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The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated


sentry0
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Sorry to derail...

 

My group has use the TTS for our hero campaign twice now and its worked pretty well. There have been some bugs (which I've told Brennall about) that have been frustrating, but that's mostly because we want to use ALL THE TOOLS!!! As a way of just playing as a vtt it works well. But the combat tracker and loading character sheets has been so cool and helpful.

 

My players, who are all HERO newbies (though we've been playing for about 6 months) and mostly have shown little interest in picking up HERO are much more interested now that we are using TTS. I don't know why though.

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  • 1 month later...
On 1/18/2019 at 2:07 PM, sentry0 said:

I love the setting and was curious if there's anyone else on these boards who do too?

 

Steve did and amazing job with the book and I think it deserves more supplements.  Although the base book is very detailed in terms of races, geography, theology, etc, I think there's tons of room to expand on.  The setting has such good bones that it feels criminal to not expand on it.

 

Also, an update to 6th edition would be fantastic although strictly not necessary.

 

Late to the party but... absolutely.
Just (today) uploaded a Ambrethel world map in colour that might interest folk.

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On 1/20/2019 at 1:54 PM, Scott Ruggels said:

 

Did someone say artist?

 

 

In point of fact, Scott, when I designed some of the races and creatures in TA, I drew a little bit of inspiration from some of the art you published in Rogues' Gallery over the years. ;)

 

On 1/18/2019 at 9:07 AM, sentry0 said:

Also, an update to 6th edition would be fantastic although strictly not necessary.

 

I've thought about doing a PDF of 6E updates to the TA setting, to cover things that haven't already been updated (e.g., I don't have to update the spells from FHG I and II, since the HSG already does that, albeit with genericized names; same for the monsters and the HSB). Things like Templates and such-all wouldn't be too hard to "convert." But as always, I need to find the time to work on all the little projects that spring to mind, while keeping major projects moving forward too. ;)

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On 11/28/2019 at 10:30 PM, Nemblamenchisus said:

 

I for one would love to see more of your fantasy setting material. All of those ideas sound good - especially your take on sword and sorcery, and low fantasy.

 

It doesn't have to be a doorstopper like Turakian Age. Perhaps an ongoing series of short PDFs which could eventually be collected into a book? 

 

We're currently trying just such an experiment with Champions International, and if that works well for us the possibility of creating more Fantasy settings, or expanding on TA and the others we have, is a definite possibility. Like many of y'all, I love creating worlds. (Which reminds me, at some point I need to get back to working on my Worldbuilding Guidebook, based on the methods and tips I often teach in seminars at gaming cons.)

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On 11/29/2019 at 4:49 PM, Scott Ruggels said:

I have little issue with multiple races.  I have to wonder why it's always the _same_ multiple races. 

 

I'm a couple years late to this part of the party, so forgive me if I'm stating something everyone knows already, but I thought I'd try to offer a little perspective on this issue.

 

The blunt truth about it is this:  most readers/gamers expect the same ol' races (species) in their Fantasy settings, and often become upset (and more importantly from a publisher's perspective, less likely to buy a product) if they're absent. Not all gamers think that way, but enough of them do that many, many Fantasy settings -- including some of my own, like TA -- include them.

 

Conversely, settings that try to diverge significantly from that model often fail to attract enough attention to be commercially viable. Multiple publishers have published books/games about M.A.R. Barker's fascinating world of Tekumel (the Empire of the Petal Throne, as it's sometimes called), but none have had any true commercial success. There's nary an elf or dwarf in sight, and the races are truly bizarre by human standards (many of them have three or four legs, multiple arms and eyes, and so on). The cultures derive from India, Babylonia, China, and Mesoamerica rather than medieval Europe. But despite the intense love of the setting that a small group of gamers has for it (check out Tekumel:  The World Of The Petal Throne to see just how detailed and complex this world is), most gamers can't wrap their heads around something so divergent, and thus the setting has never sold particularly well (at least not compared to the likes of Greyhawk. the Forgotten Realms, and other such settings).

 

The same goes for most other significantly "divergent" settings, such as Jorune.

 

So in a lot of ways, the similarity you see from world to world is just a matter of (a) publishers sticking with what seems to sell best, and (b) gamers sticking with what they're most comfortable with).

