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Beria "Under New Management"


Round 2 - Top 32: Design a Country

1 to 50 of 69 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, Contributor

Beria

“Under New Management”

Alignment: N (with lawful tendencies)
Total Population: 3,000,000
Capital: The Kraal of the Great Earthshaker (30,000)
Notable Settlements: Albalong (150,000), Oldport (65,000), Ashton (45,000)
Ruler: The Great Anshaka, “Earthshaker” (were-elephant fighter 15)
Government: Theoretically absolute monarchy limited by the customary rights and privileges of the ruling elite.

At a Glance: Beria’s last king died on his back, unhorsed, along with an entire generation of knights and nobles, by the first appearance of the Ukuke, the were-elephants who had led the Azul invaders across the southern sea. Over the course a single summer the Azul, with several thousand Ukuke in the vanguard, crushed all remaining opposition; destroying castles and leveling city walls, neatly replacing the old aristocracy with themselves in the process. When the patriarch of holy city of Ashton made his submission, refusing to permit the sacred cremation rites for any Berian (along with his or her family) who defied the new rulers, the last vestiges of resistance collapsed.

From Above: Beria, a peninsula, looks vaguely like a lopsided anchor with a great ridge of inhospitable mountains running through its center. About half of its population lives in the southwestern “hook,” a place of farms, vineyards and small forests all knit together by a network of roads leading to the former capital, Albalong. A third of the population lives in the peninsula’s other “hook” to the southeast, a drier and rougher area filled with cattle ranches and mining towns dominated by Oldport on the coast, notorious as a place where anything goes. The remaining population, about a sixth of the total, lives in the interior mountains. Either in small villages eking out a living through terrace gardens and herding mountain goats or in the holy city of Ashton, home to the volcano which Berians believe must provide the spark that kindles a funeral fire.

Description: Beria’s new rulers, the Azul, make up about 10% of its population. Darker skinned than native Berians, they insist upon (and receive) deference but this rarely grates since they prefer to live amongst their own kind. Even a generation after the conquest most still live in their traditional kraals (villages warded by magical thorn bushes); tending their cattle, raising crops and heeding the words of the Ngtana -scholars trained in both religion and the arcane arts- to ward off evil spirits.
The Azul would find it much more difficult to govern without the support of the Ivala, those native Berians who have fully thrown in their lot with the new rulers. About 5% of the population they all sport magical gifts granted to them by their Azul masters. The Faceless for instance (products of permanent blur spells) serve as police and enforcers while the Untouchables (benefiting from permanent sanctuary spells) act as inviolate auditors and inspectors. The small enclaves of non-humans who call Beria home also enjoy honorary Ivala status, so long as their leaders take no steps to resist the Azul.
For the remaining 85% of the population life has changed little. Indeed many things have improved. The Azul simplified the tax code, imposing what they called “the fifth” upon the country. Everyone must provide one fifth of his or her income to the Azul, or more accurately the Ukuke noble who rules the nearest kraal. For the average peasant this is significantly lower than that imposed by the old aristocracy. Just as popular, the Azul care little about how a person goes about earning his or her living so long as they get their fifth, overturning the laws of serfdom that had bound so many to their family vocation regardless of talent or ambition. The Azul spellcasters, the Ngtana, have ways of rooting out tax cheats and other criminals, and, since they view prisons as nuisances impose drastic penalties upon malefactors. Those they deem unlikely to pay the fines or work off their offense usually end up dead and then serve as a zombie labor force.

DM’s Secrets: All Ukuke are natural lycanthropes, making up about 2% of the Azul population. Deliberately afflicting someone outside of the Ukuke lineage with lycanthropy is one of their most serious crimes, punishable by death. Even doing it accidentally brings such a severe shame that suicide seems the only honorable course.
Since all the Ukuke consider themselves of royal blood they feel perfectly justified to stand up to their “cousin” the king when circumstances warrant it. Abetted by the Ngtana, who possess both magical and moral authority, they impose an informal, but still very real check upon royal power.

