|Paizo Pathfinder® Paizo Games|
|About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ|
James Jacobs wrote:
This... actually confuses me more. You say that a priest is merely a worshipper of a faith, but that one who "merely worships" Cayden Cailean is not a priest. What does being "part of the organization" entail? I presume it means more than just going to temple on Sunday. It seems like you're saying priests have some type of official function, which presumably varies depending on the faith and the priest, but I would tend to assume that taking on such responsibilities grants them status, or at least respect, in the faith above that of a "mere worshipper."
Edit: Now that I think about it, Inner Sea Gods talks specifically about the training and responsibilities of priests of each deity, and definitely seems to distinguish between priests and simple worshippers of a deity, so it seems to be using a different definition of the term than you are.
James Jacobs wrote:
Just to be clear, though, I presume that the title implies some level of authority in the faith as well? After all, we see references to classes that "play an important role in the faith" but are "not clergy", like Bards who follow Cayden Cailean.
With regard to religon, Taldor is home to what is probably Shelyn's holiest site on Golarion, the Temple of the Upheld Golden Rose in Oppara, which the goddess herself is said to visit in disguise one a year. Notably, the Taldans seem to reject the church of Iomedae's claim that their goddess is the rightful inheritor of Aroden, as Iomedae is not one of the more commonly worshiped gods in Taldor. This is probably because the mortal Iomedae was a Chelaxian, and seemingly a relatively loyal one considering she actually governed a Chelaxian city for a while, which makes her essentially a traitor in the eyes of the Taldan state. Most Taldans who would otherwise worship Iomedae instead cling to their faith in Aroden or have presumably moved on to the worship of another deity, most likely Abadar.
There is definitely slavery in Taldor (the practice is only banned in a very few places in the Inner Sea Region), but it's been explicitly stated that there's serfdom as well. The average Taldan peasant generally seems to have fewer rights than even a Chelaxian commoner, and the population is probably less urbanized, on the whole, than in many other parts of the Inner Sea Region. That said, even the most downtrodden Taldan is raised to take pride in their heritage, and there seems to be a strong current of patriotism that helps to work against any social discontent.
As far as the nobility goes, it appears that Taldor's government and military are highly decentralized, and that the Taldan aristocracy behave largely independently of the throne. A Taldan duke once unilaterally launched an invasion of Andoran, and did significant damage before the Eagle Knights organized a counter-attack. The signature character Alain's backstory makes it clear that feuds between Taldan nobles are quite common, and may even be viewed as a kind of sport. Even the ruler of Taldor's title, "Grand Prince", seems to suggest a role as a sort of "first among equals," rather than anything approaching an absolute monarch. It probably takes a major event, like a Qadiran invasion or a call for a new Army of Exploration, to organize the Taldan nobility and their various household armies into any kind of cohesive force, and even then the Taldan military is likely hampered by internal conflicts. This might help explain why Taldor, at the height of its power, struggled to match the military of Qadira at a time when the empire of Kelesh was engaged in its own civil war and unlikely to be providing aid to their furthest-flung satrapy.
It's been stated that Taldor values arcane knowledge highly, and the Gran Prince himself is a wizard. Taldor probably produces the finest wizards in the Inner Sea Region outside of Garund (since everyone knows the very best wizards are Garundi), with the possible exception of wizards trained at the great schools of Absalom.
One of the ancient dwarven Sky Citadels is located in Taldor, and while most of its population has since emigrated to the Five Kings Mountains as a result of the local mines running dry, it stands to reason that Taldor would have a sizable dwarven population. Oppara is one of the largest cities in the world and a major trading port, so it's likely at least as cosmopolitan as Sothis, which has been noted as having major populations of all of the common races of the Inner Sea Region. Notably, halfling slaves and servants are probably quite common in Taldor, though possibly not quite so ubiquitous as they are in Cheliax.
I believe that it's also been noted that the much-lampooned arrogance of the Taldan people cuts both ways. They consider themselves better than other peoples, but they also hold themselves to a higher standard. Faults that a Taldan might accept magnanimously (if condescendingly) in a companion from another land might be viewed as entirely unacceptable in a fellow Taldan. I imagine that a lot of Taldans (at least in the upper classes) conceal a core of self-doubt under their overweening pride, as they struggle to live up to the countless larger-than-life figures of their nation's history, but inevitably come up short.
Hmm, and a Paladin "falling" into NG has been a scenario that has interested me for quite some time.
For reasons that aren't entirely clear from an in-universe perspective, Paladins *have* to hold themselves to a code of conduct that goes well beyond simply being good. A neutral good character wouldn't bat an eye at telling a lie to protect an innocent life. Heck, most lawful good characters would be willing to do that if they saw no other option. As a paladin, however, you can't make that compromise. You are required to stick to both the letter and the spirit of your code, or forfeit your powers, and that allows little wiggle room for non-lawful behavior.
This, incidentally, is why it makes little sense to me that antipaladins are chaotic evil. Why would a chaotic character adhere so rigidly to any code of conduct, even one that boils down to "be selfish and cruel all the time". I tend to imagine the chaotic evil characters are less predictable than that, and may sometimes, say, help out their buddies with no ulterior motive in mind because they felt like it at the moment. Doesn't mean they won't later shank that buddy mercilessly over a perceived insult; they just happened to be in a charitable mood.
