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    Canonfire :: View topic - A Summary of the Oerth
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    A Summary of the Oerth
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun May 01, 2005 1:59 pm  
    A Summary of the Oerth

    Based on my own imaginings about the Oerth as a whole, I find myself coming up with some original (good?) ideas that still keep the D&D framework, but move beyond the standard cliches of the genre. I'd like this thread to be a place where we can share ideas about our visions of the Oerth as a whole, where the Flanaess fits into the grand scheme of things, etc. Note that when I'm referring to latitude and longitude, I'm going off this map:

    http://www.greyhawkonline.com/canonfire/oerthlat1.jpg

    My first, and probably most controversial, idea is that the Oerth is a lot like our real world in its socio-cultural divisions. I will admit that I imagine the different human groups of the Flanaess to be similar to their real-world "equivalents": the Flan are similar to North American Aboriginal peoples, the Oeridians are similar to the peoples of Western Europe, the Baklunish are similar to the Arabs, and the Suel are similar to the Aryan peoples of Scandinavia and the regions around modern Germany and Austria.

    The Flanaess is, in this respect, a combination of traditional D&D fantasy and post-colonial North America. The Flanaess was originally dominated by the Flan, but now, after the Great Migrations, the Oeridian and Sueloise people are in charge. One interesting but overlooked design possibility might be how the Flan have adapted to the post-Migration period, ranging from creating their own states (Geoff and Tenh) to having to take treaty with others who now control their traditional territories (Keoland and Aerdy, for example).

    West of 0 degrees longitude, we're going into the Muslim-derived cultures, based on the Persians, the Turks, the Moors, the Arabs, etc. Different regions might have different models of culture, but they're all more or less Baklunish in ancestry, although different human races are certainly possible. These would, obviously, resemble but not rip off their medieval equivalents-the Persian Empire, medieval Palestine under the Turks, etc.

    From there are the Far Eastern-based cultures; Indian, Japanese, Chinese, etc. The legendary Sufang Empire could be fractured or united at different times, much like China was in real life; the humans here would obviously be different human peoples unknown to the folk of the Flanaess.

    South American cultures are represented in Hepmonaland, the Amedio Jungles, the large peninsula south of 0 degrees latitude and east of 47 degrees West longitude, and the area in between. Obviously, not all these cultures will be as vicious to outsiders as those where the jungles border the Flanaess, and can have Mesoamerican-type cities and states like the Aztecs or Mayans did.

    African-type cultures are represented in southern Hepmonaland and the northern two-thirds of Anakeris. These are based on the medeival empires and kingdoms of Africa, and could have architecture similar to the ruins found by European explorers in Zimbabwe. South of 50 degrees latitude or so, we come into an area representative of Dark Ages-Europe, that better represents the kingdoms of the Ostrogoths, the Celts and the Franks more than it does the England of Richard I or the France of the Hundred Years War.

    Instead of fully developed states, peoples are divided into tribes-the Huns, the Vandals, the Picts, the Saxons, and others are inspirations for the cultures of this area. Instead of polythestic religions, there could be one monotheistic religion, but one that is split by internal dissenssion and conflict, and with its pontiff playing a much stronger role in politics than would the priests of the many religions of the Flanaess.

    As for the lands west of 100 degrees longitude or so, these would be the lands where the various mythological tales of the real world cultures could interact, in a way. It might be possible, for example, for the like of Freyja to cross paths with Baba Yaga, or for the trolls of Celtic folklore to be bamboozled by Coyote or Crow.

    I know this last part sounds whack, and I admit it's a little hard to explain-kind of like if all the various mythologies of Earth were all real, and all took place in one world. How might they interact? How would D&D demihumans, monsters, and systems of magic fit into this? How would it fit in with the rest of Oerth as a coherent whole?

    Demihumans and humanoids, for their part, would be spread around the world just like humans, although a demihuman of the "Orient" will have a much different way of living than his kin in the Flanaess. This means that all the human cultures will have metal weapons, usually having it taught to them by dwarves or gnomes, although some of them will spurn metal armor for both practical and cultural reasons. Most cultures would have developed at least some sort of writing for magic-users and whatever they use as spell books, or would revere 3E-type sorcerers as specially gifted, instead of as aberrations and freaks as most Flanaess cultures do.

    And so, those are my ideas. Post your own, comment on mine, do what you like.
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    Mon May 02, 2005 1:02 pm  

    Interesting post. I too have wondered about real world analogs assigned to the Flanaess (as my recent post regarding Flan names shows).

    Okay, I don't have anything to offer, but I do have questions.

