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DShomshak

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  1. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Duke Bushido in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    Speaking of worlds on turtles...
     
    I've enjoyed many of the Diskworld novels. Often funny, often pointed in its satire. But for me at least, hardly ever immersive. No matter how much I enjoy the story, I am fully aware this world "exists" to comment on other stories or aspects of RL. It's never a world that feels like it could exist in its own right.
     
    Again, at least not for me.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  2. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Duke Bushido in Strange, Small Crafts   
    Background: In my current Fantasy campaign, most artisans in the city of Thalassene belong to guilds: the cobbler’s guild, the silk-weaver’s guild, the papermaker and printer’s guild, and so on. (There are also guilds for professions such as doctors, lawyers and bankers.)
     
    But some crafts are too small to have guilds. There just aren’t enough artisans to make it worthwhile. These are locally called “oddmongers.” And just as most of the big-time jewelers cluster around Gold Court and most undertakers are on Coffin Street, the oddmongers have a neighborhood of their own called, naturally, Oddmonger. This is where the PCs are based, so I’m developing the neighborhood more than the rest of the city.
     
    I have thought of many different oddmongers, but I could use more. Suggest away! Explain why a craft wouldn’t employ many practitioners, and why it wouldn’t be folded into some larger group of artisans. To illustrate, here’s what I already have:
     
    Parasol-Makers. Some lace, some cloth, some painted paper. A couple factories as well as freelance artisans, but I’s enough of a specialty/luxury item that the whole industry fits easily on one short street.
     
    Fanmakers. Likewise, and on the same street as the parasol-makers. Paper or cloth fans may be painted, so the business involves limners as well as artisans to glue the material to the frame of wood or ivory ribs. Lots of people own fans, but it doesn't take a lot of people to make them.
     
    Artificial Flower Makers. Paper, silk and one fellow who works in glass. The craft began with religion: flowers as a common offering at household shrines to show piety, but the cost mounts up for fresh flowers every few days. So, buy realistic fakes. (Though it eventually became something of an art form in its own right.)
     
    Wax Fruit Maker. A newly invented craft, for similar purposes as artificial flowers: Look like you can afford fresh fruit all the time, when you actually can’t.
     
    Featherworkers. Anything from little ornaments to shimmering feather cloaks. A foreign craft introduced by Furanian refugees.
     
    Picture-Scroll Printers. A sort of long comic book in scroll form. Outside the printer’s guild because halflings invented it and still dominate the craft. (Inspired by RL art form from old Japan, btw.)
     
    Sugar-Spinner. A gnome who is both a master alchemist and master tinker invented cotton candy. No one else has yet duplicated his two-story machine, which requires several strapping laborers to turn the cranks, pump the bellows and stoke the furnace. The confectioner’s guild would like to have him, but he insists that selling cotton candy is only to fund his further experiments to his ultimate goal: edible candy clothing! It’s genius, I tell you! Genius!
     
    Tattoo Artists. Complex, detailed body art, not the basic ink of a soldier, sailor or thug.
     
    Music-Box Maker. Another luxury item, too tinkery for the musical instrument makers, and too musical for the tinkers.
     
    Bonsai. Some gods are traditionally worshiped at sacred trees rather than temples. How to do this in a built-up city? Own a miniature, portable sacred tree.
     
    Toy Soldier Maker. More detailed than usual for the pewtersmiths; comparable to jewelers. But  they are not jewelers.
     
    Lens Grinders. You can buy spyglasses or spectacles, but these precision items cost a lot.
     
    Denturists. Another precision craft, and costly enough that the market remains small.
     
    Paper Appliqué. Another foreign craft, recently introduced: patterns or pictures of colored cut paper applied to a wooden surface and coated with lacquer or varnish. Not quite a poor man’s enamel work, but not quite as expensive.
     
    China-Doll Makers. This requires specialized forms of multiple crafts: porcelain-workers to make the heads and other body parts, some tinkering to put them together, and seamstresses to make the miniature clothing. Hm. There might be enough artisans to form a Toymaker's Guild, but presently they're scattered: People who make wooden toys, for instance, in the woodworker's guild.
     
    Mask Makers. Several possible crafts (cloth, leather, wood, etc.), possibly in combination. For costume parties, some religious festivals, or the big Autocrat’s Ascension Day parade down in Mactown.
     
