The Forge Forums

Inactive File => Arkenstone Publishing => Topic started by: dindenver on November 16, 2008, 09:45:52 AM

Title: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: dindenver on November 16, 2008, 09:45:52 AM
  If we look at the descriptions of the various cultures, two things strike me:
1) Each of the nations have their own localized history in their description
2) None of them seem to reference this so-called World-wide Maldor Empire.
  Now, I know that the intro to refers to this empire, so that confuses the matter a little.

  But, is it possible that the Empire is a local myth? We know that it was not an all encompassing empire as Maldor did not know about the Zaru until just before the Year of Shadow (much to their dismay). So, how far did it stretch?

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on November 16, 2008, 03:08:24 PM
An interesting question. My own answers have always been purely local and in-game (that is, it's a character in the game claiming a particular history, not me). These can range to all sorts of different directions. For instance, consider when the Sky Fire happened, how long the darkness lasted and what the implications for cultures would have to be; this influences the veracity of any proof one might garner for the existence of the Maldorian empire or the kinship of Qek and Khale, to point to a couple of claims the text makes. As you say, one of the most unlikely scenarios is that there once was an empire, but now somehow all traces have disappeared and we have all these rather different cultures.

If I was looking for something that fits the facts as presented, I'd say that Maldor used to encompass the modern Maldor, the relatively unhabited wilderness to the west and the current Ammeni, which was probably included relatively late in the empire's history. What is now known as Maldor (and Ammeni, to lesser degree), used to consist of many different cultures that all underwent Maldorization during the empire's long reign. The empire was clearly the most advanced economy of the known world, dominating the trade routes all the way to Qek and other directions. Peoples such as the forebears of Qek, Zaru and Khale never were ruled by Maldor - I find this eminently compatible with the text as I remember it right now; if there is anything interesting that contradicts, do drag it out. Any references to the "Maldorian empire" and how it was shattered may easily refer to the shattered state of the current Maldor (which would have been the old Maldor as well) as presented on maps, however. If "world-wide" is literally used somewhere, that's easily explainable as hyperbole.

For the purposes of a given game, though, I might as well make all sorts of in-fiction claims about grander empires and more comprehensive common roots to the cultures of the world. Or the opposite, as well. Individual characters can think all sorts of things, and being that the SG has the power to introduce all sorts of evidence about things, the game can easily go to all sorts of different directions in practice. If your character is from Qek and he's told that the Skyfire happened "many moons ago", that's not much of a basis for claiming anything about the state of the world.

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: oliof on November 16, 2008, 03:16:00 PM
It's possible!

Of course, Ammeni would not want to give up it's newfound independence by acknowledging as much of a non-Ammeinte rulership now, the Khaleans have obviously gone crazy from moon metal and intra-clan strife, the Zaru are oppressed and more entangled with their own failed history than any other notion of an empire and the Qek are simply far, far away.

So, no clear answers for you!

How far it did stretch? Good question. If you take a page out of history, kingdoms and empires usually ended for two reasons: a) Landmarks not circumventable by large armies, such as mountains or big seas, b) lack of reliable and fast communication channels. It is safe to assume that the two big mountain ranges in the north and west are the maximal borders of the hypothetical maldorian empire, and that the sea of teeth that divides khale from qek, even if it was "just" a river before the time of shadows, was the real northern border, as the wild lands in the west (newly settled in maldor, scourged by monstrosities in Ammeni, undefined in Khale and Qek) might have been annexed but never cultivated.

So, Maldor proper might have been only half as big as most Maldorites might think, and their inflated egoes might even incorporate the then-underdeveloped areas of Ammeni and Khale when there were but trade relationships a couple of hundred years ago.

My counter question to you is: Why is it important to know the truth? It doesn't change a thing about what's up with Near today. In the end, I like to posit that someone with a transcendent check will find out for us in the future of the campaign. If the designated Empress of Maldor breaks her crown and sceptre because she realizes her pursuit for a reunited grand empire of Maldor was based on lies and moonstruck wishes, we know what the truth is for this part of Maldor. We still can go and continue playing, because that doesn't tell us a thing about how other maldorian Nobles will react to this …  

I like your questions Dave! They give me new food to feed the secret and unknown history of Near.