Prince of Knives wrote:
Had a longer post initially, but Adam made my point much more succinctly. Just to reinforce what he's already said, here are some quotes that explicitly use the term "priest" or "priesthood" with regard to non-divine casters:
"Priests of Desna—including clerics, bards, rogues, rangers, and occasionally druids—go where they please, earning money by telling fortunes, providing entertainment, and interpreting dreams."
"Any spellcaster can join Nethys’s priesthood: whether divine or arcane, academy-trained wizard or wild shaman, all who call upon magical power are welcome. Divine casters are valued, but must be able to defend their positions with magical knowledge or brute power."
"Most of Urgathoa’s priests are clerics or necromancers (particularly sorcerers with the undead bloodline), as well as a few similarly inclined witches."
It's also worth noting that any character can get divine boons from a deity they worship even if they can't cast spells, in the form of traits, feats, and various other things like Cavalier orders and prestige classes.
Not to divert the discussion too far from the original topic, but I feel like Rahadoum is getting a bum rap. It's easy to dismiss their misotheism as simple closed-mindedness, and certainly their dogmatism goes above and beyond what can be reasonably justified, but I think their opposition to the gods is more justifiable than people give it credit for.
I mean, worshiping a god can certainly bring a variety of benefits, but in exchange you're essentially selling yourself to that deity for something resembling eternity. Good and/or chaotic deities may not treat their followers like slaves, but the fact remains that, once you get processed at Pharasma's boneyard, you basically *belong* to that deity. You spend the rest of your potentially unlimited existence in their domain, doing things that they're interested in. And if you're really lucky, you get to become an outsider, and probably meet oblivion on some planar battlefield fighting your deity's enemies.
For some, the nothingness of the graveyard of souls is a preferable fate to a never ending existence of devotion to an unknowable alien being, however benevolent its goals may be.
It's worth noting that elves turning into drop could potentially be related to the phenotypic adaptability of elves in general. I don't have the source in front of me, but I believe that Elves of Golarion has stated that, while elves exhibit at least as much variation as humans, their appearance is far less linked to their genetic heritage. A dark-sknned Ekujae elf who goes to live with the Snowcasters will gradually become as pale as they are, and undergo other minor physical changes advantageous in response to his environment. Assuming this feature is at least partly magical, we might hypothesize that extreme evil interacts dramatically with this inborn magic.
One thing I've been forgetting to mention; Inner Sea Gods has some insights into this topic, and notes which inquisitor archetypes are especially appropriate for particular gods.
Unsurprisingly, infiltrators are typical of the churches of Asmodeus (to sabotage enemies of the faith) and Norgorber (presumably to corrupt other groups from within), and the church of Pharasma trains exorcists.
Iconoclasts are listed as an appropriate archetype for inquisitors of Rovagug, which makes some sense considering that their skill set is dedicated to breaking things.
Perhaps more oddly, sin eaters are apparently associated with Shelyn. The idea of consuming another's sins and thereby offering them a sort of forgiveness even after death seems like more of a Sarenite thing to me, but I'm sure the writer had some justification in mind.
Huh. Looked like the same basic design with slightly different style of blades to me. But either way, it's a pretty cool weapon, just not always easy to visualize.
Agreed, I'm fairly certain that if you look again you'll find that the blades on that scarf are attached to the ends.
Why not, instead of going into that detail from the start and focusing on the Not-Mediterranean, you divvy it up and detail a few nations on each continent, not necessarily evenly but enough to give the impression that no one continent or region is the absolute center of civilization in this world.
The obvious reason not to do this, for me, is that it's simply not as useful as putting more detail into a contiguous area of the campaign world. Characters who begin adventuring in one region are more likely to wander over the border into an adjacent region than they are to suddenly hop a ship or teleportation circle or whatever to a distant corner of the globe.
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
There's a whole novel set in Kyonin... Queen of Thorns.. it's one of the Jeggare series.
Good point; Plague of Shadows also deals with issues of elven culture and identity, since the main character is a "forlorn" elf who has some interesting interactions with an elven settlement on the borders of Kyonin.
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
No it's not.. Unreasonable expectations however, generally are. After all are you going to chide them for not having an expy for Lichenstein?
True, but wondering why the indigenous inhabitants of two entire continents are so under-represented in fantasy fiction isn't exactly equivalent to demanding Lichtenstein in Golarion.
Since Irori is all about self-realization and improvement, his faith might be strongly opposed to any sort of regime that forbids a certain class of people from advancing themselves, either by restricting their movements or educational opportunities or whatever. A place that forbids a certain class of people to improve their minds or bodies, would be anathema to the Inquisitors of Irori, who would prefer that every person has the opportunity to strengthen both mind and body.
On a similar note, I believe James Jacobs has stated that inquisitors of Shelyn would oppose government officials who persecute lovers, for instance by enforcing laws forbidding miscegenation or same-sex romantic activities.
None of which will ever get explored.
Honestly, I don't mind having stuff in the setting that gets mentioned but never fleshed out. That way I can use the stuff I like from the setting and there's still some room for customization. I mean, like, I could just change the published stuff too, but I'm less comfortable with that because I feel like it takes away from the wonderful creative work that Paizo does.
