Samuel Kisko

Round 1: Migrus Locker
Round 2: Yithnai
Round 3: Fleshstripping in Zopotishto

Yithnai


Round 2: Design a country

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Dark Archive

The first sentence grabbed me, shook me around a bit and I'm afraid I never recovered. I doubt I can be objective in expressing my adoration for a setting that sounds so much like Robert Howard describing Stygia. Ziggurat, like zeppelin, is one of those words that makes my rational decision making process shut down, I think.

The 'Yith vs. her silvery sister' conflict is a nice bit of dualism, which the various iterations of D&D have done, but never really focused strongly upon. (See also Ahura Mazda / Angra Mainyu, Heironeous / Hextor, Selune / Shar, Madriel / Belsameth, Good Ash / Bad Ash.) If the undeveloped 'good sister' turns out to also be in the vein of Howard / Lovecraft / Smith, she might not be terribly fluffy either, being less 'benevolent' good-guy and more 'Vorlon' not-as-bad-as-the-other-guy.

My biggest quibble would be the question, 'where do the adventures fit in?' It's got that old-world cyberpunk feel of a Conan setting, where mostly amoral people run around doing mostly amoral things for mostly amoral reasons, and I get that not every region needs to appeal to every possible race / class / alignment combination, but this focus seems pretty narrow.

My smaller quibble would be the name Yithnai. Yith? Cool. Nai as an ending? Cool. The two together? Awkward sounding.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

With a name like Yithnai (which I find extremely good) I was expecting more of the same within. The borrowed names (whether intentional or not) really bug me here. What's worse is I first learned Enki from another source besides Sumeria, and the resulting clash of mental images isn't helping me.

When I first read kleptocracy, I was trying to figure out how exactly that worked, and I really think you made it fit. I was pleseantly surprised by this.

This is a great entry for an evil nation, but I don't quite think I can say its my favorite. I guess I just prefer my evil less blatant.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I honestly wasn't as blown away by the Migrus Locker as everyone else. But that doesn't matter because this is a new round and a new evaluation...and I think Yithnai holds up very well. It's well-written, has lots of interesting details, but still could have benefited from a bit more crunch in some areas. So, if I have any advice (or critique) for you, it would be to make sure you address both fluff and mechanics in your entries. You can mix great ideas into both of those design areas. And I'm hoping you'll do that in future rounds, because...

You have two-cents and my vote,
--Neil

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I'm writing this after reading all the entries twice.

The second time through, I looked at all the evil realms, and tried to pick my favorite.

It's this one.

The people here are really, terribly evil; not just mean and standoffish, not just selfish and conniving, and not just bwa-ha-ha undead.

And yet, the government holds up plausibly, the society endures plausibly, and the economy functions in the regional community plausibly. Nobody ever wants to go there, but there are reasons that people must.

It would be a perfect place for some unrelated bad guy to flee to for sanctury.

An entire campaign could be built up around this place.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

First sentence: Great imagery, though it repeats shortly afterwards in the Ruler entry. I'm not sure that "ill-told" means what it's used to mean in this sentence.

The entry describes a grim and menacing realm and culture without indulging in cliche. I liked the opposition of the two moon-goddesses, though I found the account (true, or mythical?) of Seleucid's sundering and his present state very confusing. Dodgy name, by the way.

I don't know that I agree with the Chaotic alignment entry or the characterisation of the government as a kleptocracy.

The physical description is well done. I don't have a clear picture of life within the settlements.

The references to languages and the glacial stone of Achaemein are an interesting minor theme.

I enjoyed this, but there are too many problems to give it my vote.


Place your votes.


Ok, nice entry but this is far too eeeeeeeeevil for my taste. As a result, not really interested.

And I am really surprised that people who ripped poor Cumavea for its name left Arsalude untouched? Now that's a name which begs the question if it will be referenced in gaming table as Quaalude given rectally or just "A**elube".


Nice! I really enjoyed this one. I'll have to figure out who to bounce to get you in my top 5 :-(


Well, this entry helped to bounce a couple from my 'vote list'. I'm glad. Your Migrus Locker was probably my favorite magic item from the initial submissions, and it makes me happy to see consistent work. I can see the Migrus Locker itself existing in the horribly corrupt evil country (which I LOVE by the way) that you've concocted. I hope you advance, simply so I can see the sick twisted villain that you come up with.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka amusingsn

I like the blood magic themes presented here, which simply evokes a feel of dark mysticism.


