tribal, and short-sighted, and superstitious, and reactionary.

    Because from their PoV every human is suffering from a terminal disease called “being mortal”, and after losing enough friends and colleagues even the really adventurous and/or outgoing Zath just want to go back to the homeland and be around people who won’t die on them in a few decades.

    Because by human standards quite a few Zaths are kinda homebodies who find what they like and then stick with it, they try new things, but once they find something they like they want it to be there, not disappear when they aren’t looking (what do you mean, the owner died and his son didn’t want to continue the business?).


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    I would expect TONS. You have described them as individualistic, with a low link to tradition, and raised without large amounts of social normalizing via their own age group because they are all effectively only children raised in a child poor environment. You have described them as having very long to reinforce their own ideas slowly growing more arcane and extreme. A keeping you nose out of others business will lead to being able to block debate if they don't want it allowing them to isolate further. A core "humanness" has not stopped us from producing a huge variety of idea, ideals, etc. Plus they don't have one system "GIVEN" to them young and rather have to develop their own. And just having the ancient historical figures still around doesn't help if they are not traditionalists (then that really would help them). But even if an average Zath female had 1 child every 150-200 years and we are an eon after the Barrenlands war (so what 1K? 2K year ago?) most of the Zaths alive would be several generations removed from the first post war generation. So there is plenty of time and room to drift.
    At least 1000 years... enough time for human civilizations to develop to the level we've been describing the Choumin at, or the Raassena's "Rome without the terminal rot", from the rubble of the fallen "solar empire".

    You’re probably looking at 200 years minimum gap… the parents are expected to be able to pay for everything themselves or to have the expressed voluntary support of family/friends, as it’s their choice to have the child and imposing the costs of one’s life choices on others is considered aggressively irresponsible. And they’re not the most fertile of species, it’s not like “these things just happen” after a few months, it generally has to be somewhat deliberate even without alchemical birth control.

    The way I was looking at it, there's no "youth culture", slang, or style, no counter-counter-counter-culture swings, no huge generational conflicts, developing... most kids don't have peers around, just adults ranging from considerably to extremely older... so all the ideas and thoughts they get come from those who've been around for a long time.

    There are things Zath parents are expected to make sure their kids know (and that the kids are expected to learn), because the child would function poorly -- and be a burden on others -- without that knowledge, and because raising a child is seen as a responsibility and certain things are owed to this new person that the parents have brought into the world without the child having any say in the matter. It would be awkward on a regular basis for a Zath to not know history, or mathematics, or the basics of the "sciences", or some political concepts. Plus the flip side of being a burden on others is that one is also dependent on them, and thus sacrificing one’s own freedoms, not a situation that the culture considers laudable.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    waiiit you know how you want to build world where hanging your suspension of disbelief to death is bad thing? This conflicts with it.

    Ideally that is true of a bunch of human societies too....Never works that way. You just said it does for the Zath... and gave no mechanism it make it so. That would be great and all if it did work that way and may be what happens they say the right thing but then it just becomes a performative aspect of the job for those "unusual" Zath who do want power, or the respect of their fellows etc. It would act as a sorting system for those who are such “unusual" Zath. The system is also easily abused by those who want to use such a position to further their own interests rather than that of the wider society in part because you have those who would hold them in check not being interested and not having a method for doing so outside of immediate social circles. Because wanting power isn't just about acclaim and having things happen because you say. It is also the power to get other wants done. Want to make sure the body politic is better defended than it currently is something that would drive one to serve in such an electoral body and try to drive more of the national budget to the military...that is a form of power. If you want anything you want to power to do or get that thing.
    First thing to note, if humans tend to be concerned with obtaining power, Zath tend to be concerned with avoiding being under the power of others. This is one of those areas where looking at this as “how would a human behave in this culture” is going to be less than helpful.

    They do have laws, and a system of enforcement, and a civil court system as well, and a standard of individual rights, which look especially harshly on those who violate another’s rights – and the notion that one could sign one’s inherent rights away is somewhat foreign to them. But that’s in tension with their dislike of what they see as collective punishment – the apocryphal quote “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak because a baby can’t chew it” would fit right in.

    Those laws are just focused along a different axis than ours typically are, and are more about limiting the ways in which individuals (or “the state”) can violate the negative rights of other individuals, and enforcing recompense and justice when violations actually occur – they lean quite a bit towards negative rights, and the principle of “your right to swing your fist ends at my nose”, with the disputes being over exactly where noses actually start.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negati...ositive_rights
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claim_...liberty_rights

    In general they are loath to impose inherent or automatic obligations on any individual toward any other individual without a strong case to do so. Using an earlier example, parents aren’t obligated by a notion of inherent positive rights to fully provide for their child, rather they considered to have entered into an agreement with the child in which they bear all of the burden by reason that the child was not in a position to negotiate before it even existed.

    Or to use the awning example, building the awning over the street creates the expectation to make sure that it is within a reasonable standard well-built and safe for those who pass under or near it, because if it falls on someone their right to not be injured would be violated.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    It is not about a "belief system" at all I striped that out but it doesn't effect a lot of things often associated with religion.

    Because "where I came From", "What do the Gods want", "what happens after I die" etc are mostly just stand ins for a few big questions "How should I live my life", "What am I", "What will make me happy", "In a world that is much larger than me where do I fit", and "why is the world this way"

    And while the last question the Zath have pretty well covered the others are not about the past (something for them a fact) but about the future (what should I do when faced with X mortal quandary, what goals should I have in my life etc) and there a lot of different ways to take the latter. Faced with an immortal lifespan exploring how a Zath feels or things about an idea could take a long time but so I how they experience the world. In fact I would think that such personal discovery of what ideas and views the world has to offer and decisions of what to incorporate into one’s own views would be a major part of a Zaths life.
    This is really getting outside what I’d consider religion – there’s no faith element, no ritual element, no dogmatic element, no divine or cosmic element, no devotional or worship element.

    As for philosophy, that’s hard for me… when asked if the chair is real, my response is “Yes, of course – it’s keeping me off the floor”.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    For example. Questions about who in society should pay for the protection of a road linking the city to a resource production centre. Those making immediate use of the road and the though passed on cost the buyers of that resource...but what if that resource is useful to the society as a whole over and above its immediate economic value. That control of that resource is useful in diplomatic relations with another group, would be heavily used by the state if war was declared etc. Then who pays for it? Or how much social, economic, and martial support is proper to other Zath in various situation. These answers would both vary and come down to questions of relative value of individualism vs collectivism, the value of inter Zath bonds vs Zath-non Zath bonds, the relative value of Zath and non Zath life, deterrence and punishment of improper actions vs making a victims situation right via restitution. Spending more on defense or state sponsored alchemy research. All of these are essentially value judgments. And collections of values and the ideas from which those values are drawn are philosophies.

    Various political parties have philosophies in the RW. From everything you've described it would seem like each Zath would have/be encouraged to develop their own such system because the society does not give them one in a box and punish them if they step outside it.

    Also exploring identity in such a context can go VERY wide. Sure you know the way you think growing up...but exploring other ideas and testing those is a big part of growing (and if you value empiricism even more). Thus engaging philosophers would be a social virtue-those who explain things well, offer interesting arguments, or who even just write really well would earn respect from their fellows, and this would lead to influence. And those who find themselves agreeing with A may well find themselves regularly disagreeing with those Zath who found the philosopher B's arguments about the relative values of some subject that is relevant to political decisions and would thus ally to see that one of their own is in such a position to make that decision.

    Also a very basic concept that the is open to the Zath as much as any sentient is pursuing Growth and being more/better than I am now. How to do that and what that even means would be a huge opportunity to debate.

    I'm not suggesting that many of these thing have a Zath position. But if they don't then I would expect that the lack of a wider one will make the individualistic choice of what to support a rather lively and varied matter within Zath society. Heck even chats about such things between acquaintances and friends could even be the closest thing to a traditional touchstone.
    Whoever decided to build the road would typically be responsible for maintaining and protecting the road. If a private interest wanted “the state” to be involved in a road, but it was mainly to that private interest’s benefit, then they would have to subsidize “the state’s” expenditure.

    There’s a tension between two ideals. On one hand, every Zath adult is expected to be self-supporting and as self-reliant as possible. No one can know everything, but if you dropped the Zath into our modern world a lot of them would end up as do-it-yourself types who fix their own plumbing and build their own computers and otherwise do everything they can manage for themselves… there’s a sense that relying on someone else is both making yourself dependent on them, and imposing a burden on them. On the other hand, there’s the sense that much of the world, including many deities, are out to get them, and that “we’re all in this together, us against the world”… Zath will help each other not out of obligation or imposed requirement, but because they genuinely feel that they’re in the middle of a hostile landscape with only themselves to count on, and because they look at the person they help today as the person that could help them 20 years in the future.

    To some degree, it might help to think of them less as “a society” and more as “a lot of individuals who make an ongoing moral and utilitarian choice to cooperate”.

    When it comes to “seeking identity”, or deliberately seeking “growth”, we’re getting into territory where I’m faking it, honestly, because I’ve never had that experience on a personal level, it’s all just observation of others.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Spoiler: Fraud
    Show

    So two Zaths could have very different views toward fraud for example. One says that society getting into another Zath's business is bad and if they want to lie about their goods or services that's fine they will just have to live with the consequences. Their bad behavior will mean a lack of repeat customers and those customers who got hurt will warn their friends and soon the bad actor will be unable to perpetuate his fraud anymore. Furthermore allocating gold from the treasury and man hours of the Zaths set to enforce such things could be better used elsewhere and the whole thing will simply create a mass of disputes that need resolution taking up even more man hours and gold. Especially since there are many shades of truth and implication etc.

    Another Zath would say that since any one Zath cannot be expected to know all the Merchants in the larger towns such law is necessary. Furthermore in order to be comfortable in dealing with a new merchant anyone has to either risk being ripped off or basically do a background check which because it has to be run by so many would eat up even more man hours and also would create lost opportunities and further humans who came to trade would really catch it in the neck and the general Zath community is harmed if Zath merchants are considered unreliable. Then again some established merchants may heartily espouse the former view since it just happens to mean that customers are less likely to use unknown merchants and they can thus raise their prices with less worry about new competitors undercutting them.

