Playing with Fantasy XVII

More fantasy RPG thoughts. Many about my setting's languages.
  • I'm kinda an idiot, apparently. I had been thinking that I had to combine, like, Medium animated objects with the system for making intelligent magic items, for the magic android-type dealies I wanted in my setting. But…like…wyrwoods? They're magic androids. They rebelled against their creators when they were made to fight each other.

    Obviously I'm gonna modify some things, like their being able to make more of themselves, and their having rebelled against their creators. Mine are also Medium, not Small, since they're designed to resemble normal humans if you don't examine them closely, unlike wyrwoods.
  • In the Holy Roman Empire, a full-time combatant was someone who owned four or five carucates of land, each consisting of eight bovates, defined as the land one man behind one ox could till in a ploughing season. That's 32–40 people and oxen worth of tillage per year. There's a hell of a lot more complexity involved (if you only owned one carucate, you and two other guys combined to send one of you to war in the name of all three of you, presumably on a part-time basis), but "forty peasants for every full-time combatant" seems like a good ballpark figure. Now, urbanization rates vary; in 1300 Italy was 15 percent urban, while France seems to have been more like 5 percent. That means that in an Italy-like society (like the urban branch of my main culture), a Pathfinder "metropolis" of more than 25,000 represents a total population of at least 166,666, while in a France-like one (like the settled rural branch), it represents a total population of 500,000.

    Combining the two concepts, and treating the three smallest Pathfinder settlement-sizes (thorpe, 20 or fewer; hamlet, 21–60; and village, 61–200) as not being urban but as being rural settlements, we can get thorpes not having any full-time combatants; only the largest hamlets having exactly one; and villages having between one and five. Because all their population can be treated as being "peasants" for this (abstract) calculation. Then, though, you have to go with two systems depending on urbanization-rate. (This is going to make it look like the rural society would have vastly more forces at its disposal, but what it actually means is that a rural society will have fewer settlements than an urban society with the same total population. Also a comparatively smaller city does represent greater total wealth, in a rural-centered society, since they have a higher threshold before they come together into a city like that.)

    For the urban culture, a small town (201–2,000 people) represents 1,340–13,333 peasants, while for the rural one, it represents 4,020–40,000. That means the urban people can have 33–333 full-time combatants for every small town, while the rural can have 100–1,000. A large town (2,001–5,000) represents 13,340–33,333 peasants, therefore 333–833 full-time combatants for the urban society, and 40,020–100,000 and 1,000–2,500 combatants for the rural. A small city (5,001–10,000) represents 33,040–66,666 peasants and 833–1,666 combatants for the urban society, and 100,020–200,000 peasants and 2,500–5,000 combatants for the rural. A large city (10,001–25,000) represents 66,673–166,666 peasants and 1,666–4,166 combatants for the urban society, and 200,020–500,000 peasants and 5,000–12,500 combatants for the rural. And a metropolis (25,001 or more) represents at least 166,673 peasants and more than 4,166 combatants for the urban society, and at least 500,020 peasants and more than 12,500 combatants for the rural.
  • Been working on Babel texts for my D&D conlangs. Decided the Draconic one is number invariable (because just ganking the pluralization from Dovahzul crosses the line into actual plagiarism), and uses two genitives, one of them inalienable. The inalienable applies, though, not only to things like relatives and body-parts, but to every single thing in a dragon's hoard: so if you steal from one, it's like you're mutilating them (also if they give you something, it's like giving you a lock of their hair, which is typically inalienably possessed but not inalienable in actual fact).

    Applied the Great Vowel Shift to my Goblinese, to get rid of the long vowels of Elven (at least the ones that still inflect pronouns and verbs, not the ones in the noun stems—those just turned short), and gave it an approximant R vs. the trilled R that Elven uses (allophonically a flap, because sometimes you can't be bothered to trill). Went with only using the plural markers (which had been long vowels) on Goblinese verbs, and so needed something to mark the words for number: went with determiners (think, like, articles, but they don't mark definiteness) derived from pronouns, preceding the nouns. Was going to have the determiners inflect for case too, but there's really no point. Also realized I needed demonstratives in my Elven, but they don't produce the determiners in Goblinese, the regular pronouns do.

    I had always wanted to have a conlang that inflected only its noun-determiners for case, the way German does with its articles (okay German also inflects nouns themselves for the genitive), and got a chance with my Common, to make it clearly simpler than the human languages it descends from. Also decided the steppe culture would have phonological differences other than only having a, i, and u vowels (it turns e and o in its relatives into i and u, respectively, and lengthens pre-existing i and u). Namely, r is a trill instead of a tap, and the labiodental fricatives (f and v) are realized as labials (φ and β).
  • Had my Halfling language reinterpret all the short vowels of the 'Thalassocratic Valyrian' language as preceding geminated consonanats, adding vowels after final consonants, in order to let them get rid of vowel-length. This made it sound a lot like Italian.

