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Daniele Nanni

Round 1: Gloves of Adaptive Combat
Round 2: Agregia

Agregia


Round 2 - Top 32: Design a Country

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

Agregia [Ah-gre-zhuh]
“Gateway to the heavens”

Alignment: LN
Population: 5.2 million (24% are slaves)
Capital: Tivenus (pop. 789,200)
Notable Settlements: Visander (pop. 233,000), Yut (pop. 97,700)

Rulers:
- Triumvir Kylas, Tribune of the People’s Voice, Speaker of Tivenus
- Triumvir Shan, Tribune of the People’s Strength, Speaker of Visander
- Triumvir Tor, Tribune of the People’s Faith, Speaker of Yut

Government: Agregia is a republic, run by a chamber of forty-five councilors, each with a six year term. Councilors are elected by the common people: fifteen from the people, fifteen from the military, fifteen from the Conclave of Clergy.

Leading these councilors is a triumvirate, ordained as speakers for the Three Fathers, each serving three year terms. One triumvir is replaced every year, and fifteen councilors are replaced every two years. Triumvirs are elected by the councilors. Councilors and triumvirs must be pure-blooded humans.

The Tribune of the People’s Voice represents the people, guilds and commerce. The Tribune of the People’s Strength represents the army and militia. The Tribune of the People’s Faith represents the Conclave of Clergy. Agregians believe that divine and arcane abilities are deific blessings. Those practicing arcane arts without sanction of the Conclave of Clergy are branded heretics.

Legend: Tivenus the Elder and twin brothers Visander and Yut were the first three humans, given life by Agregia, mother of creation. Before leaving the heavens, she left her finest creations, the brothers, a gift: her hammer and chisel.

Honoring their mother, the brothers began working on humankind. Tivenus, wise and even-tempered, gave them form and free will. Visander, brash, yet protective, gave them strength and tenacity. Yut, gentle and inquisitive, gave them intelligence and curiosity.

Jealous of the gift, Agregia’s other creations – immortals representing the other races – sought to steal the hammer and chisel. Fearing their intent, Tivenus threw the hammer and chisel down from the heavens. Upon impact, a valley was created, but the hammer and chisel shattered across the continent. This valley was named after Tivenus, and humankind was born. As a result of the hammer and chisel shattering, humans were cursed with mortality. The immortal brothers became known to the mortal humans as the Three Fathers.

Their jealous cousins left the heavens and scoured the continent in search of the shattered pieces. No trace of their cousins has been seen or heard for several millennia. The Three Fathers, fearing what may have become of their immortal cousins, instructed humankind that, should the immortal cousins be found, they should be embraced, forgiven, and granted safe return to the heavens. If evidence is found that a cousin has been ill treated, then punishment must fall upon those responsible.

History: One thousand years ago, in 1233 AP (Age of Prosperity), Agregia, occupying the southwestern peninsula of Iblis, was declared a nation at the Treaty of Kings. Propped upon high cliffs and covered with fertile land, Agregia enjoyed isolation and self-sufficiency. There was a semblance of government at that time, as the humans of Agregia were simply content to farm their lands and pay homage to their deities.

In 1571 AP, war broke out across Iblis as countries vied for absolute control. Isolated in the corner of the continent, Agregia believed it would be spared involvement. Unfortunately, dwarves from the Lrokan Hills crossed into Agregian lands, sacking Yut. Agregia spent the next two years at war with Lrokan, but was defeated in 1573 AP.

The Agregians spent the next two hundred years under dwarven control learning about politics and the dwarven pantheon. When the atheist dwarf king, Thalrin, took control in 1798 AP, the Agregian people started a rebellion, which grew into a war. After four years of fighting under the banner of their Three Fathers, Agregia was reclaimed. Lessons learned from the Lrokan monarchy spurned them to form their own government: a republic.

The Agregians immediately set their sights on the Lrokan Hills. Tharlin’s atheistic beliefs catalyzed the Agregian doctrine of manifest destiny, thus provoking their expansion. For the next five hundred years Agregia continued its expansion of Iblis. Faithful nations were absorbed, non-believing civilizations were exterminated or enslaved, and Agregia’s pantheon grew.

Now, in 685 AC (Age of Conquest, 2256 AP), Agregia controls the southern half of Iblis. In the last seven centuries of war, Agregia has welcomed many people as citizens. Most of Agregia is now comprised of half, or mixed breeds: human, dwarf, orc, goblinoid and halfling.

Religion: Religion dictates Agregian motivations. When a faithful nation is conquered, Agregians accept their enemy’s deities and people as their own. This is the will of the Three Fathers. Temples to the new deities are erected, and homage is paid to the immortal cousins of the Three Fathers. Agregians believe that this will ultimately lift their mortal curse.