 

The solution I've found (more or less) is to try to introduce some divergent elements into an otherwise "standard" setting. Thus you get things like the Drakine, the relatively weird cultures of Vornakkia, and so forth in the TA setting. That seems to balance out the desire to be unusual with the desire for broader commercial success. I would love to design a highly divergent setting, such as Tekumel or Jorune -- I have quite a few ideas, some jotted down in a file, others bouncing around in my tiny brain. But even if I ever do decide to write it up and publish it, the odds are it wouldn't sell as well as a more "standard" world, and that my time would be better spent (financially speaking) by creating more material for Ambrethel, or creating a more standard world with just some minor variations. But even if I never publish a divergent setting, they're fun to think about. ;)

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On 12/1/2019 at 11:35 PM, sentry0 said:

 

I was very fond of the unpronounceable dog men of that setting myself.

 

I gotta take the hit for that one. I am a fan of authenticity, but sometimes a word in a language most of us aren't used to (Inuit, in this case) seem "bizarre." I've run across that repeatedly in working on my Encyclopedia Of Mages, Magic, And The Arcane, where it's sometimes given me nightmares trying to figure out proper alphabetization. Even though such words can be a lot of fun and emphasize the "unusual" aspects of the story, you can run into trouble when no one can figure out how to pronounce things. In this case I should've shortened it to Adlit or Edlit and given the full name in the text. Mea culpa. ;)

 

On 12/3/2019 at 2:08 PM, DShomshak said:

 

Incidentally, dog/wolf-people have a surprisingly wide presence in Eurasian myth and folklore. At least I was surprised when I found Myths of the Dog-Man in the University library. If someone wants to e the next Tolkien, this might be a place to start.

 

While researching Mythic Hero, I, too, have been intrigued by the presence of dog-headed (cynocephalic) or man-dog beings in many mythoi from all over the world -- testament to man's relationship with his best friend, no doubt! Thanks for mentioning this book; I wasn't aware of it and will now add it to my mythology library post-haste. :)

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On 12/13/2019 at 9:42 AM, Lord Liaden said:

 

Ah, you may find that to your liking, then. [Vornakkia is] one of the least Tolkien-like parts of Ambrethel -- reminds me more of Fritz Leiber's fantasy. Much quirky weirdness to be found in Vornakkia.

 

Leiber is definitely one source of inspiration for that part of the setting. Even moreso are the works of Jack Vance, whose ability to create unusual, fascinating cultures for his SF and Fantasy is second to none. (Read his oft-anthologized story "The Moon Moth" for one great example.) There are probably some bits and pieces of influence from R. E. Howard's Hyboria as well. The creative mind, she drags in all sorts of stuff and mixes it together into a new stew.... ;)

 

 

On 12/21/2019 at 9:48 PM, Lord Liaden said:

dragons aren't true

 

Say what now?

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On 3/27/2021 at 2:59 PM, Steve Long said:

 

I gotta take the hit for that one. I am a fan of authenticity, but sometimes a word in a language most of us aren't used to (Inuit, in this case) seem "bizarre." I've run across that repeatedly in working on my Encyclopedia Of Mages, Magic, And The Arcane, where it's sometimes given me nightmares trying to figure out proper alphabetization. Even though such words can be a lot of fun and emphasize the "unusual" aspects of the story, you can run into trouble when no one can figure out how to pronounce things. In this case I should've shortened it to Adlit or Edlit and given the full name in the text. Mea culpa. ;)

 

 

You did provide the Encyclopaedia Turakiana as a free download, which specifies pronunciation for every unique name and term in TA. So I don't think you should be hit too hard. :)

 

OTOH those infernally polysyllabic Elvish words and names really get my goat. I understand the rationale for them, but I spent hours rehearsing the damn things so my Elven PC and NPCs could pronounce them in my games if asked about them. 😠

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On 1/10/2020 at 3:28 AM, Lord Liaden said:

I know you appreciate that art is among the most costly components of a game book. I don't know whether commissioning a lot of art illustrating specific things would cost more than generic, but it would certainly require more intensive logistics in layout. And as the kind of artist/draftsman who draws a straight line when he's trying for a crooked one, I sympathize over your longing for more such talent. ;)

 

PhilF and LL both make good points about the expense of art, but there's one factor I'd like to add that plays into the reality that the art in TA (and other books, from many publishers, for that matter) doesn't always match the text as well as we would like, and that factor is:  the Production Cycle. When I set out to write a book like TA, the first thing I have to do for it, after outlining of course, is to prepare the art list. I try to make it as specific to the setting as I can, but the plain fact is that the setting hasn't been fully created yet -- all I have are an outline and lots of ideas rumbling around in my head. We have to do it that way because artists need plenty of time to work. If the Art Director is going to have the art in hand when I'm done with the text, the artists have to be working while I'm writing. And that means I develop a lot of details that the artists don't know about, sometimes change ideas halfway through when the art's already been done, and so on and so forth.