    These two positions are holding different values. The Former places individual freedom and individual responsibility as higher priorities than social trust and collective image to outsiders (which effects individual security and economic prospects) which are prioritized by the latter.
    Fraud is widely considered a form of theft, because what the other party didn’t get what they were lead to believe they were getting. Even haggling past a certain point – grossly misrepresenting the price you’re willing to take or willing to give – is considered dishonest (even if not actively criminal); this has been a point of tension with those in other cultures that look at haggling as a natural part of the sale and see anyone who takes the first offer as a fool.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Spoiler: Vendetta
    Show

    So if two Zaths (actually is it Zaths or is Zath both singular and plural?) (or Groups of Zath) Have a beef...If they are not involving others how much of a field of action should they be granted? If someone chooses to get even rather than have the dispute resolved by whatever passes for Zath court is it anyone's business? The first one would know it is a possibility and chose to act so you could say they had consented. Would destruction of property be too much? Libel? Assault? Duels to the death? At what point does the risk of collateral damage mean that other nearby Zath have a stake? I could be rather interesting if they had a social norm of vendetta but extremely focused on not having any collateral damage because it open both parties up to legal repercussions
    .
    “Zath” would work as the singular and the plural, it’s short for something quite a bit longer… their language is quite prone to compound words.

    There are laws against theft, and murder, and so on, but self-defense is a big deal. If you know someone stole from you and you take back what they stole, the other party has no real case in the Zath courts as long as you weren’t mistaken. If someone tries to kill you and you kill them in self-defense, case closed. If you kill someone but can prove beyond reasonable doubt that they had tried or were trying to kill you, that’s an acceptable defense in court. Collateral damage, anything injurious to innocent bystanders or their property, is frowned upon. So yes, there’s a tradition of vendetta but do not screw it up, know for certain and don’t drag others into it. Many choose to let the courts deal with it instead because of the risks.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Spoiler: Drug/Alchemical Boosters
    Show

    So since the twilight people are the experts in alchemy and weird science I'll propose an idea. Either use it or just as a thought experiment. Let’s say they have found/created various drugs that are mind expanding, or help you learn and remeber everything while you are on it but makes it harder to create new memories when you don't have it in your system, grant long term physical and or mental bonuses but is associated with mental instability and those who do have problems tend to create problems for others (roid rage/PCP type events). . . Various Zath could come to a variety of ideas.

    That trying to use drugs to augment ones physiology has shown a bevy of risks and problems for those who take them and those who live nearby and it thus best to limit or ban them because those nearby are not getting the choice but to deal with consequences of the drug/alchemical boosting using Zath. Who they would see as selfishly putting their neighbors at risk.

    Others would see that short term ones used as teaching aides (using a strength boost or emotional manipulation during a philosophy discussion so point out the difference that emotions make on thinking) should be allowed but only short term ones and only under supervision.

    Other say that a Zath's personal body is their own and if they want to take the risk of long term damage or instability that is their issue.

    A fourth could say that each Zath should try to maximize their own potential and that not using all the tools available including drugs is actually waste and should be discouraged.

    Yet another says that in order to be the best they can be the Zath should grow beyond their original state and thus alchemical transformation is the future of both individual Zaths and the collective Zath race and that those who experiment on themselves and push the limits of the alchemical principles are taking risks on behalf of the greater community and should be honored and their research supported by the state for the good of all.

    Yet another says that those who cause problems with their addictions or mental instability do so because they are weak, unprepared to handle the mental/emotional changes, etc and that only those who pass certain tests should do so.

    Several of these have very different ideas of a Zath border of not disturbing others, several have ideas on what a Zath should be. These are very different value judgments.
    I suppose you’d find a minority who’d use those substances, but in general it would be another example of dependence being considered vulnerability. Plus the formulation and dosage necessary to get a Zath into an altered state would probably be enough to drop a charging rhino dead in its tracks.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Spoiler: Spirit Interaction
    Show

    So since you described the Storm People as partially animist I am going to assume that such spirits actually exist. And while the twilight folk may not be able to directly interact with them seeing they are not from the creator gods they may still have ideas on what kind of relationship they SHOULD have with them. In fact because they lack any divine proclamations about it they could pretty much claim any goal couldn't they.

    So some say that they should try to make a similar relationship with them as humans so. This may involve using human translators. Or attempting to create rituals that the spirit can recognize and interact with in a predictable manner.

    Some say Zath should have no interaction with the spirits, any source dealing with them is unreliable and may say it is an insult to all those who fought to not be destroyed by these foot soldiers of the creator gods.

    Some say it is just a fool errand and a sign of mental softness to try and deal with them.

    Some say Zath should try to shape their own "spirits" to find a place in the spiritual ecosystem in the world. This one could have various ideas about creating a new kind of spirit or saying they do have a spirit but a different kind, or they their "spirit" being different should become master of the spirit world and use it to shape the world around them.

    Some say that Zath's unique nature empower them to each make their own spirit something unique. and that the goal of a Zath's life should include this journey of spirit shaping.

    Others say that it is the Zath's 'spirit' is related to the shadow world creatures that inhabit the created labor class (in the same way a human is spiritually related to a dog or cow) and exploring and mastering this connection is a key to understanding oneself and potentially a kind of power (in terms of psionics or tome of magic shadow caster class for example).

    Others say that the spiritual world is a threat to the Zath race and also a weakness in the empirical study of the world and should be eliminated wherever practicable.

    These views all have different ideas of how Zath should fit into the wider world and what traits of the wider spiritual world are most important? Treats? Tools? Internal focus?
    Communication with most spirits takes place as a sort of “soul to soul” interaction, only a few spirits can just directly communicate with anyone in a physical sense. The Zath “shade” is a thing of shadow and void, a totally autonomous bit of the infinite formless nothing, spawned from other bits (the parents) – distinct from the “luminous” soul of most living things.

    It takes artifice or unusual skill for a Zath to even communicate with most spirits. Quite often they’ll call on a human “medium” or Moon People “shaman” if there’s a pressing issue with spirits.

    As a tool, spirits aren’t really useful for Zath; there's nothing there to emulate or seek, either.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    And Empiricism is not really related, by the by.
    Empiricism can tell you how risky something is (may even put a number on it) but cannot tell you if it TOO risky (that is value judgment).
    Empiricism can tell you the likely outcome of a given event but cannot tell you if that result is good or bad.
    It can, however, provide a more solid footing for those decisions. Most are making moral judgements about specific actions, based on the motivation, intent, and outcome. Why did you do it? What was the planned effect? What was the actual effect? Where your expectations justified given the facts you had at hand? Did you check your facts to the degree you had time to do so?

    And the empiricism thing also ties into the philosophers issue you mention above... most Zath aren't looking for the most eloquent or clever argument, they're looking for the best supported, most well founded argument.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    What you are looking for called legal standing in our civil court system. And that doesn't stop all kinds of issues needing resolution.

    And various, very reasonable Zaths will disagree about when the risk of that ramshackle awning is risky ENOUGH to overwhelm the right of the building owner. Because nothing is absolute. Every awning will have SOME risk...especially as measured over the course of centuries of Zath lifespan. So it is about balance. When does one Zath's love of music become them forcing their choices on their neighbors and when are their neighbors dictating what goes on that Zath's home?

    And if someone is doing something that will say be bad for the humans of nation X and give Zath traders a bad reputation in that area any Zath who trades with that area, may wish to trade with area in the future, or buys goods from those who trade there (by placing trading contacts at risk, and or pushing up prices in the future) would be said to have a stake in such behavior. It is less about the specific answers to these questions than about a general sense of what principles are at work and what mechanisms they use to determine the answers.
    Ramshackle awning wouldn't go over at all... it's a question of what's a reasonable level of build quality and maintenance such that the owner and/or builder aren't held responsible if a freak occurrence leads to injury or property damage, which to us might look like something quite overbuilt.

    Given the typical layout of roomy stone houses some distance apart and separated by stone walls between the lots, if their neighbors can really hear music coming from inside a neighboring house, it's probably too loud.

    Picture a culture where the idea of a seatbelt law would be greeted with almost universal vehement condemnation because it's not "the state's" business whether anyone wears a seatbelt... but where seatbelt use would be almost universal based purely on the efficacy of seatbelts.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Massive. One is about what the agent does and one is about what an agent expects others to do. And the ability to say that the likelihood that a person with whom you have no direct social connection will act in an honorable/expected way. It is about trusting the society to weed out bad actors and not have to do a full background check on every merchant you deal with for example. Because there will always be bad actors and the system you are describing has little ability to handle them beyond immediate social circle limits.
    Most business people in the real world aren't looking to screw over their customers, especially small business people who can't afford to tell their customers "go somewhere else if you don't like it". Now compound that by having far FAR less turnover in the population. Zath can't afford to screw each other over, even without the laws that are in place about fraud, etc -- too many customers who refuse to ever come back ends up being no customers at all. And because of the long lifespans, the entire country is a bit like a small town (which also ramps up the counter-pressure to protect their privacy). Reputations really stick.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    You have created a highly cohesive culture with minimal variation and no reason for them to be that way....I would say add variation or add reason.

    Okay bit more....as for example the baker or log workers who love doing that sort of thing...yes they exist, but do they exist in such numbers as to fulfill the need for the good/service for the society? Perhaps as some cultural quick some do. Perhaps their love of alchemy that most children are exposed to and a strong cohort of role models makes baking a favored thing and that the social rewards are enough to keep a Zath at it for centuries. But what about those things that need doing that such a social system doesn't hold up as great? Or at least great enough to attract the numbers who do it for the love of the thing.

    Because you have still given them a large competitive advantage over humans in general (if only because they can build experience and have patience if noting for advanced tech etc) they are greatly incentivized to switch from competing with other Zath's to competing with humans. Especially as you have given them little reason to be deeply bound to their society with their lack of binding philosophy traditions etc...

    You may have heard of the idea that you can either work at the thing you love or work so that you can do the thing you love. Zath society as so far described needs a stronger system to support the latter.

    I'd look the automatons that were powered by shadow magic that appeared in the DnD monster manual perhaps...they were mining machines basically, but you need labor support in some way.
    The idea of some sort of automation was always in the back of my mind, a way to fill that economic "bottom rung" that Zath just aren't going to fill, without having an underclass of humans or others. Given their overall loathing of servitude and slavery, I really doubt they'd create sentient/sapient laborers, so it's likely automatons at the bottom, and then intelligent constructs doing some of the supervising.

    The logger isn't doing all the hard, dangerous work, they have automatons and supervisor constructs doing most of that.