Diplomacy: Agregia offers identical terms to every nation, “Submit to the will of the Three Fathers, and allow their deific kin to return home. Do this and we will welcome you into our land as brothers and sisters. Deny us, and your homes will burn, your lives will be forfeit, and your children will be eternally bound to our wills.” If a conquered nation is found lacking in faith, then punishment, as deemed by the Three Fathers, is exacted.

DM Secrets:
- The human race is slowly becoming extinct after seven centuries of intermixing races. The Agregian government is scrambling to find a solution. It estimates that within the next century only 6% of Agregian citizenship will be full-blooded humans.
- The recently elected Triumvir Shan is a descendant of the dwarf king Thalrin. Centuries of his family intermixing that bloodline with human blood has helped him mask his dwarven features.
- The Conclave of Clergy has ratified an arcane inquisition. The public believes this is being done for their safety, since renegade sorcerers have led more than one rebellion. The truth is that the triumvirate has deemed it necessary to “cleanse” the noble houses of their half or mixed bloodlines.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Submission checklist:

Submitted on time? Check.
Submission is a "country"? Check.
Submission contains all of the mandatory content as required by the contest rules? Check.
Submission is within the word limit? Check. 992.
Submission is free of inappropriate content in violation of the "taboo" guidelines? Check.
Submission does not use content from a source other than those listed? Check.
Submission does not reference a published campaign setting? Check.
Submission does not include maps or art? Check.
Submission is a suitable setting for roleplaying with the d20 system? Check.
Submission is not a "joke" or otherwise completely fails to meet the minimum requirements of the competition or other contest rules? Check.

Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

This starts off pretty well: I think its gutsy that you chose the big-country approach, with 5 million population, when most entries were doing tiny little feudal hamlets. It's not exactly Rome, but it's not far off from medieval France, the largest nation of Europe. So I expect Big Things here.

Unfortunately, what I get instead is a longish bit on elections and power-sharing, a creation myth (dead backstory), a history of the last 1000 years (some is relevant, but it could be much shorter), and a religion lesson. These are all important to a country, but much less important to an adventuring game set in the nation's present day.

Most of the text is not anything that inspires me to run it, and a party of adventurers can't exactly take on an aggressively imperial nation head-on and hope to win, so.... What do I do with this, exactly? There's hints about the arcane inquisition, but that's A) a bit of a cliche and B) kind of an afterthought rather than a centerpice.

I was hoping for current events and hooks. There's very little of that, and so there's little that I can use as a DM in a homebrew or to kick off a campaign. It's an effective description of the nuts and bolts of a nation, but it's not an effective tool for roleplaying games. That's a failure of design focus.

Not recommended.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Fluff (writing, grammar, style, evocative prose, etc.): C
Relatively boring.

Crunch (basics, rules issues, depth of the setting, details, etc.): D
None.

Design (choices made, format, naming, originality, theme, balance--ie, is the submission heavy in one part but lacking in another?): D
This was pure masturbatory history lesson. There is almost nothing about this submission that understands that the concept is to create something for DMs to use to set stories for their PCs. The format choice was not good—it indulged in the extensive and mostly useless history. There is no real theme or focus.

Play (setting for adventure? campaign? is there conflict? are there play limitations?): C-
Sure we could game here. But the DM would have to make it all up.

Tilt (my personal take, is it evocative? do I want to play there? does it capture my imagination?): D
Nope to all of the above.

Overall: D
A self-indulgent writing exercise disguised as a country submission.

NOT RECOMMENDED for top 16.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

I like the idea of a country ruled by a triumvirate, and making each one a representative of the nation's three cities is an interesting choice with built-in ramifications for adventures, especially political ones.

As with many entries a good, brief summary of what the country is all about would be a better choice, because no one ever lit the world on fire explaining a b.s. fantasy representative government.

Basically, what we have here is a fantasy Rome, but one that takes an awful long time to get off the ground due to bad organization. The history section is self-indulgent and could be a third as long, leaving more room to explain what everyday life in Agregia is like. Because right now I feel like I have no idea, which makes it difficult to run a game there.

I did find the human creation myth interesting, and I like them living in the valley created by the hurled hammer and chisel, but that's not enough to pull this submission out of the "average" category and into the ranks of the ones I recommend make it to the next round.

I'm just not very moved by this.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

I liked the creation myth, and wanted to see where the setting went from that. Unfortunately, the entry stayed mostly in backplot, and did not spend enough time on where we are today. I feel like this was the first half of a more compelling 2,000 word submission, and wish I could see the rest. There's some gems in this entry, but I was left wanting more.


I'm with Russ on this one. I absolutely love the concept of a Romanesque country. Unfortunately this country doesn't go into all the things that I would truly find interesting in a Romanesque nation.

Political intrigue and an emphasis on the tensions between the various rulers, plots and other political machinations would have made the visceral nature of the setting come out.

