Playing with Fantasy XIII

Fantasy RPG thoughts.
  • Decided not to go with the Cybertronian-based Giantish. No Cybertronian script is very good. Neither is Zentraedi. I considered something that draws inspiration from Kilrathi and Kzinti, since Giantish is also the language of cat-, yak-, and hyena-people ("gnolls") in my setting. But that led me to David Peterson's Irathient script, since they're very vaguely cat-people, but I went octagonal instead of round (don't judge me, I know I have a problem), and mine isn't an abugida—they're a pain in the ass to font.

    Think I might (this'll require more working out) incorporate something reminiscent of the Giantish runes from the 5e adventure "Storm King's Thunder", and also maybe separate approving, neutral, and disapproving forms as seen in the Thassilonian runes from Pathfinder (except those are logograms…though they don't bloody look it), since the Runelords are known for enslaving giants. Maybe just writing in different colors? Yeah that's probably simplest.

    Ooh that could be cool: have the giants consider black text neutral, and then, say, blue as approving, and scarlet as disapproving. But then the beast-people, who also use their script, see it as black being neutral, blue approving, and dark yellow disapproving, since with red-green colorblindness (which they have from their animal half) you see scarlet as dark yellow. Probably you mostly only write proper names or short declarative sentences (like accusations or proclamations) in the special colors.
  • Decided to somewhat revamp my Dwarven; now the dark dwarves use a square version and the regular dwarves use a somewhat different version of the hexagonal. I also redid their numerals a little, made them simpler. The hexagonal Dwarven script marks its vowels with triangular characters that fit into the gaps between the hexagonal consonant letters, at the top for short vowels and at top and bottom for long vowels. So the square script, instead, has square-but-smaller characters for the vowels, and it writes the long vowels atop one another.

    One thing I worried this might mean is Dwarven having no spaces between words, but then I decided no, it marks word bounds with empty squares or triangles, depending on whether we're dealing with the square or hexagonal script. Two, top and bottom, between words that both start and end with consonants, and only one, at the bottom, between words that start with vowels (it has no words that end on vowels). Not sure if I need a separate way to mark sentences; thinking I'll just put a smaller diamond or reversed triangle, respectively, inside the word-divider symbols.
  • Still need a good alphabet for the Tainish Egyptians on the other continent. Kinda unsure what direction to take it; maybe something like one of the weirder JRPG scripts (e.g. Hymmnos or the Etro script). Probably something very like Etro, actually, though of course my version would be less obviously a cipher of the Roman alphabet, and not crosses/daggers. I'll probably come up with base glyph-shapes similar to Roman, Greek, or Cyrillic, then do something like Etro to them.

    The humans of the main continent, both Landlubber NĂºmenoreans and Thalassocratic Valyrians, use a script that originally looked like a mix of Roman, Greek, and Cyrillic letters. The modern cultures write it in (depending which one we're talking about) an uncial reminiscent of the one used for the Late Medieval and Early Modern version of Cyrillic; in a blackletter whose particulars I still haven't worked out yet; or in a runic script that's basically the original version with the curved lines changed to angles.
  • I apparently haven't mentioned this on my blog, but the animal-god that governed healing and divination, for my setting's humans, was Hedgehog, because they're immune to snake venom. Decided, though, that it should be Kingfisher: not only are they also immune to certain venoms, notably pufferfish, they're able to aim despite water's refraction, so they have both a medicine and a divination aspect.
  • Decided to get down to brass tacks about my setting's human ethnicities. The Thalassocratic Valyrians have African facial features and hair-texture, but their eyes are green or amber, their hair red, and their skin is pale pink to various shades of reddish-brown (they always have pheomelanin, in other words). The Landlubber NĂºmenoreans have Asian facial features and hair texture, but their eyes are blue, gray, or hazel, their hair blond to light brown, and their skin is olive to dusky (only moderate levels of eumelanin, in other words). Finally the Tainish Egyptians and Hardic Hyksos both have Australian Aborigine features and hair, but with brown or black eyes and hair, and dusky to "mahogany" skin (so, higher levels of eumelanin).

