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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Well considering things like the undulations in the wood of the industrial steel braced Wisconsin (maybe Wyoming? a W state) caused issues at a smaller size there is precedent for that. But then again water or storm spirits into the boat (and in an animist culture binding a new spirit to boat would make sense) in a world with magic...logical size limits can be stretched.

    And there is no such thing as TOO BIG when a major point of them would be to show off how wealthy the group commissioning the ship is. So if a clan or alliance of them shows up to the capital in one for the headman to visit the king/emperor etc. and they fit all their retainers, and children going to the imperial university, and the animal sacrifices for the main temple, and their tax harvest...all on one ship they may have bragging rights that come in useful in clan to clan negotiations and status gaining.
    And many of those size estimates put them in same 300-3000 ton range you find European Galleons in-if a century earlier.

    Also with a glance at your map those ships sailing East (and into the storms off a very large ocean area) from the home isles could well be very different than those heading to the coast. In big long 1-2 trips a year that crossing the larger ocean would entail ship size would be a boon if you could find engineering ways to hack it.

    Also the generally V shaped nature of the isles as seen on your map would enclose a sea that would have distinct characteristics. And "enclosed" doesn't have to mean calm. The Gulf of Mexico has huge storms roll in and the North Sea is also notably stormy even though both are protected from a lot of ocean swells and the like.
    Enclosed and "small" doesn't even mean calm... take a look at the weather on the Great Lakes. Some estimates claim that there are more shipwrecks per square mile in the Great Lakes than in any comparably-sized stretch of ocean around the world.

    On the size of wooden ships -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...t_wooden_ships

    I think the 420 feet sometimes given for the largest ships of the "treasure fleet" is probably pushing the limits of believably, and not because of how it compares to ships in other parts of the world in that century, but because of how much effort it took even 100s of years later to make wooden ships that size even somewhat workable.
    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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  2. - Top - End - #62
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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 think the 420 feet sometimes given for the largest ships of the "treasure fleet" is probably pushing the limits of believably, and not because of how it compares to ships in other parts of the world in that century, but because of how much effort it took even 100s of years later to make wooden ships that size even somewhat workable.
    I tend to believe the same thing, but depending on how the magic works in your world, ship-building might have very different constraints and bottlenecks than it did in the real world during a period of comparable mundane technology. Magic that affects the growth of plants even subtly makes it a lot easier to grow large masts and long, straight boards, for instance. Magic that affects the hardness of materials lets you substantially reinforce important structural elements without adding to the vessel's weight. If you can magically join cut wooden boards together, a la the wood shape spell from D&D 3.5, you can join boards in watertight seems directly without using tons of pitch, which I imagine would be incredibly useful. And that doesn't even get into magical materials like ironwood mythril and so on, which while expensive, could be strategically employed in key locations on a ship to allow for construction methods you just can't accomplish in the real world.

    But then, I don't actually know anything about ship-building, I'm just speculating. I think that, in a world with magic that could credibly affect manufacturing methods, it's within the suspension of disbelief to allow for ships approaching and even slightly exceeding engineering limits imposed in the real world. It would probably even reinforce that suspension of disbelief if the PCs wander below decks and chat with the engineer, and she can even explain some of the special techniques they use that allow them to build vessels that, in other parts of the world, are believed to be flatly impossible.

    And hey, they're cool!

    I'm glad some stuff from the thread has been useful, I always enjoy just brainstorming ideas because I have so many more random little thoughts than I will ever have time to use them in my own games. I'll write some more random thoughts down if any good ones come to me. Are there any places you could particularly use some more ideas for fleshing out this culture?
    For playable monster adventurers who would attract more than a few glances at the local tavern, check out my homebrew monster races!

  3. - Top - End - #63
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Mirror View Post
    I tend to believe the same thing, but depending on how the magic works in your world, ship-building might have very different constraints and bottlenecks than it did in the real world during a period of comparable mundane technology. Magic that affects the growth of plants even subtly makes it a lot easier to grow large masts and long, straight boards, for instance. Magic that affects the hardness of materials lets you substantially reinforce important structural elements without adding to the vessel's weight. If you can magically join cut wooden boards together, a la the wood shape spell from D&D 3.5, you can join boards in watertight seems directly without using tons of pitch, which I imagine would be incredibly useful. And that doesn't even get into magical materials like ironwood mythril and so on, which while expensive, could be strategically employed in key locations on a ship to allow for construction methods you just can't accomplish in the real world.

    But then, I don't actually know anything about ship-building, I'm just speculating. I think that, in a world with magic that could credibly affect manufacturing methods, it's within the suspension of disbelief to allow for ships approaching and even slightly exceeding engineering limits imposed in the real world. It would probably even reinforce that suspension of disbelief if the PCs wander below decks and chat with the engineer, and she can even explain some of the special techniques they use that allow them to build vessels that, in other parts of the world, are believed to be flatly impossible.

    And hey, they're cool!
    The masters of "material magic" are the Twilight People, but that's stone and metal and stranger things (there's a reason they want to trade for all that latex sap, bamboo, etc).

    But as might fit the Choumin being a "culture of contradictions" (in this case, the rush of commerce vs the patience of a farming project for a single harvest that takes multiple generations to come to fruition), maybe I could see them engaged in the silvaculture mentioned upthread, taking the lifetime of giant hardwood trees to grow them to the size and strength needed for the massive continuous beams and planks that would go into making a very large ship for this setting (even if not quite so big as circa 1890 IRL "still fell apart in heavy seas even though it was held together with so much metal that the wood was superfluous" big).


    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Mirror View Post
    I'm glad some stuff from the thread has been useful, I always enjoy just brainstorming ideas because I have so many more random little thoughts than I will ever have time to use them in my own games. I'll write some more random thoughts down if any good ones come to me. Are there any places you could particularly use some more ideas for fleshing out this culture?
    Another thread reminded me... masks.
    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.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Another thread reminded me... masks.
    What about masks as formal wear? The people of the islands might choose colorful, whimsical, or humorous masks for a fun party.
    Spoiler: Party Masks
    Show



    For a more dignified affair like a high society gala, they choose masks which display quality craftsmanship, antique or designer value, or which might make some subtle cultural point based on historical minutiae.
    Spoiler: Fancy Masks
    Show



    For funerals or other somber affairs, it is traditional to wear a mask patterned after the angrier gods, powerful ocean creatures, and other fierce beings which scare away misfortune.
    Spoiler: Mourning Masks
    Show





    On top of all these, young men and women might don attention-grabbing masks when they go out on the town, just as they might get dressed to impress in any culture. Devout people dress in their finest masks to attend important religious ceremonies throughout the year. A merchant might don a gaudy mask when going to the market to haggle in order to advertise her affluence, then swap it out for a more staid and respectable (but still expensive) mask to go to the bank and ask for a loan.

    Despite all that, people spend most of their time without a mask of any sort, just like most people don't wear a tuxedo or a ball gown around in their everyday lives in our culture. But spend a little time in one of the island's cities, especially at night, and you're bound to see a few people out peacocking in their face-obscuring finest.
    Last edited by Steel Mirror; 2018-02-07 at 07:28 PM.
    For playable monster adventurers who would attract more than a few glances at the local tavern, check out my homebrew monster races!

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    I'm thinking that a mask tradition also has a lot of fit with their "always multiple layers" and "there's always two things going on" approach.

    Such as, the mask isn't supposed to hide who you are, it's supposed to reveal your identity via subtle clues and symbolism; and if you recognize someone in a mask, you're not supposed to openly let on that you recognize them, but maybe you are supposedly covertly let on that you recognize them. There's a bit of a game going on there.
    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.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Little tidbit this thread has inspired for the fictional side of this.

    Spoiler
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    I don't have quite the talent some do for just throwing down compelling moment of story at the drop of a hat, sadly. Writing fiction is work for me.

    But, in the story I'm working on, there's a relationship between a Choumin young man and a Twilight woman. The discussions here have really brought into stark contrast the cultural differences that I knew were there and would be important, but that were always a bit murky. The contrast between "communitarian" or "individualistic", between "order" or "justice", and so on.