This seems well done. It just doesn't feel complete. Thats the difficulty of working with a word count of course. Some concepts are easier to convey with less words than others. I think the romanesque feel needs a greater descriptive text to be fully realized.


This is actually more like the way I pictured writing my country if I got in. But after reading a couple of the others I see that this probably would have been bad for me. I was really digging it at first with the names and the form of government but then it got long and not too exciting.


Dull.

Do not want.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I lost interest quickly and didn't read the whole thing.


The name being so close to "egregious" set an unfortunate tone from the beginning. It felt like the author had some grand ideas, and couldn't get arms around them in 1000 words.

Star Voter 2014

Decent read. But nothing present; in other words, I feel like I, as DM, would have to really bring this country to life. Aside from some political machinations and the like, nothing grabs me and makes me want to include this country in a homebrew.

To be honest, the whole dillution of the human race actually turned me off. I only have 5 votes, and I can say I don't think this entry will be getting one.

I do wish you luck, however.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

History and Legend. Some nice idea, but too much word count used on back-story. A pity, because I think some of the other stuff could really have been expanded on. I kind of like the pronunciation guide to the county’s name … but don’t like that it needs one.

Osirion

It's a shame that everyone basically hit the religion section and ran aground (whereas I skimmed over it and found interesting stuff later on).

I don't get Rome out of this much at all, except that they expand by taking over countries. These guys are pure religious fanatics and humanocentric racist scumbags. They'll worship your god, build temples to him even, but you worship their way and live their way or they put you to the sword and sell your kids on E-bay. Thus they will someday overcome their curse. And if you're not a human? Forget it.

It makes me a little uncomfortable that this nation might be giving licence and credit to racist ideas. There seems to be an underlying objective truth here, that breeding with other races is corrupting the bloodline. Kinda...skinhead. Likewise the whole putting people to death for being non-religious is pretty hard stuff. Not bad as a vile villain country in the robes of religion--but again, only if they aren't right. If they are right, then it becomes a little unsettling in a way that is certainly non-PC if not openly bad taste. I'll have to reread it to see whether my initial pass was as...unorthodox as it seemed. I'd hate to have just misread it somewhere.

Osirion

Mothman wrote:
I kind of like the pronunciation guide to the county’s name … but don’t like that it needs one.

I have found that if the pronunciation of your place or person is so different from the spelling that it needs a guide, that you should probably work on the spelling. I think Agrezia would come a lot closer to the right pronunciation, and it wouldn't sound like egregious(which may or may not have been intended--but was still distracting).

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

Well, there's no need to surrender your belt and shoe laces. You can write, though I think you need polish. Don't we all.

I also like what you've written. Here's the thing: You have 1000 words to make me thirst for more and beg for water. You don't do that at all. If you were in a hardback book and had 3000 words on this bigass country, what you've written is fantastic. The other 2000 can be spent on adventure stuff, current politics, fascinating locations.

But I think the priority in this round obviously should have been to give us the scent of cooking meat. We should be salivating over the main course for any campaign: combat, intrigue, danger, satisfying drama. Dogma and history are like peas and carrots: we ought to eat them to have a well-rounded meal, but it's not what we're thinking when someone asks us 'what's for dinner?'

I like history and dogma a little more than the average guy. Maybe they are more like green beans. Your greens beans have just the right amount of pepper, bacon and butter.

But there's no friggin steak.


I'm afraid that ancientsensei hit the nail on the head. This would be decent (not great) backstory, but there's nothing here that screams adventure for me.

- Ashavan


Sorry. Gets a "meh" from me, and I'm all for Rome-style games usually.

What really killed me though is the idea of the human race slowly going extinct - it made me think too much of early 20th century racist thinking (and this was mentioned in the author's voice, not as a portion of the setting) and it really didn't fit well with me.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

varianor wrote:
The name being so close to "egregious" set an unfortunate tone from the beginning. It felt like the author had some grand ideas, and couldn't get arms around them in 1000 words.

DING

FTW

I wondered if anyone else had this instant reaction.

For what it's worth, I liked the backstory, the creation myth, being conquered by dwarves, and their motivation for conquest. The politics part? So-so. Being a history guy from way back, I liked the nods to Rome. I also liked the audacity of trying for a big country. Most of us went small.

The crucial questino: What in the heck are we doing here for adventure?

Answer: Ummmm...

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Qor wrote:

Agregia [Ah-gre-zhuh]

“Gateway to the heavens”

Like the legend. The government and the history are way too long for this sort of contest entry though.

I suspect this is a case of No Extra Mile. Focusing on the requirements at the cost of getting the extra coooooool into it.


varianor wrote:
The name being so close to "egregious" set an unfortunate tone from the beginning. It felt like the author had some grand ideas, and couldn't get arms around them in 1000 words.
Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
DING...I wondered if anyone else had this instant reaction.

