Not-So Gentle Folk?

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Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:29 pm

Just realized this thread never made it over here after the fall of the v.2 of the Piazza, so I'm reposting it with all the relevant comments:

Not-So Gentle Folk?
by Cthulhudrew on Sun Jun 21, 2009 5:24 pm

As should be obvious, I've been toying with the Hollow World cultures a lot, and trying to find ways of fleshing them out with a view towards making them able to be campaign self-sufficient. That is, to get away from a lot of the "one-off" encounters that many of them seem to exist as (to provide an "isn't that weird?" experience for Outer World PCs), and to find a framework for making them cultures with tangible ties to their neighbors, and to provide a sustainable campaign culture for players to create PCs from.

The Gentle Folk are one of the toughest to do this with, for the very simple reason that they seem to be just a one-shot "Pacifist Elves" concept with no framework beyond that to do anything with. Right now, all you can do with them, really, is have the PCs run across them, maybe come to their rescue, and leave, realizing that this fatalistic culture is hopeless. Even the HW DM's guide writes them off as being a culture "in a decline that will never end" (or somesuch).

Which just seems, well, boring, to me, especially when there are rules for Gentle Folk PC creation in the Player's Guide. So how to make them better/more interesting?

First off, I'm trying to work up some ways in which their culture might be different from that of other elvish cultures in the HW and OWs. Just "pacifist" elves doesn't seem like it is unique or interesting enough in its own light. So that's one thing.

On another level, it seems to me that the Gentle Folk currently suffer from Spell of Preservation Tunnel Syndrome. That being, that it seems to me the SoP is often regarded as complete stasis- except when it isn't. A lot of the HW cultures, and even the HW rules, note that various cultural traits can wax and wane, so long as the "base" culture remains to some level, and that even new cultural elements can be introduced. Yet, oftentimes, this seems to be disregarded and the notion that "they are always this way" creeps into things.

I'm going to assume that's because the HW book just didn't give enough space to develop everything sufficiently. That said, I see two factors that could conceivably work towards making the Gentle Folk have something more than just somnanbulistic, pacifist elves going on.

1) The Gentle Folk were forgiven in a ceremony some time (anywhere from immediately to "shortly" before) they were transported to the Hollow World. That cultural element should still exist within their racial memory, then, even if it wasn't a huge part of their culture before the SoP hit them (and, something like that, I'd argue- should have been a major part of their culture.) As such, there should be some Gentle Folk, at least, who realize they don't have to shoulder the blame for everything and strive to do better; in other words, some more "normal" elves.

2) There is at least one group of Azcans who have reverted to a pre-agrarian, pre-literate culture (in HWR1). Given that the SoP can allow for even those far distant cultural elements to recur, it is conceivable that some part of the Gentle Folk culture might at some point revert to a distant level of civilization- perhaps even a pre-Great Rain of Fire level, in which they are not "roll over and take it" pacifists, but maybe more warrior-like?

Either of these could emerge as something like an elite caste of warrior-defenders of the people, or something else (perhaps something along the lines of the Creek Red and White towns, where red (militant) towns would lead the tribe in war time, and white (diplomatic) towns would rule the tribe in times of peace.
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Seer of Yhog wrote:I like these ideas. You're right that the Gentle Folk, as structured, have very little potential except as a "hey, that's weird/what's the point" campaign moment. I agree with you that the SoP shouldn't be considered a complete stasis field, but more a set of fairly rigid parameters across which a culture may morph over time. So, yes, I think the forgiveness ceremony should resonate with the elves at some level.

Perhaps, shortly after they arrived in the HW, there was a societal split. Some of the elves felt that the transfer was a final act of forgiveness - basically a license to start over (so they did), while most reverted to the "woe-is-me" mentality. The two groups separated, but the vigorous elves realised that they couldn't just abandon their kin in a strange world, so they established strongholds to protect them until such time as they could make them see the light. Centuries later, they're still working on it, all the while repelling any invaders. In fact, they've become so adept at stealth warfare that many of their morose cousins have forgotten that there are dangers out there; nothing hostile ever gets through.

Perhaps we could even pull this thread further and argue that some of the pacifists, so wrapped up in their depressing thoughts, have forgotten that they are even protected? Thus, we could create a sort of HW-within-the-HW effect, in which the Gentle Folk are protected, unknowingly, by their more vigorous cousins, who are themselves protected by the SoP.