    The baker has machines that he can set up just so to make the bread perfect, "just like I'd make it", and customers appreciate the craft that goes into getting the bread just right regardless of the tools used. It still takes the baker's personal touch, but he doesn't have to repeat all the little steps over and over for each individual loaf or cake for days and weeks and years on end.


    Also would make their actual military, in a standup fight, kinda terrifying to face for what amounts to a peak Roman army (the Rasenna)... that entire front of enemy troops lined up across the field is an emotionless order-following killing machine that is going to march forward with no more concern than if it was advancing into a field to cut down the wheat as soon as the sun goes down. Every one of them can see in the dark, and has a body made of metal thicker and better than the armor you're wearing, too. And that's just the ones you can see, there are also the ones you can't see, lurking out there somewhere, waiting for the darkest hours... and those horrible shrieking rocket arrows...

    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-27 at 05:32 PM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The idea of some sort of automation was always in the back of my mind, a way to fill that economic "bottom rung" that Zath just aren't going to fill, without having an underclass of humans or others. Given their overall loathing of servitude and slavery, I really doubt they'd create sentient/sapient laborers, so it's likely automatons at the bottom, and then intelligent constructs doing some of the supervising.

    The logger isn't doing all the hard, dangerous work, they have automatons and supervisor constructs doing most of that.

    The baker has machines that he can set up just so to make the bread perfect, "just like I'd make it", and customers appreciate the craft that goes into getting the bread just right regardless of the tools used. It still takes the baker's personal touch, but he doesn't have to repeat all the little steps over and over for each individual loaf or cake for days and weeks and years on end.


    Also would make their actual military, in a standup fight, kinda terrifying to face for what amounts to a peak Roman army (the Rasenna)... that entire front of enemy troops lined up across the field is an emotionless order-following killing machine that is going to march forward with no more concern than if it was advancing into a field to cut down the wheat as soon as the sun goes down. Every one of them can see in the dark, and has a body made of metal thicker and better than the armor you're wearing, too. And that's just the ones you can see, there are also the ones you can't see, lurking out there somewhere, waiting for the darkest hours... and those horrible shrieking rocket arrows...
    hmmm... This part seems separate from the rest so I am just going to respond to it now in a separate post. And I think is a really good way to fill a need your system has. But the underlined part made me think of a tweak. What if the lower automaton class are at heart mimics. Their actions would be distorted shadows of actions the original Zath who "programed" them. This would both tie in with the Zath into the theme of Shadows, as well as making the work such automatons do more closely linked with individual Zath business owners, personal guards being personalized in action (not just decorations), and other things that could aid the narrative.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2018-02-27 at 02:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    I absolutely appreciate the feedback and the conversation; I really didn't intend for this to become a discussion focused the Twilight People, they're a whole different thing (for starters, assumptions made about how humans react to / interact with the world or their culture have to be questioned, the Zath aren't human) but the brainstorming has been really helpful. Which is not to say we should stop, but I also want to get back to the Choumin as well.


    So, getting back to my last post on that:


    For the Choumin, I'm finding the idea of multiple local and regional cultures having been subsumed into the greater culture pretty appealing, especially with some of the suggestions you've all been kind enough to post, and particularly some of the stories that brian333 has posted.

    Not sure if I want to do a single ethnic appearance tendency, or multiple. What I originally had in mind was dark hair, vibrant eyes (hazels, greens, blues, etc), and "cinnamon" skin tones (I need a different descriptor for that, evidently some people find food-words for skin-tone offensive, and I'd rather just avoid that mess entirely). Generally having trouble describing facial structures without sounding clichéd.

    I think that their approach in bringing the islands together has basically been "Hello, we'd like to build a town here and trade with you, I'm sure there's lots of stuff we could offer each other." Of course, sometimes this is said with their big ships offshore and a Storm God priest/ess standing just behind and to the side of the trader.


    So what seems better as a starting point, before the Choumin / Storm People established their empire? A single overall phenotype with different cultures spread out across the islands, or multiple phenotypes partially matched with the different cultures/subcultures?
    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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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    So what seems better as a starting point, before the Choumin / Storm People established their empire? A single overall phenotype with different cultures spread out across the islands, or multiple phenotypes partially matched with the different cultures/subcultures?
    Why not both? The central culture split among the islands, each going its own way before the traders came to prominence, but the trade empire kept growing in every direction they could, encountering subcultures of other genetic groups isolated from their core.

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    For the Choumin, I'm finding the idea of multiple local and regional cultures having been subsumed into the greater culture pretty appealing, especially with some of the suggestions you've all been kind enough to post, and particularly some of the stories that brian333 has posted.

    Not sure if I want to do a single ethnic appearance tendency, or multiple. What I originally had in mind was dark hair, vibrant eyes (hazels, greens, blues, etc), and "cinnamon" skin tones (I need a different descriptor for that, evidently some people find food-words for skin-tone offensive, and I'd rather just avoid that mess entirely). Generally having trouble describing facial structures without sounding clichéd.

    I think that their approach in bringing the islands together has basically been "Hello, we'd like to build a town here and trade with you, I'm sure there's lots of stuff we could offer each other." Of course, sometimes this is said with their big ships offshore and a Storm God priest/ess standing just behind and to the side of the trader

    So what seems better as a starting point, before the Choumin / Storm People established their empire? A single overall phenotype with different cultures spread out across the islands, or multiple phenotypes partially matched with the different cultures/subcultures?
    I'd say a bot of a mix. If the "Storm People" were a created thing by the Twin Creator Gods then I would expect them have an overall similar phenotype. Then there may well have been a bit of a diaspora after the fall. Possible/Probably losses of mainland holding (and an excuse to have them contribute genes to later groups if you want) and loss of most contact between islands. Some groups took in refugees of various types that influenced their looks and for a while genetic drift and local sexual selection dominated. A couple or one core area(s) started being able to gain enough trade and food surplus to expand. They mostly set up enclaves of new clans of core region decent. To the locals they look quite different (like Tongan can tell what Island you are from or how a similar thing was true even between English counties for a time according to some. Since then there has been some mixing leaving a few basic varieties-

    Firstly Islands that incorporated significant not original blood at some point still have a distinct local-blood-to-core-region-mixes range over the island (some may be sharp some may be lots of shades),

    Second group of islands would be those of similar origin but subject to genetic drift before re-inclusion..these islands display the same range of traits as the whole people but the local "norm" could well be quite distinctive to a fellow Choumin-a far greater number of heart shaped faces, or upturned noses, or roman noses, or specific eye color etc which may or may not have various social corollaries. In some the "Local" image may still be very strong and distinct enough that it is incorporated into daily life. Someone with similar traits from elsewhere may be regularly mistaken for being from that island (like blue/green eyed people with copper hair are assumed to be Irish)

    Third-Islands from the core region. Probably closest to the "Classic" but mostly because they have showed up everywhere and their bloodlines now mix with everyone else's plus the locals have brought home partners too.

    Fourth-Islands with a ton of mixing. The clan structure system may well have inhibited this being common as we might otherwise expect but places like the capital and few trade hub cities may look far more like the "National Average" than a "Classic Image"

    edit March 2nd. i will get back to the Zath. i just happen to be in final prep for a WOD campaign starting next week (hopefully) and dealing with evacuations due to "abundance of caution" which just got lifted again. It has been a hard winter to get things done.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2018-03-02 at 01:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    (Setting the unique origin of the Twilight People / Zath aside for a moment.)

    The "two creators" made the physical, "bright" world, and all the other deities. They only made the Sun People directly, the rest of the "races" (meh I hate that term) were made by the other deities. They're all human in a general genetic sense, but they've been influenced by the deities that favored them. So the Moon People were influenced by the Moon deity, the Storm People were influenced by the Storm deity, etc, but most humans were influenced by the Earth deity... however they're rarely called Earth People because it was the default, and because of subsequent events.

    When the "two creators" were destroyed, they shattered into countless motes of "divinity" which scattered about the world. Over time these lead to the rise of many smaller deities as motes coalesced around local beliefs and fears among the struggling humans. As faith in the "twin suns" was widespread and deeply encouraged among the servitor classes, a good deal of this energy was drawn to the direct child of the "two creators" who was a fledgling solar deity, and became the new Sun deity in his own right -- it's this Sun deity who the various "solar cults" worship now.

    So at present in this setting there are the deities who were the direct children of the "two creators" (Sun, Moon, Earth/Soil, Storm, etc), and also the regional and local and family/ancestor deities who formed from the scattered motes, and the various spirits and totems and such. The line between "local god" and "powerful spirit" is very blurry -- a great river or mighty mountain revered locally as a spirit could easily have "drawn in" enough of the divine essence to become a deity.

    Spoiler: And then there's the Underworld/Fire deity...
    Show

    ...who is via deception and guile and the strange impossible magic of the timeless Darkness... the daughter of the "two creators" AND the Darkness. None of the other deities know this. She holds fire in one hand and shadow in the other.


    E: got cut off and had to hit save earlier, forgot to come back and finish this... now it's way past when I should be asleep, so short version.

    The original Storm People were a single "ethnic" appearance as I described earlier, with ocher or terra-cotta or copper-hued skin, almond-shaped bright-colored eyes like the sky or the sea (blue, green, grey, hazel), and dark hair. Their culture was something of the "frontier edge" of the Solar Empire, but still an imposed order with them doing the hard work of fishing and building and such, under the direction of the Sun People.

    After the Solar Empire fell with the mass death of its ruling caste, there was a lot of churn, and a lot of intermarriage with other human "ethnicities" around the edges, bringing in dark eyes and swarthier skin in one area, lighter hair colors in another area, etc, giving rise to much more local variation in appearance, and at the same time as things really fell apart there was a long period of isolation as the capacity to maintain or replace the large ships was lost (engineering and similar skills had been reserved for the Sun People, who were all dead, and the human elites, who largely killed each other off trying to fill the power vacuum) resulting in a lot of localized cultural drift and a lot of starting from scratch as specialized knowledge was isolated or lost.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-03-06 at 02:25 AM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    The young man's naked skin was the color of old copper, his eye black. The only garment he wore was an eyepatch over his other eye. There was nothing wrong with that eye, but squinting against the glare of the sun for twelve hours a day gave him a headache, and the patch, woven of fine, soft, kapok fiber, allowed one eye at a time to rest. In a while he would shift it to the other eye.