At first this didn't do much for me, feeling a bit too much like a generic "evil nation" concept. I kind of like the twin goddess concept, but it didn't really grab me as a winner since it reminded me of Shar and Selune from the Forgotten Realms.

On the other hand, when some of the details came out, like the servitude to gain full citizenship, I really started to like the entry, and the DM's secrets were really good from my point of view. It started out slow, but it did improve, and its a good entry to mine for ideas.


Set wrote:
My smaller quibble would be the name Yithnai. Yith? Cool. Nai as an ending? Cool. The two together? Awkward sounding.

I felt the name had a very Hebrew-ish quality to it. In particular, it shares something with words like Yithlah ("to hang; to be high up") or Yithra ("abundance; riches"). Neither of which is difficult to pronounce — unless you have a rubber tongue. ;P

In that context, it's linguistically sound and rich with associations...


As others have pointed out, this has a real Conan feel to it and that's a plus in my book. Using the name Enki is a bit bothersome to me, being a big reader of Zecharia Sitchin, but that's a minor quibble. Anyway, great stuff!


Very creative this gets one of my 5 votes.


I like this, but I have reservations.


  • Yith? As a huge fan of Lovecraft, this name in the title makes me balk. Judging by the tone of your writing, I find it difficult to imagine that you haven't read HPL, so I must assume that this was an intentional reference to the Great Race of Yith. It comes across as bad form. IMO, if you're going to use a name like "Yith," use it in a way more in line with the original.
  • I'm not digging on the other names. You got me in an HPL vibe and then the too-real-world or, simply, not-pleasing names dropped me.
  • There seem to be too many logical inconsistencies. Salt flats are typically found in arid areas; peat bogs are found in wetlands; the two aren't working well together for me and such inconsistencies pull me unceremoniously out of my enjoyment.
  • The language is generally too over the top: "flabby, alkaline vegetation."
  • The same issue I have with the Migrus Locker: VERY interesting and flavorful ideas but with little thought to game mechanics or impact: "wake and return to flesh all of the fossilized primeval creatures for miles."

Great ideas, I hope to see more, but in case you make it to the next round, I hope I gave you some things to consider. Those great ideas will only pull you so far.


Rune Scryber wrote:
As others have pointed out, this has a real Conan feel to it and that's a plus in my book. Using the name Enki is a bit bothersome to me, being a big reader of Zecharia Sitchin, but that's a minor quibble. Anyway, great stuff!

You received one of my 5 votes!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Like the Migrus Locker, Yithnai literally oozes flavor. And it has ziggurats, something I obviously have a fondness for. ;)
I particularly liked the whole concept of the Sundered Prince and I liked the duality of the twin goddesses as well - a goddess of the dark side of the moon? Excellent!

But like some others, the naming threw me as too Cthulhu/HPL. To me, Yithnai = Great Race of Yith + Oonai (from one of my favorite HPL stories, the Quest of Iranon) and Seleucid should have been modified (though I still got blasted for my names not being far enough removed from their real-world counterparts). I also felt that the nature of the society could make it problematic to use it as a setting for a campaign.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I hope you advance, and I look forward to seeing what you'll come up with in the next rounds. Good luck!

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Samuel, very nice work. Congratulations on making it to the next round. I cannot wait to see what you come up with next. In my view, the Migrus and Yithnai have been absolute out of the park home runs both times. That is very, very impressive. You have already been the talk of all the judges. Good luck!

Liberty's Edge

Samuel, I wonder if you’ll have a chance to respond to some of the comments on your entry – for the record I loved it, but there’s been a bit of criticism on the use of mythological names, and perhaps the “obviousness” of some of your influences. I guess I’d like your thoughts on that, and wonder what we’re going to see from you in the next round (your question on Myconids concerned me a little…)

I’d also really love to know if you have read the Books of the Cataclysm by Sean Williams. There are a lot of similarities, and I’d like to know if that was a direct influence, or if perhaps you and the author have been influenced by the same things.