    1- Does Oerth every have eclipses (2 moons, 1 sun)? I've looked thru Greyspace and the various calendar references, but I cannot find a good answer. What about solar and lunar eclipses in your campaign?

    2- How do any of you use the two moons in your campaign and to what effect? Is there a "moon-god"? Is there one for each? What about lycanthrope? Lunacy? What about nighttime illumination issues?

    Keep adding to this discussion. This is a good topic.

    S
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    Mon May 02, 2005 1:46 pm  
    Re: A Summary of the Oerth

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    I'd like this thread to be a place where we can share ideas about our visions of the Oerth as a whole, where the Flanaess fits into the grand scheme of things, etc.


    Some general thoughts:

    (1) I have to begin any discussion of Oerth with its laughable population figures. I refuse to engage in the contortions of logic that the die-hard "canonneers" engage in to justify population figues drawn directly from Gary Gygax' rectum and showing every sign of their origin. It is not clever, not smart and not even creative to attempt to justify this offal. It is simply perpetuating an initial faux paux.

    What to do? Quick answer. Add a zero to the population figues for every nation and every nation's capital and leading city, if they are not one and the same. This way the cultural artifacts of Greyhawk can be explained in strictly human terms without resort to magic of a high caliber, which does not otherwise appear. This is what I do, IMC.

    Oerth is not a ghost-world with few humans rattling around amidst comparatively outsized monsterous and humanoid populations.

    (2) Oerth is not technologically stagnant. However, technology is not linear in an Earthly sense. On Oerth, technology is "inherited," and while not yet pervasive, is and will become more common. Because technology is "inherited" from "caches" of technological artifacts, technology will "leapfrog" certain advances. There will likely be no age of gunpowder, no age of steam. Technology will "leapfrog" to advanced clockworks made of highly durable (even enhanced, magically or otherwise) materials, cybernetics, robotics and "clean" energy sources (even "magical" energy sources), not related to fossil fuels.

    In this respect, Oerth appears very different from Earth. Magic intersects with technology, not as "magi-tech," but technology as another type of magic. Just as magic is dependent on spell components or materials for magical item construction, technology is dependent on equally limited sources of self-replicating technology, as the technology is not native to Oerth. While Oerth might develop technology independent of tech-caches, the presence of such, along with magic, will see a different development track marked by technological "leapfroging." Who wants (for example) a Model-T, when you can have a flying car?

    A farmer might never get a tractor, but he might get a seed hybrid that is disease and insect resistant sufficient to produce yeilds equivalent to what might be achieved with technological farm machinery. In the same vein, a laser-like "beam projector" might be as "common" as a Staff of the Magi, or "light-sabre" as "common" as a +5 Holy Avenger.

    Technology, like magic, will be a patchwork quilt of styles, processes and results. More common in some places, absent in others. And in many guises, shapes and forms.

    (3) Oerth societies are shaped by i) climate and geography, ii) contact with neighboring peoples and iii) access to magic and technology. Unlike Earth, where Western Europeans monopolized or best exploited the tools of power, on Oerth, everyone has near equal access to these tools without precondition. There will be no "third-world" in Greyhawk, no cultural "manifest destiny" or hegemony. Equal viability will be more the rule. An Olman battle fleet or army will not be at any inherent or pre-ordained disadvantage as compared to another such force from Keoland, except as geography may provide or deny strategic resources of one sort or another that cannot be otherwise compensated for by the respective group.

    Case-in-point - the Flan. They got their rear-ends handed to them during the Migrations. Why? Not because of any innate inferiority but because the migrating peoples happened to be on the move when the Flan were in a historical down-swing. Had the differences between the Suel and Baklunish occurred earlier, in the time of Sulm, the Ur-Flan etc., history would likely not have seen the Flan so casually moved aside.

    (The idea of Flan Vecna active in the time of the Migrations is a particular sore spot precisely because it makes no sense that he apparently did, could do or would do not much about the Migrations in and around his territory. However well couched the "explaination," the issue does not much abate for its "logic" forces its way to the fore in too forward a manner to be seemly. Vecna was nobodies patsy, Migrations or not. At the least, thousands upon tens of thousands of deaths during the Migrations would seem the very "smallest" of prices that should have been paid for Vecna's "by-your-leave" but no mention of any such is made in favor of a strangely reticent and "quiet" Vecna. This is fundamentally out of character and unsatisfying. The best idea I've heard is that Kas struck at just this time, conveniently taking Vecna out of the equation. The "busy with his studies" Vecna theory stretches credulity as even Vecna would seem to look up from his books as a sea of humanity washed over the landscape.)

