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    Question Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Not sure where to even start with this post. I'm utterly stuck at this point and need to bounce ideas to get unstuck.

    For a project unrelated to anything I've posted about on these forums, I already have a handle on the non-human cultures, and on a few of the human cultures. (When I say "human culture" or "non-human culture" I mean predominantly, not exclusively, it's just shorthand.)

    I'm stuck on another human culture, however, and it's one that a few important characters will come from. I want elements that I know from various real-world cultures, but combined in a way that forms a working believable culture, and makes something new and interesting... not in a way that looks like a bad salad or a 30-car pileup. I don't want them to be a simple expy of any one real current or historical culture, or a caricature.


    • They originate on a long chain of islands that arcs across a long stretch of ocean (see image spoilered below).
    • They are polytheistic, with a deity of storms holding primacy
    • They have a long tradition of sea-faring, even the children of nobility are expected to learn some working knowledge of maintaining and sailing boats.
    • The three real cultures I want to pull from are pre-colonial Japanese, Polynesian, and Indian (I realize that two of those are whole sets of related cultures, but bear with me please).
    • The fictional culture(s) need to be such that they'd be willing to travel, establish business ties, establish "embassies", etc... I want them as a general thing to value exploration and trade and learning about other peoples, and not be insular or xenophobic... but at the same time for the culture to generally be comfortably secure in who they are and their values.
    • Family and "clan" need to be important, duty and responsibility need to be important.



    So, does anyone have any suggestions on elements that would blend well... idea on values and beliefs, clothing, food... anything. Any suggestions on naming customs, language tidbits, etc. Like I said, I'm quite stuck.

    Sometimes, it simply helps clear the mental logjam to have some new thoughts thrown in the river.


    Spoiler: Islands image -- the long chain in the east view -- this is to give a sense of it, the setting is not Silurian-age earth.
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    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-29 at 02:06 PM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Well, I can't claim any level of expertise on the cultures you mentioned, but in my work writing for my nation in Empires! doing some moderately extensive reading about the cultures I mean to emulate helps me a lot. You may also want to find a couple of smaller groups within each of the cultures you're studying to focus in on, at least as a place to start, so that you can avoid information overload.

    I'd suggest that, if you haven't already, you start with just pure reading (wikipedia is a great place to start), and look for the answers to these questions in each of the cultures you want to emulate.

    How do your people travel?

    With whom do your people live? Is it in villages? Big Clan Houses? With just their nuclear family?

    Where do they get their food?

    Who is in charge of what? (I recommend a honest evaluation of gender roles and inherited power in the cultures you're looking at. These ideas that are generally distasteful to modern audiences are easier to realistically invert or restructure when you're familiar with what you're changing and how it relates to the rest of the society.)

    Knowing the answers to this sort of thing for each of the cultures you're studying might help you find similarities that you want to capitalize on or unique and interesting elements that you want to borrow outright.

    I wish you good luck on this venture, and I'm sorry I couldn't be more knowledgeable/helpful.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Thanks for replying.

    I've been doing at least some of that reading, but so far it's just... sitting there as separate pieces in my head.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Since you've emphasized trade I'll ask; what are they trading, whom are they trading with, and what for. Answering these questions will give a good idea of what materials people in that culture value. Figuring out their role in the wider geopolitical landscape will help them have more of an identity instead of a mismash.

    Another thing to note is what problems do the people in this culture face, both individually and as a society. Lots of cultural quirks have come about due to certain historical problems the society had to adapt to.
    Last edited by Lleban; 2018-01-25 at 12:31 AM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    What do these people do? This might be a cultural underpinning. Just a suggestion, but if you have farmers on one end and fishers on the other, you have a natural trade route for the guys in the middle.

    So, the larger islands herd goats or something and farm. There are also mines there.

    The central islands are developed with populations large enough to support specialist craftsmen and merchants.

    The smaller islands are wild or have coastal villages devoted to ship building and/or fishing.

    This gives you three cultural bases, with farmers, merchants, and fishermen as the exemplars of each society. But how does this help with the problem? Well, now you have models to which you can attach your cultural norms.

    As an example, The Farmer is the archetype of one culture. While most people won't be exactly model citizens, the majorith will aspire to be.

    Farmers use all of a thing, hoarding surplus, and only buying what they need but can't make themselves. So farmers are frugal.
    Farmers are devoted to the plot of land their ancestors improved, so the culture emphasises family ties.
    Farmers are handy with tools and physically fit, so they readily form militias, eliminating the need for a standing army.
    Farmers are masters of their farms, leading to a fierce independant streak.

    Thus a culture of self sufficient families who have little interest in conquest, fierce opposition to outside influence, and the ability to assemble defensive forces in minutes when needed.

    Once you know what is important to the people, you can cherry pick cultural details which support these issues. And toss in a few archaic ones as well. Perhaps the Central culture came as conquerors and maintain a military tradition, or perhaps the fishers originated as coastal raiders and retain a cultural shameful pride in piracy.

    The primary requirement that they be distinct cultures which are bound in a trade network is a great place to begin. You can go in infinite directions from there.

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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Notes so far (in no particular order):


    A lot of travel is by water. Being able to maintain and use at least small boat (oars and a single sail) is as expected of their people as being able to drive a car, pump your own gas, and at least take it in for maintenance, is in most of present-day America.


    The purpose of marriage is seen as continuing the family and providing stability, but a happy marriage is seen as more likely to fulfill these goals than a forced or bitter pairing. Marriage is “by custom” an arranged affair, but in practice if starting with an official matchmaking between families won’t finalize until both potential spouses are satisfied with the arrangement -- and may in fact result from mutual attraction prompting a couple to surreptitiously nudge the matchmaking process into gear.

    Living arrangements – extended family in a compound or large connected house, with some segregation of shared cooking, common, and gathering areas, from the separate sleeping/living areas of each immediate family. Which extended family a newly married couple will live with leans toward the man’s family, but is also a matter of social standing and prestige, exchange of wedding goods, available room and resources, etc, agreed upon between the two families.


    As might well befit the “Storm People”, seen as children/the favored of the Storm deity, they see nothing wrong with intense, stormy passions and emotions; however restraint and the proper expression of these emotions is seen as critical to honor and duty.


