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The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated


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22 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

With one important distinction: the Spearlord demanded a steady stream of human sacrifices to the Scarlet Gods. That's not an acceptable practice in Ambrethel outside of a few malevolent cults. The Tornathian city of Vescara refused to submit any of its people for sacrifice, and in response the Spearlord burned it to the ground, with every inhabitant trapped inside.

 

Ah, I missed that.

 

Since the Turakian Age is part of the Champions Universe, one could invoke forces exterior from the immediate setting to explain how/why the Spearlord and Kal-Turak can get so far without the gods slapping them down. Perhaps the Spearlord is empowered by one of the less pleasant Lords of Order such as Bromion to impose one law upon Ambrethel. Or he could be a renegade Malvan or Mandaarian. Kal-Turak likewise could be drawing on outside forces (it's been awhile, I don't recall if Krim is of Earth or not).

 

But I dislike this approach. The Turakian Age isn't about such possibilities, or such conflicts. It might be logical to ask how Earth of this period interacts with the wider Champions Universe. But I think it would badly compromise the integrity of the setting.

 

Dean Shomshak

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Did someone say artist?  

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 b

While Aarn has the reputation for being the largest city in Ambrethel, for big-city adventure I find the Free City of Tavrosel, in Mhorecia, to hold more interesting potential. Tavrosel is described a

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I appreciate your concern about not "tainting" TA with the wider CU, Dean. My own rationalization for why the Ravager of Men and his father got away with so much does involve a type of outside influence, but not outside the setting itself. The reason I use is that these figures are aligned with godly powers from outside the High Faith, over which Kilbern Skyfather has no authority.

 

In the case of Kal-Turak the alignment is provided in the book: he's the nephew of Krim. Krim is given almost no definition or backstory in Hero books, aside from being a king of demons sometimes worshiped as a god, who created his Crowns to corrupt mortals. In this instance I find that lack of official detail helpful. ;)  I decreed Krim to be one of the names/aspects of The Dragon during this age, whom Kal-Turak propitiates with sacrifices and enforced worship from his slaves, in exchange for power and protection from godly interference. (Mordak and the Scarlet Gods probably receive some of that treatment as well, just to keep both teams satisfied.) :sneaky:

 

The Lord of the Graven Spear was a little trickier to explain, but after I noticed the assertion from TA that he avoided conquering the Drakine Realms under command from his supernatural patrons, I crafted a little original myth of my own. In this "legend," as Men thrived and spread while the Drakine declined, Mordak's holdings in the Netherworld increasingly encroached on those of Berrem-Seh, the Drakine god of the dead. Gradually Berrem-Seh was forced back, but only in the face of ferocious battle and great cost to both sides. Then Mordak proposed a treaty of peace between them, in exchange for Berrem-Seh crafting a mighty weapon for Mordak's Earthly champion. The Drakine god agreed, on condition that Mordak swore a binding oath that the weapon would never be used to conquer the lands of the Drakine.

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Hm, that works. And a good example of how to use blanks spots and obscure hints. Heck, if Krim is the Dragon and Kal-Turak has a pact with it, then K-T's relationship with Mordak is a bit like Giacomo Sylvestri's relationship to the Descending Hierarchy: Carefully polite on both sides. And Kilbern can go whistle, because the King of the Gods is not the king of the Dragon.

 

The Dragon would be less of an intrusion on the TA than, say, a Malvan would be because mysterious, ancient powers of evil whose place in the metaphysical system is uncertain is an established  High Fantasy trope. Think of Ungoliant in Tolkien's mythos.

 

Dean Shomshak

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High Fantasy can work with such non-Fantasy intrusions -- LL mentioned Andre Norton's "With World" series in another thread, with the invasion of the technological Kolder -- but that setting was built with such an intrusion in mind. Intrusion from Beyond runs throughout the entire series; it isn't just the Kolder. Even the hero of the first few books, Simon Tregarth, is such an intruder -- an Earth man who came to the Witch World through a magical portal.

