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    Canonfire :: View topic - Earthly Cultural Analogies In The Flanaess And Beyond?
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    Earthly Cultural Analogies In The Flanaess And Beyond?
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Sep 05, 2015 2:09 pm  
    Earthly Cultural Analogies In The Flanaess And Beyond?

    I've watched the progress off and on of the Beyond The Flanaess project, and I've noted how much of the expansion in the areas most to the west of the Flanaess incorporate analogies of real-world cultures into new regions, particularly with names that are twists on real-life ones, such as Erypt, Nippon and Zindia.

    That built on something that's been bubbling in my mind for a while now, and has been ever since I originally read through the Flanaess-namely, that Oerth is a parallel to Earth, and the Flanaess, specifically, is analogous to North America.

    There was never any doubt in my mind, for instance, that the Flan were based off the North American First Nations (Sioux, Iroquois, Navajo, etc.) while the Oeridians and the Suel who migrated into the Flanaess were analogues to the Europeans who eventually colonized the continent. In turn, the Olman are based on the Mesoamerican cultures, the Touv on the African cultures, etc. This is not something that was planted in my mind by the LGG-that book only reinforced the ideas I already had in my mind.

    From what I've seen, there seems to be a lot of controversy over dropping analogies of real-world cultures into Oerth, or into other worlds (e.g., Mulhorand in FR being increasingly depicted as a parallel to Egypt), but as has been discussed on this site before. However, I don't think we should be bending the standard D&D tropes to fit these new cultures-rather, we should be seeing how these real-world cultures might be impacted by the presence of demihuman races, magic that must be relearned from spellbooks, and so forth. It's much the same thing as has been done with medieval Europe, which D&D has never faithfully represented-now we would just see how the other cultures might be affected by it.

    The presence of demihumans and humanoids in other parts of the world (and Oerth without the demihumans and humanoids being as widespread over the world as the humans is a non-starter, in my view) would obviously have an impact-every culture might have access to mining and metalworking skills learned from the gnomes or the dwarves, or at least regular access to metal weapons through trade. The need to have a written script to relearn magic spells would naturally lead to the development of written scripts for other purposes, too.

    When it comes to integrating real-life cultural traits into their Oerthly equivalents, they don't necessarily need to be blatantly obvious. In the second part of my new Silver Wolf story, a Flan community holds a sweat lodge and a "moon dance" (based off the real life sun dances practiced by some peoples), and it's mentioned that some of the Flan are not all peaceful and helpless victims, as the LGG has noted with the Ur-Flan and the Horned Ones. There's a lot of room, in my mind, for this type of development in Oerthly cultures based on non-European real ones, particularly the more subtle things-witness Ma'non'go's telling Weimar about the pulque and coca tea drinks popular in Olman society, as opposed to the ale or mead Flanaess residents might drink.

    Hence it's shaped how I imagine the rest of the Oerth. As one passes west from the Flanaess, they reach the Middle East-inspired Baklunish West, then various Far Eastern-inspired cultures, and the far western part of Oerik has areas that are inspired by medieval Europe, and others resembling pre-colonial North America (and who share a common lineage with the Flan). South of the Flanaess are the Mesoamerican-inspired Olman, who also share some space with the African-inspired Touv, who make up much of the southern continent.

    Maybe this is one of the basic underlying themes of Oerth as a setting, one that's already implicitly recognized in many elements of canon, particularly when it comes to Oerth's name.

    Thoughts?
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    Sat Sep 05, 2015 7:48 pm  

    While the Flan may well have been physically much like the Native Americans, culturally they seem much more Celtic. Consider, the 'Old Faith' always refers to Druids, and their gods are all nature-based. They seem to have used metal extensively as well, where the Native Americans didn't use metal at all (aside from the central and southern nations use of gold for decoration) until the arrival of the Spanish.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Sep 05, 2015 9:34 pm  

    Vulcan wrote:
    While the Flan may well have been physically much like the Native Americans, culturally they seem much more Celtic. Consider, the 'Old Faith' always refers to Druids, and their gods are all nature-based. They seem to have used metal extensively as well, where the Native Americans didn't use metal at all (aside from the central and southern nations use of gold for decoration) until the arrival of the Spanish.


    Yeah, but that ties into what I mentioned about how these cultures might be impacted by the realities of a D&D world. Just as D&D has never been a truly accurate representation of medieval Europe, there's no reason why any other real-world culture has to be entirely accurately depicted. Just as D&D has always adapted European culture to fit the game tropes, so too can other cultures be adapted the same way.

    Hence why, as I imagine them, the Flan actually did extensively use metal, which they learned to work, or acquired in trade, from gnome and dwarf tutors and traders. They also had a written script, which they adopted given that spellbooks need to be written down in order for wizards to learn their spells.

    A pre-Migrations Flan wizard's spell book might have been just as likely to have pages made of buffalo hide as of parchment, but a pre-Migrations Flan warrior also wielded axes and spears with steel heads, and would be just as apt to dress in chain or plate mail when the time came for battle. He would have acquired these metal implements from dwarves or gnomes in exchange for furs, fruits, water or any number of other goods, or he might have purchased them from other Flan who had learned and adopted metalcrafting skills.
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    Sun Sep 06, 2015 4:22 pm  

    And the druids?
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:00 pm  

    Vulcan wrote:
    And the druids?


    Given that the Old Faith is under the worldwide authority of the Grand Druid, and that both humans and elves participate in it, it stands to reason that druidism and the knowledge associated with it would be practiced in the Flanaess as well. If druidism exists outside the Flanaess, as the LGG's entry on the Old Faith implies, it stands to reason that there are druidic orders in places like the Suhfang Empire, Hepmonaland, and so forth, would it not?

    However, given that the Old Faith is truly neutral in nature, and the Flan also revered gods of good and evil alignment at the same time, then they would have good- and evil-aligned clerics employing clerics with many of the same powers of clerical magic and turning undead that their Oeridian and Sueloise counterparts, but they employ various herbs like sage and sweetgrass, and "medicine bundles" that serve some of the same functions as holy symbols or mistletoe do for the followers of other faiths, much like the medicine men many First Nations have in our real world.
    GreySage

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    Mon Sep 07, 2015 2:05 am  

    Whenever he was asked, Gary Gygax insisted the Flan were modeled physically on Ethiopians. That said, the Rovers of the Barrens are clearly a combination of Lakota and Cossacks.

    Other Flan peoples are whatever you need them to be for the sake of your game. Just as the Baklunish can be Persians, Arabs, or Mongols depending on your needs and the Oeridians can be Gauls, Franks, Germans, Romans, or Phonecians, the Flan can be Algonquin, Lakota, Anasazi, Ojibwa, Welsh, Babylonians, Greeks, or Picts depending on which culture you want to introduce that week. They're vague enough that any ancient people who dominated the land before the current people can be folded into the Flan in a Greyhawk campaign. This flexibility is the World of Greyhawk's primary strength. If they were just one obvious thing it'd be a less useful setting.

    It can be counterproductive, in campaign design, to create too much detail up front and thereby limit future development. If you establish firmly that a nation is 300 years old, for example, then you might be in trouble if you later on decide you need a 400-year-old castle in the area. I think this is also true for linking fantasy races firmly to real-world cultures when you can be vague instead and keep your options open.
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    Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:47 am  

    Why would you be in trouble for having a 400-year-old castle in the territory of a 300-year-old nation? There's been people in the Flanaess for thousands of years; whoever was there BEFORE the nation was created would need fortifications for defense, possibly for use AGAINST the developing nation!
    GreySage

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    Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:13 am  

    Vulcan wrote:
    Why would you be in trouble for having a 400-year-old castle in the territory of a 300-year-old nation? There's been people in the Flanaess for thousands of years; whoever was there BEFORE the nation was created would need fortifications for defense, possibly for use AGAINST the developing nation!


    It's just a hypothetical example referring to campaign design in general, not the Flanaess specifically. I thought of specifying that you've also established it was unpopulated before, but I decided it would be clear what I meant regardless. It seems a safe bet that you understand the general drift of what I'm getting at.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:31 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    Whenever he was asked, Gary Gygax insisted the Flan were modeled physically on Ethiopians. That said, the Rovers of the Barrens are clearly a combination of Lakota and Cossacks.

    Other Flan peoples are whatever you need them to be for the sake of your game. Just as the Baklunish can be Persians, Arabs, or Mongols depending on your needs and the Oeridians can be Gauls, Franks, Germans, Romans, or Phonecians, the Flan can be Algonquin, Lakota, Anasazi, Ojibwa, Welsh, Babylonians, Greeks, or Picts depending on which culture you want to introduce that week. They're vague enough that any ancient people who dominated the land before the current people can be folded into the Flan in a Greyhawk campaign. This flexibility is the World of Greyhawk's primary strength. If they were just one obvious thing it'd be a less useful setting.

    It can be counterproductive, in campaign design, to create too much detail up front and thereby limit future development. If you establish firmly that a nation is 300 years old, for example, then you might be in trouble if you later on decide you need a 400-year-old castle in the area. I think this is also true for linking fantasy races firmly to real-world cultures when you can be vague instead and keep your options open.


    Is this the direction that more recent materials, from the LGG to the Beyond the Flanaess project, have been taking, though? From what I've seen, the lands of central Oerik have been depicted more as analogues to the Middle East, China, Japan and Egypt. Not to mention the depictions in the LGG being more analogous to specific regions-the Oeridians similar to Western Europe, the Rhennee as being similar to real life Gypsy cultures (a trait that was present as early as the original EGG-written materials) the Olman as similar to Mesoamerica (again, something that we saw as early as The Hidden Shrine Of Tamoachan, etc.), along with further development along the same lines in Sean K Reynolds' work, and the establishment of the Touv as hailing from further south.

    And in any event, adding in more details doesn't necessarily mean that exact parallels exist (e.g., this country is medieval France, this one is Tsarist Russia, etc.) but rather that broad cultural traits can be added in, much the way the LGG has done. Mixing and matching elements from the same broad cultural group, along with the elements that would necessarily change with the presence of demihumans, monsters and Vancian magic can all add some distinct flavour.
    GreySage

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    Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:00 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Is this the direction that more recent materials, from the LGG to the Beyond the Flanaess project, have been taking, though? From what I've seen, the lands of central Oerik have been depicted more as analogues to the Middle East, China, Japan and Egypt.