    Vellum Maker. Papyrus and true paper have largely supplanted parchment and vellum, but the lone business in town that still makes writing material from animal skins stubbornly resists absorption into the guild.
     
    Pearl Carver. Making stuff from nacre. Not quite a jeweler, and there’s a foreign aspect as many techniques and designs are copied from the merfolk.
     
    Alchemists have a small guild, but there is no magic guild.
     
    Dean Shomshak
     
  3. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Scott Ruggels in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    Speaking of worlds on turtles...
     
    I've enjoyed many of the Diskworld novels. Often funny, often pointed in its satire. But for me at least, hardly ever immersive. No matter how much I enjoy the story, I am fully aware this world "exists" to comment on other stories or aspects of RL. It's never a world that feels like it could exist in its own right.
     
    Again, at least not for me.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  4. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from assault in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    Speaking of worlds on turtles...
     
    I've enjoyed many of the Diskworld novels. Often funny, often pointed in its satire. But for me at least, hardly ever immersive. No matter how much I enjoy the story, I am fully aware this world "exists" to comment on other stories or aspects of RL. It's never a world that feels like it could exist in its own right.
     
    Again, at least not for me.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  5. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Chris Goodwin in Strange, Small Crafts   
    Background: In my current Fantasy campaign, most artisans in the city of Thalassene belong to guilds: the cobbler’s guild, the silk-weaver’s guild, the papermaker and printer’s guild, and so on. (There are also guilds for professions such as doctors, lawyers and bankers.)
     
    But some crafts are too small to have guilds. There just aren’t enough artisans to make it worthwhile. These are locally called “oddmongers.” And just as most of the big-time jewelers cluster around Gold Court and most undertakers are on Coffin Street, the oddmongers have a neighborhood of their own called, naturally, Oddmonger. This is where the PCs are based, so I’m developing the neighborhood more than the rest of the city.
     
    I have thought of many different oddmongers, but I could use more. Suggest away! Explain why a craft wouldn’t employ many practitioners, and why it wouldn’t be folded into some larger group of artisans. To illustrate, here’s what I already have:
     
    Parasol-Makers. Some lace, some cloth, some painted paper. A couple factories as well as freelance artisans, but I’s enough of a specialty/luxury item that the whole industry fits easily on one short street.
     
    Fanmakers. Likewise, and on the same street as the parasol-makers. Paper or cloth fans may be painted, so the business involves limners as well as artisans to glue the material to the frame of wood or ivory ribs. Lots of people own fans, but it doesn't take a lot of people to make them.
     
    Artificial Flower Makers. Paper, silk and one fellow who works in glass. The craft began with religion: flowers as a common offering at household shrines to show piety, but the cost mounts up for fresh flowers every few days. So, buy realistic fakes. (Though it eventually became something of an art form in its own right.)
     
    Wax Fruit Maker. A newly invented craft, for similar purposes as artificial flowers: Look like you can afford fresh fruit all the time, when you actually can’t.
     
    Featherworkers. Anything from little ornaments to shimmering feather cloaks. A foreign craft introduced by Furanian refugees.
     
    Picture-Scroll Printers. A sort of long comic book in scroll form. Outside the printer’s guild because halflings invented it and still dominate the craft. (Inspired by RL art form from old Japan, btw.)
     
    Sugar-Spinner. A gnome who is both a master alchemist and master tinker invented cotton candy. No one else has yet duplicated his two-story machine, which requires several strapping laborers to turn the cranks, pump the bellows and stoke the furnace. The confectioner’s guild would like to have him, but he insists that selling cotton candy is only to fund his further experiments to his ultimate goal: edible candy clothing! It’s genius, I tell you! Genius!
     
    Tattoo Artists. Complex, detailed body art, not the basic ink of a soldier, sailor or thug.
     
    Music-Box Maker. Another luxury item, too tinkery for the musical instrument makers, and too musical for the tinkers.
     
    Bonsai. Some gods are traditionally worshiped at sacred trees rather than temples. How to do this in a built-up city? Own a miniature, portable sacred tree.
     
    Toy Soldier Maker. More detailed than usual for the pewtersmiths; comparable to jewelers. But  they are not jewelers.
     
    Lens Grinders. You can buy spyglasses or spectacles, but these precision items cost a lot.
     
    Denturists. Another precision craft, and costly enough that the market remains small.
     