    Earlier on, she's trying to move things along, so to speak, after they've both been sort of coming at the whole idea of a romantic relationship sideways for a while, and he's concerned about insulting her by not following the proper etiquette and sequence of "courting" her, and there's this exchange:

    "There are rules for these things..."
    "Do you think those rules apply to me?"


    Later, having accompanied him back to his home province in the islands, she's lost patience with all the scheming and killed (instead of following all the proper formalities and declarations and steps and so on) someone who was trying to have them assassinated, and when he figures this out he's very angry with her... there's this exchange:

    "There are rules for these things!"
    "Do you think those rules apply to me?"


    Obviously that's not the polished final form of either conversation, but the two parallel moments at different ends of the relationship really strikes a chord with me.

    The behavioral code he most cares about is the one that society has set for him, but it's one that has those aforementioned crossgrain layers, so that he can both be the proper young man around his Choumin peers and elders, while also being an adventurer and a bit of a rogue when away from home.

    The only moral code she actually cares about is her own internal moral code, and she's only willing to play along so far no matter how much she cares about him... and eventually she's not willing to play along any more because of how much she cares about him.

    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-07 at 11:08 PM.
    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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  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Is there anything else on these Storm Folk or others you want input on?

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

    This seems relevant:

    High-context vs low-context cultures: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_context_culture

    Shame vs Guilt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shame_society -vs- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilt_society
    Also discussed by Segev in another thread: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=22829028&postcount=175


    Interest potential conflict / fracture point in a society where the power structure demands peace but the underlying culture also highly values "face" (See, izzat, chemyon, mentsu, etc.)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-12 at 04:36 PM.
    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.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Is there anything else on these Storm Folk or others you want input on?
    Sorry, for some reason the forum never appeared to show your post as new thread activity (the green checkmark), so I didn't see it until now.


    Are the Choumin (Storm People) making sense as they're fleshed out?

    What sense do you get of the Twilight People or the Moon People from their blurbs? Any thoughts on either one?
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-12 at 11:03 PM.
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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    On the size of wooden ships -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...t_wooden_ships

    I think the 420 feet sometimes given for the largest ships of the "treasure fleet" is probably pushing the limits of believably, and not because of how it compares to ships in other parts of the world in that century, but because of how much effort it took even 100s of years later to make wooden ships that size even somewhat workable.

    The wonderful thing about junks is that their hulls are composed of boxes. They scale up easily, and 420 feet is not even a theoretical maximum size. Compare this to Western vessels which copy the skeleton of a fish, using a spine and rib construction. This creates 'hogging' in ships that exceed the wavelength of the ocean swells, requiring additional bracing which increases weight which increases the tendency to hog. Now add in spliced keels on ships longer than the trees are tall and you begin to create weak points.

    The flexibility of the junk hull coupled with the compartmentalization of the hull creates a vessel which can not only withstand the stresses of flexure but can have one or more compartments fail without significantly reducing seaworthiness.

    Money, timber resources, and skilled craftsmen are the practical limits to the size of a junk. After that having sailors accustomed to handling large vessels is important.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    The wonderful thing about junks is that their hulls are composed of boxes. They scale up easily, and 420 feet is not even a theoretical maximum size. Compare this to Western vessels which copy the skeleton of a fish, using a spine and rib construction. This creates 'hogging' in ships that exceed the wavelength of the ocean swells, requiring additional bracing which increases weight which increases the tendency to hog. Now add in spliced keels on ships longer than the trees are tall and you begin to create weak points.

    The flexibility of the junk hull coupled with the compartmentalization of the hull creates a vessel which can not only withstand the stresses of flexure but can have one or more compartments fail without significantly reducing seaworthiness.

    Money, timber resources, and skilled craftsmen are the practical limits to the size of a junk. After that having sailors accustomed to handling large vessels is important.
    How well do the sails most often associated with the junk handle tacking and maneuvering?

    Could the hull construction technique be combined with a different sail configuration?
    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
    How well do the sails most often associated with the junk handle tacking and maneuvering?

    Could the hull construction technique be combined with a different sail configuration?
    My brother lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and is building a junk-rigged 22 footer. He thinks it's suitable for close quarter sailing. We'll find out this summer. The sails are shaped like aircraft wings and are held open by battens which help it catch breezes unreinforced sails won't.

    The junk hull is essentially how warships are built today. Wooden hull junks tend to be wider and thus draw far less water than typical ocean going European ships. Modern junk rig enthusiasts have put them on pretty much every hull type from catamarans to sloops. I have yet to see one in the Americas Cup, but wing-hulled sloop rigged catamarans seem to be the rage now.

    Google junk rigged boats for more info on modern boats.

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

    The Northmost island of the Empire was the newest addition to the Empire, and the inhabitants were unsure about the situation. On the one hand, the dark-eyes brought wonders. On the other hand they demanded lip service be paid to their Storm God. Brian worshipped The Great Bear who guarded her cub in the center of the sky. He had no love of storms, and no desire to appease a god who oppressed his people.

    But the Southerners came in ships built of more wood than he had ever seen, the smallest planks larger than the girth of any tree that grew on the ice-clad rocks of his home. And they had knives, less sharp, perhaps, than his stone tools, but much harder to break. And the new spear tip for his harpoon that turned when pulled so the seals couldn't escape to die of their wound.

    They were friendly, but where they set up their trading posts they stayed. No Northerner would make summer camp in the same place twice because the land needed years to recover from the wounds such camps inflicted. Winter quarters were permanent, but they were on stone ridges facing away from the ocean. Families gathered in their circular hide-covered, stone walled houses in winter and scattered along the coasts to fish and hunt in summer while the young and old gathered green foods in the river valleys.

    Brian steadied his sail, a scraped seal hide set in a triangular frame, controlled by two ropes, one attached to each corner of the sail, its third point set in a swivel-socket built into his kayak just forward of his feet. He steered the boat with his feet using two straps from the tiller to loops big enough to slide over his mukluks. Around the headland he saw a huge fanged seal far too large for him to carry in a kayak half its length. Late in the year when summer-born pups began to take to the sea he and his brothers would hunt the tusker, but today his game was much smaller.

    Out on the water a pair of unicorns sparred. Summer juveniles by their horns. Adult males sported horns longer than Brian's height, and their sparring this fall as the first ice formed in the rivers could easily turn deadly. One or two crab-eaten unicorns would wash ashore. Except for their twisted horns they were much like the spotted dolphins that came into the river deltas to roll in the sand in the spring. They were interesting, but they were not today's game either.

    In the sheltered bay the kelp beds were thick. He lowered his sail and lashed its mast and spar together on the off-side of his kayak then unshipped his oar to paddle through the mass of fronds and gas bladders. Before the skin of his boat could touch the rounded pebbles of the beach he stopped and unlaced the boot that secured him in the boat and kept the cold ocean waters out.

    He stood in the round bottomed craft, which no Southerner could ever do without flipping it. With a hop he was ouf of the boat which he lifted to carry ashore. It and all the gear inside was right at the limit of his strength to carry, but the pebble beach was a gentle slope and the tide line was just a few yards away. He set it down gently to avoid damage to the seal hide shell. The outer skin of his boots was wet but they were designed that way. The inner boot and his feet remained dry. For now, at least.

    He scoured the shore for bits of driftwood and twigs, then lit a fire on the beach. He would need it soon, and he might be too numb to light it then. Once the fire was going he took a soft chamois from his boat and set it near the fire then undressed. His boots came off last. From his pack he took a dog-bladder of grease and rubbed his body with fingertips loaded with the rancid white paste. Already he felt tbe cold, but not the burning pain of immersion in ice. This was a bracing summer kind of cold.

    He armed himself with a net bag and his new steel knife and walked into the bay. The Arctic water of the circum-polar current was above freezing, but it was only just. Even in the middle of summer the ocean held winter in its heart. When the long nights came and ice built up on land and sea the ocean would hardly get colder.the water got deep fast, and Brian found himself swimming. He didn't have long now!

    Down beneath the kelp, among the flimsy roots and rocks, urchins and sea stars fought and died, but the prize was the oysters, the size of two hands, anchored to the rocks and to each other. He discovered a clump, the smallest the sizd of his hand, with larger ones twice that size. He pried the clump loose, shoved the mass into his net, and went up for a breath. Six dives later his net was full, and very heavy.