    I'm specifically talking about how I think the Flan can be most effectively utilized. I'm skeptical of the utility of drafting that race in particular into any firm real-world comparisons. I can sympathize with the temptation to do it, and to be honest when I first read the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set, I was firmly on board with the idea that the Flan were obvious Amerindian analogues. Lately, though, I think Greyhawk is best used as a loose framework for D&D adventures, and the more specific you make it the less useful it is. Lots of generic modules and accessories have ancient races in them that could easily be the Flan in a Greyhawk campaign, but if the Flan are specifically inspired by the Anasazi or whatever conversion becomes more difficult and forced.

    For what it's worth, though, I'm on board with making the Celestial Imperium a China-inspired place and I'm on board with incorporating elements of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Palestine into the Baklunish realms. I agree that the Olman are very Mesoamerican, but I see the Rhennee more as fantasy gypsies than as real-world Romani. Dragon Isle in central Oerik could possibly be Japan-influenced, while Nippon could not be, given its latitude and surrounding cultures. Or rather it could be, but not without convoluted rationalizations.

    I don't know much about the Beyond the Flanaess project, but I think even if I was 100% on board with all of its decisions it wouldn't make the idea that the Flanaess is fantasy North America (with medieval European invasions) a particularly useful one. Incorporating elements of those cultures, yes, but I think deciding that the Flan are Amerindians with fantasy trappings limits the setting more than it enhances it.

    As I said, I'm fine with mixing and matching cultural elements. My version of the Duchy of Tenh was initially a blatant mix of Lakota, Maya, and Aztec cultural detail, but I've grown happier over time with making it more generic fantasy.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:48 pm  

    rasgon wrote:


    I'm specifically talking about how I think the Flan can be most effectively utilized. I'm skeptical of the utility of drafting that race in particular into any firm real-world comparisons. I can sympathize with the temptation to do it, and to be honest when I first read the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set, I was firmly on board with the idea that the Flan were obvious Amerindian analogues. Lately, though, I think Greyhawk is best used as a loose framework for D&D adventures, and the more specific you make it the less useful it is. Lots of generic modules and accessories have ancient races in them that could easily be the Flan in a Greyhawk campaign, but if the Flan are specifically inspired by the Anasazi or whatever conversion becomes more difficult and forced.

    For what it's worth, though, I'm on board with making the Celestial Imperium a China-inspired place and I'm on board with incorporating elements of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Palestine into the Baklunish realms. I agree that the Olman are very Mesoamerican, but I see the Rhennee more as fantasy gypsies than as real-world Romani. Dragon Isle in central Oerik could possibly be Japan-influenced, while Nippon could not be, given its latitude and surrounding cultures. Or rather it could be, but not without convoluted rationalizations.

    I don't know much about the Beyond the Flanaess project, but I think even if I was 100% on board with all of its decisions it wouldn't make the idea that the Flanaess is fantasy North America (with medieval European invasions) a particularly useful one. Incorporating elements of those cultures, yes, but I think deciding that the Flan are Amerindians with fantasy trappings limits the setting more than it enhances it.

    As I said, I'm fine with mixing and matching cultural elements. My version of the Duchy of Tenh was initially a blatant mix of Lakota, Maya, and Aztec cultural detail, but I've grown happier over time with making it more generic fantasy.


    I'm not talking about specifically designating a certain group of Flan as the Greyhawk equivalent of the Navajo, another group as the equivalent of Seminoles, a third one as the equivalent of the Sioux, etc. so much as I am using many of their broad cultural trappings as inspiration specifically for the Flan, much like how medieval Europe is the large inspiration for "default" generic fantasy settings. Just like many of the First Nations cultures, the medieval European kingdoms had a lot of broad cultural traits they shared in common, while they were different in other ways.

    For instance, medieval France being more centralized than medieval England with its powerful barons and the Magna Carta, and medieval Germany was so decentralized that the petty principalities were the real sources of authority in the Holy Roman Empire for a long time. However, all of these countries had feudal lines of authority, an aristocratic warrior class, a tradition of heraldry, a prominent social role for religious faith, and more, all of which can be seen as influences not only in Greyhawk but in Forgotten Realms, Kingdoms of Kalamar and various other company-produced and homebrew settings. It's those types of broad cultural trappings, adapted to the realities of a D&D milieu, that I am interested in pursuing.

    The way you describe the fleshing out of the Baklunish West and the Celestial Imperium is pretty much what I would want to do too. May I ask why it would work well in those other parts of the world, but not the Flanaess itself?
    GreySage

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    Mon Sep 07, 2015 5:58 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    The way you describe the fleshing out of the Baklunish West and the Celestial Imperium is pretty much what I would want to do too. May I ask why it would work well in those other parts of the world, but not the Flanaess itself?


    Primarily because there's no reason to send PCs to western Oerik except to experience Chinese-style culture; that's literally the point of going there, so being Chinese-influenced is to be expected and desired. The Flanaess, on the other hand, is to me the heart and hub of the World of Greyhawk, and I like it best when it can be the home of all manner of fantasy adventures. To that end, I think it works better if the various races are kept vague and flexible so that they can be used in many different ways.

    Quote:
    I'm not talking about specifically designating a certain group of Flan as the Greyhawk equivalent of the Navajo, another group as the equivalent of Seminoles, a third one as the equivalent of the Sioux, etc. so much as I am using many of their broad cultural trappings as inspiration specifically for the Flan


    My view is the opposite of this. For me, it's fine to make a certain group of Flan the Greyhawk equivalent of the Navajo, but it's to the detriment of the setting to say that all Flan share broad cultural trappings taken from the pre-Columbian Americas.

    For example, I really like Celtic-style fantasy, and the Flan are the closest Greyhawk equivalents to the Celts. Yes, there are allegedly druids all over the planet, but the Flan have not just druids, but bardic colleges, standing stones and stone circles, and Picts (the woad-painted Uirtag of the Burneal Forest). At one point in my Greyhawk fandom I was adamant that the Oeridians were Greyhawk's Celts and the Flan were 100% native Americans, but I've since grown to appreciate greater nuance and flexibility in the races of the Flanaess, and I don't think Oeridians work as well for this purpose as the Flan do. If Flan are 100% based on American First Peoples, then they lose a lot of Celtic flavor that might make for fun gaming. I wouldn't base the Rovers of the Barrens on Celts, but I'd base the largely Flan-descended Geoffites on the Welsh, as Living Greyhawk did.

    I'm still adamant that the Flan aren't Europeans (they look like Africans, and they're a good excuse for non-European-style adventures within the Flanaess), but I think there's definitely some Celtic themes included as part of their mix.
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    Tue Sep 08, 2015 8:42 pm  

    Bear in mind that the Flan occupied most of a continent; they would have had some cultural diversity, so some groups being more Celtic (Sheldomar Valley), others more Native American (Rovers) and others of even more interesting provenance (Ahlissa) are all possible. Do not forget Sulm!

    As far as the Suel and Oeridians, I saw them not so much as the Spanish arriving in the New World, but rather an inverted version of the Fall of the Roman Empire. Instead, in this version, the Germanic hordes (Oeridians) run away from the entropic forces of imminent collapse, and some of the Romans (Suel) do as well. Thus, most of the kingdoms of the Flanaess are Germanic (fuedal) states leavened by some Suel influence (think of advisers to the Goths in Italy). For the Roman underclass, the change in rulership was not as sudden as it used to be thought; for the Flan, it was probably the same, as the local potentate was brushed aside by Visigoths, err, Aerdi soldiers in their new-fangled chain mail.
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    Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:50 pm  

    tarelton wrote:
    As far as the Suel and Oeridians, I saw them not so much as the Spanish arriving in the New World, but rather an inverted version of the Fall of the Roman Empire. Instead, in this version, the Germanic hordes (Oeridians) run away from the entropic forces of imminent collapse, and some of the Romans (Suel) do as well. Thus, most of the kingdoms of the Flanaess are Germanic (fuedal) states leavened by some Suel influence (think of advisers to the Goths in Italy). For the Roman underclass, the change in rulership was not as sudden as it used to be thought; for the Flan, it was probably the same, as the local potentate was brushed aside by Visigoths, err, Aerdi soldiers in their new-fangled chain mail.


    This is almost exactly how I view it. I even (to myself at least) make comparisons of the Kingdom of Aerdi and Great Kingdom to the Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires, although without as many messy succession problems.
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    Wed Sep 09, 2015 7:04 pm  

    rasgon wrote:


    Primarily because there's no reason to send PCs to western Oerik except to experience Chinese-style culture; that's literally the point of going there, so being Chinese-influenced is to be expected and desired. The Flanaess, on the other hand, is to me the heart and hub of the World of Greyhawk, and I like it best when it can be the home of all manner of fantasy adventures. To that end, I think it works better if the various races are kept vague and flexible so that they can be used in many different ways.

    My view is the opposite of this. For me, it's fine to make a certain group of Flan the Greyhawk equivalent of the Navajo, but it's to the detriment of the setting to say that all Flan share broad cultural trappings taken from the pre-Columbian Americas.

    For example, I really like Celtic-style fantasy, and the Flan are the closest Greyhawk equivalents to the Celts. Yes, there are allegedly druids all over the planet, but the Flan have not just druids, but bardic colleges, standing stones and stone circles, and Picts (the woad-painted Uirtag of the Burneal Forest). At one point in my Greyhawk fandom I was adamant that the Oeridians were Greyhawk's Celts and the Flan were 100% native Americans, but I've since grown to appreciate greater nuance and flexibility in the races of the Flanaess, and I don't think Oeridians work as well for this purpose as the Flan do. If Flan are 100% based on American First Peoples, then they lose a lot of Celtic flavor that might make for fun gaming. I wouldn't base the Rovers of the Barrens on Celts, but I'd base the largely Flan-descended Geoffites on the Welsh, as Living Greyhawk did.

    I'm still adamant that the Flan aren't Europeans (they look like Africans, and they're a good excuse for non-European-style adventures within the Flanaess), but I think there's definitely some Celtic themes included as part of their mix.


    I'm interested in the world beyond the Flanaess, and how it interacts with the Flanaess itself, because I'm interested in the functioning of the Oerth as a whole and how the Flanaess fits into it. There is vast storytelling potential within the Flanaess-of course there is!-but what other tales, legends and peoples exist in other parts of the world?

    Greyhawk fires my creative juices in a way that few other things do, and I see vast storytelling potential both within the Flanaess and beyond it. I have tried to develop my understanding of the Flanaess through my contributions to the site, in part to provide additional depth and understanding for my writing. The same motivation leads me to want to learn more of the rest of Oerth-if the Flanaess is Oerth's equivalent to North America, then what does the rest of the world resemble?

