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    Canonfire :: View topic - Those Crazy Keolanders
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    Those Crazy Keolanders
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 20, 2006 6:07 am  
    Those Crazy Keolanders

    After being unavoidably detained for some weeks, I attended the Greychat yesterday evening and was present as Gary Holian held forth on the cultural analogs of Keoland. Gary, of course, was the first GH writer to describe Keoland in any significant detail in the LGG and the LGJ and is the Samuel Johnson of the Sheldomar Timeline.

    It came as much of a surprise to me when the Great Man offered that he viewed the Neheli as akin to the Austro-Hungarians and the Rhola as akin to Greco-Romanians. I should note that the later was clarified as, in fact, Romanian, not the Romans of the ancient world. The whole of Keoland was by him then imagined as something akin to pseudo-medieval Eastern Europe, by degrees, with a touch of Byzantium in good measure.

    I was caught somewhat off guard, never having heard this view expressed heretofore nor in my reading on Keoland penned by Gary seen the claimed slavic flavor. Having it laid out for me, I still do not see it. Nor do I accept it, whatever the intent when written.

    Obviously, as the GM was organized by Keoland and, in part, populated thereform, if Keoland is slavic in flavor, the GM could be expected to be slavic in some measure. I do not see this either.

    In that writing I have done for the GMP, I have not looked to give the GM anything of an Eastern European cast and I have no intention of starting. I must respectfully dissent from the characteriation of Keoland as in any meaningful way Eastern European and do not see the GM, following after Keoland, as Eastern European either. YMMV.

    NB - Gary's comments were occasioned by a discussion of where Expedition to Castle Ravenloft might be placed, with Gary holding out the possibility of the Duchy of Dorlin, nearby the Rushmoors.

    PS - I do not mean to pillory Gary but rather to say "I just don't see it that way." Reasonable minds may differ.
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    Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:58 am  

    This topic is way over my head, but “Neheli as akin to the Austro-Hungarians and the Rhola as akin to Greco-Romanians” does not seem to be to indicate Keoland is Slavic, nor do I think anything wrong about adding a little Slavic flavor or giving a Southeastern European flavor to the Gran March, as opposed to equating it with such.

    To start with, I think Sheldomar’s primary analogue and the U.S.A and more broadly N. America., but that only goes so far, and should only be taken so far. It needs to be mixed up for good fantasy, and IMO, to further the general notion of cultural/political diversity found in the U.S.A.

    GM, aside from the Vecna stuff, is primary a bulwark against Balkunish influence. They are akin to Turks, etc., so southeastern Europe is a natural place to look for that.

    I could be wrong, but IIRC, the cultures listed, Austro-Hungarians and Greco-Romanians, are not particularly Slavic. Are not, primarily, the Austrians Teutonic, the Hungarians Magyars (Finno-Ugric, not even Indo-Europeans like the Slavs), Greeks and Romanians, very ancient ethnic/linguist cultures that pre-date the Slavs?
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    Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:04 am  

    Let me amend by saying Eastern European in place of slavic. I was using them interchangeably but you are right that the two are not the same.

    I end up in the same place, however, I don't feel the Eastern European vibe.
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    Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:31 am  

    Wolfsire wrote:
    GM, aside from the Vecna stuff, is primary a bulwark against Balkunish influence. They are akin to Turks, etc., so southeastern Europe is a natural place to look for that.


    No doubt the GM forms a bulwark against the Baklunish but here, I think, things get slippery.

    Are the Baklunish Ottomans to a degree that the GM becomes Eastern Europe (along with Keoland)?

    Are the Baklunish more like Arabs (Maghrebi), in which case does the GM (and Keoland) become Spain of the Reconquesta or Sicily?

    Are the Baklunish more like Persians (modern Iran etc.) in which the GM (and Keoland) is more like . . . what? The ancient Greeks of Athens and Sparta?

    Drawing too close a parallel to actual cultures and geopolitics, which has its uses, also has its drawbacks, I think.

