Oriental Adventures in Athas

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Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby XstarkillerX » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:10 am

In this other thread Big Mac asks, beyond the other things, if there's water beyond the mapped portion of Athas.
I was just re-reading this and a strange thought crossed my mind: what if on the other face of Athas, across the Sea of Silt, Thri-Kreens and Pterrans builded an Oriental-like civilization?

And then came the questions:
  • What will be the view on magic of such a civilization?
  • Will preservers be respected or feared?
  • Will they have some rulers on the same power level of the Sorcerer Kings? Are there beings in Asian folklore that are good candidates for the role?
  • How will the common assumption of asian fantasy be twisted by the harsh lands beneath the Crimson Sun?

What do you guys think of all this? Is it worth expanding on? Is there already work on an Athasian version of Oriental Adventures? Suggestions?
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby XstarkillerX » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:25 am

Glassteel-like obsidian katanas!

(OK, It's obviously late. I'm going to bed now. :facepalm: )
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby night_druid » Sun Jul 06, 2014 2:33 am

There could easily be an early oriental-adventures style city-state across the Sea of Silt. Their culture would probably be VERY early Chinese/Japanese, though; the cultures of Athas are in the style of Babylon, Sumar, Bronze-Age Egypt, and the like. I think Nibeny could be considered Chinese-inspired, by the artwork, although I want to say its supposed to be Egyptian-inspired.
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby agathokles » Sun Jul 06, 2014 6:51 pm

Nibenay does indeed have a Chinese inspiration, with a recluse "emperor" (Nibenay himself) surrounded by an extensive bureaucracy (his templar wives). Raam has a partial Egyptian inspiration, OTOH.

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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:51 pm

XstarkillerX wrote:In this other thread Big Mac asks, beyond the other things, if there's water beyond the mapped portion of Athas.
I was just re-reading this and a strange thought crossed my mind: what if on the other face of Athas, across the Sea of Silt, Thri-Kreens and Pterrans builded an Oriental-like civilization?


An Oriental Dark Sun would be an interesting concept.

There was an Oriental Dragonlance Project (later renamed Shattered Lands of Royodo) that set out to create a crossover between Dragonlance and Oriental Adventures. It has had a couple of reboots over the years, which seems to have held back completion.

You might want to take a look at Royodo, to get some inspiration on how you might create an Oriental area on Athas.

XstarkillerX wrote:And then came the questions:
  • What will be the view on magic of such a civilization?
  • Will preservers be respected or feared?
  • Will they have some rulers on the same power level of the Sorcerer Kings? Are there beings in Asian folklore that are good candidates for the role?
  • How will the common assumption of asian fantasy be twisted by the harsh lands beneath the Crimson Sun?


I wonder if you could go about this the other way and turn spellcasters from Oriental Adventures into the sort of spellcasters you get on Athas? :?

You also need to take the past into account. Would you have races morph in the core Dark Sun area and then migrate to an Oriental Dark Sun area as a set of Athasian races? Or would you have halflings migrate to the Oriental area long before the end of the Blue Age or the Green Age.

"What will be the view on magic of such a civilization?" - My basic assumption would be that Athas would turn any sort of arcane spellcasting into defiling or preserving. I suppose that if you have a society where certain people are allowed to chop off the head of a peasant who is disrespectful, then they could also claim the right to suck the magic out of the land they own.

Perhaps villages are supposed to provide a tithe of their crops in a more literal way, with the spellcasting overlords drawing away one tenth of the life of the plants in the areas they rule.

"Will preservers be respected or feared?" - Good question. I guess you could go either way with this. What sort of spellcasters does Oriental Adventures have that might be most like preservers? How do people react to them? Maybe you could just stick with that and twist it a bit.

"Will they have some rulers on the same power level of the Sorcerer Kings? Are there beings in Asian folklore that are good candidates for the role?" - I think you would have to make the power level about the same.

They do have dragons in Oriental fantasy. They are slightly different, but it might be fun to go with them.

"How will the common assumption of asian fantasy be twisted by the harsh lands beneath the Crimson Sun?" - This is the "Six Millon Yen question". ;)

I think a lot of this comes down to how you start off the timeline.

One way to do an Oriental Dark Sun would be to start off with a socity of Asian halflings and have them mutate when the halflings in the core area mutate. If you wanted to go with that assumption, you could extrapolate other things from there. But if you didn't like that idea, it would make certain things work differently.

But assuming you like the idea of a Blue Age and a Green Age for an Oriental Dark Sun, I think you could set the stage with all the older races (as well as halflings) give them all similar roles to the roles they have in Oriental Adventures, and then have the effects of the changes in the core area happen to this alternative area too.

If there is no direct relationship between the two areas, then the events that transform Oriental Dark Sun into whatever you want it to become today could be seen as some sort of great world changing event. Perhaps distant earthquakes are detected on a earthquake weathervane and then people start to mutate at some point.

One thing I think you would probably need to look at is paddy fields. Would you make them the remaining way to eat, or would you have old-style paddy fields with water turn into some sort of silt fields, that grow some sort of rice if they are made damp. Do some stuff like that and you could start to create an Asian desert culture.

