[Malatra] Size controversy.

Soaring above the jungles of southern Kara-Tur, the Malatran Plateau has been invisible to the natives of Abeir-Toril for thousands of years. Most sages consider the area nothing more than an uninteresting wilderness.

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[Malatra] Size controversy.

Post by apotheot » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:51 am

Here is a capture from the Interactive Atlas showing the Canonical Placement of Malatra within Kara-Tur.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... =3&theater

One of the former Campagin Coordinators is quoted as saying the plateau was: "Somewhere between 2500 and 3500 miles in length (east/west) by 1500-1800 miles north/south. Or about twice the size of Geographic North America."

As you can see the picture does not support that assertion, however the (non-canon) Map and placement done by Markustay is much closer (as well as my prefered placement of the plateau), but even that falls short.
http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/for ... 0506011722

I imagine the issue came about due to the RPGA having been given the region to develop the Living Jungle, but later WotC deciding to take it back. As I understand it, the entire sub-continent was originally supposed to be for the setting. Unfortunately, the region was never given a good canonical reference in a TSR/WotC product. Since, prior to the Atlas, no maps were made of the region the creators without knowledge of events/locations there or of the original agreement they were virtually able to ignore the Living Jungle.

The larger size creates some problems, as it means that All of the playable tribes are VERY close to each other relatively speaking. Travel times also become an issue, as walking (the only means of transportation) from one tribe to the farthest is do-able in about 5 days. Travel times in several of the adventures are mentioned which support this.

Please compare with the official map from the setting in Polyhedron shown in this thread. viewtopic.php?f=38&t=11078

Relative sizes of tribes also become an issue, as the Saiyama (Big Chief Bagoomba) would now have a size roughly the size of Nevada.

In fact, the entire Tribe/village dynamic is a little messed up, with some single villages being referred to as 'tribe' while many other tribes are said to have multiple villages (such as the Koshiva and Huroola). This is confusing when you realize that Bagoomba's Tribe is supposed to be the largest (in the immediate region) and only have about 500 people in it. If a tribe of 500 was spread out throughout a region the size of Nevada even in small villages, no one would ever see each other. Guessing from the distance between some tribes and others and the travel time mentioned, I would think that with a larger Jungle would fit the intent.

On the other hand, there is a good reason for tribes to be so spread out. The Jungle not only has the normal dangers of Snakes, Lions, Tigers, Leopards, and Hyena; but also the dinosaurs (called garuda in reference to the Hindu/Buddhist mythological bird creature which in turn was likely created as a way of explaining fossilized dinosaur bones). Any creature in an area needs at least 200 of the same creature in order for the species to stay viable over a protracted time. Having greater distance for those predators to spread out is one way of ensuring that ordinary animals such as hedgehogs, impala, and sloths are not extinct.

I am inclined to believe in a smaller Jungle, if for the ease of adventuring parties. But there is something to be said for having a huge area of unexplored wilderness that only your neighbors know their neighbors. Think pre-Colombian Native American tribes. It is doubtful that the tribes in what is now Southern Florida knew much if anything about the tribes what is now Washington state. (Lewis and Clark took a year and a half to reach the Pacific and for much of that they had horses or traveled the river. Currently the estimate for walking from one coast to the other is about 12 months provided 15 mile per day average.)

Reducing its size to what it is in the atlas (Not quite the size of Texas) works best, but also means that there is likely very little unexplored territory. Even Taboo areas would likely have been visited by some other race that does not hold that taboo at some point. That would fit with the travel times and make the journey from one side of Malatra to the other (just under 1000 miles) approximately a month-and-a-half long. Of course much of this would be considered difficult or impassable terrain. In this case the area controlled by the Saiyama (Bagoomba) would be about the size of the city of Houston within Texas still a huge region for only 500 people but much more manageable.

This would suggest the tribes act like city-states, most villages or solitary hermits in a claimed area are considered part of the tribe for purposes of trade and defense, but could become tribes on their own if they got big/powerful enough. Essentially, a tribe claims as much territory as they think they can handle, then that territory is used as hunting/gathering lands. If they claim an area where another tribe is located, they would have to work that out. The Huroola did so by conquest many generations ago, and the new villages have remained a part of them ever since. Since the Koshiva seem to be friendly, amicable, and somewhat political I would suggest that they negotiated the admittance of the other villages into their tribe at some point. For practical purposes, the vast areas of land claimed by each tribe though would then have to be symbolic at best.
Anyway, my thoughts on the subject.

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