Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Alberich » May 4th, 2012, 12:29 pm

Graybeard wrote:Certainly true for "combat" magic. However, these people aren't fools. It has already been established that mining is important to the economy of Goriel, and that's a dangerous business. A miner that didn't exploit all available technology, including thaumato-technology and maybe also dwarven tech, to meet those dangers would be behaving irresponsibly, and furthermore, would be ceding a competitive advantage to other operations that did use those technologies, particularly since magic seems to be "free" once you know how to use it.


But the talent and skills seem to be rare outside Tsuiraku and the Elven Territories -- and I could see a socially primitive country like this having settled into a "medieval" view of wealth production. Not, "I've got these mines. How can I make them produce more?" but "I control this land and these mines, and it generates this much revenue per year; and if I want more, I need to get control of more land." (By violence, purchase, marriage, or whatever.)

Veracia hasn't been portrayed as a country that uses magical enhancement to "mechanize" its farming or fishing practice, either in the game or in the comic. They're not stupid either, and being more civilized (and at peace for longer) than Goriel, they'd have greater opportunity to exploit their own economic resources. There'd be many obvious ways this could be done, if magical talent were so common. Instead, you've got a priestly class, with a subset of magicians, and the real talent seems to be concentrated around the Patriarch. The human parts of the ES/ER world, as I understand them, are overall magic-poor.

For these reasons, I don't agree that the Gorielians should have well-developed "mining magic," but rather a sporadic sprinkling of combat magic that is rarely used and jealously guarded by the king and the clan chiefs, a few family healers who're used when they can be, and otherwise a place where you just don't see magic from day to day.

Understood & agree on the Sisterhood.
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Graybeard » May 4th, 2012, 2:09 pm

Alberich wrote:
Graybeard wrote:Certainly true for "combat" magic. However, these people aren't fools. It has already been established that mining is important to the economy of Goriel, and that's a dangerous business. A miner that didn't exploit all available technology, including thaumato-technology and maybe also dwarven tech, to meet those dangers would be behaving irresponsibly, and furthermore, would be ceding a competitive advantage to other operations that did use those technologies, particularly since magic seems to be "free" once you know how to use it.


But the talent and skills seem to be rare outside Tsuiraku and the Elven Territories -- and I could see a socially primitive country like this having settled into a "medieval" view of wealth production. Not, "I've got these mines. How can I make them produce more?" but "I control this land and these mines, and it generates this much revenue per year; and if I want more, I need to get control of more land." (By violence, purchase, marriage, or whatever.)

I'm not so sure about that "medieval" view. The reason, simply put, is magic -- magic plus the fact that the Errant World is generally a pretty well-connected place, despite the backwardness of some of its countries. There were two reasons why real-world mining and agriculture were done at the subsistence level in the Middle Ages. One was that that was sufficient given a rather sparse population and lack of infrastructure to make it beneficial to swap goods with distant lands. The other was that technical knowledge, and engineering state of the art, was insufficient to make advanced technologies widely available. The first of those no longer applies in the Errant World, what with the existence of airships (which presumably have a magical component) and warp gates (which certainly do). The second may well still be true in non-magical technology, but the magical word is definitely getting out. Sarine remarked once on how quickly Farrel is catching up, a remark precipitated by magical travel. We don't "know" how magically capable the Northern Confederacy is, but given that their capabilities for non-magical weaponry are more advanced than anyone else's (Poe said so once), one wouldn't think they'd be averse to learning magic where it helps them out; they're hardly stuck in the primitivist rut of the main population of Veracia.

Curiously, the situation that comes closer to what you're thinking of may be later, the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, rather than medieval times. When the Davy lamp was introduced, to reduce the number of explosions in underground mines, the result was that the number of accidents increased for some time, because availability of the lamps didn't expand as rapidly as the mining did. Why not? Because the mine owners made the miners buy their own lamps -- and Davy lamps weren't available at the company store. Now that is the kind of perverse behavior that might occur in Goriel. However, miners there don't need to buy lamps; they just need to know how to use free, inexhaustible magic. So I still don't think the situations are similar.

