World Building

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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-12 07:22am

But what about the fine tradition of SF authors lazily pulling things out of their arse? :)
Just read a book where the author has a character being shown bronze for the first time. He hefts it in his hand and notes it's lighter than iron, and more dense than copper. This doesn't have much to do with your quote, but I'm complaining about it because it annoys me.

I do wonder how your setting has survived at all, though, if both timeline-alteration and extinction-level bombardment are commonly within the means of mages. An asteroid impact on that scale would have effects that would put a full-scale nuclear exchange to shame. In fact, I'd hazard a guess that an impact sizeable enough to create a 6,000 kilometer crater would utterly exterminate all life on Earth (or anything above single cells, anyway). By comparison, the K/T impact which wiped out the last of the (non-avian) Dinosauria left a 200 kilometer (or was it 200 miles?) crater, and apparently offed about 65% of all species (although their is some evidence that biodiversity was already declining for other reasons before the final blow*).
Whle I have my doubts that anything short of melting the entire surface of the earth would actually wipe out ALL life (are you kidding me?), I do believe the meteor could well have been enough to wipe out anything larger, and less well buried. The reason it didn't, was the wizard didn't realise that's what it should do, so it wasn't how he pictured it. Fortunately for most life on the planet, he rode it in pretty much the entire way, picturing the kaboom, and the devastation it would cause. He did however wipe out the continent's population of wild horses, which wasn't on purpose--he didn't picture them dying but he didn't picture them not dying, so reality got a say.
That's part of how the magic works. Anything you picture, happens like you picture. Anything you don't picture, happens the way it naturally would if what you DID picture happened. Assuming the magic worked, of course.
I feel like you might be falling into a bit of a cliché here by making the Western-based society more socially progressive and less authoritarian(?), although its not terribly overt.
Second person to feel I'm a bit harsh on the tropical culture. I may have to bring them back a bit--there was never mean't to be a better than/worse than relationship, just different, and largely due to different geographies.
I probably don't need such a rich/poor divide. I only did that out of concern about the slave supply--probably an over-reaction. If I gave them a more powerful middle class, than power would be more diffuse, and political intrigue may be enhanced. (I suck at political adventures, but what the hell, right?). They could indeed be more sophisticated, not in a Conan-decadent way, but more art, more culture, music, etc. They do have a lot more people intermingling.

Okay, that's a decent magic system, with some useful limits. Would that also severely restrict mind-control magic, then? I'd guess so.
Yep. In fact, any time magic is directly affecting mind or body, things get a lot more difficult, because you've got to go against the victim's own perception of themself. This is still true even if the victim is unconscious or non-sapient. As long as they have an Instinct stat.
I'll go into that a little deeper. The mechanics I'm working on have 6 stats; Strength, Dexterity, Health, Intelligence, Wits and Instinct, all rolled on 3d6. Explaining the last 3, Intelligence is like the raw power of your mind, Wits is your mind's speed and agility, while Instinct is how well integrated your mind and body is--how able you are to do the right physical thing without thinking, catch the ball, hit the flying bird, etc.
Most skills use two attributes (halved and added together), for instance combat skills use Dex and Instinct, while poetry would use Int and Wits. Magic, however, uses FULL stats (not halved); Intelligence plus Wits minus Instinct. So, your own instinct is a penalty on your magic, because magic goes against your instincts about reality. However, if you cast magic directly affecting another person, then you're also penalised by THEIR Instinct.
Incidentally, when spellcasting, 3d6 is rolled. Whenever a critical success is rolled (18), a few points of Instinct are permanently lost. Whenever all three individual d6s in the spell shows a higher number than the wizard's current Instinct, then he suffers a psychotic break.
Timber, since you specified that as a resource of theirs'? Furs (different wildlife)? Fish, since the people their seem to have a tradition of shipbuilding/seafaring? Its mountainous, so maybe rare precious metals/minerals?
They're good suggestions. All of the above, for a start. The peninsula's big. I've got to remember that.
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Re: World Building

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-13 06:42pm

Korto wrote:
2017-12-12 07:22am
Just read a book where the author has a character being shown bronze for the first time. He hefts it in his hand and notes it's lighter than iron, and more dense than copper. This doesn't have much to do with your quote, but I'm complaining about it because it annoys me.
Heh.
Whle I have my doubts that anything short of melting the entire surface of the earth would actually wipe out ALL life (are you kidding me?), I do believe the meteor could well have been enough to wipe out anything larger, and less well buried. The reason it didn't, was the wizard didn't realise that's what it should do, so it wasn't how he pictured it. Fortunately for most life on the planet, he rode it in pretty much the entire way, picturing the kaboom, and the devastation it would cause. He did however wipe out the continent's population of wild horses, which wasn't on purpose--he didn't picture them dying but he didn't picture them not dying, so reality got a say.
That's part of how the magic works. Anything you picture, happens like you picture. Anything you don't picture, happens the way it naturally would if what you DID picture happened. Assuming the magic worked, of course.
Okay, that sort of makes sense, or as much as magic ever does, anyway.

Although that raises a whole other slew of problems. Namely, what if a wizard expects his spell to have far more damaging effects than it actually would, going by normal physics? If that wizard had decided "If I'm going down, I'm taking everyone with me", and thought his asteroid would blow up the planet, would it have done so?

Also, if not just the initial spell itself, but its effects on the environment, are shaped by the wizard's belief... then how does this interact with the beliefs of all the other people the asteroid impact would affect? If someone in the blast zone believed, with all their heart, that their God would protect them, would they be safe? If somebody just flat-out refused to believe that the asteroid would hit, would it not hit?
Second person to feel I'm a bit harsh on the tropical culture. I may have to bring them back a bit--there was never mean't to be a better than/worse than relationship, just different, and largely due to different geographies.
I probably don't need such a rich/poor divide. I only did that out of concern about the slave supply--probably an over-reaction. If I gave them a more powerful middle class, than power would be more diffuse, and political intrigue may be enhanced. (I suck at political adventures, but what the hell, right?). They could indeed be more sophisticated, not in a Conan-decadent way, but more art, more culture, music, etc. They do have a lot more people intermingling.
Okay, its good that you're putting some thought into this.