    It has never been my thought that the GM (and Keoland), as bulwarks against the Baklunish, ever meant that one was Eastern European or Spanish or whatever. I think that goes too far.

    IMO, cultural analogs as a shorthand for a culture are useful if not overdone (except for the occasional pastiche like the Olman, which is great IMO). IMO, geopolitics is a step further that, while I think is certainly implied by a cultural analog, has less utility, particularly if to make it work, we have to apply not one but multiple cultural templates. In such case, suddenly we are not just defining the GM but Keoland and then Ket and the Baklunish West to get it all to work.

    So, IMV, bulwark - yes. Ottomans and Eastern European's - no. At least not merely because of the bulwark function.

    I have always seen the GM and Keoland as much more Western European. Tavish - suggests to me Scotland, not absolutely, just on the name, but in its flavor - that Keoland would have a string of kings with a Scottish sounding name. Same with Lanchaster, which suggests the English Lancaster. Put it this way, neither suggests to me that an Eastern European flavoring is being attempted or should be defaulted to.

    I can see Germanic (Keoland) and Teutonic Knight (GM), I suppose. I can see Spain (Keoland) and Reconquista Knighlyly orders (GM). I can see England (Keoland) and Templars/Hospitaliers (GM). I can see a mix of these. I just can't find Eastern Europe in Keoland (Austro-Hungary) with the GM as the Balkans, abutting the Ottoman Baklunish.

    I prefer a more Western European approach for Keoland and the GM. For Eastern Europe, I see Ket and maybe Sterich/Geoff.

    Not saying anyone is "wrong" as flavor is percieved uniquely to the individual. I just don't get the Eastern European vibe.

    YMMV
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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:01 am  

    How familiar are you with Austro Hungary? For one thing, its rather Germanic at the top, being what developed from the Holy Roman Empire. And the HRE is, in fact, a rather commonly used parallel for the Keoish situation, though like all parallels its quite imprecise.

    Its a multi ethnic, rather fractured "empire" with a generally limited monarch, troubled relations with all of its neighbors, and a particularly hostile neighbor of substantially divergent culture and religion. That's not a bad parallel for the Sheldomar as described. The Oeridians do make good Magyars.

    Also the "Greco-Romanians" mentioned probably refer to the statelets descending from the various Crusader states of the Balkans, with the fairly strong French influence (Romanian is a "Romance" language, just like Italian, French, and Spanish because of this).

    I can certainly see Gary's conception here. I'm not sure what, if any, advantage is gained by looking behind the curtain in this case. The sheldomar is, thankfully, not a pastiche. We have too many such as it is.
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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:58 pm  

    Not to mention the aspect of elected kingship which Keoish state has was not practise in western europe but was codified, generally speaking, within central and eastern europe primarily within the HRE and Polish-Lithuanian empire.

    Granted the parallels are far from absolute but they are there...

    Although I do agree with your point about real life geography, just because the Baklunish states are "middle eastern" mean within GH they should be bordered by RL state proxies.
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    Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:02 pm  

    I would be more inclined to see the HRE, except that was not what was said. Rather, it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with the addition of Greco-Romanians. Of course, the two are not synonomous.

    Compare

    HRE - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Roman_Empire
    and - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Germany
    with
    Austro-Hungarian Empire - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austria-Hungary
    and - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Austria

    And Romania (Wallachia etc.) and Greece were a part of neither.

    The cultures of the four entities are also entirely different. The HRE was predominantly German. The A-HE was equal parts Austrian (Germanic) and Hungarian. To point out what should be obvious, Hungarians are not germanic. Romania (Wallachia etc.) is like unto neither. Greece is similarly like none of the others.

    Thus, the HRE idea falls flat when compared to what was actually said by Holian.

    What we are left with iswhat was said- Austro-Hungary mixed with Romania and Greece. So what traits make Keoland like unto Austro-Hungary, Romania and Greece? No Electors (sorry that was the HRE and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was not the HRE). No boyars. No voivodes. The food? The clothing? The art? What? Answer - Nothing.