    Along the lines of the two items above, there are layers to everything. There's a spoken layer and an unspoken layer, a public layer and a private layer, an explicit layer and an implicit layer. Even if everyone knows what's really going on, it's often rude or audacious to directly say it. Forms must be followed. Words that sound alike often have multiple meanings, and there are often multiple words for the same meaning. (For example, one of the words for "twilight" and one of the words for "misfortune" might sound identical, so another species/race, the Twilight People, might be called in this language "twilight's children" in a way that could also mean "misfortune's children".)


    There is some concern for "face" rather than honesty -- an illicit affair might be considered far worse if it conducted openly where it can't be politely ignored, for example. And if you publicly accuse someone of something, you'd best have rock-solid proof, or expect to be challenged before a magistrate or elder, or with steel.


    Rice and fish are staples. Vegetables, fruits, poultry, grains (besides rice), pigs, and on the largest islands cattle are also part of the diet. A wide variety of spices and sauces are used to enhance and preserve food.


    The trade with other peoples and other lands is an extension of their long practice of internal trade moving around the surplus goods and unique products of the various islands. Spices, exotic and staple foods, metal, manufactured goods such as tools and weapons, strange animals and plants, etc. Anything one place has and another doesn’t, they’re willing to sell it, trade it, buy it, and/or move it, for the right prices.




    From these points I'm hoping to expand, and work forward and backward.

    Some of what I need to work out is aesthetic -- what language should I "hijack" for names and such; clothing styles; building styles; etc.




    For the other setting I'm working on (see 4th BCE / Greco-Sumerian thread in main RP forum), there's less of an issue, because I'm fine with taking large swaths directly from the inspiring cultures, whereas with this other project, I'm not doing expys.

    .
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-03 at 08:25 PM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Also, I hate trying to come up with good titles for these kinds of threads.
    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 -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Quote Originally Posted by Lleban View Post
    Since you've emphasized trade I'll ask; what are they trading, whom are they trading with, and what for. Answering these questions will give a good idea of what materials people in that culture value. Figuring out their role in the wider geopolitical landscape will help them have more of an identity instead of a mismash.

    Another thing to note is what problems do the people in this culture face, both individually and as a society. Lots of cultural quirks have come about due to certain historical problems the society had to adapt to.
    Effectively, they're looking to trade anything they can, it doesn't have to come from their own people or their own islands. Still, I think it's likely that certain things like metal ores are in short supply across most of the chain, and so there's always a market for refined metals back home.

    Their trade with other peoples and other lands is an extension of / expansion on their long practice of internal trade moving around the surplus goods and unique products of the various islands. Spices, exotic and staple foods, metal, manufactured goods such as tools and weapons, strange animals and plants, etc. Anything that one place has and another doesn’t, they’re willing to trade it, buy it, sell it, and/or move it, for the right prices. They might take spices to one port, sell them and buy up other goods, take those things to another port, sell there and buy metal ingots, and then take the metal ingots back home to sell there. Lather, rinse, repeat.
    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 -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    The primary requirement that they be distinct cultures which are bound in a trade network is a great place to begin. You can go in infinite directions from there.
    Start out looking to detail one culture, end up with three or more? *whimper*
    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 -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Well, it's easier once you get a handle on the first. But you need not do three cultures, I just offered an example. Use what you like, and discard the rest.

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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Well, it's easier once you get a handle on the first. But you need not do three cultures, I just offered an example. Use what you like, and discard the rest.
    Even if it's not outright separate cultures, it would probably give the culture more life to have internal divisions and disagreements over certain issues.

    Anyone have any ideas?

    E: seriously, if anyone is familiar with any of the real-world cultures in question, and would like to chime in or offer suggestions, please do.

    E2: or if you have some element from another source/inspiration you think would really fit.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-25 at 10:12 PM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Well, Japan and India had pretty strict social classes. Both cultures have used forms of divine mandates to explain how come the ruling class had temporal power. Both at some point had hereditary guards to protect the ruling class. At certain points in their history the ruling class decided to live lives of luxury, art, and spiritualism rather than actually rule effectively allowing others to rule the country.

    A major problem with asking about cultural help with these countries is that there is a lot of history, and their cultures changed a lot over the centuries.

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    Default Re: Cultures -- "Mashup" Done Well

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
    Well, Japan and India had pretty strict social classes. Both cultures have used forms of divine mandates to explain how come the ruling class had temporal power. Both at some point had hereditary guards to protect the ruling class. At certain points in their history the ruling class decided to live lives of luxury, art, and spiritualism rather than actually rule effectively allowing others to rule the country.

    A major problem with asking about cultural help with these countries is that there is a lot of history, and their cultures changed a lot over the centuries.
    I know, and it is. I'm just working with conceptual parts to see what fits together, rather than trying to pick specific moments in place and time and shoehorn them together.

    For a divine mandate, I wonder how to handle that in a setting with real deities...

    * Do one or more deities actually grant and revoke the mandate of a ruling family or specific ruler? Do deities have disagreements over who to endorse?

    * Do the deities just tolerate the claims of mandate made by rulers and then laugh when they fail or fall?

    * Do the deities dislike having rulers claim their endorsement, and actually send the sort of troubles that ruling classes seem to face more often than others?

    In addition, if the priesthood of a deity really does have a connection with the deity, what role does the blessing or condemnation of the priesthood have in "kingmaking" and "kingbreaking".
    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"

    Besides the beliefs, priorities, and foundational elements, there are also questions of material culture, such as clothing styles, color choices and symbolisms, etc.

    Please feel free to suggest anything (along with the reasoning if you like), this is at the brainstorming stage, not the "carved in stone" stage.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    When it comes to Japan and Polynesia, both had significant emphasis on tattoos. In Japan tattoos were marks of loyalty, often with religious connotations. From what I understand the tattoos were done to represent a permanent dedication to something, often a lord or something spiritual. Criminals would get special tattoos to mark them as such. Different parts of Japan had different ideas about tattoos, some places had ornate tattoos on their hands to ward off evil. Others have priests tattoo sutras on their body. Most people didn't have tattoos.
    And from what I can grasp of Polynesian tattoos it seems as if they represent ones status in a hierarchical society as well as sexual maturity, genealogy and ones rank within the society. It could also tell about one's personality. Most people had tattoos.

    A mix of the two would probably have most people tattooed to show status and place of birth, people would get new tattoos after major events in their life. And there would be special tattoos that can show special oaths they have taken. If you want you can have magic charms in tattoo form.

