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    Canonfire :: View topic - Giving GH the George Martin treatment
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    Giving GH the George Martin treatment
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    Kobold Pinata

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002
    Posts: 92
    From: Melbourne, Australia

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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 1:42 am  
    Giving GH the George Martin treatment

    If you've read any books in the Song of Ice and Fire series, you'll know that they go quite deeply into human nature and don't shy away from the horrible realities.

    For instance, fourteen year old prostitutes feature pretty prominantly, as does incest, fratricide, and the killing of babes and innocents... hell, even the main characters don't get off lightly.

    But it also delves into the interconnected politics of a fuedal system. The power plays. The checks and balances created through force and the use of sword and mind. Even kings cannot do as they please and must be bound to what power they can bring to bear to MAKE people do what they will.

    All in all, it's what makes the books so damned good.

    But I'm not here to preach about the books. More that it has made me think about how one can go about recreating such depth and reality in GH.

    Part of it comes from the interconnected nature of politics and the court system. Family figures prominently. After all, in a medieval society where travel is limited, who are your allies most likely to be, some foriegner who claims to be loyal but who you don't know very well, or your brother who you grew up with and at least know his weaknesses and strengths?

    Personally, I find this sort of thing fascinating. Mainly 'cause I like the idea of chopping people's heads off if they annoy me, which also figures prominently in such times :D

    One idea would be to create a bunch of 'family trees'. These wouldn't necessarily represent family members only, but would be more a heirarchy of power for each powerful person.

    For instance, let's take someone like King Belvor. Who is directly beneath him in power? His son IIRC, so you put him next with a line to him, and then you put in his vassals and retainers and stewards and man-at-arms and captain of the gaurd and so on and so forth.

    Next to each name, you put some basic info, like alignment, class and level, and general disposition. An entry could look something like the following:
    Quote:
    Anre, Jols. Captain of the Guard. AL: LN. F7. Fiercely loyal but lacks imagination. Is predictable in his tactics. Cannot be bribed.

    I could see this helping to enrich almost any sort of campaign, even a mostly non-political one. Knowing this basic info, you could form all sorts of plots and devices for all sorts of campaigns. It sets the stage for many broader issues that can affect PC's even far from the political strength. A captain of the guard who lacks imagination and is predictable, but can't be bribed, can be a topic of conversation amongst rogues who wish to get past some of his guards. They'll know that the guards will be stationed in front of the door 'cause the captain wouldn't think that someone could fly into a window to the side and never be seen.

    Anyway, just a thought on how the realities of a fuedal system could be applied to the game and setting.
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    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:58 am  
    Funny you should say that...

    I'm also a major fan of the Song of Ice and Fire (only 3 months till Feast for Crows hits the shelves!) and for the exact same reasons you mention.

    And as proof that great minds think alike and fools seldom differ, I've started sketching out some of the Celestial Houses of Ahlissa (in the manner of the Households at the back of the Ice and Fire series).

    One thing that's been majorly lacking in GH has been family trees and lists of retainers and the like. Even who the major noble houses are across the Flanaess. We know some - the Gellors and the Lorinars in Urnst for example - but what about the others?

    P.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:43 am  

    I agree with what has been said. I haven't read any books in this series, but I am a fan of realistic and gritty fiction- historical, fantasy, sci-fi, or horror. Looks like I'll have to check out this series for myself. And I was just yesterday complaining that every series of books that I like I have finished reading, up to what is currrently available.

    The Great kingdom and its neighbors are ripe for such a political treatment. ivvid handles some of this, but not in this level of detial. Also of note are the 7 Furyondian families as well. "The Marklands" goes into some of the politics(how each ruler/provincce interacts with the crown), but not much of what goes on between the families, what the relations are, the motivations, and so forth.

    Keoland could also be given such a treatment(yeah, I know, there isn't much wri9tten on Keoland yet Wink ), as could Nyrond. That about covers most of the central nations. Another often overlooked area is the northeastern barbarian kingdoms of the Schnaii, Fruztii, and Cruski. It would seem to me that these three groups would have all kinds of intermarriage between them as well and bad blood and vendettas.

    Just some ideas.

    These would make some worthy articles(or better yet, series of articles) for Oerth Journal.
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:22 am  
    Re: Giving GH the George Martin treatment

    Delglath wrote:
    One idea would be to create a bunch of 'family trees'. These wouldn't necessarily represent family members only, but would be more a heirarchy of power for each powerful person. . . .

    Anyway, just a thought on how the realities of a fuedal system could be applied to the game and setting.


    I think this is a great idea! Happy

    Ravenloft tried something like this but without the personality summaries you suggest.

    This has fantastic possibilities!
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    GVD
    Master Greytalker

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    From: Orlane, Gran March

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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:25 am  
    Exactly

    This is exactly the type of thing that we have come to enjoy in my gaming groups. I have not read these books, but I think I will.