    Decided also that the dark folk ("Dark People") have only black eumelanin, no metter their age, even in their skin, and thus are always gray rather than any shade of brown. Unlike normal humans this coloring even extends to their mucous membranes, though their blood is still red (they consider red unlucky, though fortunately they normally can't perceive colors in the lightless caverns they live in—they have darkvision). The gillmen ("Gill People"), meanwhile, replace their melanocytes with various combinations of xanthophores, leucophores, and cyanophores, resulting in their skin being various shades of green, yellow, blue, and gray.
  • Still getting to grips with my nonhuman skin-colors. I think the elves will be slightly bluish or greenish, due to a combination of blue structural coloring (as seen in blue-faced monkeys, though less pronounced) and yellow carotenoids used in lieu of melanin. Dwarves' skin is orangish, also from a carotenoid, without structural coloring. Gnomes' skin is pale purple or pink, the former from structural coloring similar to that of elves, the latter due to having red carotenoids (red and violet make magenta, and pale magenta is pink).
  • Not directly about RPGs but important to writing settings for them, it seems like George Rape-Rape Martin has absolutely no idea of the scale of literally anything. I've talked about how he was shocked how big a 500-foot wall actually is; he also has people melting gold in campfires (I guess Westerosi camp cooks are big on stir-fry cooked on orange-hot woks?). And apparently the Valyrian Empire ("Freehold"…except that's not what a freehold is; the word you want is "confederacy") is simultaneously too ancient and too recent.

    See, the thing was founded 8298 years before the main action of the books, which, if they're the (brain-damaged edgelord middle-schooler version of) the War of the Roses, 1455 to 1485, puts its founding in 6843 BC. Yet it only fell 312 years before the main action. Among other problems with this: that has one government lasting for 7,986 years; the language of the Empire's founding would stand in relation to the classical language of the setting roughly as Proto-Afro-Asiatic does to Middle Egyptian (which was a classical language in the New Kingdom and Greco-Roman era); the change of Valyrian society comparable to the transition from late Imperial Rome to Early Modern Western Europe takes only 312 years, putting the "Fall of Rome" only in 1143; and, related to that last point, the Astapori and Meereen daughter-languages have only had 312 years to do their linguistic drifting.

    You could have a diglossia, classical Valyrian and the more modern language spoken side-by-side, analogous to the situation that existed till recently in Welsh, Norwegian, Greek, or Chinese, but that's explicitly not what Martin describes. What he describes is something like the Romance languages forming over around a millennium from Vulgar Latin—except he forgot he only gave himself 312 years for all that change to happen in. (Seriously why is it so important that the Doom of Valyria be so damn recent? Did he just pull these numbers out of a hat?)
  • Even if the big numbers for ancient history are doubled, as Martin retconned it when people pointed out it was stupid totally meant to do from the beginning, the fall of Valyria (which isn't ancient history) is still too recent for the changes that have supposedly happened since—and you're still talking about an ancient state whose founding is in 2694 BC, i.e. the last phase of the Yamnaya Culture, generally identified with the first speakers of Proto-Indo-European. That is admittedly also contemporary with the beginning of Old Kingdom Egypt—but you may notice that in 1143 AD (when the Valyrian Freehold fell after "only" 3,837 years), Egypt wasn't ruled by the Old Kingdom or even the same system as the Old Kingdom—it was, in fact, thirty-three dynasties, two empires, and four caliphates from the founding of the Old Kingdom. And the Valyrian houses of which Targaryen is the last surviving example have all been there from the beginning, which would be like if the Fatimid caliphate was still dealing with the same nomarch families in Egypt that Narmer was.
  • This is funny and all, but wouldn't dwarves know humans eat salt? I mean who do you think probably sells it to them? For dwarves salt mining would be a relaxed way to make a living, compared to mining for ores or more exotic things. And they're much more likely to sell humans an unworked raw material like salt than works of their craft that could be used against them by a freaking alien, which is what other "races" really are. Though I do endorse that idea about dwarves using actual poisons for spices.

    Along the same lines, elves and gnomes, who both get +2 to Perception, could have food that seems really bland by human standards, but is actually, relative to their perceptions, quite adequately seasoned, and they view human cooking the way Indian and Cajun people view the Anglo versions of their cuisine. (This isn't the case in my setting, where elves, dwarves, and gnomes are all carnivores, and thus have fewer taste buds—dogs have 1,700 to humans' 10,000—and they find human foods bland, but in a standard D&D or Pathfinder setting elves and gnomes are often nearly vegetarian, and herbivores have over twice as many taste-buds as humans.)

    Halflings in both standard D&D/Pathfinder and my specific setting would also probably have bland foods, since they also get the +2 to Perception. (In my setting, where they're modified humans, they indiscriminately have stronger senses than other humans, resulting in their cuisine seeming very bland to the "big people", and virtually flavorless to the nonhumans.)

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