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    Canonfire :: View topic - Incorporating Asian and African culture into Oerik
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    Incorporating Asian and African culture into Oerik
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 05, 2008
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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:59 am  
    Incorporating Asian and African culture into Oerik

    Hi guys Happy

    This actually being my first actual topic posting I thought I better make it an interesting one as to not waste space in the forums. I thought this might belong in the heretic's area but not sure.

    I have a bit of a dilemma, first I am planning to run a 3.x game and I own several core sources. One of which has always been an aspect of D&D from 1st edition: Oriental Adventures.

    Going back I realize the original predates the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of which the material can easily blend into without hassle due to the nature of Toril's eastern realms.

    However the problem is I would really like to explore the idea of having an Asian feel somewhere in the world (even if it is off the map) and also an African feel (ancient Egypt also comes to mind, but I am thinking possibly more along the lines of central Africa with the wildlife etc.).

    Seeing that so many of you folks really know this world even more than I do due to experience or what have you I thought I would gather input on this topic from as many of you folks that would like to post. Cool Question

    I realize that cultures such as the Bakluni and others exist in Oerth but they seem to be a bit more of a solid mixture of Asia including India and the Middle East, which I think is great but I am gearing more towards ancient medieval china, japan etc. Africa wise I could easily plop the Egyptian pantheon into the game and give a special section for pyramids etc., but that seems no brainer, I am thinking more like Gabon.

    I do want to state however that I do not wish to simply throw this stuff into the existing mix but perhaps make it a close neighbor of existing Oerik. I know the western side is not really governed by canon and would love to develop it for future.

    Any ideas Idea you guys might have regardless of how historical or far fetched are of course welcome. I just have a hard time organizing things.

    Thanks!

    Jim Wink
    GreySage

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:06 am  

    Here is a copy of the map of Oerth that appeared in the Dragon Magazine Annual #1. Presumedly "Erypt" and the "Gulf of Ra" are Egyptian style places, and the "Celestial Imperium" is a Chinese-style land. Presumedly Nippon is intended to be a Japanese-style land but its placement (next to the pseudo-Indian "Zindia" and separated from the Celestial Imperium by two seas and one of the largest mountain ranges on Oerth) makes that unacceptable to me, personally. I'd expect it to be more culturally similar to "Zindia," more Sri Lanka with Olman flavoring than Japan.

    Kara-Tur was originally intended to be part of Oerth, to the west of the Flanaess. In Night Arrant, Gary Gygax called Oerth's "oriental" region Suhfang. Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk called it Shaofeng, I think.

    Search on Canonfire! or the forums (or Google) for Shaofeng, Suhfang, Nippon, Zindia, Zahind, Jahind, Chomur, Changol, and other key terms.

    In Dragon #189, David Howery wrote an article called "The Dark Continent" that described a fantasy version of sub-Saharan Africa which he intended to be placed (and had placed, in his campaign) in Hepmonaland south of the Darlene maps. When Sean K. Reynolds wrote The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory, he included a race called the Touv which were somewhat, but not exactly, African in tone.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:12 am  

    Happy

    Great. Thanks Rasgon!

    I appreciate it. I can at least look at the geography placement and get some good ideas from it.

    Thanks for your input.

    Smile

    Jim
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:13 am  

    Jim,

    For placing African-like cultures most people will probably recommend the Touv people of Hepmonaland. They are detailed (at least the most detail that there is) in The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory. It's out of print but you can still get it as a pdf from Paizo for pretty cheap.

    For far eastern cultures there isn't really much detail except the infamous Beyond the Flanaess article and map in Dragon Annual #1. The map is available several places online, like here. The areas you'll probably want to look at are Nippon for Japan, and the Celestial Imperium for China. Of course you could just use the map and make up your own nations. The article doesn't contain much information at all about the cultures other than to make them sound kind of like Japan and China respectively.

    If you're looking for background material that could be easily ported into Greyhawk, for something like Africa you might want to check out the Nyambe d20 setting from Atlas Games. For China and Japan there a couple of 3rd party products made for d20 (although I can't think of the names of any of them). There is also the Rokugan setting made for d20 by WoTC, but for a setting I'd go more with the old Kara-Tur material. It's 2nd edition and I'm pretty sure you can get it in pdf format through Paizo also.

    Hope this helps.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:24 am  

    Happy

    Thanks Scott!