(note, strictly speaking the lycanthrope template does not permit were-elephants since they are too large relative to humans and plant eaters, but the Ukuke nevertheless function in all ways as if they had the template)

Some inherent quality of Beria makes it much easier to animate the dead as zombies. Berians folklore abounds with hideous tales of necromancy which gives many a life-long dread of becoming undead. This is the primary reason why cremation serves as the central rite of the Berian religion. Though any fire serves equally well tradition has given the volcano of Ashton a sacred reputation. The Azul custom of turning criminals into zombies terrifies Berians to their very core and the church hierarchy’s cynical collaboration with the practice has outraged many, particularly amongst the younger clergy. The most devote Berians still wait for the volcano to show the god’s displeasure at the Azul, and a lately a few have actually contemplate tinkering with the wards that keep it from erupting in order to hasten this along.

The Azul destroyed all the castles and strongholds of the old aristocracy but left the ruins intact. Many creatures and outlaws now live in them. The Azul have made no move to clear them out, but allow locals to do it themselves, so long as they pay the fifth of any treasure they recover.

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. 980.
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 is something else: definite going-out-on-a-limb country. Were-elephants, a volcano god, and lots of juicy, bloody recent history. Throw in a great in-game reason for making zombies and cremating the dead, and I like where it's going. I also like the tweaks to the standard format, like the "From Above" view. Smart writing.

The text has problems with sentence fragments and some snarled syntax, but the level of inventiveness means that it's worth cleaning up. The "Under New Management" tagline is a fine way to think about it, but the reference is too modern to really fit the tone.

The obsession with the tax code and the peasantry seems a serious mistake. The fifth is all very nice, but are PCs expected to pay it? What if they refuse? Frankly, I would have preferred more about the magical gifts and the volcano god.

Probably my favorite of the subtropical countries, though. Nice work.

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

Fluff (writing, grammar, style, evocative prose, etc.): B+
The Good: Rich and descriptive. Again, hinting at more than is actually described—a must in an entry limited to 1000 words.
The Bad: A bit unfocused at times, some grammar issues.

Crunch (basics, rules issues, depth of the setting, details, etc.): B-
The Good: There is some meat here, that is for sure. Were-elephants and cremation rites.
The Bad: “With lawful tendencies” warmed my first edition heart, but that isn’t good third edition design. Not sure I needed the little were-elephant parenthetical. Could have used a bit more crunch, particularly regarding the undead stuff which I found to be interesting.

Design (choices made, format, naming, originality, theme, balance--ie, is the submission heavy in one part but lacking in another?): B-
The Good: Hah! Nice division into “at a glance” and “from above.” Well done. Good modification of the format. Good balance. The DM section was large and interesting.
The Bad: Right off, I don’t like the tag line—too modern. Not sure the naming follows any logical theme, seeming to vary from Ashton to Ukuke to Ngtana. A bit hodgepodge. It feels almost African at times. Too bad the faceless and untouchables didn’t have better names. I would have liked unique names with their translations to “faceless” and “untouchable” in parenthesis perhaps.

Play (setting for adventure? campaign? is there conflict? are there play limitations?): B-
The Good: Lots of reason for adventure. All classes seem to work here.
The Bad: Nothing says “killer fantasy roleplaying” like taxes! Oh, wait, uh, actually there is nothing about taxes that says “killer fantasy roleplaying.” You had 1000 words, I think they could have been better spent than on the tax code. Plus, I’m not sure I want my adventures centered around dodging tax collectors. May have some issues with the standard fantasy races, seems to lean strongly to the races described.

Tilt (my personal take, is it evocative? do I want to play there? does it capture my imagination?): B-
The Good: Lots of flavor.
The Bad: A bit gonzo, and perhaps too much focus on taxes. Perhaps too much of a niche setting.

Overall: B-
A crazy, gonzo-seeming Africa-meets-Polynesia gone mad setting with some wicked juju. This is not your normal euro-medieval fantasy roleplaying—which is both its strength and weakness.

RECOMMENDED for top 16.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Ok, right off the bat I'm thinking "were-elephant"? Seriously? I have played D&D for almost 30 years and I have never ever used a were-elephant, nor even thought of one before reading that. I was so taken aback by it that I stopped reading and jumped to the comment window to post my initial reaction.

And now I am a bit worried to go back to the entry, because boy howdy it better get cool fast.

...