    He dragged himself up the beach, his jaw clenched to stop his teeth from chattering. The fire and chamois were there, but it took an effort of will to use them. The bitter cold had robbed his body of vitality. Rubbing himself dry as he stoked the fire, he almost didn't see his visitor coming. By the time he saw the old woman he was well on his way to controlling his shivers.

    There was something familiar about the white hair framing her round face, and about the faded blue eyes set in creased and folded skin. She said nothing but sat beside his fire uninvited.

    "Who are you?" he asked. ""How did you get here?"

    "You know me, Brian," she answered. "I held you in the moment of your birth. As I held your Mother and her Father in their time. You have called my name in times of need. And in vain a time or two as well."

    "You are Ursula, the Mother Bear? But that's..."

    Impossible was what he intended to say, but as he thought it he doubted his own certainty. In doubting his disbelief he began to believe, if only a little.

    She smiled as if she knew his thoughts. "No, I do not hatd the hunter. I too hunt, my child."

    "Why are you here?" He paused and said, "I don't mean to be impertinent."

    "But you are," she replied with a smild that turned the rebuke into praise. "Impertinent and rude. In too much of a hurry go do a good job, and too arrogant to obey your elders."

    "You have been speaking to my Mother," he deduced. "But why are you here? In the wild land? Why visit me?"

    "Does a grandmother require a reason to visit her grandson?"

    "Grandmother?"

    "Yes. And not in the way of all Northmen who worship me as the Protector. Twelve generations past my son married into your tribe. There is a reason your family leads the seal hunt."

    "I am honored by your presence, Great Mother."

    "Don't give me that, young man. Only one without honor is concerned with being seen as honorable."

    The fire burned untended now, the net filled with oysters lay forgotten.

    "I get that. But I don't understand," Brian insisted.

    "Then come with me," the old woman said. "I have much to teach you."

    "Come? Where? What do you want to teach me?"

    "I want to teach you to be your true self. Do you want to learn?"

    "Yes, but I..."

    "No conditions. Come or don't."

    "I'll come," he said. "Let me dress."

    "Don't bother," she said.

    He watched her change, half amazed, half afraid, as white hair sprouted and she inflated, falling forward onto forefeet tipped with claws as long as his hands. And somehow he was unsurprised to see his own forepaws tipped with similar weaponry. The colors had changed, faded, yet he could see more clearly than he ever saw before. And hear, and most powerful of all, smell. He smelled the beach, the fire, the oysters, the musk of drying sealskin. It was overwhelming for a moment, and she stood still, waiting. Then she turned and walked away down the beach. He paused long enough to smell her scent, still lingering in her footprint, then followed her.

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

    Okay Moon People...

    Fisrt huge issue here is what do they eat.

    Do they live as a supplemental group to other settled groups? Are they pastoralist? And do they use a for example a African style pastoralist/farmer split? to they have more a homeland within which they do most of their wandering (like say the Mongols)? Have some internal division between above options (losers in Mongol style tribal wars ended up becoming Gypsy-like flex workers in other societies).

    Why do they stay in the lifestyle they do? why don't they claim a homeland if don't have one? and if they don't want one why not?


    You describe a couple basic cultural traits but not the idea of scale, how they interact with others?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Okay Moon People...

    Fisrt huge issue here is what do they eat.

    Do they live as a supplemental group to other settled groups? Are they pastoralist? And do they use a for example a African style pastoralist/farmer split? to they have more a homeland within which they do most of their wandering (like say the Mongols)? Have some internal division between above options (losers in Mongol style tribal wars ended up becoming Gypsy-like flex workers in other societies).

    Why do they stay in the lifestyle they do? why don't they claim a homeland if don't have one? and if they don't want one why not?


    You describe a couple basic cultural traits but not the idea of scale, how they interact with others?

    OK, I can expand some... the focus of that initial blurb was as a response to a request for some of the other cultures the Choumin might interact with.


    First, specific reasons why the Choumin would want to interact with them:

    * As guides and scouts on land, especially in the vast areas of inland forest and the deep wilds.
    * As fellow traders who move smaller valuable goods around on land where Choumin are less active.
    * As sources of things found in the deep wilds -- lost artifacts, herbs and plants, exotic animals, news of remote lands that might be someday be reached by sea, etc.


    Second, on the Moon People themselves:

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    What they eat -- they hunt and gather, and trade for things they can't grow or make themselves, but a lot of their food comes from a sort of communal agriculture that the various wandering groups collectively maintain as they move through areas or stop for a season. It's expected that they'll put in at least enough effort to make up for what they take, with a lot of cultural and religious weight behind that expectation. A band who takes a lot more than they give will find themselves shunned both by their fellows and by the spirits. So somewhere deep in the wilds might be a grove of fruit trees mixed in with the other trees, where the soil has been enriched over countless generations and the trees carefully maintained, for example.

    Very few of them stay in any one place permanently, but there are permanent locations where you'll regularly (but not always) find one band or another; and places where bands always come together to observe certain holidays, where there are shamans and wise old ones and a handful of others who end up making permanent homes.

    Those who lose their fellows to misfortune or strife with other cultures (human nomads in some areas, "civilization" expanding its footprint by clearing or trimming forests or planting open areas in others), or who are exiled/shunned, often end up in a town or city somewhere. Some places are welcoming, some are not, it just depends, so they could end up as valued members of the community or stuck living hand-to-mouth doing the work no one else wants. More than a few humans have a few drops of Moon Poople blood in their veins from some marriage or dalliance generations ago. ("Moon People" would in real-world scientific terms best be understood as an inter-fertile subspecies with a quite divergent culture, unlike the human-similar but "alien" Twilight People who are effectively infertile with humans; Choumin / Storm People are simply a specific human culture.)

    They stay in this lifestyle because of their beliefs about their relationship with the natural world and with the spirits and the gods; and sometimes because their uneasy relationship with humans, who they fear could turn on them with little provocation, makes them uncomfortable if they can't pick up and leave on short notice. Their "homeland" is the world, and they come and go like their goddess. When they travel, they will sometimes cross over into the border with the spirit world where the old roads are still semi-real, and cover several times the distance one might expect of families traveling with all their belongings through the deep wilderness. They are the Wandering Ones, travelers of the hidden byways and secret paths.


    Keep in mind:

    * the history and cosmology (and several of the religious dogmas) of this setting lead to a lot more fear and distrust of night, darkness, and shadow in many human cultures. The darkest forests are not welcoming to those people, and they avoid remote places.
    * there was a drastic "end of the age" that brought down the old overarching empire/civilization an aeon ago (metaphorical aeon), leaving a semi-connected web of civilized areas, with a lot of gaps and hinterlands and "emptiness", and lots of ruins and remnants that many humans believe are haunted or cursed. Many of the old road networks have gaps, old bridges are gone, etc.



    Hope that helps make them clearer.


    Any thoughts on the Twilight?
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-14 at 11:52 PM.
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    Spoiler: another well-done story by brian 333
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    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    The Northmost island of the Empire was the newest addition to the Empire, and the inhabitants were unsure about the situation. On the one hand, the dark-eyes brought wonders. On the other hand they demanded lip service be paid to their Storm God. Brian worshipped The Great Bear who guarded her cub in the center of the sky. He had no love of storms, and no desire to appease a god who oppressed his people.

    But the Southerners came in ships built of more wood than he had ever seen, the smallest planks larger than the girth of any tree that grew on the ice-clad rocks of his home. And they had knives, less sharp, perhaps, than his stone tools, but much harder to break. And the new spear tip for his harpoon that turned when pulled so the seals couldn't escape to die of their wound.

    They were friendly, but where they set up their trading posts they stayed. No Northerner would make summer camp in the same place twice because the land needed years to recover from the wounds such camps inflicted. Winter quarters were permanent, but they were on stone ridges facing away from the ocean. Families gathered in their circular hide-covered, stone walled houses in winter and scattered along the coasts to fish and hunt in summer while the young and old gathered green foods in the river valleys.

    Brian steadied his sail, a scraped seal hide set in a triangular frame, controlled by two ropes, one attached to each corner of the sail, its third point set in a swivel-socket built into his kayak just forward of his feet. He steered the boat with his feet using two straps from the tiller to loops big enough to slide over his mukluks. Around the headland he saw a huge fanged seal far too large for him to carry in a kayak half its length. Late in the year when summer-born pups began to take to the sea he and his brothers would hunt the tusker, but today his game was much smaller.