    As for what this looks like, I don't know. Japanese tattoos are sometimes colorful while Polynesian ones are black. You can say that color plays a spiritual role or is a mark of status/identity.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
    When it comes to Japan and Polynesia, both had significant emphasis on tattoos. In Japan tattoos were marks of loyalty, often with religious connotations. From what I understand the tattoos were done to represent a permanent dedication to something, often a lord or something spiritual. Criminals would get special tattoos to mark them as such. Different parts of Japan had different ideas about tattoos, some places had ornate tattoos on their hands to ward off evil. Others have priests tattoo sutras on their body. Most people didn't have tattoos.
    And from what I can grasp of Polynesian tattoos it seems as if they represent ones status in a hierarchical society as well as sexual maturity, genealogy and ones rank within the society. It could also tell about one's personality. Most people had tattoos.

    A mix of the two would probably have most people tattooed to show status and place of birth, people would get new tattoos after major events in their life. And there would be special tattoos that can show special oaths they have taken. If you want you can have magic charms in tattoo form.

    As for what this looks like, I don't know. Japanese tattoos are sometimes colorful while Polynesian ones are black. You can say that color plays a spiritual role or is a mark of status/identity.
    Turns out there were (and are) a broad variation of tatooing traditions across India historically, as well.

    I'm thinking this could be a good source of differentiation and potential misunderstanding between various regions or subcultures or clans here.
    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"

    Asian and Indian influences are not my forte. I'm currently going through Chinese history, but I have to rely on English language material.

    On trade I might have better input. Essentially, expertise and raw materials move from where they are abundant to where they are wanted, For trade to work, there must be enough of a price differential to make it worth the trader's time. For example, most of Polynesia has no metal deposits worth mining. They were among the last humans to retain stone age technologies because of this. However, Polynesians didn't lack mother of pearl and true pearls.

    This establishes the foundation of a trade route: steel and manufactured items would be in huge demand, and they could pay for it in pearls. Of course, once the foundation of profitable trade is built, other products can be explored.

    Fish oils, coral for jewelry, optical grade sand for glassmaking, and feathers for fashion could counter woven cloth, leather, tools, and lumber for shipbuilding.

    Now add in a requirement that officals must attend an Imperial University located in the capitol before being invested in office in the outer provinces. The original intent of tbis law was to create a uniform understanding of the law, but it also resulted in cultural homogenization as those who are in positions of power retain their university acquired attitudes and their local populations emulate them.

    In this way you can have a uniform culture based on trade which has subcultures of various degrees of independence.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Asian and Indian influences are not my forte. I'm currently going through Chinese history, but I have to rely on English language material.

    On trade I might have better input. Essentially, expertise and raw materials move from where they are abundant to where they are wanted, For trade to work, there must be enough of a price differential to make it worth the trader's time. For example, most of Polynesia has no metal deposits worth mining. They were among the last humans to retain stone age technologies because of this. However, Polynesians didn't lack mother of pearl and true pearls.

    This establishes the foundation of a trade route: steel and manufactured items would be in huge demand, and they could pay for it in pearls. Of course, once the foundation of profitable trade is built, other products can be explored.

    Fish oils, coral for jewelry, optical grade sand for glassmaking, and feathers for fashion could counter woven cloth, leather, tools, and lumber for shipbuilding.
    That very much fits what I was thinking for the trade network that started island-to-island along the chain, and between the islands and the mainland neighbors at each end, and grew into a web of trading relationships, and finally an outright trade economy. And yeah, it starts with the demand for metal on those islands that are almost devoid of it, and what they can exchange for that metal.


    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Now add in a requirement that officals must attend an Imperial University located in the capitol before being invested in office in the outer provinces. The original intent of tbis law was to create a uniform understanding of the law, but it also resulted in cultural homogenization as those who are in positions of power retain their university acquired attitudes and their local populations emulate them.

    In this way you can have a uniform culture based on trade which has subcultures of various degrees of independence.
    I really like that. It might not even need to be a single university, although requiring it to be specifically in the capital does have a bit of the old "hostage" system in it.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    A couple things spring to mind.
    First: if it is impossible or at least VERY hard to have direct social and economic pressures to conflict and grow it would push groups to compete or gain advantage via bonding via trade or raid with external groups. this would seem to help your trader model

    Secondly: so we ask what you need to support it. the first thing I would come up with is that birth groups are bonded to certain lands/uses. Just like Japanese villagers were linked to certain lands and the village was expected to produce certain taxes or an Indian caste was expected to live off its given assigned work indefinitely. now if all the INTERNAL support (arable land, forest, etc) is taken but seafood and external trade is traditionally NOT assigned then any group that wants to better itself, once they provide their taxes will have to do so via external trade. Small groups may find it useful to have loose associations to support things like embassies et al.

    Third: So in order to have the above you need an authority potent enough internally to make the birth roles stick. Could be religious or an imperial court.

    As for clothes etc, what kind of climate are we talking about?

    edit: (and wow my spell checker works in this browser)
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    E2: or if you have some element from another source/inspiration you think would really fit.
    I would suggest looking into the early SE Asian kingdoms as they were rather mercantile. Srivijaja,, Funan, Lavo

    for linguistics I'd actually recommend Korean. Words tend to be shorter and the syllables fit together is a comparatively smooth way for untrained anglophones. This means they are more likely to be actually remembered and used by the players.

    also what degree of magic are you planing in the world in general and in the culture specifically. Because this can radically change things. If for example magic is quite common the economic power of salt (which otherwise these islanders could be in a prime position to supply) could be massively lowered as the more inland groups wanting it for preservation can turn to magic instead. Or for example if there is strong social pressure for wizards to create permanent walls of fire as some sort of customary display of mastery, taxes, etc. those walls could well be used for kilns, glass making, salt production, smoking fish, and other exportable goods. Sure those high level wizards may be rare but that is infinite fueled fire that should last as long as the permanency spell allows so they could build up in regions that are stable and each could be shared by many craftsmen. And that is without even getting into weather information/control spells.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2018-01-30 at 09:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    A couple things spring to mind.
    First: if it is impossible or at least VERY hard to have direct social and economic pressures to conflict and grow it would push groups to compete or gain advantage via bonding via trade or raid with external groups. this would seem to help your trader model

    Secondly: so we ask what you need to support it. the first thing I would come up with is that birth groups are bonded to certain lands/uses. Just like Japanese villagers were linked to certain lands and the village was expected to produce certain taxes or an Indian caste was expected to live off its given assigned work indefinitely. now if all the INTERNAL support (arable land, forest, etc) is taken but seafood and external trade is traditionally NOT assigned then any group that wants to better itself, once they provide their taxes will have to do so via external trade. Small groups may find it useful to have loose associations to support things like embassies et al.