    I will have to definitely research Hepmonaland a bit more to get some ideas. With so much stuff out of print, pdf is likely the only option, that or solid recreation (which definitely is a good idea considering stuff is lost to time and editions.)

    I have a pdf of the horde and maztica ( I could probably use that for inspiration for a south american feel somewhere.)

    I just love culture so much that I feel if I am to expand Oerth I should at least make it interesting. Smile

    Thanks!

    Jim
    GreySage

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:58 am  

    All of Howard's original "Conan" adventures, south of Stygia, took place in "Afican" type cultures, with Howard's own special talent for story telling. Reviewing those stories could give you some flavor.

    Just my thoughts. Happy
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:32 pm  

    Mystic

    I did not know that about Conan. Interesting.

    Thanks for your input!


    Jim
    GreySage

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:54 pm  

    No problem. Like I said, I'd stick with Robert E. Howard's original work. They've been complied into three large volumes available at www.Amazon.com.

    Howard's original work stands out from all the authors who followed him, like L. Sprague deCamp, among others. Trust me, you want the original goods. Wink
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:37 pm  

    Well I am big on most things original. Like for instance (a bit off topic) I own the 15 original Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Not particularly interested in the books by the other authors. Laughing

    So I totally understand. Thanks again.

    Jim
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:40 pm  

    The Baklunish already account for eastern culture to some degree, but recent portrayals have skewed that greatly towards a middle eastern culture. The Baklunish are a conglomeration of real world "eastern" cultures. Unless you think Xan Yae is Arabian is some way. Wink Laughing I myself prefer to blend the two cultures(both of which have many variants) in greater and lesser degrees depending on where you go in the Baklunish lands.

    This assumes you want to constrain things to the Flanaess. Outside of the Flanaess there is the whole western portion of Oerik to flesh out. Asian/Oriental nations there include Nippon(though I'd change the name to NOT be a real world name), The Celestial Imperium, and the Empire of Lynn.

    Most people are set on using the Touv and the Amedio for an African area, though this is not any sort of African plains area. It is more the type of area you'd find King Kong, or see Alan Quartermain running around looking for lost cities. That of course suits D&D well enough.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:12 pm  

    Thanks Cebrion!

    I noticed that also about the Baklunish culture.

    Although I looked today in the LGG on Zeif and they have a picture in there that reminds me alot of India or classic Ali-Baba type Arabian Nights type of fantasy which I think is great.

    I would definitely change the names and will likely not use any of those names at all as they don't seem to blend very well with the eastern portion. The names seem very generic.

    Laughing

    Jim
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:27 pm  
    Map of Oerth

    I'd seen that map before but it didn't click for me how it related to the World of Greyhawk maps I have. Now I see it (in the upper right without any names).

    I'm not sure it was clear to people that "Nippon" is a real alternate name for Japan:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nippon

    I don't see using it much different than pronouncing Oerth as "earth." I think it's cool. Don't get me wrong--I'm not arguing that someone stick with it if they don't like it. ...I'm just saying... :)
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:26 am  

    Cebrion wrote:

    Most people are set on using the Touv and the Amedio for an African area, though this is not any sort of African plains area.


    The Touv live in Hepmonaland, not the Amedio. Hepmonaland contains areas of plains as well as jungles, just like real world Africa.
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    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:41 pm  

    Indeed they do, and indeed there are some plains in Hepmonaland. My mistake. Smile
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:18 pm  

    Happy

    Plains and savannah man I am stoked. Smile

    Thanks for your interest in this topic. I realize it's probably an old issue.

    Happy

    Jim
    GreySage

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    Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:50 pm  

    There's a map of Hepmonaland here.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:56 pm  

    Ok, this is a bit of a stretch but there was a supplement for VtM called Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom that was a really interesting look at Vampires in Africa you may want to check out. In order to make the most use of it th9ough you may want to look into Monte Cooks World of Darkness.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 06, 2008 2:28 pm  

    Cool thanks Smile

    I will try to check that out.

    Jim
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:16 pm  

    Here's a question though... I know I read this somewhere. There are supposed to be more than Eastern and Western Oerik right? Where are the other continents? Maybe I am not seeing the global wraparound view correctly?

    Jim Question
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:28 pm  

    The best continental map I've found:

    http://www.mediafire.com/imageview.php?quickkey=mttmnhjmmwl&thumb=4
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:16 pm  

    Wow Crag! That's a mighty fine map indeed. Thanks for the help there.