Ok, I'm back. Apparently the were-elephants are in with African-analogue invaders, so we're getting a reverse colonization thing going on.

All right. I'm willing to consider were-elephants.

But that was a risky gambit, my friend.

Moving past the tusks and the giant ears, I've got to say that I'm finding most of the names in this submission pedestrian and unremarkable. Beria, Ashton, Oldport... pretty ho-hum. I realize that may in part be the point as it sets up a dichotomy with the very atypical "African" society, but at the end of the day I've still got to set my game there, and I can't rightly get my players excited about old Ashton and Oldport. I think you should set the bar a bit higher with regard to names.

Breaking down the population with precise percentages turned me off, as the narrative started to read more like a story problem and less like a story. When you mentioned the special magical gifts of the Ivala I was hoping for some cool crunch (which I know from experience you can deliver), but instead I just got hand-waved permanent bog-standard spells. Worse, the titles you gave them were awfully generic. Faceless is ok if not altogether original, but Untouchables? Really? Any time there's any kind of caste or hierarchy you've got Untouchables. It's sort of been done. You can come up with a more original name to model this concept.

I do very much like the Azul use of zombies and the reaction it elicits in the undead-averse natives. That was artfully done and I think at the center of what would make adventures here fun, other than the obvious novelty of getting a touch of the old African magic in a standard generic fantasy land without moving your whole campaign there.

I think that's a good concept for the contest and I'm glad to see someone tackle it. Overall I think this submission is in the middle of the pack for me.

Osirion Marathon Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm. I actually like the idea of were-elephant rulers but think it could be done better. Perhaps have them be of a giant race rather than humanoids.

I don't know that I will vote for this country but I do like the image of a giant elephant man walking calmly among a slightly fearful populace.


Wicht wrote:

Hmm. I actually like the idea of were-elephant rulers but think it could be done better. Perhaps have them be of a giant race rather than humanoids.

I don't know that I will vote for this country but I do like the image of a giant elephant man walking calmly among a slightly fearful populace.

Mee too. That's interesting enough to forgive a lot of sins.

I may want more about the homeland they came from, though...

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Wicht wrote:

Hmm. I actually like the idea of were-elephant rulers but think it could be done better. Perhaps have them be of a giant race rather than humanoids.

I don't know that I will vote for this country but I do like the image of a giant elephant man walking calmly among a slightly fearful populace.

Like most were-creatures, a description of the physical traits of the were-elephants in human form would be nice. I like the idea of them. Its a crazy scene during a battle when suddenly man start growing and twisting into hybrid forms. Stomping across the battle, trampling foes and smashing them into the earth. The Were-elephant is good enough for me.


Were-Elephant...what a frightening concept. You certainly have my interest. I am going to read the entry more fully now that I have commented on that.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Hmmm...

I like the Azul (were-elephants, zombies, etc) and wish that the author had developed their home country instead of 'Beria: Under New Management' which seems a little stale.

/sad ogre


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

This doesn't strike me as a country so stable and generic that DMs could so add their own expansions as easily as some of the other contest offerings, but it's fun, funky, and out there. The were-elephants are a capital F fantasy element that has me lusting to meet them in epic battle.

Gonzo, shmonzo. My steel wants to test their tusks.

Osirion

Were- WHATS Elephants
Were- WHATS Elephants hang on I have to have read that wrong...... NOPE it says were-elephants wow that’s weird, I am not sure I can swallow that down but I shall have to finish reading this one twice!

Okay I am back and I must say interesting.

I believe that this is creative but as a Player or GM this is not my cup of Tea or elephant grass. I am seeing a whole new rewrite of the were templates and to be honest elephant’s man that s a big..... I like the description and I would believe that more destruction would have happened to this place when the Azul attacked the capital and all the castles. I do not like the part of the Azuls do not care how you get your 1/5 just as long as they get their share, this to me would sound very chaotic and hazardous place to be. Then you mention the Azul punish criminals and it would seem that the main punishment is to make them into zombie workers but why?

This is on the edge for me and all I shall say now is good luck.

Osirion

The "under new management" thing was a real strike against this one from the start. The were-elephant thing, likewise, made me pause for a bit too.

