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Toward a Better Kralorela

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58 minutes ago, Leingod said:

Ah, so we can instead just hire a professor of South Asian Studies who had a professed lifelong love of language and wrote grammar books and dictionaries for obscure languages like the (extinct as of 2003) Klamath language and also taught Urdu. Seriously, I couldn't even guess how many languages Baker was fluent in.

Or I could just drag out the 2 and a bit I did for Runequest, back before I realised that noone cares if Banazir's last name is pronounced Galbasi or Galpasi. Enough for verisimilitude is actually not much at all, and far less than done by either Baker or Tolkien. (Although I'd love to be able to make tri-lingual puns)

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5 hours ago, albinoboo said:

You missed this bit then. 

An accusation of racism is crossing over the line. The demand that Chaosium runs their creative process on Kralorela past someone of East Asian origin is crossing the line. I'm rather tried of self appointed moral arbiters seeking to draw artificial boundaries. The entirety of human history and pre history is full of technology, customs and religions spreading across the world, to the general benefit of the human race. The demand that everyone to stick to thier culture or be accused of culture appropriation is ahistorical and denies the human creative impulse and desire to explore. 

No, I didn't miss anything, that I can see.

You seem to have missed that the quoted part is asking for a policy going forward, to be implemented for a still-in-development product.

That the policy is precautionary vs racism (or the appearance of racism, being colorblind to a nuance that is glaringly obvious to others) is not to accuse Chaosium of being racist, nor asking them to limit their creativity.

I'm having a hard time, here... How is it that asking for MORE folks to be involved in a creative process is a bad thing?  How is it that asking for a nuanced and racially-aware portrayal (on a topic that Stafford himself hadn't hit in a deep manner, specifically because he knew that he didn't understand those nuances) is a bad thing?

 

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To get the thread back to my intent, what are some fun things we can add to or take away from Kralorela to make it less “Fantasy Cathay” and more weird and Gloranthan?

REMOVE/AVOID

chopsticks, silk (let Teshnos have that), concubines, queues, mandarins, triads, tongs, bound feet, stereotypical art, Fu Manchu mustaches, long long nails, conical hats, junks, boy I wish we could lose the faux Chinese names.

ADD

Polynesian elements: Hawaiian hats, feathered caps, outriggers, yams, poi, tabu system

Indochinese Elements: Architecture and art based on Cambodia or Thailand or Bali, Thai clothing, Hmong hats, Ede matrilineal property rights, curry, mint, hot peppers

Mesoamerican elements: Aztec battle gear, step pyramids, Mayan and Aztec art references, chocolate, cacao leaves, Nazca lines, mummies, gold everywhere 

Draconic elements: Fire! Lizards everywhere, little velociraptors instead of dogs, dragon masks, claw weapons.

Nonhumans: Keets are respected and treated as equals, baboons act like regular people, heretical broken dwarves are a large underclass, trollkin slave’s are popular, secret Hsunchen cults maintain old ways, Deep Ones and the Innsmouth look, so many ghouls, zombies as beasts of burden.

Military: Way more heavy infantry and armored cavalry than you think. Troll mercenaries bodyguard the exarchs. Dwarven crossbowmen and siege engineers.

Religion/Culture: Less filial piety, Emperor worship, and faux Confucianism, more Everyone has a Dragon Soul, Hear it Roar! Social Darwinism! Colonial ambitions! Iconoclastic movements, secret EWF revivalists! Gods have unexpected roles. Zorak Zoran is the main war god, Eurmal is the beloved god of children.

 

 

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15 minutes ago, RHW said:

To get the thread back to my intent, what are some fun things we can add to or take away from Kralorela to make it less “Fantasy Cathay” and more weird and Gloranthan?

 

Nice re-tracking of this orient express, RHW. 

<getting bag of popcorn>

Carry on folks, this was looking interesting, informative and fun, and with RHW's gentle hand it might just become so again.

19 minutes ago, RHW said:

 REMOVE/AVOID

 

Love it, great thoughts!

 

20 minutes ago, RHW said:

ADD

 

Love it even more. Perhaps it's the hats and non-humans.

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19 minutes ago, RHW said:

Draconic elements: ...

Nonhumans: ...

For those who've read Novik's Temeraire series, there is a marvelous version of China that might be worth cribbing from.

The worlds are different enough that it cannot be just a 100% straight rip-off, but taking cues...

Imagine if the Dragon Emperor decreed a magical hybridizing & breeding program, based around all forms of Saurians.  Pterosaurs for flight, magisaurs for magic & intelligence, plus other Awakened or other intelligent varieties, maybe some kinds of sub-Draconic Wyrm's, even Dream Dragons... etc etc etc.

Stable forms of "custom" dragon-inspired Saurians, maybe citizens of the empire, maybe a warrior/noble slave caste like the Mamluk's (bonus for another cultural pull from another place&time).

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While I understand the motivation behind this, and find it laudable in itself, I feel that we are engaged in a semi-conscious drift from Greg's intention for Glorantha. It was a playground for anthropology, not the invention of a game world that would be culturally sensitive. 