    By better understanding the world of Oerth as a whole, I feel I can better understand the Flanaess itself, and draw out its deepest, richest storytelling potential. The additional details about the Flanaess, its history and its peoples all add depth to the setting and the world in my mind, giving it a truly distinct identity as it comes fully into its own.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:04 pm  

    We've been here before:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf//modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=4291&start=25

    ...but it's always fun.
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    Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:37 pm  

    Scarlet Brotherhood : Nazi +Soviet +Assassins (the sect)

    Yeomanry: Maybe like the Westermark from the Conan stories by REH? So sort of Drums along the Mohawk with Medieval trappings.
    Could also be interpreted as a sort of Classical republic with the fantasy feature of barring slavery.
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    Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:39 pm  

    In returning to CF! and GH, I'm reviewing old threads relevant to "Tamaochan" and "Olman."

    rasgon, I plan to review your 2001 article, The Duchy of Tenh in the next couple of days, but presently I wonder if you wrote more about your assertion in this thread that, "the Rovers of the Barrens are clearly a combination of Lakota and Cossacks."
    GreySage

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    Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:51 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    In returning to CF! and GH, I'm reviewing old threads relevant to "Tamaochan" and "Olman."

    rasgon, I plan to review your 2001 article, The Duchy of Tenh in the next couple of days, but presently I wonder if you wrote more about your assertion in this thread that, "the Rovers of the Barrens are clearly a combination of Lakota and Cossacks."


    I think it's mostly the titles they use in the World of Greyhawk boxed set. Ataman is a Cossack title. The name "Wardogs" is probably a reference to the Cheyenne (not Lakota) Dog Soldiers.
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    Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:53 am  

    IMC, "Flan" is a catch-all term applied to the pre-migration human inhabitants of the Flanaess. The cultures vary tremendously, from the Picto-Celt Flan of the Sheldomar to the Amerind Flan of the northern regions, though certainly all have a common origin.

    Flan cultures in the same region may also vary tremendously over time. For instance, great Sheldomar Flan civilizations like Fleeth are depicted as quasi-Mesopotamian in some sources (Vecna: Hand of the Revenant). I like to view the Picto-Celt Flan culture (which may have been representative of all Flan prior to the development of civilization) as being in opposition to the "civilized" Flan city-states, which eventually declined and disappeared after the fall of Vecna's empire, with the Druidic Old Faith viewing any trappings of quasi-Mesopotamian Flan culture as "Vecnan" and tearing down all the ziggurats and such.

    Of course, Druidic influence wasn't as strong in some regions, which might explain Flan ziggurats in other places, like Tostenhca, Kuluth-Mar, Unaagh, etc. Ergo, my Pan-Flan theory is that the ancient Flan were more like the Sumerians than the Celts or Amerinds, though their descendant cultures did eventually shape up that way.

    As for the Oeridians, I view them as Indo-Europeans who eventually evolve into a Germanic culture, with the Great Kingdom at its height functioning like a Holy Roman Empire that was truly an empire, that eventually split into rival Prussian (North Kingdom) and Austrian/Hapsburg (Ahlissa) factions.

    For the Suel, I imagine them as somewhat Melnibonean in the days of the Imperium, then becoming influenced over the centuries after the Migrations by the Flan of the Sheldomar into a quasi-Celtic direction, by the Oeridians into a quasi-Germanic direction (Urnst), and shaped by Vatun into a quasi-Scandinavian culture (IMC, I view Vatun as Odin fleeing to Oerth to escape Ragnarok). The SB is just an oversized cult of Melnibonean ascetics.
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    Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:11 pm  

    Robbastard wrote:
    IMC, "Flan" is a catch-all term applied to the pre-migration human inhabitants of the Flanaess. The cultures vary tremendously, from the Picto-Celt Flan of the Sheldomar to the Amerind Flan of the northern regions, though certainly all have a common origin.

    Flan cultures in the same region may also vary tremendously over time. For instance, great Sheldomar Flan civilizations like Fleeth are depicted as quasi-Mesopotamian in some sources (Vecna: Hand of the Revenant). I like to view the Picto-Celt Flan culture (which may have been representative of all Flan prior to the development of civilization) as being in opposition to the "civilized" Flan city-states, which eventually declined and disappeared after the fall of Vecna's empire, with the Druidic Old Faith viewing any trappings of quasi-Mesopotamian Flan culture as "Vecnan" and tearing down all the ziggurats and such.

    I love it. Thanks for sharing your vision of Flan cultural diversity and the millennial conflict between the Old Faith and "Vecnan" cults and other influences.

    Has anyone produced a map to approximate the locations of ancient Flan civilizations?

    Robbastard wrote:
    Of course, Druidic influence wasn't as strong in some regions, which might explain Flan ziggurats in other places, like Tostenhca, Kuluth-Mar, Unaagh, etc. Ergo, my Pan-Flan theory is that the ancient Flan were more like the Sumerians than the Celts or Amerinds, though their descendant cultures did eventually shape up that way.

    Do the Olman feature IYC? If so, how have you related them to the ancient Pan-Flan? (As an aside, "Pan-Flan" is a hilarious phrase when understood in Spanish.)

    Robbastard wrote:
    (IMC, I view Vatun as Odin fleeing to Oerth to escape Ragnarok).

    This is a fun reference to Gygax's influence.
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    Wed Apr 29, 2020 6:18 pm  
    Names

    Those names you mentioned in the original post I think come from the "Dragon Magazine Annual #1" which looks like it an in-game type of map that doesn't have to accurate. The map from the Chainmail rules of 2002 shows the content a little differently.

    https://ghwiki.greyparticle.com/index.php/Western_Oerik

    Maybe since this map appears to be more accurate, some will think to use it more of a DM's map than a player's map. Some also try to incorporate details from Black Moon Chronicles because Gygax had said at one point that he had intended to incorporate that author's stuff on Oerth.

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=48529

    There is a Gygax note that says, "Francois had a map of a continent and some islands to the east, and they were going to be added. The "Orient" was actually to be past them, closer to the West Coast of Oerik... Len Lakofka had an eastern continental addition as well as the Lendore Isles, so what I planned to so[clarification needed] was incorporate Francois' and Len's maps with Oerik, complete the lower continent below it, and have a real globe."

    This would look different than what the TSR maps have provided.
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    Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:02 am  

    This kind of topic has always been of great interest to me and I can see value to both CSL and rasgon's approaches. For me the key is to foster consistency in my gaming world to help create a strong sense of identity whilst avoiding stifling creativity. I like to have a clearly envisioned sense of the different cultures but if I need something a bit different I can use those cultural definitions as a starting point to diverge from.

    I particularly enjoy looking at how factors in the Greyhawk setting (magic, monsters, gods, wars etc.) would have impacted and changed the baseline Earth comparisons because that is what turns Greyhawk into a world that makes sense (asmuch as a magical world can) without being too similar to the world I already live in.

    I drove myself near mad trying to find clear cut analogies to most of the Oerth cultures because, unlike FR, Greyhawk has had countless contributors over the decades each with a different take and no one presence guiding consistency. So in the end I thought it was more interesting to look for comparisons on four different levels; culture, physical appearance, climate & clothing/armaments/architecture. I also don't agree that by 576CY the human ethnicities of the Flanaess are so undiluted (with a few notable exceptions like Scarlet Brotherhood, Tenh, southern Spindrifts) that its worth focusing on these distinctions over the anthropology of the countries themselves. So regarding the historic refernces for the human ethnicities around the time of the Twin Cataclysms/Migration Era, this is where I'm currently at;

    Suloise - physically appear Nordic, culturally Roman, art/architecture/weaponry Indian. At the time of the Twin Cataclysms I envision the Suel Imperium as an amalgamation of the Roman and Gupta Empires. In the hot climate of the Imperium maintaining fair skin is a sign of nobility akin to the Romans. Suloise monks practice martial arts akin to the Indian grappling/boxing style.

    Oeridians - physically appear 'Mediterranean', culturally resemble the Germanic Tribes including art/architecture/weapons/clothing (e.g: Keogh - Anglo-Saxon, Aerdi - Franks, Ferroi - Visigoths etc.). In my mind the Kingdom of Aerdy equates to the Merovingian Kingdom and the Great Kingdom to the Carolingian Empire at its founding to the West Frankish Kingdom during the 'Imperial Era'.

    Baklunish - like the term 'Flan' I see this as a catch-all term for cultures west of the Yatils, Barrier Peaks & Crystalmists. Initially I envisioned the Baklunish Empire at the time of the TC akin to the Sassanid Empire but I've read some things recently in which EGG apparently envisioned the Baklunish as a combination of 'Asian', 'Near Eastern' (Ottoman Empire territory) and Central Asian (Parthia/Iranian cuture with Turkic expansion later - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc). As a result I'm going back tot he drawing board with the Bakluni.

    Flan - this one seems to create the most discussion! Physically Ethiopian (or Hamitic as EGG described them) with strong Native American influence culturally. As many of you have mentioned I also see 'Flan' as a catch all term for any indiginous group that the Oeridians and Suel encountered and as an ethnicity were pretty diverse (and likely several ethnicities). I roughly divide the Flan into the following cultural groups (Lakav, Diraloric, Nuro-Tostenhic, Sheldomar Valley, Great Tribes, Thillonrian/Scraeling, and possibly Uirtag and Coltens somewhere in there too). For each culture I've estimated a Native American culture as a baseline to work from, so for example the SHeldomar Valley Culture is loosely based around the Oasisamerican/Californian Tribes, for the Scraelings the Mi'kmaq and the Great Tribes the Great Basin Tribes.

    There are then obviously a whole bunch of ancient Flan kingdoms. I simply picked ancient cultures I thought fit and then blended them with the baseline Native American Culture and tweaked based on other influences. Caerdiralor has a Sumerian vibe, Sulm/Itar et al have a Hittite vibe, Veralos has a SUmerian/Hittite blend going on, Fleeth/Mara Confederacy/Nuria/Vale of Luna/Lathu are very much Mississipian Culture. The Kingdom of Ahlissa seemed quite advanced and so I gave it a Minoan vibe. If I ever need to justify these mishmashes in game then I'll cross that bridge then!

    Undoubtedly there has been a strong Celtic influence added to the Flan over the years and I see this as demi-human influence. This Celtic Flan culture is most seen in the Sheldomar Valley.

    Olman - although they're considered canon I always found they stuck out like a sore thumb. To blend them into my own WoG I've physically made them of Flan stock. It seems to me much more logical for them to have originally been a southernmost Flan peoples leading down to the African Touv. I see the arrival of the alien Olman gods as the defining point in the Olman people that caused them to radically divert culturally from any other Flan peoples.

    Regarding the demihumans and humanoids;

    Gnomes - based on their northern hunter-gatherer origins and general gnomishness I'v always seen the gnomes as having a Saami vibe but by 576CY this is very much blended into a Renaissance vibe for the rock gnomes.