    (4) The Flanaess is not Oerth. Its gods are not everywhere; there are other, purely native deities. It culture is not everywhere; particularly its predominantly humano-centric culture. Not all elves are in "retreat." Not all dwarves are content to stay within their mountain fastness. There are wonders undreamed of beyond the Flanaess. The rest of Oerth, even Oerik, is not "more of the same, only different." Humanity may play pivitol roles everywhere because of their nature but that is not the same as dominance, such as that seen in the Flanaess. There are older, younger and altogether stranger races that dominate other parts of the globe in which humanity takes on a different role than that of ruler of most.

    Off the top of my head. Smile
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    Mon May 02, 2005 5:45 pm  
    GVD

    GVD, I generally look forward to your posts. However, I have to say, your general brillance is overshadowed in this one by your ego.

    I stand square in front of your charge, that there is some enormous stretching of logic to justify the population figures. I have done so, without a great deal of work, and in a format that I think is reasonable, defensible and logical. It is not perfect, and I make no representation that it is. However, I believe the bulk of it directly contradicts what you have placed in this post. Your opinion, so stated, is offensive, and demonstrates a lack of character that is unusual for you. I have come to expect better, and I hope such will not become a continual occurance.

    Should anyone wish to examine my work on this subject, please PM me and I will forward the work in toto, in Excel format.

    As to the jist of this post. All that is the rest of Oerik and Oerth, have always fascinated me. How can we travel the planes, but not across the seas. Or the desert? The most logical buffer, in my mind, are that lands of Zief, as they are also filled with magic wielding persons who might object. But the Sea of Dust should pose a problem to a high level group of magic wielders.

    What is the overall rationalle to this. It parallels our world, and the historic seperations that existed; this seems to go askew with the addition of flying carpets to cross deserts, and gust of wind spells to push ships. I guess, if I personally persued the topic, I would try and start there. Go to the boundaries of the known world, and build out. What lies just beyond Zeif, or across the oceans? This is more interesting, in my mind, than the far away empires. Without a connection to the Flaness, it might as well just be my home game.

    Good thread CSL.
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    Mon May 02, 2005 6:42 pm  
    Re: GVD

    Anced_Math wrote:
    GVD, I generally look forward to your posts. However, I have to say, your general brillance is overshadowed in this one by your ego.

    I stand square in front of your charge, that there is some enormous stretching of logic to justify the population figures. I have done so, without a great deal of work, and in a format that I think is reasonable, defensible and logical. It is not perfect, and I make no representation that it is. However, I believe the bulk of it directly contradicts what you have placed in this post. Your opinion, so stated, is offensive, and demonstrates a lack of character that is unusual for you. I have come to expect better, and I hope such will not become a continual occurance.

    Should anyone wish to examine my work on this subject, please PM me and I will forward the work in toto, in Excel format.


    My apologizes AM. Embarassed My comments were not directed at you or any other individual who has clearly worked to make sense out of what I see as non-sense. My comments were more generally aimed at what I see as another too close adherance to canon that, in this case, sees the simple expedient of saying "oops, better fix those numbers" replaced with complex attempts at rationalizations of those numbers which are perpetuated from one published version of the setting to another. This trend toward canon worship, I see as particularly ill-advised.

    With specific respect to what you have worked up, it does not address my fundamental point - that the given population levels cannot, IMO, explain the cultural artifacts of the Flanaess.

    For example, I was this past weekend looking over LGJ No. 1 and saw the picture of Niole Dra, whose population is given as 25,000 people. That number of people could not build the city depicted in any reasonable time, if ever.

    Look at the City of Greyhawk. A collesium? Plus everything else. Built by a population of under 75,000 people? Not going to happen.

    The population figures just do not add up to a number sufficient to explain everything supposedly built by these people in the time in which they had to build it. Sure magic can do it but there is no prescedent for this in GH.

    Where what you have done diverges and is, IMO, clever is in figuring monstrous/humanoid populations in the context of a given human population. You do not fundamentally alter the human population of the Flanaess, however, and that was not apparently your intent. In this respect, you are getting upset because I criticized oranges when you have a bushel of apples. I still apologize as I was in a particularly POed mood when I posted, which is probably not a good idea. Transferance venting, if you will. Sad But your model, while excellent as a means of building non-human populations does not address my issue that the human populations are too low. Nothing in what you have done would allow a catheral plus city walls plus a palace plus a collesium etc. to all go up in a near simultaneous time frame such that they could come to typify a level of general civilization in a place, given stated human populations.

    I would go further to say that given city populations and population per square mile, I doubt the skills necessary to built the monuments of the Flanaess could be fostered or maintained reliably. Similarly, I question the ability of such populations to accumulate the capital necessary. And I question the ability of these populations to import and process the necessary resources to do the actual building. And they are doing this simultaneously throughtout the various nations of the Flanaess and even within multiple cities in specific countries.