    Out on the water a pair of unicorns sparred. Summer juveniles by their horns. Adult males sported horns longer than Brian's height, and their sparring this fall as the first ice formed in the rivers could easily turn deadly. One or two crab-eaten unicorns would wash ashore. Except for their twisted horns they were much like the spotted dolphins that came into the river deltas to roll in the sand in the spring. They were interesting, but they were not today's game either.

    In the sheltered bay the kelp beds were thick. He lowered his sail and lashed its mast and spar together on the off-side of his kayak then unshipped his oar to paddle through the mass of fronds and gas bladders. Before the skin of his boat could touch the rounded pebbles of the beach he stopped and unlaced the boot that secured him in the boat and kept the cold ocean waters out.

    He stood in the round bottomed craft, which no Southerner could ever do without flipping it. With a hop he was ouf of the boat which he lifted to carry ashore. It and all the gear inside was right at the limit of his strength to carry, but the pebble beach was a gentle slope and the tide line was just a few yards away. He set it down gently to avoid damage to the seal hide shell. The outer skin of his boots was wet but they were designed that way. The inner boot and his feet remained dry. For now, at least.

    He scoured the shore for bits of driftwood and twigs, then lit a fire on the beach. He would need it soon, and he might be too numb to light it then. Once the fire was going he took a soft chamois from his boat and set it near the fire then undressed. His boots came off last. From his pack he took a dog-bladder of grease and rubbed his body with fingertips loaded with the rancid white paste. Already he felt tbe cold, but not the burning pain of immersion in ice. This was a bracing summer kind of cold.

    He armed himself with a net bag and his new steel knife and walked into the bay. The Arctic water of the circum-polar current was above freezing, but it was only just. Even in the middle of summer the ocean held winter in its heart. When the long nights came and ice built up on land and sea the ocean would hardly get colder.the water got deep fast, and Brian found himself swimming. He didn't have long now!

    Down beneath the kelp, among the flimsy roots and rocks, urchins and sea stars fought and died, but the prize was the oysters, the size of two hands, anchored to the rocks and to each other. He discovered a clump, the smallest the sizd of his hand, with larger ones twice that size. He pried the clump loose, shoved the mass into his net, and went up for a breath. Six dives later his net was full, and very heavy.

    He dragged himself up the beach, his jaw clenched to stop his teeth from chattering. The fire and chamois were there, but it took an effort of will to use them. The bitter cold had robbed his body of vitality. Rubbing himself dry as he stoked the fire, he almost didn't see his visitor coming. By the time he saw the old woman he was well on his way to controlling his shivers.

    There was something familiar about the white hair framing her round face, and about the faded blue eyes set in creased and folded skin. She said nothing but sat beside his fire uninvited.

    "Who are you?" he asked. ""How did you get here?"

    "You know me, Brian," she answered. "I held you in the moment of your birth. As I held your Mother and her Father in their time. You have called my name in times of need. And in vain a time or two as well."

    "You are Ursula, the Mother Bear? But that's..."

    Impossible was what he intended to say, but as he thought it he doubted his own certainty. In doubting his disbelief he began to believe, if only a little.

    She smiled as if she knew his thoughts. "No, I do not hatd the hunter. I too hunt, my child."

    "Why are you here?" He paused and said, "I don't mean to be impertinent."

    "But you are," she replied with a smild that turned the rebuke into praise. "Impertinent and rude. In too much of a hurry go do a good job, and too arrogant to obey your elders."

    "You have been speaking to my Mother," he deduced. "But why are you here? In the wild land? Why visit me?"

    "Does a grandmother require a reason to visit her grandson?"

    "Grandmother?"

    "Yes. And not in the way of all Northmen who worship me as the Protector. Twelve generations past my son married into your tribe. There is a reason your family leads the seal hunt."

    "I am honored by your presence, Great Mother."

    "Don't give me that, young man. Only one without honor is concerned with being seen as honorable."

    The fire burned untended now, the net filled with oysters lay forgotten.

    "I get that. But I don't understand," Brian insisted.

    "Then come with me," the old woman said. "I have much to teach you."

    "Come? Where? What do you want to teach me?"

    "I want to teach you to be your true self. Do you want to learn?"

    "Yes, but I..."

    "No conditions. Come or don't."

    "I'll come," he said. "Let me dress."

    "Don't bother," she said.

    He watched her change, half amazed, half afraid, as white hair sprouted and she inflated, falling forward onto forefeet tipped with claws as long as his hands. And somehow he was unsurprised to see his own forepaws tipped with similar weaponry. The colors had changed, faded, yet he could see more clearly than he ever saw before. And hear, and most powerful of all, smell. He smelled the beach, the fire, the oysters, the musk of drying sealskin. It was overwhelming for a moment, and she stood still, waiting. Then she turned and walked away down the beach. He paused long enough to smell her scent, still lingering in her footprint, then followed her.


    Do you mind if I take this as the basis of one of the subcultural divides?
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-15 at 02:48 PM.
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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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

    This is borderline off-topic, but Brian 333 I really enjoy your fiction! All great reads and all really cool windows into bits of this setting Max is making, bravo to both of you.

    I'll think on the Twilight and try to come up with something to add there, but I just wanted to say that!
    For playable monster adventurers who would attract more than a few glances at the local tavern, check out my homebrew monster races!

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

    Okay the real questions with the Twilight people.

    You seem to have the following facts
    Human appearing but not human and not genetically compatible
    live on the northern coast of the continent adjacent to the storm people islands
    Have a history of being distrusted by others
    Have a strong tradition of science, magic-tech, alchemy etc.

    So really there is a ton open to ask of what role you want them to fill in terms of how you build them.

    Are they all one system? like an empire? A loose federation of city states (thing how Greece city states had a basis of alliance against outsiders and conflict between themselves otherwise for an example) multiple nations with some cultural similarities (like a Scandinavia, bantu expansion nations, post Roman Europe, etc)

    I would recommend that they be pretty independent of major resources (metal, fuel, food, fiber) just because their isolation would lead them to develop such things in case trade was cut off. So trade would be mostly for things in weird science and luxuries in terms of imports.

    depending on their internal structure their military could be pretty much anything as yet. but the ability to dominate the blasted lands to their south would be very important. That would be the buffer where they would want to fight their wars. Since armies can not forage well there logistics and overland travel speeds will be major things here.

    Actually between the logistics and isolation and being a market for distant resources they are set up for a colonization program. complete with plantations of cash crops for the closed market back home. Could well be a source of conflict or historical conflict.

    Social structure is also kinda open. Besides a lean towards a socialize school system (since they need a lot of skilled workers) it could be whatever will set them apart and build on that "alien" feel.

    I would toss out that their uniqueness of origin and separation from humanity could well lead to an extreme take on how they see blood identity. Their ancestors could be nothing to them as all Twilight People are the same in the eyes of the original creators and thus all their community is individually measured or it could be very strongly bloodline based with Heroes, Leaders, Guild Meisters, etc forming symbols of "quality" to measure a bloodline against. I think the former may be more interesting just because so much fantasy uses hereditary leadership systems.

    One thing to think about is how are the twilight people different mentally, emotionally, etc

    Also the issue of them being in the world but not of it (not being from the Creator Gods) influence their views to the world. Above it? Apart from it so that they have no moral responsibility to it (and can thus vivisect or abuse the light gods creations at will)? Part of the system anyway? Division on this question could well be reflected as a religious or political split as well.

    As for the basics - they likely have a very strong seasonal shift. long days in summer, short in winter, growing food in winter will be very tough. So mastery of preserving food could well have been their first steps into alchemy. So lots of cheese, jerky, pickled veg, salt fish, etc. Which may be treated back to edible at the table (if you have ever soaked a salt ham imagine it happening over minutes instead of a couple days-and the problems outsiders have when then try to drink the brining liquid and munch of the salt meat strait)

    So there are more questions than ideas there but I hope it gives you a brainstorm or two. I'll add more as I can.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2018-02-16 at 01:23 PM.

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

    Here's a rough (very rough) map that I will end up redoing probably umpteen times, showing part of the world.