Designing fictional cultures, it is VERY easy to fall into some unfortunate, and even unintended, stereotypes, particularly if you are deliberately modeling them on real-world cultures. My advice: do your research, ask yourself if what you're doing is the same as what a lot of other people have done, and ask yourself if what you're doing is just being copied from some other work/the real world, or if it would actually fit with the setting of your story, and the things that are unique to it.

Although I'm not sure a strong middle class could co-exist with a large slave cast for very long, at least if American history is anything to go by. From my own readings on the Civil War era, there wasn't much of a middle class in the South compared to the North, due to slavery. And many Northerners were opposed to the expansion of slavery not so much out of moral opposition, as because they felt that it was a threat to their own economic system.

I'm less familiar with the history of slavery outside of the US, so if strong counter-examples exist, I'm prepared to concede the point.

Though... I know the tech. level is different, and the situation is nowhere like the same (partly because they're different nations, not a single divided nation), but I am getting a bit of a North vs. South vibe from this set-up. More progressive North with limited and controversial slavery, more of a middle class(?), and a tradition of ship-building (see: New England); opposite a slave-holding southern empire? :)

Its not an obvious analogy or anything, which is probably for the best. Just an amusing chance parallel, of the kind that often pops up in history, that makes the whole thing feel a bit more real to me.
Yep. In fact, any time magic is directly affecting mind or body, things get a lot more difficult, because you've got to go against the victim's own perception of themself. This is still true even if the victim is unconscious or non-sapient. As long as they have an Instinct stat.
I'll go into that a little deeper. The mechanics I'm working on have 6 stats; Strength, Dexterity, Health, Intelligence, Wits and Instinct, all rolled on 3d6. Explaining the last 3, Intelligence is like the raw power of your mind, Wits is your mind's speed and agility, while Instinct is how well integrated your mind and body is--how able you are to do the right physical thing without thinking, catch the ball, hit the flying bird, etc.
Most skills use two attributes (halved and added together), for instance combat skills use Dex and Instinct, while poetry would use Int and Wits. Magic, however, uses FULL stats (not halved); Intelligence plus Wits minus Instinct. So, your own instinct is a penalty on your magic, because magic goes against your instincts about reality. However, if you cast magic directly affecting another person, then you're also penalised by THEIR Instinct.
Incidentally, when spellcasting, 3d6 is rolled. Whenever a critical success is rolled (18), a few points of Instinct are permanently lost. Whenever all three individual d6s in the spell shows a higher number than the wizard's current Instinct, then he suffers a psychotic break.
:D

Ouch. That really ought to make players carefully weigh the pros and cons of casting a spell, rather than tossing magic out like candy. Force players to consider their actions carefully, because those actions have consequences. I like it.

It also manages to do it without making magic innately evil, if I'm understanding it correctly (just very, very dangerous-like developing a habit for hallucinogenic drugs?).
They're good suggestions. All of the above, for a start. The peninsula's big. I've got to remember that.
Yeah. Though now that I think of it, furs seem particularly apt, if the peninsula is in a colder, more northerly clime.

I do wonder what the south would have to trade. Slaves, I suppose, but you stated that the north doesn't have much demand for that. Historically, of course, Europe imported a lot of rare spices from the tropics. Rare animal products like furs, or metals/minerals specific/common to a particular region, is something that could cut both ways.
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-17 10:14am

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2017-12-13 06:42pm
... That's part of how the magic works. Anything you picture, happens like you picture. Anything you don't picture, happens the way it naturally would if what you DID picture happened. Assuming the magic worked, of course.
Although that raises a whole other slew of problems. Namely, what if a wizard expects his spell to have far more damaging effects than it actually would, going by normal physics? If that wizard had decided "If I'm going down, I'm taking everyone with me", and thought his asteroid would blow up the planet, would it have done so?
Theoretically, yes. Although then the magic would have been much harder to create, since the difficulty is also guided by how much the magic is actually doing (in practise for actual gameplay, I expect this would be THE most important consideration).

Also, if not just the initial spell itself, but its effects on the environment, are shaped by the wizard's belief... then how does this interact with the beliefs of all the other people the asteroid impact would affect? If someone in the blast zone believed, with all their heart, that their God would protect them, would they be safe? If somebody just flat-out refused to believe that the asteroid would hit, would it not hit?
It's possible that if someone believed they wouldn't be affected, they wouldn't be (just belief isn't sufficient, you've also got to make the roll).

Someone believing the asteroid would miss sounds like counter-magic to me, which I'm totally going to get around to working out rules for, although I can say it would be wizards only. Another possibility is it creating two alternate realities, one where it hit and one where it didn't.

Only a few people are capable of magic, although I haven't decided yet if it's totally a learned skilled, or also requires a rare inborn trait. And no one now can match the incredible power of those handful of mages in the war, who were almost god-like in comparison. To be honest, it'll be one of those situations where the background fluff talks about things being done that the players just can't do

Although I'm not sure a strong middle class could co-exist with a large slave cast for very long, at least if American history is anything to go by. From my own readings on the Civil War era, there wasn't much of a middle class in the South compared to the North, due to slavery. And many Northerners were opposed to the expansion of slavery not so much out of moral opposition, as because they felt that it was a threat to their own economic system.
This could be a useful thing, political friction between the slave-using industries and others. But also, a significant middle class could relegate the slave industries (primarily sugar, possibly other plantation crops) to being an important part of the economy, not the important part, and in a way not totally dissimilar to the US use of illegal workers for crops (while NOT claiming their treatment equals slavery, I have been led to believe they are poorly paid and treated).

Though... I know the tech. level is different, and the situation is nowhere like the same (partly because they're different nations, not a single divided nation), but I am getting a bit of a North vs. South vibe from this set-up. More progressive North with limited and controversial slavery, more of a middle class(?), and a tradition of ship-building (see: New England); opposite a slave-holding southern empire? :)
I don't know how progressive I'd consider the north. With their tiny (inbred :wink: ) holdings and difficult communications, they're feeling to me now more like mountain rednecks, compared to the cosmopolitan and more technologically advanced South.