    Also all the descendants of the ancient form of that language merged at least two of its genders. The one spoken by the people that stayed as a witch-empire merged all the inanimates into the air gender (which had gone for abstracts and flying animates as well as gases), and reconceptualized the fire gender as simply the animate (changing how flying animates inflect).

    The halflings and sea-nomads kept the air and fire (though they also put the flying animates in fire), and then combined the water and earth into a mud gender, with the halflings using the earth inflections and the nomads using the water ones. ("Mud" gender reminds me of the mud-clans that some Native American groups have, arising from the blending of earth and water moieties.)
  • My Gnomish was giving me a lot of headache; it turns out in practice to be a lot less polysynthetic than I'd described it as being. One thing I did was give it four voices in its verb prefixes, one for each case it inflects verbs for (nominative, accusative, benefactive, instrumental)—active for nominative, passive for accusative, applicative for benefactive, and causative for instrumental. Which…was a real headache, 0/10 would not recommend. Still it worked out to sounding cool.
  • Another thing I realized, doing the Babels, is I need my Dwarven to be able to end words on vowels, because the unmarked nominative case of the pronouns ends in a vowel. So now the word divider is a diamond basically made of one-third of the hexagon the consonants are. You can still fit vowels in its corners, like you can around the hexagon consonants.

    Was going to have my Ogrish break up Dwarven's long vowels with a glottal stop (something like the ğ in Turkish, with the diphthongs and long vowels in pre-republican loanwords), but decided instead that it does the main thing long vowels do in Dwarven, mark imperfects, by the adverb "still"; the other thing long vowels do, mark pronouns as plural, is achieved by reduplications (nouns pluralize with "many"). It also replaces the past tense with "before" and the future with "after". Think I'll just have the interrogative mood be done by tone, the way it is in most Western European languages, and then the subjunctive (which is mostly a hortative or imperative) with "better", or something?

    Ogrish replaces case with word-order for the nominative and accusative, and the dative is kinda redundant with prepositions. The volitional genitive is now prefixing the noun with "take" and the nonvolitional with "receive". Also think they don't inflect verbs for personal, only animate and inanimate (they also don't distinguish people from animals in the kitchen).
  • You know, realistically, wargs and other magical carnivores would be terribly OP against ordinary horses. You can probably get warhorses to stand their ground against them—ordinary horses, not even warhorses, stood their ground in tiger-hunts, after all—but you're not going to want to get into a cavalry press with them, since they can bite your horse's throat out. At the very least horse-armor is not optional if you're at all likely to fight such beasties. Plus they can give signals that carry for miles, howling (or roaring, in the case of things like the panthers my elves ride).

    One thing that would be an advantage for horses is that carnivorans probably don't have quite as easy a time as heavy cavalry, since there's nothing in their makeup analogous to a herd-animal's stampeding instinct. Of course they're intelligent so you can train them to do it anyway—probably with training more reminiscent of training human infantry phalanxes—but it's still probably not how they'd naturally do it. (The elves and gnomes of my setting, and goblins, are culturally more inclined to be like light cavalry anyway.)

    Huh actually come to think of it my dwarves are more likely to do, like, heavy mounted infantry, riding their giant wolverines up to an enemy, dismounting, and then rider and mount fighting independently—and then maybe re-mounting and rushing off to other engagements as they defeat enemies. (That or the dwarves work more like Early Modern cuirassiers or dragoons, since dwarves have firearms.) Though the ogres and their giant boars would make good super heavy cavalry (porkery?), that being a very instinctive way of fighting for swine anyway.
  • I like the idea of the bulette (which is pronounced "bulèt" not "bulé", since it ends in E), as a "land shark" and a thing you can use kinda like a sandworm, but I don't much care for its design. I much prefer making it more specifically shark-like, but having it breathe air and "swim" through sand and dirt.

    Now, of course, it can only swim through loose sand, but given that the deepest "dune sea" in the current world is 140 feet deep, and some in the Mesozoic were hundreds of meters, it's not entirely unworkable. A cubic meter of sand only masses 63% more than the equivalent volume of water, which is quite doable if the cartilage is replaced or reinforced with something stronger (hey my giant bugs are more mineralized than real ones, and cartilage and chitin are very similar). Maybe also reinforce the skin-denticles, which already act as an exoskeleton in the water.

    And it gets its water from prey, giving it an obvious incentive to be far more aggressive than real sharks. Mine are the result of magical experiments to make a dangerous harbor-guardian (important, when you're a maritime witch-empire and your setting includes sahuagin), modified to remove the weaknesses of normal sharks, and the sahuagin's power to control them.

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