    Elves - physically they're standard Tolkien elves, culturally I see them as that kind of Arthurian Romantic-Celtic vibe with some Tuatha de Danann thrown in. I also gave their weapons and armour a Vietnamese kind of look.

    Dwarves - also resembling typical Tokien dwarves. Culturally I have them with a fairly common Scots-Gaelic vibe, especially the hill dwarves. I'm considering adding an Etruscan element too.

    Orcs - I'm still pondering on this. I'm think I see them with a slightly slavic vibe but I'm not sure yet.

    Once we get into more recent history I tend to then use those various historic ethnic references to help build the cultures of the current countries but without feeling too constrained. I've roughly mapped out each country and what influences I feel they have in their current state as well as a geographical reference based on their line of lattitude compared to earth so that if I'm setting a campaign there I can flesh it out further but if the PCs are just passing through I can quickly provide them with a vibe that will be consistent. I won't list them all because I've been rambling for way too long already but here's an example;

    Keoland - England, geographically Mexican-American border to central Mexico. From the starting point of medieval England i'll consider inflences from Anglo-Saxon Keogh, Roman/Indian Suel, Celtic/Oasisamerican Native Americans and demihumans. Throw in some history in the form of Vecna's Occluded Empire and a very un-English climate akin to Mexico, simmer for a few hours and then see what I get to hopefully result in something unique and not just 'medieval England'. So, for example, I tend to use pictures of Maltese castles as reference rather than English castles, England's medieval wool industry might not be so practical in a hotter climate so maybe it's cotton or a lighter material. Food will be much more corn-based etc. As a legacy from the indigenous Flan three-sisters farming is common. Even the wildlife is a bit different. You wouldn't see raccoons, turkeys, coyotes or alligators in medieval England but they're there in Keoland.

    Apologies for the long message but I just wanted to share how I try to stay to true to the Oerth/Earth comparison in spirit but try to end up with something unique and not a complete imitation of Earth. I'm happy to share my other cultural / geographical references if anyone is interested.
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    Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:15 pm  

    Thanks for sharing your thoughtful views on this (perennial) subject.

    Wolfling wrote:
    This kind of topic has always been of great interest to me and I can see value to both CSL and rasgon's approaches. For me the key is to foster consistency in my gaming world to help create a strong sense of identity whilst avoiding stifling creativity. I like to have a clearly envisioned sense of the different cultures but if I need something a bit different I can use those cultural definitions as a starting point to diverge from. . . .

    I drove myself near mad trying to find clear cut analogies to most of the Oerth cultures because, unlike FR, Greyhawk has had countless contributors over the decades each with a different take and no one presence guiding consistency. So in the end I thought it was more interesting to look for comparisons on four different levels; culture, physical appearance, climate & clothing/armaments/architecture.

    This seems like a helpful way to approach the subject.

    Wolfling wrote:
    Baklunish - like the term 'Flan' I see this as a catch-all term for cultures west of the Yatils, Barrier Peaks & Crystalmists. Initially I envisioned the Baklunish Empire at the time of the TC akin to the Sassanid Empire but I've read some things recently in which EGG apparently envisioned the Baklunish as a combination of 'Asian', 'Near Eastern' (Ottoman Empire territory) and Central Asian (Parthia/Iranian cuture with Turkic expansion later - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc). As a result I'm going back tot he drawing board with the Bakluni.

    I've been looking for a good book on the Ottoman Empire. Do you, or anyone, have some to recommend? (I've been eying Jason Goodwin, Lords of the Horizons (1999, 2003).)

    Wolfling wrote:
    Flan - this one seems to create the most discussion! Physically Ethiopian (or Hamitic as EGG described them) with strong Native American influence culturally. As many of you have mentioned I also see 'Flan' as a catch all term for any indiginous group that the Oeridians and Suel encountered and as an ethnicity were pretty diverse (and likely several ethnicities). I roughly divide the Flan into the following cultural groups (Lakav, Diraloric, Nuro-Tostenhic, Sheldomar Valley, Great Tribes, Thillonrian/Scraeling, and possibly Uirtag and Coltens somewhere in there too). For each culture I've estimated a Native American culture as a baseline to work from, so for example the SHeldomar Valley Culture is loosely based around the Oasisamerican/Californian Tribes, for the Scraelings the Mi'kmaq and the Great Tribes the Great Basin Tribes.

    I'd love to learn more about your Flan cultural groups. I think I know where you locate some of them but not the Lakav, Diraloric, Great Tribes, and Uirtag.

    Wolfling wrote:
    Olman - although they're considered canon I always found they stuck out like a sore thumb. To blend them into my own WoG I've physically made them of Flan stock. It seems to me much more logical for them to have originally been a southernmost Flan peoples leading down to the African Touv. I see the arrival of the alien Olman gods as the defining point in the Olman people that caused them to radically divert culturally from any other Flan peoples.

    This makes sense in terms of the Oerth/Earth correspondence (i.e., the indigenous peoples of the Americas). One of the GH projects I'm considering (re)starting is to delve deep into Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Scarlet Brotherhood, The Savage Tide Adventure Path, and other canon sources—along with fan creations posted on CF! and elsewhere (especially Mar's work on the subject)—and then putting serious effort into weaving the parts that I find most compelling with my (limited) knowledge of the indigenous peoples of México, Central America, and Peru, including inter alia the "Aztecs," Mayans, and Incans.

    One way I've thought about engaging such a project is through the Hold of the Sea Princes, in particular the Duchy of Berghof. I've posted about this before, but briefly, in a CY 591 context, the idea is to create a campaign where PCs emerge from the chaos of the Hold of the Sea Princes and to feature Olman cultures via one or more PCs, or NPCs with which the PC party engages.

    Another way I've imagined engaging the project is through something like Mike Bridges' Oerth Journal 32 article, Unconquered Hold of the Sea Princes, which presents a chronology that incorporates Samwise's Grand Sheldomar Timeline. Both note that King Sanduchar I led a Keoghish fleet past the Olman Islands and into the Densac Gulf starting in CY -147. By CY -137, he had mapped much of the coasts of the Amedio Jungle and (western?) Hepmonaland. In other words, notwithstanding the paucity of Olman presence in core canon texts, too many centuries have passed for trade relations not to have been established (although controlled and limited by the southern naval powers of the Flanaess—especially the Hold of the Sea Princes and Lordship of the Isles). It follows then, that despite the "Savages" appellation on the original GH maps over the southern jungles, an enterprising DM could create diverse Olman peoples near all of the Seolder forts and at almost every other bay, delta, and other river outlet.

    Wolfling wrote:
    Once we get into more recent history I tend to then use those various historic ethnic references to help build the cultures of the current countries but without feeling too constrained. . . . I won't list them all because I've been rambling for way too long already but here's an example;

    Keoland - England, geographically Mexican-American border to central Mexico. From the starting point of medieval England i'll consider inflences from Anglo-Saxon Keogh, Roman/Indian Suel, Celtic/Oasisamerican Native Americans and demihumans. Throw in some history in the form of Vecna's Occluded Empire and a very un-English climate akin to Mexico, simmer for a few hours and then see what I get to hopefully result in something unique and not just 'medieval England'. So, for example, I tend to use pictures of Maltese castles as reference rather than English castles, England's medieval wool industry might not be so practical in a hotter climate so maybe it's cotton or a lighter material. Food will be much more corn-based etc. As a legacy from the indigenous Flan three-sisters farming is common. Even the wildlife is a bit different. You wouldn't see raccoons, turkeys, coyotes or alligators in medieval England but they're there in Keoland.

    This was very helpful, particularly because I had not understood Keoland's latitude to be comparable to México.

    Wolfling wrote:
    Apologies for the long message but I just wanted to share how I try to stay to true to the Oerth/Earth comparison in spirit but try to end up with something unique and not a complete imitation of Earth. I'm happy to share my other cultural / geographical references if anyone is interested.

    Since I'm focused on Bone March, North Province, and Ratik, I'd love to hear your references for those regions.
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    Fri May 01, 2020 3:50 am  

    Thanks for the feedback mtg

    mtg wrote:
    I've been looking for a good book on the Ottoman Empire. Do you, or anyone, have some to recommend? (I've been eying Jason Goodwin, Lords of the Horizons (1999, 2003).)


    Can't help you there I'm afraid but if I come across any I'll let you know.

    mtg wrote:
    One way I've thought about engaging such a project is through the Hold of the Sea Princes, in particular the Duchy of Berghof. I've posted about this before, but briefly, in a CY 591 context, the idea is to create a campaign where PCs emerge from the chaos of the Hold of the Sea Princes and to feature Olman cultures via one or more PCs, or NPCs with which the PC party engages.

    Another way I've imagined engaging the project is through something like Mike Bridges' Oerth Journal 32 article, Unconquered Hold of the Sea Princes, which presents a chronology that incorporates Samwise's Grand Sheldomar Timeline. Both note that King Sanduchar I led a Keoghish fleet past the Olman Islands and into the Densac Gulf starting in CY -147. By CY -137, he had mapped much of the coasts of the Amedio Jungle and (western?) Hepmonaland. In other words, notwithstanding the paucity of Olman presence in core canon texts, too many centuries have passed for trade relations not to have been established (although controlled and limited by the southern naval powers of the Flanaess—especially the Hold of the Sea Princes and Lordship of the Isles). It follows then, that despite the "Savages" appellation on the original GH maps over the southern jungles, an enterprising DM could create diverse Olman peoples near all of the Seolder forts and at almost every other bay, delta, and other river outlet.


    I'd love to see the Sea Princes fleshed out a bit more. I agree that the likelihood of so little contact with the Amedio Olman seems unlikely but there is some good evidence that ties the Sea Princes in with strangleholding the trade routes. The Savage Tide AP has the port of Sasserine which the Sea Princes have effecitvely controlled and kept off the map for some time so it makes sense for them to wish to tightly control any of the trade coming out of the Amedio. I can't remember off hand but Sasserine may even be the main port the Sea Princes use for trade coming out of the Amedio. The Scarlet Brotherhood likely also have a stranglehold on trade routes heading east like I think they do with Hepmonaland. I don't think it would diminish the setting to have slightly more evidence of the Olman (and Touv) cultures further afield in the Flanness though, even if it's through trade goods.

    mtg wrote:
    This was very helpful, particularly because I had not understood Keoland's latitude to be comparable to México.