Ouch. That really ought to make players carefully weigh the pros and cons of casting a spell, rather than tossing magic out like candy. Force players to consider their actions carefully, because those actions have consequences. I like it.

It also manages to do it without making magic innately evil, if I'm understanding it correctly (just very, very dangerous-like developing a habit for hallucinogenic drugs?).
I could imagine it being habit-forming, as your magic becomes easier and more powerful, and you start losing your grip on reality--which may have the effect of making you less able to consider consequences, more convinced you're a god and can do whatever you like.
Hard to get players to do that last (or maybe not :roll: ), but at least they can be hit with the quandary of how as their magic becomes more powerful, it's more dangerous to them, so do they use it?
Against which, at the player's level, I'm supposed to be trying to make magic equal with mundane, just different. Not "Linear warrior, Quadratic mage".

I do wonder what the south would have to trade. Slaves, I suppose, but you stated that the north doesn't have much demand for that. Historically, of course, Europe imported a lot of rare spices from the tropics. Rare animal products like furs, or metals/minerals specific/common to a particular region, is something that could cut both ways.
Well, I was first thinking sugar and tropical fruits would be major exports. Spices as well are possible. If they have cocoa, they could even have real chocolate.
With a middle class, then also craft goods, such as glass, cannons.
I had thought the North wouldn't use slaves because I wasn't seeing them have any major industry that used them, and the terrain would make it too easy to escape, but if the North exports mined resources then that may have to be reconsidered. Mining as far as I am aware back then was a pretty sucky job, and it would be a lot easier to keep slaves confined if they're in a hole.
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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-18 02:59pm

Korto wrote:
2017-12-12 07:22am
I feel like you might be falling into a bit of a cliché here by making the Western-based society more socially progressive and less authoritarian(?), although its not terribly overt.
Second person to feel I'm a bit harsh on the tropical culture. I may have to bring them back a bit--there was never mean't to be a better than/worse than relationship, just different, and largely due to different geographies.

I probably don't need such a rich/poor divide. I only did that out of concern about the slave supply--probably an over-reaction. If I gave them a more powerful middle class, than power would be more diffuse, and political intrigue may be enhanced. (I suck at political adventures, but what the hell, right?). They could indeed be more sophisticated, not in a Conan-decadent way, but more art, more culture, music, etc. They do have a lot more people intermingling.
The basic problem is that there's a complex of "excitingly alternate" ways to run a civilization not used in the history of post-Roman Western Civ in Europe, but that were heavily used in other parts of the world (sometimes including Western colonies, sometimes not). Among these:

-Tropical climate.
-Polytheistic religions
-Agriculture centered around 'tropical' crops or cash crops for international trade (usually not done so much in Europe with a few exceptions).
-Extensive trade in 'exotic' goods of unusual worldwide value, and an economy that supports...
-Exotic fighting styles using unusual or sometimes even impractical weapons.
-What are by most Western standards extraordinary or extravagant amounts of "baroque" decoration, precious metal adornment, and so on.
-"Teeming" populations of impoverished beggars/serfs/slaves, and cities that are sort of... medieval hives. Often ruled over by...
-Monarchy by god-king and/or
-Monarchy with few or no feudal vestiges like those of medieval Europe, often going with...
-Highly structured, elaborate bureaucracies.
-All these unusal government systems often weaken some group's rights compared to what would exist in Genreic Western Civ, with results like...
-Widespread slavery up to a double-digit percentage of the population or even a majority
-Harems, women in veils, and so on.
-Caste systems.
-Highly civilized nonwhite ethnic groups.

Those are just off the top of my head.

All this contrast heavily with the monotheistic feudal monarchies of Europe, with temperate climates, monogamous marriage structures, less of a caste system, limited wealth in precious metals, and relatively higher proportions of subsistence agriculture, oceans of white people as far as the eye can see, comparatively bland sword/spear/shield/bow fighting, and so on.

...

Now, precisely because they diverge from the features of the customary European pseudo-feudal mishmash, all of the items on my bullet list above can be very interesting to play out in a story. But the more of these things you have in the same society

The problem is that the more of these you cram together into the same social system in a story, the greater the risk of this society coming across as "orientalist" or deliberately exoticized by the writer into a sort of stereotype of Oriental culture as experienced (or, as often, misunderstood and fantasized about) by European imperialists.
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Re: World Building

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-18 08:35pm

Korto wrote:
2017-12-17 10:14am
Theoretically, yes. Although then the magic would have been much harder to create, since the difficulty is also guided by how much the magic is actually doing (in practise for actual gameplay, I expect this would be THE most important consideration).
Yeah, you've got to have such limits, obviously, for the setting to be consistent and not ridiculously overpowered.
It's possible that if someone believed they wouldn't be affected, they wouldn't be (just belief isn't sufficient, you've also got to make the roll).

Someone believing the asteroid would miss sounds like counter-magic to me, which I'm totally going to get around to working out rules for, although I can say it would be wizards only. Another possibility is it creating two alternate realities, one where it hit and one where it didn't.
I guess that makes sense.
Only a few people are capable of magic, although I haven't decided yet if it's totally a learned skilled, or also requires a rare inborn trait. And no one now can match the incredible power of those handful of mages in the war, who were almost god-like in comparison. To be honest, it'll be one of those situations where the background fluff talks about things being done that the players just can't do
Well, the whole idea of a past age where everything was bigger/better/more powerful is of course a science fiction/fantasy cliché, and for that reason, I confess that I have a bit of an aversion to it personally.

As to how one gets magical ability, I personally prefer learned magic over inborn magic, both because the latter also strikes me as an overdone cliché, and because it avoids unpleasant implications of genetic elitism, a "superior race", etc.

Though of course, as with any learned skill, some people would have greater natural aptitude for learning it. Anyone not suffering from certain major disabilities can learn to run, but not everyone will ever be able to win gold running in the Olympics.
This could be a useful thing, political friction between the slave-using industries and others. But also, a significant middle class could relegate the slave industries (primarily sugar, possibly other plantation crops) to being an important part of the economy, not the important part, and in a way not totally dissimilar to the US use of illegal workers for crops (while NOT claiming their treatment equals slavery, I have been led to believe they are poorly paid and treated).
Yup.
I don't know how progressive I'd consider the north. With their tiny (inbred :wink: )
So they follow the Lannister/Targaryen way? Or perhaps magic hillbillies?