    I will say, I dont think this creates the type of gaming that everyone enjoys. It is extremely time and labor intensive on the DM. A Penumbra work called Dynasties and Demogouges is an excellent supplement for this type of game.

    Personally, I think that this type of treatment is needed for some nations of Greyhawk. I dont think it would be appropriate or fun to apply it to every kingdom. While that is metagame thinking I suppose, it is a game Smile The two obvious choices are the remnants of Aerdy and Keoland. A lighter but similar treatment for the satilites of each would make sense.

    A few other nations would/could benefit from it. I think that the more stable a nation is, the more useful it is in keeping a game interesting. I was attempting to recommend something (with no attempt at defining a method) in the thread on overhauling Keoland.

    Thanks for the great thread!
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 8:52 am  

    This is an excellent idea. It describes pretty well what I've tried to do with my own contributions to Canonfire: namely, to not keep the setting from sliding into the mistake of imposing 21st-century morals on a 13th-century world.

    That's what attracted me so much to Gygax's earliest modules. There were few in-jokes or silly moments. The drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu was described in all its twisted, depraved glory, and some of the imagery from G3, D2 and D3 in particular was rather disturbing. The descriptions of the shrine of the kuo-toa, the images in the temple in Snurre's hall, the descriptions of the rooms of the priestesses of Lolth...

    And the good guys weren't always so good. When someone mentioned the idea of their character beheading someone else because they didn't like what he said, that reminded me of the Introduction to G1, wherein it was mentioned that the adventurers would face the 'headsman's axe!' if they failed in the mission given them by the nobles. Keep in mind these orders were given either from Geoff or Sterich, two countries not known for their evil tendencies.

    The introduction to the Ghost Tower of Iverness module described the motives for the various pre-generated characters being arrested by the Duke of Urnst and given the mission. The wizard was arrested because he violated government orders against studying magic, the priest was arrested because he led the Temple Coalition Riots, and the fighter was arrested because he killed a dozen members of the city watch and their captain in a bar fight, because they offended him. And all this happened in the Duchy of Urnst, which is supposed to be one of the ''good'' countries.

    I loved that stuff.

    And, as I've mentioned before, I hated the steps canon writers took to 'sanitize' the setting-allowing women into certain taverns that had banned them, repealing old discriminatory measures against demihumans, making slavery illegal, etc. That drove me nuts.

    Apart from all the shades of grey I've tried to implement in my various writings on Canonfire, I also think that dark sides exist in 'good' countries:

    -The Flan have suffered reprehensible treatment at the hands of many of the Oeridian and Sueloise nations. Not just Aerdy, but also Keoland, Sterich, Nyrond, the Duchy of Urnst, Gran March, Bissel, Onnwal, Ratik, and some parts of Furyondy have ugly histories of discriminatory treatment, broken treaties and promises, and discrimination that continues to this day in some circles. Think of how aboriginal/indigenous people have been treated in real life, and you'll get a good idea of what I'm talking about.

    -It's not easy being a woman in the Flanaess. Dwarves are far and away the worst in their treatment of women (the worst examples of Victorian England are a good historical equivalent), expected to do little more than bear and raise children, and be meek and submissive to their husbands. Even realms that have greatly improved the way women are treated in society, such as Ratik, Keoland and Furyondy, doesn't mean that the women necessarily have much more freedom to do what they want. Although the men of Ratik treat their women better now than in the past, women still can't hold positions of power or speak their minds in many cases, and Evaleigh's lack of a Y chromosome is really hurting her popularity among her human subjects and dwarven and gnomish allies.

    Even in places like Greyhawk, a city that tries to be welcome to all genders and races, women are still not allowed into the City Watch, the Mercenaries' Guild, or into certain taverns and clubs, like the famous Savant Tavern.

    -Demihumans (and humans in demihuman realms) are often still treated like second-class citizens. Everyone is supposed to be equal in Nyrond, but human and dwarven males are still the ones who control the major levers of power in society. Dwarves cannot join the Mintworkers' Guilds in Greyhawk or many other cities, given their perceived greed for precious metals. Halflings are the favored targets of many bullies, and elves can be thrown out of taverns or social clubs if the regulars decide they don't like them.

    -Nations that are generally benign towards their own citizens can be a lot harder on foreigners. Aerdi folk in Sunndi have to watch their step, and the Sunndians have no qualms about burning Ahlissan villages or looting crops if they feel they absolutely must to survive, even though they take no pleasure in doing so. Geoff is gentle and kindly to its own citizens, but can go very far to protect its own interests as a country-witness the murder of Dartun Dasco, and the subsequent use of fell magic to stave off the Keoish invaders. Despite being allies against the Great Kingdom, Irongate, Idee and Onnwal would all compete with one another in matters of trade and diplomacy with states like Greyhawk or Keoland, or in the race for something like Iggwilv's hoard, resorting to inneundo, sabotage or possibly even brief, small-scale warfare to defend their interests...although all conflicts immediately cease if solidarity is required for the Iron League.