    This is just my take on it and not based on any canon at all! I think it's stated somewhere that weather magic is used to control the Oerth's climate so it's probably more canon to go with a more temperate Flanaess. I also read somewhere that the Oerth has a 30 degree axial tilt which also totally changes up the Oerth's climate (without magical tampering) by creating colder winters and hotter summers but also by increasing the arctic and tropical ranges. Personally I just feel that these features are too good to ignore and help make Oerth less of an Earth copy. I'm sure a climatologist would have much better input than me on this topic!

    mtg wrote:
    Since I'm focused on Bone March, North Province, and Ratik, I'd love to hear your references for those regions.


    I've responded to this on your Bone March thread, hope that's okay.
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    Fri May 01, 2020 8:14 pm  

    Wolfling wrote:
    This kind of topic has always been of great interest to me and I can see value to both CSL and rasgon's approaches. For me the key is to foster consistency in my gaming world to help create a strong sense of identity whilst avoiding stifling creativity. I like to have a clearly envisioned sense of the different cultures but if I need something a bit different I can use those cultural definitions as a starting point to diverge from.

    I particularly enjoy looking at how factors in the Greyhawk setting (magic, monsters, gods, wars etc.) would have impacted and changed the baseline Earth comparisons because that is what turns Greyhawk into a world that makes sense (asmuch as a magical world can) without being too similar to the world I already live in.


    This is exactly what I was going for in this thread. I love trying to explore how non-European might be impacted by the presence of demihumans, humanoids and Vancian magic.

    When I talk about 'broad cultural trappings', I'm referring to commonalities that some groups of societies might share. There was a lot of overlap between European countries, as well as between Middle Eastern countries, between North American First Nations, and so forth. I use those to inform how different human cultures might have evolved and share certain cultural traits, even if individual nations had their own different practices.

    I don't put much stock in Gary Gygax's claim that the Flan are based on black African people, not when he said in the same thread that Thrommel was abducted by the Scarlet Brotherhood at Nyrond's behest. Everything in the source material about the Flan suggested 'First Nations' to me, from their physical appearance to their social mores.

    In the illustration on page 15 of the 1983 Guide, one of the humans talking to the dwarf is wearing face paint and has what looks to me like a Native-like facial profile. The man in an Oeridian-like plaid talking to the woman while handling cloth also looked like a Native guy to me too, so it seemed pretty obvious that they were both intended to be Flan.

    And as an amusing postscript, explorer Giovanni di Verrazzano described the Native American people he met in his travels as similar to Ethiopians. Go figure.
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    Sat May 02, 2020 2:44 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Wolfling wrote:
    This kind of topic has always been of great interest to me and I can see value to both CSL and rasgon's approaches. For me the key is to foster consistency in my gaming world to help create a strong sense of identity whilst avoiding stifling creativity. I like to have a clearly envisioned sense of the different cultures but if I need something a bit different I can use those cultural definitions as a starting point to diverge from.

    I particularly enjoy looking at how factors in the Greyhawk setting (magic, monsters, gods, wars etc.) would have impacted and changed the baseline Earth comparisons because that is what turns Greyhawk into a world that makes sense (asmuch as a magical world can) without being too similar to the world I already live in.


    This is exactly what I was going for in this thread. I love trying to explore how non-European might be impacted by the presence of demihumans, humanoids and Vancian magic.

    When I talk about 'broad cultural trappings', I'm referring to commonalities that some groups of societies might share. There was a lot of overlap between European countries, as well as between Middle Eastern countries, between North American First Nations, and so forth. I use those to inform how different human cultures might have evolved and share certain cultural traits, even if individual nations had their own different practices.

    I don't put much stock in Gary Gygax's claim that the Flan are based on black African people, not when he said in the same thread that Thrommel was abducted by the Scarlet Brotherhood at Nyrond's behest. Everything in the source material about the Flan suggested 'First Nations' to me, from their physical appearance to their social mores.

    In the illustration on page 15 of the 1983 Guide, one of the humans talking to the dwarf is wearing face paint and has what looks to me like a Native-like facial profile. The man in an Oeridian-like plaid talking to the woman while handling cloth also looked like a Native guy to me too, so it seemed pretty obvious that they were both intended to be Flan.

    And as an amusing postscript, explorer Giovanni di Verrazzano described the Native American people he met in his travels as similar to Ethiopians. Go figure.


    The Flan=Amerind seems to come down to the Rovers entry. Who-ever wrote the blurb for them was thinking Amerind but Gygax's notes were describing them as Cossacks. Their chief is an Ataman which is only used as by Cossacks, Vlek Vlekzed is slavic, Sevvord is Swabian, and the last name used (which I can't remember offhand) is arabic which generally sums up the cossack mix. In a pseudo-european setting with imitation vikings to one side and imitation huns and mongols to the other, imitation Amerinds seen wildly out of place.

    I think the mistake is the general lack of familiarity with eastern european/asian horse nomadic culture. The pseudo cossacks are a perfect fit right down to their defeat by the horned society.

    Vlek Col Vlekzed - Who Loves Ya Baby

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    Sat May 02, 2020 8:52 am  

    JasonZavoda wrote:


    The Flan=Amerind seems to come down to the Rovers entry. Who-ever wrote the blurb for them was thinking Amerind but Gygax's notes were describing them as Cossacks. Their chief is an Ataman which is only used as by Cossacks, Vlek Vlekzed is slavic, Sevvord is Swabian, and the last name used (which I can't remember offhand) is arabic which generally sums up the cossack mix. In a pseudo-european setting with imitation vikings to one side and imitation huns and mongols to the other, imitation Amerinds seen wildly out of place.

    I think the mistake is the general lack of familiarity with eastern european/asian horse nomadic culture. The pseudo cossacks are a perfect fit right down to their defeat by the horned society.

    Vlek Col Vlekzed - Who Loves Ya Baby


    Actually, the Flan=Amerind comes from their physical descriptions (up to and including illustrations of them in early canon), their cultural descriptions, their general situation in the Flanaess (being displaced and colonized by the later-arriving Oeridians and Suel), their wrongly being assumed to not have made any civilizing efforts (similar to their real-life counterparts).

    They only seem out of place if you consider the Flanaess to be pseudo-European. If you consider the Flanaess pseudo-North America like I do, then they fit nicely. It might seem strange to have Greyhawk North America next to Greyhawk Middle East, but if you consider the Flanaess Greyhawk Europe you still have Greyhawk Europe next to Hepmonaland, which is Greyhawk South America. Adventures like Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan and Dwellers of the Forbidden City had players exploring Mesoamerican-inspired settings.

    As for the name origins, I'd note that early canon names don't necessarily correlate with whatever real-life cultures they could be affiliated with, not when so many of the early prominent characters were named for puns and anagrams. Tenser, Melf, Keoghtom, Vecna, etc.
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    Sat May 02, 2020 9:15 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    JasonZavoda wrote:


    The Flan=Amerind seems to come down to the Rovers entry. Who-ever wrote the blurb for them was thinking Amerind but Gygax's notes were describing them as Cossacks. Their chief is an Ataman which is only used as by Cossacks, Vlek Vlekzed is slavic, Sevvord is Swabian, and the last name used (which I can't remember offhand) is arabic which generally sums up the cossack mix. In a pseudo-european setting with imitation vikings to one side and imitation huns and mongols to the other, imitation Amerinds seen wildly out of place.

    I think the mistake is the general lack of familiarity with eastern european/asian horse nomadic culture. The pseudo cossacks are a perfect fit right down to their defeat by the horned society.

    Vlek Col Vlekzed - Who Loves Ya Baby


    Actually, the Flan=Amerind comes from their physical descriptions (up to and including illustrations of them in early canon), their cultural descriptions, their general situation in the Flanaess (being displaced and colonized by the later-arriving Oeridians and Suel), their wrongly being assumed to not have made any civilizing efforts (similar to their real-life counterparts).

    They only seem out of place if you consider the Flanaess to be pseudo-European. If you consider the Flanaess pseudo-North America like I do, then they fit nicely. It might seem strange to have Greyhawk North America next to Greyhawk Middle East, but if you consider the Flanaess Greyhawk Europe you still have Greyhawk Europe next to Hepmonaland, which is Greyhawk South America. Adventures like Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan and Dwellers of the Forbidden City had players exploring Mesoamerican-inspired settings.

    As for the name origins, I'd note that early canon names don't necessarily correlate with whatever real-life cultures they could be affiliated with, not when so many of the early prominent characters were named for puns and anagrams. Tenser, Melf, Keoghtom, Vecna, etc.


    Gygax's home campaign was based on the north american map. The published Greyhawk setting is not. Also you are confusing physical appearance with culture. The areas depicted as having unadulterated Flan cultures are based on welsh for Geoff and cossack horse nomads for rovers.

    The early history of europe matches the Suel and Oeridian migrations far more aptly than the colonization of north america.

    Everyone is free to run the greyhawk they want but the folio and boxed set depict the Flanaess as a fantasy-medieval-ish european setting not a north american setting.
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    Sat May 02, 2020 3:17 pm  

    JasonZavoda wrote:

    Gygax's home campaign was based on the north american map. The published Greyhawk setting is not. Also you are confusing physical appearance with culture. The areas depicted as having unadulterated Flan cultures are based on welsh for Geoff and cossack horse nomads for rovers.

    The early history of europe matches the Suel and Oeridian migrations far more aptly than the colonization of north america.

    Everyone is free to run the greyhawk they want but the folio and boxed set depict the Flanaess as a fantasy-medieval-ish european setting not a north american setting.


    The LGG also describes Nakanwa Daychaser as a "war sachem". The title of 'sachem' is affiliated with the Algonquin nations of eastern Canada and the U.S., and is also used by the Iroquois Confederacy in modern times.

    And when was Geoff portrayed as Welsh? Was it only the Living Greyhawk triad, or were there earlier sources that indicated it?

    The Duchy of Tenh is also described in the LGG as having provinces stemming from ancient intratribal conflicts, and having many different groups of Flan come there from other parts of the Flanaess. That made me think of the Iroquois Confederacy, or perhaps the pan-Native state that Tecumseh was hoping to found. What do you see Tenh as?

    How does the history of early Europe parallel the history of the Flanaess? What prominent empire did the Flan have that equated to the Roman Empire for the Suel or Oeridians to topple the way the barbarians did Rome? Which real-life group does each Flanaess human group parallel?

    I'm having trouble seeing the connection, particularly when there are so many more parallels in my mind between the Flan and Amerinds. I'm not asking this to be insulting or contradictory-I'm genuinely curious.
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    Sat May 02, 2020 5:37 pm  

    JasonZavoda wrote:
    Gygax's home campaign was based on the north american map. The published Greyhawk setting is not.