 

Dean Shomshak

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On 11/30/2019 at 9:30 AM, DShomshak said:

 

For a somewhat tortured simile: It's like Tolkien created a "bank account" of story that other writers have drawn upon. Not so many have returned to the lode of myth and folklore he mined and seriously tried to add to the account instead.

 

Over the years (3e and 5e) I've tried creating several new PC races for D&D. I think I've succeeded once or twice, maybe three times if you're generous.

 

The challenge, I think, is to give a race a distinctive POV through which you can filter a wide variety of characters. Broad enough that players won't just be creating the same character over and over -- this is my criticism of most of the races provided by Volo's Guide to Monsters -- but specific enough that they aren't just humans a funny look and a few quirks and gimmicks. I'm finding it really hard.

 

Dean Shomshak

Oh I did that for the s Jaggiri.  But I extra pair of eyes on what I have written would not hurt. They are a few threads below this posting.
 

 

The writing on the Lupines is still a first draft. Basically they have no native unified outlook and other than “leaders” tend to be conformist to the culture surrounding them. 

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On 12/1/2019 at 3:30 AM, DShomshak said:

For a somewhat tortured simile: It's like Tolkien created a "bank account" of story that other writers have drawn upon. Not so many have returned to the lode of myth and folklore he mined and seriously tried to add to the account instead.
 

Over the years (3e and 5e) I've tried creating several new PC races for D&D. I think I've succeeded once or twice, maybe three times if you're generous.

 

From what I've seen, there's usually little connection between "return(ing) to the lode of myth and folklore" and "creating ... new PC races".

 

Far too often the first is completely ignored in favour of creating some "new" variety of Cat/Lizard/Whatever-folk.

 

Even worse, there's often no point to having these races, except that you are "supposed" to have them in RPGs.

---
Grumpy Mode on: In the world I am creating starting right now PCs may be either Red Men or Blue Men. (These generic terms include women as well). All other sentient beings are NPCs, usually monsters.

 

Mechanically, Red Men and Blue Men are standard humans, indistinguishable from each other. Culturally they may differ, or exist within integrated societies. In most cases, when they interbreed, the resulting offspring are treated as Blue Men.

 

However, one of the reasons why Red Men are "red" is that they often smear themselves with a red dyed paste, for decoration and to protect themselves from the sun. Mixed Red/Blue offspring frequently do this too. Some Blue Men, especially women, use this as well.

 

In order to avoid sentences like the previous one, I should probably give the groups gibberish names, like something invented by Edgar Rice Burroughs or Lin Carter. (Or Aaron Allston.)

 

/Grumpy Mode

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16 hours ago, DShomshak said:

Hm, that works. And a good example of how to use blanks spots and obscure hints. Heck, if Krim is the Dragon and Kal-Turak has a pact with it, then K-T's relationship with Mordak is a bit like Giacomo Sylvestri's relationship to the Descending Hierarchy: Carefully polite on both sides. And Kilbern can go whistle, because the King of the Gods is not the king of the Dragon.

 

The Dragon would be less of an intrusion on the TA than, say, a Malvan would be because mysterious, ancient powers of evil whose place in the metaphysical system is uncertain is an established  High Fantasy trope. Think of Ungoliant in Tolkien's mythos.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

Always nice to get validation from one of the guys who created this stuff. :D

 

My mind tends to work that way -- looking for potential connections in things, whether or not they were intentionally connected. I've used that principle to weave the Dragon, in one guise or another, into all the eras of Hero Earth's history.

 

But that would probably be a little too much thread drift. :angel:

 

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17 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

But then you get into the problem of Fantasy with only humans is dull, or old fashioned. Makes writing something compelling harder , and you need more of a twist. 

 

At this point it's tough to come up with something truly original in the fantasy genre -- so much ground has been explored already, often repeatedly. But for my part, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with revisiting something familiar, if you execute it well. The subject of this thread can be considered an example of that. ;)

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16 minutes ago, Scott Ruggels said:

But then you get into the problem of Fantasy with only humans is dull, or old fashioned. Makes writing something compelling harder , and you need more of a twist. 

