Introduction to Panisadore

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By Snargash Moonclaw


Home
Regions

Northern Continent
Oceana
Southern Continent
Suntrack Sea and Coastal Domains
Malenorian Empire
Salis Freeport

Races

PC Races
Benaedresha
Fehladurh
Khurorkh
Malenosha
Rimenosha
Surenashi
NPC Races
Wahnahleesharah

Power Groups

Deities
Orders and Societies

Sociology

Calendar
Languages

Gaming Group Intro - "Style" of gaming which underlies setting development

Tuatha Shanachie Corrsorcha (Gael: the Storytellers’ Clan of the Bright Crane), an RPG Storytelling Circle founded along the DragonSpine, is now opening a sept in The Rose City.

Gaming in TSC is based on the concept that RPGs are taking the magick of the traditional storyteller’s circle to a deeper level. Rather than passive audience members asking a storyteller to relate some tale of one of their favorite heroes, a group of storytellers comes together to share and weave the tales of their favorite characters with each other in the context of a larger Story. Gaming rules simply provide conventions to facilitate this process in a consistent and coherent fashion which allows all the storytellers to participate equally.

As a Story Guide I am seeking storytellers to join me in relating the tales of Panisadore, an emerging world of heroic fantasy utilizing the GURPS 4th ed. system. (This is a conversion of the setting from DnD 3.5 which I'm just (JD#2454693u) starting, so some material may still reflect that.) Story concepts encompass the incorporation of a broad range of published variant material regarding character development as this is central to the storytelling style – there is much more emphasis on “role” than “roll.”

Conceptual Intro - Panisadore

Panisadore is a fairly homogeneous world on the surface of things, with many layers of complex and interwoven history, variety and intrigue. Things aren’t necessarily as they appear when that appearance can be shaped in many different ways by one’s background and experiences. . . The world that I've imagined for this setting is very "political" on a number of levels, from the macro cosmic interplay of the deities to the microcosmic conniving of many of the guilds. Since story is largely character driven this may or may not be readily apparent in play, but offers a coherence to the larger story arcs and events that shape them. I've taken primarily a top-down approach, starting with the deities, races and general cultures to create a framework and leaving large portions of the map rather vague for now. Character concepts remain initially more fluid as there is more room to play with them, open spaces in which they can fit. The overall cultural milieu has a vaguely Asian feel to it - Taoist and Buddhist influences are, I think, easily recognized, especially around the equator. The major power in that region is the Malenorian_Empire - a large nation of islands similar in many ways to (the worst aspects of) Feudal Japan coupled with the (again, worst) Imperialist ambitions and naval power of the height of the British Empire and displaying a cultural arrogance even greater than both combined. However, I'm not trying to recreate Asia - it's not an Oriental Adventures setting. Actually, I've wondered for a long time what would have happened had the Dharma spread westward rather than eastward. . . The Deities of Panisadore are *very* attentive and the interactions of the various Churches, Orders_and_Societies, both public and secretive, play a significant role in the world.

Physical Cosmology

Polar Projection Map of Panisadore
Polar Projection Map of Panisadore
Geographically the planet is dominated by two circumpolar continents which come very close together along approximately 1/4 of the equator on one side of the world, leaving a huge, single ocean. Since the known world can be readily (albeit slowly) circumnavigated by simply following the coastline, the ocean remains largely unexplored and uncharted. While it might be possible via a variety of magical means, to conduct a comprehensive survey and mapping of the ocean would be rather prohibitively time consuming and exhausting. Consequently it either has never been attempted or remains a closely guarded secret of any who may have done so. It is known that various oceanic elven and khurorkh territories exist but their locations are uncertain to all but a few. Given the unity of the landmass coupled with ten thousand years of history since the last glacial period, inhabitants of Panisadore are unusually aware and knowledgeable regarding world geography for a setting of this technology level. As a result it is not uncommon for the more educated to think, plan and act in global terms. It also means that there is an unusually high degree of worldwide consistency between many social structures and phenomena such as religions and their associated churches and orders, guilds, international power groups, etc. Many of these show a great deal of sophistication which we might consider modern, such as forms of government, information brokering, legal contracting and subcontracting, tax structures and methods, etc. Certain physical technologies are likewise unusually advanced, like ship design, construction and efficiency of sail in the absence of the development of internal combustion engines. (These latter are actually in some ways more advanced than they ever were on earth - continuing on for centuries beyond the highest degree of development reached before the technologies were replaced here.)