    The original Castle and Crusade Society Great Kingdom Map used in Gygax's home campaign wasn't particularly based on North America except that the Nyr Dyv is clearly Lake Superior, and this was still true in the Darlene Map version.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    And when was Geoff portrayed as Welsh? Was it only the Living Greyhawk triad, or were there earlier sources that indicated it?


    Grand Duke Owen's name is Welsh.

    But then, Duke Ehyeh of Tenh has a Hebrew name. Perhaps that was Gygax's way of presenting the Flan as "Hamitic."
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    Sun May 03, 2020 2:26 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    JasonZavoda wrote:

    Gygax's home campaign was based on the north american map. The published Greyhawk setting is not. Also you are confusing physical appearance with culture. The areas depicted as having unadulterated Flan cultures are based on welsh for Geoff and cossack horse nomads for rovers.

    The early history of europe matches the Suel and Oeridian migrations far more aptly than the colonization of north america.

    Everyone is free to run the greyhawk they want but the folio and boxed set depict the Flanaess as a fantasy-medieval-ish european setting not a north american setting.


    The LGG also describes Nakanwa Daychaser as a "war sachem". The title of 'sachem' is affiliated with the Algonquin nations of eastern Canada and the U.S., and is also used by the Iroquois Confederacy in modern times.

    And when was Geoff portrayed as Welsh? Was it only the Living Greyhawk triad, or were there earlier sources that indicated it?

    The Duchy of Tenh is also described in the LGG as having provinces stemming from ancient intratribal conflicts, and having many different groups of Flan come there from other parts of the Flanaess. That made me think of the Iroquois Confederacy, or perhaps the pan-Native state that Tecumseh was hoping to found. What do you see Tenh as?

    How does the history of early Europe parallel the history of the Flanaess? What prominent empire did the Flan have that equated to the Roman Empire for the Suel or Oeridians to topple the way the barbarians did Rome? Which real-life group does each Flanaess human group parallel?

    I'm having trouble seeing the connection, particularly when there are so many more parallels in my mind between the Flan and Amerinds. I'm not asking this to be insulting or contradictory-I'm genuinely curious.


    Flan is akin to European. It is not describing a single monolithic culture. The expansion of Rome, especially under Ceasar and the germanic migrations from Scandinavia in the 2nd century BC (Goths and Vandals) to the migrations of the Teutons and Cimbri a century later nicely parallel the oeridan/suel migrations with a good deal of Gygax's hodge-podge mixing making the Suel both technologically advanced Romanesque people and Scandinavian pseudo-vikings while the Flan appear to be a combination of Balts, Helvitii, Gauls, Celts and Franks as well as Slavs, Huns, Magyars and Mongols invaded by an Oeridian Völkerwanderung.

    Amerinds as horse nomads only appeared after the Spanish age of exploration and conquest. This and subsequent destruction of the Amerind culture was do to exploitation of resources and colonization not migration. Since all of the surrounding cultures in the Flanaess are fantasy medieval european-esque, in the eastern flanaess, an Amerind is out of place in this particular area (though I use northern Amerind cultures far to the south in my Greyhawk, unexposed, as of yet to modern Flanish cultures)

    Some Post-Gygax material on the subject appears to make the same mistake or choice as the individual who confused cossack horse nomads from Gygax's setting outline with Amerinds. These are fantasy parallel's rather than fantasy-alternatives as Gygax later presented in his Aerth setting so possibly the individual wanted to mix cossack/amerind cultures but it appears to be simply a misunderstanding by the person fleshing out Gygax's very sparse outline.

    The suel/oerdian migrations parallel the Roman expansion/germanic migrations exceedingly well. They do not parallel the exploitation and colonization of the western hemisphere. Modern Flanaess is very fantasy-medieval-esque european. Hammering in a post Spanish conquest era Amerind pseudo-culture seems ill-fitting and absurd.
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    Sun May 03, 2020 10:10 am  

    JasonZavoda wrote:

    The Flan=Amerind seems to come down to the Rovers entry. Who-ever wrote the blurb for them was thinking Amerind but Gygax's notes were describing them as Cossacks.


    JasonZavoda wrote:


    Some Post-Gygax material on the subject appears to make the same mistake or choice as the individual who confused cossack horse nomads from Gygax's setting outline with Amerinds. These are fantasy parallel's rather than fantasy-alternatives as Gygax later presented in his Aerth setting so possibly the individual wanted to mix cossack/amerind cultures but it appears to be simply a misunderstanding by the person fleshing out Gygax's very sparse outline.

    The suel/oerdian migrations parallel the Roman expansion/germanic migrations exceedingly well. They do not parallel the exploitation and colonization of the western hemisphere. Modern Flanaess is very fantasy-medieval-esque european. Hammering in a post Spanish conquest era Amerind pseudo-culture seems ill-fitting and absurd.


    Who's this mysterious person or individual that would have fleshed out Gygax's outline? Wouldn't Gygax have written it himself?

    And what about the illustration that showed the Amerind-looking men? Was that another example of Gygax apparently getting his wires crossed with his illustrators, like how he didn't originally intend for orcs to be pig men?
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    Sun May 03, 2020 11:01 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    JasonZavoda wrote:

    The Flan=Amerind seems to come down to the Rovers entry. Who-ever wrote the blurb for them was thinking Amerind but Gygax's notes were describing them as Cossacks.


    JasonZavoda wrote:


    Some Post-Gygax material on the subject appears to make the same mistake or choice as the individual who confused cossack horse nomads from Gygax's setting outline with Amerinds. These are fantasy parallel's rather than fantasy-alternatives as Gygax later presented in his Aerth setting so possibly the individual wanted to mix cossack/amerind cultures but it appears to be simply a misunderstanding by the person fleshing out Gygax's very sparse outline.

    The suel/oerdian migrations parallel the Roman expansion/germanic migrations exceedingly well. They do not parallel the exploitation and colonization of the western hemisphere. Modern Flanaess is very fantasy-medieval-esque european. Hammering in a post Spanish conquest era Amerind pseudo-culture seems ill-fitting and absurd.


    Who's this mysterious person or individual that would have fleshed out Gygax's outline? Wouldn't Gygax have written it himself?

    And what about the illustration that showed the Amerind-looking men? Was that another example of Gygax apparently getting his wires crossed with his illustrators, like how he didn't originally intend for orcs to be pig men?


    Can you post or page reference the Amerind illustration?

    I was recently reading a Gygax quote about the published setting where he talks about using it instead of his home campaign version. The '83 boxed set mention Steve Winter and Lawrence Schick. Schick was just interviewed on twitch and it would have been great to ask him. He did say that Gygax would hand him notes to flesh out. I will have to watch that interview again.
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    Sun May 03, 2020 11:09 am  

    JasonZavoda wrote:

    Can you post or page reference the Amerind illustration?

    I was recently reading a Gygax quote about the published setting where he talks about using it instead of his home campaign version. The '83 boxed set mention Steve Winter and Lawrence Schick. Schick was just interviewed on twitch and it would have been great to ask him. He did say that Gygax would hand him notes to flesh out. I will have to watch that interview again.


    I already posted the reference to the Amerind illustration. Here it is again:

    CruelSummerLord wrote:


    In the illustration on page 15 of the 1983 Guide, one of the humans talking to the dwarf is wearing face paint and has what looks to me like a Native-like facial profile. The man in an Oeridian-like plaid talking to the woman while handling cloth also looked like a Native guy to me too, so it seemed pretty obvious that they were both intended to be Flan.

    And as an amusing postscript, explorer Giovanni di Verrazzano described the Native American people he met in his travels as similar to Ethiopians. Go figure.
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    Sun May 03, 2020 11:49 am  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    JasonZavoda wrote:

    Can you post or page reference the Amerind illustration?

    I was recently reading a Gygax quote about the published setting where he talks about using it instead of his home campaign version. The '83 boxed set mention Steve Winter and Lawrence Schick. Schick was just interviewed on twitch and it would have been great to ask him. He did say that Gygax would hand him notes to flesh out. I will have to watch that interview again.


    I already posted the reference to the Amerind illustration. Here it is again:

    CruelSummerLord wrote:


    In the illustration on page 15 of the 1983 Guide, one of the humans talking to the dwarf is wearing face paint and has what looks to me like a Native-like facial profile. The man in an Oeridian-like plaid talking to the woman while handling cloth also looked like a Native guy to me too, so it seemed pretty obvious that they were both intended to be Flan.

    And as an amusing postscript, explorer Giovanni di Verrazzano described the Native American people he met in his travels as similar to Ethiopians. Go figure.


    Jeff Easily work so definitely unique to the '83 boxed set. Could be a fantasy Amerind but any of the horse nomads. Those look more like facial scars to me. This would have been Brian Blume approval of artwork rather than Gygax.
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    Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:00 pm  

    JasonZavoda wrote:

    Some Post-Gygax material on the subject appears to make the same mistake or choice as the individual who confused cossack horse nomads from Gygax's setting outline with Amerinds. These are fantasy parallel's rather than fantasy-alternatives as Gygax later presented in his Aerth setting so possibly the individual wanted to mix cossack/amerind cultures but it appears to be simply a misunderstanding by the person fleshing out Gygax's very sparse outline.

    The suel/oerdian migrations parallel the Roman expansion/germanic migrations exceedingly well. They do not parallel the exploitation and colonization of the western hemisphere. Modern Flanaess is very fantasy-medieval-esque european. Hammering in a post Spanish conquest era Amerind pseudo-culture seems ill-fitting and absurd.


    I do not believe that this was a mistake. In the Guide writeup, "People of the Plentiful Huntinglands sounds much more Native American than it does Cossack, for instance. And there are indicators beyond the original Guide that suggests Native American inspiration.

    The '83 Glossography encounter tables, for instance, mention bone armour for the Rovers. Bone breastplates were manufactured by American Plains tribes. These however, are also possibly from Steve Winter.

    However, Gygax wrote Dragon columns on "Events in the Flanaess", and there's no ambiguity that they were penned by someone else based on outlines, as has been suggested for the Guide. Dragon 56 is the relevant column. In it:

    - There is a mention of the "Yepita Tribe" and a member of that tribe is "Golden Dove", married to the tarkhan of the wolf nomads
    - The Rover Clans names are grey lynx, red horse, black horse, Wolverine, , Etc
    - Other named individuals are Kishwa Dogteeth and Chada-Three-Lances

    No specific etymology here, but in general these all sound (to my ear) more like made-up pseudo-Native American names than Cossack names

    In addition:
    - the "White Wardogs" are referred to as a fighting society. Fighting societies were common among native groups such as the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota.
    - There is also a mention of "census sticks". Such sticks were historically used to tally Native American populations.
    - The most telling, however, is the reference to making Chada-Three-Lances the "War Sachem" of the Rovers. Sachem is definitely a Native American term (Algonquian however, rather than plains)

    So I believe that there actually is concrete evidence that Gygax was drawing aspects of The Rovers from Native American populations. That said, it is also very clear that Ataman and Vlek Col Vlekzed sound Cossack.