    Shocked

    Jim
    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue Dec 09, 2008 9:31 pm  
    Most Impressive

    Yes, that map is impressive.

    I did notice that the latitudes of the Hepmonaland does fit in the same latitudes of Africa. It's interesting that Nippon of Oerth doesn't fit in the same latitudes of Japan's Earth.

    According to OJ4 the Solnor Ocean goes out several thousand miles...so what's out there that seperates it from the Oceanum Titanicum? Anybody have an idea how to map the unmapped so we can figure out how to fit in the longetude lines?
    GreySage

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    Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:17 am  
    Re: Most Impressive

    Raymond wrote:
    According to OJ4 the Solnor Ocean goes out several thousand miles...so what's out there that seperates it from the Oceanum Titanicum?


    There's Fireland, but the Solnor Ocean and the Oceanum Titanicum are really the same ocean, given different names on different sides.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:02 am  
    A thought on "old" maps.

    This is just a thought or two about the maps that sometimes are found to be innaccurate or contentious.

    A lot of times we fall victim to our own modern times and believe in the back of our minds that all things should be complete or reconcilable. I would submit that in our own history during peroiods of exploration, there were seldom two maps that even looked alike. In fact, some of what were considered the best maps of the time were missing entire coastlines (as in the case of America). I view the Dragon Annual map as sort of an explorers map. The names aren't necessarily what the people who lived there called them, just what the mapmaker decided to use to describe them. "Orcreich" (or Orc Rule, or Orc Domain) is almost akin to writting "Here there be Dragons", or putting the names of nomadic native American tribes in set locations on a map.

    I say this simply to point out that you can change things a bit and still stay canon.

    And as an aside just for the fun of including a bit of trivia about the "official" existence if an oriental setting in GH:
    In Return if the Eight, p62, in the description of Alhamazad the Wise of Zeif:
    Quote:
    Alhamazad has ties to sorcerers far to the West, across the Dry Steppes and beyond the Dramidj Ocean. He has hinted that he would like someone to visit one of these distant friends in his stead, as he is infirm these days; the path would follow known caravan routes into lands with a strong Oriental flavor.

    Hm. Who'd have thought? Known trade routes? Anyone for a Marco Polo game to visit the Great Khan's court?

    It's always fun guys. Glad to see a great topic.
    Wade
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:19 pm  

    I'll never forget the exploding skulls and impotent rage that map caused. Happy

    Mr. Gygax (can't bring myself to call him "Gary" or "Gygax") dismissed the map in one of his Q&A sessions, so they were normally disputed as to their.. umm... canonicity? I dumped the names and just ran with the map, plugging in some of my own work to give it a home.

    Africa:

    Aeshaba: Greek Africa from Fantasymaster (New Infinities) was an interesting product that I made use of once or twice for an African twist. I must say that it wasn't that good.

    We made some use of TSR's Al-Qadim, with heavy modification, in our Greyhawk campaign. There were some other modules from the '80s that also saw use. I... am going to dig. See what you made me do?
    I3, I4, and I5, Tracy Hickman's Desert of Desolation series. Those modules weren't fantastic.

    I'm afraid that, as far as an Alan Quartermain-style Africa goes, you're probably going to have to weave that tapestry yourself. Most of the RPG information on the Dark Continent isn't very good, and there's not alot of it.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:02 pm  

    Thanks for all the input. I honestly didn't think this thread would take off that well. Shocked

    Cool

    I especially like the idea that Gygax dismissed the map! Happy

    Makes things easier and more freedom.

    Jim
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    Wed Dec 10, 2008 10:54 pm  
    Puzzle

    I was hoping from a DM's perspetive to figure out what Oerth would look like on a globe. With all the pieces available, it's really close to making sense with what people have done. I would use what is there for the players to use as maps used to be inaccurate but from the DM perspective, I was thinking it'd be nice to have something I could consider as a workable model in 3-D.

    If I forget about adding a hidden continent between the two oceans which are one because Antaria seems to be split on the other map, then I can come up with latitudes...I can stretch one of those maps until it fits around my toy globe, cut up the paper and tape it and bam! ...Then think of a way to work in an Aquaria based on Gygax' description though it wasn't considered part of Oerth by TSR...maybe it disappears into the oceans to satisfy different perspectives.

    Anyone know where I can find a map of Aquaria?