    The comparison of Keoland to Austro-Hungary mixed with Romania and Greece is just a silly statement absent some demonstrable similarities, of which the only one forth coming - electors - was not even a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, let alone Romania or Greece.

    As I said, I am just not seeing the Eastern Europeanisms in Keoland.
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    Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:04 pm  

    I do believe I said that the Austro Hungarian Empire was what the HRE became. The Austro Hungarian Emperor was the Holy Roman Emperor until 1805, when Napoleon forced him to abdicate the title and effectively dissolve the HRE. Then the "Empire of Austria-Hungary" was created by the Habsburgs to denote the new reality of their Empire.

    And if you don't think an electoral monarchy based on a state formed from two very different cultural groups (Germans/Magyars vs Suel/Oerids) and a plethora of minor ethnic groups (czechs, serbs, etc vs flan, gnomes, elves, etc) with a relatively weak central authority, persistant long term ineffectiveness between bouts of empire building, and generally bad relations with all of its neighbors doesn't sound like the Keoland/Sheldomar situation per Holian, then I'm dumbfounded frankly.

    The Greco-Romanians are more difficult to see, but I'm also much less familiar with the details of the Byzantine and Crusader successor states. So I'll reserve judgement on that.

    Keoland is obviously not a blatant pastiche of the HRE/A-H Empire. Thank god. Its obviously developed from the extant Suel and Oerid background in game, not from real world germans and magyars. But the overall nature of the two places is quite similar on many levels and I am not at all surprised by Holian stating that was his inspiration.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:19 pm  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    I do believe I said that the Austro Hungarian Empire was what the HRE became. The Austro Hungarian Emperor was the Holy Roman Emperor until 1805, when Napoleon forced him to abdicate the title and effectively dissolve the HRE. Then the "Empire of Austria-Hungary" was created by the Habsburgs to denote the new reality of their Empire.


    I think I may be able to bridge this gap with maps.

    The HRE - http://corndancer.com/vox/aer/aer_art/map01_1648.jpg
    or - http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/imagemid/hre1490large.jpg

    The A-HE - http://www.hapsburg.com/historic/map-ah.gif
    or - http://www.hapsburg.com/historic/map-ahe.jpg

    It is not accurate to say that "the Austro Hungarian Empire was what the HRE became" as the A-HE 1) did not include the german states of the HRE and 2) did include the Kingdom of Hungary, which was never part of the HRE. While there was certainly overlap, and the fiction of the name, the two empires were territorially, and then culturally, more dissimilar than similar.

    Vormaerin wrote:
    And if you don't think an electoral monarchy based on a state formed from two very different cultural groups (Germans/Magyars vs Suel/Oerids) and a plethora of minor ethnic groups (czechs, serbs, etc vs flan, gnomes, elves, etc) with a relatively weak central authority, persistant long term ineffectiveness between bouts of empire building, and generally bad relations with all of its neighbors doesn't sound like the Keoland/Sheldomar situation per Holian, then I'm dumbfounded frankly.


    All this is as may be but it is a limited view, looking only to the form of government and politics. What about the culture? Is Keoland by some measure "Hungarian-like" in its culture? If so, how? If not, I suggest the analogy to Austro-Hungary is inapposite. Had Holian said that the politics and government were similar to that of Austro-Hungary, I would have less the problem but he did not so limit his statement.

    I understand the appeal of the A-HE in terms of politics and government (although the HRE would have been a better choice IMO) but GLH did not so limit his statement. For purposes of discussion, I will accept the A-HE analogy politically and governmentally, as you have set it forth. However, I remain adamant that Keoland is culturally not even remotely Hungarianesque.

    And we are by tacit agreement not delving into the Romanian and Greek references.

    Taken as a whole, I simply cannot accept Holian's statement at face value.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:28 pm  
    Eastern Europe?

    Well, over the last year, I have been exploring this area extensivley. Unfortunately, only a few, GVD included have had a chance to see these works, primarily due to time constraints and technical inadequacies.

