Round 2: Design a country

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Karelzarath wrote:
Taliesin Hoyle wrote:
She could have charted a comet, but it is only very recently, with radio telescopes that we have been able to do so for comets that do not recur. Were she to track an asteroid, she would need powerful instruments to do so as they are fast and dark.
Or, y'know... divination magic? If she's looking for starmetal or whatnot, it wouldn't be all that difficult to divine the next impact location. Sheesh.

The language used was "study trajectory" and "chart course" which are not quite the same as "divined"

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 , Dedicated Voter Season 6

Some comments I've been typing up as the voting period went on:

Inspiration - I used a fairly basic trick for my inspiration, and based my writeup on the atoll I grew up on. Kwajalein is a large atoll (by some measures the largest) in the Marshall Islands, and home to a military testing range. Population figures were roughly based on the real atoll. The name is drawn from the Marshallese words for "calm" and "atoll", based on the "sheltering ring" title (since an atoll is a ring of islands that shelters the lagoon inside). No apologies if my translation is bad, since I mainly liked the sound.

I didn't keep the military aspect of the atoll, but I did keep the idea of the largest island being home to a primarily non-native population. Kwajalein island really does have an overcrowded neighboring island, Ebeye was the inspiration for my island Antata. Ebeye is one of the mostly densely populated areas on earth - 12,000 people in only 80 acres.

Kwajalein became a valuable military base because of its central location in the Pacific and its suitability for radar. I reasoned that both magical and celestial research would benefit from such a location in a fantasy world. The northern radar installation on Roi-Namur became a wizard's enclave, and the strict entrance requirements for that base were replaced by geases to ensure servants could not go against the wizards' will.

The missiles fired at Kwajalein gave me a seed for the meteor plotline. The real-world conditions of Ebeye added another. To this skeleton, I added the undersea communities, though unfortunately the detail was sparse due to the word limits.

Now on to some responses to the comments:
"I’m sure somewhere there is a tropical island with dinosaurs"

I’ll take the dings for the setting being overly core (in fact, that was one of my thoughts the evening after submitting). However, there are NO DINOSAURS lurking in the background :)


"The submission is marred considerably by overuse of the passive voice. Here's an example of passive construction that could be tightened, thus improving the essay:"

Ouch. Consider me schooled!


"Things I did not like: The pirate story hook. I know people love pirates, but I feel they are way overdone at this point."

Yes, it has been played a lot. This was one of my last additions, and ultimately went in because I needed some sort of external surface threat, and piracy fit too well.


"However, it exports food? Should that read 'fish'?"

Eluraelon sells fish, pork, breadfruit, coconut, pineapple and probably other foodstuffs to passing ships, some for immediate consumption, some to replenish stores. More than just fish, but that’s the largest part of the preserved food they sell. The other seafood in the area does not lend itself to preservation for travel.


"I had an issue with the 'food' for income thing also but only because it seems as though there would need to be LOTS of shipping to earn enough money/goods to keep a population of 27,000+ people in good stead. I know some of them are poor and would get the bottom of the barrel, etc. but something just doesn’t jive for me here.

You are absolutely correct that the shipping does not provide enough income to support the population. Most of the natives live off what they catch, pick and grow.


"Serving as servants."

Argh. I rewrote that sentence a number of times, and missed that I’d done that to it :)


"Bikini Atoll H bomb tests with merfolk."

Kwajalein is actually quite close to Bikini. I scuba dived on a ship in the atoll that had been in the Bikini blast, and sunk in the atoll Kwajalein in the process of being towed back to Hawaii.


"The names don't get me excited, really. I did think the tagline, "The Sheltering Ring," was pretty cool at first, but I had I imagined a group of islands that formed a circle or even a neatly circular-shaped bay punching into the coast of the mainland somewhere, but the description implies neither, so it's sort of lost on me."

I considered explaining more clearly what the defining features of an atoll were (a ring of coral islands that surround a now-subsided volcanic island), but that lost out to word count and trying to keep the entry exciting. The name could definitely have been tied into the text better.