    Third: So in order to have the above you need an authority potent enough internally to make the birth roles stick. Could be religious or an imperial court.
    I'm not sure I want a strong and heavy-handed caste system, I have to keep mulling that over.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    As for clothes etc, what kind of climate are we talking about?
    There's a map in the first post that gives a rough sense of what the island chain is like in terms of size, density, and latitudes covered (the one in the "east" view). Pretty much everything from ocean-tropical at the south end to maritime arctic at the north end.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    edit: (and wow my spell checker works in this browser)
    I would suggest looking into the early SE Asian kingdoms as they were rather mercantile. Srivijaja,, Funan, Lavo
    Good links, thank you. They'll certain provide a more rounded set of inspirations.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    for linguistics I'd actually recommend Korean. Words tend to be shorter and the syllables fit together is a comparatively smooth way for untrained anglophones. This means they are more likely to be actually remembered and used by the players.
    I'll go run some words through Translate and see if I like what I get back.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    also what degree of magic are you planing in the world in general and in the culture specifically. Because this can radically change things. If for example magic is quite common the economic power of salt (which otherwise these islanders could be in a prime position to supply) could be massively lowered as the more inland groups wanting it for preservation can turn to magic instead. Or for example if there is strong social pressure for wizards to create permanent walls of fire as some sort of customary display of mastery, taxes, etc. those walls could well be used for kilns, glass making, salt production, smoking fish, and other exportable goods. Sure those high level wizards may be rare but that is infinite fueled fire that should last as long as the permanency spell allows so they could build up in regions that are stable and each could be shared by many craftsmen. And that is without even getting into weather information/control spells.
    In this setting, most humans experience at most various sorts of low-end and practical magic, with very little big flashy magic or combat magic -- when someone's throwing around battle-shifting magic that's a BIG DEAL, and probably the sign of either a divinity or a madman at work. Ritual magic is more common than instant magic. Most humans need an external source of magic, be it priestly devotional magic, a pact with a spirit, a "fetish" or "charm", or something... for most, drawing power out of one's self quickly goes from exhausting to outright dangerous. Sacrifice can power magic by taking it from another, but that tends to spiral into unpleasant places in a hurry. A few humans are able to tap into the same seemingly bottomless well of magic that spirits and gods are able to pull from, but they're exceedingly rare and drawing on some combination of decades of study, tremendous talent, and raw luck.

    This culture in particular has a particular blend of polytheism and animism, a swordsmith would be making offerings to the fire spirit in the forge, and the spirit of the metal being worked, and so on.

    (To give more of the flavor... Moon People seem to be able to draw on that external power directly, but this actually because they're "beloved of the spirits" and their talented casters can form temporary pacts on the fly. The Sun People could work will and wonder directly from the divine light of the universe... but they all died long ago on the day the Two Creator Gods were shattered into a million motes of divinity in a suicidal attack by the quasi-divine entities of the dark void. Twilight People don't draw on the same sources... but they don't have any "Light" inside at all... their magic is all artifice and alchemy and shadows, but needs no pact or prayer.)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-31 at 11:46 AM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    It was dark, not only from the lack of a moon this night, but from the overcast sky which blocked out the stars. Bekka hauled the line over the rail of his small boat, hand over hand, to coil in lazy figure eights between his feet. The rough braid, slick from the seawater, passed through his calloused hands until he tugged and it resisted.

    He flipped a loop of the rope around the capstan in the bow of his boat and began cranking. His father had laughed when he bought the device for almost the cost of a new boat, but Bekka could run three times as many crab pots each night compared to his father's dozen. It had allowed the old man to retire in his last years, when his hands curled painfully and his back bent. When watching the old man struggle to keep up became as painful to the son as it was to the stubborn old man.

    Three hundred armspans of rope coiled into the boat before the head of the pot bumped the boat. Again he flipped the rope, this time over the yardarm and back to the capstan, and the crab pot tilted the boat as it broke the surface. Inside the pot were a dozen of the long-leged denizens of the deep, but their shells were cracked and bits of meat clung to the hollow tubes of broken legs. In the trap, half filling it, was a monster crab easily the size of Bekka!

    He hauled the pot in and dumped it on the deck where the huge crab lay struggling for the first time in its life against gravity. Bekka checked the other crabs; even with a crab broken in half those powerful claws could grab the unwary, and fishermen had lost fingers and toes to crabs that looked dead. That big one looked like it could take off an arm or a foot!

    Carefully he flipped the crab on its back: a male, unfortunately. One by one he tied the crab's claws shut. All ten limbs were clawed, but the front pair were huge, oyster-shell crushing claws. He doubled the twine and bound all ten. Crabs were known cannibals, and this one could eat his entire catch before he made it to port.

    Before he shoved it into the live hold he measured with a length of twine and discovered its middle legs were almost as long as he was tall. If this crab wasn't a record size, it was close. He flipped the hatch and shoved the massive creature in with eighty or so of its kin hauled up in the two dozen traps he had already checked.

    He cleared the deck, saving a promising bit of broken crab leg here and there for his own breakfast, and baited the trap with a dead fish wrapped in burlap. He checked his feet to be certain there were no coils of rope around them, then he shoved it over the side and watched the rope fly. He heaved the glass float overboard as the trap sank into the depths.

    A flapping of the sail as it swung in a sudden gust caught his attention, as did the sharp scent of cold which he smelled in the second before the chill hit. He knew what it was: a cold wind from the north always came ahead of a storm, and this one smelled fierce. His last dozen traps would go untended tonight. He pulled the sheet taught and manned the tiller. He might make harbor before the storm hit, but if he went after those untended pots he would feed the crabs for sure.

    With a prayer to the wind god and regrets for the untended pots he turned his back to the cold wind and looked forward to the harbor light that would guide him past the headland.

    ***

    The lords and ladies of the court gawked at the giant crab set on the banquet table. Garnished and surrounded by foods of a hundred islands, the crab lay, boiled bright red, awaiting its ultimate fate on the forks of the genteel guests. Most were familiar with the blue crabs, seldom larger than two hands, which were native to the central islands. The smallest claws of this beast's hind legs were as large as those blue crabs.

    The Emperor arrived, her consort at her side, and gestured for the feast to begin. An army of servants attacked the table, bringing choice bits of the feast to each guest as musicians from some dot in the sothern seas played strange rythms on a variety of drums. Many of tonight's guests would leave in the next few weeks to assume Imperial duties among the islands they called home, but none would forget the splendor and magesty of this last feast in the capitol.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2018-01-31 at 01:22 AM.