    Kapok was a useful material, not only for eyepatches. Threads spun from it were very weak, and cloth made from such threads tended to quickly fray, but it would never absorb water, and it floated. The tapered ends of his canoe and its hollowed outrigger were packed with the fiber, allowing it to remain afloat even filled with water and nine manweights of stone. He also had a vest made of sailcloth which was stuffed with it, but he used it only for a cushion.

    His boat was made from a single log of driftwood. Under the supervision of his uncle he had used fire and shaped blackstone to carve it, to split and holliw the outrigger, and to build the mast and the two spars which supported it. Its sail and deckhouse cover were made of palm fronds woven by his mother and his sisters. The deck was plank, split by prying lengthwise from log sections, and the whole was bound together with sizal rope which resisted swelling and shrinking due to moisture. Only the rope had been bought, but it and the spare coil kept stowed in the canoe were the most valuable objects he owned. Everything else he could find or make, but rope was made by specialists who rarely went to sea.

    He was following a pattern in the waves. He had been for twenty six days now. The pattern said Island in the language of the Navigators, but so far the old men who sailed the open blue knew it was a false pattern. In their youths they too had sought the center of the pattern, but never found it. He was an explorer; he would find it and his deed would be written on his face and into the legends of his people. He would become a Navigator.

    He had earned a tattoo by building his boat, but he was no fisherman, (though he had eaten nothing but the fish he caught since he left the home island.) He didn't, as his childhood friends and cousins had, beg a tattoo from the shaman at the first opportunity. His first tattoo would be an albatross, the god of Navigators, its wings spread across his cheeks from ear to ear. After that, who knew? He would have to live the tale before it could be written on his skin.

    To be a Navigator one had to undertake a great voyage. Some might say that simply returning from a month at sea qualified, but grandfather disagreed. He in his day had guided the nine families across the waves to Ulinni, the Island Of The Many Lakes, and had returned to his home island many times to trade stories and goods, and to guide curiosity seekers to see the many birds found nowhere else in the world.

    Grandfather's albatross rode above his brow, but shark's teeth covered his face; he had been a warrior in his youth. Ulinni was too far away for rival clans to make war on them, but Grandfather demanded his children train for the war that would never come. The child had trained with his friends and cousins, and was an expert with the lance, but from his earliest memories his eyes, and his heart, belonged to the stars and the sea.

    A sudden coolness caught his attention and he dipped a hand into the water: cold. Colder, in fact than any water he had felt before.Curious, he tasted. Salt. Of course the sea tasted of salt, but this was far saltier than usual. Unbidden a memory came to him of a lazy afternoon on his uncle's trading canoe, a huge twin-hulled vessel with two sails like bird wings.

    "It is known that the bottom of the sea is salt, and cold. When the mighty currents of the deep meet land, the cold and salt rise up. For many generations after the sea grinds an island to sand the cold currents will continue to flow. Fishermen seek out the cold places for the abundance of fish that thrive there."

    Curious, he released thd boom of his sail so it would flap in the wind, tied his safety line around his ankle, and took up his fishing spear. He went over the side without a splash and in seconds he was twenty feet beneath his boat. Below he could see only blue, but the intense cold was unbearable. Up near the surface a few dozen fish were hiding in the shadow of his boat. They were not the silver of deep sea fish, but blue-and yellow jacks such as could be found near reefs.

    All around and through him he could feel a growling that he could not hear. But he had to sutface. Not for air; he could hold his breath for a count of three hundred, and he had been under for less than fifty. The cold was sucking the life from him. He let a bubble escape and followed it up, impaling a jack on his lance just before breaking the surface.

    Reef jacks meant reefs. Reefs meant land. He couldn't be more than a few days away at most. Shivering from the cold which had burned deep into his bones, he lay on his deck under the sun, drying and warming up. His fish, still impaled on his lance, lay forgotten until his teeth stopped chattering.

    Then he set his sail again, put his eyepatch on his left eye, and resumed his course. Hours later he saw the fringes of a black cloud which did not move on the horizon, and from beneath it came a tiny white cloud. The black cloud grew, but the white one quartered into the wind, and then he understood: it was a great canoe with many sails.

    A huge canoe. His uncle's twin hull would have been tiny compared to that one. No drifting log could ever have made that hull. And it had no outrigger. Curiosity warred with fear as he maintained his course, but then as he was certain the floating village would pass him by, a dozen crewmen scrambled up the three masts which were set in line down its center, and they began to draw the odd, square sails up to the booms which crossed the masts. The canoe-village came to rest in his path and the villagers stood along the side, apparently unafraid that it would roll under all their combined weight.

    The men were dark from the sun, but their eyes were of many colors. And their clothes! Such colors as only land birds and reef fish wore! Every detail of the great canoe was a wonder from the ropes as large as his arms which ran to every corner of the huge deck and sails to the shining yellow items which seemed to have no purpose, to the strange coverings the villagers wore on their feet.

    When he finally remembered he was naked and they were dressed he opened a cubby and took out his skirt. It was of woven palm fronds, like his sail, but of much finer work. His mother had stitched in wave patterns instead of the five-petal flowers she used for her daughters clothes. At the last moment he donned his feathered mantle too. It was the one item of color among the browns and tans of the rest of his gear.

    Up close the side of the giant canoe was taller than his mast. And the strange men spoke without words in chanting voices that sounded like "Yamma-yamma-yamma." He sang his greeting, but they didn't know his song. And they did not sing greetings.

    Just as he was wondering how these folk got on and off that huge canoe one of them dropped a rope over the side. Two ropes with planks set between them. He released his sail and coasted to the side of the giant canoe, then shipped his tiller and stowed it. A quick flip and his safety line was attached to his ankle. The strange ropes were an easy climb.

    On deck they gave him room, but showed no fear or aggression. He was much shorter than these strange men, and they tended to be as thick as the village mothers of his home. Then they made room for the woman who was dressed like a frigate bird: black all over with a red cloth bunched at her neck. She yamma'd at him, and he understood none of it. Then he understood the sounds to be a greeting of a strange sort. He answered her.

    He stomped the patterns of the dance on the smooth, warm wood of the deck and sang:

    "I am Tanatu-Kensa of Ulinni,
    My mother is Kensa-Klinsai,
    Daughter of the waves and stars.
    Twenty six days I have sailed toward evening,
    Against the wind's will.

    Seeking the islands,
    Which the waves have revealed,
    Following the warm currents,
    Untill they turned cold,
    Under the stars unchanging,
    On the unbounded waves."

    He ended his dance, but the strange folk did not answer. They yamma'd to one another, then Frigate Bird Woman chanted and folks scattered. She was obviously their chief, but he couldn't see her face in any of theirs. She was neither mother nor daughter to those others, who were not brothers and sisters, or even cousins.

    Then a young man, younger than himself, certainly, though more heavily bearded, arrived with a white club. The woman took the club from the youth and unrolled it on the slope of a deck house, and Tanatu was surprised to see it was another canoe, still larger than his, but upside down and lashed to a frame set into the deck. A small canoe on a giant canoe? And now he saw others, similarly lashed to the deck. Many small canoes, all larger than his explorer, were carried on this giant ship.

    Frigate Bird Woman yamma'd and tapped the unrolled thing which looked like a tattooed skin. Strange black marks on its yellow surface appeared faded, as if it had been the skin of an elder. He stared at the object with a combination of awe and disgust. Ths skin of an enemy? Was this a strange kind of threat?

    But she tapped it again and pointed to the horizon toward the stern of her canoe. Another tap and she pointed ahead. Then she pointed at him and held her hand palm up by the skin. She wanted something from him. What?

    She tapped again on a small black circle. Then she pointed to the horizon where the black cloud stood unmoved by the winds. Then he understood: a black circle was a reef like the one that encircled Ulinni. And the empty yellow of the skin was the sea. It was a map!

    A strange one, admittedly. He smiled at Frigate Bird Woman and tapped the circle, then pointed to the black cloud. He pointed to himself and pointed toward morning. The woman turned her head side to side, wiping her hand on a blank space on her skins.

    He tapped the skin twenty-six times, each tap farther towards morning, as best he could figure on the strange map. Again she moved her head side to side. Frustrated he tapped twenty-six times again, pointing to morning. She didn't understand. He needed a real map. He stepped to the high side of the giant canoe and looked over. His canoe was out of the way, so he jumped.

    He slid into the water with very little splashing, bobbed to the surface, and in just a few kicks slid up onto his canoe. In the stowage compartment beneath his deck house he withdrew his old starmap made of twigs bound with dune-grass. He slid back into the water with the map in his teeth. As he ascended the rope-and-plank arrangement, he saw many faces again looking down on him. Frigate Bird Woman had rolled up her skin and awaited him on the deck.

    Smiling, he gave her the map, which she handled gingerly. She held it reversed and rotated. She looked at it in puzzlement. He took it and touched the rolled up skin with it, then held it up to the sky, placing the sun in the Moon Track. He then pointed at the windows and named the stars, "Ah, Lodom, Jillint, Tathpaua, Ora, Desel-Fan..."

    She took the map and pointed at the star windows, then pointed at the sky, and he smiled. Then she did a strange thing; she hugged the map to her like a mother holds a baby. He smiled in understanding. Thinking quickly he made up a new gesture. He closed his hands, put them behind his back, and smiled.

    She said something short and the young man appeared as if waiting for her call. He took both maps, staring curiously at the twig map, and vanished into a storage compartment with a hatch that was large enough for a man to enter. Then the woman reached behind her neck and drew a string of shiny yellow over her head. It had a pendent of some odd shape with two strange bent legs. The string was made of many tiny circles joined one to the next, and the pendent was of the same strange material. She draped the string around his neck.

    He looked at it, and at the pendent. The string appeared fragile, but each loop was hard like stone. As was the pendent, which was apparently intentionally shaped, though he couldn't make out what a shapeless blob with bent legs was supposed to be. Inspired, he took off his mantle of feathers, already dry from their dunk in the sea, and draped it over her shoulders. She seemed pleased.

    Without ceremony he leapt over the side. Saying goodbye was unknown among his people, except to the dead, and it never occurred to him that anyone felt differently. Back on his canoe he drew his sail and turned toward the black cloud. If his guess about the map was correct there would be an island beneath that cloud. He had found the island that the waves said would be there! He would earn his albatross!

    Then, as the giant canoe unfurled its many sails, he realized something else: they had no tattoos!

  13. - Top - End - #103
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    I think more people read this thread for your stories than for my worldbuilding musings.