    Paper Appliqué. Another foreign craft, recently introduced: patterns or pictures of colored cut paper applied to a wooden surface and coated with lacquer or varnish. Not quite a poor man’s enamel work, but not quite as expensive.
     
    China-Doll Makers. This requires specialized forms of multiple crafts: porcelain-workers to make the heads and other body parts, some tinkering to put them together, and seamstresses to make the miniature clothing. Hm. There might be enough artisans to form a Toymaker's Guild, but presently they're scattered: People who make wooden toys, for instance, in the woodworker's guild.
     
    Mask Makers. Several possible crafts (cloth, leather, wood, etc.), possibly in combination. For costume parties, some religious festivals, or the big Autocrat’s Ascension Day parade down in Mactown.
     
    Vellum Maker. Papyrus and true paper have largely supplanted parchment and vellum, but the lone business in town that still makes writing material from animal skins stubbornly resists absorption into the guild.
     
    Pearl Carver. Making stuff from nacre. Not quite a jeweler, and there’s a foreign aspect as many techniques and designs are copied from the merfolk.
     
    Alchemists have a small guild, but there is no magic guild.
     
    Dean Shomshak
     
  6. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Lord Liaden in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    Speaking of worlds on turtles...
     
    I've enjoyed many of the Diskworld novels. Often funny, often pointed in its satire. But for me at least, hardly ever immersive. No matter how much I enjoy the story, I am fully aware this world "exists" to comment on other stories or aspects of RL. It's never a world that feels like it could exist in its own right.
     
    Again, at least not for me.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  7. Thanks
    DShomshak reacted to Cancer in More space news!   
    Highlights from AAS journals, late January-early February
     
    I think most interesting to folks here will be the items with a limited 3D map of the dust in the Galaxy, some details about interstellar Comet Borisov, and speculations about why there are so many sub-Neptune exoplanets relative to Neptune-class exoplanets.
  8. Like
    DShomshak reacted to Old Man in More space news!   
    I'm just lifting this from another forum--highlights of an interview with Elon on The Space Show podcast.
    SpaceX is not building a ship, its building a Shipyard Primary concern is not developing a ship, but the factory and assembly line to create many Starships SpaceX crew is ~300 today in Boca Chica (BC) and wants to expand that to 3,000 in the next year Elon said the goal is to build 2 Starships per week (8 per month, 104 per year!) Setting up for mass production is how SpaceX makes the Starship CHEAP (more later) It will take ~6 tanker Starship launches to refuel 1 cargo/passenger Starship in orbit for trip to Mars First 5 ships sent to Mars are planned to stay on Mars, containing massive amounts of equipment and provisions and ISRU Due to size of tanks on Starship, it is going to require 6-10 football fields of solar panels to generate the power required to refuel a Starship in 500 days. Note: Zubrin sounds like he was trying to pop Elon's joy-bubble by dropping some impossibly large size for the array. Musk responded by saying "Fine, that is what we'll do." ~600kw Day/Night power required for ISRU (or maybe just the total mission architecture is 600kw and ISRU is the huge majority) No nuclear power plants in SpaceX plans for Mars. The mission architecture is not Apollo, it's D-Day First crew will be large, maybe 20 or 50 followed by larger numbers shortly Elon thinks that eventually Starships will cost $5M each.
  9. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Chris Goodwin in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    Speaking of worlds on turtles...
     
    I've enjoyed many of the Diskworld novels. Often funny, often pointed in its satire. But for me at least, hardly ever immersive. No matter how much I enjoy the story, I am fully aware this world "exists" to comment on other stories or aspects of RL. It's never a world that feels like it could exist in its own right.
     
    Again, at least not for me.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  10. Thanks
    DShomshak got a reaction from Chris Goodwin in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    I don't think "anachronism" is the right word for some of what Phil finds annoying. I'd suggest "anamythism" -- not from the wrong time, but from the wrong story. The genre boundaries of fantasy are very wide, but that doesn't mean every possible thing fits in every story.
     
    For instance, take railroads. They can fit perfectly well in some alternate-historical fantasies such as Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, in which the Industrial Revolution is happening at the same time as the English Civil War, and both are of interest to Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Elves. There is an internal logic here, and it is also important to the theme of the story.
     
