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00dlez
2013-04-29, 11:28 PM
This is a discussion thread for the "How will my nations interact?" series - master thread can be found here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=280582

The descriptions below are the tentative concepts I am using in my game world , and though they are inspired by their real-world namesakes, they may not be completely historically accurate. However, for discussion sake, please feel free to site historical examples as you discuss how these two cultures would interact if they interacted in a fantasy setting. Remember, historical levels of technology aren't important, only their cultural aspects and interactions towards other peoples are important. When I refer to the in-game iterations rather than the real-world iterations, I typically preface the culture with "Campaign".

Unlike previous comparisons, I don't personally know a whole lot about either of these peoples beyond a superficial impression, but as always I'm eager to hear and open to anything you all can add.

Essentially, there is a massive rainforest/jungle that these two peoples share, one half is more low-lying and full of rivers/swamps (Amazon River Tribes) and the other half is on higher, more mountainous ground (Cambodians).

The nations:
Ancient Cambodia
I am mainly focused on Cambodia between around 300 through 1000 AD.
The empire is fairly secretive and reclusive. They are in a remote end of a continent and are surrounded by mountains and perilous jungles. Despite their remote location, they have a quite large capital that is perhaps one of the largest geographical urban areas in the entire world.

The Campaign Cambodians have a great knack for wonderful, detailed architecture and monuments. Throughout their territories they have built large monasteries, statues to their gods, and their capital is littered with elaborate libraries, palaces, and universities.

Amazon River Tribes
Even today there are still uncontacted peoples deep in the Amazon jungles, so it's difficult to narrow it down to a specific era - but for argument sake, I'll say I'm most interested in pre-European contact.

The Campaign Amazon Tribes are a scattered, highly decentralized people. They are organized into smaller tribes, kingdoms... city-states perhaps. They varry a great deal in both size and level of urbanization. The larger, developed, and urban groups are well known throughout the region and indeed through the world. However, the area is so vast and the jungle so dense that hundreds of smaller tribes exist in near total isolation from the world at large, their whereabouts known only by their neighbors and allies... if even that.

However, a string of commonality does connect them all. Rivers run rampant throughout their territory and the Amazon Tribes have all mastered river sailing and navigation. They mainly use canoes and other small boats, but have been known to use quite large vessels as well on the wider channels.

There is also a somewhat violent streak to these tribes. To keep their reproductive pools fresh, they often war with one another as well as fight outside nations for women to breed with their warriors and leaders.


How would they interact?!

Would the vastness and dangers of the jungle keep these two reclusive cultures from making any meaningful contact or would these two peoples knowledge of and adaption to the jungles make them natural allies - even if large scale trade and interaction was not common.

Would the more aggressive Amazon tribes lead the Cambodians to distrust them as a whole?

Any key aspects I've left out that are historically central to these people?

Discuss!

Baj
2013-05-01, 05:02 PM
Are you basing "Campaign Cambodia" off of the Khmer Empire?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Empire#Jayavarman_VII.C2.A0.E2.80.94_Angkor_ Thom

I know that's a little later then the dates you specified but it seems like the culture that's closest to what you describe.

00dlez
2013-05-02, 08:50 AM
Yes

I see them as mainly a peaceful people, but they do have a large population and a good amount of wealth and resources so every now and again they get a blood thirsty ruler on the throne and there's a period of internal and external conflict.

The Khemer isn't too late, I just lowballed the time period because the Campaign iteration is still on the up-tick rather than in decline.

Baj
2013-05-04, 12:16 PM
Gotcha. Just checking.

Unfortunately I know next to nothing about Cambodian history (I’m guessing not many do, based on the response you've gotten here) but I’ll try to spitball here.

As a large-ish, wealthy, semi-isolated empire the “Cambodians” have a couple options here. One, they focus inwards. Based on your description of them this could take the shape of monumental building projects of various levels of practicality (one emperor may focus on developing infrastructure to help the city grow, such as roads and irrigation systems, while another spends his time building massive palaces and temples) in the cities of the empire. It could also lead to them spurring outside technologies and ideas, leading to a possible stagnation.

Two, the empire turns outwards. This necessarily doesn’t have to be through violent expansion, though it very well could be. The other obvious way would be through trade, though geographically speaking (based on your map), their options seem to be limited. A possible conflict I was thinking about was that maybe the “Cambodians” were trying to use the rivers running through “Amazon land” as trade routes to other nations. If you want to follow that route though, you might want to consider putting a significant mountain pass or two through the mountains separating the two to provide easier access.