    E: also added more to this post above.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-03-06 at 02:22 AM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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

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

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I think more people read this thread for your stories...
    I wish. I'm trying to illustrate ideas which would be very dry tldr stuff.

    For example, the Sea People

    Build seagoing canoes to travel among volcanic islands
    Originate on the far side of the world from the Storm People
    Have little contact with other people
    Are copper-skinned and have only dark brown eyes
    Have a family-based culture
    Do not have or use metal
    Use stellar navigation
    Hold navigators in high esteem
    Are small compared to Storm People
    Tend to beardlessness
    Live in tropical regions
    Think of clothing as decorations
    Have no body modesty taboos
    Have we reached tldr yet?
    Use kapok, palm, and other plants for every day purposes
    Craft most of their tools and limit specialization to complex crafts
    Reward exceptional members of their culture with higher social status
    Use tattoing as social recognition and status symbols
    Make war on rivals and train for war at an early age
    Use song and dance in regular conversation
    Have extensive knowledge of the sea
    Are all fishermen
    Use spear fishing techniques
    Okay, there's more but I have bored myself now.

    The ideas which would take a paragraph each to explain can be part of a story and explain themselves in the context of the story, which is why I've presented them as stories rather than lists of facts.

    Of course, you are free to use or ignore or modify any part of these stories for your world. As your details coalesce my stories lose relevance, but it helps me to see a big picture from which I can work out the smaller ones.

  15. - Top - End - #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    I wish. I'm trying to illustrate ideas which would be very dry tldr stuff.

    For example, the Sea People

    Build seagoing canoes to travel among volcanic islands
    Originate on the far side of the world from the Storm People
    Have little contact with other people
    Are copper-skinned and have only dark brown eyes
    Have a family-based culture
    Do not have or use metal
    Use stellar navigation
    Hold navigators in high esteem
    Are small compared to Storm People
    Tend to beardlessness
    Live in tropical regions
    Think of clothing as decorations
    Have no body modesty taboos
    Have we reached tldr yet?
    Use kapok, palm, and other plants for every day purposes
    Craft most of their tools and limit specialization to complex crafts
    Reward exceptional members of their culture with higher social status
    Use tattoing as social recognition and status symbols
    Make war on rivals and train for war at an early age
    Use song and dance in regular conversation
    Have extensive knowledge of the sea
    Are all fishermen
    Use spear fishing techniques
    Okay, there's more but I have bored myself now.

    The ideas which would take a paragraph each to explain can be part of a story and explain themselves in the context of the story, which is why I've presented them as stories rather than lists of facts.

    Of course, you are free to use or ignore or modify any part of these stories for your world. As your details coalesce my stories lose relevance, but it helps me to see a big picture from which I can work out the smaller ones.
    You have not, in fact, reached TLDR yet.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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

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

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  16. - Top - End - #106
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    Then let me ask a few questions.

    What is the place of demihuman and humanoid races in your setting? Do they participate in trade?

    Do at least some of them sail? (The minotaur galleys of Krynn come to mind.)

    Do aquatic elves live in that massive inland sea?

    What other sapient races live in the sea? Are dolphins shape-changed aquatic elves, (Krynn again,) or are they sapient animals?

    What part do whales play? Do they coexist with megadont sharks and mesosaurs?

    Are squids intelligent? Are they baby krakens? How abouf octopi?

    Seabirds played a part in many cultural mythologies, as in my albatross example. Do they play a lart in Storm People culture? Ard they exploited, such as the Northern European tradition of hunting out eggs in spring fertility rites, (Easter Egg hunts,) or are they forbidden or unlucky? (Again, albatross, this time from Rime of the Ancient Mariner.)

    ***

    The Storm Eagle flew ahead of the clouds, its broad wings moving only at their tips. From below it was white, and its prey would never see its black back. The sun cast the eagle's shadow on the waves, but millions of reflections of the sun glared back up. It squeezed its inner eyelid shut and the glare was gone. The water's surface became transparent and tbe eagle could see beneath the waves.

    Fish flew beneath the waves. A long, narrow fish with a pointed face chased a school of silver bait as they swirled in a cloud around its futile charges through them. The eagle ignored them. It saw its prey headed toward the bait ball, followed by a flock of diving birds.

    The prey moved in a group, taking turns at the surface for a quick breath as they sped through the deep blue. The feeding frenzy that would occur when birds and air breather arrived woulx be chaotic, and the prey would become unpredictable, but now they moved in straight lines, and their arrival at the surface coukd be timed.

    The eagle crossed the wind and aimed itself. The prey breathed, again, again, again. Certain of the pattern now the eagle dove. Its wings were pulled up tight to its shoulders; only its wingtips exposed to correct its course. The prey came on, its pattern uninterrupted... Now!

    The eagle's wings flared, every feather stretched to its greatest extent. Talons reached, grabbed, struck! Now its speed was almost gone, and its great wings pumped, its tail brushed the waves as the great bird struggled to fly with its prize. The air breather was almost to heavy. Almost...too...heavy...

    The prey squealed as the eagle lifted it from the waves, pumping its wings in great reaching grabs, drawn in for the upbeat and flared for the downbeat, again, and again, and again. The eagle blew hot breath with every downbeat, sucked in greedily with each upbeat. It got easier when the waves stopped slapping the prey, and the eagle gained altitude. The prey struggled, but the eagle's talons were locked. The eagle could feel the prey's heartbeat in its talons, and its squeals too.

    Wing muscles strained as it reached the height of favorable winds, but even with the wind aiding it the eagle had to pump its wings to stay aloft. Ten miles later its wing muscles burned, its breath was short, and its prey, still feebly struggling from time to time, became heavier with every wing-beat. Ahead its destination grew larger: a bald rock in the open sea. Its descent allowed it moments of rest as it glided in.

    There she was, waiting for him. She screamed. He answered. As she reached up to him with her talons he released the prey, and she caught it, screaming again. She was larger than he was, fiercer. And beautiful. The three chicks she brooded were puffy white balls with orange beaks wide open, screaming their hunger as their mother asserted her claim to his prey.

    He perched on a nearby rock, resting. This was the first time she had allowed him to see the chicks, though he had brooded their eggs from time to time in their rock nest while she hunted. Satisfied that he was properly submissive, she tore into the prey. She ignored the screams of her offspring as she gulped down hunks of fatty, bloody meat.

    Three chicks had hatched. Usually only two did. The third was smaller, and its siblings would probably kill it soon to gain its share of meat. In hard times the two would fight and one survivor would get all the meat. But the eagle was a mighty hunter, and the sea around his rock was rich with prey. Perhaps enough to allow three chicks to survive.

    He screamed and took wing again, ignored by his mate who was ripping a small piece from the air breather. So long as there was sunlight he would hunt.

  17. - Top - End - #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Then let me ask a few questions.

    What is the place of demihuman and humanoid races in your setting? Do they participate in trade?
    Not sure I want this setting to have "demihumans" as such, that's part of why most of the "People" are variant humans / near-humans.

    The Moon People engage in trade, and have a fairly amiable relationship with the Storm People (Choumin), since they travel parts of the world that the maritime cultures don't see as much of (such as the vast inland expanse of the continent to the west of where we've been talking about). I'm not sure what category you'd put them in (demihuman, near-human, something else).

    The Twilight People (Zath) have a thriving trade relationship with the Storm People. They have things to trade that no one else can make, and guard the knowledge of how to make or fix many of their products (there's a recurring subplot about the effort to keep certain things secret)... they're after exotic raw materials, oddities, and news from afar in exchange. For example, they've figured out a way to make stable rubber, which means they need the raw sap from places where the trees will grow -- but they're also very careful to not let the connection between the sap and the end products get out.

    Most of the world's population is human, or from near/variant human groups. There are some others out there, like Fire People in the deep places of the world.


    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Do at least some of them sail? (The minotaur galleys of Krynn come to mind.)
    Most of the other big sailing cultures are other humans.

    The Grey Ships of the Twilight People are infamous.


    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Do aquatic elves live in that massive inland sea?

    What other sapient races live in the sea? Are dolphins shape-changed aquatic elves, (Krynn again,) or are they sapient animals?

    What part do whales play? Do they coexist with megadont sharks and mesosaurs?

    Are squids intelligent? Are they baby krakens? How about octopi?
    There are monstrous and legendary and mythic animals out there in the sea. I've considered making the cetaceans even more intelligent than in our world.

    No "underwater elves" or such, undersea civilizations seem a bit far fetched outside the more fantastical settings, and this one is a bit more grounded.


    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Seabirds played a part in many cultural mythologies, as in my albatross example. Do they play a part in Storm People culture? Are they exploited, such as the Northern European tradition of hunting out eggs in spring fertility rites, (Easter Egg hunts,) or are they forbidden or unlucky? (Again, albatross, this time from Rime of the Ancient Mariner.)
    I've been thinking that the Storm People probably hold the big iconic sea birds to be sacred.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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

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

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Mono no aware.

    Mono no aware (物の哀れ), literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.


    A bit of common ground between the Choumin and the Zath.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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

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

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  19. - Top - End - #109
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    She watched Father barter with the human from behind the wagon wheel. The human had six oxen, and Father was pretending they were worth far less than the ceramic pots he was offering. The human was pretending they were worth more. What the human wanted was obvious to her: he had not even glanced toward the bolt of blue silk Father 'accidentally' exposed when taking the pots out of the trade goods wagon. Even now his stiff-necked refusal to look at it only proved how much he wanted it.

    Tani'aho-tinnini was young, but she could already read this human. His oxen were healthy, but there was nothing exceptional about them, other than that he had too many. And he wanted that bolt of silk. That's the way trade worked, Father had explained to her brother. She would never be a trader because she had The Gift, but Pyton would take his place beside Father one day, and he had need to know these things.

    The lot of silk had been bought with a set of pots, much like the ones Father displayed, from the humans who lived in the valley of butterflies. The pots had been bought from the river folk who buried fires in great pits where they burned for days. Everyone had too much of something and not enough of something else, and the Travelling Folk followed the Twilight Roads from village to town to city, buying what they had with things others didn't want. Trash to treasure, as Mother said.

    Father pretended to be frustrated as he ordered Pyton to put the ceramic goods away, but the human suggested he might have something else to trade. Then Pyton 'accidentally' knocked the bolt of cloth off the wagon's tailgate. Her brother was not much older than she, but he was well trained. Scurrying as if to avoid a beating for clumsiness, he gathered the cloth and 'hid' it in a chest with a corner left peeking out of the closed trunk. She smiled at his skill.