The same, though I was thankful for the pronunciation guide.

The Last Rogue wrote:
I feel like I, as DM, would have to really bring this country to life.

That's what I got out of it as well. Some premises appear at war with each other and would need reworking before I dropped a player on it.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Darkjoy

Can I use it: No
Is it entertaining: No
Is it original: No

Final verdict: Rejected.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

The message board seems to have eaten my post. Well, it wasn't favorable.

Qadira

sry, but I don't like it at all. The Three Father's of humanity as their mother's "finest" creation and the "jealous" creators of the other races, the racism inherent in the country's social and political structure, and the arcane inquisition - that's too much for me.


This is a world, not a country. You can't say "Humanity's close to exinction" without applying that to an entire world, and it seems odd to me that Agregia would be humanity's only home.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

Don't like this one at all. There's plenty of big ideas, and workable big ideas at that. But that doesn't make a nation.

That being said, this could be a great start of something - a nation, a campaign setting, a campaign itself. But more details would be needed before it goes anywhere.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

Wik wrote:
...it made me think too much of early 20th century racist thinking (and this was mentioned in the author's voice, not as a portion of the setting) and it really didn't fit well with me.

'

Perhaps commenting on this will get me DQ'd, and if it does, then so be it, but you need to realize that you're associating a derogatory term/intent with my name. There is no basis for your claim, nor anyone else's. Furthermore, it's completely false. What you're doing, by associating such a negative comment to my name (note, not my online "anonymous" username, but actually my real name), is defamation. This is not acceptable.

You're more than welcome to critique my work and point out the obvious flaws in my submission. Really, I can take it. Just don't look into something written and extract something that completely isn't true.

If you're so concerned about racism and discrimination as a topic, then I suggest you quit playing roleplaying games altogether. Dwarves don't like elves. Elves sometimes kill those that step foot in their territory. There have been countless battles over religion. D&D, and the fantasy genre itself, is rooted in human conflict ("humans" are partitioned into various races -- elves, dwarves, orcs -- instead of region), and if you're uncomfortable with conflict, then I'm not sure what you're doing playing D&D.

Again, please critique my submission to your heart's content. I could have submitted something better, you're absolutely right. I appreciate all of the feedback everyone has given me, and would love to hear more. But don't make things up and over analyze what is written just for the hell of it. I'm not hiding behind an anonymous mask here, so I expect you all to not hide behind anonymity and throw unjust claims towards me.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Folks, in the interest of keeping this thread and contest friendly, let's stay away from ascribing racist sentiments to the entry, and especially to the author himself.

It was not Daniele's intention to hearken back to racial purity ideas of the early 20th century or whatever, so let's not even go there. That kind of suggestion when the author is barred by the rules of the contest from defending himself is really unfair to the author.

When the round is finished, I'm sure Daniele would be happy to explain his thinking to everyone. But right now he can't, so let's drop it.

Please.

Thanks,

Erik Mona
Judge
RPG Superstar

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

This would make a great world, with about 10000 more words to make room for detailed descriptions of the countries/cultures taken over by the Agregians, as well as those which were squashed for their unwillingness to submit.

I agree with previous reviewers that this nods to real-world historical Rome a lot. That is actually one of my favorite periods in history, so I enjoy the ideas evoked by such a setting.

there are some details that I feel could have been played upon a bit more to make it more conflict-ridden: first you hint at the fact that other humanoid races are the children of other gods; then there is the question of the curse of mortality...

The DM secrets section is, I think, where this entry could really have shined. The Inquisition, man! Maybe something about renegades from a culture stamped out by the Agregians looking to bring about Agregia's downfall.

In all, I can see there was a big idea here, one that was too big for 1000 words so only the barest bones could be laid out. I would love to see it as a fully fledged setting, though. Keep up the work.

M

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

I'm with Danielle on this.

I am gently suggesting that prior posters edit their threads. It is one thing to comment on something that you dont like in a submission. But there are two points that need to be taken into account:

1. even remotely ascribing some racist agenda to the author is not only inconcievable it is unacceptable. Just like that discussion in one of the threads of a wondrous item that discussed plagarism, this conversation is unfairly tainting this submission, in my view.

2. the idea of purity of bloodline is hardly an uncommon theme--it generates conflict. Heck, I am a huge GammaWorld fan from back in the day and that game had that. I love Fallout 2. Same things. And those are actually set on EARTH let alone a fantasy world.

Personally, I think an appology to the author is in order, but I'd be fine with a nice, polite re-edit of a couple prior posts. You know who you are.


You used way too much of your word count on legend and history.