Just a thought,

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Havard wrote:
Seer of Yhog wrote:Perhaps, shortly after they arrived in the HW, there was a societal split. Some of the elves felt that the transfer was a final act of forgiveness - basically a license to start over (so they did), while most reverted to the "woe-is-me" mentality. The two groups separated, but the vigorous elves realised that they couldn't just abandon their kin in a strange world, so they established strongholds to protect them until such time as they could make them see the light. Centuries later, they're still working on it, all the while repelling any invaders. In fact, they've become so adept at stealth warfare that many of their morose cousins have forgotten that there are dangers out there; nothing hostile ever gets through.


Oh, I like this Geoff!
Having a pacifist culture in a D&D game doesnt really present alot of PC opportunities, at least not without fundamentally altering the game. Your suggestion is a good way around this.

Reminds me a little of what happened to some of Dragonlance's Kenders after the Chaos War...

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Cthulhudrew wrote:
Seer of Yhog wrote:The two groups separated, but the vigorous elves realised that they couldn't just abandon their kin in a strange world, so they established strongholds to protect them until such time as they could make them see the light. Centuries later, they're still working on it, all the while repelling any invaders. In fact, they've become so adept at stealth warfare that many of their morose cousins have forgotten that there are dangers out there; nothing hostile ever gets through.


This was sort of where I was heading, too, after reflecting on it the way I have been. The HW book mentions that there are just Immortal signs of protection that ward out the dangerous beasts, but surely there would need to be something else- and it might very well be the protector elves of the GF that have kept out the truly dangerous creatures and aggressive cultures (such as the Azcan) who would otherwise overrun the elves.

The protector elves might even have had to become more dangerous than is generally thought of in regards to elves, in order to accomplish their goals.

Another aspect that could come into play, possibly. One of the cultural elements of the Gentle Folk in the OW was that they were teachers to the Hin of the Shires, and in fact were the ones who taught the first Hin Masters. That should still be there, so perhaps either the Gentle Folk pacifists or the Protectors have continued that tradition and taught some of the races around them- I'm envisioning something along the lines of Neathar Foresters who also help to guard the Gentle Folk lands.

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Chimpman wrote:In a slight break from canon, what if the term "Gentle" (which was applied to the elves by other peoples) was actually a misunderstanding of the true "Gentle Folk" being. What was seen as pacifism was in actuality an alien disinterest or aloofness in the world around them. What was seen as despondency and morose behavior was in actuality a constant communion with their otherworldly masters.

Yes... the Gentle Folk were in fact worshipers of the Outer Beings! So the fact that they wouldn't lift a hand to defend themselves is not a proscription toward pacifism. Rather, they simply have much better things to do (like mentally navigate through the bizarre dreamscape/nightmare dimension in order to communicate with their imprisoned masters).

This of course raises other questions - like if this is true then why did the immortals preserve their culture? Perhaps the immortals themselves don't know that the elves serve the Outer Beings. Perhaps the Gentle Folk behavior and their subsequent transplant into the HW, play right into the hands of the OBs.

Now instead of pacifist elves who won't do anything, we have alien OB worshipers who can transform into dangerous foes at any instant. Make them the inheritors of the Cult of the Frog on the outer world, and not only can the elves have alien masters, but they can posses powers and traits long thought of as blasphemous by many of the peoples of the outer world. ... and what does all of this say of their last know contacts and disciples on the outer world, the hin?

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Havard wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:Another aspect that could come into play, possibly. One of the cultural elements of the Gentle Folk in the OW was that they were teachers to the Hin of the Shires, and in fact were the ones who taught the first Hin Masters. That should still be there, so perhaps either the Gentle Folk pacifists or the Protectors have continued that tradition and taught some of the races around them- I'm envisioning something along the lines of Neathar Foresters who also help to guard the Gentle Folk lands.


Speaking of the Hin, I was just thinking that we should include some other races in the Gentle Folk lands as well. How about some kind of Halflings? These would be different from the Five Shire Halflings in that they would all be students of the Gentle Folk or the Protectors (Gentle Protectors?). They might have whatever abilities these two groups would possess, at least to a certain degree.

And...abilities. I think this may have come up before, but how about giving the Gentle Folk some kind of martial arts abilities? Some kind of fighting techniques, either unarmed or with weapons that would allow them to deal subdual damage only? That way they could actually know how to fight, but just not kill enemies?