You might also want to look at some real-world places, like the Lop Desert, Ordos Desert (aka Mu Us Desert) and the Taklamakan Desert to see how people live there.

For example, the Lop Desert used to have a sea called the Lop Nur Sea in it. That sea has now dried up and become a salt lake. Maybe you could have salt seas (rather than silt seas) in our Oriental Dark Sun.

XstarkillerX wrote:What do you guys think of all this? Is it worth expanding on? Is there already work on an Athasian version of Oriental Adventures? Suggestions?


I don't know of any Oriental Dark Sun project. I assume you searched on The Burnt World of Athas.

XstarkillerX wrote:Glassteel-like obsidian katanas!

(OK, It's obviously late. I'm going to bed now. :facepalm: )


Hmm. Glass that is folded a thousand times. I like it!

night_druid wrote:There could easily be an early oriental-adventures style city-state across the Sea of Silt. Their culture would probably be VERY early Chinese/Japanese, though; the cultures of Athas are in the style of Babylon, Sumar, Bronze-Age Egypt, and the like. I think Nibeny could be considered Chinese-inspired, by the artwork, although I want to say its supposed to be Egyptian-inspired.


Just the one? :)

agathokles wrote:Nibenay does indeed have a Chinese inspiration, with a recluse "emperor" (Nibenay himself) surrounded by an extensive bureaucracy (his templar wives). Raam has a partial Egyptian inspiration, OTOH.


I think they are all humans. What do you think of Thri-Kreens and Pterrans that have an Chinese-inspired culture?
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby agathokles » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:57 pm

They are primarily humans. Most cities also have at least dwarves and half-giants. Elves are also often present, but they're often not much part of the local culture.

Thri-Kreen are defined as being alien, which is likely why they haven't been modelled on a RW culture. I would thus avoid RW cultures on the Thri-Kreen.

Regarding the Pterrans, it is hard to say. Their culture is defined along the three paths, with a strong druidic bent. Thus, the Pterrans don't live in cities, and don't seem to fit the mould of the Chinese empire.

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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby Yaztromo » Tue Dec 30, 2014 10:52 am

XstarkillerX wrote:I was just re-reading this and a strange thought crossed my mind: what if on the other face of Athas, across the Sea of Silt, Thri-Kreens and Pterrans builded an Oriental-like civilization?

I can well imagine Thri-Kreens as nomadic barbarians roaming the desert in tribal convoys, always ready to unite under the banner of the strongest and start war and depredation on settled people.

XstarkillerX wrote:What will be the view on magic of such a civilization?

Probably there will be schools of wizards looking for power (defilers) and monk like schools of preservers. Probably normal people will accept monks and be scared of wizards as in superstition. I wouldn't expect wizards mingling with low population, but only with nobles.

XstarkillerX wrote:Will preservers be respected or feared?

When presenting themselves as humble monks (or similar), I expect them to be respected. Possibly when presenting themselves as "high rank" monks sitting besides high noblemen, probably they will be confused with defiler wizards, both in the eyes of the common people and intheir very hearts!

XstarkillerX wrote:Will they have some rulers on the same power level of the Sorcerer Kings? Are there beings in Asian folklore that are good candidates for the role?

It looks to me that Emperors relied on wizards as their aids and privy council, more than being themselves the sorcerers, although Oriental Emperors had some kind of supernatural protection and wisdom coming from their ancestors and from magic trinkets.

XstarkillerX wrote:How will the common assumption of asian fantasy be twisted by the harsh lands beneath the Crimson Sun?[/list]

Well, probably at least the part of common asian fantasy related to nomadic barbarian hordes won't need too much adaptation work.
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby The Dark » Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:57 am

The other direction to approach this from would be from Oriental Adventures.

Classes:
Bushi - a warrior not tied to a master; mercenaries, bandits, and wanderers.
Kensai - a "sword saint" who has mastered the art of fighting with a single type of weapon
Monk - a martial artist
Samurai - a warrior who lives to serve his lord, skilled in both combat and the arts
Shukenja - a wandering priest who accepts a life of hardship and poverty and dispenses aid and instruction
Sohei - warrior monks who protect monasteries
Wu jen - hermit wizards who master "the elements, spirit forces, and the very powers of nature"
Yakuza - a thief and thug who also tries to protect the area he lives in

The shukenja and wu jen both being reclusive suggests a setting to me where the rulers have tried to drive away other magic-users. Wu jen could be a combination of elemental priests and druids, and shukenja (despite being "wandering priests") be Preservers, trying to undo the damage caused by the defiling magic of the rulers. Instead of martial arts, monasteries could be devoted to developing psionics, so monks would be psionicists, and sohei are the warriors that protect them. Maybe the kings and emperors are puppets for oni that cast as Defilers? This could be similar to what the Romance of Three Kingdoms suggests happened with the late Han, where the palace eunuchs ran things without the emperor's awareness. Replace the eunuchs with a court of oni, and you have a non-casting ruler who's really being controlled by defilers. Perhaps the oni were an experiment into creating magic-using beings, which (obviously) went wrong.
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby rabindranath72 » Mon Feb 16, 2015 3:36 pm

I don't know, Dark Sun is so completely outlandish in itself that I don't think adding more exotic stuff would make much of a difference to the flavour of the setting (i.e. it would get "lost" in the "noise").
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby Yaztromo » Mon Feb 16, 2015 4:06 pm

The Dark wrote:The other direction to approach this from would be from Oriental Adventures.