Qadira

Just to make this clear, I never intended to call you a racist and if my post came across as such an accusation, please take my sincere apologies for my bad wording. But I felt this to be a quite obvious theme in your entry and therefore rejected it as I can't stand open racism even within the borders of my games. Maybe I should add that as a german I may be a bit oversensitive with respect to some topics but that's what I am.

Qor wrote:
If you're so concerned about racism and discrimination as a topic, then I suggest you quit playing roleplaying games altogether.

Why should that be? There's a lot of conflict to include in any game without going this route. In my campaigns there's normally conflict between good and evil,maybe between people but never between races. There's a reason why I translate the game term "race" into the german term "Volk(people)", not into "Rasse".

This all said, I do understand why you felt offended and I apologize.


I respectfully disagree with the idea that 'too much history' is necessarily a bad thing. Asside from geography (which is often dull) history is what defines a country.

I find that while this submission may be lacking a bit in focus it is dripping with flavor, and that's enough to garner a vote from me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Place your votes.


Hunh. Didn't realize when I posted that it'd bring up such anger. I'm sorry to offend; that wasn't really my intent. I was just pointing out how I perceived things.

Anyways, full apologies. Wasn't meant to offend the writer (you got further than I did, after all!) just to mention what I didn't like about the submission.

We can argue about it back and forth after votes are tallied, but I'll keep quiet for now.


Erik Mona wrote:


It was not Daniele's intention to hearken back to racial purity ideas of the early 20th century or whatever, so let's not even go there. That kind of suggestion when the author is barred by the rules of the contest from defending himself is really unfair to the author.

You're absolutely right, and I regret making the comment. When I wrote it, it was just how I saw things - I didn't for a moment think that the author was saying "This is something I condone!". I just saw what I saw, and knew that, were I the GM, I wouldn't run it.

Looking back, yeah, I shouldn't have made the comment. I'm looking forward to being able to make my argument when Daniele can "fight back", as it were.

Again, full apologies.


I like the individual segments of the entry. Part about politics and legend were entertaining read and diplomacy part made me smile (while the history section, interesting as it was, needed some cutting).

But the way it is written now, I just don't care enough of the country as whole. I want to read more from you but as far as this contest goes you won't get my vote.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

There's some good bits in here, but they don't come together to make a country I care about as a whole.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I like the driving goal of subsuming another culture by integrating their deities into your own. Very Alexandrian, and I am a fan of all that is Alexander.


I love the absorption of other cultures, and the inquisition-type aspect you've got going.

But I think you should have focused more on the inherent intrigue here. With 1/3 of the counselors from the people, military, and clergy, it's ripe for conflict. What would have been great would be to continue with the Roman influence...bribery, assassinations and double-dealing are an acceptable part of the culture, but citizens need to follow cultural rules of taste and "propriety". Then again, maybe I've watched Rome too recently...;-)

Unlike other responses here, I like the Scarlet Brotherhood-like racial purity you've got going. I can understand why it doesn't appeal to some folks, and maybe giving the country a bit more evil slant would make that more acceptable. *shrug* To me, it makes villains that much more despicable.

I like your entry, but more guidance on current adventure possibilities would have made this stronger.


Oh, and I agree that the spelling should match the pronunciation more closely. Sorry.


Basiliv wrote:


Unlike other responses here, I like the Scarlet Brotherhood-like racial purity you've got going. I can understand why it doesn't appeal to some folks, and maybe giving the country a bit more evil slant would make that more acceptable. *shrug* To me, it makes villains that much more despicable.

Thank you. You said it a helluva lot better than I did. I'm not a fan of Scarlet Brotherhood, or anything in that slant. It's really not my type of game, and when I come across a domain that sort of suggests this line of thinking, I blanche a little. Just not my cup o' tea, I guess.


Honestly, this might have been cool. For some reason though, through all of the histories and immortals and beings coming down from the heavens, I just kind of got lost. I didn't have any touchstones to actually care about, so the history did nothing for me, and I started to feel like I didn't really know much about anything after having read a lot of the entry.

I think getting a feel for the nation and the people there is more important to establish than a detailed history of people and things that we haven't started to care about yet because we haven't gotten a feel for them yet.

People that like the Silmarillion (if they do) usually like it because they want more information on the things they came to care about in the Lord of the Rings. If it had come first, its doubtful anyone would know what Middle Earth is.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

Thank you, especially to our judges, for allowing me to participate in this event! I had a good time, and it was certainly a learning experience.

Obviously, this entry wasn't all it could have been. The easiest explanation is this: I bit off more than I could chew. Ironic, since I warn my students not to do exactly that with their own assignments!

I wound up approaching this task the way I've approached other tasks (not from the tabletop industry though, since this was my first foray into it).

In past experiences I started from detailing backstory, including history. Most of the stuff I would write would be read internally; it would reach the end-user in a completely different format. Word count was never an issue because of this. Approaching this task with that method was my first mistake.

