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Steve Long

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Steve Long last won the day on March 2

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  • Birthday 11/27/1965

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  1. Those are some excellent points, Dean! While I wouldn't mind delving into Aarn at all, I agree that it's similar to a lot of other major Fantasy cities (all of them ultimately inspired by Lankhmar, I imagine ) -- that's part of why it's there, some gamers want/need a place like that. But really setting Aarn apart in that department would be tricky. As much as I would like to someday describe the Sunless Realms in more detail, I agree that for the time being at least there are plenty of products out there that a GM can shoehorn in if need be. I've been intrigued by the idea of campaigning in an all-underground setting -- have been ever since Modules D1-D3. Vornakkia is definitely one of my favorite parts of Ambrethel, if not the favorite -- and you're right, I really enjoyed creating it. Eltirian, in fact, predates the creation of the TA book; it was the setting of one of the earliest short stories I wrote (well, tried to write). Your suggestion of a double city book intrigues me. While I know that would inevitably lead to some GMs complaining that I gave both cities short shrift, the more I think about it the more appealing it becomes to me. Doing it that way would definitely keep the creative juices flowing -- if I get tired of one city, I write about the other for awhile. Heck, maybe we could even publish it like the old SF two-story paperbacks where the front and back covers both have illos but the back cover and second story are "upside down." (Kidding! Just kidding!) Thanx!
  2. Yes, I just learned that existed the other day. Gonna check it out sometime soon, if possible.
  3. 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! 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!
  4. Bat fight! (Sorry, been watching too much What We Do In The Shadows lately. )
  5. I've been reading a long thread about the Turakian Age setting recently, which naturally has inspired me to think about the setting and ways to add to it -- specifically, the possibility of a city book, since I don't think I've written a detailed Fantasy city book. So I thought I'd find out which cities would most interest y'all, and why. I make no promises, but knowing what y'all suggest will help me guide my imagination. My own personal most-likely candidates would include Aarn, Eltirian, Talarshand, Tatha Gorel, Tor Vilos, and Trisadion, though any of them would be interesting to work on.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.... Say what now?
  12. 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. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. I remember discussing governments with you, aeons ago, using that strange form of communication we now know as "snail mail." I think I still have those letters around somewhere, though it would probably take me a while to find them.
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