I'm only going to refrain from making a joke about Alabama here out of gratitude for their not electing Roy Moore. ;)
holdings and difficult communications, they're feeling to me now more like mountain rednecks, compared to the cosmopolitan and more technologically advanced South.
But that then raises the question of how the "mountain rednecks" have managed to become one of the two main civilizations in the world. You don't want to make the Western European-based civilization obviously superior, but you don't want to overcompensate by making them suck at everything either.

Though you've got "they're good sailors" already. And the mountainous terrain, rough seas, implied good navy, and distance from the other major faction (especially in a world where most land travel is apparently by foot) will give them a certain geographical immunity to invasion, I imagine.

This does raise a couple of questions, though:

Someone already brought up the logistical issues caused by lack of horses. So I'd ask weather there is any way to magically transport people or goods rapidly over large distances. That will have a huge impact on economics, politics, and warfare, however you answer it.

Secondly, I'm curious as to weather any other civilizations exist besides the main two.
I could imagine it being habit-forming, as your magic becomes easier and more powerful, and you start losing your grip on reality--which may have the effect of making you less able to consider consequences, more convinced you're a god and can do whatever you like.
I didn't mean it as such an exact parallel. I just used drugs as my go-to example for behaviour that is risky, but not necessarily evil.

But yeah, I can see the crazy being cumulative.
Hard to get players to do that last (or maybe not :roll: ), but at least they can be hit with the quandary of how as their magic becomes more powerful, it's more dangerous to them, so do they use it?
Against which, at the player's level, I'm supposed to be trying to make magic equal with mundane, just different. Not "Linear warrior, Quadratic mage".
Oh, yeah, knowing gamers, you'll get a lot of people for whom the point is power fantasies, and "your character gradually goes insane" will be a feature, not a bug. And they'll probably gripe if you penalize them for overusing their magic.

But I do really like the way you've set it up so that magic, while very powerful, also has commensurate risks, so you have to carefully consider the consequences of using it.
Well, I was first thinking sugar and tropical fruits would be major exports. Spices as well are possible. If they have cocoa, they could even have real chocolate.
With a middle class, then also craft goods, such as glass, cannons.
Yeah, that all sounds plausible enough.
I had thought the North wouldn't use slaves because I wasn't seeing them have any major industry that used them, and the terrain would make it too easy to escape, but if the North exports mined resources then that may have to be reconsidered. Mining as far as I am aware back then was a pretty sucky job, and it would be a lot easier to keep slaves confined if they're in a hole.
I personally rather like the distinction between one society using slaves and the other (mostly) not.

Perhaps slavery has mostly faded out, and mining is the one industry where its still a major factor?
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-19 10:29am

-Tropical climate.
Check
-Polytheistic religions
Haven't really thought about religions yet, except that the gods don't exist/don't do anything (basically, like the real world). They do at the very least have a moon/fertility goddess.
-Agriculture centered around 'tropical' crops or cash crops for international trade (usually not done so much in Europe with a few exceptions).
Sugar is a cash crop, yes, but they also grow a lot of food. I haven't really thought about what their staple crops may be. I mean, there's a bunch to choose from--rice, corn, beans, sweet potato...
-Extensive trade in 'exotic' goods of unusual worldwide value, and an economy that supports...
Not really the case.
-Exotic fighting styles using unusual or sometimes even impractical weapons.
I have no plans for special weapons.
-What are by most Western standards extraordinary or extravagant amounts of "baroque" decoration, precious metal adornment, and so on.
Probably. Well, not the precious metals, but certainly the art. I kind of like roccoco myself, but I'll worry about it later.
-"Teeming" populations of impoverished beggars/serfs/slaves, and cities that are sort of... medieval hives. Often ruled over by...
Yeah...like I said, I can probably pull that back. I'm now seeing them with a good bushel-to-man harvest, resulting in a population with a larger middle-class
-Monarchy by god-king and/or
Monarchy, yes, but not a god-king
-Monarchy with few or no feudal vestiges like those of medieval Europe, often going with...
It is more centralised, but still with an aristocracy
-Highly structured, elaborate bureaucracies.
Hmmm... No.
-All these unusal government systems often weaken some group's rights compared to what would exist in Genreic Western Civ, with results like...
No. I'm seeing them as being quite accepting of different races/genders/creeds
-Widespread slavery up to a double-digit percentage of the population or even a majority
I'm thinking at present slavery will be a criminal sentence, although they may be a bit draconian on what's considered a crime (due to politicking from the sugar barons)
-Harems, women in veils, and so on.
While it's expected for the king to have many sons, I'm thinking not a harem, but a tradition of mistresses. Women actually have a lot of freedom, including (since they invented an IUD, which they consider a holy symbol of the fertility goddess and proof of her power) being able to have sex outside of marriage. This probably shocks the penisula, who doesn't have this IUD.
-Caste systems.
No
-Highly civilized nonwhite ethnic groups.
Well, they're unlikely to be majority white, and they are more cultured...
The problem is that the more of these you cram together into the same social system in a story, the greater the risk of this society coming across as "orientalist" or deliberately exoticized by the writer into a sort of stereotype of Oriental culture as experienced (or, as often, misunderstood and fantasized about) by European imperialists.
I'm really just starting from a few points and building from there.
"Tropical climate" + "Uses slaves" leads to "Sugar"
"Good food production" leads to "high population with many not involved in food production"
"Large section of population able to do other things than produce food" leads to "More advanced culture/art/technology"
"Politics is important" means "King does not have total power"

The Romulan Republic wrote:Well, the whole idea of a past age where everything was bigger/better/more powerful is of course a science fiction/fantasy cliché, and for that reason, I confess that I have a bit of an aversion to it personally.