Stripping away his stereotypes may be satisfying to our sensibilities, but I think it leaves us with a world that is ever less Greg Stafford's Glorantha. ☹️

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6 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

I'm sure this has been said (probably many times before), and often forgotten/ignored, but.... Glorantha is a very Euro-centric land. The main materials written so far centre around a Dragon Pass and environs that mimics various European (with some middle eastern influence) earth history.

I think this ties in with @Jeff's comment that

Quote

Kralorela is not the real Bronze Age China any more than Dragon Pass is the real Mycenaean Greece. It is the China of our myths - the Serica of Pliny and Ptolemy.

If Kralorela is originally approached through the lens of Roman authors, at a certain level it seems to me its presentation must be Euro-centric. I think that can be done sensitively, and with respect to Earth cultures and traditions, and I trust that Chaosium will do their best in doing so. But if Kralorela's origin comes from Roman/European sources, that ultimately will shade its color somewhat.

3 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

Or I could just drag out the 2 and a bit I did for Runequest, back before I realised that noone cares if Banazir's last name is pronounced Galbasi or Galpasi. Enough for verisimilitude is actually not much at all

You're not entirely alone; Glorantha's lack of linguistic integrity gives me the grumbles now and again too. (Looking at you Rebellius Terminus and all your faux-Latin/faux-Greek friends.) Too late now for a naming language to fit in and tidy it up, really. My favorite approach is the one taking across a lot of Prax, where they'll often use simple, descriptive names in English--The Paps, Three Bean Circus, the Block, etc. Could an approach like that work in Kralorela?

1 hour ago, RHW said:

Lizards everywhere, little velociraptors instead of dogs

1) This gives me a Dinotopia image that I kind of love, especially with its kinda-sorta-not-really-Utopia vibe. 2) Wouldn't dinosaurs be problematic for a draconic culture, since they're basically failed dragons?

At the same time, I can see them still being useful/interesting. Less a "this is my valued pet" and more "Ha! You failed your Charismatic Wisdom test for the last time--you're now a triceratops, go plow my fields!" Again digging into that Dinotopia vein of my imagination.

2 hours ago, RHW said:

Nonhumans: Keets are respected and treated as equals, baboons act like regular people, heretical broken dwarves are a large underclass, trollkin slave’s are popular, secret Hsunchen cults maintain old ways, Deep Ones and the Innsmouth look, so many ghouls, zombies as beasts of burden.

Enjoy quite a bit of this! The "necromancy for good--who needs their body in the afterlife?" gag is fun and makes sense if you're the right flavor of screwy. Zorak Zoran feels odd to me as the primary war god, because I associate him so strongly with trolls. I like the twist on Eurmal as harmless children's entertainer--it made more sense to me when I remembered that many people are afraid of clowns! What are Keets?

Also, I know it's only vaguely on topic, but has Dara Happa ever struck anyone as somewhat Fantasy China as well? It's more hidden, but I feel like vibes are there with the central Emperor around whom the world revolves, the long written tradition, and the extensive aristocracy (combined with flavors of ancestor worship in God-Learner-ese). It's hardly an area of history I'm well versed in, but when I was reading John Keay's China to explore outside my box my gut reaction was "this feels like Solar Glorantha." Just curious!

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9 minutes ago, Crel said:

Could an approach like that work in Kralorela?

An approach would be to translate all the Kralori/Chinese names into Old Chinese which gives the names an exotic feel (Shan Shan comes out as something like Sngrar Sngrar)

 

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36 minutes ago, Crel said:

Also, I know it's only vaguely on topic, but has Dara Happa ever struck anyone as somewhat Fantasy China as well? It's more hidden, but I feel like vibes are there with the central Emperor around whom the world revolves, the long written tradition, and the extensive aristocracy (combined with flavors of ancestor worship in God-Learner-ese). It's hardly an area of history I'm well versed in, but when I was reading John Keay's China to explore outside my box my gut reaction was "this feels like Solar Glorantha." Just curious!

Dara Happa strikes me as very consciously Mesopotamian in influence, which happens to have many of those same traits for many of the same reasons Imperial China developed them; they are, after all, 2 of the 3 oldest settled civilizations in the world (which emerged fairly close together in time) and the birthplace of the first expansive empires in human history.

That said, stuff like the extensive rice-farming (though rice was grown in parts of Mesopotamia, too) suggests there's at least a bit of crossing over of the influences.

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3 hours ago, RHW said:

REMOVE/AVOID

<snip>...queues, ...

Trust me, modern China already has... :(

 

3 hours ago, RHW said:

ADD

You seem to have forgotten the 56 different ethnicities (cultures) currently in China. As has already been stated, Kralorela is currently a mix of only a couple of the predominant tropes and stereotypes. I'm not saying your additions aren't valid, just that to drop some of the problems of the stereotype, there needs to be greater research into the real history, including the peoples.