I think it would be interesting to define the “Cambodian” culture in conflict with itself over whether to turn inwards or outwards, possibly based on the aims/desires/whims of individual emperors. This could take the form of ruined cities, temples, and fortifications lost in the jungle when the empire turned inward, or new construction projects as the empire turns outwards (a possible fun mission I just thought of: the PC’s are contracted by a imperial administrator to clear out an abandoned structure the empire wishes to reclaim as it expands again).

Honestly, after seeing your map I think the far more interesting interactions here are going to be between the Cambodians and the British. Do the British begin to incur on Cambodian land trying to find more land and resources for the demands of its growing population? Do the Cambodians fear their stronger(?) neighbor with colonistic desires? Are the British even aware of the Cambodian empire or is there just vague tales of a legendary city overflowing with riches deep in the jungle (an expedition was launched years ago, but no one ever returned)? I think the Amazonians are mostly going to keep to themselves and the only time they will really interact with others is when the “others” come to them (on that note, having the “British” or the “Iberians” trying to develop small colonies along the coast could be very interesting).


Added:

One semi-correction here: I made the mistake of imagining your river tribes as being behind the other nations from a development standpoint, but after re-reading your description it looks like you are thinking of something more sophisticated than I was. Having said that though, my point about the “other” having to come to them still semi-stands. The politically fragmented “Amazons” aren't going to have the same level of power projection that the unified British/Iberians/Egyptians/Cambodians have. Even though the Vikings are not politically unified (if I remember correctly?) they are still more likely to project power since they can’t very well raid each other for the resources they need.

One last thought, maybe the larger, well-know “city-states” of the river basin are actually cooperative efforts between several tribes of varying strength.

00dlez
2013-05-06, 10:18 AM
The cambodians are a tough one indeed because there simply isn't much known about the history.

I like the inwards/outwards struggle concept. As I think happend in real-world history, they had a strong culture going in the early centuries, but were fairly isolated and stagnation set in, eventually leading to declined. I think in the campaign iteration, I will have the struggle be a bit more violent, something like a civil war with the introverted portion losing and as a result, the jungle is littered with ancient temples and abandoned cities that are considered "part of the old ways" and are being forgotten.

As far as contact with the British (for both the cambodians and the amazon tribes), the jungle has resources - primarily large trees for ships which the British have mostly depleated in their home land. However, thier armies function poorly in the dense jungles, not to mention threat of disease and all the untamed natural hazards that go along with it, so making any sort of formal push for territory control has been stalled... so far. Perhaps throughout the past the British have tried and failed to gain a foothold, or at least a lasting one.
Small mining or lumbering operations might occur by the Iberians and British, could be a source of current conflict. In the past, the introverted cambodians just put up with it and didnt pay the "invaders" much attention. Going to war over a few trees when you have a massive jungle seems silly. But now the new guard who have a mind towards the global economy see it as outright theft and an affront to their soverignty and maybe are more vocally displeased about the "arrangement".

I agree that the Amazons and Cambodians would stay seperated for the most part. They each occupy vast tracts of similar jungle, one has mastered the low lying swamps and rivers, the other has adapted its life/culture to the higher mountains and jungle covered foothills... no need to interact really beyond acknowledging eachother and the fairly informal border.

therakishrogue
2013-05-06, 05:04 PM
What is the geographical relationship between the highland jungle, the riverine basin jungle, and the rest of the world? Are the Cambodians on some sort of central plateau so they have to travel through amazon territory to get to the rest of the world, or does the jungle only extend to one side of their territory, with the other facing some other biome? This would play a major determining factor in how the two groups interacted with each other.