    I apologize again for my mode of speaking. However, my point is dead on the money and your work, while cleverly deriving subsidiary non-human populations, does not really even attempt to address my fundamental point.
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    Mon May 02, 2005 7:46 pm  
    Thats Better

    Now that is more in line with the type of reasoning I am used to Happy

    I will post this here, as I see no other post especially relevent, and apologize in advance to CSL for diverging so widely from his topic.

    I find it interesting that you pose the low human population thoughts and Olman posts in the same evening. It made me think of a very strong reason that EGG may have come up with the numbers that he did.

    In the early 90s I spent a good while in central america studying the Maya/Olmec civilizations and more particularly their cities and ruins. Having grown up in the Construction industry, i was comfortable in being able to estimate the number of persons needed to construct most structures. What consistently flabergasted me was the insistance by the "scholars," that this city and that city was constructued by a few thousand indaviduals in a few years to a few decades.

    It was apparent to anyone who had ever worked building anything, that these estimates were horribly low. However, they were consistent in their absurdity. When challenged about this (I was young), these eminent scholars got their @#$ on their shoulders that anyone, let alone a lowly person like me would question their facts (lots of good stories here, but you probably get the picture).

    My favorite example is a city named Coba. The Archeologist assured me that a population of 10,000 constructed the city in 10 to 20 years. The city is 9 sq. miles officially, but it went as far as you could see from the top of the main pyramid, as well as containing the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan, several hundred miles of Sacbeob (sacred roads), and a canal to the ocean. I want those 10,000 people working for ME!

    I bring this up, because when I checked population figures for other civilizations of our past, I also found that they generally trended into the same ranges.

    Maybe the creators of GH didnt just make it all up randomly. Maybe they unwittingly followed in a long tradition of stupidity.


    Last edited by Anced_Math on Tue May 03, 2005 3:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Mon May 02, 2005 7:59 pm  

    Skech wrote:
    1- Does Oerth every have eclipses (2 moons, 1 sun)? I've looked thru Greyspace and the various calendar references, but I cannot find a good answer. What about solar and lunar eclipses in your campaign?
    S


    A long time ago, Gary Holian, Eric Boyd, and I wrote an article called "Astronomy and Astrology of Geyhawk". It was rejected by Dragon and none of us did anything with it so long that all elecronic versions have been lost in our various system upgrades.

    I recently* recovered the written notes for this project and soon* will be posting some of it.

    IIRC, Greyspace says that all of the bodies in orbit around the Oerth have perefectly circular orbits, constant orbital velocities, and all but two orbit in the same plane. This implies that not only are there eclipses, but that there are a dozen-some eclipses that happen every year on the same date. Our article describes them and details from where they can be seen.

    Kirt


    *I teach 40 lessons a week, have a daughter of 5 and another of 8 months. "Recently" to me is less than a year ago, and "soon" is less than a year from now.
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    Tue May 03, 2005 10:31 am  

    I think the population issue fits directly in this forum because it goes to how one envisions the world and has implications beyond strictly the numbers. Indeed, CSL expressly opened this forum with a discussion of population interaction, and with regard to human-demihuman interaction, its implications for cultural artifacts: “This means that all the human cultures will have metal weapons, usually having it taught to them by dwarves or gnomes … Most cultures would have developed at least some sort of writing for magic-users and whatever …”

    I am not stuck on canon populations, but simply increasing the numbers to account for existing cultural artifacts by putting the numbers on par with the real world is its own form of apologetic thinking. That is often a good thing, particularly at Canonfire! I have to say that if the motive is to rationally save the artifacts rather than possibly arbitrary number, that is pretty good motive.

    My thought is real world human populations will not work in a “realistic” view of GH because land is occupied by other races and monsters; are not necessary for human survival because of heroes and magic, and are not necessary to create the cultural artifacts because of magic and non-human races. But that does not tell you where between the canon numbers and, say, ten times that (or whatever would be real world realistic), they should be. I don’t know what they should be because I cannot comprehend all the parameters.

    GDV wrote: “Sure magic can do it but there is no prescedent for this in GH.” I don’t agree because there is construction magic, or think it is a prerequisite for inclusion. Assuming an absence of reference to utilization of such in canon histories does not mean that it is contrary to canon. As absurd as it sounds, I think it unrealistic to consider even relatively low levels of magic as merely icing on cake that does not really change anything.