I like the idea of a sacked kingdom ruled by oppressive and ethnic conquerors--particularly the bits where they tear down every fortress and deny funerary rights to insure no opposition to their rule. I even don't so much mind that they're were-elephants once you get past the initial shock of it.

The big problem is that it's really niche. It doesn't really seem to harmonize well with the feel of D&D. It's a little...I think gonzo is the word one of the staffers used. Probably stronger than I'd say personally but, yeah. All the obscure terminology also tends to get in the way--like if you miss the first mention of the word you end up hitting it over and over and having to backtrack to find out what it is again. But the big hit against it is just that it's really a little too out there with few options for doing anything grounded in it. It reads less like a country and more like a setting.

Likewise, and this is a personal thing. I don't dig regional magical effects that just happen for no explicable reason. It was a big hit against whole campaign settings back in the TSR days for me--they were always making wonky settings where magic just worked differently there than every other setting for no clear reason. The "zombies are more common here" needed a solid hook to work for me. "No one knows why" didn't quite do it.

Very imaginative though, for all it's faults.


This has intriguing ideas and good writing. That's a positive. I actually liked the "Under New Management" tagline.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Were-elephants. Well, it’s an adventurous idea … but one that doesn’t quite pay off in my book. I just can’t really get it to work for me, I think there might be a reason it’s not quite legal under the srd. I also found the writing and structure of this entry somewhat clumsy at points, I came close to giving up reading it.
I have to agree that the tagline seems incongruous.


"Under new management" did bother me - I kept looking for the joke.

I did like the map in words - that worked perfectly well for me. I wish more entries had done this.

Some of the names could have been more "African". But then, most african names, if you translate them, would translate into things like "old port". So that doesn't really harm things.

Kraals are what stood out for me - they really struck a mythological chord. Personally, I'll be stealing that idea for my own campaign.

I disagree with the judge regarding "The untouchables" - I don't think it's a caste thing, and the name really fit the spell effect placed upon them. I really think the gifted Ivala make things cool - sort of like those who helped the Nazis in Occupied France. At least, that's what I thought of.

The Azul remind me of the Persians, or other Empire Builders. Which is pretty cool.

Nitpick - the Ukuke sort of jumped out at me - I didn't even notice them until I was almost done, when I said "who are the Ukuke?" They could have used perhaps a bit more information early on, I think. But, they're a cool addition - though, if this were in my own campaign, they'd be Were-Rhinoes.

I think this one might get a vote.


While many of the place names were a little bland, Azul, Ukeke, Ivala - these are all names that I can deal with. The blander names of the cities and locations I can attribute to the past.

What I like here is the recent history, there's stuff happening here, it's not just old cluttered bits. As much as were-elephants seem a strange choice, I think they make sense in the setting as presented... they give the country a bit of character.

I also liked the Ivala... and I think, frankly, that the blandness of Faceless and Untouchable had to do with lack of space... they are bluntly descriptive of the effects. Oh, and I have to disagree on one of the judge's caste comment: yes there are untouchables... but typically they are the lowest caste - here you have them as a special class - in a country that places such stress on taxes, an auditor must enjoy some special measure of authority.

I also like how the success of the transfer of power was described. You can believe the conquerors would be successful on the basis of what they were doing.

I would also have liked more crunch, and perhaps short form NPC descriptions with some major players, but since PCs aren't so likely to run into them anyway, I can live without those. I can see adventure here though, and while Clark and Wolf may protest about taxes.... I think it's important to remember that Paizo used them to good effect in Dungeon as an ongoing plot device in Shackled City. It worked well there and I don't see why it couldn't here.

While some of the other entries are perhaps more evocative, this one does something many of the technically best written entries didn't do - it took a risk without going too far over the top. Hal was clearly batting for a win here, being willing to step outside the box in a way that I think deserves some credit.

Anyway, I'm tired after reading all 32 entries, so I'm not going to say more than that. Hal, you've got my vote, and I hope I'm not alone, I really want to see what you do with the villian.

- Ashavan

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

I hate 'under new management', but i love the wereelephant. The race of natural lycanthropes is pretty powerful: tough to stop that with any rebellion.