Current Climate Patterns

Circling binary stars, the planet is currently quite warm, leaving inhabitable, albeit cold, glaciated polar regions, but no ice caps. Seafaring and river traffic are major elements of travel and commerce (significant enough to warrant a Sailor character class). Because of the axial tilt of the planet is less than that of Earth the temperate zones are broader than those on Earth. The tropical parallels and the ant/arctic circles are proportionally narrower as well. The equatorial tropics are actually hotter than Earth, imposing some limitations on armor wear - only the acclimatized can reasonably wear medium weight armors. As the predominant cultures in the region are primarily seafaring, this poses little practical difficulty. Truly "arctic" climates occur only at higher altitudes in the mountainous polar regions. While the overall planetary climate is much warmer than would be considered the norm, the population is by and large acclimatized to the regions in which they live so this only imposes survival rules issues in a few specific cases - whereas someone from another planet would encounter difficulties in most of the world.

Long-term Solar Climate Cycles

Less noticeable, but far more relevant historically, is the nature of the binary suns and their common orbital periods relative to that of the planet circling them. Salistreah is a large orange-red star, while Jessanak is a much smaller yellow-white star. The latter is much more dense, therefore hotter and brighter. Like all binaries, the conflicting gravitational pulls of the two cause them both to orbit a common midpoint between them, which is proportionally closer to the denser star when this is unequal. Also, in a case like this, the denser will gradually leach off material from the corona of the larger, more gaseous star. In this case Salistreah will never expand to become a red giant, rather it will eventually die out, absorbed by Jessanak which, due to its ever increasing density will one day in the unimaginably distant future go super-nova. At present only two entities, ? (sic), the overdeity and Hebnaritath, the God of Entropy (and original deity associated with the smaller sun), are aware of this fact. Panisadore orbits the suns (actually their gravitational midpoint) in a cycle a of 403 days. Calendar The two suns orbit their midpoint at a rate only infinitesimally shorter. This tiny lag does have a cumulative effect, to wit, over the space of approximately 40 thousand years, the smaller of the two will slowly disappear from view to a position (relative to the planet) behind the larger sun only to eventually re-emerge on the opposite side from which it seemed to disappear. The period of time during which it is completely hidden from view lasts approximately 10 thousand years. After it completely emerges, for about 5-6 thousand years the two will appear side by side (rising and setting at different times, about an hour at peak separation) and then Jessanak will gradually transit across the face of Salistreah until separating in the sky once more as it begins to circle her far side. At the present time (interglacial period, ANS: Age of the New Sun,) Jessanak appears to be almost dead center to the face of Salistreah - the actual peak of the transit will occur in approximately 75 years. During the time it is hidden the planet cools, gradually exposing much more land mass as the water transfers to snow and ice upon the planetary surface, causing the ocean to recede. Eventually, only land areas (fortunately now much larger,) in the tropical regions are inhabitable.