    Consider this: How long would it take for just one magically stone-shaping personality with the mattock of the titans and a handful of other construction related devices/creatures/spells to build a coliseum? How about one hundred “normal” dwarves or two giants? AM would be rich indeed with only 100 dwarves or two giants as construction workers. I don’t see those as high fantasy, particularly if we are talking about something that takes place across relatively large spans of time and space such as with the construction of cities. Even in a relatively low magic world such as GH, there has to be big differences. That leaves a lot of opportunity for creativity. GDV’s Ulek forums would be excellent spring board for an explaining the spires of Niole Dra.

    Canon creates boundaries so that the creation is something that is recognizable as belonging to GH. With that in mind, the reasons I can see to deviate from the canon populations figures is if you cannot reconcile them with other canon, low fantasy realism, or the world in which you want to play. I don’t yet see any of those as the case.
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    Tue May 03, 2005 10:50 am  
    Eclipses

    Kirt wrote:
    I recently* recovered the written notes for this project and soon* will be posting some of it.


    That`s great news Kirt! I'm interested in the eclipse phenomena in Greyhawk. There's no much about it around, so your posts will surely help.

    Saludos,
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    Tue May 03, 2005 10:51 am  

    Skech, you may find this interesting...

    Tides of Oerth

    Just navigate around his site some. Good stuff.
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    Tue May 03, 2005 4:41 pm  
    Some replies to the original post

    Fantasy cliches are an integral part of Greyhawk. The setting is not improved by their removal, merely altered.

    Drawing real-world racial parallels is an old game from Greytalk. Cruel's analogs are far from the most controversial I've seen -- that honor probably goes to Sam Weiss' Oerdians = Jews contention. Also worth noting are old beliefs that Flan = Celt and Suloise = Melniboneans.

    As for imagining what lies beyond the Flanaess...perhaps it just seems like reinventing the wheel to me because I spent to so long on the "Overview of Oerik" article. :(

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    Tue May 03, 2005 4:55 pm  

    Kirt wrote:
    Skech wrote:
    1- Does Oerth every have eclipses (2 moons, 1 sun)? I've looked thru Greyspace and the various calendar references, but I cannot find a good answer. What about solar and lunar eclipses in your campaign?
    S


    A long time ago, Gary Holian, Eric Boyd, and I wrote an article called "Astronomy and Astrology of Geyhawk". It was rejected by Dragon and none of us did anything with it so long that all elecronic versions have been lost in our various system upgrades.

    I recently* recovered the written notes for this project and soon* will be posting some of it.

    IIRC, Greyspace says that all of the bodies in orbit around the Oerth have perefectly circular orbits, constant orbital velocities, and all but two orbit in the same plane. This implies that not only are there eclipses, but that there are a dozen-some eclipses that happen every year on the same date. Our article describes them and details from where they can be seen.


    Greyspace specifically says that both moons do on occasion ecplise the Sun (Liga), and in fact there are also occasional rare "double ecplises." (Greyspace, p 10, 17), so we have a canon reference Happy

    I stumbled across this before even reading this article: I got a copy of Greyspace today (new, still in shrinkwrap whoo hoo!) from an eBay auction and was eagerly reading it--I recalled that little tidbit when reading Skech's question and looked it up Happy

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    Tue May 03, 2005 6:02 pm  
    Re: Some replies to the original post

    Scottenkainen wrote:
    Drawing real-world racial parallels is an old game from Greytalk. Cruel's analogs are far from the most controversial I've seen -- that honor probably goes to Sam Weiss' Oerdians = Jews contention. Also worth noting are old beliefs that Flan = Celt and Suloise = Melniboneans. ~Scott C.


    Hey! I'm not _that_ old. Smile

    I still firmly believe that the Flan are a cross between Celts and Native Americans. I even believe you can find some support for the theory in canon. Wink And if those Irish monks really did make it to North America before Columbus, well . . .

    I also subscribe to the Suel as a Melnibonean-like people. Smile If the alternative is a goose-stepping Germanic/Nordic bund, that is no choice at all. Happy King Helmut of Keoland and his lovely Queen Brunhilda? I think not. Wink

    Controversial? Okay. Cool But as Indy would say, "Nazis. I _hate_ those guys!" Wink Racist Germans = Suel does nothing for me.

    Never heard of Sam's theory before, however.
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    Tue May 03, 2005 8:05 pm  

    Hey Scott, I loved your article, and for those who haven't read it, it's extremely relevant:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=364

    Personally, I believe this is an excellent starting point, especially since it incorporates several fan-based write-ups that I loved, like Sunela and Majhapor (?sp).

    Like Scott said, there's no need to re-invent the wheel...unless you really want to.
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    Wed May 04, 2005 4:53 am  

    Kirt wrote:

    ...
    I recently* recovered the written notes for this project and soon* will be posting some of it.
    ...
    *I teach 40 lessons a week, have a daughter of 5 and another of 8 months. "Recently" to me is less than a year ago, and "soon" is less than a year from now.