Some room for adventure, although I am not moved by the reverse settlement thing. Seems like a simple flip and not too original. The writing was okay, I thought, but I am not floored by anything in the text. Nothing jumps out at me,except for possibly holding cremation rights from a repressed people in a future campaign.

Despite the wereelephant's size , can't say this entry stands out among its peers.

Please, no more modern references like 'under new management.' I seriously almost didn't even read this one because of its title, which wouldn't have been fair because it is better than some of the entries and has some unique properties.

For all future contestants: you don't have to tell me things like 'I know you can't normally be a wereelephant.' If it's a good idea, run with it. I know I can change a rule if it gets in the way. Spend those 10-12 words on something else.


'under new management' screamed joke entry or serious miscalculation of genre tone.

That said, there are some interesting bits here. Good ideas that could use some revising and cleaning up.

You know, this contest screams for some collaborative efforts between some contestants that could help cover each others weakness. O course, that's if egos could be set aside.

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

I liked it, and I should admit that, once upon a time in my 1st Ed. days I actually did have a were-mastodon in my campaign. A mountain giant were-mastodon. So I got a rush of nostalgia and amusement on seeing someone else tackle that almost absurd strain of lycanthrope.

I liked the premise of the campaign, the total wipeout reverse colonization, and the cremation/zombification dynamic (though "they're just more common here" was kinda weak).

Overall, kinda middle of the pack. Not the best but not the worst.


I like the concept of the Faceless, but I am afraid it is not enough to garner a vote for me.

Good, solid concept, though. A country filled with Faceless soldiers or law-keepers might fit the bill for me instead of were-elephants. This is especially true if the blurring effect is initially meant to keep their appearance secret or from frightening any who look upon them more so than added protection.


Hmmmm....This entry is difficult. For uniqueness and creativity it's definitely in my top 5. But would I want to base my campaign in this nation? Hmmmm....

If this were a contest to create multiple nations for a game world, I would definitely vote yes. But I see this country as the country neighbouring the nation my campaign is primarily being played in.

After thinking it over.....I'm still on the fence.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Not having a problem with were-elephants. They're bringing to mind that indie comic...what's it called...oh yeah "Elephantmen". Heh.

So I'm picturing em that way, for better or worse.

While I like the were-pachyderms, and I'm a big fan of getting out of Europe, it's not doing it for me over all.

Low maybe.


“Under new management” – file under ugh.
“Were-Elephants” – Made me want to lobotomize myself with my keyboard.

Those two things aside, I enjoyed it. Rich and evocative, turmoil and stability in one.

Entries read so far = 10. Your country = vote 2 of 5 (after the blink dogs).

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

Can I use it: Yes
Is it entertaining: Yes
Is it original: Yes

Final verdict: I am likely to vote for this one.

After ten entries this is only the second one that I like.

@ mwbeeler

I can't believe you like the blink dogs.......

@ Hal

The under new management tag was bad, really bad.

Taldor

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

Why are people freaking out about were-elephants? Does noboy remember Loxo?!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, Contributor

Thanks for the feedback. After coming up with a name like nausea pill and then some of the ones in my country write up I'm giving serious thought to subcontracting all naming chores from now on :)

(either that or forming a 12 step program of some sort...)

But hey, were elephants are neat :) Though I like the were rhino idea too.


GeraintElberion wrote:
Does noboy remember Loxo?!

Yes, and not fondly.


ancientsensei wrote:


For all future contestants: you don't have to tell me things like 'I know you can't normally be a wereelephant.' If it's a good idea, run with it. I know I can change a rule if it gets in the way. Spend those 10-12 words on something else.

I'd debate this... since following the SRD is a requirement, I think it was important to make clear that this was a conscious design choice.

- Ashavan

Qadira

This is my tenth entry and the first one I've not the slightest idea what to comment on. I do like your format and I like your style. Kudos for the idea of lawful lycanthropes.

But in the end, were-elephants don't do it for me.


I have to say, I think I disagree with the general concensus here, largely because I really don't think that, historically, a conquered population has *ever* viewed the incoming state as a goodwilled benefactor; this country makes me think of the Germanic tribes under the Romans, the Saxons under the French (the origin of the Robin Hood story), and India under the British; heck, you can even think about the movie 300! All of those had major problems with insurrections and civil unrest. I read this entry hoping for some sort of interesting plot hooks involving underground resistance armies and an unsteady political structure, but saw none of that.