Alberich wrote:Veracia hasn't been portrayed as a country that uses magical enhancement to "mechanize" its farming or fishing practice, either in the game or in the comic. They're not stupid either, and being more civilized (and at peace for longer) than Goriel, they'd have greater opportunity to exploit their own economic resources. There'd be many obvious ways this could be done, if magical talent were so common. Instead, you've got a priestly class, with a subset of magicians, and the real talent seems to be concentrated around the Patriarch. The human parts of the ES/ER world, as I understand them, are overall magic-poor.

Well, two points. First, we really haven't seen enough of daily life in Veracia to know what the peasant life is like, but at the minimum, Suzie, the whore's daughter who saw through Sarna's illusion, would have been taken by her mother to a "healer" to have her vision "defect" addressed (never mind that it was an extra skill, not a defect), if only they'd had more money. The availability of at least some minor bits of magic there may be greater than we perceive it to be. Second, we already know that there is one locale in the Northern Confederacy -- Santuariel -- that is not magic-poor. (Leah and Riley pointed out that Ianilis' omega-cures were causing problems in town, since it was well known for magical healing that became a trade commodity in dealing with other towns nearby.) Where there is one, there will be more.

On balance, I don't think we can assume Goriel to be magic-poor at all. Clearly there would be limits on how it's used there, similar in concept to the limits in Veracia, but probably quite different in implementation (i.e., who would be allowed to have what skillz). But it would be there, I think.
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Alberich » May 4th, 2012, 2:53 pm

In my view, magic worlds where "magic is common and takes the role of technology" give you a different feel than ES does -- Steven Brust's "Vlad Taltos" series is a sort-of example (though there, most of the magic is held by the nobility and used accordingly; peasants are still using splint-and-saw doctors; but some of the stories take place mostly among nobles and you've got telepathy for commo, teleportation as handy as cars, healing magic and even revivification for medicine, etc.). Tsuiraku does have something of that feel, and had "modernized" accordingly, but I don't get that same vibe from Veracia or Farrel either as presented in the comics. This is what leads me to think of the human world as magic-poor.

Also, from the things we've talked about so far, I don't see Goriel's clans giving priority to stable economic productivity. If there's a big, strong man born inside the clan, I wouldn't think they'd send him down the pit to haul ore, or out into the fields to plow, to compete in the production of economic goods - but rather they'd put him next to the chief or a sub-chief, where he could deal out violence as needed. Similar with magical talent. (And I think in an unstable, violent place as we've described it, rank and prestige would go to the violent arts, and that the talented would be drawn there.)

What do you think?
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Graybeard » May 4th, 2012, 8:03 pm

Alberich wrote:In my view, magic worlds where "magic is common and takes the role of technology" give you a different feel than ES does -- Steven Brust's "Vlad Taltos" series is a sort-of example (though there, most of the magic is held by the nobility and used accordingly; peasants are still using splint-and-saw doctors; but some of the stories take place mostly among nobles and you've got telepathy for commo, teleportation as handy as cars, healing magic and even revivification for medicine, etc.). Tsuiraku does have something of that feel, and had "modernized" accordingly, but I don't get that same vibe from Veracia or Farrel either as presented in the comics. This is what leads me to think of the human world as magic-poor.


Fair enough. I still have to think, though, that the mines are one of the places where magic would be showing up. Heck, in our world, if magic could stand in for technology in the mines, we'd do it -- mining is still a very dangerous operation to this day.

Alberich wrote:Also, from the things we've talked about so far, I don't see Goriel's clans giving priority to stable economic productivity. If there's a big, strong man born inside the clan, I wouldn't think they'd send him down the pit to haul ore, or out into the fields to plow, to compete in the production of economic goods - but rather they'd put him next to the chief or a sub-chief, where he could deal out violence as needed. Similar with magical talent. (And I think in an unstable, violent place as we've described it, rank and prestige would go to the violent arts, and that the talented would be drawn there.)