    Even in a setting with no explicit connection to Earth, railways are not unthinkable. The first RL railway was built, IIRC, in ancient Greece. It was short, powered by oxen pulling the cars, and not duplicated, but clearly the idea was possible. But... railways (whether powered by coal, oxen or dragons) aren't going to catch on unless there are certain political and economic conditions that don't apply in most bog-standard fantasy settings. They didn't even apply equally in RL Earth history -- development was much slower in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe. Railways say a lot about what kind of world it is, and what kind of story you're going to tell in it.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  11. Haha
    DShomshak reacted to Cassandra in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    I always defined Electrum as taking a swig of rum while getting shocked with a stun gun.
     
    I guess I went to a different college they you guys did.
  12. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Lord Liaden in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    My desk dictionary, published decades ago, defines "electrum" as "A natural pale-yellow alloy of gold and silver." Latin, from the Greek elektron, with a note about its connection to "Electric." Gygax didn't invent it.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  13. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Chris Goodwin in Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.   
    Yes, if it's just tossed in for no apparent reason beyond "It'll surprise the PCs" or "I want every bit of geek culture I think is cool." This might work if it's part of the setting foundation, and you work out reasons why it exists and what the effects will be.
     
    For instance, "Magitech" is an important part of the anime-influenced Exalted setting. But it doesn't exist for no reason. These are the wonders of the First Age, which modern folk struggle to maintain. There's a background of supernatural quasi-science that encompasses ley lines, mystic power sites, and materials that are especially good at channeling and focusing mystic power.
     
    Sometimes Exalted still gets it wrong, IMO, as with pistols and rifles powered by a quasi-natural "firedust." Firedust comes from the extreme south of Creation, as congealed power from the elemental Pole of Fire, and it can be used for other things. But... it's all a little too on-the-nose. A lot more so than, say, a massive "lightning ballista" siege engine powered by alchemical reagents, channeled and focused by Air-aspected blue jade.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  14. Thanks
    DShomshak reacted to GM Joe in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    I'm not a tweeter, but this thread where Blake Zeff explains how Bloomberg gets elected was worth reading all 17 tweets.
    https://twitter.com/blakezeff/status/1227976156936171520
     
  15. Thanks
    DShomshak got a reaction from Duke Bushido in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Factually incorrect. Chinese myth and religion includes many gods, who are worshiped as such, who are mortals ascended to divinity. AFAIK the only figure in Chinese myth that predates the world is the primordial giant Pangu, who grew to become the world. While I think* there are a few temples of Pangu, he's not a major figure in Chinese religion.
     
    The main deities of Greek religion are born after the world's creation as well. There are a few primordial figures such as Gaia, but Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Apollo, etc. live in a world they had no hand in making (beyond little things such as creating particular mountains or islands). The Greek creation myths that I know of are of fairly late provenance as well -- literary creations, such as Hesiod's Theogony, or philosophical speculations such as the Orphic myth. (See Robert Graves' The Greek Myths for a survey.)
     
    Once you survey the breadth of human myth, religion and supernatural belief, you find that all the categories are blurry and any "rule" you imagine has plenty of exceptions and qualifiers. The most you can say is that some tropes and patterns frequently occur.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  16. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from drunkonduty in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Factually incorrect. Chinese myth and religion includes many gods, who are worshiped as such, who are mortals ascended to divinity. AFAIK the only figure in Chinese myth that predates the world is the primordial giant Pangu, who grew to become the world. While I think* there are a few temples of Pangu, he's not a major figure in Chinese religion.
     
    The main deities of Greek religion are born after the world's creation as well. There are a few primordial figures such as Gaia, but Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Apollo, etc. live in a world they had no hand in making (beyond little things such as creating particular mountains or islands). The Greek creation myths that I know of are of fairly late provenance as well -- literary creations, such as Hesiod's Theogony, or philosophical speculations such as the Orphic myth. (See Robert Graves' The Greek Myths for a survey.)
     
    Once you survey the breadth of human myth, religion and supernatural belief, you find that all the categories are blurry and any "rule" you imagine has plenty of exceptions and qualifiers. The most you can say is that some tropes and patterns frequently occur.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  17. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from wcw43921 in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    I think it's way too early to count out any of the Big Five (Sanders, Warren, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar). And we haven't seen how voters respond to Bloomberg. One thing for sure, this race isn't going to be a coronation.
     