"As an aside: Erik - is an alchemical blight helpful in your bid to see something other than a cancerous blight?"

That was my thought too :) Hey, it’s the only match for "alchemical blight" (including quotes) on google!


"27,000 people on a 4 mile x 2 mile island gives me the mental image of them stacked like cordwood"

That’s the atoll population, not the island, though I should have called that out more explicitly. I actually enlarged Eluraelon quite a bit from its real-world inspiration, Kwajalein island is only 3 miles long and a half mille wide – I thought people would think the real dimensions too small to live on :) The population density of Eluraelon Island is comparable to Ohio or Florida, 288 people per square mile.


"Their major export is food but the islands don't have enough resources to support their own inhabitants. This seems like an oversite; it could very well have turned into an opportunity for some good low-level adventure hooks."

I didn’t mean to suggest that the islands were too poor to support their inhabitants, but rather that they are on a sustenance level, with most having no luxuries or wealth. In a rewrite, I’d make sure that was clearly spelled out.


"But worse, the recovery of a meteor that's going to hit 100 miles away? Not great science there, cause if something actually recoverable is going to show up I'm not sure Eluraleon is going to survive it."

Nah, it’s not that big a meteor, though big enough to survive impact. Meteorites have been recovered in the ocean, though it’s rare. It does involve some fantasy to have it be large enough to be useful, and a lot of fantasy in being able to track it at all before it enters the atmosphere. We are dealing with a diviner, after all, not just an astronomer. Tilanta think she’s unbelievably fortunate to have tracked a meteor that will land so close, though of course that’s due to outside influence. The same ritual that is bring the meteor in is also going to protect it somewhat from ablation in the atmosphere.


"A meteor is a transitory phenomenon. A chunk of rock enters an atmosphere and burns up in a flash. It is a shooting star, nothing more or less. You cannot chart its course in its brief flash of being. She could have charted a comet, but it is only very recently, with radio telescopes that we have been able to do so for comets that do not recur. Were she to track an asteroid, she would need powerful instruments to do so as they are fast and dark."

Related to the above – it’s being tracked with divination magic, not a powerful telescope. The Seers are wizards and clerics for the most part. Unfortunately, additional details about their order were lost in editing for length. In hindsight, I should have worked in at least one more sentence about them under the country description. That adventure hook could probably use another sentence as well, but I had to keep it short. I wound up with the phrasing I used because anything more explicit wound up pretty unreadable. "Meteoroid" would be more correct, but it’s only the "meteor" part she ever sees, the rest is divination to determine where the falling star / meteor will start, and where it will land as a meteorite.

In hindsight, the meteor plot is a bit too much "peanut butter in the chocolate" as far as science fiction getting into fantasy goes. It’s not obvious enough where the physics ends and the magic begins. Ah well :)

Liberty's Edge

Hey Russ, there's some really well thought through stuff here - I'm particularly impressed by your analysis of population numbers and food supplies - things that I tend to be a bit hazy on when I'm world building.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 , Dedicated Voter Season 6

Let's make that subsistence, not sustenance. :)

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Yes, Russ, the alchemical blight was like a gift from the Flying Spaghetti Monster Himself.

Liberty's Edge

Well done Russ! Glad you made it through.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 , Dedicated Voter Season 6

Mothman wrote:
Well done Russ! Glad you made it through.

I couldn't have done it without the help of everyone who voted for me. I am deeply grateful, and hope you like my villain. Thanks, folks.

First let me say I am not a fan of elves especially sea elves and winged elves. However you put together a nation with a feasible reason for a race of sea elves to exist. I will say not much is done on nautical type of scenarios that garners much attention. I was impressed with the level of detail on the races and how all interact with each other. I also like the fact that instead of making it a rich nation with little reliance on trade, you made it one that could not exist without it. Can't wait to explore the ruins of this nation and prevent the Trident of Levithan from entering sahuagin web hands again.

If you use this submission as a basis I would really like to see your villian submission.

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