 

To give a TA-specific example:  PhilF mentioned the illustration that shows a caravan, with some people in it wearing a sort of goggles-like thing on their head. Had I known the artist had that in mind, I would have stopped him -- I don't envision anyone in Ambrethel wearing anything like goggles (except, perhaps, alchemists and suchlike folk, but that's it -- I generally dislike having steampunk-y like things mixed into my more traditional Fantasy settings). But since the art was finished by the time I saw it, I couldn't do anything about it. (Sometimes artists are able to send half-finished work for approval, and we make use of that when we can, but my general preference is to leave them alone while they work rather than bugging them for lots of updates -- we hire artists for their talent and skill, so my feeling is we should let them exercise those abilities. If I want things exactly as I envision, I should learn to draw myself. ;) )

 

Ideally the best thing would be to not commission art until the book has gone through layout. That way the text and illustration would line up extremely well, and we could commission each illo to be the exact size we want it to be. But unfortunately that means sitting on a product we could otherwise make money from for months -- and Hero Games in the DOJ era, at least, has never really been in a position to take that sort of financial hit. When it's possible to do -- as it will be with Mythic Hero, for example -- I fully intend to do things that way. :)

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On 1/16/2020 at 12:35 AM, Lord Liaden said:

(BTW mad props to Steve Long for coming up with the dizzyingly vast array of names for places on these maps.) :hail:

 

Coming up with names that I like, and which I feel will have sufficiently broad appeal to the reader, is sometimes one of the toughest things about writing a Fantasy setting. ;)

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On 1/16/2020 at 9:11 AM, Lord Liaden said:

The entire Beralka-Shaanda-Mhorec water system appears in function comparable to the Mediterranean Sea, in that its facilitation of travel and trade has created a vast economically and culturally integrated region. It also strongly reminds me of the Nyr Dyv in the world of Greyhawk, albeit both inland seas are much larger.

 

I will take the hit re: PhilF's criticism about which direction rivers flow in the TA setting. To answer his specific question, the Shaanda River flows west out of the Sea of Mhorec into Lake Beralka. I should've made that clear in the text. And if there is a major body of water with two or more outflows, I plead relative ignorance and plain ol' stupidity -- believe me, my knowledge of geography and how it affects worldbuilding is light-years beyond what it was in 2004.

 

For other rivers, generally speaking they flow from their point of origin to the nearest larger river, body of water, or the sea. If anyone has specific questions about specific rivers/river systems, you're welcome to post them here or DM me (the latter message ensures I won't overlook a question; the former allows everyone else to benefit from the information, so choose your poison), I'll be glad to answer 'em. :hex:

 

 

On 1/17/2020 at 11:35 PM, Lord Liaden said:

 

AFAICT there are no roads on the maps of Ambrethel -- all those labeled lines are rivers.

 

LL's guess on this is quite true. With maybe one or two exceptions, I didn't include any roads on the maps of Ambrethel for various reasons:  keeps the maps from getting crowded; gives the GM some freedom to adapt the setting to his/her preferences; saves me time; plaid. ;)

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11 minutes ago, Steve Long said:

 

I will take the hit re: PhilF's criticism about which direction rivers flow in the TA setting. To answer his specific question, the Shaanda River flows west out of the Sea of Mhorec into Lake Beralka. I should've made that clear in the text. And if there is a major body of water with two or more outflows, I plead relative ignorance and plain ol' stupidity -- believe me, my knowledge of geography and how it affects worldbuilding is light-years beyond what it was in 2004.

 

 

I haven't actually visited the headwaters of the Mississippi River but I read a number of decades ago that it's less than ten miles away from the source of rivers which flow into a completely different watershed (probably into the Great Lakes).

 

That makes me think that it isn't completely impossible for there to be two different outflows from the same source. And even more likely if there's been deliberate intelligent intervention in the past to make that happen.

 

Just chalk it up to early intervention from Barsoom.

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25 minutes ago, Steve Long said:

 

I will take the hit re: PhilF's criticism about which direction rivers flow in the TA setting. To answer his specific question, the Shaanda River flows west out of the Sea of Mhorec into Lake Beralka. I should've made that clear in the text. And if there is a major body of water with two or more outflows, I plead relative ignorance and plain ol' stupidity -- believe me, my knowledge of geography and how it affects worldbuilding is light-years beyond what it was in 2004.

 

 

Hmm... That seems rather problematic, as per the map on p. 60 it leaves Beralka without any outflows. It would make more sense topographically for the Shaanda to flow east from Beralka into Mhorec, which in turn empties south into the Gulf of Velkara via the Larnaca River.