(Especially with the implied threat of a zombie labor force)

Andoran

Okay, I'm halfway through reading them now, and this is my fave so far.

I, too want to test steel against tusk.....

Great faraway place for higher level adventurers to fight...of all things...were elephants. When does that ever happen?


I like the concept of were-elephants. A lot. I was expecting (eagerly) a country inspired by Indian mythologies.

I'm confused about the race of lycanthropes, though (Ukuke?). It doesn't make sense to me that they'd all be were-somethings and still be able to infect others with lycanthropy. For them, it shouldn't be a disease, so why can they transmit it in any way apart from breeding? I'd rather see the infection thing removed from them entirely, even though that means cutting the bits about infecting someone else being punishable by death, etc. I appreciate the tension there, but it's not clicking for me for reasons of internal consistency.

Warning: As this thing goes forward, grammar and sentence-construction issues are not going to be minor concerns.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

I like the idea of were-elephants. I really do. However, it seems to me that the idea could have been pulled off better. I can only assume that these were-elephants are based on humans, since the entry doesn't seem to specify. I think Hal should have specified that at a minimum; I think it would've been even better had the base creature been large (say, ogres), as this would've resolved the size issue within the rules. Also, a description of these were-elephants would've been nice.

There's plenty of unusual, and disparate, points in this entry. I'm thinking that were-elephants may have been enough; the rest seems to make this entry a bit scattered. The structure, while nice initially, degrades as the entry continues: I spent about half the article wondering who the Ukukes were. Finally, I'm not sure that there is sufficient room for adventure and conflict here. I can certainly see how there could be, but the author probably needed to spend a little extra time on that.

But I really liked the african-style names (though I worry about the pronouncibility of some), and the were-elephants might just save this one for me.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

I don't have a problem with were-elephants, given that the author has noted that they're a rules exception. For publication, they would probably be included as a new monster.

This contains many instances of bad grammar, in some cases probably to get under word count and in others just as errors. I'm not OK with this.

I like the magical gifts granted to their enforcers and the tight story integration of zombies and the Berian religion.

Some serious questions arise but I'm inclined to keep it.


The "Under new management" wasn't an encouraging start and the were-elephant thing made me pause (I still don't really like the idea, another monster would be more interesting).
The writing isn't great, although the word map was well done.
I like a lot of the ideas presented here, it just seems like it could use some polishing.

Taldor Contributor

When I first saw the name "Earthshaker" it reminded me of an old Companion or Master set module that my brother had with this giant steampunk robot. I was pretty surprised to read 'were-elephant' instead. For a moment I was just kind of baffled, but then I got an image in my head of a were-elephant in all three forms, and it really worked for me.

As far as the names go, that also really worked for me. The 'bland' names said to me "this used to be your grampa's D&D mworld" and the Africanesque names said "but now all of that has changed."

Mind you, I also use a lot of 'bland' place names in my home games. I find it a useful touchstone for showing exactly what I saw here. Just like 'Sandpoint' is the kind of place that could be your hometown, but 'Xin-Shalast' is an exotic place you probably have never heard of, or is part of legends so old most people don't believe they are true anymore.

All the tax stuff kinda blew by me because I was too busy imagining a squad of typical fantasy soldiers trying to hold formation against a bunch of charging were-elephants to really pay attention to what I was reading.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I really, really like this entry. Original without being over the top, complete and evocative. I love the were-elephants (having actually struggled with the idea for a race in my homebrew). Nicely done combination of crunch and fluff (true lycanthropes are prohibited from propagating their condition by infecting others by social taboos). I also like the idea of the new rulers sitting back comfortably and allowing people to do as they please as long as they get their dues. It is not clear, though, whether the Azul are the rulers, or the Were-elephants are, or if they are both the same thing (¿?)

As for adventuring opportunities, I can see quite a few, and the fact that the Azul are not outright oppressive makes a political intrigue based campaign all the more, shall we say, "intriguing." I also like the potential for adventure involving the Ngata and the taboo against zombies.