As to how one gets magical ability, I personally prefer learned magic over inborn magic, both because the latter also strikes me as an overdone cliché, and because it avoids unpleasant implications of genetic elitism, a "superior race", etc.

Though of course, as with any learned skill, some people would have greater natural aptitude for learning it. Anyone not suffering from certain major disabilities can learn to run, but not everyone will ever be able to win gold running in the Olympics.
It's more post-apocalypse (which is a cliche by itself). A lot of knowledge may have been lost, but also the "god-mages" really only numbered a handful even when the world was fully populated.

Given the skill system makes magic a "Very Hard" skill to learn, while something like Engineer is only "Hard", yeah, making it totally learnt will probably be fine. Although any "magic gift" would have been random, with no discernable pattern.
So they follow the Lannister/Targaryen way? Or perhaps magic hillbillies?
Very rough, mountainous terrain and small demesnes--I'm thinking hillbillies who don't see strangers much. At least in the interior.
They probably have customs to counter it to some extent. I remember a Midsomer Murders episode once where there was an ancient tradition where on a special night the men of the village would sneak over to the neighbouring village and "introduce" themselves to any ladies who had left their door unlocked. The idea was that consent was signalled by their leaving their door unlocked on this night everyone knew about. I imagine the men of the second village didn't complain, because they were too busy sneaking over into yet another village.

Thinking about it--the coast and the interior would be starkly different. The coast would be fairly cosmopolitan, and as it's a large place, there would have to be some large towns, but the difficulty of travel into the interior would cause that to quickly drop off.

They would be pretty invasion-resistant, with the sea, a good navy, and terrain that would totally suck arse to invade (heavily forested fortified mountains with an area the size of western Europe?)
Someone already brought up the logistical issues caused by lack of horses. So I'd ask weather there is any way to magically transport people or goods rapidly over large distances. That will have a huge impact on economics, politics, and warfare, however you answer it.
Theoretically yes, but realistically no. Teleportation is very difficult. Small things could be sent, which could mean instant communication at least.
There was also talk in another thread, in History, about how goats could be used as draft animals even if they couldn't be ridden. This sounded pretty cool to me, so there are draft goats, and goat chariots! Although the terrain would make chariots difficult to use in the peninsula; they're probably mainly used in the South, where it's flatter. Along with elephant canon.
Secondly, I'm curious as to weather any other civilizations exist besides the main two.
There is some kind of tribal culture in the mountains far north, in the taiga. I remember once starting a story with them as a starting point. They weren't very developed, so maybe I'll make them nomadic herders.
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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-19 01:01pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2017-12-18 08:35pm
Only a few people are capable of magic, although I haven't decided yet if it's totally a learned skilled, or also requires a rare inborn trait. And no one now can match the incredible power of those handful of mages in the war, who were almost god-like in comparison. To be honest, it'll be one of those situations where the background fluff talks about things being done that the players just can't do
Well, the whole idea of a past age where everything was bigger/better/more powerful is of course a science fiction/fantasy cliché, and for that reason, I confess that I have a bit of an aversion to it personally.

As to how one gets magical ability, I personally prefer learned magic over inborn magic, both because the latter also strikes me as an overdone cliché, and because it avoids unpleasant implications of genetic elitism, a "superior race", etc.
Well, in this case, magic is "learned," but you learn magic by becoming actively more and more crazy and delusional. It's not that the past was a higher age, it's that it contained more excitingly crazy madmen in a world where excitingly crazy madmen get shit done.

This is not necessarily a recipe for a good epoch to experience.
I don't know how progressive I'd consider the north. With their tiny (inbred :wink: )
So they follow the Lannister/Targaryen way? Or perhaps magic hillbillies?
I think Korto is just joking. It's a stereotypical thing to accuse hillfolk of. :P
holdings and difficult communications, they're feeling to me now more like mountain rednecks, compared to the cosmopolitan and more technologically advanced South.
But that then raises the question of how the "mountain rednecks" have managed to become one of the two main civilizations in the world. You don't want to make the Western European-based civilization obviously superior, but you don't want to overcompensate by making them suck at everything either.

Though you've got "they're good sailors" already. And the mountainous terrain, rough seas, implied good navy, and distance from the other major faction (especially in a world where most land travel is apparently by foot) will give them a certain geographical immunity to invasion, I imagine.
Another thing worth remembering is that a land divided by mountain ranges tends to encourage more political and cultural diversity than a big flat plain or river valley. This can result in more cross-pollination of ideas, and any big stifling monoculture that settles into the region is likely to be broken up by disruptive influences that shake things up and promote further change and evolution.
Someone already brought up the logistical issues caused by lack of horses. So I'd ask weather there is any way to magically transport people or goods rapidly over large distances. That will have a huge impact on economics, politics, and warfare, however you answer it.
Given that magic is delusion-powered, I think most sensible men and women would not want to rely on it for transportation if they could help it.
I had thought the North wouldn't use slaves because I wasn't seeing them have any major industry that used them, and the terrain would make it too easy to escape, but if the North exports mined resources then that may have to be reconsidered. Mining as far as I am aware back then was a pretty sucky job, and it would be a lot easier to keep slaves confined if they're in a hole.
I personally rather like the distinction between one society using slaves and the other (mostly) not.