    Exclamation

    Good to hear that I am not the only one with a DECENT lack of free time...

    Happy
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    Wed May 04, 2005 12:04 pm  

    All very interesting and welcome posts. I personally like not having human populations as high as in real life, because it offers more room for non-human races and monsters. It also allows for 'mythical' races like elves, storm giants, etc. to have strong and viable kingdoms, instead of the old cliche that these realms are now "lost in the mists of time". That's one thing I'd be going for in Orannia; what would these lands, akin to those described in real-world fairy tales, look like if players could actually interact with them instead of just hearing about them in fables and meeting the descendants of those ancient peoples, who have declined in both power and numbers?

    I personally think it would be amusing to see how many of the "ancient" characters, both from Greyhawk and real-life myth, would look if they had statistics and abilities to interact with players. We'd probably enshrine Slerotin as the real "munchkin king", and think Heracles grossly distored the CR of whatever encounter the DM was trying to set up. Would Elminster be as badly viewed if he were a character from the ancient past, as opposed to a real-life and 'current' NPC that the players could interact with?
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    Wed May 04, 2005 12:39 pm  
    CSL

    Hey CSL, I enjoyed your series on knighthood btw. We may wish to borrow parts of the KoW if you are willing. I will PM you on that.

    Pesonages vs. Myths.

    I think this is an undeveloped portion of fantasy play in general, and only in Greyhawk is it coming to the fore. The same discussion can be had with actual events versus recorded history.

    Maybe a Fame Score would help you track what is and what is perceived. Would Heracles really be able to wrestle a river. Since this is a magic/fantasy world, we say yes and write him up that way. Or, could we describe a very famous 15th level strong man, and add 3,000 years of story telling.

    How would Heracles and Vecna and Slertoin interact, and what form would we actually put them in? Before we can answer the first, we may have to answer the second.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed May 04, 2005 1:22 pm  

    Oeridians are olive skinned. That means Mediterranean or Semitic.
    If they were Greek, they'd be a much more maritime power. As they stick to the land, they are obviously Semites. Since the Baklunish have claim to the Arab-type Semites, that leaves the Oeridians to be -
    the Jews!

    It is really quite obvious.

    And remember,

    LTTJ

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    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed May 04, 2005 7:56 pm  

    Anced_Math wrote:
    Hey CSL, I enjoyed your series on knighthood btw. We may wish to borrow parts of the KoW if you are willing. I will PM you on that.

    I think this is an undeveloped portion of fantasy play in general, and only in Greyhawk is it coming to the fore. The same discussion can be had with actual events versus recorded history.

    Maybe a Fame Score would help you track what is and what is perceived. Would Heracles really be able to wrestle a river. Since this is a magic/fantasy world, we say yes and write him up that way. Or, could we describe a very famous 15th level strong man, and add 3,000 years of story telling.


    The original Deities and Demigods book by Ward and Kuntz described Heracles, Fafhrd, and other heroes of myth, but they were IMHO, just uber-munchkinized characters that had all sorts of powerful abilities players couldn't even access. (Especially Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser; I don't mean to comment on Lieber's novels, but Ward and Kuntz gave them the same treatment we're always tearing Greenwood and Company for giving the FR PCs.)

    I think you misinterpret what I say about 'wrestling rivers'. What I mean is, could any adventurer of sufficient level wrestle a river that could change shape from fire to a giant snake to a rabid owlbear? How about stealing fire from fire giants to deliver to freezing halflings? Forging a chain out of the noise of a cat, the dreams of a fish, or the ink of an octopus? Have new mithril or adamantite limbs crafted for them to replace ones lost in combat or to curses?

    I'm interested in trying to replicate some of the strange and weird feats heroes and characters of real-life myth, as opposed to swords-and-sorcery literature, pulled off in their stories. How could all that be brought into GH, while still keeping the basic D&D framework?

    (PS: For those who think I'm going soft in trying to incorporate some elements from Baum, read the book. It's a lot darker in some places than the movie, heheheh.)
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    Master Greytalker

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    Thu May 05, 2005 4:10 pm  
    Misinterpret

    Hey CSL,

    No, actually I think I understand what you are doing, incorporating myth into sword and sorcery, and i like it. I was curious as to the opposite tact, creating myth (within the GH universe) from sword and sorcery.

    I guess that I am one who thinks that there should be more complexity in the "history," and "reality," of Greyhawk. Did Zagyg actually trap nine demigods. "Cannon," says yes... but what if the people on the street dont know this tale... or dont know it completely. In 100 years it could be the 99 demigods.