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3 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

While I understand the motivation behind this, and find it laudable in itself, I feel that we are engaged in a semi-conscious drift from Greg's intention for Glorantha. It was a playground for anthropology, not the invention of a game world that would be culturally sensitive. 

Stripping away his stereotypes may be satisfying to our sensibilities, but I think it leaves us with a world that is ever less Greg Stafford's Glorantha. ☹️

Ummm... There is a serious divide between the way the Indo-European inspired areas are done, and the way other cultures have been treated. That's the problem.

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6 hours ago, Leingod said:

Ah, so we can instead just hire a professor of South Asian Studies who had a professed lifelong love of language and wrote grammar books and dictionaries for obscure languages like the (extinct as of 2003) Klamath language and also taught Urdu. Seriously, I couldn't even guess how many languages Baker was fluent in.

I think almost literally every fantasy writer ever has come up with fantasy names for places... And the better ones have done it with different linguistically diverse namings... 

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3 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

I think almost literally every fantasy writer ever has come up with fantasy names for places... And the better ones have done it with different linguistically diverse namings... 

Like Nochet and Corflu?

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5 hours ago, RHW said:

To get the thread back to my intent, what are some fun things we can add to or take away from Kralorela to make it less “Fantasy Cathay” and more weird and Gloranthan?

You want to re-write the Guide sections on Kralorela.

If this is going to be more of an exercise how to create your variant Glorantha (which is entirely valid and on-topic in this forum), go ahead by all means. I will provide a whole different set of comments on how to create a variant Kralorela that is not part of official Glorantha than I will contribute to a thread how to make canonical Kralorela better by adding stuff to soften the "fantasy cathay"-only impression.

Avoiding stuff is fine. Removing stuff is a no-go for me.

Quote

REMOVE/AVOID

chopsticks, silk (let Teshnos have that), concubines, queues, mandarins, triads, tongs, bound feet, stereotypical art, Fu Manchu mustaches, long long nails, conical hats, junks, boy I wish we could lose the faux Chinese names.

Chopsticks - no real attachment to them. I was instructed in their use by a Chinese colleague (and office mate) during my diploma thesis, and I have found them quite handy to use for mouth-sized meals.

Silk - trolls have it, I suppose Vormain has it, but Kralorela explicitely has it in at least one province. Like rice, having silk in other places in addition to Kralorela makes it stand out less. That's as far as I would go while remaining in or at least close to canon. Documented for the city of Chi-Ting.

Concubines (or a harem) - the Kralori emperor doesn't seem to have them, or indeed human offspring. We know of one emperor who had a wife. This is quite a problem to play with Pharaonic parallels, as the Egyptian Book of the Dead with draconic rather than human beast headed entities could be quite a non-Chinese terrestrial parallel to pursue here.

Queues (the manchu/qing dynasty hairstyle to allow a man to wear your hair uncut) - not in evidence in any of the illustrations in the Guide. We do get two quite freaky front tonsures with a very short upward horsetail in the image of the Kuchawn astronomers p.273, but it resembles a samurain haircut more than it does a queue. The third astronomer wears his hair in an open mane, and I'd assume that the two tonsures are the sign of some monastic order, or perhaps of a kind of eunuchs. The other two images of Kralori without a headdress are the lion-like mane of Kui Hui on p.266 and the bun of the wuxia-master eye-browed Dragon Emperor on p.261. The cultural introduction emphasizes the importance of headgear (p.55), but not hairstyle. The only depictions in a Glorantha-related official publication featuring this hair-style is that of a scribe on p.165 in the Hero Wars rules and possibly the two mariners in Men of the Sea p.26.

Mandarins - I agree, a loaded term, and one I would downplay. However, it has been used for bureaucrats of seemingly unmovable administrative apparati outside of the Chinese context, too. "Magistrate" is as loaded, though, and "bureaucrat" is way too modern. "Cleric/clerk" has medieval European christianity connotations, not something to aim for either. Same for "minister". "Official" or "officer" has too many other uses in English to convey what the German term "Beamter" conveys. This term has accompanied the exarchs (a term of byzantine origin, it appears) since we first got a description of Kralorela in the Genertela box.

Tongs - I think this term used for the underworld creeped in with the Introduction to Glorantha book. They weren't mentioned in Genertela Book. The Guide mentions them once for Sha Ming. Basically, the term "tong" being used for criminal or subversive organisations only is discriminating. It is just a term for "hall" or "house", and a translation that describes the function would be "guild" or "fraternity" - all of which have their own modern US, Victorian or medieval connotations that we don't want.

Bound Feet - nowhere mentioned. So yes, avoid at all cost.

Stereotypical art - then please detail your idea of Kralori art direction. Really.

Fu Manchu moustaches - I'd be more concerned about wuxia eyebrows.

Long long nails - also used as Vadeli fashion. The basic decadent attribute of well-to-do idleness and avoidance of any manual labor (including dressing yourself).