 

We're talking about fantasy RPGs here? Or fantasy literature? Or both? I'll assume fantasy RPGs.

 

We can discard "old fashioned" straight away. "Old fashioned" is Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits... yawn. "Old fashioned" is also variants on these, plus the usual critterfolk - who generally aren't from fantasy literature. The latter stuff is so 80s it's not funny.

 

Dull is a more serious point.

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You could make the argument that you can have both dull and unusual side-by-side in a setting.  D&D 5e has the standard fantasy races with a couple of more interesting ones.  It's a smart strategy to appeal to traditionalists and people like me who are one chaotic neutral  halfling rogue away from smashing their head into the table 🤪

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

At this point it's tough to come up with something truly original in the fantasy genre -- so much ground been explored already, often repeatedly. But for my part, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with revisiting something familiar, if you execute it well. The subject of this thread can be considered an example of that. ;)

 

1 hour ago, assault said:

 

We're talking about fantasy RPGs here? Or fantasy literature? Or both? I'll assume fantasy RPGs.

 

We can discard "old fashioned" straight away. "Old fashioned" is Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits... yawn. "Old fashioned" is also variants on these, plus the usual critterfolk - who generally aren't from fantasy literature. The latter stuff is so 80s it's not funny.

 

Dull is a more serious point.

Hopefully not digressing too far, but an interesting example is the Third Season of The Dragon Prince, where we see many more elves. Moonshadow elves have horns or antlers, and speak with Scottish accents, and the Sunfire elves have obsidian skin and speak with Caribbean accents. All

elves have three fingers. 

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There are also a few examples of racial unorthodoxy in TA. The Drakine we've already touched on in several posts here; in some ways they're a reptilian parallel to Men, generalized in their skills and adaptable to almost any environment. But they are culturally distinctive, have several ethnic sub-types, and are otherwise not just reskinned Men.

 

Trolls are also rather distinctive. These are not the infamous D&D regenerators, but more like trolls from Norse mythology -- giant humanoids, brutish in appearance but intelligent, masters of smithcraft, with their own exclusive style of magic.

 

I haven't seen anything in fantasy quite like the Migdalars. Dwelling beneath the Earth, with formidable telepathic powers and a tyrannical attitude, they fill an ecological niche in Ambrethel similar to the Illithids/Mind Flayers in D&D. But physically Migdalars are massive and powerful, with four arms, no heads (their brains housed within their torsos), and their "faces" on their chest and stomach.

 

I really appreciate how Men in TA aren't just generalized. There are quite a few ethnic groups represented, with distinct appearances, languages, cultures, clothing, and so on; usually inhabiting specific areas.

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4 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

There are also a few examples of racial unorthodoxy in TA. The Drakine we've already touched on in several posts here; in some ways they're a reptilian parallel to Men, generalized in their skills and adaptable to almost any environment. But they are culturally distinctive, have several ethnic sub-types, and are otherwise not just reskinned Men.

 

Trolls are also rather distinctive. These are not the infamous D&D regenerators, but more like trolls from Norse mythology -- giant humanoids, brutish in appearance but intelligent, masters of smithcraft, with their own exclusive style of magic.

 

I haven't seen anything in fantasy quite like the Migdalars. Dwelling beneath the Earth, with formidable telepathic powers and a tyrannical attitude, they fill an ecological niche in Ambrethel similar to the Illithids/Mind Flayers in D&D. But physically Migdalars are massive and powerful, with four arms, no heads (their brains housed within their torsos), and their "faces" on their chest and stomach.

 

I really appreciate how Men in TA aren't just generalized. Their are quite a few ethnic groups represented, with distinct appearances, languages, cultures, clothing, and so on; usually inhabiting specific areas.

 

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

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Not sure what the problem is with “old fashioned” is. I just don’t a hundred different sub classes of races-mechanically. Having different types culturally is good though.

 

i picked up about the Duergar (though I didn’t get to reread the actual article) that originally they were D&D’s version of dwarf that were closer to the Norse myths-albeit being Evil in nature. Take this with a pound of salt but still an interesting idea.

