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Author Topic: Setting help and inspiration  (Read 6981 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: April 24, 2002, 09:14:30 AM »

Hi Jake,

So I'm thinking about playing and prepping for play, and it's clear to me that the Seat of the Xanarian Empire would be a snap (Benvenuto Cellini territory, there, real easy for me). So would Tengoku, but that's kind of a cheat 'cause fantasy Japan is fantasy Japan, by any other name.

Naww ... I'm looking at Sarmatov and the Rzeczpospolita. That's right - next to Zaporozhya, Krym-Khanan, and Zhibara. I want hussars, kozaks, cossacks, and huns, and "Rooshans" by any other name. It's clear to me via the illustrations and some of the text that your own author-heart is with this area (Weyrth is basically Eurasia and north Africa squished smaller around eastern Europe), and you've told me yourself about your knowledge of the relevant history and literature.

I've read the material in the rules. I can do some historical work on my own (I'm already pretty good in that department). But what can you tell me, in role-playing terms, as in a one-sheet, that really captures the essence of that particular culture? What inspires the players, in your experience, to say (for instance), "Wow! Czech people are that cool? Sign me up."

Check out some of the recent threads in the Alyria forum for the kind of setting stuff I asked Seth for, and how he responded. That's where I'm heading with this post, and for the same reasons.

Oh yeah, one last question. The text for Zhibara seems way off somehow. It's this blasted barbarous messed-up wilderness, according to the book ... yet, Zaporozhya "received money from Zhibara" according to its writeup, and there's even two cities in Zhibara, one of them a capital, according to the map. Someway somehow, it looks like Zhibara received the description for some other (skanky) place, and its description got left out. Help ...?

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2002, 10:30:18 AM »

Wow, this is a big question, and even trying to pinpoint what you want is intimidating, but I'll try...

In Poland, and the slavic world in general, there's this thing called "Fantazya." I'm not sure if it has an English equivalent, and though "Panache" or "Flair" comes close, niether terms does Fantazya justice, nor do they capture the passion involved.

The slavs are firey. Waaaaay firey. They duel and fight, and go about with a highly developed air of "civilization" and "honor," all the while raiding each other's farms for profit, fun, or revenge. They all do this, but the difference between being a villain or a hero is ALL "Fantazya." It's about wit and cunning, well-crafted insults, and boldness. Lots of boldness. It's picking up the local sherrif or burgher and tossing him out of the in by his pants because he's being obnoxious--to hell with the consequences! Maybe "Brazen" is a good term for it.

Such characters will thrive in the Spiritual Attribute department, as they tell stories of their glory and look for opportunities to make some more (real or imagined). They will take the one-on-one duel because it makes a better story, and because it takes more Fantazya.

That covers one element of it. I'm still not 100% on what you want, so I'll keep going...

They have cool stuff. Sabers are cool. The hussars wore eagle-feathered wings that would make a horrendous roar as they galloped, putting the enemy cavalry into a frenzy (they were undefeated for nearly 100 years). They ride with all the insanity and speed of the Tatars and mongols, drink like irishmen, fight like duelists one minute and dervishes the next, and rant and rave as they do it all like the wittiest swashbuckler. And they wear furry clothes. Everyone loves furry clothes. :D

I believe that most of the questions answered in Seth's thread are well covered in the text of the book describing those regions.

As for Zhibara...it's supposed to (roughly) be the far east of Russian Siberia with influence from the more savage Odeon. It was also a submission by another writer, hence the iffy connection between it and the surrounding states. (It's funny, you really never have as much control over something as you think you do...I think Sorcerer would agree...)

If you have more specific questions--or if I hit it right-on--lemme know.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2002, 10:37:03 AM »

I wanna add a little to my comment on Zhibara. It's a little known fact that Russia was heavily barbaric, unchristened, and rough-to-the-core until the time of Napoleon. Peter the Great instuted reforms in St. Pertersburg and Moscow which led to a greater civilization overcoming Russia by the time of the Bolsheviks, but it's still quite barbarous and nomadic as you get out past the Urals (there's a reason that Siberia was a punishment...). The average non-St. Petersburg Russian or Muscovite was living in the late dark ages (not even the rennaisance) until after Napoleon. When I commissioned Zhibara to be written, I told the author to keep that in mind. Yeah, there are a few cities (and they may very well be more civilized), and there is certainly money (this same barbaric russia of which I spoke, prior to Peter the Great, paid for a large chunk of the Ukrainian/Kozak rebellions of the mid 1600s against Poland and Lithuania, despite their serious barbarism. They were primitive, but not poor).

Hope that helps. It just came to me as I re-read that section.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2002, 10:44:50 AM »

Hi Jake,

So far so good! I'm pressing this for the same immediate reason that I pressed Seth. Tonight's the night for making up ROS characters for long-term play, so I want some text to bring for the players.

Let's see - you're right about the geography and culture issues, that's all there in the book. I'm thinkin' more in terms of story seeds, now. Every culture has a few "blind spots," about bad stuff that goes on in their communities that doesn't get dealt with openly or well. What might they be?

Hmmm - OK, here's another one. We have battling folks, right, with eagle wings and so forth (Hey! I just flashed on Howard's story The Shadow of the Vulture. Got it; I always wondered where that detail came from). What are battles about? Land grabs? Noble/landowner feuds? Or is it more of a centralized vs. localized rule thing? Do middle-class people fight in these battles at all, or is it a thing between nobles only, with ragged foot-soldiers impressed into service by force?

Oh yes, and names, names, names. Guy names, gal names, first names, family names.

Oh well, I should stop. You've been very helpful already, and here I am being pushier. Tell you what, I'll take it from here and do some web-hunting. Thanks again!

Best,
Ron
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Bankuei
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2002, 01:17:43 PM »

This is really cool... I think the background world bit of TROS was a bit underdetailed, and anything that gives more than a hint of the cultures you should be looking at is awesome.  Another note for future publications:you could include a bibliography of books, magazines, myths and movies to look at for each nation. :)

Chris
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2002, 10:35:55 AM »

Hi Jake,

I'm thinking that as time goes by, and life goes on, and all that mess, that cool "culture-rants" like the one you posted above would be wonderful additions to the website. You know, have the map up, and a person can click on the country, say Imjia, and the Norwood rant on Imjia appears. They can get the basics from the book, as written currently, and they get the "heart and soul" from you at the site. The nice thing is that you're not under pressure to make it complete right away; just add new ones as you feel like it over time.

My main concern in posting this is that people seem to be hitting you with "fix this for the August edition" quite a bit, and the "this"-es are beginning to look like The Gamer's Catalogue of Picky Preferences. So I'm suggesting something which doesn't call for major or any change in the book, but that adds value and perhaps fun anyway. The material you provided made a lot of difference for our character creation session.

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2002, 11:24:21 AM »

Ron-

I agree COMPLETELY, and as I addressed another thread on this forum, the August edition will not be a "2nd edition" or even a "revised edtition." It will be re-editied edition, with a few minor errors completed and what not. The intent has always been for much of the game's support to be found online, and you can expect to see it there. The current and august editions will be the same otherwise. Same pics, same cover, same rules, same text (mostly).

And I'm still waiting for a lot of the web stuff that many of you promised...

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Jaif
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2002, 05:20:52 AM »

I'm not terribly familiar with the Slavs, but what you're describing sounds a hell of a lot like chutzpah.

-Jeff

Edit. Whoops, forgot moxie as well.  Chutzpah covers brazen, boldness, moxie covers skill under pressure.
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