But yeah, the elves are one of the better fleshed-out races in terms of having different cultures and lifestyles; the elves in Tian Xia are even super lawful and samurai-y. However, not all races have been as well served. The Dwarves stand out as a pretty glaring monoculture, so much so that published material sums up the Mbe'ke by saying that they lead "traditional dwarven liestyles," and the Taralu are described in terms of having abandoned their traditions, rather than as dwarves who simply have [i]different[/] traditions.
Honestly, one would expect that the dwarves of Garund, at the very least, would be quite culturally distinct from their distant kin in the Five Kings Mountains, considering that the creation of the Inner Sea during Earthfall seems to have effectively isolated the two populations from one another for at least around 1,000 years.
Captain Battletoad wrote:
The Juppongatana member Cho from Ruroni Kenshin wields a sword that's kind of like a bladed scarf, which he wears around his midsection.
I'm fairly certain that's supposed to be an urumi, which I believe we already have stats for separate from the bladed scarf.
It's interesting; the creative team seems to have a pretty clear idea of what a bladed scarf looks like, but every image I see convinces me more that it should really do piercing damage rather than slashing.
It would be great if Arcadian halflings filled some of the roles occupied by 'little people' in various Native American myths and legends.
My thoughts exactly. While it's hardly unique to the Americas, the "little people" trope is pretty ubiquitous across North America at least (I'm generally less familiar with South American folklore).
There's also a picture of a Sister of Eiseth using a bladed scarf (and pentagram shuriken!) on page 20 of What Lies in Dust, part three of Council of Thieves. It's depicted as long strip of canvas with three dagger-like blades affixed to each of its narrow ends. So, it appears to be similar in concept to a rope dart, though it's hard to see that version being a particularly effective as a slashing weapon.
Actually, if we're being fair, there's also an Elf-ruled island in the Shackles, at least two more significant eleven tribes in the Expanse besides the Ekujae (unless they've been retconned) and the Snowcaster elves who control territory somewhere on the northern edge of Avistan. And that's not including the continent-sized empire they rule on Castrovel.
For the Dwarves, there's the Five Kings mountains of course, but also the important city-state of Janderhoff, the Pahmet, who are a de-facto independent people, tribes in the Expanse and the Shattered Range in Garund, and the reclusive dwarven nation of the Mbe'ke in the Terwa uplands. Also, if we're being fair, Alkenstar is as much a dwarven nation as it is a human one, regardless of who the majority race is. And if we're going beyond the inner sea region, the population numbers given for the Dwarven nation of Zavaten Gura on the crown of the world seems to make it the second largest group of dwarves in the world, and dwarves probably the most populous race on that continent.
Of the core 20 I'd absolutely go with Shelyn; no question. She represents the things that make life worth living, and is the deity who comes closest to my vision of what absolute good should be like (sorry Sarenrae). And as much as other churches would like to say otherwise, she and her followers are no slouches when it comes to defending the things they cherish.
That said, if we're looking at the setting as a whole, I'd go with Arshea all the way. I'm gay, and into some pretty kinky stuff, and a lot of my friends are trans or otherwise gender-nonconforming. For me, Arshea combines the best of Calistria's sex-positivity, Shelyn's dedication to love and beauty, and Cayden Cailean's devotion to freedom and self-determination. Plus, androgynous angels are sexy. >_>
My personal quibbles about diversity relate more to the fact that on the Inner Sea map, there's one elven country, one orcish country, one dwarven country, no majority halfling or gnome countries at all, and dozens upon dozens of human countries.
While it would be fun to see more diversity in the non-human nations, the fact that the small-sized races of the Inner Sea Region don't have nations of their own is an important aspect of their cultures. Gnomes are fey exiles who basically have a biological imperative not to settle down and build stable communities. They're probably the least "human" of the core races, and aren't particularly well suited to nation-building
Halfling culture, on the other hand, is shaped on every level by the fact that they are a people without a history, who live basically at the mercy of human nations. Like any number of oppressed, stateless minorities in the real world, they struggle with issues of identity and self-determination in a world that systematically devalues everything they are. For me, at least, that's what makes them interesting, and not just off-brand hobbits.
That said, my personal headcanon (at least until future publications contradict me) is that halflings are originally from Arcadia, and have their own cultures and nations there. The Segada chapter of Distant Shores suggests that halflings are among the more populous races in Arcadia, and have their own settlements in the Grinding Coast region.
In the Inner Sea region, on the other hand, the earliest solid historical evidence of halflings comes from after the Age of Darkness. It's also been mentioned that the Azlanti launched attacks along the coast of Arcadia in the waning years of their empire, and it seems logical, as a slave-holding society, that they would have taken as many captives as they could. My theory is basically that the halflings of the Inner Sea are the descendants of slaves who arrived along with Azlanti colonists and refugees.
You know, some Abadarian should really look into that. You could make a killing selling concessions to all those souls in line.
So, it's a tiny part of the adventure (only mentioned in one rumor as far as I know), but for some reason I got inspired to come up with a plot outline for Shensen's cancelled opera, Huntress of Heroes, complete with song ideas! You'll find that the half-elven luminary has taken some creative liberties with the source material, but the general framework of the legend remains the same. I don't honesty know that much about opera, but let me know what you think!