My second mistake was unfortunately unavoidable. At one point I realized that my submission lacked focus. I could see it in the "Legend" and I saw it in the "History", yet I was past the point of no return -- you know, when real-life obligations creep up on you and remind you that you have responsibilities. ;) What I should have done was delete most of the entry and focused in on more relevant aspects. Instead, my time just allowed me to make cuts and restructure what I already had in place. The rest was history.

As many of you noticed, I had a lot more in mind than what was posted. A lot more. So, I figure I'll spend the next couple of posts breaking some things down, and addressing some comments.

Again, thank you for this opportunity. I had a fun time with it!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

The story behind naming Agregia.

I was looking at various words and trying to find one with a pronunciation that interested me. I got stuck on the “zhuh” sound in words like Parisian and Asian. Went to sleep that night, and “Egregia” came into my thoughts.

Figuring my subconscious was kicking in somewhere, I did a search and came up with an old word:

egregius [Latin]: illustrious, eminent, distinguished

That sounded in line with the way they viewed themselves.

Not until a friend of mine brought up “egregious” did I even think of the word. I thought it was interesting though, since egregious is almost the direct opposite in meaning from the Latin egregius.

Egregia was then renamed to Agregia, for two reasons. One, to make it not so obvious that it stemmed from egregious/egregius (obviously that change wasn’t big enough for some of you), and two, because it gave the Agregians an interesting sound after I changed the pronunciation slightly.

Originally, it was to be pronounced Ah-gree-zhuh, but I changed it to Ah-gre-zhuh, since an Agregian (ah-gre-zhuhn) bears a striking resemblance to “aggression”.

In the end I thought it was interesting that, depending on your view of the country, its meaning would change. Obviously, I spent too much time thinking about this. :)

Lastly, to address the pronunciation agruement, I have to admit I'm a bit baffled. It wasn't like I came up with new grammar. It may not be a common way to say something in the English dictionary, but why are you wanting to limit me to English? There are plenty of examples in D&D that have roots in other languages. The pronunciation of "zhuh" isn't uncommon in European languages, such as French. In fact, it isn't uncommon in the English language either (read examples at the beginning).

Anyway, I just think it would be silly if we didn't use other languages as influence for our own names and words. We'd be severly limiting ourselves. Obviously you don't want to make something up that's completely unfamiliar to people, but if it has roots in words people use everyday, across the world, then I don't see why that wouldn't be acceptable.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

For you history geeks.

Obviously, ancient Rome was an influence in my country. For the fun of it, here are the various nods I made to ancient Rome, and how they relate to actual events (I’ll go from top to bottom of the entry). I’ll also note references made from other historical/mythological events. Some of the analogies might also expand on the information of Agregia itself (obviously I had a lot more than 1,000 words in mind, as many of you noticed – to the submission’s detriment, unfortunately):

- Tivenus as a city is a very highly populated city, even by D&D standards. Ancient Rome was also highly populated. At its peak, it had over 1,000,000 people living within its walls. I don’t think another city came close to Rome’s size in population until the 18-19th century Industrial Revolution in Britain.

- A triumvirate is an obvious nod back to ancient Rome. The difference here is that the triumvirate in Agregia isn’t formed by men with power, intending to split their power three ways for political purposes. Instead, it is directly what their government was formed to do, in order to prevent too much power from being in one person’s hands.

- In Agregia, councilors are analogous to senators in Rome, but not in stature. In ancient Rome senators were made “for life” (barring some exceptions), while in Agregia they are voted in and out.

- Each triumvir/speaker has a three year term, but since they are staggered votes, that means a triumvir leaves office every year. This is similar to Rome’s consuls that came in pairs, and were replaced yearly.

- Visander and Yut are twins, as were Romulus and Remus.

- While a dominant brother isn’t acknowledged by the Agregians, Tivenus is known by the Agregians as the Elder, and thus has more influence. The capital was named after him, just as Rome was named after Romulus. Obviously, the naming by the Agregians was literal, and no brothers were killed in the process.

- The hammer and chisel was more of a nod to Renaissance Rome, when the Bernini’s of the time were going throughout the city creating life in marbleized form.

- Agregia the “goddess” (I use the term loosely here, since Agregia, mother of the three brothers, is not worshipped as a goddess by the people) takes her cues from the Greek Gaia (Roman Terra). Instead of being worshipped by the Agregians as a deific entity, they believed that it was her will that she sacrifice her corporeal form so that life may be created upon it. They don’t worship her because they live on her, and they pay homage to her by taking care of her lands. Unlike the Greek Gaia or the Roman Terra though, she doesn’t represent all lands; she just represents the land Agregia, the country, was formed upon (the peninsula itself bears a small resemblance to a figure, possibly a woman, sleeping in the fetal position).