Well, think about where that last part takes you. There are two key points. First, we know the Northern Confederacy has plenty of non-magical firepower, which diminishes the need for magical firepower as compared to Tsuiraku or Veracia. Second, without the need, there would be less pressure to have their magic users specialize in combat; quite the contrary, magical combat would probably be viewed as somehow dishonorable and wimpy. Yeah, the big muscle guy would be at the chief's right hand (at least until he got too threatening himself). The mage's seat would be empty.

Here's an idea. Suppose the magic users constitute their own "clan," really more of an independent guild than a clan, that supplies magical services to the other clans but has no independent standing of their own. Need a new shaft drilled in a mine? Contract with the Sorceror's Guild (seems like a reasonable name) for a mage who specializes in blowing stuff up. Got a banquet going on and want to make sure nobody (except possibly the guy you're targeting...) gets slipped something lethal in their beer? Have the Guild send a rented detection specialist. And so on. This produces an amusing symmetry compared to the gun-wielding guilds in Farrel, and it keeps the basic social structure intact while giving room for the magic that I think ought to be there.
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Alberich » May 5th, 2012, 6:00 am

Graybeard wrote:I still have to think, though, that the mines are one of the places where magic would be showing up. Heck, in our world, if magic could stand in for technology in the mines, we'd do it -- mining is still a very dangerous operation to this day.


To be sure we would - in many countries we'd probably make it mandatory by regulation. As would Tsuiraku. But Goriel's a different mentality. Power and prestige, very high priorities; safety and productivity, not so much.

Graybeard wrote:First, we know the Northern Confederacy has plenty of non-magical firepower, which diminishes the need for magical firepower as compared to Tsuiraku or Veracia. Second, without the need, there would be less pressure to have their magic users specialize in combat; quite the contrary, magical combat would probably be viewed as somehow dishonorable and wimpy. Yeah, the big muscle guy would be at the chief's right hand (at least until he got too threatening himself). The mage's seat would be empty.


Disagree. I think magical "firepower" would be socially similar to poison gas in the WWI-WWII era -- something you don't use on a casual basis, but only when you think you can win the whole war by using it as a "game changer," and with terrible reprisals awaiting you if you use it and fail. So every big clan wants it and has it available, but uses it only in the event of a foreign war or a life-or-death struggle. (This being a partial explanation for why such a fragmented country remains independent, and the Veracians aren't trying to convert any clans right now - if you do something that genuinely unites them, they're a lot nastier than they are fragmented.) The thought of using it primarily as an economic asset, to enhance productivity and make life easier, is something I'd expect them to be very far away from.

If a guild (or Levite-like "tribe") of wizards started to form, I wouldn't see the chieftains letting their boys get recruited into it, and I would see the king wanting to get control of it as soon as possible - as would every powerful chief, nobody liking the idea of such a concentration of power sitting out there uncontrolled. So I prefer the idea of wizards as clan assets, jealously guarded and rarely used (except for healing and so on), but with the prestige that comes from the ability to do extreme harm.
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Graybeard » May 5th, 2012, 1:10 pm

Alberich wrote:
Graybeard wrote:I still have to think, though, that the mines are one of the places where magic would be showing up. Heck, in our world, if magic could stand in for technology in the mines, we'd do it -- mining is still a very dangerous operation to this day.


To be sure we would - in many countries we'd probably make it mandatory by regulation. As would Tsuiraku. But Goriel's a different mentality. Power and prestige, very high priorities; safety and productivity, not so much.