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

    Niiiiiice.

    I wonder how much the Court's functionaries paid for that legendary crabzilla. Maybe our enterprising fisherman now has at least the seed of being able to send his brightest child to one of the Imperial schools.

    Of course, in some settings, that crab is "clearly a gift from the gods for the Emperor" and our fisherman "should be humbled by the honor of having been involved in getting it from the gods to its rightful destination".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-31 at 12:11 PM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Reading through those Wikipedia links, I found this, which might be especially useful for an "empire" based heavily on trade and spread out across an ocean-spanning chain of islands.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandal...litical_model)
    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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    The boys on the deck were playing again, this time with a puffer fish which had swelled to the size of a handball. Their gloves protected them from its spines, but they had to catch it. Myrh had missed at least once, as the bumpy swellings on his face attested.

    Old Thanh stood on the bow holding on to the shroud, his sun-wrinkled face reading the sea. He pointed and Elin turned the boat to the course he indicated. She would be a Master one day and lead her crew to the pogy which schooled out in the deep blue sea, but to become a master was to know in ones bones every part of the vessel and crew, and to understand the sea.

    She blushed, recalling Thanh's description of the sea as lover, having very recently dipped her toes in the edge of that sea herself. She couldn't imagine a lifetime with one person, but she knew that whatever else came, she was already married to the sea.

    "Whee-ooooh!" Thanh cried, and she realised her mainsail was luffing. And Thanh was looking right at her.

    "On the deck!" she shouted, "Trim that sail!"

    A quartermaster should be alert when she is at the helm. She directed the deck hands as they trimmed the sails, and when she looked back the Old Man was again staring at the sea. She sighed and tried to focus.

    "Shearwaters ahoy!" shouted Matt from the crow's nest. The Old Man said he was the best mate in the fleet. To everyone except Matt. Of him Thanh expected perfection.

    She had ceased wondering how the old man knew, but directly ahead she could see a low-hanging cloud on the sea.

    "Make ready on the gear!" she shouted, and the deck hands scrambled to set the pair of spars which would drag the nets through the school of fish currently being gobbled by the birds she could not yet see, other than as a smudge on the horizon.

    Matt swung down to help but Thanh stood on the bow like one of those carved figureheads which decorated Imperial vessels. By the size of the cloud there were a lot of fish in that school.

    ***

    A generation ago the oil rendering plant had been moved to a nearby islet, and the stench was still powerful in the village when the wind turned. Pogy, rendered into oil, bought the lumber they needed for their boats and homes, and the remainder of the rendered fish, dried on bare stone, could be mixed with dirt to grow green food. A lot of it was sold with the oil, but there was more than anyone could use or haul away.

    The kids worked naked under the sun because the dried rotten residue of the rendering vats would ruin any clothing. Indeed, tonight their mothers wouldn't let them into their huts because the stink would stick to them. They scraped the unused residue into buckets which they dumped into old canoes, and they towed those old boats which had fed the previous generation, out to the reef to dump them.

    Three of the huge single-masted pogy boats were tied side by side on the dock, their crews disgorging barrel after barrel of dead fish, none larger than a grown man's hand. The fires would be burning all night tonight. And the kids, freed of parental restraint due to their smell, would play well into the night.

    From the drum heights a booming echoed, crossing the bay to reach the islet. 'Merchantman!' it called in the language of the drums, and the naked children lined up on the shore to watch the tops of its three masts rise up over the horizon. The drum's call would bring folk from all over the island to trade with the merchants, to catch up on the latest gossip, and to dance.

    ***

    The sick child turned her face away from the spoon of vile fluid held by the doctor.

    "Come on, one spoonful, real quick, and it will be over," she cooed.

    "It tastes nasty!" the child replied.

    "If it tasted good it wouldn't be medicine, now would it?" the doctor said in a very reasonable tone."Come on, now, you can't get your pop until you've taken your medicine!"

    The child squinched up her face and reluctantly opened her mouth. With practiced expertise the doctor inserted and removed the spoon.

    "There, that wasn't so bad, now was it?"

    "It's vile," she answered, attempting to wipe the taste off her tongue with a corner of her bedsheet.

    "Drinni!" her mother scolded.

    "Oh, she's quite correct," the doctor said, "But it will ease the cough tonight." She fished a parchment covered packet from her bag and passed it to the eager child who had it unwrapped and in her mouth before the doctor could close her bag.

    ***

    The old lord enjoyed the gymnasium. Oh, he was far less active than in his youth. A few laps of the pool and a soak in the tepidarium was enough of a workout these days, but the warm oil the masseuse rubbed into his skin was a carnal pleasure still, when pleasures were otherwise losing their lustre.

    "We have to do something about the taxes," old Gerrand moaned from the next table over.

    "I agree," he replied, "But what? Compromise is difficult given the political situation."

    "Damn the political situation! Those East Islanders want everything their way, but they don't want to pay their fair share! I say it's time to do something about it!"

    "Calmly, my friend, calmly," the old lord said. "You see that spider's web in the corner there?

    "My lord, I apologise. I'll have the boy whipped for laziness." The servant wiped the offending web away with a wet towel.

    "Please don't," the old lord said. "The spider did no harm, and boys have always been more anxious to play than to work. I know I was, back in my day."

    The old lord turned to face his companion as the masseuse applied more warm oil. "I meant it as an illustration of my point."

    "I'm sure you will get tl it soon, then?"

    "Indeed. Each of our islands is a point where a web touches. Meat and lumber from the larger islands, fish and scented oils from the smaller. Pluck one strand from that web and it affects the whole web."

    "Yes, yes, I see it. But that assumes each island contributes. What about those who don't?"

    "Then they are rewarded with poverty." The old lord grunted when the masseuse applied his scraper. "The thing is, like that web, our trade networks are fragile. Undo one strand and you increase the strain on those adjacent to it."

    "They are defying our authority." Gerrand was quite certain in his view.

    "So we tax them as punishment. But their neighbors see this and feel they too can be punished, and so discontent spreads around the web. This is not a course to victory."

    "Well, I don't see how you are going to fix things. Just let them go on defying us and you get the same result."

    "I have no intention of allowing defiance to prosper, but a plan must have a chance to succeed or it is worse than doing nothing."

    "So far I haven't heard any plan."

    "Let's examine the situation. What do we know about the East Islanders?"