    Of course, there's a balancing act. You obviously don't want to turn off your audience, and I have the same view about Oerth that I do about Earth: there's a lot of problems, a lot of evil, and a lot of disgusting things, but there's also a lot of good.

    -Good churches often flourish in the Great Kingdom or its former realms, given that the poor need to stick together to survive, and common Aerdi citizens can come to each others' aid very quickly if they need help. Despite the fact that the Templars of the Pale could easily be the arms of a tyrannical Orwellian theocracy, they are not. The Templars are just as ready to speak up for the poor and defend their interests before the Throne of the Sun, or even rise up and overthrow the Theocrat himself, if they feel he has violated the principles of Pholtus. Despite their strict doctrines, Cuthbertines still feed the poor and treat the sick, and can be quite understanding if one is truthful about the circumstances that led him into a life of crime or misery.

    -Not all the Sea Princes treated their own slaves badly, nor do all Greyhawkers, Aerdi, Nyrondese, etc. Many certainly do, of course, but sometimes slaves are given rather easy work in exchange for regular care and even payment, something many 'free' citizens might envy.

    -Some lands, such as Geoff, Veluna, and Sunndi, are wonderful examples of how women and demihumans should be treated-with equality, decency and compassion. They could just as easily run the realm as much as anyone, rise in its power structures, etc.

    In summation, keep in mind that what I, other Canonfire writers, and canon writers say about GH are generalizations. There can be racism and violence in Furyondy, just as there can be justice and compassion in Aerdy. It's just that justice and compassion are much more common in Furyondy, and racism and violence much more common in Ahlissa, than the other way around.
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    <div align="left">Going to war without Keoland is like going to war without a pipe organ.&nbsp; They both make a lot of noise and they're both a lot of dead weight, so what's the point in taking them along?&nbsp;</div>
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 11, 2003
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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 8:58 am  

    I've been doing something similiar to this but on a smaller scale for my Kingdoms of Kalamar campaign. I've done it for the families in two of the villages my players frequent. Listing Fhokki family trees along with their alliances and feuds with other families. It has really added to the dynamics of the game, especially in one village were two prominent famillies have been engaged in a feud for generations. Gives me an overview of who sides with who.

    DD
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:42 am  

    Martinís books are some of the best I have ever read. It is a gritty fantasy soap opera that goes on forever without losing your attention.

    His website is here: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/

    For the idea of applying his level of detail to Greyhawk, there is a fan site that appears to have organized every bit of information in the books here: http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/Concordance/
    Kobold Pinata

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002
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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 1:11 pm  

    Cebrion wrote:
    I agree with what has been said. I haven't read any books in this series, but I am a fan of realistic and gritty fiction- historical, fantasy, sci-fi, or horror. Looks like I'll have to check out this series for myself. And I was just yesterday complaining that every series of books that I like I have finished reading, up to what is currrently available.

    Definitely worth the price.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    This is an excellent idea. It describes pretty well what I've tried to do with my own contributions to Canonfire: namely, to not keep the setting from sliding into the mistake of imposing 21st-century morals on a 13th-century world.

    Yeah, and not just morals, but concepts like freedom.

    One of the things that I find to be assumed in many PC histories, is their training. And the simple fact of the matter is that training is THE cornerstone of a fuedal society. Nobles don't train their children from the moment they can talk to be lords just for the hell of it. They train them to rule and fight so that they'll be of use in continuing the line.

    Children were assets in those days. The more you had, the better. The better trained they were, the more likely they were to succeed and honour your house.

    The D&D system undermines that by not giving a structure to the history of the character. It's possible to become a well trained fighter without being born a noble, but it's very difficult. That's why nobles dominated the lesser folk.

    Magic should be a closely guarded secret as well. Knowledge was power in those days. Like in the Martin books, the maesters (essentially sages) were given places of high honour and privaledge simply due to their knowledge. Not anyone could become a maester.

    Same with magic. Not anyone should be able to just pick up a book and learn magic. It should require being apprenticed, and even then, magic-users would be seen as close to being nobility in their own right, so choosing an apprentice would require that the person be noticed as sharp-minded in the very least. And how would a regular peasant, even a smart one, get noticed?

    The easiest road to power with the D&D classes would be the sorcerer, which is one of the reason I have them outlawed by many societies. Since essentially, anyone can become a sorcerer simply by being charismatic. That kind of random power is something that wizard societies, churches and nobles alike would want stamped out as it undermines their power, and more importantly, their CONTROL of power.

    Then again, sorcerers might be considered noble by birth as having dragon's blood and thus you could restrict it that way. Commoners simply don't have that kind of blood in their lines... but then again, noble men tend to father many bastards :D
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    Kobold Pinata

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002
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    Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:29 pm  

    Another thing to add to each description would be their allegiences. That seems to play a big role. Loyal swords, loyal wizards, etc. Disloyal ones and who they prefer or spy for, etc.

    It'd be nice to have some sort of template. Not sure how it would be formatted though.
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