For the record, if you’re not aware, similarities include a caldera lake as a very important location, a black ziggurat as a key feature, the importance of twins, the fate of the sundered prince, a minor theme of blood magic, a minor theme of petrified creatures coming to life and similarities in a lot of the names (although this is partially explained by the use of Babylonian / Sumerian mythical elements in those books).

Note that this is not an accusation of plagiarism at all. I’m just really curious as to where these similarities may have come from.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6 aka Core

Mothman wrote:
Samuel, I wonder if you’ll have a chance to respond to some of the comments on your entry – for the record I loved it, but there’s been a bit of criticism on the use of mythological names, and perhaps the “obviousness” of some of your influences.

The setting was intentionally Mesopotamian so I intentionally gave my nod in that direction. The same with general Gygaxian prose ala Zyga and Lovecraft ala Yith. Guess people wanted total originality so my bad I guess. However I learned long ago that you will never please everyone so generally opt to go with my first inclinations.

Mothman wrote:
I’d also really love to know if you have read the Books of the Cataclysm by Sean Williams. There are a lot of similarities, and I’d like to know if that was a direct influence, or if perhaps you and the author have been influenced by the same things.

Have not read that, though a buddy of mine (who posted above a bit) mentioned it was similar to some things he has read. Yithnai is based upon a pbp game a buddy and I collaborated on recently. Honestly it was begot entirely from this quick write up for the Ilim game



Across the parched alkaline flats of Thrallut, the Goblin Land, you have come, choking at the stench of hellish slagheaps, belching factories, seething breeding pits ...


Through the tepid bogs of reeking Hoobmuck you have come, hacking away at the maddening grasp of its weird, flabby vegetation, swatting at black clouds of languid blind flies ...


Past Yithnai you have come, City of Ziggurats, that ill-told seat of the Sundered Prince, Consort-on-Earth of the Black Twin, the Dead Goddess, whose bloody-handed priests rip forth hearts like turgid fruit ...

Over the cracked tundra of Frostlock you have come, huddling around your fires, blanching at the howls of the needle-toothed wiitigo beyond the light ...


Through the wraith-plagued Straits of Esmernel you have come, the Sign of Duskdoric holding at bay a meeping legion of unclean spirits ...

From everywhere and nowhere, to Ilim you have come, to the place of shadows of other worlds and ages, to make your fortune and your legend.

Yithnai was simply was not fleshed out so I killed two birds with one stone and wrote it up for this contest and for use in our php game (Ilim).

Map here (one I made, I would have submitted that if I could): http://canecorpus.com/ilim%20map.gif

Which I posted on dragonfoot before this contest started. As you can see the badlands motif and duality with Vologes(Thaen in this article) were always in mind.

Mothman wrote:


a minor theme of petrified creatures coming to life

Ironically I threw that and turtles in because I thought it was way way out on left field, heh.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for your answer Samuel, it’s something that’s been bugging me is all. It’s quite amazing how such similar ideas can germinate in isolation … for example, had I made it to the top 32, my three ideas for a country were one with zombie serfs and an earth-bound god, an island chain with sea elves and pirates, or a prison colony – none of which would have been as original as I would have hoped!

Anyway, I’ll say again, that I really enjoyed Yithnai – and the Migrus Locker! Good luck with the villain.

EDIT: cool map too man!

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

I agree. That map is really cool. I'll bet you're a great DM.


That is a handsome map. What did you use to make it?
I was just looking at the profantasy product. It looks awesome, but it's kinda expensive. I could have great fun with it, but I can't think of a way I could justify dropping several hundred bucks on it to myself.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6 aka Core

It was done using a hand sketch and Paint.net (free)

Here is an image to show how it was done
http://canecorpus.com/map.gif

1 - Scanned, made 2 color
2 - Apply semi-transparent layer parchment, full map
3 - The basic parchment background I used
4 - Apply another semi-transparent layer of the parchment, darker, for water
5 - What I used for forests
6 - Apply semi-transparent layer of forest for greenery. Erasing the unneeded bits. Manually paint in the small areas with green.
7 - Last semi-transparent layer, clean up colors - buildings, coasts, plains, badlands, etc.. Font it up (Treasure Map Deadhand) and stick a fork in it.

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