    "They are obstinate, stubborn sons of..."

    "They are proud," the old lord interrupted. "How can you punish proud people without driving them to greater defiance?"

    "Okay, how?"

    "By attacking their pride."

    "Again, how?"

    "Begin with their cause," the old lord said. "They claim the floods this spring destroyed their croplands, and they need all hands to rebuild. How would they react if we sent them several hundred young people to aid them in their time of need? Along with food of course."

    "You want to give them free labor in exchange for paying their taxes?"

    "How would you react if I were to offer you a loan on your next ship's construction?"

    "I don't need your mon...oh. I see! You humiliate them!"

    "Only a little. It will remind them they are not alone. And some of those kids will marry and stay, while some young folk of the big islands will get away to see the rest of the empire."

    "And we'll have taken away their excuse to shut down the mines and mills!"

    "That too."

    "You know, old friend," said Gerrand, "You're not as dumb as you look."

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'm not sure I want a strong and heavy-handed caste system, I have to keep mulling that over.
    I would actually recommend something closer to Japanese headman based feudal system. People are linked to a certain land and have to provide certain taxes (which are often linked to the original purpose of the land grant). What I would change is that anything they do externally is just flat taxed. As the culture's main trade and maritime system became more developed it led to the original tax and "purpose" of the clan to be less and less relevant to the clan's overall life. Basically each village/clan group can and usually does act more like a corporation. The original purpose having been subsumed by their mercantile and maritime activities and the original tax reduced to a ritualistic thing. This makes sure that clan etc have a strong


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    There's a map in the first post that gives a rough sense of what the island chain is like in terms of size, density, and latitudes covered (the one in the "east" view). Pretty much everything from ocean-tropical at the south end to maritime arctic at the north end. .
    only if I assume that is it has an earthlike climate as baseline. If this world is heavily influences by the Frostburn or Sandstorm books it could be something else. I ask because it effects food clothes etc. I would suggest either Japanese style fashion or tracking north in a similar way to tracking up the Himalayan foothills

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

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    I would actually recommend something closer to Japanese headman based feudal system. People are linked to a certain land and have to provide certain taxes (which are often linked to the original purpose of the land grant). What I would change is that anything they do externally is just flat taxed. As the culture's main trade and maritime system became more developed it led to the original tax and "purpose" of the clan to be less and less relevant to the clan's overall life. Basically each village/clan group can and usually does act more like a corporation. The original purpose having been subsumed by their mercantile and maritime activities and the original tax reduced to a ritualistic thing. This makes sure that clan etc have a strong
    Strong...?

    I have this thought of a prosperous trading clan using a fairly small fraction of their profits to purchase the required amount of the thing they were originally supposed to be paying their taxes with... that they don't even bother growing or making any more because it's easier and cheaper to just buy it off someone else who's doing it elsewhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    only if I assume that is it has an earthlike climate as baseline. If this world is heavily influences by the Frostburn or Sandstorm books it could be something else. I ask because it effects food clothes etc. I would suggest either Japanese style fashion or tracking north in a similar way to tracking up the Himalayan foothills
    Ah, yes -- assume an Earth-like climate (though perhaps looking roughly a century back, rather than a century forward, from our current, um, climate situation).

    Something else to consider is that these people had to learn early how to tack across the wind and upwind.
    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 brian 333 View Post
    Spoiler: Stories
    Show

    The boys on the deck were playing again, this time with a puffer fish which had swelled to the size of a handball. Their gloves protected them from its spines, but they had to catch it. Myrh had missed at least once, as the bumpy swellings on his face attested.

    Old Thanh stood on the bow holding on to the shroud, his sun-wrinkled face reading the sea. He pointed and Elin turned the boat to the course he indicated. She would be a Master one day and lead her crew to the pogy which schooled out in the deep blue sea, but to become a master was to know in ones bones every part of the vessel and crew, and to understand the sea.

    She blushed, recalling Thanh's description of the sea as lover, having very recently dipped her toes in the edge of that sea herself. She couldn't imagine a lifetime with one person, but she knew that whatever else came, she was already married to the sea.

    "Whee-ooooh!" Thanh cried, and she realised her mainsail was luffing. And Thanh was looking right at her.

    "On the deck!" she shouted, "Trim that sail!"

    A quartermaster should be alert when she is at the helm. She directed the deck hands as they trimmed the sails, and when she looked back the Old Man was again staring at the sea. She sighed and tried to focus.

    "Shearwaters ahoy!" shouted Matt from the crow's nest. The Old Man said he was the best mate in the fleet. To everyone except Matt. Of him Thanh expected perfection.

    She had ceased wondering how the old man knew, but directly ahead she could see a low-hanging cloud on the sea.

    "Make ready on the gear!" she shouted, and the deck hands scrambled to set the pair of spars which would drag the nets through the school of fish currently being gobbled by the birds she could not yet see, other than as a smudge on the horizon.

    Matt swung down to help but Thanh stood on the bow like one of those carved figureheads which decorated Imperial vessels. By the size of the cloud there were a lot of fish in that school.

    ***

    A generation ago the oil rendering plant had been moved to a nearby islet, and the stench was still powerful in the village when the wind turned. Pogy, rendered into oil, bought the lumber they needed for their boats and homes, and the remainder of the rendered fish, dried on bare stone, could be mixed with dirt to grow green food. A lot of it was sold with the oil, but there was more than anyone could use or haul away.

    The kids worked naked under the sun because the dried rotten residue of the rendering vats would ruin any clothing. Indeed, tonight their mothers wouldn't let them into their huts because the stink would stick to them. They scraped the unused residue into buckets which they dumped into old canoes, and they towed those old boats which had fed the previous generation, out to the reef to dump them.

    Three of the huge single-masted pogy boats were tied side by side on the dock, their crews disgorging barrel after barrel of dead fish, none larger than a grown man's hand. The fires would be burning all night tonight. And the kids, freed of parental restraint due to their smell, would play well into the night.

    From the drum heights a booming echoed, crossing the bay to reach the islet. 'Merchantman!' it called in the language of the drums, and the naked children lined up on the shore to watch the tops of its three masts rise up over the horizon. The drum's call would bring folk from all over the island to trade with the merchants, to catch up on the latest gossip, and to dance.

    ***

    The sick child turned her face away from the spoon of vile fluid held by the doctor.

    "Come on, one spoonful, real quick, and it will be over," she cooed.

    "It tastes nasty!" the child replied.