- The jealous cousins vying for power – take any mythology stemming from Mt. Olympus.

- The creation of Tivenus, the city, was influenced by the Japanese creation myth (Izanagi and Izanami’s halberd, Amanonuhoko, dripped water into the sea to create the island Onogoro).

- The high cliffs of Agregia were more representative of portions of Greece (at least, in the way I envisioned the Agregian cliff sides), but the fertile land was certainly more in line with the way I envisioned Rome (or, more accurately, Italy in general).

- Europe was under constant battle throughout that era, so Iblis’ Age of Conquest represents that.

- Iblis was another name that spontaneously came to me, like the original Egregia, but I came to find out that it’s also the name for the primary devil (Jinn) in the Qur’an. I thought this was interesting, and symbolic, since it would eventually be the Agregian goal to conquer all of Iblis.

- The dwarves of the Lrokan Hills are somewhat analogous to the Etruscans. Thalrin, the last king of the Lrokan Hills, doesn’t bear much resemblance to Tarquin II, though Thalrin was born in Agregia during the dwarven occupation. Obviously he was still of Lrokan descent. The biggest analogy with the Etruscans is in how Rome overthrew the Etruscan monarchy, and set up a republic because they saw too much power in one man’s hands (Tarquin II). Agregia also revolted, but the catalyst here was when Thalrin assumed control and began telling the people that the gods did not exist. When he began shutting the doors to temples, in attempts to force people away from their gods, the Agregians rebelled. When they reclaimed their country, they swore than no person should ever have that much power in their hands, and a republic was born.

- The term manifest destiny was coined, I believe, in the 19th century, when the U.S. rationalized their expansion across the entire country. This isn’t a new concept though, and examples can be found throughout written history.

- As Rome conquered civilizations, their pantheon grew. The same can be said about the Greeks. Of course, ancient Rome didn’t single nations out because of their lack in faith, like the Agregians do. Then again, Roman enslavement and eradication of civilizations wasn’t always tempered by logic either, unless that logic was guided by greed or revenge. Agregians, on the other hand, are very logical, and their actions and motivations always have a purpose that isn’t usually dictated by emotion. It has been said by many people from conquered nations that Agregian people come across as emotionless, cold and calculating. Their goals are always set with the best intentions for the people as a whole, but how they set about to reach these goals is always robotic.

- Agregia, like the ancient Rome (pre-Christianity), was a fairly tolerant society. People from all over Europe, and worshippers of many different deities, could call themselves Romans and were welcomed as brothers and sisters. The same can be said of the Agregians and their acceptance of people throughout Agregia. I always wondered to myself, “What does ‘Roman’ really mean?” This is why I focused Agregia to be a primarily half and mixed breed society, as I envisioned ancient Rome would be. Half-breeds always seem to get the shaft in D&D (i.e. as a half-elf, you’re never fully welcomed in either an elven or human community), so I wanted to develop a country that would embrace them. I found it funny that some people called my submission out as racist, when racism and discrimination is around every corner in every D&D setting. I think the only place I’ve ever played in, as a character, that was fairly racist-free, was Sigil (Planescape). Once you leave and head out to the prime planes though, it’s once again starring you right in the face. Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Eberron – I have yet to not see it. With Agregia, it’s apparent in two places, and both are driven by their interpretation of the legend.

- Slavery – as unsavory as it is – was a reality in ancient Rome, as it is in Agregia. For a long time the ancient Romans welcomed those they conquered as citizens, but eventually they began enslaving them as it turned out to be a profitable business. The ancient Romans believed that slaves lacked anima, and were therefore nothing more than property. Agregians approach slavery somewhat differently. They believe in faith above all else, and any nation that has faith is welcome to join the ranks as a citizen. If they refuse submission, the Agregians take it as a direct attack towards their own faith. In their interpretation of the legend, they believe that these people are holding their deities captive, and it is up to the Agregians to set them free. If they aren’t submitting, then they’re preventing the gods from returning to the heavens. The punishment for this is death. On the opposite end, if they conquer a nation that completely lacks faith (i.e. no deities, pantheon, etc), then the Agregians believe that the people turned against their gods and destroyed them. To the Agregians, atheism is the ultimate insult. They believe that, if you have no faith, then you cannot have a soul. And if you do not have a soul, then you’re nothing more than an object. These people, and their descendents will live their lives out as slaves.

- Gameplay Only – on Iblis, the human race is limited to Agregia. I find that a lot of players pick the human race simply because it’s something they can relate to (or they’re desperate for that extra feat). If that’s the case, I wanted to inject a little bit of “umph” to the human race; I wanted to make them special. Even if, let’s say, dwarves took up 90% of the country you’d be playing in, and were therefore the dominant race, it would still be a different experience for the player since every player is human. So this was my attempt to give the human race some extra cool factor. Also, elves do not exist on Iblis. They may exist on another continent, but I haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m actually quite tempted to nix elves altogether from this world. Gnomes do exist though, but they have not yet been discovered by the Agregians. They are found in northern Iblis, but they do not have their own country. They’re more like nomads and gypsies, traveling across northern Iblis in small bands.