Historical Relevance

The remembered (largely oral) history of the Elves and Khurorkh (collectively referred to in their own languages as The Kith and Dashin's First Children) extends roughly 100 thousand years into the past, when both suns were visible. Since this time there have been two ice ages. Sometime shortly after (or near the end of) the first of these, the two races engaged in the centuries long Kith War. By the end of that the other races had grown notably more populous - Dwarves, Gnomes and Halflings emerging from their original subterranean homes and Humans gradually grew more prolific in their equatorial havens largely separate from the Kith. The histories of these latter races only extend to this time, that of humans being particularly vague in this respect. Human accounts of their origins, the Age of the Old Sun and its subsequent disappearance and ice age are extremely vague and conflicting. Most simply agree that sometime in the immeasurable past there were originally two sun, followed by a time of extreme cold and hardship when there was only one sun, and their histories proper beginning with the appearance of the New Sun. No mention of a previous ice age or age of the First Suns exist. It has been forgotten by all (though rumors among a small few Elven historical scholars hint) that in the Age of the First Suns the smaller of the two was the domain of the God of Time. With its disappearance during the first ice age he lost nearly all followers and became associated instead with darkness, death and entropy. When the Old Sun emerged he choose (for reasons known only to himself and ?) to remain so, allowing another to claim his solar place. This was Jessanak in his original (true) guise as the Lord of the Efreet (then entirely unknown in this world) who was able to inhabit the returning sun via a portal connecting it to the Plane of Fire. He attempted, foolishly, to suborn the Khurorkh, offering to aid them against the Pahrorkh and Drow, but was exposed by the Enlightened Masters and driven off by their growing cohorts. He was more successful with a highly sentient cephalopod race that had emerged onto the land during the previous ice age and gradually migrated to the polar regions, aiding them in acquiring magical (and ultimately psionic) abilities. When he was unable to stop the sun's second disappearance they believed themselves to have been abandoned. Led by their prophet Illithion (who had first manifested psionic powers) they retreated literally into the mountains, abandoning the surface cities to be buried by the ice and snow, and took up habitation in the Underdark. When the New Sun emerged he chose a different, and very successful tactic, revealing himself to the struggling humans near the equator as Jessanak, a new God of Order, offering to teach them new ways and guide them upon a path to greatness. Even so, he will need to acquire far greater power than he currently has in order to alter the cycle of the suns and hold them in their present positions, little realizing (or perhaps intentionally planning,) that doing so will cause the planet, unable to cool itself once more, to ultimately become a dry and utterly barren dead world.

Milieu

Races

I am leaving the world open to the possibility of most races (and classes) players wish to explore with the exception of those specific to other settings, e.g., Kender, Warforged, etc. The six primary races, i.e., Elves (Fehladurh), Orcs (Khurorkh), Humans (Malenosha), Dwarves (Rimenosha), Halflings (Surenashi), and Gnomes (Benaedresha) will be detailed separately elsewhere. These PC races are pretty much as per standard, but include a lawful good orc race - the Khurorkh, commonly called Red Orcs. (Think Taoist-Rasta'-Klingons.) Their relationship to the standard monstrous (Grey Orc/Pahrorkh)) race can be viewed as rather closely analogous to that of Elves and Drow, particularly as both Pahrorkh and Drow came to be as results of the Kith Wars. In presenting a richer sense of cultural difference between the races, each of them has developed a number of unique and distinctly racial weapons (and armor forms/modifications) which are treated as exotic weapons by all other races. Each display distinct, although related, Languages. All of the above (at the very least) can interbreed. Halfbreeds among them range from extremely populous to unheard of and explicitly taboo - in one case both! During the Age of the First Suns the Kith intermarried freely if they chose to. Given the huge difference in lifespans between the two, this was not particularly commonplace, but occurred often enough and produced offspring both numerous and fertile enough to ultimately change the world. The Kith War put an end to the practice however, and afterward both races readily agreed that interbreeding would remain a taboo neither would think of violating. They further agreed to keep a closely guarded secret both the fact that they once had, and more importantly, the result of the marriages, which some had already begun to refer to as the Great Mistake. As a result, Humans on Panisadore to this day remain in ignorance of their true origins. The rare isolated instances of intermarriage by half-elves and half-orkhs unconcerned with the the cultures and mores of their non-human parents have so far raised no questions as no one has been surprised by their offspring appearing entirely human, albeit with faint traces of both parents' ancestry in color and features. At the other end of the spectrum, it is common knowledge that gnomes originated as the offspring of dwarven and halfling intermarriage in the ancient past while both races still dwelt underground. Dwarves originally lived deep in the Underdark and halflings lived much closer to the surface (where the dwarves now live). Among the subterranean races, the dwarves found halflings to be the most (pretty much only,) honest and trustworthy of their neighbors. (This actually says quite a lot about life in the Underdark and those who dwell there. . .) Over centuries those clans among both races which concerned themselves with subterranean trade and economics intermarried more and more frequently, resulting in what became a distinct hybrid race which conducted virtually all commerce between the two and dwelling happily among both. When all three were driven upwards by the incursions of Drow and Pahrorkh who had been forced to withdraw from the surface by their losses in the Kith War, the relationships remained unchanged and even expanded to include aspects of their relationships with the surface races. At this time gnomes are the preeminent traders of Panisadore, with gnomoi merchant houses and interests present in virtually every city of every race upon the planet. It is hardly surprising that Delatrian, the God of Trade, is a gnome.