Huntress of Heroes
Dramatis Personae (in order of appearance):
Violeta, a beautiful and gentle Varisian wanderer and the priestess Dionarra’s most avid admirer, her sweetness and innocence make her death at the climax of Act I the tragic highlight of the show.
Matei, a Sczarni bravo who initially appears as a farcical caricature of the superstitious and untrustworthy Varisian, he unexpectedly emerges as the hero of the opera's second act.
Velkan, a young Varisian boy.
Aolar, the titular Huntress of Heroes, portrayed as an almost farcically villainous but nevertheless horrifying figure.
Dionarra, a saintly priestess of Desna beloved by all of the Varisian wanderers.
Desna, goddess of dreams, the stars, and travelers.
Abadar, Calistria, Sarenrae, and Shelyn, other deities
Chorus, representing various heroes and captive souls
Next to her brightly painted wagon, Violeta sings about the many hardships of a wanderer's life, but that she is nevertheless filled with joy and hope because her caravan is watched over by the famous Dionarra ("How can these sore feet go on"). As she finishes, the roguish Matei arrives to scold her for praising the priestess so, for while they all love her, they do not wish to draw the attention of Aolar, the huntress of heroes ("shut your mouth and make a fig").
Even as Matei sings, however, Aolar makes her appearance, enchanted to appear blurred and diaphanous (showing that it is only her mind that is present). She observes for part of the song, after which the boy Velkan runs to tell Violeta and Matei that Dionarra has returned to the caravan after being away on a solitary pilgrimage, and all of the mortal characters rush off stage. Aolar then delivers a song in which she describes her evil deeds (taking exaggerated pride in them),but declares that taking Dionarra's body will be her greatest achievement yet ("what a lovely new toy").
The scene begins with Dionarra singing a song of praise to Desna as she walks along a path, which becomes a duet sung between her and the goddess Desna, who appears gliding through the air above the stage ("The night is long, but the stars are bright").
After the song finishes, Desna fades away, and Violeta, Matei, and Velkan arrive to greet Dionarra. As they do, however, screams are heard from offstage, and Dionarra declares that there is a nearby village that must be in need of aid.
Violeta and Matei beg Dionarra not to go, with Violeta fearing for her safety and Matei reinforcing her concerns with outlandish tales of dangerous beasts said to live in the area ("what nightmares lurk in those shadowed hills"). Dionarra replies that it is her duty as a priestess of Desna to combat such monstrosities, although she does offer that, if he is so concerned, the though she does ask Matei, who so often boasts of his prowess, if he would be willing to accompany her. Matei demures with exaggerated cowardice, and Dionarra sets off alone.
Dionarra arrives at the village and does battle with illusions of terrible monsters, fighting to save the fleeing villagers. The scene is embellished with magical effects and features a duet between Diona and Aolar, where it becomes clear that
the demon lord has engineered this attack ("what fell power has cursed this land"). The scene ends with the death of Dionarra when she heroically interposes herself between a horrible hook-clawed beast and a cowering child, and Aolar gleefully congratulates herself on her victory ("the fool comes gladly into my domain").
As Violeta and Matei await Diona’s return, the latter attempts awkwardly to court the young lady, who is naively oblivious to his attempts ("there's a cold wind blowing from the mountains tonight"). Thus thwarted, Matei changes tactics, and tries to impress Violeta with boasting, but as a gentle soul she finds his supposed achievements abhorrent. In the end Matei confesses tearfully that he made most of it up ("What can a poor boy do"), and his sudden vulnerability touches Voleta, who places a hand on his shoulder as the scene ends.
Aolar returns to the caravan in the body of Dionarra (courtesy of a disguise self spell), while Dionarra's disembodied soul is forced to look on. Dionarra sings a lament in which Desna once more appears to join her in a duet ("would that I could warn them"). Velkan rushes to greet her, and Aolar keeps up the charade of being Dionarra long enough for Violeta to return ("come, gentle boy").
As the young woman arrives, Aolar murders Velkan right before her eyes, and Violeta is so horrified that she is unable to defend herself when the demon turns on her. Just as Aolar delivers the killing blow, however, Matei arrives and rushes to her aid, stabbing the possessed priestess in the back. This forces Aolar to flee Violeta's body, but she carries off her soul along with that of Dionarra.
Matei then takes Violeta in his arms, and as she dies he confesses his love to her in song, while she tries to console him to go on ("hold on to me, dear flower"). As she falls lifeless in his hands, Matei calls upon Desna to take vengeance for her fallen priestess.
Aolar gloats in her castle in the Abyss, joined by a chorus of damned souls ("I bid you welcome, dear guests"), but the spirits of Dionarra and Violeta still defy her. The priestess’ spirit counters her boasting, and then fortells than the enemies she has
made through her evil deeds shall soon come to call, and not a stone of
her castle will remain standing ("no storm can rage forever").
In "the heavens," Desna speaks with other deities, including Calistria, Shelyn, and Sarenrae. She demands retribution for the wrongs done to her followers, and the other goddesses lament that they too suffer from the terrible evils of the demon lord ("do the angels have no fury"). However, Abadar appears and declares that ancient pacts forbid the gods from taking direct action against a lord of the Abyss. In the end, Desna resolves to find truer allies in her home on the material plane ("what good is eternity"). Shelyn and Sarenrae are saddened by this, but Calistria remains aloof and enigmatic throughout the scene.