    I would like to like Biden more than I do. I value his experience. I don't hold his past compromises against him; I don't trust ideological rigidity. But his mind seems fraying, beyond his usual fumblemouth. And the argument for him to be front-runner never reached much beyond, "It's his turn now."
     
    Buttigieg talks a good game, and clearly he is very intelligent, but he just doesn't have the experience or the coattails to carry other candidates in other races. Sanders has the movement; Biden has the Establishment cred. Buttigieg has just himself.
     
    Bloomberg... I just don't know. The picture of a billionaire trying to buy his way in offends me, but at least he has real experience: Mayor of New York City is nearly as good as head of state for most countries. I hear he's racked up a lot of endorsements from other mayors, which means that as president he'd have a cadre of allies to help him implement policies and pressure others to go along. I wish I'd seen him on the debate stage, to get a sense of his mind.
     
    Not a fan of Warren. Kind of liking Klobuchar. Steyer should go away (but leaqve his checkbook, esp. to fund down-ballot races). I too would like to see Yang in some sort of cabinet post, along with many of the other early droppers-out, to help build the Democratic field for future races.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  18. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Brian Stanfield in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Oh, and while we're trading academic citations, I'll ad Guy Swanson's Birth of the Gods. Swanson stresses the diversity of supernatural beliefs: EG, while many cultures ascribe awe-inspiring natural phenomena to gods or spirits, they don't agree on which phenomena require divine explanation; the idea that people in some way continue after death is near-universal, but the form of continuation varies widely; and so on.
     
    Swanson's book attempts to test the hypothesis of sociologist Emile Durkheim, that the symbolic referent of the sacred/supernatural is society itself. Like a spirit, society is immortal, nonlocal, intangible, and posse3ssed of nonmaterial powers. Swanson finds strong correlations between several common supernatural beliefs (high gods, superior gods, reincarnation, witchcraft/black magic) and particular social structures. But none are 100%.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  19. Thanks
    DShomshak got a reaction from Lord Liaden in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Factually incorrect. Chinese myth and religion includes many gods, who are worshiped as such, who are mortals ascended to divinity. AFAIK the only figure in Chinese myth that predates the world is the primordial giant Pangu, who grew to become the world. While I think* there are a few temples of Pangu, he's not a major figure in Chinese religion.
     
    The main deities of Greek religion are born after the world's creation as well. There are a few primordial figures such as Gaia, but Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Apollo, etc. live in a world they had no hand in making (beyond little things such as creating particular mountains or islands). The Greek creation myths that I know of are of fairly late provenance as well -- literary creations, such as Hesiod's Theogony, or philosophical speculations such as the Orphic myth. (See Robert Graves' The Greek Myths for a survey.)
     
    Once you survey the breadth of human myth, religion and supernatural belief, you find that all the categories are blurry and any "rule" you imagine has plenty of exceptions and qualifiers. The most you can say is that some tropes and patterns frequently occur.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  20. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from TrickstaPriest in Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)   
    I think it's way too early to count out any of the Big Five (Sanders, Warren, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar). And we haven't seen how voters respond to Bloomberg. One thing for sure, this race isn't going to be a coronation.
     
    I would like to like Biden more than I do. I value his experience. I don't hold his past compromises against him; I don't trust ideological rigidity. But his mind seems fraying, beyond his usual fumblemouth. And the argument for him to be front-runner never reached much beyond, "It's his turn now."
     
    Buttigieg talks a good game, and clearly he is very intelligent, but he just doesn't have the experience or the coattails to carry other candidates in other races. Sanders has the movement; Biden has the Establishment cred. Buttigieg has just himself.
     
    Bloomberg... I just don't know. The picture of a billionaire trying to buy his way in offends me, but at least he has real experience: Mayor of New York City is nearly as good as head of state for most countries. I hear he's racked up a lot of endorsements from other mayors, which means that as president he'd have a cadre of allies to help him implement policies and pressure others to go along. I wish I'd seen him on the debate stage, to get a sense of his mind.
     
    Not a fan of Warren. Kind of liking Klobuchar. Steyer should go away (but leaqve his checkbook, esp. to fund down-ballot races). I too would like to see Yang in some sort of cabinet post, along with many of the other early droppers-out, to help build the Democratic field for future races.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  21. Thanks
    DShomshak got a reaction from Chris Goodwin in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Incidentally, I vaguely remember a short story by, I think, L. Sprague deCamp in which a con man decides the big money is in religion, so he invents a god and uses his acting and oratoriacal skills to popularize it. The donations start rolling in! And then the god manifests. Oops.
     