The pesky details, like the tagline of "under new management" and the inconsistency of the naming struck me as the weakest points of this entry. Also, here like in other entries, things seem to have settled into a pretty comfortable "business as usual", thus detracting from the sense of urgency for going there and having an adventure or three. The writing is a bit weak, and can be slightly confusing at times.

Still, overall, one of the better entries I have read so far. Like Dungeon Grrl, I can and probably will wind up stealing stuff from this for my homebrew.

Cheers on a good follow-up to the Nausea Pill, which I had amongst my favorites also.

M

Osirion Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Loved the were-elephants, but would have preferred the originating country. you made my top 6, unfortunately not my top5!

Nice ideas though.

Cheliax

I liked the were-elephant, too. The whole taxc-things was a turn-off for me. I think this could've been mentioned in a sentence (or two) and then could have moved on to more interesting aspects.
I really like the volcano part and the fact that the conquerors succeeded because they prohibited the burning of the dead. These are great ideas and the whole discription hints at more interesting stuff (like f.e. the country where the conquerors hail from etc.), which is a good thing in my opinion.
I think a really good country write-up leaves the readers with questions and an interest in learning more about the place.
In regard to this, you did very well and you might get a vote from me (but at this time I did only read about half of the entries so far).


I don't like the "Under New Management" phrase.

I liked the idea of the Faceless and the Untouchables(but I kept thinking of Eliot Ness).

Overall I liked the country, but I don't think it's one of the strongest entries.


I absolutely hated the title of this country, but the content was highly interesting stuff. The African flavor was also quite appreciated and makes the entry stand out from the crowd.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Place your votes.


Hated the title.

Immediately visualized image of the ruler, went "cool!" So count me among were-elephant-lovers.

After that...nice ideas but bad naming issues, and jumping from Europe to Africa to India to Polynesia...with good editor I might grow to really like this.

For some reason many of the entries I have liked have been sort of pulp jungle based, sounds like a campaign to me...


Anyone familiar with Ron Spencer's work might recall an interesting picture in White Wolf's Changing Breeds book a few years back, perfect example of a were-elephant. I would definitely put this in my top ten but as others have said 'Under New Management' dropped it out of my top 5, but I hope it makes the top 16.


Were-Elephants aren't too weird to picture.

I'd suggest looking at the Elephantmen comics

http://www.hipflask.com/gallery/index.html

or at the Privateer Press Hordes titans in the Skorne faction

http://www.privateerpress.com/HORDES/gallery/default.php?level=picture& id=51

http://www.privateerpress.com/HORDES/gallery/default.php?level=picture& id=52

for how I picture how they would look.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Babar on 'roids!

I picture bipedal barbarian elephants in fancy, though tribal duds, charging fearlessly into battle with an intense white eyed gleam as their horse killing tusks mash soldiers into crumpled bags of spilt guts and bony granola with but a single downward smash. The sound of their side's own war drums drowned out by the horrendous din of their trumpeted war call! Stamping their NY style pizza footpad so hard that the resulting tremor unhorses an enemy!

YES! BATTLE!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I also imagine their nobles wearing golden tusk cuffs, begemmed and reaching out across their length in elaborate and sometimes antithetically delicate patterns.

What about an Ukeke elite fighting force who wears use thin chains to tie the skulls of fallen enemies to their tusks, swinging them as flails for a few points extra damage?

The Ukeke vanguard wear steel cuffs instead of gold, and seek to not only protect the tusk from steel attacks (new monster equippment that adds +1 to AC (for non magical cuffs) and perhaps protects against severence) but also to protect an already cracked tusk from crumbling.

I see their dress and battle dress as highly ceremonial, with a bright array of stunning colors and patterns that announce their presence as gods. No use trying to hide in ninja gear when you're thrice the height of a man, you smell like... well like a big musky elephant, and even deaf people know you're coming up behind them. The violet and yellows of India, the zebra striped vests of Africa, the Chams De Baron of the 80's (makes the fantasy reeeal).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

One last idea.

You do realize that every cemetary for deceased Ukeke become the ultimate elephant burial ground, full of enough ivory to make a thousand men rich?

Aside from epic pitched battle campaigns, once the occupation begins, stealthy rogues could have a field day becoming the flies that pester these behomoths.

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