    That said... I can certainly see parallels between the Eastern European Nations and the Marches north of Keoland. However, I see simlar roles... not cultures. If I have a pet peeve in D&D it is simply drafting in historic cultures whole cloth.

    The purpose of the Gran March, as stated, was to control the lands north of the Sheldomar River. This has been expanded upon by GH and by Samwise. The thrust of these works, particularly the Grand Sheldomar Timeline, would indicate that the Baklunish expansion was not a formative reason for the Marches. Rather, the marshes, the mountains and the remains of Vecna's followers were much more important, IMO, to the history and focus of the region.

    Though the KoW later changed their focus to the Baklunish, this seemed more because they needed a raison de etre than any real threat. It has been this that has shaped my work on the GM and the northern regions. As described, I have to say GM sounds more like the Germanic groups west than the Austro Hungarians. They hear of the Mongol invasions, but they see little of them over the course of their history. Bissell is the real contested land of the Sheldomar and it was only founded 250 years before.

    Either way, making any of this a direct parallel to the historic reality seems less interesting than it might be.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:30 pm  

    Okay. Have fun with your usual excessive hairsplitting. I'm quite certain that GLH was making a formal statement of his entire purpose and intent, carefully vetted by his legal team, when he made that comment in chat.

    Its not a pastiche. Its an inspirational source. I have hillmen of the Crystalmists in my campaign that are culturally similar to the pashtun afghans, yet you'll never find an Afghan name or other obvious Pashtun reference on any of them. I suppose they aren't really based on the Afghans at all.....


    And, yes, the HRE also became Germany.. Oh, and Italy. And France, in a certain way of reckoning. And Bohemia/Czechoslovakia. And a number of other places that used to answer to the HR Emperor....
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:58 pm  

    AM, I agree. I don't see any reason why a historical inspiration needs to be considered some sort of straightjacket on development. Especially not historical inspiration that is gleaned from something as amorphous as unpublished intent.....

    Though I do think that Gran Marchers have had considerable conflict with the Baklunish and I'd feel more like the Baltic states (Livonian Order, Prussia, etc) than anything in the German minor states. But you needn't go with anything eastern european if you don't want to. You certainly don't need to adopt naming conventions or other cultural trappings that don't follow from GH's extant material on those subjects.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:17 pm  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    Okay. Have fun with your usual excessive hairsplitting. I'm quite certain that GLH was making a formal statement of his entire purpose and intent, carefully vetted by his legal team, when he made that comment in chat.

    Its not a pastiche. Its an inspirational source. I have hillmen of the Crystalmists in my campaign that are culturally similar to the pashtun afghans, yet you'll never find an Afghan name or other obvious Pashtun reference on any of them. I suppose they aren't really based on the Afghans at all.....

    And, yes, the HRE also became Germany.. Oh, and Italy. And France, in a certain way of reckoning. And Bohemia/Czechoslovakia. And a number of other places that used to answer to the HR Emperor....


    Just curious. Do you always have to be an (expletitive deleted) in any disagreement? Do you always need to belittle the person you are talking to? "I don't know how much you know about . . ." "usual excessive hairsplitting" etc. It makes finding common ground much more difficult as your opposite number is forced to ignore and tolerate your taunting to get to common ground. And offering that one can see part of an argument is apparently not good enough for you at any level; must you always "win" on all points or get pouty? You can't imagine how another might see things differently and not be other than "wrong?" You give no credit for actually trying to site to the basis for an opinion, while you offer nothing but your opinion? One is inclined to hit "mute" and just ignore your posts. News flash, you aren't that fascinating, nor enlightening, a conversationalist to justify putting up with your (expletive deleted). :: MUTE::
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:32 pm  
    Re: Eastern Europe?

    Anced_Math wrote:
    I can certainly see parallels between the Eastern European Nations and the Marches north of Keoland. However, I see simlar roles... not cultures.