    The human asked to look at the cloth. Father said it was too expensive. It took a while, but in the end Pyton hitched the oxen to trail the goods wagon, along with their yokes and harnesses. Father would surely trade those elsewhere, but he needed the oxen to replace Danner and Dan, the pair that had drawn their house wagon for years before being replaced and hitched to the goods wagon. At fifteen years the pair was already too old.

    The other four were for Gia'aho-beri, her half sister from Mother's first husband. Her father was dead, and Father had done all he could to assure her a future. Their next stop would be with the Rittivi Family, with whom she traveled this summer. The wagon builders were building her house wagon now, and it would be hers when she married, but she didn't have The Gift. Perhaps one day Gia would travel with her, when she had a house wagon of her own.

    The human was gone, congratulating himself on his skill at trading. Father had let him buy the silk knowing that his neighbors would be eager to trade for more next year. The herdsman should have traded for the pots; they were much more expensive than silk, and much more practical.

    Of course, practical things weren't all that Father traded. Like Mother's music box. Tani loved the tiny girl inside who sang when the box was opened, even though the girl only knew the one song and its words were meaningless. Father had traded it from the Stern Folk for some blue stones which the desert folk found in cliffs along dry river beds. The Stern Folk and their unreadable slaves who were much like the tiny girl never bartered. Father paid the price they asked, though how he knew what they would ask for was still unknown to her.

    Father and Pyton were ready and Tani hopped up to the driving bench beside Mother just before Father climbed into his place.

    "Mother, may I?" she asked without words. Mother had The Gift, and knew all the Twilight Roads.

    "Go slowly, child," Mother answered. "The new animals will be afraid."

    Father chucked the reigns and the oxen started. Moments later Pyton's wagon was creaking behind them as the new oxen protested.

    Tani slowly opened the door. It wasn't really a door, but a way of imagining what she did. The world sat on one side of the door and the Twilight Road on the other. There was no color on the Twilight Road. No heat or cold. No sun. Only the Moon. Under the white orb the roads were straight, and a night's journey could take them anywhere, even to the fortress of the Stern Folk.

    "Your mind wanders, child," Mother chided.

    Tani concentrated, reformed her thoughts. Mother had warned her of dangers along the Twilight Roads, not the least of which was getting lost. Slowly the Twilight World formed around them, replacing the world of the sun and stars. There was the Moon. And before them was the road. Tani could see its end in her mind. At its end was the Wagon Maker's village.

    Mother's pride in her came wordless, but no less intense than if she had spoken it aloud. Tani was very tired. Moving the world was hard.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2018-03-13 at 11:43 PM.

  20. - Top - End - #110
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    Love it. Has a very good feel for the Moon People.

    "Stern Folk" -- that's great, and of course how the Moon People would see the Zath.


    I started writing something but this week has been hell at work, and DST is kicking my butt.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-03-15 at 04:38 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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

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

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  21. - Top - End - #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Love it. Has a very good feel for the Moon People.

    "Stern Folk" -- that's great, and of course how the Moon People would see the Zath.


    I started writing something but this week has been hell at work, and DST is kicking my butt.
    Thanks. Keep in mind that Tani is very young. I imagined an 8 year old when I wrote her. She may be older or younger depending on the development pattern of the Moon Folk, but that's about how far she is along the mental development curve.

    I imagined the ability to navigate the Twilight Roads as an innate ability only some of the Moon Folk possess, which may deviate from your intent. This can be explained away by claiming The Gift is telepathy, and that while all of the Moon Folk possess the ability to use the Twilight World, those with The Gift do it as naturally as walking. Of course, young and inexperienced walkers sometimes stumble!

    I have not intentionally restricted The Gift only to females. These two simply happened to be female. You may choose to set that rule either way. After having re-read the story it occurred to me that as written it may appear sexist, but then, as written, the culture works for me. Males and females without The Gift do the heavy lifting, animal husbandry, and trading, while females with The Gift open the paths to the next destination.

    I have not considered the Twilight Road to be anything more than the Ethereal Plane. It would have well traveled roads the Moon Folk use, and smaller trails they have mapped out, but wandering off the road 'exploring' could be very dangerous. For example, there are many creatures who use the Ether or are native to it.

    A youngster of the Moon Folk might know their family's regular stops, but would not be familiar the roads going places they have never been. Overland travel to destinations from which The Gifted may enter the Twilight Road gives them the familiarity they require to return. Alternately, one Gifted may telepathicly give such memories to another.

    Occasionally, young Moon Folk form an exploration group. These unmarried teens form around a peer who is Gifted and travel overland to discover new trading opportunities. More often, older teens trade out between the wandering folk who meet up in secret places:

    Moon Dance!

    The Rittivi Family was friendly, and Bissel was her world now, but Gia was looking forward to seeing Mother again. Grandmother Rittivi never smiled, seldom spoke, and always looked at her with her sharp, black eyes like she was a fly in her cup. Mother was every bit as good as Grandmother Rittivi at finding the way, but she had no sour looks, no disapproving grunts, so sharp looks or barbed comments that Gia had to endure.

    But tonight even Grandmother Rittivi could not take the glaze off of her anticipation. They were headed to the Three Giants! At least six families would meet them there: maybe more. The Three Giants were dead, and had been since the world was made, but their stony bulk surrounded a central plaza of smooth, black stone that mirrored the sky. Only the Twilight Roads went in or out. It was a holy place.

    She shuffled through her trunk, trying to decide which of her best gowns she would wear tonight. She wanted to dance! Mothef said it was her Gift, more prized because true dancers were so rare. She wanted Bissel to watch her, to make him jealous of the other men who would be watching too. She wanted to out-dance the fiddler and the piper. She wanted...

    What was this? A small box, down at the bottom of her chest, hidden beneath her red linen skirt. She had never seen it before. It was of plain wood, and her name was carved into the top. It looked like Father's hand.

    She sat on the bunk she shared with Marga'nivet-drammir, inspecting the plain wooden box. It was about the size of her two fists. It was unpainted. It was old. Older than the carving of her name. She found the hidden latch and opened it.

    Within was dark blue velvet, and a piece of parchment, and jewels! There were a dozen rings, some gold and silver chains, and...

    By all that was Good! A ruby! A ruby the size of a songbird's egg hung from a gold chain with twenty smaller ones set in every third link. And matching ear rings! A matching bracelet with hundreds of tiny rubies. A ring with a flat stone almost the size of the pendant.

    It was a treasure! Why was it here? In a box with her name on it? Perhaps the parchment would tell her.

    It was a letter, folded in thirds. It looked like Mother's hand.

    "My Firstborn, beloved daughter.

    I write because even now so many years between then and now I find the pain too hard to bear. The wound has never healed. I promised myself I would tell you when you were older, but every time I set out to say, my courage failed me. So, here is my confession.

    Beri was my first love. He was, for a time, my life. He was a good man, a good husband, a good provider. I wanted nothing but to travel the world with him. When you were born he proved to be a good father who loved you so much that, at times, I was jealous of you. Petty, I know, but I wanted him all to myself. And when he di... (the word was scratched out.) When he died a part of me died as well, and you were all I had left of him.

    Please forgive me the mistakes I made in those crazy years. Grief was my master, and you were my only joy, though every time I looked at you since then has been a reminder of my loss. If I could give only one gift to you it would be the love we shared, but I would keep the grief for myself.

    Youth is a time for joy, and you have so much of it to share. Life will be hard, sometimes, but even hard times can bring two people closer in ways that you will understand one day. But never let joy leave you. Share it freely, give it back in the place of anger, and when all the world is dark and you feel lost, dance for joy. This is how you helped me to learn to live with my grief, and how you lead me to Tinnini. He will never replace your father, I know, but he was right for us at the time, and he tried his best to be the friend we needed. I do love him, and I know you do as well.

    The jewelry in this box is yours, gifts to me from Beri. No man likes to see his woman wearing jewels given by another man, and so I put them aside, forgotten until now. Tinnini doesn't know of them, so please keep my secret... (she looked again at her name on the box, more certain than ever that his hand had carved the letters.)

    There are so many things I want to say, but the time to say them is past or yet to come. My love for you is matched only by my pride for the young woman you have become.

    Aho'dani-tinnini"

    She folded the note and put it back in the box. For a while she tried to remember Father, but all that came to mind was a sound of laughing, heard through the walls of Mother's house wagon.

    Marga came in and spoke to her, but she didn't answer. Marga left and Nivet came in moments later. A little prompting got her started, and thw story spilled out. She showed the box, the letter, the jewels. She told her future husband's mother things she could never have said to her own mother. They cried together. Gia never remembered crying for her father, and they cried for that too.

    Somehow they ended up talking about what she would wear to the dance.

    ***

    The Moon was rising over the shoulder of a fallen giant, and the wagons were parked in an arc along the bare stone plaza. The musicians were tuning their instruments and sharing a jug of wine when Grandmother signalled the beginning of the dance. The musicians lifted their instruments and began a wild song.

    From between the wagons Gia flew, tumbling like a leaf blown before the wind, but timed with the music. She wore the rubies, (actually spinels, according to Nivet, but even great kings couldn't tell the difference,) and her red skirt which almost matched their color. And she wore a silk blouse of white with billowy sleeves and a tight bodice. She danced barefoot, and the eyes of everyone there was watching her.

    She laughed as the music pulled her into the spinning, kicking, and tumbling patterns of the Moondance. A horn player faltered and dropped out as the pace increased. Her feet kept the time, and she pushed the musicians faster. A piper dropped out, then a drummer. One by one the musicians dropped out, and she danced the pattern faster, faster, faster!

    There was only a fiddler now, sweat pouring into his eyes as he sawed his instrument with the bow. The families were clapping the beat, off time as often as not, but Bissel stood there, jaw dropped. (Was he drooling?) Her pattern tightened, she danced for him now, her feet slapping stone, faster with each repetition...

    "Prang!" went a string on the fiddle, and finally the music stopped, but Gia completed the final pattern before coming to a halt before Bissel, her breath in gasps, sweat streaking her face, plastering the blouse to her body. The gathering cheered, poured wine, sang her praise.

    "Gods, you're beautiful," Bissel finally said.

    Then the music began again, without the fiddler, and everyone stepped onto the plaza to dance, except Grandfather and Grandmother Ritivi. Smiling, Gia took her awestruck fiance by the hands and pulled him onto the bare, warm stone. The dance would go on so long as the moon was in the sky.