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Havard wrote:
Chimpman wrote:Now instead of pacifist elves who won't do anything, we have alien OB worshipers who can transform into dangerous foes at any instant. Make them the inheritors of the Cult of the Frog on the outer world, and not only can the elves have alien masters, but they can posses powers and traits long thought of as blasphemous by many of the peoples of the outer world. ... and what does all of this say of their last know contacts and disciples on the outer world, the hin?


There are certainly some interesting aspects to this idea. However I would keep the OB worshippers a fringe group, who have delved too far in their meditation rather than to have the whole group be OB worshippers. Similarly, the Hin have managed to keep their balance on the path along the edge of the Nightmarish Abyss, but just barely so. But that's what made the Hin Heroes just that, right?

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Cthulhudrew wrote:
Havard wrote:Speaking of the Hin, I was just thinking that we should include some other races in the Gentle Folk lands as well. How about some kind of Halflings? These would be different from the Five Shire Halflings in that they would all be students of the Gentle Folk or the Protectors (Gentle Protectors?). They might have whatever abilities these two groups would possess, at least to a certain degree.


I was thinking of the possibility of Hin in and around the Gentle Folk lands. There were definitely plenty of time periods in the Shires from which they could have been brought (to preserve their culture in the face of decimation)- even right around the same time as the GF themselves, which might actually fit really well into the sort of fleshing out we're doing here.
And...abilities. I think this may have come up before, but how about giving the Gentle Folk some kind of martial arts abilities? Some kind of fighting techniques, either unarmed or with weapons that would allow them to deal subdual damage only? That way they could actually know how to fight, but just not kill enemies?

Elvish martial artists sounds pretty cool. I am liking this idea. Some kind of Elvish Aikido or something. Elvish Mystics/Monks. Possibly something that combines the natural elvish tendency towards magic, even. The "Natural Way." Mystic/Druids of some sort.

You've got me thinking now.

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Chimpman wrote:I like the idea of some hin being present as well.

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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Seer of Yhog » Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:51 pm

Good save from the archives! Looking back, I think we should develop the following ideas:

1. Vigorous elves invisibly protecting their depressed brethren - these elves possess the lore that would one day be passed down to the first Hin Masters, and so their magic is tied to the land itself. Their power weakens greatly if they go too far, but they rarely do, anyway - letting your enemies come to you, where you can butcher them, is far more effective. Then the land swallows up the dead, the plants become a bit greener, and the Gentle Folk never realise a nasty battle just took place.

2. Hin guardians - I don't have the book handy, but if Hindon or Shaerdon (sp?) existed at the same time as the Gentle Folk, then a fragment of that lost, glorious Hin realm could have been transplanted, too. They would be small, but potent little nation, sworn to defend their teachers.

..and if I'm off base, Hindon seems like an ideal candidate for transplant, anyway.

3. OB fringe - This would be fun.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Havard » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:06 pm

Seer of Yhog wrote:Good save from the archives! Looking back, I think we should develop the following ideas:


+1 Thanks 'drew! :)

1. Vigorous elves invisibly protecting their depressed brethren - these elves possess the lore that would one day be passed down to the first Hin Masters, and so their magic is tied to the land itself. Their power weakens greatly if they go too far, but they rarely do, anyway - letting your enemies come to you, where you can butcher them, is far more effective. Then the land swallows up the dead, the plants become a bit greener, and the Gentle Folk never realise a nasty battle just took place.


I like this. I also like the idea of them being monk-types, preferring unarmed combat. Perhaps trading their spell-abilities for Mystic-like abilities?

2. Hin guardians - I don't have the book handy, but if Hindon or Shaerdon (sp?) existed at the same time as the Gentle Folk, then a fragment of that lost, glorious Hin realm could have been transplanted, too. They would be small, but potent little nation, sworn to defend their teachers.


I think this would be very cool.

3. OB fringe - This would be fun.


As long as it is fringe, I like this too. :) Actually keeping this within the HW framework, perhaps they are worshipping a Sleeping Burrower?