    I have no problem with this. A-HE as a political analog or inspiration, I can see. I simply can't see the culture as A-HE, let along Romanian or Greek.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:36 pm  

    Well, The "I don't know how much you know about" was, in fact, an honest qualifier. As in, I don't know if I was mentioning something you'd already considered prior to posting or not. That was not intended to belittle. I am sorry if you felt that it did. Perhaps I am completely delusional about how my posts come across, but I am almost never trying to stonewall or talk down to those I am in a conversation with. People that provoke that response in me I usually just don't respond to.

    The hairsplitting post was, obviously, an angry one and an exception to the above. Barring the "expletive deleted" elements, I had reached the same feelings towards you that you expressed about me. We just seem to fail completely to understand each other. Its a shame since you are a pretty prolific poster and a number of good discussions have come from things you've written, but I agree that its best that we just stay out of each other's way. :(
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    Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:46 am  

    For the topic in general, I don't think its particularly germane to the GM project what Gary might have said in chat. If you do feel its germane, I think its essential to get the author of those comments involved to clarify them.

    I do think that there is some disconnect between what he meant and what his position was portrayed as in this thread. Claiming the Neheli are, in and of themselves, *culturally* the equivalent of a multi ethnic empire and the Rhola are *culturally* the equivalent of another multi ethnic group is just plain ridiculous. They are obviously both Suel culturally. Granted, we don't have the same degree of detail on the Suel that we have on any real world culture, its pretty clear we have quite a bit of detail on them (religion, dress, cultural mores, etc), sufficient to make the need for a real world parallel in that sense neither necessary nor accurate. Aside from that, two smallish clans of the Suel simply can't be clones of six or more distinct real world cultural groups.

    So I understood his comments to mean those entities cited were representative of the sort of "Feel" he wanted to portray. I do think that is something he has achieved, at least with regards to the Austria Hungary side of things.


    The side issue of HRE>>>Austria Hungary is kind of off topic and also a clear case of talking past each other. The Holy Roman Empire is the ancestor of a number of states. GVD is correct that the two were not identical. Hungary was never formally part of the HRE, though for some 300 years the HREmperor was also the King of Hungary and Croatia most or all of the time. I feel that the character of the HRE continued in the Austrians far more than it did in the Prussians (the other reasonable claimant to being 'what the HRE became').

    That said, the literal "Austro Hungarian Empire" by name existed from 1806 to 1918. A time period that is not particularly well suited for pulling quasi medieval fantasy parallels. Which is why I think that GLH was using the term loosely and meant more the period where the HRE & the Kingdom of Hungary were bound by common rulers, if not a common name.

    Asking GLH for more information is the only way to proceed in that part of the discussion (if its even worth it).
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    Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:04 am  

    V: “So I understood his comments to mean those entities cited were representative of the sort of "Feel" he wanted to portray. I do think that is something he has achieved, at least with regards to the Austria Hungary side of things.”

    I have no concept of a “Feel” for A-H, let alone the translation of that to Keoland, maybe other’s besides you do.

    For that direction, I’d be more inclined to reach into popular culture (older) for that neck-ish of the woods:

    Is this the real life-
    Is this just fantasy-
    Caught in a landslide-
    No escape from reality-

    Scaramouche, scaramouche will you do the fandango-

    Bismillah! no-,we will not let you go-let him go-

    Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me,for me,for me-

    Any way the wind blows....

    bismillah is "In the name of Allah" see http://wahiduddin.net/words/bismillah.htm

    Scaramouche" (also called Scaramuccia, a roguish buffoon character in the commedia dell'arte). He also becomes in the course of the novel a lawyer, politician, and lover, confounding his enemies with his elegant orations and precision swordsmanship. The later film version includes one of the longest, and many believe, best swashbuckling sword-fighting scenes ever filmed. The novel has a memorable opening line: "He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaramouche

    -FWIW
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    Tue Oct 24, 2006 2:15 pm  

    Wolfsire wrote:

    Is this the real life-
    Is this just fantasy-
    Caught in a landslide-
    No escape from reality-

    Scaramouche, scaramouche will you do the fandango-

    Bismillah! no-,we will not let you go-let him go-

    Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me,for me,for me-

    Any way the wind blows....