    Which leaves us trying to awkwardly amalgamate two rather disparate cultures into a cohesive concept.
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    Sun Jun 14, 2020 1:46 pm  

    It might be awkward if you look at it from that perspective but, speaking as a wargamer, it doesn't seem so strange to me. In fantasy wargames campaigns (well, the ones I've played in at least) it is quite common for players to correspond with each other using military titles from some other army/culture in order to obfuscate exactly what sort of troops their opponents might be facing.
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    Mon Jun 15, 2020 5:08 am  

    I've been giving this some thought myself, but mainly in reference to languages — and still with the understanding that not everything can or will fit on a 1:1 basis.

    For example, since my group uses Modern English to represent the "Common" tongue of the Flanaess I tend to compare its ancestor languages to those of English: the Aerdian dialect of Old Oeridian being akin to Anglo-Saxon and Ancient Baklunish being akin to (Norman) French… which, of course, really only makes sense if one were to imagine the Baklunish as being reflective of an Umayyad Caliphate being successful in the Battle of Tours and conquering Gaul, perhaps leading to a French-with-Arabic-elements-speaking, Islamic-inspired culture.

    …but my main focus was comparing Old Oeridian to the West Germanic language family, although if we assumed there was no "Kingdom of the Franks" to stop the Umayyad Caliphate, then they also would have never conquered the Germanic "Kingdom of the Lombards" in Italy, perhaps resulting in a similar situation — a Germanic-speaking Italic population, making the Oeridians akin to a Germano-Mediterranean mix regarding appearance and culture.

    So with "Old Oeridian = West Germanic" comparison in my head, I decided to treat Keolandish being akin to Modern German (being descended from Old High Oeridian similar to how Modern German descends from Old High German, which differs from other West Germanic languages due to significant changes in consonant pronunciations), Velondi being akin to Dutch (resting "in between" Keolandish and Common, and German and English, respectively), and Nyrondese, a High Oeridian dialect of Common being akin to "Pennsylvania Dutch English" (a heavily "Germanified" English). I suppose that would leave Ferral as a kind of German military jargon?

    The Suloise are probably a bit simpler in imagining a cross between the real life Aryan people and the Nazi "ideal" of the Aryans — especially with regards to the Scarlet Brotherhood — with the North Germanic/Scandinavian-inspired Frost, Ice, and Snow Barbarians being the obvious outlier (unless we assume they're speaking the unrelated Finnish language!). I also can't help but toss in some Eastern European/Slavic elements into the Rhenee.
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    Fri Jun 19, 2020 3:08 pm  
    Hollow

    Are you going to have a hollow Oerth?
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    Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:45 pm  

    The Flan are an interesting group. Points have been made about them being a mish-mash of Native Americans/Celts/Welsh, and that works well enough...if one is familiar with those cultures. Celts/Welsh are more easily defined, but there is massive cultural variety among Native Americans. We can see that with the Flan to some degree as well. Despite what we see the Flan as in about CY 576+, The Flan did once have massive empires across Oerik, and they rose, existed, and fell into ruin long before the Migrations. That is a really interesting detail about the Flan. It is akin to the concept of antediluvian empires. Of course not all Flan cultures need have achieved empires. That is also an interesting detail. In the real world, some cultures achieved empire when others did not, either due to geographical isolation, or inability to consolidate power, a lack of knowledge, or just a plain lack of resources/people.

    I really do not like taking the shortcut of portraying any Greyhawk culture as a copy of anything in the real world, because Greyhawk is a fantasy setting. That being said, many of the articles I have written for Canonfire! do not take this to heart, but that is because I have purposely written some of them to make use of what extant canon material there is so that it works with what there is, and if somebody wants to diverge from that then more power to them. To each their own.

    I very much like the idea of cultures being as unique as they can be. There will always be comparisons to real world things, as that is the point of reference we have; the baseline that we have to work from. There is no escaping that, but doing it in such a way as to be familiar, yet unique, well, that is the prize to chase after. In cinema, there are two examples of this that I really like, and both have to do with primitive cultures.

    The first example is the Wendol from the 1999 movie The 13th Warrior. You've probably all seen it, but if you haven't then you should. Just the whole look of the Wendol is well done. They are portrayed as a totemic culture of unknown racial/ethnic origin. If I had to pin them down, I would say they are the last surviving remnant of Cro-Magnon Man, which is a cool idea to use as a springboard. The Wendol don't match up to any real world culture, having more in common with some sort of fantasy barbarian culture. For me, if I am going to copy something, or come close to doing so, this is the type of thing to copy. Could there be an all albino Schnai tribe in my campaign that reveres bears for their strength, includes a fair number of werebears among their number, and might also have ice witches? Maaaybe... Razz I like the idea of players being familiar with the Suel or Suel-Oerids in the more civilized areas of the Flannaess, and then have them travel to the Thillonrian Peninsula and meet Suel barbarian tribes there and hear them say, "If you wander too far into the wildlands of the Schnai, you better watch yourselves. Even they avoid those lands." Evil Grin

    The second example comes from the 2005 movie King Kong. Yes, the one with Jack Black in it. The Skull Island natives are, well, islanders obviously, but not in any remotely obvious ethnic/cultural sense. They are no copy of any island culture anywhere in the world - they are what we would call a lost world culture. That is of course perfect for this movie, which is pure pulp, and lost world cultures are a pulp trope. They pull it off brilliantly precisely because the Skull Islanders are not like any real world people - they are a lost people. Once again, this is the sort of thing I will steal liberally from. Forget cut-n-pasting Aztecs into Hepmonaland. I'll use something more like Skull Islanders, thank you very much. They could instead be used for the Isle of Dread, if anybody uses that area in their Greyhawk.

    It is easier to talk about more primitive cultures though. The more advanced cultures, that is where it is harder to keep them unique and not just make them "boring" real world analogs.
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    Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:50 am  

    As a bit of a followup I was just looking through the LIVING GREYHAWK™ Gazetteer and then at Anna's maps and… I guess I wasn't too far off with my "Keolandish '=' German" comparison since in the Pomarj east of Keoland I'm seeing names like "Drachensgrab" ("Dragon('s) Tomb"), "Drachenskopf" ("Dragon('s) Head"), and "Prinzfeld" ("Prince Field"). Granted, it could all just be coincidence ,but it works for me. Razz

    Cebrion wrote:
    The first example is the Wendol from the 1999 movie The 13th Warrior. You've probably all seen it, but if you haven't then you should. Just the whole look of the Wendol is well done. They are portrayed as a totemic culture of unknown racial/ethnic origin. If I had to pin them down, I would say they are the last surviving remnant of Cro-Magnon Man, which is a cool idea to use as a springboard. The Wendol don't match up to any real world culture, having more in common with some sort of fantasy barbarian culture.

    You're not that far off, actually; from the original story, Eaters of the Dead:
    Michael Crichton wrote:
    The academic debate on Ibn Fadlan's creatures can be neatly summarized by the viewpoint of Geoffrey Wrightwood, of Oxford University. Wrightwood says [1971]: "The account of Ibn Fadlan provides us with a perfectly serviceable description of Neanderthal men, coinciding with the fossil record and our suppositions about the cultural level of these early men. We should accept it immediately, had we not already decided these men vanished without a trace some 30-40,000 years previously. We should remember that we only believe this disappearance because we have found no fossils of a later date, and the absence of such fossils does not mean that they do not, in fact, exist.

    Objectively, there is no a priori reason to deny that a group of Neanderthals might have survived late in an isolated region of Scandinavia. In any case this assumption best fits the description of the Arabic text."
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    Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:02 pm  

    Well there you have it! Happy

    Also, gotta love that Telly Savalas pic posted earlier. Laughing
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    Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:22 am  

    pykm wrote:
    JasonZavoda wrote:

    Some Post-Gygax material on the subject appears to make the same mistake or choice as the individual who confused cossack horse nomads from Gygax's setting outline with Amerinds. These are fantasy parallel's rather than fantasy-alternatives as Gygax later presented in his Aerth setting so possibly the individual wanted to mix cossack/amerind cultures but it appears to be simply a misunderstanding by the person fleshing out Gygax's very sparse outline.

    The suel/oerdian migrations parallel the Roman expansion/germanic migrations exceedingly well. They do not parallel the exploitation and colonization of the western hemisphere. Modern Flanaess is very fantasy-medieval-esque european. Hammering in a post Spanish conquest era Amerind pseudo-culture seems ill-fitting and absurd.


    I do not believe that this was a mistake. In the Guide writeup, "People of the Plentiful Huntinglands sounds much more Native American than it does Cossack, for instance. And there are indicators beyond the original Guide that suggests Native American inspiration.

    The '83 Glossography encounter tables, for instance, mention bone armour for the Rovers. Bone breastplates were manufactured by American Plains tribes. These however, are also possibly from Steve Winter.

    However, Gygax wrote Dragon columns on "Events in the Flanaess", and there's no ambiguity that they were penned by someone else based on outlines, as has been suggested for the Guide. Dragon 56 is the relevant column. In it:

    - There is a mention of the "Yepita Tribe" and a member of that tribe is "Golden Dove", married to the tarkhan of the wolf nomads
    - The Rover Clans names are grey lynx, red horse, black horse, Wolverine, , Etc
    - Other named individuals are Kishwa Dogteeth and Chada-Three-Lances

    No specific etymology here, but in general these all sound (to my ear) more like made-up pseudo-Native American names than Cossack names

    In addition:
    - the "White Wardogs" are referred to as a fighting society. Fighting societies were common among native groups such as the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota.
    - There is also a mention of "census sticks". Such sticks were historically used to tally Native American populations.
    - The most telling, however, is the reference to making Chada-Three-Lances the "War Sachem" of the Rovers. Sachem is definitely a Native American term (Algonquian however, rather than plains)

    So I believe that there actually is concrete evidence that Gygax was drawing aspects of The Rovers from Native American populations. That said, it is also very clear that Ataman and Vlek Col Vlekzed sound Cossack.

    Which leaves us trying to awkwardly amalgamate two rather disparate cultures into a cohesive concept.


    People of the Plentiful hunting grounds was most likely added by the person fleshing out Gygax's notes. Very telling is the original 'Ataman'.

    My main objection is that Amerind culture makes no sense in that area. Amerinds were only briefly horse nomads. The various tribal names sound perfectly cossack in slavic. The history of slavic and turkic horse nomads goes back for millenia. Amerinds are a wide and diverse group who deserve better than just being tossed into fantasy pseudo-european setting. What a senseless waste.