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    The splotchy area is the scablands, the red dot in the center of that is the old city where the "creators vs dark entities" battle took place. The "fabric of reality" is tattered here, shadows can take on substance and the unwary can wander into "the gloaming" (the extended borderland between material reality and the primal void... the near gloaming is an ashen reflection of the real world, the father "into" the gloaming one goes the more tenuous and tenebrous it becomes)

    The red dot south of that is the Twilight "capital".

    The Rasenna are in the SE corner and beyond.

    The start of the island chain of the Choumin is in the NE corner.
    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"

    In terms of weird magics for the twilight people. Building on the ideas of X% real shadow spells from D&D shades, them being closer to the shadow world and places where the world thins....They have a way of drawing "something" from the twilight realms into the real world. possibly it needs special rare (possibly toxic to non twilight people) metals built into a clockwork host...some say the animating force is made from supposed dead of the shadow/light battle (since it can only be done in the blasted lands) others say they are broken flawed souls of the twilight people who can not move on as they have no light in them, others claim they are made from living slaves of the prisoners of the twilight people...or just the light born slaves they take. . . In any case it has only a feeble mind and an inborn loyalty to certain twilight symbols. used as tireless laborers, helpers, etc....games wise they are basically and unseen servant spell made permanent and in a creepy metal doll. And maybe they are rare and treasured signs of great wealth/alchemical mastery or maybe they are everyday things that explain how the twilight people can get so much done in a place where so few people can live.


    but the larger issue is this. . . What do you need the Twilight people to do from a story/game perspective? Work backwards from that. The map can be changed so that resulting culture makes some kind of sense and doesn't hang your suspension of disbelief from a rope drawn off a white scummy pus floating in twightlight nation's factory (because frankly 1st gen nylon production was weird looking) but if the result doesn't work for the story and game world to be fun then the whole thing still fails.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2018-02-16 at 04:15 PM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Okay the real questions with the Twilight people.

    You seem to have the following facts
    Human appearing but not human and not genetically compatible
    live on the northern coast of the continent adjacent to the storm people islands
    Have a history of being distrusted by others
    Have a strong tradition of science, magic-tech, alchemy etc.

    So really there is a ton open to ask of what role you want them to fill in terms of how you build them.

    Are they all one system? like an empire? A loose federation of city states (thing how Greece city states had a basis of alliance against outsiders and conflict between themselves otherwise for an example) multiple nations with some cultural similarities (like a Scandinavia, bantu expansion nations, post Roman Europe, etc)
    They have a loose overall "federal state" structure in place for purposes of defense/borders, and getting roads and other big works built, and what law enforcement is needed. The nominal, honorary leader is the daughter of the couple who lead (and died) during the big war (yes, she's that old, and still holds that position), but decision-making at the "national/federal" level mainly lies with an elected group who sort of come and go out of the larger population over the decades. A lot of decision making is localized. Long memories behind and long lives ahead result in the typical "Zath" (a shortened version of their own name for themselves) having a different take on scale, externalities, etc. That road built today is one you're likely still using in a century; the people you have a chance to shaft today are going to be your "neighbors" for a lot of tomorrows; etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    I would recommend that they be pretty independent of major resources (metal, fuel, food, fiber) just because their isolation would lead them to develop such things in case trade was cut off. So trade would be mostly for things in weird science and luxuries in terms of imports.
    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Actually between the logistics and isolation and being a market for distant resources they are set up for a colonization program. complete with plantations of cash crops for the closed market back home. Could well be a source of conflict or historical conflict.
    That area along the south shore of the inland sea has a series of "client polities" that could be roughly compared to a "plantation system". This is one of the major points of tension with the Rasenna and other "solar-centric" human cultures, as they chafe at the idea of humans living "under the yoke" (as they see it) of the "gaunts".


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    depending on their internal structure their military could be pretty much anything as yet. but the ability to dominate the blasted lands to their south would be very important. That would be the buffer where they would want to fight their wars. Since armies can not forage well there logistics and overland travel speeds will be major things here.
    They rely quite a bit on small-unit and indirect tactics (very experienced fighters, great nightvision, and such, tend to give them a big advantage there), technological edge, and troops from their client polities who for the most part actually don't want to be "liberated" by a bunch of state-centric sun-zealots. Most of the wars they're involved in are in support of their buffers, rather than on home soil.

    They do maintain a small elite navy for controlling their home waters, plus there are privateers and armed merchantmen who make using the sea to support an invasion quite dangerous.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Social structure is also kinda open. Besides a lean towards a socialize school system (since they need a lot of skilled workers) it could be whatever will set them apart and build on that "alien" feel.
    They really don't have a school system, there aren't enough children in any one place at any one time. The decision to have a child is considered to include the decision to provide everything needed to care for, provide for, and educate that child.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    I would toss out that their uniqueness of origin and separation from humanity could well lead to an extreme take on how they see blood identity. Their ancestors could be nothing to them as all Twilight People are the same in the eyes of the original creators and thus all their community is individually measured or it could be very strongly bloodline based with Heroes, Leaders, Guild Meisters, etc forming symbols of "quality" to measure a bloodline against. I think the former may be more interesting just because so much fantasy uses hereditary leadership systems.
    They're very egalitarian and meritocratic, which is in part a push back against the inertia and entrenchment resulting from an ageless population.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    One thing to think about is how are the twilight people different mentally, emotionally, etc
    The "religious impulse" is entirely absent, as is any tradition of religion. They know where they came from (the quasi-deities born of Darkness/Khaos), and that those entities are dead, at most just wan shades lingering the fringes of reality. They don't worship. Consider how odd this would be in most of human history and pre-history.

    Very little "tribal" instinct -- their "identity" is not attached to group membership or approval, and if push comes will leave a group rather than alter their beliefs or thinking.

    Ceremony and ritual are almost entirely missing from their culture, they just don't seem to be drawn to it.

    Skeptical of hierarchy, sometimes to the point of being contrarian. "Because I'm in charge" or "because I said so" is very unlikely to get you anywhere. An individual's "authority" comes from earned respect and trust among her peers, far more than rank or title.

    At turns coldly empirical, and deeply sentimental.

    "You mind your business, I'll mind my business".


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Also the issue of them being in the world but not of it (not being from the Creator Gods) influence their views to the world. Above it? Apart from it so that they have no moral responsibility to it (and can thus vivisect or abuse the light gods creations at will)? Part of the system anyway? Division on this question could well be reflected as a religious or political split as well.
    There's a sort of internal tension between looking at the entire world as a stock of resources... and looking at the world as a place one is likely to be still living in hundreds of years from now, and in general as a place with a lot of beautiful and nice stuff in it that would really be a shame to ruin.

    Culturally, but not universally, they treat anything that can think and reason and learn and communicate, as a "person". A human is a "very short-lived person" who still deserves to be treated like a person unless they squander that by treating others poorly. On the other hand, a human life is short and a human who needs to die right now because they're a direct threat or have done something horrible is going to die "soon" anyway, so better to deal with the problem and move on.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    As for the basics - they likely have a very strong seasonal shift. long days in summer, short in winter, growing food in winter will be very tough. So mastery of preserving food could well have been their first steps into alchemy. So lots of cheese, jerky, pickled veg, salt fish, etc. Which may be treated back to edible at the table (if you have ever soaked a salt ham imagine it happening over minutes instead of a couple days-and the problems outsiders have when then try to drink the brining liquid and munch of the salt meat strait)
    They have a pretty broad pallet as a culture, given their location at a crossroads of the world and the longing for new things to eat over than many many years.
    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
    They have a loose overall "federal state" structure in place for purposes of defense/borders, and getting roads and other big works built, and what law enforcement is needed. The nominal, honorary leader is the daughter of the couple who lead (and died) during the big war (yes, she's that old, and still holds that position), but decision-making at the "national/federal" level mainly lies with an elected group who sort of come and go out of the larger population over the decades. A lot of decision making is localized. Long memories behind and long lives ahead result in the typical "Zath" (a shortened version of their own name for themselves) having a different take on scale, externalities, etc. That road built today is one you're likely still using in a century; the people you have a chance to shaft today are going to be your "neighbors" for a lot of tomorrows; etc.
    Okay issues come up with certain things. This all seems great in theory but the details seem REALLY problematic Sure Zath's have long lives but they don't have that more hours in a day. They don't more mental headtime to focus on problems like knowing the reputations of everyone coming in and out of the community and how much they should be trusted....and so would still want to outsource that kind of thing to social trust issue. Because a shafting you neighbor may not be good if you have a long future it may well seem fine to do so next city over - especially if the neighbor benefits from you doing it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    That area along the south shore of the inland sea has a series of "client polities" that could be roughly compared to a "plantation system". This is one of the major points of tension with the Rasenna and other "solar-centric" human cultures, as they chafe at the idea of humans living "under the yoke" (as they see it) of the "gaunts".
    Well that is probably good for everyone....but I was meaning they are set up to do so at a distance. Carve up Future Gondwanaland type.