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If this one spot differs so radically from the realistic logic governing the rest of Ambrethel's hydrology, I'd like an explanation to be included in the book. It still would leave Beralka without an effective outflow, as water would be coming back into the lake replacing what's going out. That also doesn't match what Steve just wrote.

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On 2/7/2020 at 12:41 PM, Brian Stanfield said:

I’ve been skulking this thread, and am coming late to it, so forgive my tardiness for this comment. Thomas Carlyle wrote a book called Heroes and Hero Worship discussing how fame can lead to this sort of level of “worship.” The first chapter is a discussion of how Odin rose from a historical figure to actually become a god, and it is fascinating.  

 

Good call-out! The technical term for this, which I suspect Carlyle uses at some point(s), is euhemerization -- derived from the ancient Greek mythographer Euhemerus, who first developed the theory that gods must have started out as ancient kings and heroes who gradually got turned into divine figures over time.

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

Hmm... That seems rather problematic, as per the map on p. 60 it leaves Beralka without any outflows. It would make more sense topographically for the Shaanda to flow east from Beralka into Mhorec, which in turn empties south into the Gulf of Velkara via the Larnaca River.

 

I've always thought that the Ordring River was the outflow for Lake Beralka -- though I do see that I confused the issue by describing it as having a "delta." I should have just described it as a large patch of swampy ground. That way the Ordring can flow south, merge with the Loskell River at the Ettinstone, and thus eventually join the sea. Assuming everyone accepts that logic, the reference to the Ordring widening and deepening should instead say something like, "With the input of so much water from the Ordring, the Loskell becomes much wider and deeper at that point, allowing larger vessels to reach the Ettinstone and the merchants' meeting-point there." Do y'all think that resolves the situation satisfactorily?

(P.S.:  I can definitely see LL's point that the Ettinstone would be a good site for a city. But for whatever reason, my mind has always rebelled against the idea and preferred to see the place as more of an almost-permanently settled camp, perhaps even with taverns and inns springing up during trading season and then being destroyed or allowed to stand empty during times when medieval-level travel is virtually impossible and trading ends. But I have no objection against GMs adding a city there if they so choose. A mix of Szarvasia's "Fantasy Hungary" culture with Verlichten's "Fantasy Germany," plus influences from Aarn, and the presence of threats/problems like the Tower of Bone and the Bandit Lands nearby to add spice to the mix, could make for a great city setting!)

 

 

Since all this talk has gotten me thinking about the Turakian Age setting and the possibility of a city book or something similar, I've posted a poll in the Fantasy Hero forums where y'all can weigh in with your opinions and ideas. I promise nothing, but at least your input will give me suggestions on which way to point my imagination. ;)

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21 minutes ago, Steve Long said:

 

I've always thought that the Ordring River was the outflow for Lake Beralka -- though I do see that I confused the issue by describing it as having a "delta." I should have just described it as a large patch of swampy ground. That way the Ordring can flow south, merge with the Loskell River at the Ettinstone, and thus eventually join the sea. Assuming everyone accepts that logic, the reference to the Ordring widening and deepening should instead say something like, "With the input of so much water from the Ordring, the Loskell becomes much wider and deeper at that point, allowing larger vessels to reach the Ettinstone and the merchants' meeting-point there." Do y'all think that resolves the situation satisfactorily?

 

 

But again, as per the map, one end of the Ordring is at Lake Beralka, while the other end is at the Thurisian Mountains. Unless you intended the Loskell River to start at the Thurisians. In which case, since the Loskell and the Ordring would merge at the Ettinstone, the Loskell south of the Ettinstone should be even deeper than the Ordring as it flows to Aarn. Meaning large ships could ply the rivers from the Sea of Storms to Lake Beralka... except for the Ettinstone being in the way.

 

If we instead decreed that the Ordring started at the Thurisians, then the deeper part of the river east of the Ettinstone could be because of many smaller rivers, too small to show on the map, flowing off the Nagyrian Mountains (a suggestion that was raised on this thread).

 

I was operating on the assumption that no city has developed around the Ettinstone because the site is considered sacred to the Druids. But I would have Aarn establish a trading post near the Ettinstone to offload and onload cargo for ships going up- or downriver. That would be particularly important if there's a depth difference between the Loskell and the Ordring.

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6 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

But again, as per the map, one end of the Ordring is at Lake Beralka, while the other end is at the Thurisian Mountains. Unless you intended the Loskell River to start at the Thurisians. In which case, since the Loskell and the Ordring would merge at the Ettinstone, the Loskell south of the Ettinstone should be even deeper than the Ordring as it flows to Aarn. Meaning large ships could ply the rivers from the Sea of Storms to Lake Beralka... except for the Ettinstone being in the way.