Conical hats - don't matter much to me either way. Worn in other parts of east asia as well. There are a number of other silly-looking round box hats that I would place much higher on my list. But if you want to, give them WW2 British army style soup dish hats or bowlers, turbans or cossack fur hats, as per province. Fun fact: There are conical hats in the guide - worn by the Kresh people pulling their wagon, p.594.

Junks - and you might add Dhows and Xebecs, or turtle barges, and bamboo-reinforced square sails... yes, the ships of Zheng He or contemporary Korea are of a similar quality as the Spanish Armada or Drake's more nimble fire ships. Personally, my hatred for 1-on-1 Greek Trieres on the open seas ranks three Kero Fin heights higher than these types of sailing vessels. What alternatives do you suggest?

Faux Chinese names - Cheating, Shaming, ... same problem as with humanoid Ducks. They are there, they will stay.

Quote

ADD

Polynesian elements: Hawaiian hats, feathered caps, outriggers, yams, poi, tabu system

Hawaiian hats - what the heck?

Feathered caps - yet another Sea People clone?

Outriggers - already firmly placed in the East Isles and in Thinobutan colonies that maintain sailing. Besides, their propulsion is identical to dragon boat paddling, something you missed mentioning in your hate list.

Yams, poi (taro plant) - these have no place in an agriculture that feeds metropolises and has access to animal power to till fields.

That entire Hawaiian/Polynesian theme has the problem that it doesn't provide for cities. Doesn't work for me at all, sorry. You cannot take a slash-and-burn agriculture and have it support an urban population of that size for more than a few years.

 

Quote

Indochinese Elements: Architecture and art based on Cambodia or Thailand or Bali, Thai clothing, Hmong hats, Ede matrilineal property rights, curry, mint, hot peppers

How is Indochina not part of Cathay? Conical hats, rice fields, tea, similar music, similarly hot cuisine compared to e.g. Szechuan...

No problem with Thai clothing or Hmong hats.

Ede Matrilineal property rights - this looks like a Hsunchen culture element that may have survived in several of the Hsunchen-leaning provinces. Establishing it as The Kralori Mainstream is a bit late.

India everywhere - Dara Happa, Malkioni, Teshnos... and Buddhism doesn't exactly distract from China.

 

Quote

Mesoamerican elements: Aztec battle gear, step pyramids, Mayan and Aztec art references, chocolate, cacao leaves, Nazca lines, mummies, gold everywhere 

Aztec battle gear adapted to draconic themes? Sure, why not. The dragonewts combine aztec-style klanth already with dragon-bone Korff and Utuma (corresponding to Katana and Wakizashi) and Gami (corresponding to the Sai fork or a Jitte).

Chocolate from Fethlon? A possibility, though it would certainly have registered in the Middle Sea Empire in a big, big way. But then, God Learner experimentation may have destroyed that. Cocoa is missing from the list of Gloranthan trade goods, but when you add it, you need to add it retroactively to at least the Middle Sea Empire, and probably back to Waertagi-based overseas trading, too.

Coca leaves (cacao or cocoa leaves doesn't make sense to me) - a possibility, if you want to introduce another drug for the dens of iniquity or Peter Metcalfe's Districts of Four Vices. But then that brings us to yerba mate, too.

Nazca Lines - read up on Kimos. Stuff like this feels Thinobutan rather than Vithelan to me. But then, the Gorgers of Kimos are probably antigods from the Vithelan myth and may have brought antigod landscape magics that may be present in Kralorela, too. Though in that case, what keeps them from reclaiming the seven drowned provinces that form the Suam Chow inland sea? Godunya's Bridges are a draconic/dragonewt way of inscribing runic connections into the land, much like the Dragon Pass dragonewt rune-shaped road system.

Mummies - I did suggest Egyptian death cult as a theme. Plus one of the Brendan Fraser Mummy flicks has a Chinese mummy wreaking havoc, so nothing other people wouldn't recognize as stereotypes.

Gold everywhere? Another Solar stereotype. True, there are strong parallels between Yelmic myth and Kralorelan/Vithelan ancient myth.

Quote

Draconic elements: Fire! Lizards everywhere, little velociraptors instead of dogs, dragon masks, claw weapons.

Fire - Leave something for Teshnos! You are already stealing much of the Thailand and Javanese parallel from there, leaving them only the Tibetan Zitr parallel.

Dragon masks - this is supposed to be totally different from Chinese stereotypes?

Claw weapons - yup, martial arts sects everywhere, with items of barely recognizable martial merit elevated into magical power tools. Right from the Wuxia corner.

Lizards and weird dragons are a feature for Porthramentos south of Vithela, roughly at the edge of the Gloranthan cube. The Vithelan continent and numerous islands extend eastward from it, according to Revealed Mythologies. I picture those parts of the East Isles like something like coral branches emerging from the flank of the cube where the land goddess won her gambles over the sea goddess, and vice versa deep-branching water trenches and tunnels intruding into the land besides. Having a water-breathing or deep-diving campaign there could be quite interesting.

Reptiles and snakes are associated with Ernalda and other land goddesses. But sure, put them here as well.