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: dindenver on November 16, 2008, 08:23:34 PM
  Well, of course, it doesn't matter. But, two things struck me. Josh is adding new content and it doesn't reference their connection to the old Maldor empire. Then I realized that none of the other cultural write ups did either. And it made me wonder why...
  I noticed that the writeups included current interactions between nations, but no historical ones. And that made me think that maybe their histories were more isolated than the writeup of Maldor implied.

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: oliof on November 17, 2008, 07:41:02 AM
I didn't say it didn't matter, mind you.

We had three hundred years since the skyfire came, which destroyed whatever civilization existed before. If we assume that Zu was the underpinnings of said civilization and was (allegedly) broken when Absolon tried to save the empire – however small or big.

As it stands, it's not just the question if the Empire ever existed, it's which pieces were true and which weren't. Suppose the thing about Zu being the grand unification method of Near – that does not make the sky fire go away, nor does it warrant the existence of an empire that was led by a maldorite noble.

There is a lot in the description of Near you get when looking in the cracks between the little we do learn. I just learnt to cherish that more. Finally, too much history will be construed as backstory which would give people a mold to shape Near against (or from) – so we're safe to assume that this lack of detail again is a feature resulting from the promise that Near is open for a group to take and shape to their liking.

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: shadowcourt on November 17, 2008, 09:16:47 AM
My feelings on the expansiveness of Maldor are many-fold. Eero did a nice job on it, though I should mention that my own map is radically different. For instance, Ammeni and Zaru are their own subcontinent, and there aren't land-trade routes to them. This increases the overall need for water travel between Ammeni and Maldor (in the great metal-for-food swap between the two), which gives more value and interest in things like Khalean piracy, and all around boat travel in general, which I like, and which are often much more exciting to players than long caravan routes.

Hand-in-hand with that idea is my sentiment that both Khale and Ammeni are splinters from Maldorite culture. The Khalean one happened centuries before Ammeni, and is the furthest northern point of expansion, almost like a Lost Legion was the founding force behind Khale. Ammenite cultural origins are tied up in one of those small regional subcultures that was "Maldorized", as Eero put it, but emmigrated to the Zaru subcontinent to exploit its valuable resources. They've done well for themselves, naturally, and while they're linguistically different from Maldor, it's sort of Provence-France situation, in some respects.

The benefit of all of this cultural touching has been for simplification purposes among some conceits, particularly language. The "common tongue" of Maldor is called Imperial in my games, and means that you get into fewer of those moments where language barriers become obstructions to game fun, and more opportunities for them to signify an odd-ball character or obstacle to circumvent in a foreign language. Hence Ammenites speak a highly accented and strangely-inflected Imperial which can sometimes seem like a foreign language. Khalean has roots in Old Imperial, enough that it can sometimes be interpreted, but can also be a foreign language when it's handy. Plenty of Zaru know Imperial, and many Oranids speak it as well, as the conqueror's/trade language which came to their country. Goren is an offshoot of Maldor, as well, so it picks up the same language. My other southern nations have some Maldorite influence, and the ones which don't, such as Vulfland, have such extremely odd circumstances that they have nothing in common, like the Qek.

The "northern cluster" of nations that I've been talking about were beyond the reaches of the old Maldorite empire. Sohakaimet was too far north, ditto for the proto-culture the Qek come from. Maldor probably traded occasionally with the Wazidi, the old culture which ruled Hamouad, but the crumbling of national trade which occurred with the Skyfire and period beyond made journeys more hazardous and no centralized authority in Maldor with an interest in going thousands of miles for exotic goods. As such, Ammeni has more trade with Hamouad these days, and northern Maldorite lords do so through Oranid horsemen, by crossing the expansive steppes and deserts which are Oran.

Does that make more sense?