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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:29 am

Havard wrote:
Seer of Yhog wrote:Good save from the archives! Looking back, I think we should develop the following ideas:


+1 Thanks 'drew! :)


It was cab's post in your "least talked about" thread that made me aware of it. I was going to link to the original discussion, only to find it hadn't made it over. I've been meaning to recheck the v.2 board for a while for other discussions that didn't make it; IIRC, it was just a one month period or so that got affected by the board change, so there weren't a lot of discussions or threads, but there were some (some of which I have brought back elsewhere here in the HW board as well as some other ones). Might be worth giving a look see if there's anything you all think of that might have missed porting over as well. I'd hate to lose them (which brings up the Vaults, something that's been on my mind a lot recently. Other topic entirely.)

I like this. I also like the idea of them being monk-types, preferring unarmed combat. Perhaps trading their spell-abilities for Mystic-like abilities?


This is a cool idea. The Hin Masters are kind of more mystical/monkish than standard fighter/mage elves, so it might make sense that the Gentle Folk/Masters they originally learned from were similarly inclined. It could also distinguish the Gentle Folk somewhat more from the standard elves, too.

Seer of Yhog wrote:2. Hin guardians - I don't have the book handy, but if Hindon or Shaerdon (sp?) existed at the same time as the Gentle Folk, then a fragment of that lost, glorious Hin realm could have been transplanted, too. They would be small, but potent little nation, sworn to defend their teachers.


Got my gaz handy, so I'll check- looks like Hindon and Shaerdon came later (after the Masters disappeared). The Hin just called the area the Deep Land at the time (says they felt like they were guests in the lands of the Forest Folk and it didn't belong to the Hin yet.)

Doesn't necessarily rule it out, though; a small nation of Hindon or Shaerdon could still be possible. Give that invasions nearly wiped out the Hin of those eras, it is certainly feasible that the Immortals transplanted some of them to the HW in order to preserve them (should they have been eliminated), and that they would still feel a reverence for the Gentle Folk.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Havard » Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:18 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:It was cab's post in your "least talked about" thread that made me aware of it. I was going to link to the original discussion, only to find it hadn't made it over. I've been meaning to recheck the v.2 board for a while for other discussions that didn't make it; IIRC, it was just a one month period or so that got affected by the board change, so there weren't a lot of discussions or threads, but there were some (some of which I have brought back elsewhere here in the HW board as well as some other ones). Might be worth giving a look see if there's anything you all think of that might have missed porting over as well. I'd hate to lose them


Good idea! I thought we had copied everything over, but apparently not. Good thing Ash still has v2 about.

(which brings up the Vaults, something that's been on my mind a lot recently. Other topic entirely.)


Did you ever hear back from Shawn? I also tried to contact him through FB, but no response. I had Gordon make a backup of the entire site just in case, but that really doesnt help us. The fact that noone uploads stuff we write anywhere could actually be holding our creativity back.

I like this. I also like the idea of them being monk-types, preferring unarmed combat. Perhaps trading their spell-abilities for Mystic-like abilities?
This is a cool idea. The Hin Masters are kind of more mystical/monkish than standard fighter/mage elves, so it might make sense that the Gentle Folk/Masters they originally learned from were similarly inclined. It could also distinguish the Gentle Folk somewhat more from the standard elves, too.


Yes. OTOH, I have also come to see the Masters more like Druids, so its a tough choice. OTOH, the Pacifism* thing was what I thought fit well with Monks/Mystics. Also, there is no demihuman class which shares the features of Mystics, unlike all the other classes.

*Perhaps it started out as more of a defensive oriented pacifism and then was corrupted into a general passivity/apathy by some darker powers?

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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Seer of Yhog » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:08 pm

Havard wrote:*Perhaps it started out as more of a defensive oriented pacifism and then was corrupted into a general passivity/apathy by some darker powers?


That's an idea worth pursuing. Maybe in becoming pacifistic the elves attained a detached mental state that the darker power(s) in question found attractive (i.e., their mental energies may have moved to a frequency that made them susceptible in certain ways, or perhaps it fed certain types of malign spirits). The darker powers then might have nudged the elves over several years into greater and greater apathy, all the while gorging themselves on mental energies. So basically, the apathetic Gentle Folk are cattle.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Chimpman » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:15 am

Seer of Yhog wrote: The darker powers then might have nudged the elves over several years into greater and greater apathy, all the while gorging themselves on mental energies. So basically, the apathetic Gentle Folk are cattle.