Perhaps slavery has mostly faded out, and mining is the one industry where its still a major factor?
Well, in a medieval society, the line between slavery, serfdom, and peasantry could be kind of blurry...
Korto wrote:
2017-12-19 10:29am
-Tropical climate.
Check
-Polytheistic religions
Haven't really thought about religions yet, except that the gods don't exist/don't do anything (basically, like the real world). They do at the very least have a moon/fertility goddess.
-Agriculture centered around 'tropical' crops or cash crops for international trade (usually not done so much in Europe with a few exceptions).
Sugar is a cash crop, yes, but they also grow a lot of food. I haven't really thought about what their staple crops may be. I mean, there's a bunch to choose from--rice, corn, beans, sweet potato...
-Extensive trade in 'exotic' goods of unusual worldwide value, and an economy that supports...
Not really the case.
-Exotic fighting styles using unusual or sometimes even impractical weapons.
I have no plans for special weapons.
-What are by most Western standards extraordinary or extravagant amounts of "baroque" decoration, precious metal adornment, and so on.
Probably. Well, not the precious metals, but certainly the art. I kind of like roccoco myself, but I'll worry about it later.
-"Teeming" populations of impoverished beggars/serfs/slaves, and cities that are sort of... medieval hives. Often ruled over by...
Yeah...like I said, I can probably pull that back. I'm now seeing them with a good bushel-to-man harvest, resulting in a population with a larger middle-class
-Monarchy by god-king and/or
Monarchy, yes, but not a god-king
-Monarchy with few or no feudal vestiges like those of medieval Europe, often going with...
It is more centralised, but still with an aristocracy
-Highly structured, elaborate bureaucracies.
Hmmm... No.
-All these unusal government systems often weaken some group's rights compared to what would exist in Genreic Western Civ, with results like...
No. I'm seeing them as being quite accepting of different races/genders/creeds
-Widespread slavery up to a double-digit percentage of the population or even a majority
I'm thinking at present slavery will be a criminal sentence, although they may be a bit draconian on what's considered a crime (due to politicking from the sugar barons)
-Harems, women in veils, and so on.
While it's expected for the king to have many sons, I'm thinking not a harem, but a tradition of mistresses. Women actually have a lot of freedom, including (since they invented an IUD, which they consider a holy symbol of the fertility goddess and proof of her power) being able to have sex outside of marriage. This probably shocks the penisula, who doesn't have this IUD.
-Caste systems.
No
-Highly civilized nonwhite ethnic groups.
Well, they're unlikely to be majority white, and they are more cultured...
Again, you're not going to see every element in the checklist in every place, but you get what I'm saying. It's one of the chronic problems with fantasy literature in Western Civ; it becomes a vehicle to project the mindset Edward Said called "orientalism" on. The dynamic, disciplined, enterprising West Culture We Identify With aginst he sprawling, stagnant, decadent, exotic East Strange Culture We're Introduced To.
The problem is that the more of these you cram together into the same social system in a story, the greater the risk of this society coming across as "orientalist" or deliberately exoticized by the writer into a sort of stereotype of Oriental culture as experienced (or, as often, misunderstood and fantasized about) by European imperialists.
I'm really just starting from a few points and building from there.
"Tropical climate" + "Uses slaves" leads to "Sugar"
"Good food production" leads to "high population with many not involved in food production"
"Large section of population able to do other things than produce food" leads to "More advanced culture/art/technology"
"Politics is important" means "King does not have total power"
I get that. What I'm mainly saying is, it's worth putting in a bit of time and effort precisely because of the danger of slipping into orientalism, to deliberately avert it somehow... But you do seem to be quite capable of that.
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Re: World Building

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-19 06:05pm

Korto wrote:It's more post-apocalypse (which is a cliche by itself). A lot of knowledge may have been lost, but also the "god-mages" really only numbered a handful even when the world was fully populated.

Given the skill system makes magic a "Very Hard" skill to learn, while something like Engineer is only "Hard", yeah, making it totally learnt will probably be fine. Although any "magic gift" would have been random, with no discernable pattern.
Got it.
Very rough, mountainous terrain and small demesnes--I'm thinking hillbillies who don't see strangers much. At least in the interior.
They probably have customs to counter it to some extent. I remember a Midsomer Murders episode once where there was an ancient tradition where on a special night the men of the village would sneak over to the neighbouring village and "introduce" themselves to any ladies who had left their door unlocked. The idea was that consent was signalled by their leaving their door unlocked on this night everyone knew about. I imagine the men of the second village didn't complain, because they were too busy sneaking over into yet another village.
Ugg.

Sadly, modern notions of consent have been pretty uncommon through much of history, to put it mildly.

Another, non-rape option that occurred to me could be some sort of tradition of people traveling to neighboring villages when they come of age, and bringing home a spouse from another village. With marrying someone in your own village being highly taboo.
Thinking about it--the coast and the interior would be starkly different. The coast would be fairly cosmopolitan, and as it's a large place, there would have to be some large towns, but the difficulty of travel into the interior would cause that to quickly drop off.

They would be pretty invasion-resistant, with the sea, a good navy, and terrain that would totally suck arse to invade (heavily forested fortified mountains with an area the size of western Europe?)
Yup. Especially if any passes through those mountains are covered by castles/forts, which would mean you'd have to stop and siege every single fucking castle along the way. :D
Theoretically yes, but realistically no. Teleportation is very difficult. Small things could be sent, which could mean instant communication at least.
There was also talk in another thread, in History, about how goats could be used as draft animals even if they couldn't be ridden. This sounded pretty cool to me, so there are draft goats, and goat chariots! Although the terrain would make chariots difficult to use in the peninsula; they're probably mainly used in the South, where it's flatter. Along with elephant canon.
Hah, I like the idea of goat chariots. Its certainly a striking image.

I wonder if the goat (or elephant) would take on the same cultural significance that the horse often has?

And now I've got the phrase "Goat lords of Rohan" stuck in my head.
There is some kind of tribal culture in the mountains far north, in the taiga. I remember once starting a story with them as a starting point. They weren't very developed, so maybe I'll make them nomadic herders.
Probably good to have someone for the two main civs. to fight other than each other. Nomadic raiders will fit nicely.

Though there's always the usual brigands/rebels/pirates/monsters, I suppose.

On that note... how politically stable are these societies? I gather that the North is rather... fractious. What about the South? Unless I'm forgetting something, they don't seem to have much in the way of serious threats.