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11 hours ago, sentry0 said:

 

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

 

I believe the Erqigdlit are inspired by Steve Long's research into Inuit mythology -- I know he's covering that in his long-anticipated Mythic Hero.

 

P. 20 of the free Encyclopaedia Turakiana tells you how to pronounce it:  "air-KIG-dlit."

 

For my game I gave them a more prominent presence in the Far North of the continent of Arduna, an area where Steve deliberately left much room for development.

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On 12/1/2019 at 2:14 AM, DShomshak said:

High Fantasy can work with such non-Fantasy intrusions -- LL mentioned Andre Norton's "With World" series in another thread, with the invasion of the technological Kolder -- but that setting was built with such an intrusion in mind. Intrusion from Beyond runs throughout the entire series; it isn't just the Kolder. Even the hero of the first few books, Simon Tregarth, is such an intruder -- an Earth man who came to the Witch World through a magical portal.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

Tech-vs-magic is a recurrent theme in much of Norton's early fantasy work, most explicitly her two "Janus" novels.

 

I have to admit, I've long been intrigued by the idea of a campaign based around a war between a magic-based fantasy world, and a technology-wielding alien invader. I would like to use Hero's Atlantean Age setting, with the Atlantean global empire at its height, as the invaded world. With their magically-enhanced and -armed soldiers, war golems, sky-ships and sky-chariots, not to mention wizards with mighty elemental combat magicks, Atlantis would make a far more appropriate opponent for a tech-equipped army than most fantasy societies. On the other side of the coin, Champions Beyond briefly describes a malevolent alien race called the Ghok'pa, destroyed by the Star*Guard "tens of thousands of years ago" (about in the Atlantean ballpark) after they tried to enslave other worlds using "the dark mental powers of their priests." That sounds like a motif that wouldn't be a major tonal discord with a fantasy milieu.

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On 12/2/2019 at 8:05 AM, Lord Liaden said:

 

I believe the Erqigdlit are inspired by Steve Long's research into Inuit mythology -- I know he's covering that in his long-anticipated Mythic Hero.

 

P. 20 of the free Encyclopaedia Turakiana tells you how to pronounce it:  "air-KIG-dlit."

 

For my game I gave them a more prominent presence in the Far North of the continent of Arduna, an area where Steve deliberately left much room for development.

 

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.

 

I like the Erqigdlit's apparently casual acceptance that, yeah, they're cursed.

 

Dean Shomshak

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TA has a decent representation of cat-people, too, what with the Pakasa (and their sub-species, the Simburu and Dumawe), and the Leomachi (lion-centaurs). In the case of the latter, I was intrigued that their culture appears inspired by the cattle-herding Maasai people of East Africa, particularly since killing a lion was a rite of passage to manhood in traditional Maasai culture, but the Leomachi are themselves part lion.

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Something I felt the absence of in the Turakian Age was a Viking analogue, sea barbarians raiding the coasts of more "civilized" nations. Because that's just cool. ;)  One way I dealt with that was to move the home territory of the Ulg-hroi, the setting's devil-worshiping savages. For those who want to follow my geographic references, you can check the map of the Far North on p. 157 of TA, or download it from the map collection in the Files section of this website.

 

As noted on that map, the Ulg-hroi Lands are on the Gorthundan Steppes west of the Evling River. I decided to shift them further west toward the coast, in the region roughly bounded by the Udalusk and Tloorkoorsaryl Rivers, the Sea of Ice, and a large unnamed forest. From the river mouths and fjords of those lands Ulg-hroi longships raid all the coastline of the Westerlands as far south as Thurgandia, as well as Northern Mitharia.

 

While more southerly Christian Europeans tended to perceive the Vikings during the height of their attacks as servants of the Devil, in the case of the Ulg-hroi that's literally true. For my purposes that's a plus, but it would be legitimate to not want "your" Ambrethelan Vikings to be so malevolent. In that case you could locate a people more to your liking in the same area. Since officially that stretch of coast is the site of Greatwater, a permanent encampment and trading post for TA's analogue to the Mongol horse nomads, the Gorthunda, the simplest fix would be to have a subset of the Gorthunda take to the sea to pillage, rather than the land.