:shock: That sent shivers down my spine :D

+1 on the save CD, I had forgotten all about this conversation!
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby AlexB » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:47 am

Here's an idea...thanks to the SoP, the GF are basically stuck in that state of grief. Being elves, they view the world differently than humans so their stages of grief may be different. Sort of one of my devious twists on taking the SoP and using it in unintended ways.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

I could see some nefarious entities using that unending melancholy to feed upon.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Havard » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:23 pm

AlexB wrote:Here's an idea...thanks to the SoP, the GF are basically stuck in that state of grief. Being elves, they view the world differently than humans so their stages of grief may be different. Sort of one of my devious twists on taking the SoP and using it in unintended ways.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model


That is a pretty interesting idea. There certainly does seem to be a certain sadness about them the way they are described in the boxed set.

I could see some nefarious entities using that unending melancholy to feed upon.


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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby AlexB » Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:11 pm

Just to expand the idea a bit more....
Maybe work out a scenario where the entities that feed on the GF's sorrow pose a threat to HW. So the only way to stop that threat is to deal with the GF. So the heroes are put in a morale quandary as well as a paradox with the SoP. The real irony is that the people they are trying to save, are pretty indifferent.

As far as the entities feeding and the players behind it...Thanatos or Hel comes to mind, especially if it factors in the quandaries and paradoxes. As far as the creatures, maybe fiends.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Chimpman » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:12 pm

I really like that idea Alex. It ties in well with some other ideas (all mostly fanon) regarding the Dark Elves (of Gaz 7) and perhaps even portions of the Schattenalfen (Atzanteotle's clan) who may have had dealings with fiends during their time underground. The Gentle Folk may also have fled underground at some point in their history, though I can't remember for sure if there are any canon references to that. I'll have to go and refresh my memory on the subject.

Regardless, this kind of idea makes the lands of the Gentle Folk much more playable!
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby AlexB » Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:30 am

Chimp, Same here. HW cultures like the GF are just sort of there. I'd like to see them used in unexpected ways while taking advantage of HW's SoP. Nice idea about the Dark Elves and Schattenalfen.

This thought crossed my mind while I was out running earlier tonight. Anyway, these fiends sit in stasis beneath or near the GF area. Make it like a dungeon/maze. The GF sorrow fuels them, nurtures them, etc. When they are ready, they awake.

The twist is that various cultures are aware of this. As the time when the fiends awake draws near, heroes from these cultures arrive at the dungeon and fight their way down. The survivors take on the fiends, their goal to kill them.

For some cultures it could be a right of passage. For others it could be a religious calling. Mayeb some prize for the winner. It could mean different things for different cultures. If the fiends prevail, maybe they open a portal to other fiends to join them or just unleash havoc on HW until someone else stops them.

Maybe the whole thing is set up by several Immortals, perhaps as a sort of test and wager between them. The contest scenario is repeatable, something that is almost a requirement in HW. It can be used by multiple cultures. Not to mention the possible adventure hooks are wide pretty open. For that matter there's lot's of play potential just getting there.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:25 pm

Been reading Ryan and Jetha's Sex At Dawn, which takes a second look at the assumed monogamy of humans, and along the way examines gender roles historically and throughout different species (notably our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos).

Seems like a weird topic perhaps, to bring up in the context of our fantasy elves, but some of their discussion about Partible Paternity - a practice already in evidence to some extent among the Alfheim elves (who raise children communally) - as well as some other ideas raised about the relative peacefulness of the Bonobo and their promiscuity has got me to thinking about some further ways to develop Gentle Folk society and culture.

Hope to have some more concrete ideas soon.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:08 am

Revisiting this thread again, as I noticed something odd while compiling some other historical information recently.

The HW DM's Guide lists the outer world origins of the Gentle Folk as being c. 1,000 BC, when the Gnollish invasions from the east took place. Shortly before/around that time, the Immortal Alphatia performed a "forgiveness" ceremony for them, in order to try and bring them back from their culture of suffering, but it didn't really take due to the invasions that nearly wiped out the GF.

The problem I noticed is that Alphatia wouldn't have been an Immortal in 1,000 BC. The Alphatians only just arrived at that time, and it would take (according to HW) another 200 years before Alphatia became Immortal. Which leaves us with one of a couple of scenarios:

1) It wasn't Alphatia who took the Gentle Folk under her patronage at all, but an Immortal who was already of Immortal status;
2) The Gentle Folk lingered on in their suffering (even moreso now) after the gnollish invasions until around 800 BC or later, at which point Alphatia then noticed them and took pity on them;
3) It was a mortal Alphatia who first noticed the Gentle Folk- perhaps somehow related to her path to Immortality- and at that time took pity on them and arranged their forgiveness ceremony. When they were threatened with near extinction by the gnolls, she implored her patron to save them, and they were whisked away at that point.