Well... there's always slave revolts. :twisted:
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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-19 09:10pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2017-12-19 06:05pm
Another, non-rape option that occurred to me could be some sort of tradition of people traveling to neighboring villages when they come of age, and bringing home a spouse from another village. With marrying someone in your own village being highly taboo.
That's... basically how most people do or did it in real life, insofar as possible.
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Re: World Building

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-20 03:29pm

Yeah, that makes sense. Its the obvious solution to small, isolated populations trying to avoid inbreeding.
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-21 08:35am

Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-12-19 01:01pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2017-12-18 08:35pm
I don't know how progressive I'd consider the north. With their tiny (inbred :wink: )
So they follow the Lannister/Targaryen way? Or perhaps magic hillbillies?
I think Korto is just joking. It's a stereotypical thing to accuse hillfolk of. :P
Yeah, I was actually; never-the-less serious inbreeding would happen without something stopping it. Since serious inbreeding is not, on the whole, happening, there must be something stopping it.
I agree that the most likely common response would be fairs and games (highland games type thing, for instance) and other excuses for villages to mix, but using Simon's argument about cultural diversity, there would be the rare addball solutions--the kinds of things that make the more cosmopolitan coast shake their heads in disbelief. Like the "Night of the Stag", or women being kidnapped and hidden away until her family gives up on her as being soiled goods.
Someone already brought up the logistical issues caused by lack of horses. So I'd ask weather there is any way to magically transport people or goods rapidly over large distances. That will have a huge impact on economics, politics, and warfare, however you answer it.
Given that magic is delusion-powered, I think most sensible men and women would not want to rely on it for transportation if they could help it.
Yeah. I hadn't actually mentioned it, because it didn't really seem necessary, but mages are not considered reliable. More like dangerous lunatics. There's a story the common-folk tell about the large island just south of the peninsula--it's just a story, and might well not be true--but the people who lived there had an arch-mage living with them, and when he saw the comet was about to hit he realised that would make all his people sad :( . So he turned every boulder, stone shard, and speck of dust that was falling on his island into a puppy, so they would be happy :D . This didn't turn out too well, as the entire island was totally buried under hundreds of metres of puppies.
There is at least one glaring contradiction in the story, which makes it probably not true, but no one can actually tell, because no one can get to the island. You can see it, but if you try to get to it, it just slides off to the side.

A friend of mine feels that mages would have a fair chance of being killed on sight, just on public safety grounds.
Probably good to have someone for the two main civs. to fight other than each other. Nomadic raiders will fit nicely.

Though there's always the usual brigands/rebels/pirates/monsters, I suppose.

On that note... how politically stable are these societies? I gather that the North is rather... fractious. What about the South? Unless I'm forgetting something, they don't seem to have much in the way of serious threats.

Well... there's always slave revolts. :twisted:
The South could be divided up into a few separate kingdoms, which jostle with each other. One obvious thing to fight over would be safe, stable, ground. They're also coast-hugging, and only occupy about 30 degrees of the circumferance of the inland sea, so there's a massive amount of territory they don't go into for some reason. I'm assuming there's a good reason.
Anyway, they have goat chariots, and canons mounted on elephants. There's got to be some reason for that. And not just because canons on the backs of elephants is really cool.

The War was/is responsible for a lot of monsters and new species. It's a totally inbuilt excuse for anything.
One species I'm considering is sort of a forest goblin. I'm thinking something that originally came from new-world monkeys. They're about stone-age technology, and keep goats, which they're light enough to ride into battle. They live in the forests of the peninsula and may pose the most serious threat to people there.
Something else larger and more ogreish, maybe some kinds of faerie (I'm a fan of old-Irish inspired "Blue and Orange Morality" elves, the ones where they just fuck you over because that's what they do), but I don't want the D&D "Good Race/Bad Race" thing. I'd prefer more grey, where people are fighting not because of Good v Evil, but because of conflicting needs and desires.
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Re: World Building

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-27 07:24pm

I like stories with the full gamut of good to evil, myself: You have Capital G Good and Capital E Evil, then folks who are mostly well-meaning or mostly not, then people who are just ordinary and struggling to get by, and yeah, some things that are just doing what they do because its their nature, but not necessarily maliciously.

"Evil races" is a trope probably best avoided, I agree.

And yeah, I did kind of wonder what was in the rest of the world that people didn't seem to really settle it. I also agree that mages would likely be viewed as a kill on sight threat by a lot of people (though actually killing them on sight would likely be difficult, unless they were very weak inexperienced- which means that the more powerful and thus unstable a wizard gets, and the more justification there would be to kill them, the less practical it is to do so).
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Re: World Building

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-12-27 08:54pm

I can really see only 2 ways of implimenting an "evil race" that could work. First is that "race" means species that those creatures are supernatural manifations/enbodiments of negative emotions or traits for example a "rage elemental".

Second way is that the race/species/culture isn't evil per se but rather outsiders only encounter the evil portion of said culture/race/species most of the time so they have the image that whole thing is evil to the core (this is the only way I consider to work with mortal races). For example lets say most dwarves live underground and have this complex culture that hard to understand to outsiders, however dwarven settlements exile their worst criminals to the surface so most people only ever encounter the worst of criminal element in the dwarven society giving impression that all dwarves are irrideemble criminals.

EDIT:obviously for the second option to truly work you need to show that initial impression is a false one.
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Re: World Building

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-27 09:49pm

Pretty much that.

The first is basically demons, and the second isn't actually an "evil race", just people jumping to conclusions on partial information.
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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-27 11:43pm

There are a few other ways to make the 'evil race' trope work, in my opinion.

One that runs clear back to Tolkein's orcs although it worked there in the context of Tolkein's metaphysics, is to have the villainous species be produced deliberately as shock troops by a wizard or god capable of engineering such. Individuals of that species might be only slightly more predisposed to evil behavior taken in isolation, but collectively they brutalize and torment and batter each other down to the lowest common denominator. Thus, they turn consistently evil faces towards one another and towards outsiders.

You could do this in a 'chaotic evil' variant with lots of random interpersonal violence and lowered inhibition, caused by innate biological drives or just an external environment that's no one's fault...

Or a 'lawful evil' variant where the villain species lives in a deilberately regimented system that encourages unethical behavior, something like this...

[WARNING, POSSIBLE TRIGGERS FOR RELIGIOUS PEOPLE AND/OR CANADIANS]

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Re: World Building

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-12-28 05:05am

the thing about "born irredeembly evil" what "pure evil" races are is that there's a really strong incentive to interpeted that as bigotry (even if that's not the authors intention) with the "orcs", "trolls" or what ever replaced with real life faction the reader is bigoted against if the reader is for the bigotry, or what ever stereotype matches to the in-universe closest if the reader wants to accuse the writer of bigotry.