I could probably sketch out a quick map of what my unofficial Near looks like, if people are dying to make some sense of where the nations are located and what sort of boundaries keep them from interacting easily. But I'll only do it if there's a serious demand for it, or otherwise it's pretty superfluous.

-shadowcourt (aka Josh)

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: dindenver on November 17, 2008, 10:10:48 AM
Eero, Josh,
  I did a search and couldn't find any other maps for Near.

  So, um, where are they, what do that look like? Share please?

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: dindenver on November 17, 2008, 10:19:48 AM
  RE: Zu, I strongly feel that the Zaru myth that Zu was used to create the world is a local belief and not a universal truth. The fact that the magic works as described has no more significance than the fact that Khale Music/Magic works (or 3-corner magic or Qek Spirit magic) in my mind.
  Also, I thought Zu was the Underpinnings of the Zaru culture, not Maldor. In fact, Absolon learning Zu was a late phenomenon and a possible cause for the Shadow event, no?

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: oliof on November 17, 2008, 10:30:22 AM
dindenver: My take is that neither approach is wrong or disprovable from the source material.

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: dindenver on November 17, 2008, 10:39:25 AM
  RE: Ammeni/Khale - I get that. The Ammenites especially feel like an offshoot of Maldor (though this feeling is not supported in the text). I get a Rome/Constantinople vibe off of the whole thing.
  In practice, I see Ammeni as more of China as depicted in Wuxia Blood Operas (think curse of the golden flower). The stratification of society, the sort of fatalism of the peasants and slaves in Ammenite culture. It strikes me as a very medieval Chinese setting.

  I don't know about Khale though. There is room to go either way, no? You could cast Khale as Britton after the fall of Rome. A sort of Roman wannabe with no place to call home. Or go more with the Gauls, seeming barbarians with their own traditions/culture, no? People that were influenced by the presence and continuous contact with Maldor, but maybe never fully absorbed by Imperial forces?

  I guess, part of the reason I ask about the old Maldor Empire was, I was wondering how amazing the loot should be if someone braves an old Maldorite Walled City. Like, if it was a theoretical world-wide empire like Alexander''s Greece or the Old Roman Empire, than it doesn't have to have high-tech loot in the old city. They were world spanning in the sense that they conquered everything they discovered. But, if it was actually a world spanning empire, like the UK or the Mongols, then the need/potential for high tech goodies seems like it would be higher.
  And part of this hinges on the nature of Maldorite society. Are these the kind of people that were rabid explorers (frontier America) or more pastoral people (medieval China)? This answers the sort of questions as to how fast they could spread and how far they would want to spread, no?
  Based on the little tidbits, I see a empire that has conquered all it discovered, but that the discoveries were few and far between. The fact that old Maldorite cities have enough information to explain to these apocalyptic survivors how to make and use explosives. And the presence of printing presses tells me that the old empire was very advanced indeed. But the fact that they didn't discover the Zaru until the end of the Empire tells me that maybe they preferred their luxury and didn't have a strong wanderlust or an organized means of exploration maybe...

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: dindenver on November 17, 2008, 10:40:49 AM
  True. Just trying to see what is in the text. I am not always good at putting disparate information into a bigger picture, so I am picking all of your collective brains to see what I missed.

  Also, your map is beautiful.

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: oliof on November 18, 2008, 08:28:33 AM
Dave, are you sure you're talking about "my" map? As of today, there is no such thing. It's probably the spanish-tsoy map you're talking about … Which reminds me I should publish the map draft I got from my artist…

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: dindenver on November 18, 2008, 01:19:24 PM
  It's the map found on the site in your sig:
  It might be the Spanish version, my German is non-existent, but some of the titles on the map look more Spanish than German (but those could be cognates, again, my German knowledge is nil)...

Title: Re: [TSoY] World-wide Maldorian Empire: Local myth or slice of history?
Post by: oliof on November 19, 2008, 01:04:48 AM
That is the map from the spanish version. Cannot find the link to the original right now, sorry!