All of the above would require some modification to their (admittedly) slim history.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Sturm » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:18 am

Interesting, I like the idea of Alphatia helping them during their path.
I suppose they also have some means of defending themselves, but more than monk abilities, I would use great illusion powers fairy folks style. I suppose their land in the Outer world was thick with fairy folks and in the Hollow world even more so..
I also imagined a dragon looking after them in Threshold issue #9.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby agathokles » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:49 am

I think the third option would be interesting.

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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:47 pm

Sturm wrote:Interesting, I like the idea of Alphatia helping them during their path.


Oddly enough, that one only occurred to me as I was writing the post; I was initially only thinking of the other two options.

I suppose they also have some means of defending themselves, but more than monk abilities, I would use great illusion powers fairy folks style. I suppose their land in the Outer world was thick with fairy folks and in the Hollow world even more so..


That's an interesting suggestion. It brings to mind the Faedorne on the Shining Isles. I'll have to consider exploring that connection further.

agathokles wrote:I think the third option would be interesting.


Sounds like there could be something worth exploring there, then. It could certainly help to flesh out Alphatia in her mortal life a bit. I think the main issue would be trying to figure out her connection to the distant Truedyls/Gentle Folk, then, particularly given that her major focus seemed to be on founding and expanding Haven. The timeline is still a bit wonky as well, as currently the GF are whisked away at approximately the same time the Alphatians are still making Landfall. Alphatia/Aasla's Immortal patron is Razud- I wonder if he could play a factor somehow. His main focus seems to be on self-sufficiency, so I'm not sure where his interest in the Gentle Folk would have been. On the one hand, I think he would have considered the submissive Gentle Folk to not really be worthy of his attentions. On the other hand, bringing them back to a state of self-respect and -sufficiency might well have gotten his attention; maybe that was how Aasla gained his patronage in the first place (even if it didn't prove entirely successful, it was a worthy effort).
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby ripvanwormer » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:55 pm

One idea: Aasla was separated from the rest of the Alphatian people at the time of Landfall. Perhaps a storm blew her vessel away from the others and the ship she was in crashed in the Gentle Folk lands, leaving her as the sole survivor; the Gentle Folk nursed her back to health and taught her their philosophy of radical pacifism. Maybe she fought in the war with the Followers of Flame and was haunted by all the death and suffering she and her people were responsible for. Maybe she exiled herself, tormented by the new atrocities the Alphatians were inflicting upon the native Yannifey and Ymathrans, frustrated with the racist domination of pureblood over commoner, leaving her people and their violence far behind her as she sailed the winds as far as they would take her. The Gentle Folk offered clarity, another path. After realizing that pacifism offered a path of absolution for herself she convinced her saviors that they, too, could be absolved of their sin.

That's where Razud's philosophy came in. The Gentle Folk believed that forgiveness for the Lesser Rain of Fire was impossible—all the victims of that cataclysm were dead and beyond reach, so who had the moral authority to forgive them? But Aasla, a follower of the Immortal patron of self-determination and independence, gave them a potentially game-changing revelation: they could forgive themselves. They didn't need anyone else to grant them absolution as long as their repentance was sincere. They carried the power of redemption within.

Aasla went native. She became a burgeoning spiritual leader among the Gentle Folk, championing a new way: moving past grief into acceptance. More and more Gentle Folk came to her to heal their psychological wound. And then the orcs came, and the gnolls, followers of Thanatos led by the then-mortal warlord Ranivorus.

The Gentle Folk had no defense. Aasla had accepted their philosophy of pacifism with her whole heart; she was only helping them move past their grief. She couldn't have forged them into warriors if she wanted to. And there was no escape from the horde pouring from the Traldar lands: the burning, the slaughter, leaving only gnawed bones in their wake. Razud, I'm teaching them your way, prayed Aasla. They only need more time!