    "If it tasted good it wouldn't be medicine, now would it?" the doctor said in a very reasonable tone."Come on, now, you can't get your pop until you've taken your medicine!"

    The child squinched up her face and reluctantly opened her mouth. With practiced expertise the doctor inserted and removed the spoon.

    "There, that wasn't so bad, now was it?"

    "It's vile," she answered, attempting to wipe the taste off her tongue with a corner of her bedsheet.

    "Drinni!" her mother scolded.

    "Oh, she's quite correct," the doctor said, "But it will ease the cough tonight." She fished a parchment covered packet from her bag and passed it to the eager child who had it unwrapped and in her mouth before the doctor could close her bag.

    ***

    The old lord enjoyed the gymnasium. Oh, he was far less active than in his youth. A few laps of the pool and a soak in the tepidarium was enough of a workout these days, but the warm oil the masseuse rubbed into his skin was a carnal pleasure still, when pleasures were otherwise losing their lustre.

    "We have to do something about the taxes," old Gerrand moaned from the next table over.

    "I agree," he replied, "But what? Compromise is difficult given the political situation."

    "Damn the political situation! Those East Islanders want everything their way, but they don't want to pay their fair share! I say it's time to do something about it!"

    "Calmly, my friend, calmly," the old lord said. "You see that spider's web in the corner there?

    "My lord, I apologise. I'll have the boy whipped for laziness." The servant wiped the offending web away with a wet towel.

    "Please don't," the old lord said. "The spider did no harm, and boys have always been more anxious to play than to work. I know I was, back in my day."

    The old lord turned to face his companion as the masseuse applied more warm oil. "I meant it as an illustration of my point."

    "I'm sure you will get tl it soon, then?"

    "Indeed. Each of our islands is a point where a web touches. Meat and lumber from the larger islands, fish and scented oils from the smaller. Pluck one strand from that web and it affects the whole web."

    "Yes, yes, I see it. But that assumes each island contributes. What about those who don't?"

    "Then they are rewarded with poverty." The old lord grunted when the masseuse applied his scraper. "The thing is, like that web, our trade networks are fragile. Undo one strand and you increase the strain on those adjacent to it."

    "They are defying our authority." Gerrand was quite certain in his view.

    "So we tax them as punishment. But their neighbors see this and feel they too can be punished, and so discontent spreads around the web. This is not a course to victory."

    "Well, I don't see how you are going to fix things. Just let them go on defying us and you get the same result."

    "I have no intention of allowing defiance to prosper, but a plan must have a chance to succeed or it is worse than doing nothing."

    "So far I haven't heard any plan."

    "Let's examine the situation. What do we know about the East Islanders?"

    "They are obstinate, stubborn sons of..."

    "They are proud," the old lord interrupted. "How can you punish proud people without driving them to greater defiance?"

    "Okay, how?"

    "By attacking their pride."

    "Again, how?"

    "Begin with their cause," the old lord said. "They claim the floods this spring destroyed their croplands, and they need all hands to rebuild. How would they react if we sent them several hundred young people to aid them in their time of need? Along with food of course."

    "You want to give them free labor in exchange for paying their taxes?"

    "How would you react if I were to offer you a loan on your next ship's construction?"

    "I don't need your mon...oh. I see! You humiliate them!"

    "Only a little. It will remind them they are not alone. And some of those kids will marry and stay, while some young folk of the big islands will get away to see the rest of the empire."

    "And we'll have taken away their excuse to shut down the mines and mills!"

    "That too."

    "You know, old friend," said Gerrand, "You're not as dumb as you look."
    I think part of my problem is that I think less in stories, and more in snippets and images and facts and variabilities and causalities.

    But things like this are often expressed more effectively in stories.
    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"

    I'm exploring some ideas of cultural impact from trade. Since I as yet have no idea of the base cultures of your world, it's difficult to illustrate that, but I do hope the ideas percolate through your design.

    In the first example, the fisherman obviously didn't bring the crab to the capitol himself, and he would have been incapable of catching the crab without his capstan which came from elsewhere. The implications are of trade benefitting both ends of the chain and every link between.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Strong...?

    I have this thought of a prosperous trading clan using a fairly small fraction of their profits to purchase the required amount of the thing they were originally supposed to be paying their taxes with... that they don't even bother growing or making any more because it's easier and cheaper to just buy it off someone else who's doing it elsewhere.
    ah yes....strong internal link and tie. and not be able to be in conflict with another clan WITHIN the island nation without being against the whole system. Sure they would have conflicts that are tied to events outside but they would either use the internal dispute resolution system or have to be kept outside the nation (thus two clans could be at war outside the nation but at peace within it. Which I think would fit into your multilayered aspect) It would be strong in the sense that people have very limited ways of expanding beyond their given in born situation. That maritime trade etc (and possibly adventuring is seen as an outgrowth of foreign work/trade) is now a major part of their culture is an effect of the fact they can't buy up their neighbor's farm. So it is a strong caste/blood clan system but over a limited field of action.

    as for you take on just buying the tax.....
    I would imagine that certainly to be the case for some. Though other prosperous ones may see the management of growing a tax harvest as a kind of genteel semi-retirement. The change clan-to-clan would help give them each their own identity.



    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Ah, yes -- assume an Earth-like climate (though perhaps looking roughly a century back, rather than a century forward, from our current, um, climate situation).

    Something else to consider is that these people had to learn early how to tack across the wind and upwind.
    also you may wish to look at Assam, the Seven Sisters States, and the Kachin peoples of Burma. They have very much a blend of Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia features, clothing, food etc. That you may find useful as inspiration.

    Some of the main questions you may want to look into is where they get what they need that may be hard to supply normally in their islands.
    Metal is rare is a possibility but then again islands such as Jamaica, Hispaniola, Ceylon, Papua, Bismarck Islands, and Madagascar all do have significant mineral (metal/Gemstone) deposits if you want to go the other way you have plenty of examples.

    Something to build Boats out of. This is normally lumber. and lumber is often space hungry. I would recommend looking at the Tokagawa system of Forestry for possible leads here (lumber taxes were a common thing and this led to large areas of forest being somewhat silvacultured..(You seem like the type to have Jared Diamond in you library-he has a chapter on this in Collapse if you have it) also it could be tied into the a fair amount of "everyday" magic with plant growth spells speeding things up. Smart use of such areas would have layers of uses such as crops that can/are better grown in shade, foraging spaces for sheep or swine, hunting preserves, etc. Then again maybe their boats are made from some special seagrass. (Actually looking at everything from whelk pens, to dugong and seagrass farming (for baskets, flooring covers etc) is something I'd recommend considering since land space would be at a premium and it would help enforce the idea that people are tied to the sea for all kinds of things.) It could be that lumber is either expensive and traded in and thus things like reeds or bamboo (which is another thing that can be grown fast, used in many ways and helps give a strongly Asian flavor in descriptions) are used in any not critical area (decking etc). Either way it will help you develop the look and feel of the place.