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    They rely quite a bit on small-unit and indirect tactics (very experienced fighters, great nightvision, and such, tend to give them a big advantage there), technological edge, and troops from their client polities who for the most part actually don't want to be "liberated" by a bunch of state-centric sun-zealots. Most of the wars they're involved in are in support of their buffers, rather than on home soil.

    They do maintain a small elite navy for controlling their home waters, plus there are privateers and armed merchantmen who make using the sea to support an invasion quite dangerous.
    okay so that


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    They really don't have a school system, there aren't enough children in any one place at any one time. The decision to have a child is considered to include the decision to provide everything needed to care for, provide for, and educate that child.
    Okay I think I just had them as Very long lived (700 years or so) vs ageless. But this still has issues when you think of things like say balancing how they get a child to integrate into the society (since the you mind your business model would allow individuals to be VERY different-especially as they could grow that way over a few centuries)


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    They're very egalitarian and meritocratic, which is in part a push back against the inertia and entrenchment resulting from an ageless population.
    Then how do they choose merit....always the kicker that. Exams? Reputation? If the former who decides what is on the tests? The latter would mean that power goes not just to those who ARE good but those who are THOUGHT to be good at something by a group of people who probably don't know much about the skill in question. Such things would shift how power is grown in such a society. And that is just two ideas.


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The "religious impulse" is entirely absent, as is any tradition of religion. They know where they came from (the quasi-deities born of Darkness/Khaos), and that those entities are dead, at most just wan shades lingering the fringes of reality. They don't worship. Consider how odd this would be in most of human history and pre-history.

    Very little "tribal" instinct -- their "identity" is not attached to group membership or approval, and if push comes will leave a group rather than alter their beliefs or thinking.

    Ceremony and ritual are almost entirely missing from their culture, they just don't seem to be drawn to it.
    Okay I still don't see why they wouldn't have religious traditions even if they have no need to worship. Transcendentalism would seem to be a natural draw for example. Or even philosophies of self actualization would fill that social role. . . such things like mental training learning ones own nature, subconscious (in order in part to gain an understanding of it and thus ones own drives and weaknesses) or guided hallucinations in order to gain a wider perspective or monastic-like experiences to lend focus to mental discipline.

    The sense of being apart from the world (since it is a fact) would make how they choose to engage with the world a philosophical action. One that there could well be deep divisions on.

    This would very much seem like religion to outsiders. And would fill much of the intellectual and social role of religion.

    It also doesn't mean that there are churches to such things. But respected councilors and philosophers with social groups based around meditation circles, extreme experiences, discussion and debate social groups etc would be likely even if one's own internal philosophies development is a largely private business.

    also really charismatic/skilled teachers philosophers etc would thus be likely to be influential individuals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Skeptical of hierarchy, sometimes to the point of being contrarian. "Because I'm in charge" or "because I said so" is very unlikely to get you anywhere. An individual's "authority" comes from earned respect and trust among her peers, far more than rank or title.

    At turns coldly empirical, and deeply sentimental.

    "You mind your business, I'll mind my business".
    Okay sounds great for an individual (particularly as I VERY much am that individual) but does make me ask how dispute resolution occurs. And how they define the boarders of one's own business. Because living in a shared society even ones own identity is tied up in people around you. Lots of mutual responsibilities etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    There's a sort of internal tension between looking at the entire world as a stock of resources... and looking at the world as a place one is likely to be still living in hundreds of years from now, and in general as a place with a lot of beautiful and nice stuff in it that would really be a shame to ruin.

    Culturally, but not universally, they treat anything that can think and reason and learn and communicate, as a "person". A human is a "very short-lived person" who still deserves to be treated like a person unless they squander that by treating others poorly. On the other hand, a human life is short and a human who needs to die right now because they're a direct threat or have done something horrible is going to die "soon" anyway, so better to deal with the problem and move on.
    Well that gets part of it. But questions of Sun People are a long term threat (one day they are going to get it into their heads to have another crusade) and must be A Converted to a tributary people, B made to like us by various means C made sure they never get the strength to challenge our military superiority. etc. D others I have not though of yet That is something that I could see lots of Zath's having a viewpoint on and that being reflected within their electors etc.

    Also a culturally shared idea of what is beauty would come up in the idea of what is worth saving etc. Could have a very nice sid-effect of the cultured nature type gardens on a rather vast scale.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    They have a pretty broad pallet as a culture, given their location at a crossroads of the world and the longing for new things to eat over than many many years.
    Errr..... Are you still using the Silurian Age map? If you want to put it on one map the twilight people are basically are on the northernmost point of land in the world except for a bit on an island chai that looks to be a continuation of the storm people's main chain. So I don't see where you get Crossroads of the World.....
    And considering so many people (all others being sun worshiper based and having what appears to be cautious long term nature) having an ancestral dislike of them I would think they would want to avoid ever being dependent on them for something as critical as food (since food shortages would be something that could kill them) and since they would want really reliable food having it stored for a couple years probably wouldn't phase them at all. And thus learn how to do so. . .


    But yeah you do seem to stuck them in the donkey end of the world.....unless you want to change the map (which if you need/want them at said crossroads go for it)


    Other issues.....
    I'm thinking about your Gaunt Baker. . . or chimney sweep....rope minder 2nd class in the navy....or even most farmers.....and things are not quite gelling. The alchemists, explorers, spies etc The intellectuals seem to work all right. But look at the incentives on say a baker in this society. Highly individualistic, social system does draw one in as much as gives space, given large amounts of training as a child and with forever to deal with the same baking routine....Sure he could want a bigger more profitable bakery that would give him more time for other non-work things but that just puts the question down to why those he employs do what they do. . . And if EVERYONE has these incentives it would drive some really nasty competition since an eternal future raises the stakes (since success can give you tools to put towards tilting the field for further competitive success).....Also doesn't seem to have a real socio-spiritual-philosophical reason to stay a baker .... Also it would make leaving and developing a resource base OUTSIDE the society really appealing...what the Gaunts are set up to be good at they would be able leverage far more effectively in a society unlike themselves - it sets a max on how much any Zath would put up with. (hmmm these expat Gaunts could be a whole separate issue really)
    Because the work of those who are doing farming, or baking, etc are necessary infrastructure for the rest of their community if it is not done everyone gets harmed.....
    Also when you are ageless without deep religious or tribal bonds etc what draws them too dangerous jobs like Logging, Fishing, or the Military?
    It basically seems like you need them to be post industrial revolution in order for the issues to even be partially addressed...part of why I came up with the shadow powered helpers idea.

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

    I'll answer in detail tomorrow, very busy day today, but here are a few things:

    * The Silurian map was just to give a general idea of the way the island chain is laid out. The map I posted a few posts ago gives a better idea (in my horrible "artwork") of how the landmass nearby to the west of the islands is laid out.

    * The reason I say they're at a crossroads is that the Choumin pass through that inland sea to trade with "the west", there are humans on the southern shore, another human culture out to the west of the mountain chain, multiple human cultures further south on that SE continent, the Rasenna are there to the SW, and so on.