therakishrogue
2013-05-06, 06:20 PM
If the Cambodian interaction with the outside world does have to go through Amazonian territory, you could look at the relationship the Khmer and China had with the early empires of Indonesia, particularly Srivijaya. It's not a perfect parallel since those cultures existed in a jungle archipelago instead of a large river system, but the control of trade between the outside world and the Chinese/Khmer created a series of rich, erudite, and short lived nations in Sumatra, Java, and the Malay peninsula.
In each case they were ruled through a fascinating system where all trade was directed to a central capital where the monarch would buy foreign merchants goods in bulk then sell them to favored trading guilds, which would then sail the rest of the way to wherever they had buyers. This was enforced a system of holy oaths administered to the leaders of other ports under their control and a noble class of fleet captains who hired and maintained a large navy made up of sea nomads; otherwise the outlying territories were left to their own devises. Consequentially, the capital region would become fabulously wealthy, since they had all the commerce benefits of controlling a large amount of territory with a fraction of the administrative costs.
This system worked wonderfully as long as the trade kept flowing and spiritual authority of the ruler was unchallenged, but things collapsed very quickly if the foreign merchants decided to cut out the middle man, or if a new religion arrived. In Srivijaya's case both happened at once; the Song dynasty stopped being so insular and made it legal for it's merchants to leave China at the same time Islam began gaining traction in the region. It collapsed so quickly that by the time the Portuguese arrived three hundred years later it wasn't even remembered in folklore, and because the cities were mostly build on houseboats no archeological evidence was found until the 20th century.
Depending on your world's timescale, this process could have happened dozens of times among the Amazon peoples, their civilization cycling with the trade interests of the Cambodians. Or one such thassalocracy could have become powerful enough to try to extort favors out of the Cambodians or their trading partners, using their ability to rally the migrant tribes of the region into a huge system of raiding parties to hold both groups hostage to their whims

00dlez
2013-05-06, 07:49 PM
What is the geographical relationship between the highland jungle, the riverine basin jungle, and the rest of the world? Are the Cambodians on some sort of central plateau so they have to travel through amazon territory to get to the rest of the world, or does the jungle only extend to one side of their territory, with the other facing some other biome? This would play a major determining factor in how the two groups interacted with each other.

A rough map of the north east hemisphere of the planet can be seen here (http://s691.photobucket.com/user/ultimatebattletech/media/NEQuadMap_zps68e9e6e1.png.html) the scale isn't done with great care, but it gives you an idea of how they might travel to contact other nations.

00dlez
2013-05-06, 07:53 PM
If the Cambodian interaction with the outside world does have to go through Amazonian territory, you could look at the relationship the Khmer and China had with the early empires of Indonesia, particularly Srivijaya. It's not a perfect parallel since those cultures existed in a jungle archipelago instead of a large river system, but the control of trade between the outside world and the Chinese/Khmer created a series of rich, erudite, and short lived nations in Sumatra, Java, and the Malay peninsula.
In each case they were ruled through a fascinating system where all trade was directed to a central capital where the monarch would buy foreign merchants goods in bulk then sell them to favored trading guilds, which would then sail the rest of the way to wherever they had buyers. This was enforced a system of holy oaths administered to the leaders of other ports under their control and a noble class of fleet captains who hired and maintained a large navy made up of sea nomads; otherwise the outlying territories were left to their own devises. Consequentially, the capital region would become fabulously wealthy, since they had all the commerce benefits of controlling a large amount of territory with a fraction of the administrative costs.
This system worked wonderfully as long as the trade kept flowing and spiritual authority of the ruler was unchallenged, but things collapsed very quickly if the foreign merchants decided to cut out the middle man, or if a new religion arrived. In Srivijaya's case both happened at once; the Song dynasty stopped being so insular and made it legal for it's merchants to leave China at the same time Islam began gaining traction in the region. It collapsed so quickly that by the time the Portuguese arrived three hundred years later it wasn't even remembered in folklore, and because the cities were mostly build on houseboats no archeological evidence was found until the 20th century.
Depending on your world's timescale, this process could have happened dozens of times among the Amazon peoples, their civilization cycling with the trade interests of the Cambodians. Or one such thassalocracy could have become powerful enough to try to extort favors out of the Cambodians or their trading partners, using their ability to rally the migrant tribes of the region into a huge system of raiding parties to hold both groups hostage to their whims

This is awesome stuff!!! I love it. I had considered a similar type of trade scheme for a different nation but with some historical precedent here I might move it to the cambodians

therakishrogue
2013-05-06, 08:38 PM
I'm glad you think it will fit! I just wrote a paper about it; it's nice to know that my liberal arts education will at least help with my favorite hobby :smallbiggrin:. I can send you some more in-depth info about it if you like.

00dlez
2013-05-06, 09:13 PM
hell yeah I would, or at least a good link or two that can give me info beyond whats on wikipedia

therakishrogue
2013-05-06, 10:55 PM
Do you have access to the academic journal database JSTOR? If you do I can just send you some article titles. If not, send me your email address and I'll send you the paper I wrote, and dropbox the journal pdfs in case you want the serious stuff.