We return to Matei, who is mourning before the graves of Dionarra and Violeta ("where shall I wander now"). Desna appears to him, and instructs him to gather righteous souls who have been wronged by Aolar in order to strike back against the demon lord ("hold tight your hope, oh sorrowful one"). He agrees, and the scene culminates in what is meant to be the musical high point of the piece, an impassioned plea by Matei for mortals, imperfect and powerless as they may be in the grand scheme of the cosmos, to make a stand against evil ("listen here, all you wretched ones").
Desna, Matei, and their army of heroes march into the Abyss, and another effects-heavy scene begins as they do battle with demons. Desna exhorts her followers to take heart in the face of incredible odds, while Aolar heaps abuse on her faltering demonic foces ("fear not the rising of the tide"). The scene culminates in the goddess destroying the demon lord’s fortress and setting free the souls she had kept from their proper judgement ("and now at last all chain are broken").
In the ruins of Aolar’s tower, Desna approaches the demon lord intending to end her, but Aolar reveals that she still holds the souls of Dionarra and Violeta prisoner, and threatens to devour them if the goddess strikes against her. Aolar launches into her climactic song in which she declares that compassion is a weakness and that evil will always triumph over good ("what should a goddess care"), but meanwhile Matei sneaks up and manages to free the bound souls. Aolar realizes this too late, and is slain by Desna.
Both the goddess and the spirit of Dionarra thank Matei for his intervention ("let angels' heads be bowed"), and he has one final goodbye duet with Violeta before she must go on to her final judgement ("I fear we were but strangers in the end"). In the end, Matei is left alone on stage, and sings a final song, in which he declares that while we cannot know with certainty what fate awaits us in the great beyond, the more important thing is that we strive to make a better world for ourselves while yet we live ("it is not for us to know").
I'm another huge fan of the whole setting, but my favorite is probably the Mwangi Expanse. Part of it might be that I've been running Serpent's Skull for a couple years now (our sessions have been more than a little irregular), but I really like the way it manages to blend pulp themes with a fairly sensitive and respectful treatment of themes from African culture and mythology. Plus, it's got one of the highest densities of adventure seeds per square mile of any of the regions described so far. :P
Arcadia has very little published information at present, but could provide a very interesting setting. I've been playing with an idea involving the Andoren colony of Elesomare vanishing a la Roanoke. The PCs are among a new group of settlers sent to rebuild the colony and find out if possible, what became of its former inhabitants.
Arcadia is much more isolated than the Stolen Lands, so I figure the colony would grow much more slowly than the players' "kingdom" in Kingmaker. There'd be more of a focus on individual characters and what they can contribute to the colony, and their survival would depend heavily on establishing friendly (or at least peaceful) relations with the poorly-understood native peoples.
The Hellknights are technically independent of any government oversight; they're somewhere in between vigilantes and independent military contractors. That being said, the Hellknight orders are, above all else, extremely lawful in outlook. I'm sure that the ones that go around capturing criminals and the like observe some kind of due process, but I suspect that they examine the evidence *before* they go after somebody, so once you're caught I'd guess that you'd be "processed" fairly quickly.
As for Cheliax, they absolutely have regular law enforcement; as I recall, it's mostly down to various city guard organizations to carry out arrests, though army units probably spend a lot of time rooting out bandits and other criminals outside the cities. One notable feature of the system is that bribery has basically been institutionalized; for most crimes it's acceptable for the arresting officer to accept an appropriate 'fine' in lieu of other punishment, presumably assuming that their superiors get the appropriate kickbacks.
As far as I can tell, the courts in most parts of the country are more or less run by the church of Asmodeus, so trials likely swift and more than a little cruel. Executions are a popular form of public entertainment.
In Planescape (a "darker and edgier" setting if there ever was one) the leader of one of the factions that ran the multiversal hub city of Sigil was a half-orc (despite them not being a Player's Handbook race at the time) with a refreshingly different backstory.
In this case, the character's parents were a loving couple who had fled their home prime material word to escape persecution over their unusual choice of spouse. As I recall, the orc parent was his mother as well, which is a little unusual in-and-of itself.
As I recall, the couple had been forced to settle down in the poorest part of the city and had died as victims of some kind of violence while their son was only an infant, so he grew up an orphan and never knew his origin. So, it's still a "gritty" story, but with more of a Romeo and Juliet (or perhaps Westside Story) angle rather than the typical inter-species rape scenario.
It should definitely also present challenges specifically targeting a character's weaknesses and forcing them to find creative solutions to make up for their shortcomings.
The rules of the game, and of physics, should probably be significantly relaxed inside the cathedral as well; after all, Iomedae crossed the chasm surrounding the dungeon by throwing her nonmagical cloak into it, which miraculously transformed into a bridge. On the other hand, magical teleportation and flight have been known to inexplicably fail at accomplishing the same task.
Anything that's creative and dramatically appropriate should potentially work within the Test, while boring but mechanically sound solutions should be unreliable at best.