Dogs and housecats have a Kralori myth in Anaxial's roster. Dog-eating was common in Celtic cultures, and continues to be practiced by a fringe population in Austria (Austria has among several others continental Celtic roots).

 

Quote

Nonhumans: Keets are respected and treated as equals, baboons act like regular people, heretical broken dwarves are a large underclass, trollkin slave’s are popular, secret Hsunchen cults maintain old ways, Deep Ones and the Innsmouth look, so many ghouls, zombies as beasts of burden.

The only non-humans canonically described for Kralorela are Wind Children (aka Eagle Hsunchen) and Dragonewts. Mostali survivors of that northern dwarf outpost have been postulated earlier, by Dave Cake

 

Quote

Military: Way more heavy infantry and armored cavalry than you think.

Cavalry riding what? We have an edict that horses are restricted to a few lands where they might thrive - IMO northern continental Kralorela.

Heavy infantry in draconic-looking gear - fine. Bronze armor, or some replacement stuff? Probably no dragonbone, though.

Quote

Troll mercenaries bodyguard the exarchs. Dwarven crossbowmen and siege engineers.

No, and no. Trolls, dwarves and Huan-to all are antigod creatures, as are Andins, Gorgers, FoShan and other such demonic creatures. It is fine to employ lesser draconic creatures, but exarchs parading monsters outside of Ignorance should be a no-go.

The eastern dwarves are octamonists - at least the surviving babadi colony in Diamond Mountain. The northern colony (which could have been Taktari stone creature-producing Taktari dwarves, as presumed by @scott-martin) might offer their animated stone. But then, why not use animated terracotta warriors instead?

 

Quote

Religion/Culture: Less filial piety, Emperor worship, and faux Confucianism, more Everyone has a Dragon Soul, Hear it Roar! Social Darwinism! Colonial ambitions! Iconoclastic movements, secret EWF revivalists! Gods have unexpected roles. Zorak Zoran is the main war god, Eurmal is the beloved god of children.

Empire? Stable?

What you are describing there is the rule of Ignorance and Sekever.

 

On the whole, many of your suggestions wouldn't fit within Gloranthan history. They make a suitable Avanapdur theme park for Other Side romps, things that could have been, in a somewhat nightmarish way.

I'd rather have Kralorela grounded in the imperialist colonial perceptions of the Imperial Age Seshnegi. But then our trigger stereotypes differ significantly.

 

Also, take a look at the Eastern stuff of Revealed Mythologies before hunting for terrestrial equivalents.

Edited by Joerg

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

Ummm... There is a serious divide between the way the Indo-European inspired areas are done, and the way other cultures have been treated. That's the problem.

I have to query this. Do you mean that Greg's original Sartar doesn't resemble certain northern European cultures and borrow their names? 

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7 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

Or I could just drag out the 2 and a bit I did for Runequest, back before I realised that noone cares if Banazir's last name is pronounced Galbasi or Galpasi. Enough for verisimilitude is actually not much at all, and far less than done by either Baker or Tolkien. (Although I'd love to be able to make tri-lingual puns)

If you've still got these, I at least would be interested.

Gloranthan linguistics is really interesting to me.

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Mandarins - I agree, a loaded term, and one I would downplay. However, it has been used for bureaucrats of seemingly unmovable administrative apparati outside of the Chinese context, too. "Magistrate" is as loaded, though, and "bureaucrat" is way too modern. "Cleric/clerk" has medieval European christianity connotations, not something to aim for either. Same for "minister". "Official" or "officer" has too many other uses in English to convey what the German term "Beamter" conveys. This term has accompanied the exarchs (a term of byzantine origin, it appears) since we first got a description of Kralorela in the Genertela box.

The actual gloranthan name for the rank is Hsin Tu and it's made clear that Mandarin is a translation (Guide p54, p57 repeating text from the Genertela Book) which doesn't appear to mean anything in Chinese (Heavenly Script in other words).  The Exarchs are also called Lesser Dragon Kings.  Hence I think they actually are Dragon Kings and that the Lesser is something that crept in to distinguish them from the Dragon Emperor.  There's also the rank of Minister (which appears in the rank of Huocheng, Guide p57) but that may be obsolete.

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13 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:
2 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Ummm... There is a serious divide between the way the Indo-European inspired areas are done, and the way other cultures have been treated. That's the problem.

I have to query this. Do you mean that Greg's original Sartar doesn't resemble certain northern European cultures and borrow their name?

Count me in here.

If you use Indo-European as the language group, then you'd have to bring up the Semitic peoples and whatever linguistic roots the Indus culture had as well.

Greg did work from the most ancient literature dealing with myths. I am thoroughly unfamiliar with Chinese or South-East Asian mythical epics, but I  don't know about any accessible sources even roughly resembling the Mahabarata or the Gilgamesh epic, or the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

 

There aren't any northern European cultures adequately ported over to Glorantha. The Uncolings aren't Sami, the Yggites aren't Halogalanders, the Rathori aren't the bear hunters of northern legends, either. Odayla does inherit a bit from the hunter myth, but then very similar hunter myths abound among North American indigenous peoples.