    Fiber. For sails and ropes. Rope making is one of those things that can really make quality based difference clear. Venice was a major working of imported Hemp and exporter of finished rope. But really these guys will need a lot of rope and sail cloth. These will either be massive focus of internal effort or major imports. If they are a major industry hemp oil/seed would likely show up in their food for example and they are likely to have feelings about Hemp's fun sister.

    Caulking. For boats. Oil Seeps (Asphalt) Pine Pitch, Mosses, Latex Saps, whatever. You pick. It will be an important industry.


    actually one thing you may want to explore in fashion for them (especially high/noble fashion) are ideas that either since they mastered the idea of producing a curved surface from a flat one via shape (the triangular sail effect for tacking) they may have a thing for showing such control of cloth in other situations like clothing. So tightly cut clothing with curves that show off the control of tailor may be a thing. On the other end if the wind and sea are such a focus cloths that embody or use wind-like or water-like effects could be thing. Could even be split in gender, or formal/informal/etc if you like.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2018-01-31 at 05:04 PM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    I'm exploring some ideas of cultural impact from trade. Since I as yet have no idea of the base cultures of your world, it's difficult to illustrate that, but I do hope the ideas percolate through your design.

    In the first example, the fisherman obviously didn't bring the crab to the capitol himself, and he would have been incapable of catching the crab without his capstan which came from elsewhere. The implications are of trade benefitting both ends of the chain and every link between.
    Ah... now what you point out that that's what you were doing, I can see it. Makes sense.

    So, for this setting, here are some of the other cultures in broad strokes -- and please forgive those broad strokes and use of shorthand. For example, when I name a culture after a "People" {species/race}, it's for brevity and not any attempt to conflate culture and "race".

    Spoiler
    Show

    * Sayabani -- human culture; inhabits the arid and desert areas along the east coast of the continent to the west of the islands. Fervent passions; competing faiths; interplay of zealous propriety and lusty indulgence; ascetic priests might also be assassins; hereditary kingship retaining "mandate" through sacred religious duties; temples are reminiscent of stepped ziggurats and Mesoamerican pyramids -- an element shared with the overarching culture of the jungle lands farther west across the mountains.

    * Rasenna -- human culture; farther away to the west on another continent, but always looking to gain access to trade with the Choumin / Storm People. Think "Roman imperial with hyper-zealous sun-god cult interwoven". Culture cares about "civic duty", public propriety, and proper observances & sacrifices... far more than private behavior. The strong rule the weak, power is its own reward, dominance is the natural way of things, and what is "justified" is largely dependent on what you can get away with (and people with more power and bigger friends can get away with more).

    * (far southern) -- another hole I need to fill, people who live south of the Sayabani region and southwest of where the Choumin island chain ends.

    * (far western) -- a collection of related cultures in the vast forests west beyond the Rasenna empire.

    * Moon People -- largely nomadic race, "children of" the moon deity. "The Wandering Ones" -- travelers of the hidden byways and secret paths. Close to the spirits of the world, especially those of places and living things. Hints of ancient European paganism, the Celts as depicted within their own mythology, and the Romani. Colorful clothing and accoutrements. Free-wheeling, full of wanderlust and benevolent hedonism, have little shame in the naked body or physical intimacy. Every "troupe" behaves as an extended family, children are raised and the infirm are cared for as much by the whole as by the immediate family; marriage is more of an arrangement for making sure both parties are on the same page and everyone involved is provided for, rather than a sacred exclusive communion.

    * "Dark cities" -- the melting-pot syncretic culture that exists in the city-states of the northeast coastal region, pinned between the Scablands and the sea (west of the Choumin island chain's northern end, some ways north of the Sayabani)... although some other humans might disdainful refer to it as a "tossed salad". Travelers and traders and exiles from all over the world come and go in these in the trade-port cities, which to some degree exist at the tolerance of the Twilight People.


    * Twilight People -- the most alien of the people in this setting...

    Spoiler: ..."children" of long-dead quasi-gods.
    Show

    Called "gaunts" by those who hate them. The Choumin call them by a name that can be translated as "twilight's children" or "misfortune's children".

    Tall and slight, vaguely sunken features, almost ashen skin, large intense eyes and usually dark hair.

    Ageless, unbound to the mortal cycle -- some are said to be older than the death of their "gods". No spark of "the light" inside; their magics are all alchemy and artifice and shadows, more strange science than mystic art. Anachronistic, blending ancient and new ideas, at turns sentimental or coldly empirical; individualistic and fiercely private, disdainful of hypocrisy and injustice. Most of them have no patience for ritual or ceremony.

    The sexes are considered absolutely equal. All Intimate relationships are purely the business of the two individuals involved, and all oaths are private. Children are a major decision, and almost always by intent; most children are effectively "only children" because they're long grown and living their own lives by the time a sibling might be born; Twilight juveniles mentally mature far faster than human children even as their bodies take a bit longer, and most humans consider them uncanny and odd, put off by talking to someone who looks 5 or 6 but speaks like a literate adult. Rumors circulate that their "strange science" includes what amounts to "alchemical wombs", or that Twilight People make their children as an act of artifice -- although this may just be because most outsiders who interact with Twilight People have never seen a pregnant woman of that "race".

    Architecture is stone and metal, with wood relegated largely to ornamental purposes. Stone walls between properties are common; taking one of their towns or villages would be a long series of "small sieges". Wide eves and large awnings are common, to provide added shade.

    Their homeland now consists largely of the Scablands, a lifeless and withered place resulting from the mutual destruction of their "gods" and the Two Creator Gods at the end of the Bright Age... any living thing born of the divine light finds itself slowly sickening and withering in that blasted land. Only along the edges does life still thrive. An inland sea that cuts through south of the Scablands connects the eastern ocean of the Choumin homeland with the western waters where the Rasenna rule, and the combination of Rasenna imperial ambitions and the zealotry of their solar religion has made the Rasenna mortal enemies of those they call "Gaunts".

    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-31 at 09:08 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.

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