For the upper crust, that may well be true. However, for the grunts who work in the mines, the highest priority is getting one's ass safely out of the mine at the end of the day, and home to the (dominated) wife and kiddies (particularly sons). And this is where the Poe-verse differs from the real world: steps to ensure self-preservation can be taken at the grunt level, if there's a grunt who somehow learns the right bit of magic, the way Ian did from Maxwel in Errant Story. Subsequent use of that magic, unlike procurement and use of a Davy lamp, is free, a situation that doesn't exist in the real world. Mine safety can therefore be buttressed by the miners, whether the bosses care about it or not, and without any effect on their power and prestige. If it can be thus buttressed, it will be; the basic urge to self-preservation will see to that. And then the upper crust will start to figure out how to use it to their advantage ...

I think that if there's one aspect of the Errant World that hasn't been adequately explored, either by Poe or by us, it's the implications of having that free resource around. We can play with that here.

Alberich wrote:
Graybeard wrote:First, we know the Northern Confederacy has plenty of non-magical firepower, which diminishes the need for magical firepower as compared to Tsuiraku or Veracia. Second, without the need, there would be less pressure to have their magic users specialize in combat; quite the contrary, magical combat would probably be viewed as somehow dishonorable and wimpy. Yeah, the big muscle guy would be at the chief's right hand (at least until he got too threatening himself). The mage's seat would be empty.


Disagree. I think magical "firepower" would be socially similar to poison gas in the WWI-WWII era -- something you don't use on a casual basis, but only when you think you can win the whole war by using it as a "game changer," and with terrible reprisals awaiting you if you use it and fail. So every big clan wants it and has it available, but uses it only in the event of a foreign war or a life-or-death struggle. (This being a partial explanation for why such a fragmented country remains independent, and the Veracians aren't trying to convert any clans right now - if you do something that genuinely unites them, they're a lot nastier than they are fragmented.) The thought of using it primarily as an economic asset, to enhance productivity and make life easier, is something I'd expect them to be very far away from.

If a guild (or Levite-like "tribe") of wizards started to form, I wouldn't see the chieftains letting their boys get recruited into it, and I would see the king wanting to get control of it as soon as possible - as would every powerful chief, nobody liking the idea of such a concentration of power sitting out there uncontrolled. So I prefer the idea of wizards as clan assets, jealously guarded and rarely used (except for healing and so on), but with the prestige that comes from the ability to do extreme harm.

That's probably exactly how things would work, if Goriel was a full-blown nation rather than a city-state. However, it's considerably smaller than that, maybe a population of 200,000 -- it's just one of the numerous city-states comprising the Confederacy, after all, and the Confederacy isn't big enough (yet) to take on Veracia in a fight. Between that and the fact that magical aptitude sufficient (at least without a great deal of training) to fight wars or blast mine passages seems to be rare in the Poe-verse, I think most clans would decide they couldn't afford to have a mage on standby all the time; there just wouldn't be enough mages to go around. Hence the Sorcerer's Guild. Note that there is real-world precedent for something like this that, in contrast to many real-world analogues, probably is applicable, namely the bizarre Prohibition-era "organization" called "Murder, Inc." If the Mafia had been running New York completely during the 1930s (more or less the situation in Goriel), this bunch would have gone on doing what they did, lacking a Thomas Dewey to shut them down.

You're right, though, that if a Sorcerer's Guild did exist, the big boss in Goriel, whether a king or a ruling council or just the most powerful capo of a clan, would try to keep a heavy thumb on them -- and the thumb could potentially be heavy enough to keep the Guild from ever becoming powerful in their own right. That would be just another tension existing in an already fractious society. And if the Guild ever figures out that this band of visitors has both magical power and freedom of action exceeding their own ... well, life for Argus, Rose, Tim and Eli, the primary magic wielders in our little group, could get very interesting.
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Alberich » May 5th, 2012, 3:50 pm

Graybeard wrote:However, for the grunts who work in the mines, the highest priority is getting one's ass safely out of the mine at the end of the day, and home to the (dominated) wife and kiddies (particularly sons). And this is where the Poe-verse differs from the real world: steps to ensure self-preservation can be taken at the grunt level, if there's a grunt who somehow learns the right bit of magic, the way Ian did from Maxwell in Errant Story...I think that if there's one aspect of the Errant World that hasn't been adequately explored, either by Poe or by us, it's the implications of having that free resource around. We can play with that here.