The closest equivalent for the Indogermanic peoples of Europe south of the Baltic are the Enerali.

The Orlanthi of Dragon Pass certainly cannot be a North American culture with their herding of cattle, plowing, metal use. The best material culture equivalent to the Vingkotlings with their divine kingship might be the Nordic Bronze Age which had similar elites. The Heortlings where this elite has become quite egalitarian is actually quite atypical for a Bronze Age society, even of the Nordic variety. Still, Chalcolithic corded ware/battle axe folk or Iron Age Germanic farmer republics come rather close to this. I am fine with Urnfield/Hallstatt for Dragon Pass for much of their material culture.

That isn't where Greg came from when he wrote about the rebel upstart storm god who went from underdog to conqueror of the world.

 

Most of recorded (as opposed to archeologically evidenced) European history isn't ancient enough. Our oldest myths were written up a millennium or three after the historical context they were originating in, like the first chapters of the Heimskringla or the Irish settlement myths. Kalevala describes a range of myths from the migration history up to events in the Hanseatic era - there is a theory that the lost Samppo is based on an early printing press delivered across the Baltic Sea lost to a storm (along with the ship it was transported on).

 

It is true that Greg's deeper diggings into mysticism are closer to Indian practices (which were fairly hip and accessible during Greg's experiences in the Summer of Love) of Yogi etc. rather than an exploration of buddhism, and probably even less of confucianism. Kralorela served as an illustration of colonial activities failing to understand the local myths and system they exploited. The Seshnegi and the peoples colonized by them were supposed to reflect on Imperialism, and Greg inverted lots of colonial tropes. E.g. the 13 colonies liberating the mother land...

 

Gloranthan linguistics ... simply aren't. Greg's names are often onamopoetic. His dynasties often go for a millennium without a single recurring name, and rulers with a number or a necessary descriptor to their name are so much the exception that the few cases where there is more than one bearer of the name is an almost surefire case for misattributions.

Later naming (e.g. in Thunder Rebels or the Fortunate Succession) makes use of building block composite names using variations of established deity names. And while Helamakt or Raibmesha aren't that grating, the construction method shines through, among others with the lack of flections and stem alterations that are common in less composite languages than modern English whose historically founded weirdnesses simply have to be learned by heart and at best retroactively understood when you study the source languages.

 

Tekumel has impressively different names. The word Tsolyanu (I am sure I missed an accent or other wiggle) confers a different degree of alien-ness than Greg's signature "nth" names. Sindarin and Quenya are attempts to create functional artificial languages that help thinking mythologically.

I have to admit that my naming practices in world building aren't much to write home about. I try to get a superficial sense how a fairly foreign language appears to work to me, and then I play around with a few of its stems and imply sound shifts that look plausible to me but which would probably horrify a serious linguist. But then, they come from my way of starting to understand a foreign language through selective vocabulary. The fragmentary documentation on Tolkien's languages in the Silmarillion is to blame for that, and a sudden realization that I wasn't that hopeless in acquiring foreign languages.

 

I have used fragments of Welsh or Gaelic place names in the same way that the less punny faux Mandarin of Kralorela has been applied, and short of hiring a native speaker to produce rather lame combinations of adjectives and nouns to name a place, that method helps the creator convey his associations. Shaming or Cheating are quite juvenile, but I can't see how Lianghe or Gongji is any worse than Sentanos or Tortun.

 

48 minutes ago, metcalph said:

The actual gloranthan name for the rank is Hsin Tu and it's made clear that Mandarin is a translation (Guide p54, p57 repeating text from the Genertela Book) which doesn't appear to mean anything in Chinese (Heavenly Script in other words). 

Neither Mandarin or Exarch are really English terms, although Mandarin has been adopted both as the name for the language and as the term for a type of bureaucrat.

48 minutes ago, metcalph said:

The Exarchs are also called Lesser Dragon Kings.  Hence I think they actually are Dragon Kings and that the Lesser is something that crept in to distinguish them from the Dragon Emperor.  There's also the rank of Minister (which appears in the rank of Huocheng, Guide p57) but that may be obsolete.

The difference between a provincial governor and a king can be minimal when the higher authority only rarely intervenes. The main difference appears to be that there are no territorial conflicts, presumably to ensure the magic flow to the emperor's divinity. There appears to be no way for a warlord to conquer the post of an exarch or two and become established in the heavenly order of things, although a sufficiently powerful warlord or a sufficiently connected cabal proved that the heavenly order of things can be modified or ignored for decades or even centuries.

The rank of a minister at the emperor's court may very well have some ritual importance, and might be one of the centralizing elements in Kralori administration.

Militarily, there are sufficient incursions or internal outbreaks of disorder to keep the military on its toes. The imperial military appears to have its own exarchs without any provincial backing, and somehow the infrastructure to give supply to the troops and troops to the lawkeepers needs to be coordinated.

