Empyrea: Original Home of Demi-Humans

Quest for the lost city of Empyrea in Frank Mentzer's Aquaria Setting.
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Havard
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Empyrea: Original Home of Demi-Humans

Post by Havard » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:14 pm

Frank recently added some more detail to the setting on his Kickstarter page and here is one thing that I picked up on:
History: This continent is the original home of all demi-humans, who know how to get along with each other and with nature. Humans arrived, tried to conquer the place, but were forced to compromise because they didn’t have an edge. Their realm, Empyrea, has evolved for 3 centuries. Their kings followed a three-prong strategy of cooperation: Minimize technology, promote magic (obeying the gods), Work with nature and the planet for long-term stability and health, and Support knowledge, the arts, and quality of life; avoid misuse of wealth and power.
And:
People: The dwur claim the land below, but most dislike sunlight, so noniz handle their surface business. The olve claim the woodlands, and many hobniz are in the gourmet trade near towns. Other ‘niz (brownies and sprites and many more) are about, as are the Others, various odd monstrous races and variations.
The idea that the continent of Aquaria is the original home of Demi-Humans and that all humans are relative newcomers to the continent is a an interesting premise to the setting and something I dont think I have seen in many other settings. I wonder if this could be used to enhance the feel of Empyrea being a different setting compared to the other D&D worlds out there.

It is also interesting that Frank uses the Gygaxian terminology for the demi human races:
Dwur = Dwarves
Noniz = Gnomes
Hobniz = Halflings/Hobbits
Olve = Elves

I guess this reflects the Greyhawk origins of the setting. I suppose those terms aren't copyrighted?

Anyway, I like that the humans have had a hard time establishing their empire on the continent over 300 years. It seems that the decision to keep technology to a minimum in order to please the Gods has been one of the necessary decisions in order to keep Empyrea successful? I wonder if that is because they depend so strongly on the good will of the Gods or if dabbling too much in tech would also offend the demi-humans. If so, are Dwur and Noniz also opposed to Tek?

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Re: Empyrea: Original Home of Demi-Humans

Post by ExTSR » Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:02 pm

Havard wrote:humans have had a hard time establishing their empire on the continent over 300 years
Humanocentrism. It's at the heart of 1e of course. The hobby was new, and with no experience, it was as hard to play an elf as a 3-legged alien. Gary wanted you to identify with characters; odd was fine, weird was hard.

We evolved. :) Now we have experience at playing almost everything, even sentient objects.

The human realm of Empyrea is surrounded by others... demihumans, monsters, and much more. The humans had to compromise, and are very much aware of their borders, the limits of their tenuous safety.
the decision to keep technology to a minimum in order to please the Gods has been one of the necessary decisions in order to keep Empyrea successful? I wonder if that is because they depend so strongly on the good will of the Gods or if dabbling too much in tech would also offend the demi-humans. If so, are Dwur and Noniz also opposed to Tek?
The core premise is that all sentient specie modify their environment to some extent, but humans do it hastily. They lack foresight and context. They focus on what they want and destroy everything that gets in their way. The ancient demi-human races, by contrast, are less egoistic. They know how to create a win-win-win situation for themselves, other life forms, and the planet itself. The planet told them how (through druids). They've been doing this for 5,000 years; the humans (at 300+) are still learning, still adapting.

Intelligent tech remains in balance with the environment. Stupid Tech is a disease arising from pride (hubris) and arrogance.
But of course there's tech and there's Tech. The guideline is simple: If it helps you, good. If it replaces you, bad.

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Re: Empyrea: Original Home of Demi-Humans

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:29 pm

Havard wrote:It is also interesting that Frank uses the Gygaxian terminology for the demi human races:
Dwur = Dwarves
Noniz = Gnomes
Hobniz = Halflings/Hobbits
Olve = Elves

I guess this reflects the Greyhawk origins of the setting.
I've been thinking of using those terms for Greyspace demihumans, to be honest, Havard. (It's a very easy way to differentiate between demi-humans native to the sphere and demi-humans who have come in from other crystal spheres.)

I believe I saw someone saying something about Gary playing down demi-human involvement in the Flanaess (I'm not sure exactly what they suggested - perhaps they were saying that Gary originally expected players to pick human PCs). Does this Empyrea/Aquaria back-story tie in with Gary's original plans for how the races "fit in" to the Flanaess?
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Re: Empyrea: Original Home of Demi-Humans

Post by Havard » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:50 am

ExTSR wrote:
Havard wrote:humans have had a hard time establishing their empire on the continent over 300 years
Humanocentrism. It's at the heart of 1e of course. The hobby was new, and with no experience, it was as hard to play an elf as a 3-legged alien. Gary wanted you to identify with characters; odd was fine, weird was hard.

We evolved. :) Now we have experience at playing almost everything, even sentient objects.

The human realm of Empyrea is surrounded by others... demihumans, monsters, and much more. The humans had to compromise, and are very much aware of their borders, the limits of their tenuous safety.
Makes sense from a gaming historical perspective. But I also like how this makes Aquaria a little different. :)

The core premise is that all sentient specie modify their environment to some extent, but humans do it hastily. They lack foresight and context. They focus on what they want and destroy everything that gets in their way. The ancient demi-human races, by contrast, are less egoistic. They know how to create a win-win-win situation for themselves, other life forms, and the planet itself. The planet told them how (through druids). They've been doing this for 5,000 years; the humans (at 300+) are still learning, still adapting.
Interesting. Does this mean that the Druidic traditions are particularly strong among the demi-humans of Aquaria?

Intelligent tech remains in balance with the environment. Stupid Tech is a disease arising from pride (hubris) and arrogance.
But of course there's tech and there's Tech. The guideline is simple: If it helps you, good. If it replaces you, bad.
This sort of reminds me of the ideas behind the Butlerian Jihad from Frank Herbert's Dune series. I guess in those series it was limited to Thinking Machines being bad, while here it sounds like the restriction might be more extensive. Sounds like the 19th C Luddites would like Aquaria? :)

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Re: Empyrea: Original Home of Demi-Humans

Post by ExTSR » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:30 pm

Havard wrote:Does this mean that the Druidic traditions are particularly strong among the demi-humans of Aquaria?
Integral. Part of the whole life-philosophy.
They have a level of certainty that is impossible without magic. The druid cultists, not worshipping any immortal or deity, focused on the huge Being that is the planet, have been able to tease crucial clues therefrom. Druids have near-sacred status.

Side effect: Magic is powered by planar boundaries, and the rituals required to access it (essentially mental and physical mnemonics) have nothing to do with deities, 'granted' spells, memorizations, or anything else. Granting that axiom, the Vancean fire-and-forget magic system is not the only valid method, and our rationale will support various game systems' approaches to the topic.

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