  22. - Top - End - #112
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    I have not abandoned this, just working slowly.

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

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

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

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  23. - Top - End - #113
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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Goado stood on the horse's back to get a better look at the city. He had never been to a city before and, having nothing better to do, jumped at the chance when old Koma asked for drovers. His share of the pay for the mixed herds would be a lot more than he could have earned on the roundup circuit back home.

    Others were spending the money in their minds, talking about gadgets and pretty things for their wives and girlfriends and tack and saddles, and any number of other things. Goado had no wife, and while he enjoyed a barn dance now and then, he couldn't imagine a girl wanting to live in the saddle the way he did.

    Women wanted to live in cities, and from what he could see, it looked like living in barns shoved right up to other barns, with no room to just take a horse and run. They had run into the first few fences a day or so back, and they marked out squares on the ground, most with neat rows of green filling them, some with the gold of ripe grasses, and some with trees.

    His folk used fences. Around a kitchen garden to keep grazers out, or to corral livestock. Here there were fences everywhere. Every bit of land was fenced, and the cattle had no choice but to follow the road. Except there, a stream crossing with a good bit of scrub on either bank.

    He turned back to the herd, putting heels to his pony. She was a good drover, small and nimble under a light rider, but she had a tendency to prance, and Goado had to stand in his stirrups to avoid being bounced along the road. She was his third mount, but she belonged to the company, not to him. His horse never pranced, but it was his day off.

    He could see the leading edge of the herd still two ridges back, funneling through the narrow slot between the fences. They would be an hour getting here. And just over the near ridge came the trail boss with some dude on a huge grey. Prancer was due for a changeout in an hour anyway, so he set her to a trot and walked her the last hundred yards to meet up with Todd and the dude.

    "Hard on my horses?" the trail boss asked as the pair rounded the last curve.

    "Nosir," the drover replied. "Prancer's been bouncing all morning, I figured she needed a good stretch to finish off her shift."

    "Walk her down this way," the Trail Boss said. "We're almost to the holding pens."

    "Yessir." Goado answered. "There's a stream ahead crossing the road with no fences. Might want to picket there to keep the herd from spreading out."

    The dude said, "The holding pens are closeer, under the sign of the double M."

    Goado had passed several gates with signs on or over them, but he had no clue what a double M looked like. He wasn't about to tell that to the dude, with his over-sized hat with a feather in it and his shiny purple jacket. Instead he nodded and began leading Prancer back the way they had just come.

    It was just past noon when the herd made it to the gate where the dude and his toothless servant counted them as they jammed through the gate. Things got a little hairy when an old cow tried to break for the road with a dozen others right on her tail, but Prancer was a good drover. With heels and a bit of shifting body weight she was guided to cut off the wayward band and get them back into the queue at the gate, aided by a few snaps of his small whip. Three hours later the herd was corralled
    In the fenced pasture.

    Just as he was wondering about watering the herd a wagon rolled up the lane pulled by a team of the largest horses Goado had ever seen. They were glossy black with white markings, at least twice the height and four times the bulk of Prancer. When he dismounted to check, their hoofprints were larger than his boot. Not far behind came another wagon.

    The men driving the first wagon began forking fodder in rows behind the huge wagon as it slowly crossed the field. From the second, fat, short barrels were set out and filled with water. The water wagon was making a second trip from the stream when the Boss returned.

    By then Prancer had been rubbed down and picketed, and old Jose had been saddled. The crew was excited, talking about how they were going to spend their wages. Goado didn't gamble, and he would be too embarrased to buy a wife for an evening. He had no need of silk scarves or jewelry, and no children to bring toys. After asking the price of one of those giant horses his interest in them diminished. He would hang on to Jose for a while at those prices.

    Cookie set up the kitchen table and Boss Todd sat behind it with a small chest and his book. Starting with Cookie, Boss counted out wages. Goado's turn came toward the end with the youngest members of the company. Boss counted out sixteen gold coins, twenty-one silver, and twelve copper.

    Goado had never seen a gold coin before, and he took a moment to examine it. On one face it had the familiar ship emblem, as all coins had. It was the bird on the other face which caught his attention. Silver coins had the faces of dead Sea Kings, copper had three kegs, or three axes, or three sheaves of grain, or the design of whichever guild made them. The gold coins bore a sharp-winged, sword-beaked bird in flight. How large must such a creature be to impress even the kings themselves?

    "What's the matter? Never seen a swift before? Sign the book," Cookie growled.

    "Ah, sorry, sir."

    Goado made his mark in the ledger, then paused.

    "Sir, can you hold it for me? Back to Trail Head?"

    "How much?" Boss Todd asked.

    "All of it."

    "All of it? A young man on his first visit to the city?"

    "Sir, all trip I been listening to the older fellas talk about their trips to the city. They all end up with, 'And Then I Was Broke.'"

    There were a few chuckles from the company, but Todd said, "Every drive some youngster goes broke in the city, it's a rite of passage. Then I try to hire them cheap for the ride back. Tell you what: you hire on with me, bed down my horses tonight and tomorrow night, and I'll hold your gold to Trail Head. The rest of it you keep."

    Boss Todd was writing on the next page as he spoke, signed it and passed the book and pen to Cookie, who also signed.

    "After all, visiting the city wouldn't be the same without money burning holes in your pockets." The Boss turned the book to him.

    "Well sign the book," growled Cookie.

    "Yessir."

    ***

  24. - Top - End - #114
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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    The first kings of the central islands were lead from island to island by following the tiny swift, which breeds in the many caves and cliff sides of the islands. Their nests were prized delicacies enjoyed only by the nobles who paid laborers to climb the cliffs and enter the caverns to harvest them.

    This rather mundane practice lead to a legend of a swift which helped found an empire, and swifts, and their nests, are still prized today by the Sea Folk. But their nesting sites in the islands are only a part of their tale.

    Swifts are small, agile, insectivores. They are also among the world's masters at long-distance flight, performing up to 12,000 miles of travel per year on an epic migration up and down the island chains. These migrations follow seasonal weather patterns which aid their migratory patterns.

    In the spring chaotic weather creates difficult flying conditions, but the pools and mires of the central islands breed insect swarms, and their rugged terrain offers shelter for the swifts. This is both nesting time and the time of moulting. After five weeks the parents will abandon the nests, and the young remain behind for up to a week before they too are ready to leave the nest. While their elders follow the changing weather north, the young remain behind, feeding on the local insect population over the summer.

    Out in the center of the Inner Sea the summer high pressure zone begins to form, creating a counter-clockwise rotation in the atmosphere which pushes warm air northward along the island chain, causing insects to emerge from winter hibernation just in time for the arrival of the swifts. The thawing tundra is their ultimate goal, where vast ice fields turn to grassy marshes and insects swarm in number which cover the grass. This is their time to fatten up as the sun sets on the north pole.

    As the polar cold begins to grow cold currents are drawn into the central gyre of the Inner Sea, breaking the strength of the Summer High, and the winds which had blown north along the islands all summer now falter. The first cold rains of autumn herald a chain of events which prove the swift is among the champions of the game of survival.

    Behind the first cold front the insects burrow or breed or whatever they do to preserve their species, and after a temporary glut, their food source begins to rapidly diminish. They must now fly south along the chain of islands with cold wind and famine at their backs. As the cold snaps kill off the local insect population the flocks are driven past the Central Islands, picking up their surviving offspring along the way.

    The tropical islands of the equatorial region are largely barren atols with mangrove-choked lagoons. They cannot sustain a flock of swifts for long, much less the migratory swarms which hop from island to island eating every bug and crawlie that can be found, and being pushed by hunger ever southward, into the Southern Hemisphere and the last of the great islands.

    Along the southward loop of the journey, being left behind could be a death sentence as the available food is consumed by previous waves of swifts, but the advantages of flying with the north wind include far less energy consumption and the possibility of encountering insect die-offs behind the cold fronts, so some portion of the migration always lags and some go ahead. Many, the old, the young, the ill or injured, don't make it.

    But for those which do, the southernmost islands are mountainous, with mangrove swamps around their perimeter and vast salt pans trapped in coral embayments. The storms of southern winter hurl water onto these salt pans which dry under the southern summer sun, which precipitates minerals that attract an abundance of insects, including swarms of flies which feed and breed on the thin film of drying water.

    For the swifts this is paradise. The swifts form sleeping colonies along the cliffs overlooking these salt pans, and in the evening seek out a stream to rinse off the salt before jostling for a place on the tiny ledges they call home. But paradise never lasts. The streams dry out and the salt pans soon after. The few permanent pools are mobbed, and starvation looms, but the easterly winds of summer begin to cool at night. The salt pans would not support a colony over the southern winter, and they will remain arid and sun-baked until the late winter storms.

    And now another drive urges them northward, this time lead by the males, who brave famine to be the first to claim their spot in the ancestral cave or cliff colony. There they construct spit-nests, seeking to build large enough to entice a hen. While females tend to shop around the various nesting sites, males tend to return to the place of their birth. Once she selects her mate they breed and within days she begins to lay up to six eggs, the last of which never tend to hatch due to nest crowding and sibling rivalry. Most nests will only bring two swiftlets to their first moult, but industrious parents have brought four or even five chicks to maturity.

    Many swifts stop along the way, never reaching their northward or southward maximum, but a great majority fly from the temperate south, across the equatorial tropics to the northern tundra and back, following an arc almost one fourth the circumference of the planet. And they do it with storms behind them all the way.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2018-03-30 at 09:43 AM.

  25. - Top - End - #115
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    An interesting bit of real-world science news that struck me as related to the general topic of this culture, and some of the stories that have been posted:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-43823885

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sama-Bajau
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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

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

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  26. - Top - End - #116
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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    A Myth From The Storm Folk

    The Island of Kings is the nickname of Paulaui, the central island where the capitol of the Empire is located. There are no kings there now, but once it was divided among a dozen warlords who fought over land, serfs, and resources. A time came that seven warlords joined into a Council Of Kings and destroyed the other warlords, dividing the island among themselves with a promise of peace. Of course, it was not long before the fighting started again, plunging the hopeful of the island into dispair.

    The island was rich and fertile, but it was poorly managed. With the bulk of economic activity focused on war, the people scrabbled for survival while fearing the imminent arrival of soldiers. Even their own.