That's the reason why I said I think only "physical enbodiments of negative traits/emotions" or "misunderstood to be pure evil" are only real ways I can see it working. I should be noted of course "misunderstood to be pure evil" doesn't mean "I really nice people who are misunderstood" the species/race in question can still be major jerks to outsiders they're just not fully 100% evil with no redeeming traits.
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-28 09:01am

There were a people in the Gemmel book "Legend". They were in permanent war, without relent or parlay, with the inhabitants of the land. They also had a tradition of torturing anyone they captured. So pretty evil. However, the land was once theirs, was sacred to them, and had been taken from them by invasion. Also, by their beliefs, the greater a trial you went through at death, the greater your reward in heaven--they were honouring captured soldiers when they tortured them to death.
Not evil. Just irreconcilable differences.

I like this monkey species. They're established in the penisula, and are very mobile and elusive. Given the terrain, that's easy to accept. I'm seeing them as the descendants of a magically uplifted species for war. Now, if I can just think of what their role would have been, what the mage was thinking when he created them, I could get a bit of an insight into them.
Fast, nimble, stealthy, very good in forests and rough terrain--some kind of scout, fast attack ambusher, for attacking behind the lines on soft targets. The mage was imagining something terrifying, animal screams in the forest, totally surrounding you but you can't see them in the bushes and trees, until they attack from all sides together in a rush of tooth and claw.
Since then, reality has ensued, and their descendants have acquired weapons and herd animals, and they're in the peninsula, in a continual guerrilla (gorilla? Had to be said) war with the humans. Why? Both claim the same land? Their creator made them aggressive xenophobes? The humans regard them as tainted and too dangerous to co-exist with? (That's not too bad. They may even be right)

The humans could have a quasi-religious belief that the magical creations are all unclean and must be destroyed, as an understandable backlash against the constant ingress of all kinds of magically created warbeasts.
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Re: World Building

Post by InsaneTD » 2017-12-31 07:33am

It's my understanding that several monkey/chimp/ape species are actually territorial, so them claiming sections of jungle and fighting of other groups could just be part of that old social behaviour.

Scouts/skirmishers that occasionally raided supply lines during the war gives them a good reason use goats as transports, it gives them an added degree of speed and mobility.

Maybe have them be one person's idea as replacement for chasing down routing enemies once horses died out?

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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2018-01-01 09:18am

Goats, without large changes, apparently can't take the weight of an adult human. At least not an armed and armoured early 15th century man-at-arms. I don't mind this, as I don't see the point to removing horses only to bring them back in goat form. May as well just keep horses then.
The virtue of the monkey-men is they're smaller and lighter than humans, and don't wear the same heavy armour, so they could ride goats.

What goats can do is pull carts, and therefore pull chariots. Not that there's a lot of good chariot country in the peninsula, although there could be down south.
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Re: World Building

Post by InsaneTD » 2018-01-01 10:32pm

I was talking about the monkey men.

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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-01-01 11:26pm

Korto wrote:
2018-01-01 09:18am
Goats, without large changes, apparently can't take the weight of an adult human. At least not an armed and armoured early 15th century man-at-arms. I don't mind this, as I don't see the point to removing horses only to bring them back in goat form. May as well just keep horses then.
You might see pack goats being used to give infantry forces a bit more mobility. Infantrymen can't move at much more than a trudge if you pile enough weight on their backs; pack animals spread the load around in a potentially useful way.
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Re: World Building

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-01-04 07:01pm

Looking back over the early posts in this thread, a couple more possible economic advantages/trade goods for the North occurred to me, so I thought I'd throw them out there:

Since they're referred to as having a sea-faring tradition of some sort, as I understand it, I can think of a couple of options.

1. They might construct ships for the southern empire.

2. Their sailors might often be hired to transport goods by sea on behalf of southern merchants and rulers. That could lead to some interesting conflicts, too, if sailors from the mostly non-slaveholding northern nation are engaged in a lucrative but frowned-upon slave trade, transporting slaves for the southern empire. And another parallel to American history, it occurs to me, since IIRC it was often New England sailors transporting slaves by sea.

And I'm really not trying to come up with these parallels. I guess its just a consequence of me being more familiar with pre-20th. Century American history, particularly those aspects which relate to the Civil War, than probably any other era.

3. Privateers. Southern factions go to war. Hire northern privateers to raid the enemy's coasts and shipping.
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Lord Revan
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Re: World Building

Post by Lord Revan » 2018-01-04 08:15pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-01-04 07:01pm
Looking back over the early posts in this thread, a couple more possible economic advantages/trade goods for the North occurred to me, so I thought I'd throw them out there:

Since they're referred to as having a sea-faring tradition of some sort, as I understand it, I can think of a couple of options.

1. They might construct ships for the southern empire.

2. Their sailors might often be hired to transport goods by sea on behalf of southern merchants and rulers. That could lead to some interesting conflicts, too, if sailors from the mostly non-slaveholding northern nation are engaged in a lucrative but frowned-upon slave trade, transporting slaves for the southern empire. And another parallel to American history, it occurs to me, since IIRC it was often New England sailors transporting slaves by sea.

And I'm really not trying to come up with these parallels. I guess its just a consequence of me being more familiar with pre-20th. Century American history, particularly those aspects which relate to the Civil War, than probably any other era.

3. Privateers. Southern factions go to war. Hire northern privateers to raid the enemy's coasts and shipping.
The thing is that IIRC it was historically speaking unheard of for a nation to try patching holes in their arsenal (either due to lack of traditions or due to cultural factors) with mercenaries from other nations.

For example lets say that in nation "A" bows and other ranged weapons are seen as cowards tool and source of great personal shame and no member of their warrior class you want to be seen using one in the battlefield.

However they're not stupid and can see the value of having troops with ranged weapons, it's just that none of their native warriors wants to use one and be declared a coward, but mercenaries from another nations would be "outsiders" and thus "cannot be assumed to fight like civilizied men" creating a loophole for general since they or any member of their personal troops aren't using ranged weapons only the "uncivilizied outsiders" are.
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