That's probably a good example. At least in the Pathfinder campaign setting it started out as a code, after all, and at least some of the words are recognizably from Common, but put together in ways that are impossible to understand unless you learn to speak tje language. Maybe think "English English" from the third Austin Powers movie.
Nyarlathotep is the "soul and messenger" of the Outer Gods, and is particularly associated with Azathoth. Azathoth isn't just dumb, he's effectively mindless - more like an inconceivably vast and complex chemical or nuclear reaction than a living, thinking being. Rather than wielding the power of creation and destruction, he simply is that power.
Nyarlathotep, on the other hand, appears practically human by comparison. This is, of course, a facade, but unlike the other Outer Gods he seems to be both capable to recognizing and understanding humanity, and interested in doing so. When he takes on human form, he sometimes seems to be a hedonistic trickster with a pronounced sadistic streak. Other times he seems more like a prophet or even a scientist, revealing mind-shattering cosmic secrets with neither mirth nor remorse. In all cases, however, he is both profoundly knowledgeable and capable of expressing that knowledge in a way that human beings can understand, much to their detriment.
The idea of Nyarlathotep serving Azathoth in the way that a vassal serves his king doesn't make any sense. Rather, it seems to be closer to the truth to say that Nyarlathotep and Azathoth are two aspects of one being - Azathoth is power manifest, and Nyarlathotep is the will and consciousness through which that power expresses itself.
It's worth noting that there are actually a few other Avistani colonies in Arcadia, and the Chelaxian outposts of Canorus and Anchor's End are explicitly noted as sources of slaves. Arcadia is quite remote, and the journey is dangerous, but there nevertheless seem to be quite a few ships that make the journey, since there's an architectural style popular with the super-elite in Egorian (the capital of Cheliax) that makes use of red-veined black marble quarried only on the distant western continent.
Therefore, there might actually be quite a few Arcadian slaves in Cheliax, which means there could very well be a population of Arcadian ex-slaves in Andoran as well.
Varisia might have a small population of Arcadian exiles too, since Kintargo, the main port of entry for goods from the colonies, is also a major trading partner of the Varisian cities of Korvosa and Magnimar. Amusingly, that makes it a technical possibility that there could be some half-Arcadian, half-Shoanti kids running around the streets of Magnimar. :P
Some time after the Ulfen founded Valenhall, epidemic diseases ravaged the Arcadian population, much as happened in the rl Americas. However, that was thousands of years prior to the present of the setting, so by this point Arcadians probably don't have any more to worry about from Avistani diseases than native Avistani do.
As an aside, the city of Senghor in the Mwangi Expanse seems to have originally been an Arcadian colony in the Inner Sea Region. The Caldaru people, of whom there are about 10,000 in the city, are the descendants of these mysterious travelers from the west, and are noted for having lighter skin and straighter hair than the other Mwangi peoples, as well as (oddly enough) a high incidence of blue or green eyes. The Bonuwat and Lergeni, also native to the western coast of Garund, may also be partly descended from these advanced ancient seafarers, but essentially nothing of the mysterious culture remains aside from the astonishingly advanced fortifications around Senghor.
Glad people think this is a cool idea! I certainly do. :P
So, before I actually came up with the idea for the Taldan grammar I posted above, I was actually working on some stuff for Azlanti. The relationship of the personal name Savith with the name of the city Saventh Yhi got me thinking, and I ultimately tried to link it to the difference between Taldor and Taldan. The main trust of my idea was that the Azlanti "-th" had turned into the Taldan "-r," which was then dropped after other consonants, like "-n".
I've been playing with other sound changes, and I'm curious to see what people think!
Etymology of the name Azlant:
So, while thinking about the relationship between -th and -r, I hit upon the idea that Taldane-speakers were actually mispronouncing the name of the legendary lost city.
The primary contrast in Azlanti consonants, according to this line of thought, was not between voiced consonants (like "b" or "g") and voiceless consonants (like "p" and "k"), but between aspirated consonants (like the t at the start of "top") and unaspirated consonants (like the t's in "start").
The aspirated consonants subsequently became voiced consonants in some positions (like between vowels) and voiceless fricatives (like the "-th" sound) in others, leading to some confusion among Taldane-speaking scholars as to how they were pronounced.
Accordingly, here's my idea for the origin of "Azlant," the Taldane form of the name of the ancient empire. I'm using IPA symbols, so aspirated consonants are represented with a superscript "ʰ," and "j" here represents the sound made by "y" in English.
The Azlanti name for themselves (in the nominative case) was "Ajlitʰ," plural "Ajlitʰan," meaning, more or less, "the people." The short-hand term they used for the lands they ruled was "Ajlentʰan," meaning "of or belonging to the people."
The element -tʰ- here marks that the noun is animate (rather than an inanimate object), since the noun actually denotes the people, rather than the place.
From that point, the changes are as follows:
Etymology of the name Thassilon:
For this one, I'm assuming that the name was borrowed into Taldane from Varisian, since the Varisians have a much more direct historical connection to Thassilon.
Thassilonian, by this line of thinking, was actually a fairly conservative descendant of the earliest Azlanti language, retaining some sound distinctions that had been lost in Azlanti by the time of the earthfall. Among these were a set of "voiced aspirated" or "breathy-voiced" consonants, similar to one of the sets of consonants reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European.