    Anyone care that the Oriental Adventures area of Oerth is placed around the equator/tropical zone? Does a jungle setting ever fit into anyone's vision of what they were doing?
    GreySage

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    Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:56 am  
    Re: Puzzle

    Raymond wrote:
    Anyone know where I can find a map of Aquaria?


    There's one in the old module R4 Doc's Island and the Egg of the Phoenix supermodule based on it. It would fit pretty easily into Western Oerik; it's not a big region. It's a coastal region about 170 by 270 miles in area. According to Frank Mentzer's narrative in R4, it's about 5000 east of the Flanaess, which would put it about 2000 miles east of the westernmost part of Western Oerik (since the Solnor is only 3000 miles across). Putting it in the region marked "Kingdoms of the Marches" in the Dragon Annual #1 map would probably work well.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:52 am  

    this may be a ultra mega silly thing to say, but...about Africa, wasnt the Isle of the Ape kind of was made to be like it?

    i know that its a part of the GH castle, but maybe it was suppose to be a part ripped of from GH africa...


    ......no? Embarassed
    GreySage

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    Thu Dec 11, 2008 6:17 am  

    rossik wrote:
    this may be a ultra mega silly thing to say, but...about Africa, wasnt the Isle of the Ape kind of was made to be like it?

    i know that its a part of the GH castle, but maybe it was suppose to be a part ripped of from GH africa...


    ......no? Embarassed


    It's based on Skull Island from King Kong. There's an excellent speculative essay on the history of Skull Island here, which places the origin of the local humans as "Mu." The author speculates that "Mu," in this case, was an island somewhere where humans used giant apes as beasts of burden.

    For what it's worth, officially the humans of the Isle of the Ape were transplanted Olmans originally from the Isle of Dread. I believe this was Gary Holian's idea.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:17 pm  

    Yeah I kinda gathered the whole King Kong thing too. Laughing That and the Tarrasque reminds me of Godzilla! Laughing

    Jim
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    Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:12 pm  
    Ape

    I believe the Castle provides access to a "demi-plane" that contains the Isle of Ape. That's why it has the jungle "in the middle of Castle Greyhawk."

    Regarding Aquaria's placement, I thought I read Gygax saying that his character took a tunnel from the the Greyhawk area tog to the other side of the planet so I kept thinking that it should be some big island on the other side of the equator. I think both maps I have of Oerth (from Dragon and OJ) are too narrow. When I printed out the Dragon one and taped it to my globe, it happened to fit pretty well from pole to pole but from east to west, I'm missing a quarter of the globe. I could stretch it to fit the globe, but then the land masses would get "massive." I took that OJ map and taped it up into a cylinder and it seems way too tall. ...I"m going to take another look at the box set text...no dice there. Now I'm thinking that if I go back to my comparison to a flipped Istanbul with Greyhawk, then the longitude width of the Mediterranean is about 40 degrees. If I figure the Azure Sea as about 40 degrees on that Dragon map, it's about an inch on my screen. 360/40=9. So 9" on my screen from the east end of the Azure Sea takes me west to the edge of the map. That calculation implies that the world is even narrower than the map implies...which seems consistent with the fact that when I print these two maps out, they're not wide enough to represent east-west and north-south in equal enough dimentions to wrap around a globe until east meets west and still have the poles in the right spots.

    Is my logic okay?
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:32 pm  

    Much of this stuff about latitude, continent placement, size of the Oerth, etc. was worked out in "Oerth From the Ground Up" in OJ3 and "Measuring up the Oerth" in OJ4.

    Kirt
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    Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:20 pm  

    I was considering downloading a... er... I was looking at a list. On that list were a few TSR products that I'd forgotten about.

    Jakandor: Island of War
    Jakandor: Land of Legend
    Jakandor: Isle of Destiny

    These were the core, and probably only, products of a fantasy setting for 2nd Edition AD&D. They were released, I believe, shortly before the bottom fell out in Lake Geneva.

    The campaign had a distinctly non-western feel to it, though I can't say it was truly the Dark Continent approach that you. Those books may, or may not, be useful to you.

    There were a few D&D modules that also could be of interest. I could be completely wrong, but I think a few of them were named "Fire Drum Mountain" and "The Savage Coast."

    I'd also look over the Maztica and Kara-Tur material to give you some food for thought on how to break from the typical Eurocentric fantasy setting when you craft your own Africa.
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