    I dont object to bringing the exploits of Heracles, or the adding the invulnerability of Achilles to this gaming universe. I just like brainstorming on the interesting and new things that can be created. We can always write a mechanic to wrestle a river. Can we come up with something as unique and compelling as wrestling a river.

    Maybe its different ways to skin a cat, maybe two different cats. Either way, I am enjoying the thread.
    Mad Archmage of the Oerth Journal

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    Mon May 09, 2005 2:16 am  

    hmmm interesting concepts all.
    However, has anyone posted anything else regarding the creation myths or the solid facts to their own personal sites or contributed anything else to Canonfire! resembling such info?
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    From: Patra, Greece

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    Mon May 09, 2005 7:43 am  

    Samwise wrote:
    Oeridians are olive skinned. That means Mediterranean or Semitic.
    If they were Greek, they'd be a much more maritime power. As they stick to the land, they are obviously Semites. Since the Baklunish have claim to the Arab-type Semites, that leaves the Oeridians to be -
    the Jews!


    I tend to draw no parallels of Greyhawk races with real world.

    But if I had to, then I tend to view the Oeridians as Romans with more engineering aptitude than maritime capabilities. Although, some Oeridian tribes were indeed capable sailors, like those who sailed to Aquaria.
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    Mon May 09, 2005 7:53 am  

    And may I say that Scottenkainen's article on the overview of Oerik is the state of the art till presence, judging from the reads, comments, and ratings of the article. So any relevant discussion should refer to this article. It is in general true and sad that too little cross-reference between articles or forum posts occurs.
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    Adept Greytalker

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    From: Ithaca, New York

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    Mon May 09, 2005 4:35 pm  

    A brief comment, since I'm too shallow to make a really meaningful contribution....

    While I'm not fond of direct fantasy-reality cultural correlations, I can live with them. What is MORE irritating, particularly given the mixture of American & European "cultures" in the Flanaess, is to insist that cultures in the rest of Oerik share the same geographical conjunctions as they do on Earth.

    Not picking anyone out, just something to be aware of.
    Cheers
    Nell.
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    Mon May 09, 2005 4:38 pm  

    basiliv wrote:
    Hey Scott, I loved your article, and for those who haven't read it, it's extremely relevant:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=364

    Personally, I believe this is an excellent starting point, especially since it incorporates several fan-based write-ups that I loved, like Sunela and Majhapor (?sp).

    Like Scott said, there's no need to re-invent the wheel...unless you really want to.


    I didn't see a Mhajapor reference, unless you mean the Nihonese one. If there's another one, please point it out -- my ego loves references!

    Cool
    Nell.
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    Mon May 09, 2005 9:22 pm  

    Wow...um...er...yeah, I guess it was the Nihonese reference. Sorry about that.

    But anyone interested in good material for Beyond the Flanaess info, check out Nellisir's Lo Nakar article:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=181

    For even further out, try to track down his Mhajapor writeup. I'd provide a link, but I'm not actually sure where you've got it posted, Nellisir. I've just got it as a text doc from way back when I was submitting material to you for OJ 9, 10, & 11...[/u]
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue May 10, 2005 2:47 am  

    Now that you got me thinking about it, I may submit it to CF. At least portions of it were just sent to GT, and aren't archived anywhere official.

    Cheers
    Nell.
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    Tue May 10, 2005 9:02 pm  

    Hey all, I'm new to this site but have been a huge Greyhawk fan since I was a kid.

    Anyway, I noticed some discussion about the 'unrealistic' population numbers in Greyhawk, and I thought you all might be interested to know that the population numbers for the cities of the Flanaess are completely consistent with European population numbers in the late medieval and early rennaisance period.

    Circa 1200 AD the largest cities in Europe where the indepenent merchant city states of Milan and Venice (sound similar to Greyhawk and Dyvers?), both of which had populations less 50,000. (Paris at that time had less than 22,000). It wasn't until circa 1350 AD that any European cities broke 100,000 (and again those where primarily the Italian city states).

    I know this is hard to comprehend in 2005, where a town of 50,000 is considered very small, but in the medieval period that would have been a very major city! (Cities where much more dense at that time so they seemed bigger.) Huge structures like curtain walls, castles and cathedrals took decades to build, but populations of this size certainly could, and certainly did build many massive structures over a period of years (and greyhawk is nearly 500 years old!).

    Here's some resources on medieval European statistics that I dug up a while back:

    Medieval city populations:
    http://scholar.chem.nyu.edu/tekpages/urbanpop.html

    Medieval regional populations:
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/pop-in-eur.html
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed May 11, 2005 1:31 pm  
    The range of years

    A good, solid contribution, Ando. A scholarly approach is always appreciated on Greytalk and Canonfire.