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2 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

I have to query this. Do you mean that Greg's original Sartar doesn't resemble certain northern European cultures and borrow their names? 

No. I meant that I think people don't cringe with the fauxness of it as much. That is, it has been successfully ported in a way that comes across as "fair"... The mix of reality and fantasy is good. The mix in Kralorela isn't, as shown by this thread.

(Of course, these are merely my opinions)

45 minutes ago, Joerg said:

but I can't see how Lianghe or Gongji is any worse than Sentanos or Tortun.

I don't know if you're aware, but both Lianghe and Gongji are real places in China.

Does Kralorela *need* to have something resembling Chinese language? 

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1 minute ago, Shiningbrow said:

No. I meant that I think people don't cringe with the fauxness of it as much. That is, it has been successfully ported in a way that comes across as "fair"... The mix of reality and fantasy is good. The mix in Kralorela isn't, as shown by this thread.

I would have wished for less descriptive names than "Red Cow" or "Famous Bell", and when I see them translated to German, it breaks my immersion. In German place names just are differently structured, depending on the region I have different expectations.

Translating "Creekstream River" to produce anything but a ludicrous word salad is an exercise in frustration.

"Runegate" is fine, but I wouldn't have minded names that sound like Speyside distilleries or passages from Beowulf.

The origin of the name "Tarsh" remains mysterious to me.

1 minute ago, Shiningbrow said:

I don't know if you're aware, but both Lianghe and Gongji are real places in China.

I wasn't, but then places like Wilmskirk or Jonstown are bound to exist somewhere, too.

1 minute ago, Shiningbrow said:

Does Kralorela *need* to have something resembling Chinese language? 

It shouldn't sound like some German village (although the Bavarian pronunciation of "Gilching" is quite similar to Kralorela's "Guiching") or French vinyard, either. "Fortress on the Green Mound" is descriptive of a type of place, but could you say whether this was in Slon, in Esrolia or in Kralorela?

So you add some local deity's name. Again, "Issaries' third market" could be found anywhere, so it has to be some obscure deity, or you add a "Dragon Emperor's" to each place name. In the end, the place name reads like a wikia entry.

So yes, it helps me if the place name complies to my limited knowledge of similar place names.

My rudimentary surface knowledge of Welsh place names tells me that Aberystwyth is a place at the estuary of the Ystwyth (a river name I couldn't have invented myself).

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19 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

Does Kralorela *need* to have something resembling Chinese language? 

I don't think so, even if China remains a primary point of reference. 

Frequently using English-ish descripto-nyms in much of Genertela (e.g. Boldhome, Johnstown, Dead Place, Shadow Plateau, Castle Coast, etc.) and then switching to almost-all Mandarin-ish names in Kralorela can come off as a bit Orientalist. At a quick glance, the only plain English names I immediately see there are the Dragon Newt cities. 

That's not to say that any Mandarin, or even better a thoughtful mix of regional and archaic forms, used for flavor is inherently bad; but when you regularly mix in English for everyone else and then don't for the Kralori, that exoticizes them. 

 

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46 minutes ago, JonL said:

I don't think so, even if China remains a primary point of reference. 

Frequently using English-ish descripto-nyms in much of Genertela (e.g. Boldhome, Johnstown, Dead Place, Shadow Plateau, Castle Coast, etc.) and then switching to almost-all Mandarin-ish names in Kralorela can come off as a bit Orientalist. At a quick glance, the only plain English names I immediately see there are the Dragon Newt cities. 

That's not to say that any Mandarin, or even better a thoughtful mix of regional and archaic forms, used for flavor is inherently bad; but when you regularly mix in English for everyone else and then don't for the Kralori, that exoticizes them.

Not any more than say the Lunars or Dara Happans. There are a few English language place names in Peloria, but about as little as in Kralorela. "First Blessed" and "Thrice Blessed" vs. "Prodigious Island" or "1000 Rice Islands", for instance. In Esrolia, most city and geography names have no English meaning. Gorphing, Malthin and Lyksos are rivers, but what do the names mean? Storos, Rhigos, Pennel, Ezel are city names, much like Alkoth, Yuthuppa, Raibanth, Carantes, Torang. Some of the names have been retroactively explained as part of the local deity's name, or at least an aspect of that deity.

I am a bit reminded of Terry Pratchett's five great families of Diskworld's Counterweight continent empire of Agatea, (his version of fantasy China): the Sung, the Tang, the Hong, the Fang, and the McSweeney families. Which one of these sounds like it doesn't belong, and why?

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

Does Kralorela *need* to have something resembling Chinese language? 

I would say something maybe a little more perverse than normal linguistics is required. Every Gloranthan homeland needs a set of fantasy-fake linguistic conventions that some fans can aspire to master (like your Klingon example or the quenya I know for a fact Greg's contemporaries used as a flirting language in their day) . . . but distinct enough from what's evolved for Western Genertela so (a) we can learn to recognize where a word, person or concept may "come from" in our hobby landscape (b) real-world game translators can communicate this outside assumed patterns of English usage. 