    * I've been waffling on the "automatons" thing for a long time before you mentioned it. On one hand it fits, on the other hand I can't see them creating something that can think for itself in any meaningful way and then expect it to exist in abject servitude.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    The headland jutted into the polar sea, the Northernmost point of the Northern continent was also its Westernmost point. A tower rose from the base of the cliff. Over a hundred feet it rose. Here the circum-polar current, often choked in ice, was shoved to its Northernmost track, and the North face of the headland was scraped smooth by centuries of grinding ice eating the remains of a mountain chain. The southern face of the headland was green and covered in a canopy of fog from the warm coastal waters fed from tbs South. In the dark of winter fierce storms would bash against the tower until the Northern Sea froze solid, but the Southern current kept the ice away from the South coast, and its mixing with the frozen current opened gaps in the ice in the dead of winter. Rain, fog, mist, spray, squall, storm...and another list of names for the frozen forms of precipitation.

    The inhabitant of the castle sat facing the Northwest, to the next island which was, upon occasion, visible from his seat. The cold of the Northern air appeared not to bother the master as it did his human slaves, who shivered in their furs. He had no orders for them today. Why bother? The enemy would come to him. As the storms of winter lashed the land Ice Giants would come with their huge, starved wolves whose breath was ice. Men would fight. And he would see them drive the giants back again. And again. Winter after winter after winter, long into the past, and long into the future.

    As long as there remained giants his watch would nsver end.

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


    Sidebar discussion involving the Twilight People / "Zath":


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Okay issues come up with certain things. This all seems great in theory but the details seem REALLY problematic Sure Zath's have long lives but they don't have that more hours in a day. They don't more mental headtime to focus on problems like knowing the reputations of everyone coming in and out of the community and how much they should be trusted....and so would still want to outsource that kind of thing to social trust issue. Because a shafting you neighbor may not be good if you have a long future it may well seem fine to do so next city over - especially if the neighbor benefits from you doing it.
    What's the difference between "I can't shaft this guy because it's wrong and also others will find out and not trust me any more"... and "social trust"?


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Well that is probably good for everyone....but I was meaning they are set up to do so at a distance. Carve up Future Gondwanaland type.
    Distant colonies?

    The last time they went out in the broader world and tried to set up in far away locations, the war happened. They're OK with the Choumin (who are dedicated to their Storm God) , and the humans in their own territory (who are largely refugees from past religious strife elsewhere and want nothing to do with zealots and "jihads"), and some others, but anywhere else there's too much chance of some local sun cult flaring up in outrage or some other nonsense happening.

    And they don't have the numbers, and their culture doesn't really support domination, and so on.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    okay so that
    That looks a bit like one of my "I'll go back and finish that thought later" moments.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Okay I think I just had them as Very long lived (700 years or so) vs ageless. But this still has issues when you think of things like say balancing how they get a child to integrate into the society (since the you mind your business model would allow individuals to be VERY different-especially as they could grow that way over a few centuries)
    The child is surrounded by adults who are all within the general scope of the culture, some of them who've been part of making that culture for a very long time, not to mention sharing the same core "Zathness" in the same way most humans share a certain core "humanness". I guess it hadn't occurred to me that there'd be much drift or differentiation.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Then how do they choose merit....always the kicker that. Exams? Reputation? If the former who decides what is on the tests? The latter would mean that power goes not just to those who ARE good but those who are THOUGHT to be good at something by a group of people who probably don't know much about the skill in question. Such things would shift how power is grown in such a society. And that is just two ideas.
    To start with, it's not about power... typically a "Zath" in a position we'd call "leadership" views it as a responsibility, not an opportunity to exercise power. Telling others what to do is viewed as more of a burden than an opportunity. And others aren't looking to figure out where they "fit" in terms of power, they're looking for a "leader" who knows what they're doing, and mutual respect.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Okay I still don't see why they wouldn't have religious traditions even if they have no need to worship. Transcendentalism would seem to be a natural draw for example. Or even philosophies of self actualization would fill that social role. . . such things like mental training learning ones own nature, subconscious (in order in part to gain an understanding of it and thus ones own drives and weaknesses) or guided hallucinations in order to gain a wider perspective or monastic-like experiences to lend focus to mental discipline.

    The sense of being apart from the world (since it is a fact) would make how they choose to engage with the world a philosophical action. One that there could well be deep divisions on.

    This would very much seem like religion to outsiders. And would fill much of the intellectual and social role of religion.

    It also doesn't mean that there are churches to such things. But respected councilors and philosophers with social groups based around meditation circles, extreme experiences, discussion and debate social groups etc would be likely even if one's own internal philosophies development is a largely private business.

    also really charismatic/skilled teachers philosophers etc would thus be likely to be influential individuals.
    Honestly, I just do not understand the appeal of or need for religion, faith, belief, etc -- or what other people get out of ceremony and ritual -- and in part I wanted at least one "species" in one of my fantasy settings that I didn't need to "fake up" a belief system for. And given that they're a very empirical people in a low context culture, and that they know exactly how they came to be, and that their "gods" are dead... I just don't see why they'd have any use for religion or the related branches of philosophy.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Okay sounds great for an individual (particularly as I VERY much am that individual) but does make me ask how dispute resolution occurs. And how they define the boarders of one's own business. Because living in a shared society even ones own identity is tied up in people around you. Lots of mutual responsibilities etc.
    To begin with, when someone wants to justify getting their nose in someone else's affair's the first thing that others are going to ask is, "How does this effect you?" or "What do you stand to lose or gain here?" If there's no tangible impact, no actual connection, that can be pointed to, then the nose-sticker isn't going to get anywhere.

    Painting the inside of their house some "odd" color isn't anyone else's business. Putting up a ramshackle awning that might fall onto the road and hit a passerby is. Dumping something in the river that might hurt people downstream is other people's business, particularly everyone downstream. Who they "spend their evenings with" isn't anyone's business unless one or both parties is violating an oath made to a third party, in which case it's that third party's business. Etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Well that gets part of it. But questions of Sun People are a long term threat (one day they are going to get it into their heads to have another crusade) and must be A Converted to a tributary people, B made to like us by various means C made sure they never get the strength to challenge our military superiority. etc. D others I have not though of yet That is something that I could see lots of Zath's having a viewpoint on and that being reflected within their electors etc.

    Also a culturally shared idea of what is beauty would come up in the idea of what is worth saving etc. Could have a very nice side-effect of the cultured nature type gardens on a rather vast scale.
    Technically, the Sun People are dead, it's just that there are quite a few human followers of the sun deity who took the place of the two creators in the pantheon, especially in the Rasenna Republic, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Errr..... Are you still using the Silurian Age map? If you want to put it on one map the twilight people are basically are on the northernmost point of land in the world except for a bit on an island chai that looks to be a continuation of the storm people's main chain. So I don't see where you get Crossroads of the World.....

    And considering so many people (all others being sun worshiper based and having what appears to be cautious long term nature) having an ancestral dislike of them I would think they would want to avoid ever being dependent on them for something as critical as food (since food shortages would be something that could kill them) and since they would want really reliable food having it stored for a couple years probably wouldn't phase them at all. And thus learn how to do so. . .

    But yeah you do seem to stuck them in the donkey end of the world.....unless you want to change the map (which if you need/want them at said crossroads go for it)
    The Silurian map wasn't ever more than an illustration of the general idea for the size and scope of the Choumin-controlled island chain.

    The Choumin aren't sun-worshipers, beyond recognizing him as part of their pantheon, they're called the Storm People for a reason. And there are other cultures where the sun deity is just one of many.

    It's not that they're depending on outsiders for food, it's that they have a very wide range of tastes because of all the trade that passes by, goes through the "dark cities", etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Other issues.....
    I'm thinking about your Gaunt Baker. . . or chimney sweep....rope minder 2nd class in the navy....or even most farmers.....and things are not quite gelling. The alchemists, explorers, spies etc The intellectuals seem to work all right. But look at the incentives on say a baker in this society. Highly individualistic, social system does draw one in as much as gives space, given large amounts of training as a child and with forever to deal with the same baking routine....Sure he could want a bigger more profitable bakery that would give him more time for other non-work things but that just puts the question down to why those he employs do what they do. . . And if EVERYONE has these incentives it would drive some really nasty competition since an eternal future raises the stakes (since success can give you tools to put towards tilting the field for further competitive success).....Also doesn't seem to have a real socio-spiritual-philosophical reason to stay a baker .... Also it would make leaving and developing a resource base OUTSIDE the society really appealing...what the Gaunts are set up to be good at they would be able leverage far more effectively in a society unlike themselves - it sets a max on how much any Zath would put up with. (hmmm these expat Gaunts could be a whole separate issue really)
    Because the work of those who are doing farming, or baking, etc are necessary infrastructure for the rest of their community if it is not done everyone gets harmed.....
    Also when you are ageless without deep religious or tribal bonds etc what draws them too dangerous jobs like Logging, Fishing, or the Military?
    It basically seems like you need them to be post industrial revolution in order for the issues to even be partially addressed...part of why I came up with the shadow powered helpers idea.
    The baker is probably doing it for the love of the craft, because they're good at it, because they make a good living at it, etc.