The Thassilonian elite referred to themselves as "Tʰantʰon Gʰin-Alintʰ," roughly "Gʰin's good people." "Gʰin," of course, would ultimately be known to history by his Taldanized name "Xin." In the same mode as their Azlanti forebears, they called their land "Tʰantʰon Gʰin-Alantʰ," "of or belonging to Xin's good people."
From there, the changes were as follows:
For Taldane letters, I'd consult p.20 of Pathfinder #43 (Carrion Crown pt.1) and p.184 of Ultimate Campaign.
Interesting! I have to wonder how well the Taldan alphabet fits spoken Taldane. For comparison, English uses the Latin alphabet, which has 5 characters that typically represent vowels. Classical Latin distinguished 5 different vowels, which came in long and short forms, so this system made perfect sense at the time.
English, on the other hand, distinguishes somewhere between 9 and 14 different vowel sounds, depending on the dialect, and as a result the alphabet fails to distinguish between the sounds in, say, "trap" and "palm," or "foot" and "goose."
Since Taldane adopted the Jistkan alphabet, I could see it having a similar problem with spelling. On the other hand, it could be more like ancient Greek, which took the symbols from the Phonecian alphabet but re-assigned many of the sounds in order to fit their own language.
Of course, sound changes over time can spoil even the most elegant of phonetic writing systems...
I had a sudden inspiration and started toying with a little grammar. Under this system, Taldane marks nouns for 4 cases:
Nominative (NOM): Subject nouns and pronouns
Accusative (ACC): Direct objects
Genitive (GEN): Marks possession or association
Dative (DAT): Absorbed an earlier Locative case and now marks both indirect objects and nouns describing where the action in a sentence is happening.
There are also three "genders" for nouns, roughly organized in the same fashion as the Thassilonian rune systems:
Positive: Most animate beings, virtues, positive emotions
Negative: Undead, monsters, evil outsiders, sins, negative emotions
Neutral: Most inanimate objects, miscellaneous abstract concepts
"Positive" nouns also have honorific forms in the Nominative and Accusative cases, which are used to show deference to the person or thing described.
Case is marked with suffixes. I'm using IPA notation, but I'll try to make the pronunciation clear:
*NOM (regular): -iɹ ("ear") or -oɹ ("ore")
*NOM (honorific): -odn̩ ("Oden")
*ACC (regular): -ɚ (like the "ur" in "nurse")
*ACC (honorific): -dn̩
*DAT: -eɪn (rhymes with "pain"), stress shifts to final syllable
*NOM: -ʌg (rhymes with "thug")
*DAT: -eɪn, stress shifts to final syllable
*NOM: -i (rhymes with "free") or -ə (like the a in "sofa")
*ACC: -Ø (unmarked)
*DAT: -eɪn, stress shifts to final syllable
Using these suffixes, we can derive some proper names:
Taldor [taldoɹ] (similar to "tall door")
From the root tald-
Aroden [aɹodn̩] (ahh-road-n')
From the root aɹ-
Oppara [apaɹə] (ahp-are-uh)
From the roots ap-, "city" and aɹ-, "Aroden
Absalom [absalom] (ahb-sahl-ohm)
This one is based off a different dialect of Common, wherein the "p" in ap- has become a "b", the cluster "dn" in the honorifics has been simplified to "n," and "n" has become "m" after the rounded vowel "o."
The roots are ab-, "city" and sal-, "center," and the declension uses the positive honorific, because Absalom is special.
Awesome! I studied anthopology myself, and never touched linguistics while I was in college. In the past year or so, however, it's become something of an obsession of mine.
To start things off (and for the sake of giving the thread a bump), I figured I'd put together some notes regarding what we've been told about a few of the major current and historical languages of the Inner Sea Region, and some of my speculation about them.
The more-or-less direct ancestor of Taldane and several smaller languages, Azlanti is a moribund language spoken fluently only by the Elves of Mordant Spire.
There is also, evidently, at least one variety of academic and liturgical Azlanti still used in Chelish opera and the scriptures of Aroden.
At least two phrases in Azlanti have been published: "Ex Prothex" evidently means "from the first" in (presumably) the variety of Azlanti spoken by Aroden circa 1 AR, and "Saventh-Yhi" is recognizable to modern scholars as meaning "Savith's grave." The contrast between Sav-ith and Sav-enth would seem to indicate some kind of affix and/or apophony at work, and the hyphen might indicate that nouns were compounded together to form possessive constructions.
Ancestral to Varisian, Shoanti, and Giant, Thassilonian is described as being "the first language to develop three grammatical genders." This would seem to indicate that Azlanti, and possibly other similarly ancient languages like Draconic and Elven, distinguished somewhere between zero and two classes of noun. It also implies that this innovation was subsequently adopted into other languages, possibly including Taldane.
Thassalonian was written using three distinct sets of "runes," which seem to be mostly logographic in nature. This was evidently a more complex system than the one used to write Azlanti, but it's probably safe to assume that there were many similarities between the two systems.
Not much has actually been said, as far as I can tell, about the common tongue of the Inner Sea. If nothing else, the adventure "Rasputin Must Die" implies that the languages of Golarion do not, in fact, significantly resemble those of our Earth, so there's no reason to believe that Taldane is necessarily anything like English.
