Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kingdoms

Now that we have the continent sized area more or less resolved, it's time to zoom further down a layer and focus on Kingdoms and Sociology.  Again, since the World Builder's Guide allows you to approach world creations from a couple of different angles, I'm skipping the first chunk.

The first real decision I need to make is "Cultural Archetype."  Not surprising, it's pretty hard for most of us to come up with a really unique and different fantasy culture and unless you already have a really strong idea, you're probably better off just stealing from history.  There's a chart, but this is a no-brainer for me--Dark Ages Europe.

Next is races.  At this point something hits me--I have no idea how big of a Kingdom I wish to focus on.  The WBG tends to divide the available states into Small, Medium, and Large Kingdoms, or an Empire.  I really have no idea what I size I want the Kingdom I'm focusing on to be.  I mean, I can see my "dark ages" community being anything from a tiny duchy to part of a vast, if heavily decentralized realm, similar to Charlemagne's Empire.  So, let's leave it up to a die roll.  I got a 3--so I'll be dealing with a Large Kingdom.

Moving on to races, a Large Kingdom should have 1-3 Primary races and 2-9 Secondary races.  Each primary race makes up 25-50% of the population, with each secondary race being 1-10%.  Now, I haven't really picked where this Kingdom will be, but I know I want it somewhere in the Human dominated North-west peninsula's.  As such, Human will definitely be at least one of the Primary races.  Rolling some dice, I get: 3 Primary and 4 Secondary races.  Hmm, these results somewhat surprised me, as I didn't view this kingdom as being a racial hodgepodge--if anything I thought I'd see more Secondary Races.

Well, let's see where this takes us.  I know Human will be one of the races, as it's the dominant one in the area.  I flip back a few pages and roll on the race tables I used for continent map.  For Primary, I get: Humans and Orcs.  Hmm, that's two Human groups.  Well, ok--one group is descended from the barbarian conquerors, and the other, now serfs, are the natives who have lived here since the days of the Elven Empire, if not before.  The Orcs are apparently the dominant bad guys in the area, based on their numbers.  It also opens the door for Half-Orcs as a PC race--I might even bust out my old Complete Book of Humanoids and allow Orcs as a PC race.

Next, I have 4 Secondary Races to focus on. Again, going back to the race chart, I end up with: Goblin, Human (another group!), Dragon, and Dwarves.

Hey, check it out, Dwarves finally make an appearance in my setting.  My gut says that the Orcs took out their ancient fortresses and drove the Dwarves to the surface.  The Dragon's may or may not be a fully populated Race--one particularly powerful beast may be all that's there.   The Goblins--probably the toadies of the Orcs, though...I might do something slightly different.

I've always liked the idea of Spontaneous Generation--the idea that creatures just develop from the world around them.  I especially like this when it comes to monsters in D&D as I believe that some monsters should just be monsters--evil, vile things that need to be wiped out.  When our heroes bust into a cavern after killing a dozen Orcish warriors and see two dozen women, a dozen kids, and a half dozen grandparents--well, suddenly, our PC's aren't so heroic, are they?  Now, this can be used to add flavor and nuance to the world, and to add elements of morality and politics and the like.  But, I also want there to be just straight up monsters, so I'm going to say now that Orcs dervice from Spontaneous Generation, growing deep in the darkness among the dead where horribly tragedies took place.  Goblins are their immature versions--if they get enough meat and time, they eventually "grow" into Orcs.

I'm not entirely sure what to do with the third group of humans.  If group A are the barbarian conquerors and group B are the conquered peasants, what to do with Group C?  The ancient, original inhabitants, eking out an existence in the fringes?  Decedents of ancient alien explorers, cursed and blessed with psychic powers?  Gypsy like wanderers who can move between the armed baronies?  Highly civilized and cultured folk who have taken refuge in the few remaining cities?  I'm not really sure what to do with them yet...let's see what develops as we progress.

4 comments:

  1. Some comments:

    Spontaneous Generation: I do like it, but to be honest, goblins have always seemed to be this "flavor" of creature to me. You know, the different varieties of goblin -

    Your ordinary goblin is a thing that grows out of poisoned, cursed lands. They generate out of congealed shadow or bloodstains, these kinds of things.

    Particularly nasty spots, or particularly developed goblins can go one of two directions. They can settle, become organized. Perhaps these are goblins that come out of unfeelingness, despair, abuse. The order that an abusive husband puts over his family. These become hobgoblins.

    The other is the more wild, monstrous sort of evil. A pack of wolves devours some settlers. Goblins in the caves. These become bugbears.

    So now Orcs - Orcs are humans who spend too long in these tainted spots. Perhaps it's the Abyss leaking out of the corners of the world, perhaps it's something else. but Orcs are in their origin living creatures infected by this Goblin-stuff, this dark despair and dread.

    And now the Third Humans -
    Perhaps when the Invaders came in, they overran a political/ethnic division. There are the Original Humans, but the OHs lived side-by-side with Another Group of Humans. They hated each other, their feuds were always simmmering. The Invaders kept these feuds under wraps, but it always resurfaces. Here, the model would be the Balkans or any other of the giant numbers of depressing conflicts like that.

    This could also be a religious conflict - think of Indian Hindus versus Indian Muslims, and the Invaders are of course either the Mughals or the British...

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  2. I was thinking of doing a religions minority for the other group of humans. Perhaps a monotheist vs. polytheist conflict, or different flavors of gods.

    What if the 3rd group of humans were "elven" humans--those who have embraced Elven ways and practices and religious beliefs. They were the ruling power before the collapse of the Elven Empire, and now the two "native" groups are so busy sniping at each other and trying to curry favor with the barbarians to settle old scores that they can't even consider working together to overthrow the yoke of the Barbarian's?

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  3. What would you say to spontaneous generation of all races; goblins and orcs, but also humans, dwarves, and elves? If tragedies and violence creates orcs, maybe acts of charity or civility creates the good races. If a church was devout, it would generate its own orphans... and like all good spontaneous generation phenomenon, it is indistinguishable from more mundane/accurate explanations like people hiding babies in the pews. Anyway, it might be a good hook for a character, especially a cleric or paladin, if they were literally a child of a church or a city.

    There's also a neat bit in the spontaneous generation article about "had to be trials of combinations of parts of animals that spontaneously arose. Successful combinations formed the species we now see, unsuccessful forms failed to reproduce." There's your bestiary, there's your explanation of why there are owlbears.

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  4. Spontaneous generation --

    Just a thought: don't we already have a system whereby acts of love and devotion, over time, give rise to new beings? As in, creating, loving and raising a child?

    I like the idea of evil being quick, easy, and ultimately destructive or degenerative. And good being fragile, vulnerable, and far, far more rare in the world. This makes it more interesting / dramatic / tough to be a really capital-G Good character - you work hard to build something, it gets destroyed so easily, then you get back up and try to rebuild, knowing that destruction is coming... But hoping that, in the end, against all odds, something will bloom.

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