- The Three Fathers are to Agregians as Jupiter was to the Romans, or Zeus was to the Greeks. There might be other gods in their pantheon, and they may introduce new ones, but the Three Fathers will always be supreme. Since the Three Fathers, according to Agregian legend, are humans, then they interpret that as humans being required to run the government -- and government founded on the Three Fathers. Their rationale here isn't any different from what we say in current societies, when governments impose strict guidelines to prevent just anyone from being able to run for presidency/prime minister/etc. The biggest reason why the Agregians are worried about the extinction of the human race has actually very little to do with the government itself. Since the government is founded on religion, religion itself comes first. If the human race were to go extinct, then two things would happen (according to their beliefs): 1) their mortal curse would never be lifted, forcing them and their ancestors to never ascend to the heavens, and 2) the Three Fathers would be outcasted, with no race to represent them and no hammer and chisel (since it was destroyed) to recreate the human race.

- The Conclave of Clergy is the Holy Roman Catholic Church of centuries past. Their influence extended across nations, and in a civilization where the church and state intermingled, their power was nearly limitless. In Agregia, the Conclave of Clergy does have a strong presence in the republic, but it is still limited to a 1/3rd majority. If they really want a motion passed, they need to gain the allegiance of either the military or the people. Or both, should there ever be a need to speak up against the triumvirate.

- The inquisition is an obvious nod to the Spanish Inquisition. While the Agregians embrace the arcane arts (in fact, the head “priest” of the Conclave of Clergy – right under Triumvir Tor – is a wizard), they believed the gift is a granted blessing. You’ll rarely find a sorcerer in the Conclave of Clergy though. Generally, sorcerers are treated as black sheep in Agregia. They are unpredictable and their power cannot be controlled (whereas with wizardry, the wizard must research and study to gain their power – so tomes and spell-books can be controlled and guarded by the Conclave). Notable rebellions throughout the centuries have almost always been instigated by a sorcerer. Practicing the arcane arts without the blessing of a deity (or more specifically, the approval of the Conclave of Clergy) would be akin to being branded as a heretic and a witch during the Spanish Inquisition.


Interesting explanations, indeed it looks like you would have written a killer 5000 word entry.

Qor wrote:

Lastly, to address the pronunciation agruement, I have to admit I'm a bit baffled. It wasn't like I came up with new grammar. It may not be a common way to say something in the English dictionary, but why are you wanting to limit me to English? There are plenty of examples in D&D that have roots in other languages. The pronunciation of "zhuh" isn't uncommon in European languages, such as French. In fact, it isn't uncommon in the English language either (read examples at the beginning).

Rule of thumb: if the name is not clearly based on an existing language, and has no pronounciation guide, it should be pronounced like in Finnish. All the English-speakers are wrong.


magdalena thiriet wrote:
Rule of thumb: if the name is not clearly based on an existing language, and has no pronounciation guide, it should be pronounced like in Finnish. All the English-speakers are wrong.

Say Ya to Da U.P., eh?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

magdalena thiriet wrote:
Interesting explanations, indeed it looks like you would have written a killer 5000 word entry.

With any luck, it could have been. I still want to flesh this out entirely though. After the holidays I may get the chance to -- at least that's what I'm hoping for!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

Grimcleaver wrote:
They'll worship your god, build temples to him even, but you worship their way and live their way or they put you to the sword and sell your kids on E-bay. Thus they will someday overcome their curse. And if you're not a human? Forget it.

Not necessarily. It is true that the country that submits will be absorbed into Agregia, but they wouldn't force the new citizens to worship the way they wanted you to. Nor would they ask you to change your lifestyle.

Agregians work more like a corporation interested in the company's IP. If it's successful, and makes them money, then there's no reason to change it around if nothing is actively wrong. Obviously, the smaller company would have a new boss looming over their shoulders, but if it ain't broke, then don't fix it.

Likewise, the Agregians treat newly absorbed nations the same way. Of course, if problems need solving, thus forcing the Agregian government to play a major role in their everyday lives, then yes, you can expect them to push their ideals, traditions, etc, into your society as well.

Whether or not you're human doesn't change anything either. In fact, if you were the king of a nation that submitted, you'd be made into the governor of that "new" province. You just couldn't ever become a councilor, or a triumvir for that matter. Now, if you were a leader of a nation that did not submit, and forced the Agregians to take drastic measures to conquer your lands, then you'd be put to death -- human or not, it didn't matter -- and the Agregian government would appoint a new governor.

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