    DeCamp, Saberhagen, Leiber and Anderson also wrote a lot of SF as well as Fantasy, and I suspect it shaped their development of the "belief creates gods" trope. As I alluded above, it seems to me like a clever notion for people who like playing ideas but who don't really care much about faith or religion.
     
    I have to include myself among that group. When Steve Long assembled the CU, he adopted a lot of the mystic cosmology I invented in The Ultimate Super-Mage. In it, I had belief and story creating spirits, gods and entire dimensions. This seemed like a good justification for the "kitchen sink" nature of the standard superhero universe, in which an angel of the Lord and the mighty Thor can be equally real. Marvel and DC kind of waffled on this, with talk of a Supreme Deity who was strongly suggested to be the Abrahamic Deity while the pagan mythic figures were merely powerful entities living in pocket dimensions. I wasn't willing to privilege one mythology over another, so I made Yahweh as much a creation of human belief as Odin or Zeus. And having the gods all be delusional, believing their own myths, sidestepped the clashing origin myths. At least the gods aren't all consciously lying to their worshipers.
     
    TA is part of the CU, so it has to use the same cosmology. This world can't be created by gods, because the contemporary CU's Earth wasn't created by gods. One may not like this approach to Fantasy world design. But it's a consequence of splicing together two different genres. Which, as I have said before, I don't think was a good idea in the first place. So I don't entirely disagree with Phil on this.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  22. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Brian Stanfield in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Incidentally, I vaguely remember a short story by, I think, L. Sprague deCamp in which a con man decides the big money is in religion, so he invents a god and uses his acting and oratoriacal skills to popularize it. The donations start rolling in! And then the god manifests. Oops.
     
    DeCamp, Saberhagen, Leiber and Anderson also wrote a lot of SF as well as Fantasy, and I suspect it shaped their development of the "belief creates gods" trope. As I alluded above, it seems to me like a clever notion for people who like playing ideas but who don't really care much about faith or religion.
     
    I have to include myself among that group. When Steve Long assembled the CU, he adopted a lot of the mystic cosmology I invented in The Ultimate Super-Mage. In it, I had belief and story creating spirits, gods and entire dimensions. This seemed like a good justification for the "kitchen sink" nature of the standard superhero universe, in which an angel of the Lord and the mighty Thor can be equally real. Marvel and DC kind of waffled on this, with talk of a Supreme Deity who was strongly suggested to be the Abrahamic Deity while the pagan mythic figures were merely powerful entities living in pocket dimensions. I wasn't willing to privilege one mythology over another, so I made Yahweh as much a creation of human belief as Odin or Zeus. And having the gods all be delusional, believing their own myths, sidestepped the clashing origin myths. At least the gods aren't all consciously lying to their worshipers.
     
    TA is part of the CU, so it has to use the same cosmology. This world can't be created by gods, because the contemporary CU's Earth wasn't created by gods. One may not like this approach to Fantasy world design. But it's a consequence of splicing together two different genres. Which, as I have said before, I don't think was a good idea in the first place. So I don't entirely disagree with Phil on this.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  23. Thanks
    DShomshak got a reaction from Lord Liaden in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Incidentally, I vaguely remember a short story by, I think, L. Sprague deCamp in which a con man decides the big money is in religion, so he invents a god and uses his acting and oratoriacal skills to popularize it. The donations start rolling in! And then the god manifests. Oops.
     
    DeCamp, Saberhagen, Leiber and Anderson also wrote a lot of SF as well as Fantasy, and I suspect it shaped their development of the "belief creates gods" trope. As I alluded above, it seems to me like a clever notion for people who like playing ideas but who don't really care much about faith or religion.
     
    I have to include myself among that group. When Steve Long assembled the CU, he adopted a lot of the mystic cosmology I invented in The Ultimate Super-Mage. In it, I had belief and story creating spirits, gods and entire dimensions. This seemed like a good justification for the "kitchen sink" nature of the standard superhero universe, in which an angel of the Lord and the mighty Thor can be equally real. Marvel and DC kind of waffled on this, with talk of a Supreme Deity who was strongly suggested to be the Abrahamic Deity while the pagan mythic figures were merely powerful entities living in pocket dimensions. I wasn't willing to privilege one mythology over another, so I made Yahweh as much a creation of human belief as Odin or Zeus. And having the gods all be delusional, believing their own myths, sidestepped the clashing origin myths. At least the gods aren't all consciously lying to their worshipers.
     