Perhaps it was Razud who responded. Perhaps it was Koryis, an epic hero well on his way to Immortality himself, who heard the call and plead their case with his own patron (or perhaps Koryis was already an Immortal in his own right). Regardless: the Gentle Folk were given the time they needed and, simultaneously, given no time at all, for the vast majority of them wait as the Spell of Preservation keeps their culture in stasis. Every generation, some few of them manage to free themselves from their grief and the valley they call home while the rest remain locked in sorrow. And perhaps that's enough; without Aasla's aid their culture would only be gnawed bones buried in mass graves beneath the Five Shires. Surely, the few outliers who transcend the confines of the Spell are better than nothing?

And nothing lasts forever, promises Alphatia to her people. One day, even the Spell of Preservation will end. And the Gentle Folk can heal themselves at last.

As for Aasla: with her adopted people gone and her own physical and spiritual wounds healed she left the ruins of the Gentle Folk lands to rejoin the rest of the Alphatian colonists, founding a colony of her own where she could guide her followers on a new way that blended the best of what she learned from the Gentle Folk with the best of Alphatian culture: a new philosophy that wedded the way of the Gentle Folk with the way of Razud, a new path and a new hope for the Alphatian people.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:27 am

I love it, Rip! :D

I wonder what else we can fill in here a bit about the GF as well as perhaps the further travels of Aasla after her foray among them?
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby ripvanwormer » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:35 am

I wonder how Aasla would have interacted with the halflings. Maybe they hid her in their burrows as Ranivorus's horde razed the land. Maybe she helped hide them, using spells of illusion and invisibility to keep them safe as the chaotic humanoids pillaged and burned. Maybe some halfling Masters came with her and helped teach the Alphatians what they knew.

Halfling legends recall a "Last Ride" of golden pegasi carrying the Gentle Folk to another realm. Perhaps that's pure fancy, or perhaps Aasla was part of this Ride, with a pegasus mount of her own that accompanied her on her subsequent journeys.

My idea is that the colony she founded in Alphatia was based on the society she had hoped to create among the Gentle Folk. It didn't take, not completely; the Alphatians are not Gentle Folk and never completely accepted Gentle Folk ways, not even the modified version that Alphatia promoted which emphasized self-sufficiency over self-pity. But the result was probably a better sort of Alphatian than typical.

What else was going on in the world? The Nithian empire was at its height, dominating the Isle of Dawn with colonies as far north as Norwold. Harbortown was already a century old. Aasla would have had to travel through Nithian and Traldar lands before reaching the Gentle Folk lands.

The humanoid horde hit the Traldar lands before they hit the Gentle Folk; there's probably room for a decade or so after the initial invasion of the Traldar before the elves had to face them, even counting only the orcs initially displaced by the gnolls. First Alphatian Landfall as the gnolls begin their assault, then King Milen's exodus to Davania a year or so later, then the slaughter of the elves maybe a decade after that. That gives time for Aasla to take part in (even leading) the initial campaign against Ymratha before becoming disenchanted with the price of war, fleeing into the Nithian lands, past the besieged Traldar (King Milen and his followers already departed) into the still-untouched lands beyond where shy, quiet elves soothed her wounds and strengthened her spirit. It must have seemed like she had finally fled beyond war, until war caught up with her.

Afterwards, the Traldar lands were still a mess even after the gnolls' defeat. The Deep Land became Hinhome became the Realm of Othrong (probably not over the course of a single year). Davania was in the process of being conquered by the Milenians. Aasla was faced with a choice: go back into war and work to mitigate its effects or flee further, chasing the elusive spectre of tranquility no matter how far off it seemed until she ultimately returns to the Alphatian lands, ending where she began, forging her own peace if she can't find it elsewhere. She might well have visited other war-torn lands in the meantime, an angel of hope atop her golden steed.

Earlier, I invented a religious/mystical sect associated with Alphatia called the Path of Pure Thought. Perhaps some of the Gentle Folk subscribe to it.
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Re: Not-So Gentle Folk?

Postby Sturm » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:37 am

Interesting, in the meantime Razud and Alphatia could have another side motivation to help the Gentle Folk, id est gain a foothold in the Hollow World. Maybe the Gentle Folk were/are doing some magical experiments Razud is interested on. Maybe this was the magical power/artifact he and Alphatia used to move their continent in the Hollow World.
And now that Alphatia is there, the way of the Gentle Folk could become much stronger, indeed in the Almanacs Eriadna seems to be headed this way..
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