Absolutely nothing wrong with this, but my feeling is that making it too much Japanese will not fit 100%: in order to work with Dark Sun setting you need something that fits with a desert environment and the closest Oriental cultures I can think are the ones related with the desert highlands of Mongolia / Gobi. Converting cultures coming from wetlands (where you have bamboo aplenty, lotus flowers, river dragons, etc.) sounds a bit more difficult for my very limited mastering skills.
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby Arnkel » Fri Mar 13, 2015 2:41 am

Nibenay is as close as you're gonna get in the Tyr region. Based on the information presented in The Ivory Triangle, it's similar to the Khmer Empire of Cambodia(think Angkor). They may be involved in forestry, but it was implied that the city itself is surrounded by rice paddies and it the Shadow King's own place of residence is somewhat similar to the Forbidden City from China. Even back in 2e, it was suggested that there are monasteries teaching martial arts(though at least one was taken over by The Order).
As for beyond the Tyr region, anything is possible. It may even be more advanced than the Tablelands for all we know, especially if it's on the other side of the Silt Sea. If based on Japan, there's really not much need to alter too much as, iirc, japan is known for having been an island with few natural resources(especially metal). It would be interesting to see what developed there since the Silt Sea provides a natural barrier for land dwelling creatures altered by the Pristine Tower.
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby Big Mac » Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:12 am

The Dark wrote:The other direction to approach this from would be from Oriental Adventures.


It is nice to see this idea being given a fresh look. :cool:

The Dark wrote:Classes:
Bushi - a warrior not tied to a master; mercenaries, bandits, and wanderers.
Kensai - a "sword saint" who has mastered the art of fighting with a single type of weapon
Monk - a martial artist
Samurai - a warrior who lives to serve his lord, skilled in both combat and the arts
Shukenja - a wandering priest who accepts a life of hardship and poverty and dispenses aid and instruction
Sohei - warrior monks who protect monasteries
Wu jen - hermit wizards who master "the elements, spirit forces, and the very powers of nature"
Yakuza - a thief and thug who also tries to protect the area he lives in


I like this. If you are going to merge the two, it is pretty important to take the classes (and maybe races) from Oriental Adventures, and give them a Dark Sun makeover. I guess that, in a way, you are asking what would you get if you took Kara-Tur or Rokugan and turned it into a harsh post-apocalyptic desert. :?

So I think you need to go back to your Blue Age, make your proto Asian-Athas there, but then have the new stuff come along and force that Asian-Athas to adapt to the same things that Dark Sun deals with.

In that context, the monk makes a lot of sense, as he can fight without any weapons. Some of the other classes might need a tweak (not necessarily a tweak in rules - maybe a tweak in backstory). Samurai would be awesome, but I think they would need new weapons. I wonder if they could be given weapons a bit more like the mezo-American macuahuitl.

I do wonder about the wu jen. I think a lot of people would be wanting to know if wu jens were defilers or preservers...or both.

The big thing, in my mind, is that a lot of the stuff we see at the cinema or on the TV (the stuff that inspired Kara-Tur) involves folded swords made by craftsmen. I'm not sure if they would be still be readily available in the present era. I think that they would be relics from the past, handed down from father to son or somesuch.

The Dark wrote:The shukenja and wu jen both being reclusive suggests a setting to me where the rulers have tried to drive away other magic-users. Wu jen could be a combination of elemental priests and druids, and shukenja (despite being "wandering priests") be Preservers, trying to undo the damage caused by the defiling magic of the rulers. Instead of martial arts, monasteries could be devoted to developing psionics, so monks would be psionicists, and sohei are the warriors that protect them. Maybe the kings and emperors are puppets for oni that cast as Defilers? This could be similar to what the Romance of Three Kingdoms suggests happened with the late Han, where the palace eunuchs ran things without the emperor's awareness. Replace the eunuchs with a court of oni, and you have a non-casting ruler who's really being controlled by defilers. Perhaps the oni were an experiment into creating magic-using beings, which (obviously) went wrong.


I think it might be worth having a number of different monk orders. That way one order could be associated with psionics, and others could be closer to what you get in 1e or 3e OA.
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Re: Oriental Adventures in Athas

Postby Big Mac » Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:17 am

Arnkel wrote:It would be interesting to see what developed there since the Silt Sea provides a natural barrier for land dwelling creatures altered by the Pristine Tower.


Welcome to The Piazza Arnkel.

I wonder if an island, surrounded by the Silt Sea would be a way to create a Japan/Athas hybrid. :?

Given that Spelljammer had ki-helms for spacefarers from Kara-Tur, would you have shipfloaters that used ki-power? :?
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