Magic and Related Abilities

Magic is common, particularly at the lower levels, becoming increasingly rare with power and complexity along a sharply falling curve. (This is especially true regarding items.) Magic is essentially the technology of Panisadore - providing solutions to many problems and concerns which have been addressed mechanically on Earth. However, since those solutions cannot be mass produced, they have not had the industrial effect upon society that physical technologies have here. Given that there are far fewer opportunities for producing industrial goods the guilds have been able to maintain their monopolies over traditional trades and expand them to include related industrial products. (Copper sheeting is a good example of this - the presses and production being part of the charters held by the Coppersmiths Guilds.) Magic itself is rather closely held and controlled by related guilds as well, serving to reinforce rather than corrupt this fundamental building block of most large-scale societies. Little distinction is made between magic, psionics, the ki-based abilities of monks and similar abilities. All of them are considered simply different ways of channeling shaping the same fundamental force of nature personified by Wu-Jai. Magic and psionics are able to partially counter and affect each other, but function in enough of a different fashion that neither ability can fully affect the other the way they do with regard to abilities of the same type. Ki is viewed as a manifestation of magical force so uniquely individual that very little can affect it.

Effects on Reality of the Fundamental Existence of Magic as a Force of Nature (i.e., Narrative Causality)

In the broader scope, of which the above is just notes on particular cases, the very existence of magic as a fundamental, pervasive and active force of nature in the world implies that it, like all other such forces, displays certain unique patterns of manifestation and activity in the world inherent to its nature. Narrative Causality describes the agent of this manifestation in that, as Joseph Campbell and indigenous peoples everywhere have known, stories have a life off their own which serves to shape our reality. The natural and spontaneous action of magic upon this "life of a story" then causes the effect of a story to shape reality in a much greater, obvious and far more immediate display of its life. Sufficient certainty in the "truth" of a story can actually make the story "come true" and things therefor must happen in a particular fashion simply because "that's how the story goes". All of this is entirely Terry Pratchet, but here it's a little more significant, yet rarely recognized and little understood facet of the very gritty nature of reality (or gritty reality of nature, depending on whether you see Dashin and Wu Jai as Good or Neutral). It's very real, and when recognized and understood actually constitutes a form/technique of magical usage on a scope exponentially greater than any of the others. Oddly, both it's most common and it's most powerful effects tend to manifest when it is neither recognized nor understood by those participating in the story! All that is necessary is sufficient conviction, or blind faith if you will, that it's blatantly obvious to even the most casual observer that the effects are simply "how these things work." In these cases then, whoever has actually prompted the effects, upon perceiving their expectations validated are not surprised by them since they already knew damn well that things couldn't happen in other way. Therefore they likewise have absolutely no clue that they have had any hand at all in causing the outcomes, nor would they believe that such was even possible. Recognizing and understanding this process as being a law of nature is actually counter-productive in attempting to consciously shape and utilize this force to produce a desired outcome. Desire really neither helps nor hinders the process; there's nothing wrong with wanting the story to go as its supposed to. In fact strength/force of desire or will have no effect on the process or outcome at all. The difficulty lies in being aware of the fact that they are consciously and deliberately trying to shape reality along a specific course. Knowing that it is your intent to influence things toward a particular outcome carries with it the awareness that the story *can* go some other way. If it couldn't your belief can no more influence the outcome than your desire or will. In short, you don't need to do anything and there is in fact nothing that you can do anyway. It follows then that if you're trying to influence the outcome then you do not actually have the conviction and certainty that the outcome absolutely must occur regardless of what anyone does. At that point it's extremely difficult to make yourself believe anything which you evidently know isn't really true. As Surnest would say, "Galenar of course is utterly clueless, but he's sweet and we love him anyway." Among dwarven monks and clerics of the Clans of Will this concept has being causing quite a stir over the last century or two in looking at how it relates to their own conceptions of the Great Matrix and the Will of the World.