The Fabled Appendix - Erik Mona (Part 2)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is the second part of my interview with Erik Mona about the sources of inspiration he would list if Paizo created its own "Appendix N." In today's blog, Erik discusses the books and ideas that inspired his creation of Osirion and Cheliax, two of the best-known regions of the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting.

David: What historical, mythological, or fictional sources did you use to develop Osirion? I know you mentioned The Sirius Mystery on the message boards. Any other sources like this?

Erik: I've always been interested in Ancient Egypt. In terms of books, one of my favorites was a collection of illustrations made by the surveyors who traveled with Napoleon's army throughout Egypt. Napoleon's scientific surveys of Egypt were a major inspiration for the whole concept of the Pathfinder Society—a group of explorers and treasure seekers whose level of altruism can vary greatly.

Another source of inspiration was the book you mentioned, Robert Temple's The Sirius Mystery. Temple introduces the concept that alien astronauts, aquatic beings from a planet orbiting the Dog Star, came down and gave culture to the Ancient Egyptians. After reading this, I immediately had visions of aqueducts, waterways, and pools surrounding Egypt, with aboleths swimming in their depths, commanding the people to construct enormous monuments. In fact, the name "Osirion" comes from this mixture of Egyptian culture and alien influences, as it plays off of the names Sirius and Osiris.

David: What's the story behind Cheliax? When did you come up with the idea of having a nation of devil-worshippers? What were your primary sources of inspiration?

Erik: I grew up in Minnesota, and while I was visiting the state capital I saw an image that became indelibly burned into my brain, of a Christian monk preaching to a group of American Indians. Since then, the idea of religious colonization has always been in the back of my mind. A while ago, I designed a miniatures-based game just for fun. I wanted the game to have a lot of inherent conflict, so I came up with the idea of a fantasy society that discovers gateways to another world rich in resources. I wanted to make the game about colonization and the conflicts that arise from that, so I decided that I needed several factions that had antipathy for each other. For one of the factions, I went back to that image for the missionary—except instead of the Christian cross, I made their icon a pentagram. This took the theme I was aiming for—religious colonization—and made it undeniably, inherently evil.

For the faction's title, I used the name of an evil empire I had created for a piece of sword and sorcery fiction that I wrote in college. At the time, I had named this empire Chelan because of a horrible family vacation that we had at Lake Chelan in Washington State. After I moved to Washington, I wanted to change the name, but at the same time to make it sound more evil. Cheliax, in Golarion, originally started out in my mind as a colonial power—Arcadia being the stand-in for the unexplored continent that was in my miniatures game.

Thus ends the second part of my interview with Erik about his sources of inspiration. In the conclusion, Erik reveals how his miniatures game gave birth to several other Golarion nations and explains how Thundarr the Barbarian fits into the whole picture. Sources of inspiration abound!

David Eitelbach
Editorial Intern

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