This assumes that the talent for magic is universal, or at least very very common. And that is something that has never been established, either in the comics or in the game.

Among the elves, yes. Among half-elves like Ian, yes. In Tsuiraku, which appears to be a long-isolated city of 100% part-elves, yes. And as Poe showed it in the comics, this hugely transformed the societies where it occurs - so that Tsuiraku has a positively modern feel, and "elfland" a sort of kinky sci-fantasy feel, neither anything like the human kingdoms he shows on the outside. (For example, both these countries appear to have 100%-mage armies, while Veracia seems to rely mostly on ordinary humans with pointy things - except in really important places, like right around the Patriarch himself.)

Veracia and Farrel, by contrast, look and feel like your standard fantasy sorta-medieval human worlds, where magic is incredibly rare among common people. And given the timelines he's run -- with centuries of peace to develop in -- there'd be changes on an industrial-revolution scale or greater were it otherwise. And those changes would be greatest, not in violent backwaters like Goriel, but in large nations at peace like Veracia. I don't really want to transform the world to "play with" that. If the other players fall in, then I will too, that's why it's "collaboration," but I'm against it and don't think we should take this game and this world that way.

If magic is very rare among humans, on the other hand, what I'd expect is what I said before -- any glimmering of magical talent isn't left down in the mines or out in the fields to improve working conditions, but is snapped up by the rulers to be used for their own ends, power and prestige.

Graybeard wrote:That's probably exactly how things would work, if Goriel was a full-blown nation rather than a city-state. However, it's considerably smaller than that, maybe a population of 200,000 -- it's just one of the numerous city-states comprising the Confederacy, after all, and the Confederacy isn't big enough (yet) to take on Veracia in a fight. Between that and the fact that magical aptitude sufficient (at least without a great deal of training) to fight wars or blast mine passages seems to be rare in the Poe-verse, I think most clans would decide they couldn't afford to have a mage on standby all the time...


But if a mage were born into the clan, what would they do - let him leave and join an "outside" organization, or raise him as one of their own and keep him for their own use? I think the latter, regardless of the country's size -- though if the place became more orderly, where you could rely on a stable government (or something else) to keep the peace, that might change. (Hiring them at great expense, by contrast, really wouldn't make sense - except in anticipation of a coup.)
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Graybeard » May 5th, 2012, 10:43 pm

Alberich wrote:
Graybeard wrote:However, for the grunts who work in the mines, the highest priority is getting one's ass safely out of the mine at the end of the day, and home to the (dominated) wife and kiddies (particularly sons). And this is where the Poe-verse differs from the real world: steps to ensure self-preservation can be taken at the grunt level, if there's a grunt who somehow learns the right bit of magic, the way Ian did from Maxwell in Errant Story...I think that if there's one aspect of the Errant World that hasn't been adequately explored, either by Poe or by us, it's the implications of having that free resource around. We can play with that here.

This assumes that the talent for magic is universal, or at least very very common. And that is something that has never been established, either in the comics or in the game.