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Turakian Age Reread: The Second Epoch and the species overview.

 

Okay, been a little while, but I have recovered from last week's illness and was able to drag myself away from Subnautica long enough to read a bit. The Second Epoch is where I start to have some disconnects with the setting. The biggest disconnect is the Hargeshite splinter. I skimmed through the section on the gods and whatnot, but it seems to me that the gods, in general, are very present in the lives of the faithful, what with miracles being provided and all that. So that brings up the issue with Hargesh. If his tenets were the new ones that the followers of the gods are supposed to follow, why are traditionalists still getting miracles granted to them? If Hargesh truly is a heretic, why are the Hargeshites getting miracles granted? I may have missed something in there, but there is little to no information beyond the differences in regards to the Grey gods and a nice little patriarchal oppression of women. It just seems counter to the idea that the gods are actively involved in the events of the world.

 

3333: The coming of Kal-Turak has a lot of interesting little bits to it, but if it were a movie, it would feel rushed. Again, I realize space requirements but I just didn't get the "Oh my, it's the Great Oogly Moogly Big Bad" vibe from him. Everything seemed really forced about him. I did note, with some wry amusement, that Kal-Turak is to the Lord of the Graven Spear as Morgoth is to Sauron. Still, the story of his birth and his demonic mother, now torn asunder but still alive, has a lot of dark potential to it. Even his realm and the great wall could be interesting, if played correctly. Ol' Kal just needs both a more active presence and a more subtle one. In all honesty though, I would probably omit Kal-Turak from Ambrethel altogether, or at least throw a lot more details about his rise to power in there. Merging with the racial thing, the birth of Kal-Turak changes the tone of things greatly. It would also be an ideal time for orcs, trolls and all that to make their debut appearance. I dunno, but it seems like this brand new player, nearly on the cosmological scale, could demonstrate a lot of power by literally warping/corrupting a group of people into things from your worst nightmare. It would also be very genre appropriate.

 

The period of time just after the fall of the Spearlord seems just more like a time rife with adventure possibilities. There are still scars and echoes from this time of great evil but still a kind of open-endedness. Once the Age Eponymous Big Bad Dude comes into the picture, that sense of possibility closes up. Entirely my opinion.

 

Beating the Dead Horse, Finale: Humans and Drakine; those are the two main species. The section on Barbarian tribes gets 3x the word count that the elves do. Same with the section on Knights. Well, maybe 2.5 times the word count. Dwarves fare no better and it only gets worse from there. There is a bit about the religious schism of the elves but really, to me it felt like a desperate attempt to make the elves interesting. I see this as a feature to the setting. The Drakine history hints at being descended from an even more epic age. I see no reason why the Elves and Dwarves could not have had their heyday during this previous age. Now, there are remnants of the two species left over during the First Epoch. They can even muster a fairly decent fighting force. But the battle with the Lord of the Graven Spear is their last hurrah. From then on, they gradually fade until disappearing completely. The dwarves retreat into their subterranean realm and eventually cut off their interaction with the surface world. You can still have those kinds of characters, but the closer you get to the official present day (5,000), the fewer of them wander the world of Men and Drakine.

 

The rest of the species, can similarly be of limited numbers. To me, their inclusion is just a check box checked. They certainly have no compelling place within the setting. This will also be the last time I mention that little tidbit in my re-read commentary.

 

I'm hardly done reading the Turakian Age, but the context by which I filter the information has pretty much been set. I do appreciate the setting more this time around and that's a good thing. I think the next thing I plan on doing is finishing the section on the regions, with all the nations. A quick disclaimer: I have no intention of running the Turakian Age. If I ever did, I doubt it would be with the Hero System. I no longer have the patience for power builds that look like some sort of contract with clauses and exceptions spelled out. I am therefore not going to read or comment on the game mechanics sections. Also, if y'all think this is not the appropriate thread, just let me know. Seemed like a good place to go over my impressions of the material. 

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