    The Council of Kings had slain the families of the defeated warlords to end any claims the heirs might have to their former lands, but one mother tried to save her son by placing him in a boat, with a prayer to the Storm Lord for his protection. When she was caught the kings had her interrogated, but she was able to endure the torture, falsely confessing that all of her children were slain when the family keep was burned. Eventually her tormentors believed she told the truth and put her out of her misery, but she died praying that her desperate gamble paid off.

    The boy was eight, and what he knew of sailing came from stories. Though he was able to sail away from his home island, knowing it was death to return, he had no idea of where to go or how to get there. What he knew of fishing was not enough to enable him to catch a fish, and within a week he was starving, sunburnt, and desperate. And even then he knew what the dark clouds that turned the sky red at sunset meant.

    A storm hit, tossing the tiny fishing boat around. It was all he could do to get his sail down and (mostly) secured as a cover to keep the crashing waves out of the boat. He desperately bailed when he could, but spent even more time beneath the sail as the sea tossed him about. During one of his attempts to bail out the boat he discovered a tiny bird huddled in a fold of the sail, soaked and shivering. Moved by sympathy, he put the bird beneath the canvas cover, making a nest of his wet clothes for it, and he continued bailing until his body gave up.

    He woke to a blue sky and orderly waves marching in time with the light, steady breeze. The bird had escaped its nest, but stood perched on the bow of the boat.

    "Good morning, Mr. Bird," the boy said.

    "Good morning, my king," it replied.

    The boy was shocked, then convinced he had imagined it.

    "I'm not a king," he said.

    "Not yet, but you shall be, if you heed my words."

    "Mr. Bird, I don't know which way is land, and I'm so hungry I'll probably die before I get there."

    "That's why I'm here," the bird said. "The mothers of Paulaui have prayed for an end of wars, and the Storm Lord chose you to bring it about. Last night was the first of many tests you will face, to learn if you are a quitter who gives up when things seem hopeless. You kept bailing even past your body's endurance. If you follow my teachings, there will be many more such tests. At the end of the course which has been set before you is a kingdom greater than any our people have ever known."

    "My teacher is dead now," the boy said.

    "Then accept me as your new teacher and become, in time, the answer to the prayers of your mother."

    "Can you take me to my mother?" he asked, suddenly quite eager.

    "I do not know where she is, but I cannot imagine she wants you to return to danger and death."

    "What good are you then?" The boy's petulance was uncharacteristic, and the bird ignored it.

    "Take the net there in the bow and ready it for casting."

    It took some time, and some coaching from the bird, before the net was ready.

    "Now what?" The boy asked.

    White foam began to appear on the surface of the sea, larger and larger bubbles broke from the deeps, forming a ring as wide as two boat-lengths. From the center fish began to boil up. One, a dozen, a thousand! The surface of the sea boiled with fish!

    "Throw!" the bird shouted, a fraction of a second after the boy had begun to swing the net.

    The net fell atop the fish, and the boy dragged at the line hard, pulling the boat toward the center of the circle as the heavy net dragged toward him. From beneath a dark shape rose, right into the center of the circle. A massive maw opened, capturing most of the fish, and pushing the boat aside as the black bulk kept rising. A large brown eye emerged as the massive mouth closed, and the boy found himself in the gaze of a creature many times larger than his tiny boat. It sank slowly, buoyed by its massive, bloated gullet filled with fish and water.

    "The net!" the bird cried, and the boy realized he had forgotten it. It had brushed off the flank of the beast, but fish were escaping its slack purse. Heaving, the boy got the net back under control and to the side of the boat, but he was too weak to lift it with the fish inside. He tried to open the net enough to get a fish out, which started another mass escape attempt. By the time only two were left inside he was able to get the net back into the boat.

    It took some convincing to get the boy to eat raw fish, and then his thirst awoke.

    "Follow the whale," was the bird's advice.

    The boy set sail, advised by the bird, and followed the whale to a tiny island which had a tiny stream of fresh water. The boy stayed on the island for one hundred days, learning to sail, learning to fish, and learning the secrets of The Storm Lord. With the knowledge he gained he was able to sail for human occupied islands.

    There he began to build an empire, first from his uncanny ability to find the nesting sites of cave swifts, whose strange nests are valued even more than gold and silver, and later by sailing to distant islands and finding what they lacked and what they had in abundance. He established three-point trade networks which continued to generate wealth at the merchantile outposts he set up at each point.

    By his twentieth birthday he was fabulously wealthy. This was when the bird, a swift the young man now knew, returned. He set the young man on a new path. For six years the young man was gone, but as the sdventh dawned he returned, a grown man who had spent the time on the mainland learning the art of war, working as a mercenary for various mainland kings. With him came seven ships and a thousand soldiers whom he had lead in war, and who now followed him to another.

    Paulaui was the one island his trade networks bypassed. But commerce is commerce, and traders had come and gone, describing the massive new trade network which was making everyone wealthy in comparison to the impoverished, constantly combative island.

    He landed his army on the shore of Paulaui and within weeks he had deposed all seven kings. He executed them, but then had their heirs brought before him. To them he made an offer: to serve as his subordinates and disband their armies, or to join their fathers. Of course they each agreed to his terms, which included renouncing the title of king and sending their children to his keep as hostages.

    This practice continues to this day, as the children of noble families across the empire go to Safe Harbour on Paulaui to attend the Imperial Academy, which is now a requirement for holding Imperial office anywhere in the empire.

    Emperor Gilaes I never made war thereafter. Instead, his empire grew as islands and kings begged admittance to his empire, seeking the wealth his trade networks brought. In all the years since, the Empire never fought a war of aggression, though they have been guilty of aggressive, even invasive, merchantilism, and they have, from time to time, aggressively defended merchant outposts.

    Since its founding, the emblem of the Empire of the Storm People has been that of a swift in flight.

  27. - Top - End - #117
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Sorry I suddenly disappeared on this... frankly I was burned for a couple of my posts (not on this thread), and felt I couldn't continue with a lot of a lot of the subject matter of these threads.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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

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

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  28. - Top - End - #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Sorry I suddenly disappeared on this... frankly I was burned for a couple of my posts (not on this thread), and felt I couldn't continue with a lot of a lot of the subject matter of these threads.
    Let us know where you are still looking for ideas and we'll get back to it.

  29. - Top - End - #119
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    also if you think something is not forum friendly for whatever reason (politics, religion, etc) I am open to discussing via PM or email

  30. - Top - End - #120
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    The way Knarr sliced through the waves was a joy. Trag had built her himself, and his pride in his accomplishment was justified by this maiden voyage.

    Old Harga had helped design her; he had spent a lifetime building fishing boats and his knowledge of the winds and seas determined her shape. Hammer had forged the twenty thousand twisted brass nails that pinned her overlapping planks to her ribs. But he had felled the tree from which her keel had been carved. He had bound the ribs and warped them with water and fire. He had planked the logs and drilled the nail holes and hammered the nails that held her shell together. He had tarred the moss that chinked the lapping of her outer shell.

    He had given his blood and sweat to her, and after five years and many jibes from friends, the largest boat in the Northwestern Ocean was alive on the waves. Her sharply tapered bow and stern knifed through chop, and her round belly lifted her over the swells.

    Fishermen and raiders relied on smaller boats with oars. Knarr was a sailing vessel. Her crew of five could handle her with ease as she sailed by daylight. They beached her in the night. She could have sailed by night, but the crew needed rest, and along the Western coastline rocks and shoals were common. It was difficult enough to see them in daylight.

    Even so, over the last twenty days the vessel had visited eight coastal villages on her way to Garanheim. Beneath the waxed hides their initial store of salt fish, whalebone, and tarred rope had traded up for lanolin and wool, brimstone, and pottery. The small fortune in unicorn horns, taken from a small pod of the air-breathing fish that had beached itself near the shipyard in the last winter, remained hidden on either side of the keel between the largest ribs, beneath the bulk of the cargo. It was intended for sale when they reached the only coastal city Trag knew by name.

    "Boat ahead," cried Brinna from the bow. The youngest crewman also had the best eyes. It was some minutes before Trag could make out the shape of the boat: a long, low boat with a high prow and a dozen benches for rowers. Raiders used such boats. Prudence dictated a course out to deep water.

    Over the next few hours the longboat rowed to where they thought Knarr was going to be. The wind was not in their favor, but their low-sided hull and long, narrow construction was not affected by the wind. Knarr was dependent on the wind, and Trag tacked often, first to gain speed, then to open the distance between themselves and the raider.

    Keelit broke out his crossbow, protected from the weather in oiled sealskin, prompting a general move by the crew to arm themselves. Trag knew that five against twenty was a bad gamble; his crew knew it too. Nobody expected quarter from raiders. He tacked again, both to take them farther from the coastline and to change yet again the intercept point the raiders sought. Knarr slowed in the unfavorable wind. The raider altered its course again, closing the gap.

    Keelit loosed a bolt. It fell short. He was testing the range. His second bolt struck the raiders' hull. The rowers quickly lashed shields to cover themselves and resumed their rowing with little loss of speed. A bolt flew over the head of the coxwain who shook a fist at Keelit. With a shout his crew began to increase their pace. They were closing the gap in a final burst of speed.

    Trag shouted, "Hard To Port!"

    He swung the steering oar and Knarr rolled heavily to starboard as her bow cut to port.

    As Knarr righted herself from the radical turn he shouted, "Trim The Sail!"

    The onshore wind was now fully behind them, and Knarr picked up speed as Brinna and Moren drew the sail taught to catch the wind. Keelit fired from the deck cover on the bow, and the coxwain of the raider cursed, ducking lower in the narrow space at the stern.

    Knarr shot behind the longboat as the oarsmen rapidly stalled then reversed their boat. But in the interval Trag had opened the distance. The long, narrow raider hull was unable to turn quickly, and that too helped to open the gap. The oarsmen, already tired from several hours of rowing, were urged to a faster pace. Once again the longboat began to close the gap.

    It wasn't long before they began to mistime their strokes and skip oars. As they lost speed Trag turned away from the coast, little by little. By the time Knarr was back to a parallel run along the coast the raiders had given up. As the raider dwindled behind them, Trag vowed to mount a raid to burn them out.

    His goal of establishing easy trade between the Northwestern people would be threatened by the outcastes who turned to raiding. And nobody would mourn them if they were wiped out. Perhaps the merchants of Garanheim would have an interest in helping.

    The crew was laughing, congratulating themselves for their victory. Trag knew the war had just begun.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2018-09-06 at 02:57 PM.

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