    For myself I will keep my Amerind culture to the south or east or west where it makes more sense.
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    Wed Jun 24, 2020 5:30 pm  

    JasonZavoda wrote:

    People of the Plentiful hunting grounds was most likely added by the person fleshing out Gygax's notes. Very telling is the original 'Ataman'.

    My main objection is that Amerind culture makes no sense in that area. Amerinds were only briefly horse nomads. The various tribal names sound perfectly cossack in slavic. The history of slavic and turkic horse nomads goes back for millenia. Amerinds are a wide and diverse group who deserve better than just being tossed into fantasy pseudo-european setting. What a senseless waste.

    For myself I will keep my Amerind culture to the south or east or west where it makes more sense.


    It makes perfect sense given that how important horses became for some Amerind cultures. You correctly point out how diverse Amerind culture is, and just as horses became extremely important to some of them, that wasn't the case for all.

    Same thing with the Flan-the Flan of the southern lands may not attach the same importance to horses that the Rovers do. Ditto for some other elements of culture like music. Some Flan may value fiddles and drums for music, while others prefer throat singing. And if the Rovers' names fit the Turkic/Cossack tradition, they also fit many Native traditions just fine too.

    And as I've said before, to me the Flanaess is fantasy pseudo-North America, not fantasy pseudo-Europe.
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    Wed Jun 24, 2020 5:42 pm  

    Cebrion wrote:


    I very much like the idea of cultures being as unique as they can be. There will always be comparisons to real world things, as that is that is the point of reference we have; the baseline that we have to work from. There is no escaping that, but doing it in such a way as to be familiar, yet unique, well, that is the prize to chase after. In cinema, there are two examples of this that I really like, and both have to do with primitive cultures.

    ...

    It is easier to talk about more primitive cultures though. The more advanced cultures, that is where it is harder to keep them unique and not just make them "boring" real world analogs.


    Ah, but the presence of magic, monsters and sentient non-human races means they're going to made somewhat unique by default. No one would claim that D&D has ever been an authentic recreation of medieval Europe, not when its default assumptions include socially acceptable magic and polytheistic worship, both of which would horrify your typical feudal European.

    So it's fun to think about how real-life cultures, not just European but African, Asian and others, might be impacted by these circumstances. The Cree and Cherokee languages did not have syllabics made for them until the 19th century. If wizards need spellbooks to relearn their spells, people would realize that non-magical writing can be useful for all kinds of other things too. So just about every human language in a D&D world could organically develop its own writing system.

    Hence why the Flan developed syllabics, pictographs or similar things for their language long before the Great Migrations. Modern Flan could a polyglot of everything from syllabics to pictographs, which accounts for why translation between Flan and other languages is so difficult!
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    Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:00 am  

    When I first started exploring the various cultures of Greyhawk in depth I tried to apply a single defining cultural parallel to the various ethnicities, races and countries. It was very much like trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. The Greyhawk setting has evolved via the input of many minds each with their own perceptions on these things and it isn't neat and tidy it's a vast creative soup of ingredients that don't necessarily go together. In the end, to save my own sanity, I had to take a less dogmatic approach and ended up feeling much like Cebrion, that Oerth isn't a diect parallel of our own Earth, despite the similar name, it's its own unique world.

    Instead of trying to shoehorn anything into place, it was much more liberating and creatively satisfying to start using real world analogies simply as a springboard and then look at how factors unique to Oerth might have altered them; magic, climate, geography, non-human races & monsters. On top of this there's the fact that the deities are proven to exist and not only that - have specific driven interests (how would a whole faith driven to landscape gardening [Phyton] or educating women [Lydia]). I think this was the intent of CSL's thread - to consider these things.

    The Rovers debate, Cossacks or Native Americans is a good one but it will never be resolved because there isn't a correct answer. It doesn't mean it isn't fun to debate but what would be exciting would be take the springboard approach and see how we can combine those two different elements to create something more uniquely Rover.

    I'm not an expert on Cossack or Native American culture but is there any common ground to use as a starting point? The point about cultures adopting military titles from other cultures is a cool one. Could that be the case here? Most of the material I've seen seems to indicate either a more Native American religious style (Red Fox comes to mind) for the Rovers or a kind of Green Man Celtic kind of faith in the form of Obad-Hai. How would Cossack culture have differed if they had such beliefs? I'd love to here if anyone had some thoughts on this.
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    Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:49 am  

    Wolfling wrote:
    When I first started exploring the various cultures of Greyhawk in depth I tried to apply a single defining cultural parallel to the various ethnicities, races and countries. It was very much like trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. The Greyhawk setting has evolved via the input of many minds each with their own perceptions on these things and it isn't neat and tidy it's a vast creative soup of ingredients that don't necessarily go together. In the end, to save my own sanity, I had to take a less dogmatic approach and ended up feeling much like Cebrion, that Oerth isn't a diect parallel of our own Earth, despite the similar name, it's its own unique world.

    Instead of trying to shoehorn anything into place, it was much more liberating and creatively satisfying to start using real world analogies simply as a springboard and then look at how factors unique to Oerth might have altered them; magic, climate, geography, non-human races & monsters. On top of this there's the fact that the deities are proven to exist and not only that - have specific driven interests (how would a whole faith driven to landscape gardening [Phyton] or educating women [Lydia]). I think this was the intent of CSL's thread - to consider these things.

    The Rovers debate, Cossacks or Native Americans is a good one but it will never be resolved because there isn't a correct answer. It doesn't mean it isn't fun to debate but what would be exciting would be take the springboard approach and see how we can combine those two different elements to create something more uniquely Rover.

    I'm not an expert on Cossack or Native American culture but is there any common ground to use as a starting point? The point about cultures adopting military titles from other cultures is a cool one. Could that be the case here? Most of the material I've seen seems to indicate either a more Native American religious style (Red Fox comes to mind) for the Rovers or a kind of Green Man Celtic kind of faith in the form of Obad-Hai. How would Cossack culture have differed if they had such beliefs? I'd love to here if anyone had some thoughts on this.


    There is definitely a confusion in the Greyhawk sourcebooks regarding the Rovers but cultures develop in contact with other cultures. The greater the contact the more the cultures blend. In this world you have Cossack culture which is a blend of many peoples and cultures with the late 19th and 20th century predominently christian slavic-speaking. The origin of the Kozak's goes back over 1,000 years and includes tribes from not only eastern europe but western siberian and turkic people from the southern urals. They are also an amalgmation of many earlier cultures from the area.

    Western Siberian and pre-islamic nomads from the eastern urals were a shamnistic, tribal society with siberian shamanism and animal/nature worship documented at the end of the 19th century. The Kozak's from the 10th century could easily have been called the wardogs or Boyvasodak and other animal/nature tribal names.

    The Kozak's fit the bill of the Rover's to a T while tossing in an amalgamation of Amerind cultural tidbits seems ridiculously out of place. Save Amerind culture for a region near the Olman rather than trying to unnecessarily hammer it into a Kozak shaped hole.
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    Thu Jun 25, 2020 6:28 am  

    JasonZavoda wrote:


    The Kozak's fit the bill of the Rover's to a T while tossing in an amalgamation of Amerind cultural tidbits seems ridiculously out of place. Save Amerind culture for a region near the Olman rather than trying to unnecessarily hammer it into a Kozak shaped hole.


    That's fine if you want your Rovers to simply be Cossacks but the point some people, including myself are making, is that Oerth isn't Earth and rather than a case of shoehorning in Native American elements it's instead fun to do so and see what blend we can organically arrive at that makes the Rovers a unique Flanaessi people in a fantasy setting.

    I totally get some people will be, no, they're Cossacks and that's that and others will be no, they're Native American. Full stop. Which are both legitimate. What I was suggesting is those opinions aside, lets see if we can blend them. If you can only see it as 'shoehorning' then you're not doing it right! That's why I suggested considering any similarities between the two cultures first.
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    Thu Jun 25, 2020 6:43 am  

    Wolfling wrote:
    JasonZavoda wrote:


    The Kozak's fit the bill of the Rover's to a T while tossing in an amalgamation of Amerind cultural tidbits seems ridiculously out of place. Save Amerind culture for a region near the Olman rather than trying to unnecessarily hammer it into a Kozak shaped hole.


    That's fine if you want your Rovers to simply be Cossacks but the point some people, including myself are making, is that Oerth isn't Earth and rather than a case of shoehorning in Native American elements it's instead fun to do so and see what blend we can organically arrive at that makes the Rovers a unique Flanaessi people in a fantasy setting.

    I totally get some people will be, no, they're Cossacks and that's that and others will be no, they're Native American. Full stop. Which are both legitimate. What I was suggesting is those opinions aside, lets see if we can blend them. If you can only see it as 'shoehorning' then you're not doing it right! That's why I suggested considering any similarities between the two cultures first.


    My point is that the original intention is for Cossacks and someone fleshing out the notes who had no understanding of the subject matter could only Amerinds. Gygax was always fooling with alternate Earths (take a look at Dangerous Journeys) but he also understood history and culture. Im pointing out that robbing Amerind culture to flesh out the Rovers is inconsistent and makes little sense.

    Im not telling you to run your game in any particular way
    GreySage

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    Thu Jun 25, 2020 7:41 am  

    This has been a very interesting thread to read and digest. I have a thought I would like to throw out there.

    Regarding the history of Amerinds and their recent cultural adaptation of horses as it might apply to the Rovers of the Barrens:

    As I understand my Oerth history, the Wolf and Tiger Nomads, being part of a Golden Horde, or some such, charged into the northwestern Flanaess and drove the ancestors of the Rovers eastward. The Flan living in what is now Perrenland were able to defend their land against the invasion, so preserved their culture intact, for the most part. The Rovers, however, were forced to pick up and move constantly. That would explain why their culture changed from an agrarian one to a nomadic one much more reliant on horses than surviving Flan cultures in other parts of the Flanaess.

    Alternatively, the Rovers who lived on the great northwestern plains before the Chakyik and Wegwuir drove them out could have been nomadic to begin with. That would provide a good explanation as to why their culture survived being driven out - they had the means to pick up and leave before being overwhelmed.

    Like Cebrion and Wolfling, I like my Greyhawk cultures to be combinations of parts of real-world cultures. A cross between Amerinds and Cossacks is a good fit for the Rovers of the Barrens in my campaign. Of course, Amerind cultural influences may be found in other parts of the map (eg. the Amedio) while Cossack influences may also be found elsewhere (eg. Chackyik, Wegwuir, Paynims). Smile

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