Well, back near the beginning of the game, when Impy still had time for it, she started a very interesting discussion of how magic works in the Poe-verse. The whole thing is well worth a read (it's not that long), but to summarize a few salient points:
  • The ability to use magic, at least in principle and at a very basic level, not only is not that rare, but in fact is probably more nearly the rule than the exception.
  • For most people who don't use magic at all, the reason is cultural (e.g. they're "indoctrinated" not to do it) or practical (it wouldn't be worth the extensive time and effort to cultivate their limited capabilities).
  • While most people "can" use magic, the ability to use it well is not widespread, and is constrained by the need for both natural talent and education, with a lot of hard work and practice involved.
  • The fact that Tsuirakuans essentially all use magic at some level, while few others do, is due to the magical "culture" there and the expectation that magic will be used, rather than anything innate to Tsuirakuans. (Note that this all happened before developments in Errant Story suggested significant half-elf ancestry in Tsuiraku.)
All of this argues that we have the freedom to treat magic use in Goriel however we want to, without violating canon. The acceptance of magic use could range from "no way, nohow" all the way to near-Tsuirakuan levels of sophistication. Obviously the lower levels would be more likely, and more consistent with what little we know of the Northern Confederacy, but the options are there.

Alberich wrote:Among the elves, yes. Among half-elves like Ian, yes. In Tsuiraku, which appears to be a long-isolated city of 100% part-elves, yes. And as Poe showed it in the comics, this hugely transformed the societies where it occurs - so that Tsuiraku has a positively modern feel, and "elfland" a sort of kinky sci-fantasy feel, neither anything like the human kingdoms he shows on the outside. (For example, both these countries appear to have 100%-mage armies, while Veracia seems to rely mostly on ordinary humans with pointy things - except in really important places, like right around the Patriarch himself.)

Veracia and Farrel, by contrast, look and feel like your standard fantasy sorta-medieval human worlds, where magic is incredibly rare among common people. And given the timelines he's run -- with centuries of peace to develop in -- there'd be changes on an industrial-revolution scale or greater were it otherwise. And those changes would be greatest, not in violent backwaters like Goriel, but in large nations at peace like Veracia. I don't really want to transform the world to "play with" that. If the other players fall in, then I will too, that's why it's "collaboration," but I'm against it and don't think we should take this game and this world that way.

Well, the "Chronicles of Errant Knowledge" have interesting relevance to this. First, Veracia's militia relies mostly on ordinary humans with pointy things. However, Poe mentioned in one of the Chronicles that what made the Mage/Priest War possible was the Veracian priest, who is implied to have magical skills potent enough to go to war with, if not on the Tsuirakuan level. There's just no need to haul out the priests to deal with most law-enforcement matters, and presumably there would be non-magical cannon fodder in the military. (Note, btw, that this became the basis of an extended and eerie game episode involving the "Peaceful Dead" that's well worth a read if you haven't done it already.) But the magic users in the military are definitely there.

Here you have homed in on one thing that has puzzled me about the Poe-verse more or less from the beginning of Errant Story. Why hasn't there been an Industrial Revolution in most of the world? One is almost led to the conclusion that the ability to use magic for some things has stopped non-magical innovation. How else can one explain the fact that neither Farrel nor the Northern Confederacy (leaving Veracia out of it because of the weird Veracian Church, although that isn't a complete answer either) has advanced technologically in the two thousand years since the elves went away? That's a long time!
Alberich wrote:But if a mage were born into the clan, what would they do - let him leave and join an "outside" organization, or raise him as one of their own and keep him for their own use? I think the latter, regardless of the country's size -- though if the place became more orderly, where you could rely on a stable government (or something else) to keep the peace, that might change. (Hiring them at great expense, by contrast, really wouldn't make sense - except in anticipation of a coup.)

I think what this all boils down to is that your view of the violence and precariousness of society/culture in Goriel makes for a much more violent, tense place than mine does, and that the way mages would be "used" in Gorielian culture probably hinges on that. A really chaotic Goriel would probably not be able to support a Sorcerer's Guild. One that basically functions well, apart from the misogyny, would, I contend. So just how disagreeable do we want the place to be?
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Sareth » May 5th, 2012, 11:42 pm

There are limits to just how disagreeable a place can be and can still function on even the most basic of levels. Trust me on this one, I've kind of seen it first hand. I'm inclined to agree with Graybeard's level of violence here, for two reasons. The first is the size of the place. If it's around 200k or so there's only so many people to go around being violent toward one another to go around. You get very violent at all in that small a population and the bloodletting will turn "city" into "boonies" quickly. They lack the population to truly be bloody bastards. The second is that they are, in fact, a city state. That implies organization and leadership sufficient to actually live communally. At a high level of violence, a city state would be unmanageable. If even two small clans were to get uppity towards one another the city would fall to pieces from the aftermath. Just look at New Laredo. A couple gangs are going at it down there, and the whole region is going insane. Imagine how bad it would be if that was how everyone settled business.