    There are people in the real world who do things like recover old log-built cabins and barns, and use the timbers to build new houses using a lot of the old original techniques. It's hard and sometimes dangerous work, but they do it because they want to save that history, and they love working with those old giant timbers, and so on.

    This doesn't necessarily explain the guy on the ropes or the chimney sweep, but I'm picturing them as having some mechanical aids that make their jobs a lot less risky and a lot less grinding.

    As I noted in the previous post, I've been debating something like the "shadow helpers" idea you suggested for a long time. There would probably be multiple tiers, with the really dangerous work being done by mindless drones, and then some other things done by something a touch closer to Eberon's mechanical people (warforged?), but more with a more clockwork/alchemy vibe.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-19 at 05:00 PM.
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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    At any rate, I don't need to "hammer down all the nails" when it comes to gaps in the Twilight People culture right now. It's not meant to be a "perfect" culture, so it can have some disconnects and quirks that don't seem to work. (I'm pretty sure modern western culture looks pretty strange from the outside too, with people wondering how the heck if functions.)

    I just figured since we were off on "neighboring cultures" for the Choumin / Storm People, I'd get some thoughts.


    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 fine 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.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-19 at 04:59 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
    What's the difference between "I can't shaft this guy because it's wrong and also others will find out and not trust me any more"... and "social trust"?
    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Distant colonies?

    The last time they went out in the broader world and tried to set up in far away locations, the war happened. They're OK with the Choumin (who are dedicated to their Storm God) , and the humans in their own territory (who are largely refugees from past religious strife elsewhere and want nothing to do with zealots and "jihads"), and some others, but anywhere else there's too much chance of some local sun cult flaring up in outrage or some other nonsense happening.

    And they don't have the numbers, and their culture doesn't really support domination, and so on.
    The reason I point it out is their culture will produced people who are likely to be highly successful in a non-homogenous 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.


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The child is surrounded by adults who are all within the general scope of the culture, some of them who've been part of making that culture for a very long time, not to mention sharing the same core "Zathness" in the same way most humans share a certain core "humanness". I guess it hadn't occurred to me that there'd be much drift or differentiation.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    To start with, it's not about power... typically a "Zath" in a position we'd call "leadership" views it as a responsibility, not an opportunity to exercise power. Telling others what to do is viewed as more of a burden than an opportunity. And others aren't looking to figure out where they "fit" in terms of power, they're looking for a "leader" who knows what they're doing, and mutual respect.
    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...an d 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 lunusual" 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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Honestly, I just do not understand the appeal of or need for religion, faith, belief, etc -- or what other people get out of ceremony and ritual -- and in part I wanted at least one "species" in one of my fantasy settings that I didn't need to "fake up" a belief system for. And given that they're a very empirical people in a low context culture, and that they know exactly how they came to be, and that their "gods" are dead... I just don't see why they'd have any use for religion or the related branches of philosophy.
    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 ones own views would be a major part of a Zaths life.

    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, 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.

    Spoiler: Fraud
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    So two Zaths could have very different views toward fraud fro 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 fruad 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 can not 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 cam 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.

    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
    .
    Spoiler: Drug/Alchemical Boosters
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    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. Lets 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.


    Spoiler: Spirit Interaction
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    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?


    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 can not tell you if it TOO risky (that is value judgment.
    Empiricism can tell you the likely outcome of a given event but can not tell you if that result is good or bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    To begin with, when someone wants to justify getting their nose in someone else's affair's the first thing that others are going to ask is, "How does this effect you?" or "What do you stand to lose or gain here?" If there's no tangible impact, no actual connection, that can be pointed to, then the nose-sticker isn't going to get anywhere.

    Painting the inside of their house some "odd" color isn't anyone else's business. Putting up a ramshackle awning that might fall onto the road and hit a passerby is. Dumping something in the river that might hurt people downstream is other people's business, particularly everyone downstream. Who they "spend their evenings with" isn't anyone's business unless one or both parties is violating an oath made to a third party, in which case it's that third party's business. Etc.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Technically, the Sun People are dead, it's just that there are quite a few human followers of the sun deity who took the place of the two creators in the pantheon, especially in the Rasenna Republic, etc.
    I was using it to refer to all those decedent from the twin sun worshiping empire. AKA humans AKA outsiders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The Silurian map wasn't ever more than an illustration of the general idea for the size and scope of the Choumin-controlled island chain.

    The Choumin aren't sun-worshipers, beyond recognizing him as part of their pantheon, they're called the Storm People for a reason. And there are other cultures where the sun deity is just one of many.

    It's not that they're depending on outsiders for food, it's that they have a very wide range of tastes because of all the trade that passes by, goes through the "dark cities", etc.
    Ah I was using the term Sun worshipers because the Storm people are decedents of sun worshipers (as part of the Sun People's Empire) as are all humans. i was using the term to differentiate them from the Zath/Gaunt/Twilight People.

    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.



    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The baker is probably doing it for the love of the craft, because they're good at it, because they make a good living at it, etc.

    There are people in the real world who do things like recover old log-built cabins and barns, and use the timbers to build new houses using a lot of the old original techniques. It's hard and sometimes dangerous work, but they do it because they want to save that history, and they love working with those old giant timbers, and so on.

    This doesn't necessarily explain the guy on the ropes or the chimney sweep, but I'm picturing them as having some mechanical aids that make their jobs a lot less risky and a lot less grinding.

    As I noted in the previous post, I've been debating something like the "shadow helpers" idea you suggested for a long time. There would probably be multiple tiers, with the really dangerous work being done by mindless drones, and then some other things done by something a touch closer to Eberon's mechanical people (warforged?), but more with a more clockwork/alchemy vibe.
    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.

    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 transitions 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.


    okay this has been put together in so many bits and pieces I'm not sure I've been able to communicate at all but we'll go with it.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2018-02-20 at 07:06 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
    Here's a rough (very rough) map that I will end up redoing probably umpteen times, showing part of the world.


    Spoiler: So, so bad at art...
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    The splotchy area is the scablands, the red dot in the center of that is the old city where the "creators vs dark entities" battle took place. The "fabric of reality" is tattered here, shadows can take on substance and the unwary can wander into "the gloaming" (the extended borderland between material reality and the primal void... the near gloaming is an ashen reflection of the real world, the father "into" the gloaming one goes the more tenuous and tenebrous it becomes)

    The red dot south of that is the Twilight "capital".

    The Rasenna are in the SE corner and beyond.

    The start of the island chain of the Choumin is in the NE corner.
    Making sure you saw this rough (so rough, I stink at this drawing software still) map -- as it stands the Choumin have to go through the inland sea, or around the south end of the "right hand" continent to reach "the west".


    Also, as a bit of artistic aside, there's a bit of how the Zath view the world in these songs:

    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-19 at 07:13 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.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    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.
    I'll wait for you to fill in the rest before responding, but one thing I do need is a reference for these -- I don't know D&D material from anything since the early 90s.
    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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    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'll wait for you to fill in the rest before responding, but one thing I do need is a reference for these -- I don't know D&D material from anything since the early 90s.
    in 3.5 Monsterous Manual 2

    basically built like a golem but on the cheap. Instead of pulling a spirit from the elemental plane of earth like regular golems they pull a spirit from the shadow plane. This has the negative side effect that they have a berserk effect where they go wild like DnD 2e flesh and clay golems but for only a few turns at a time. Unlike golems they were more clockwork and animated drill bits and claw hands used to dig mines.

    As a cut and paste they are not really useful but as inspiration they could be rather useful.

    unfortunately that particular book is in the my storage unit and thus I can not give you all the gory details. The above is what I remember off the top of my head.

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