    bismillah is "In the name of Allah" see http://wahiduddin.net/words/bismillah.htm

    Scaramouche" (also called Scaramuccia, a roguish buffoon character in the commedia dell'arte). He also becomes in the course of the novel a lawyer, politician, and lover, confounding his enemies with his elegant orations and precision swordsmanship. The later film version includes one of the longest, and many believe, best swashbuckling sword-fighting scenes ever filmed. The novel has a memorable opening line: "He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaramouche

    -FWIW


    LOL! Your posts continually amaze and delight. Happy
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    Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:39 pm  

    The HRE was dissolved in 1805 and the various pieces eventually became parts of France, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary. Of these three, only Austria-Hungary shows any strong cultural-political convergence with the old HRE. The rigid militarism and orderliness of Prussia was a significant break with the earlier german cultural trappings. The HRE was more Vienna than Berlin, to use stereotypes.
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    Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:24 am  

    Granting a political similarity identified by Vormaerin, I am still not seeing, any cultural Austro-Hungarianisms in Keoland. Perhaps people could identify -

    1) Any uniquely Austro-Hungarian cultural traits they presently see; and/or

    2) Any uniquely Austro-Hungarian cultural traits they would like to see?

    Personally, I do not see any presently. However, I can imagine adding such. I'm not sure that people would necessarily like the result, however.

    Austro-Hungary was not Germany, as I and Vormaerin have noted. While the Austro- part comes most close to the German, it is yet distinct.

    On a personal note, I lived for several years in Germany, specifically Bavaria. While I loved the Bavarian food, far better than anything from north Germany, IMO, the Austrian cooking to be found in Osterreicher cafes and gasthaus, put the Bavarians to shame, IMO. Austrian cooking, specifically Vienese, is extremely rich in away Bavarian, to say nothing of north German, cooking is not.

    On that same score, while I never visited Hungary, there were a number of Hungarian expat restaurants in Munich, Augsburg and Nurnberg that a friend of mind, who was of Hungarian ancestry, insisted we frequent. The food was wonderful but totally different than anything native I experienced in Austria or Germany. Very spicy and piquent.

    So, I don't think we can be content with German as a universal standin for Austrian, although just depending on the specific topic, there will be similaries, some close, some virtually identical but most divergent. Hungarian is certainly its own thing. And there is the Romanian and Greek to be concerned with, certainly their own things.

    Ideally, if I can opine, it would be most expedient IMO to see the Austro-Hungarian reference as a purely political one and to all but discard the cultural associations. The Romanian and Greek references, by the same token, would be entirely discarded.

    Just to draw back to the topic at hand, Keoland's political and cultural affinities will necessarily be influential in the Gran March, which of course arose from Keolandish roots.

    In this respect, if Keoland is substantially Austro-Hungarian in more than political inspiration, both Keoland and the GM might be expected to sport Hussars prominently. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussar I can't speak for anyone else but the image does not fit my conception of either military force, particularly the style.

    And so on. . .
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    Thu Oct 26, 2006 11:08 am  

    Briefly, I think you are interpreting his use of 'cultural' in the narrow sense of "food, language, clothes, music, etc", where as I think he was using it in the more general sense of "socio-political". As I said before, there is no possible way the Neheli could be the cultural equivalents of the A-H Empire. We know what Suel language, clothing, and mores are like to some extent, for one thing. For another, the A-H has many distinct cultures (German, Magyar, Czech, Ruthenian, Slav, to name a few). On small tribe of Suel can not possibly be a cultural pastiche of all of them.
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    Thu Oct 26, 2006 9:18 pm  

    Oh, in case it wasn't clear, I agree with your synopsis of the situation in the last post. I just disagree that GLH likely ever meant anything else in the first place.
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    Fri Nov 03, 2006 10:05 am  

    After due reflection, I've decided to personally ignore the whole matter, save to the extent of Vormaerin's political analogy vis a vis the multi-cultural Austro-Hungarian Empire, which I find apt. I might toss in an Eastern European cultural tidbit but that would be the extent of it. YMMV
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