No, a high level of violence really can't be, or Goriel wouldn't be.

That's not to say it's a safe place by any means. Goriel would have a fairly formal culture where everyone knows their place and how to avoid (or intelligently cause) offense, along with rituals for dealing with such offense. Woe to the outsider how breaks those understood rules even by accident. But yeah, this place is less a thunderstorm full of dreck und sturm, and more a snowy mountain side, unmoving, but one shout away from a devastating avalanche.

Just my 2c.
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Re: Goriel's culture: let's collaborate

Postby Alberich » May 6th, 2012, 12:04 am

Thanks for the info on the older discussions. I hadn't known most of that. My reading of the mage-priest summary was that Tsuiarku, despite its much smaller size, way way outmatched Veracia in the "mage" category, leaving me comfortable with the idea that pure humans only rarely had any talent for the stuff at all. But if they do, then they do.

Graybeard wrote:Here you have honed in on one thing that has puzzled me about the Poe-verse more or less from the beginning of Errant Story. Why hasn't there been an Industrial Revolution in most of the world? One is almost led to the conclusion that the ability to use magic for some things has stopped non-magical innovation. How else can one explain the fact that neither Farrel nor the Northern Confederacy (leaving Veracia out of it because of the weird Veracian Church, although that isn't a complete answer either) has advanced technologically in the two thousand years since the elves went away? That's a long time!


Indeed....except that there's no sign of 2000 years, or even 10 or 20 or 50 years, worth of magical innovation in those countries either. (Unlike in Tsuiraku, which has used it to build a facsimile of a modern hi-tech society.) Long periods of low-magic peoples stagnating technologically, that I can sort of accept -- ancient Egypt was something like that. But if latent magical talent is lying around all over the place just waiting to be brought out, "free" as you say, without the need for heavy capital investment to get it working...then it's a place of some pretty high potential with a not-so-high activation energy to get there, yet the potential has not been realized. And that is strange indeed. Stranger still if Veracia hasn't but the more violent, unstable places have.

'course, requiring fantasy worlds to cohere too closely would suck all the fun out - I used to make my own for tabletop RPG's and I can only imagine what I'd think of the worlds I made if I went back over them now - so I don't worry overmuch, since what Poe made was good enough for a damn good long-running fantasy story. (And I think we all feel the same about that.)

Graybeard wrote:I think what this all boils down to is that your view of the violence and precariousness of society/culture in Goriel makes for a much more violent, tense place than mine does, and that the way mages would be "used" in Gorielian culture probably hinges on that. A really chaotic Goriel would probably not be able to support a Sorcerer's Guild. One that basically functions well, apart from the misogyny, would, I contend. So just how disagreeable do we want the place to be?


Well, me, I want it pretty damned disagreeable -- in part as an explanation of how the extreme misogyny has stayed in place for so long (much easier to understand if direct, physical violence is a constant fact of life or at least close to the surface), and in part because it fits the adventure ideas I'm forming. Makes a nice contrast to the more civilized parts of the world we have visited and can visit.

Sareth - I agree that with any size population you wouldn't have fatal violence as a constant, everyone-sees-it-every-single-day occurrence...but I also think an extremely high birthrate (and an on-average very young population) is a "given" for nearly everything we've said so far (and quite in keeping with women's status as described here) so that they could sustain higher casualties than their size alone would suggest.
Alberich
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