    Culturally and technologically, the main cultures of the Flanaess are equivalent to about 1490 AD. Clearly, as you have demonstrated, the human population of the Flanaess does not approach that of Europe towards the end of the 15th century. Either the humans of Oerth are just smarter or, more likely, it is the influence of nonhuman races that have advanced mankind on Oerik at least 200 years.

    ~Scott C.
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    Wed May 11, 2005 2:19 pm  

    Thanks Scottenkainen..... So does that mean I'll get my appretice greytalker stripes sometime soon? Wink
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    Thu May 12, 2005 9:25 pm  

    Much to my amazement I have some conflicting source in this discussion. I kept an old U.S. News special magazine dealing with the Year 1000. In the series of articles it details the major cities of the time. Their sources are: The Atlas of Medieval Man; Atlas of Medieval Europe; The Times Atlas of World History; Nomads and Crusaders AD 1000-1368; The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History; The Oxford Illustrated History of Vikings; Encyclopaedia Brittanica; The Silk Road:Overland Trade and Cultural Interactions in Eurasia; Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth:An Historical Census.[/i]

    First the major regions:
    Islamic Caliphates: 60 million
    Indian Kingdoms: 50 million
    Viking Kingdoms: 1-2 million
    Byzantine Empire: 20 million
    Holy Roman Empire: 35 million
    Song Empire: 75 million

    Largest Cities:
    1. Cordova: 450,000/ Probably the largest and most prosperous cityof the time, Cordova was at the cultural forefront in the Year 1000, renowned for its architecture, craftwork and dedication to learning.

    2. Kaifeng: 400,000 (in modern day china) Situated near the Yellow River, this Song capital benefitted from its proximity to the empire's industrial center and canal network.

    3. Constantinople: 300,000/ Located at a strategic crossroads between Europe and Asia, Constantinople was the center of the Byzantine Empire and a major trading hub.

    4. Angkor: 200,000 (in modern day Cambodia) This Khmer capital was in the political center of Southeast Asia, and the main market for rice produced by the empire's high yield irrigation system.

    5. Kyoto: 175,000/ Japan's capital since the late eighth century, Kyoto was a religious and cultural center. It was also renowned for its silk works.

    6. Cairo: 135,000/ Capital of the Fatimid dynasty, Cairo was known for its many libraries and colleges.

    7. Baghdad: 125,000/ The capital of the Abassid caliphate, Baghdad was known in 1000 as the intellectual center of the world. Persian influence pervaded the city's architecture, literature and court life.

    8. Neyshabur:125,000 (in modern day Iran) One of Persia's most progressive cities, Neyshabur also served as a major source of turquoise during this period.

    9. Al Hasa: 110,00 (in modern day Saudi Arabia) Al Hasa was the center of the Qarmatian movement, a radical arm of the Shiite Muslim sect that advocated widespread social equality.

    10. Anhilvada: 100,000 (in modern day India) The size and location of Anhilvada, like many Indian cities were subject to changes in the path and flow of nearby rivers.

    11. Rayy:100,000 (near modern day Tehran) Known for its superior silks and ceramics, the city was described at the time as stunningly beautiful.

    12. Isfahan: 100,000 (in modern day Iran) Located high atop a fertile plain, Isfahan was a producer of grains and silk and was well known for its metalwork and rugs.

    13. Seville: 90,000/ One of the wealthiest and most cultured cities in the Muslim state of Andalusia, Seville excelled in science and the arts.

    14. Dali: 90,000 (in modern day China) Dali peaked in 968, but the fine marble that was widely sought for buildings and sculptures is still quarried there today.

    15. Thanjavur: 90,000/ Thanjavur was the capital of India's Chola dynasty. There King Rajaraja built a massive stone temple dedicated to Shiva.

    That's all for now, more stuff to come as I re-read the magazine.
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    Thu May 12, 2005 10:53 pm  

    Middle Eastern and Asian cities were certainly larger than most European cities of that era (and Cordova, Seville, and Constantinople were middle eastern cities culturally despite being in Europe). Still the numbers on the spanish cities seem rather high to me, just off the top of my head. Andalusia was never something I studied in great detail, though.

    Rome was a much larger city in the ancient era than it was in the medieval, for instance.

    Other than London, all the major english cities (Bristol, York, Winchester, etc) had medieval (early 13th century) populations of 5-10k according to what I've read. London was quite a bit larger, but not yet in the six figures.

    Regardless, the GH population figures in the source materials are certainly within the range of scholarly accounts for medieval era states (which, as shown, vary rather widely..).
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