This is of course harder and more fun than it looks. I was, for example, delighted as a child to see the Creekstream River because it breaks formal English usage. It's a joke less sophisticated than Not-Yet, practically cradle language. Among other things, it's a call to relax, play, set adult naming conventions aside. To a casual observer, it looks either cloying or like ludicrous word salad.

But Dragon Pass and Prax are special in a lot of ways because they developed differently across Greg's career from the Far West that came before them (fake Greek and Vedic to my ear, largely untranslated because those were simply the names of the people and places) and the wide world that followed. Dragon Pass started as a landscape in translation, with English components bolted together and manipulated to express the relatively simple archetypal natures he wanted to express at the time. The people tend to have the "fantasy" names and that's another digression in itself. As a result, places in Prax are still called things like "Copper Sands" and named after his friends and not "T’iis Názbąs" or whatever.

Then the world grows. It's still growing, we feed it and it grows. Everyone reading this. Some places got a lot of love and others for whatever reason got left out. We don't have to accept that. Chaosium is super busy and it's convention season but make them a smart, sassy, dazzling and commercial pitch. Maybe they've been waiting for you.

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

It is true that Greg's deeper diggings into mysticism are closer to Indian practices (which were fairly hip and accessible during Greg's experiences in the Summer of Love) of Yogi etc. rather than an exploration of buddhism, and probably even less of confucianism. Kralorela served as an illustration of colonial activities failing to understand the local myths and system they exploited. The Seshnegi and the peoples colonized by them were supposed to reflect on Imperialism, and Greg inverted lots of colonial tropes. E.g. the 13 colonies liberating the mother land...

What's striking in the earliest Eastern material (as fragmentary as it is, maybe 50 pages that I've seen) is how "square" or philological it still is. As we know Greg could get up to a lot of trouble as a youth but he came from a military background in Connecticut and went to a conventional liberal arts college to raid the library for scribbling material. The primary sources are tomes by people like Max Müller and then Heinrich Zimmer, with Joseph Campbell already hot stuff. It is, as you point out, mostly India. That's great, Seshnela can work like Mohenjo Daro. 

Ancient China gets relatively short shrift in this literature but you can find a lot in places like Campbell's now-unfortunately-named Oriental Mythology, which had just come out a few years before Greg started getting busy. It's okay. I think Campbell reads less Chinese than I do. He makes immediate effort to ground it in contemporary currents in Taiwanese archaeology but it all still feels pretty Max Müller. To the extent to which Greg would have had a "Cathay" at this time let alone a 中国 this would be it. Start there if you want to start there and work your way back to here.

But here's the thing: I don't see any sign that archaic Kralor is anything like a "Cathay" yet. Teshnon might not even be a "Vietnam" yet. That seems to come later, well after the era when he's gotten himself in-laws from Hong Kong and they're teaching him that soy is not actually a miracle condiment, not to mention the secret origins of all the stuff he sees in the comic books. Some of that, garbled and always in translation, feeds the world of the Genertela Box and enters the canon like knights in heavy plate crossing themselves with the Death Rune before riding to battle. 

It's a start. We work with it. I've been to enough dinners where a young lady's father will express his fascination with the 心經 heart sutra or whatever and I, the quintessential WASP roommate, am all "that's super interesting Mr Lin." I suppose we all have, one way or another. 

One thing I would love is that exasperated but patient father-in-law's vision of a Gloranthan East, how it would play out and interact with everyone else, where the pulp childhood thrills of hazily recalled newspaper action serials go. Maybe someone here will do that. I'll buy one. 

4 hours ago, Joerg said:

The eastern dwarves are octamonists - at least the surviving babadi colony in Diamond Mountain. The northern colony (which could have been Taktari stone creature-producing Taktari dwarves, as presumed by @scott-martin) might offer their animated stone. But then, why not use animated terracotta warriors instead?

After a night's sleep I suspect that you're right and it's the Taktarists who died out / got assimilated. They might've had all the hu-metal as well, which would let early Kralor leapfrog into some iron applications (or just take over the Forts, etc.) before getting stuck. When the Seshnegites showed up their eyes bugged out with avarice to see all the metal on display but sadly there weren't any extant mines left. 

I also suspect Diamond Mountain has gotten (or stayed) far weirder and more glorious than even the occasional fan has theorized over the years. The Hero Wars will provide.

Edited by scott-martin
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40 minutes ago, Joerg said:

I am a bit reminded of Terry Pratchett's five great families of Diskworld's Counterweight continent empire of Agatea, (his version of fantasy China): the Sung, the Tang, the Hong, the Fang, and the McSweeney families. Which one of these sounds like it doesn't belong, and why?

As a kid I never got that joke, I just accepted it. Weird.

There's a few other place names that could be translated or are given English translations: Longhsa Shan (Dragon Tiger Mountain), Hsa Shan (Tiger Mountains), Lungren Men (Dragonman Gate), Dong Men (Gate of the South, or more prosaically Southgate), merely as starters.

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