It is evidently highly conservative, apparently retaining at least the same basic grammatical structure as old Azlanti despite the passage of 10,000 years since the destruction of Azlant. Nevertheless, it is apparently different enough that the grammar of Halfling can be recognizably more similar to that of the first human empire, and it is written with a phonetic alphabet derived from that developed in the Jistka Imperium circa -4,000 AR.
Actually, that ended up being longer than I thought. I do tend to ramble. :P
I'd love to hear anybody else's comments or observations!
I get the impression that the failure of prophecy is something specifically tied to Golarion itself, a side effect of the death of a god so intimately tied to that world and it's subsequent cosmic shift toward the Abyss. It's conceivable that the defining feature of the Age of Lost Omens is being caused by some kind of cosmic dissonance radiating from places like the Worldwound, Tianjing, the Tanglebriar, and parts of the Mwangi Expanse, where primordial manifestations of evil and chaos spill over into the material plane. Kind of a "the dark side clouds everything" sort of deal.
Having altogether too much time on my hands, I've lately developed an interest in linguistics and constructed languages. Looking at the old Languages of Golarion thread, it appears that there are at least a few other folks around here who share that interest, and have some neat ideas about what the languages of the Pathfinder setting might be like.
I've been toying with some similar ideas of my own, so I figured I'd poke my head up and see if anybody would be interested in collaborating on something a little more in-depth. I think it could be a lot of fun and, if nothing else, it'd be a unique opportunity to geek out on two of my favorite topics (linguistics and fantasy setting lore) at the same time! :P
I'd lean towards "Jan" as well - going with "Yan" would sound more Scandinavian to me, rather than Germanic...
Actually, as far as I know, "j" always represents the English "y" sound in standard German. German words with an English-style "j" sound are all loans from other languages, and often have weird spellings, like "dschungel," which is pronounced more-or-less the same as the English "jungle."
As far as I can tell from skimming Wikipedia, English is about the only Germanic language that natively has the sound we associate with the letter j. That's not entirely surprising; in several ways, English is sort of a weird outlier within the language family.
That said, the Pathfinder developers are English-speakers, so I should probably stop overthinking this. :P
Slavery in the Pathfinder World and its implications... (series of weird questions regarding a controversial topic)
One issue here is that the term "slavery" gets attached to a diverse group of institutions in human history, some of which have been, arguably, less monstrous than others. For instance, in the last couple centuries of of the Western Roman Empire slaves were commonly allowed the right to complain of cruel or unfair treatment by their masters, and masters who abused or killed their slaves could be prosecuted under the law. Islamic law likewise established standards for the treatment of slaves, though mostly in the form of recommendations to slaveowners, rather than enforceable requirements.
I don't have too much of a problem with a slave-owning society being Neutral in alignment. In such a society, cruelty toward slaves would certainly be a reality, but would probably be discouraged, socially if not legally. Slavery and the slave trade would be regulated to curb the worst abuses of the system, and there would probably be opportunities for at least some slaves to eventually become free.
After all, Golarion is a historically-inspired premodern world. Floggings and other physical abuse are probably used as punishments in many militaries and other discipline-oriented organizations across the planet. Common punishments for criminals probably include things like branding and maiming that would be considered cruel and unusual today. Apprentices probably have few rights while serving their masters, and the lower classes in most countries are extremely poor, with little to no opportunity for social mobility. In a place like Taldor, being a slave probably isn't all that different from being a peasant or poor city-dweller, and might, in some cases, be a more comfortable position.
The protagonist of the Web Fiction story Hell or High Water is a Mwangi huntress who fights with a pair of mambeles, depicted here. Ultimate Equipment classifies these as a type of Hunga Munga (multi-bladed throwing weapons), and there are probably many other variations on the theme used throughout the Expanse.
Other weapons thematically appropriate to the Mwangi Expanse might include:
boomerang (representing throwing clubs like the East African rungu), longsword (various types of one- and two-handed slashing swords were used in irl West Africa), machete (Serpent's Skull has an adamantine machete that is treated as a short sword that does slashing damage), shotel, throwing axe (like the Congolese nzappa zap), and, of course all manner of bows, clubs, knives, and spears.
Wearing any armor at all in a tropical environment can be a liability, and armor check penalties interfere with the stealth on which hunters rely. Therefore, Mwangi warriors probably rely on agility, cover, and shields, and eschew body armor.
Aside from the aforementioned khopesh, if Osirion's army is much at all like those of the Egyptian Pharaohs at the height of their power, the most important weapon would be the composite bow. Other important ancient Egyptian weapons include boomerangs ("throw sticks"), short spears, and slings.
Due to the intense desert heat, I would imagine that Osiriani infantry probably don't usually wear armor, though heavy shields would be appropriate. Charioteers and/or cavalrymen and other elite soldiers might wear scale or similar medium armor.
I always got the impression that the space inside the Starstone Cathedral was kind of extra-dimensional anyway, as big or small as it needed to be to properly test those who enter.
Hmm... it might actually be an interesting twist for someone to enter the cathedral, only to find that the interior space seems to consist of a single, featureless, closet-sized room. There would be some trick to it, of course, but it might be quite a shock to someone expecting to be greeted by some grand and fantastic sight.