    TA is part of the CU, so it has to use the same cosmology. This world can't be created by gods, because the contemporary CU's Earth wasn't created by gods. One may not like this approach to Fantasy world design. But it's a consequence of splicing together two different genres. Which, as I have said before, I don't think was a good idea in the first place. So I don't entirely disagree with Phil on this.
     
    Dean Shomshak
  24. Thanks
    DShomshak reacted to Brian Stanfield in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Xenophanes, and for what it's worth, he talked of cows and lions in his example. 
     
     
    So these are two different things, really, which was my original point. Blake's example is cynical and probably not untrue. The ancient polytheistic gods were embodiments of natural phenomena (the sun god, the fertility goddess, etc.), so they were worshipped before they were named, and only later were they personified in pantheons. So the gods were in one sense "created," but not out of nothing as it feels in TA. The unscrupulous part is probably equally true.
     
    But the example of Hinduism, with its thousands of gods, is a different example. It's probably a good analogue to TA in some ways. Sure the gods don't have to be "real" for rituals to have power, but in Hinduism they're all just different aspects of Brahman anyway, so they are individual ways to the God. So even if I create an angry lobster god to worship, it is the aspect of Brahman which it represents that has power, which is (presumably) already there in Brahman; I've only selected my perspective of Brahman to emphasize for worship. Did I "create" the angry lobster god? Sure. Does it get its power from me? I didn't create the angry lobster god, whom I shall now call Crustaphelous, out of nothing. Or did I? This is the constant paradox of Hinduism. It's all Brahman anyway. But it's definitely not saying that these gods were created by humans and get their power from human worship, and then believe in their own existence based upon that worship. 
     
    This is where I part ways from the TA pantheon. It seems a bit shallow to suggest people were so stupid that they decided they needed a god of war to believe in who could give them power, so they randomly started to believe in it, and then it became real and self-aware, and therefore became able to give the believers power. This was my original comment on the circularity of it all. But it is, after all, just fiction. Maybe it's all, after all, just fiction . . .
     
    I'm not really trying to push a theological debate. My original point was that these are the reasons why I never cared much for deities in RPGs.
     
     
    These are EXCELLENT points, LL, and I find them entirely satisfying reasons for accepting the TA pantheon as it stands.
     
    As I said, I'm not really trying to start a religious war here, I was just pointing out something in an earlier post that I probably should have been wise enough to just leave alone, mostly because it's just my own personal idiosyncrasy and not an issue with the TA setting. Sorry to needlessly derail things! Although I'm glad I did because I finally got some answers to the questions I've had for years about these things!
  25. Like
    DShomshak got a reaction from Brian Stanfield in The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated   
    Fantasy RPGs are generally based on Fantasy fiction. Fantasy fiction is generally based on ancient myths and legends, but not taking them at face value.
     
    The idea that people invent gods is not new. One of the ancient Greek philosophers, I forget which one, opined that if pigs believed in gods those gods would oink. (Or words to that effect.) William Blake had a more elegant phrasing in Marriage of Heaven and Hell about gods as personifications and metaphors created by poets, that unsophisticated people took as real with help from unscrupulous priests. The Mimamsa school of Hinduism explicitly holds that the gods don't have to be real for the rituals of worship to have power. So Fantasy authors and games aren't completely without precedent in creating worlds in which human belief creates "real" gods.
     
    Much of magic draws on symbols and concepts of divine power... but further assumes that gods (or even God) cannot stop mortals from expropriating their power in this way. See Stolen Lightning: A Social Theory of Magic by Daniel Lawrence O'Keefe.
     
    So I have no problem with the TA theology, at least in terms of internal consistency. Though some parts are fairly unpleasant, such as the role of faith: worship is the food of the gods, but faith -- belief without evidence, or even in the face of evidence -- is their wine. Which is why they don't just allow, they create religious divisions such as the Hargeshites. If faith is their wine, the gods seem to be alcoholics. And nobody's better than an addict at rationalizing their behavior.
     
    In this sense, the TA theology is very much the work of secular people who, how do I put this, don't believe in belief or revere reverence.
     
    Dean Shomshak
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