 

If we instead decreed that the Ordring started at the Thurisians, then the deeper part of the river east of the Ettinstone could be because of many smaller rivers, too small to show on the map, flowing off the Nagyrian Mountains (a suggestion that was raised on this thread).

 

I was operating on the assumption that no city has developed around the Ettinstone because the site is considered sacred to the Druids. But I would have Aarn establish a trading post near the Ettinstone to offload and onload cargo for ships going up- or downriver. That would be particularly important if there's a depth difference between the Loskell and the Ordring.

 

To be fair, sometimes cities exist for inexplicable or ridiculous reasons.  Las Vegas is squarely in the middle of the desert, thirty miles from the river.  No one knows for sure why the ancient Pueblo built a city into a cliff.

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8 hours ago, Old Man said:

 

To be fair, sometimes cities exist for inexplicable or ridiculous reasons.  Las Vegas is squarely in the middle of the desert, thirty miles from the river.  No one knows for sure why the ancient Pueblo built a city into a cliff.

I believe the current assumption is that the Anasazi built their cliff dwellings for protection from other people who might raid them.  Having been to many of these sites, they are almost always near a relatively reliable water source and there are places to farm nearby.

 

The Chaco Canyon site was near a small river.  There is still an underground stream of some kind because there are cottonwood trees growing in and around the old riverbed.

 

There is almost always a good reason why people settle in a place.  Las Vegas was along a trade route.

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7 hours ago, bluesguy said:

There is almost always a good reason why people settle in a place.  Las Vegas was along a trade route.

 

Good reasons, not purely geographical reasons.  Vegas' population didn't exceed that of my suburb until gambling was legalized.  It literally only grew in size from a quirk of legal codes.

 

There are other examples, like the Yellow Fleet or Naypyidaw.  It's not hard to think of other, weirder justifications for cities in a fantasy setting.

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On 3/27/2021 at 6:24 PM, Lord Liaden said:

 

But again, as per the map, one end of the Ordring is at Lake Beralka, while the other end is at the Thurisian Mountains. Unless you intended the Loskell River to start at the Thurisians. In which case, since the Loskell and the Ordring would merge at the Ettinstone, the Loskell south of the Ettinstone should be even deeper than the Ordring as it flows to Aarn. Meaning large ships could ply the rivers from the Sea of Storms to Lake Beralka... except for the Ettinstone being in the way.

 

If we instead decreed that the Ordring started at the Thurisians, then the deeper part of the river east of the Ettinstone could be because of many smaller rivers, too small to show on the map, flowing off the Nagyrian Mountains (a suggestion that was raised on this thread).

 

I was operating on the assumption that no city has developed around the Ettinstone because the site is considered sacred to the Druids. But I would have Aarn establish a trading post near the Ettinstone to offload and onload cargo for ships going up- or downriver. That would be particularly important if there's a depth difference between the Loskell and the Ordring.

 

First off -- your speculation is correct in that it is the Loskell River that starts in the Thurisian Mountains. My bad for not watching the labeling more closely.

 

The question of how far large ships can go up that river chain is a good one. Given that the land around where the Ordring flows out of Lake Beralka is described as "marshy," I don't believe large ships could make it all the way through -- and there might be other obstacles (heavily churning water at the Ettinstone, narrows, rapids, etc.) that would get in the way even further down. (Personally I kind of think that the waters at the Ettinstone would preclude further navigation by seafaring-size ships, but I can also see some story value in letting them go further -- a town might spring up at the highest navigable point that depends largely on using smaller ships to get goods further upriver and to the lake, and that could be a good starting point for adventures.

 

I definitely assume that there are some smaller rivers/large streams flowing out of the Nagyrians (and for that matter, most other mountain ranges) that are too small to get on a world-sized map. If I ever get to explore specific parts of the setting in detail, we can do smaller scale maps that show those bodies of water.

 

TA references a merchants' semi-permanent meeting place at the Ettinstone. I could certainly see Aarn establishing an outpost there, or a would-be king seizing land and setting up his own city. Or possibly Aarn (or some other government) could establish some (massive and probably at least partly built by magic) bridges so that caravans can easily cross the Loskell and Ordring at nearby convenient points.

 

Thanks again for all the input and suggestions, folx!

 

 

18 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

A classic of brainstorming on RPGnet forums: The city built around the tarrasque.

 

That's definitely a cool idea -- one that could only exist in a High Fantasy setting, and that's why I love TA, and the main D&D settings, and other such worlds. ;) It's always fascinating to see gamers' imaginations at play!

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