Core civilized Avistan areas are early 19th Century, it seems


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


I know this has been brought up before, but I wanted to take a look at this in a way that is not criticizing the decisions. And maybe Paizo staff, if I am very lucky, will comment.

Some of the key places seem pretty much to be operating - or at least have fashion, ships, and architecture - our of the early 19th Century. Especially via the artwork. I'll get back to that.

Andoran, Taldor, Ustalev, Galt, and others in "Civilized" Avistan seem to be early 19th C. in dress, in ships and in architecture.

Is this mostly an artifact of the art used in depicting the people and places? There's no getting around Andoran (post-revolutionary USA Northeast) and Galt (revolutionary France). But what about the others? It seems like maybe they have tech and some societal structures from that time period.

Paizo folks - Should we should be encouraging Taldane PCs to dress like Mr. Norell and Jonathan Strange, not Gandalf?


It's a result of the setting's creators picking themes and visuals they thought would make for a cool fantasy.

You can't really infer anything more about the setting from that, because it's a fantasy setting -- it's not consistent with real history.


No, its definitely a (mostly) C19th setting minus gunpowder and trains.
The Ustalav campaign book Rule of Fear and Carrion Crown AP is perhaps the most obvious and includes everything from symphony orchestras and ballet, pianos and violins, to factories, city policemen and investigation agencies, universities devoted to science, C19th prisons and lunatic asylums, "Mr/Mrs" titles, public museums, glasshouses, hotels and restaurants, auction-houses, C19th type secret societies, fashions, mass-produced novels, etc.


Well it is possible to over think this. After all blast furnaces popped up Europe in the 19th Century, but were actually around in China back in the 14th Century. The British in the 19th did not start dressing like Mandarins while the Mandarins did not start wearing waistcoats.

Also it should be pointed out that several things pointed out as '19th Century' did not spring up complete at that time. There were Ballerinas before 1800, as well as Violins, and to the untrained eye it can be hard to differentiate a 16th from a 19th Century ship.

Also a lot of this has to do with it being a fictional setting mostly intended to have an adventure. Ustlav is the way it is because someone wants to play Van Helsing. If someone is heart set upon playing a wizard in robes, they certainly can. Also a person that can litterally summon a demon to eat you, is probably going to be allowed eccentricities.


David Neilson wrote:
Also it should be pointed out that several things pointed out as '19th Century' did not spring up complete at that time. There were Ballerinas before 1800, as well as Violins, and to the untrained eye it can be hard to differentiate a 16th from a 19th Century ship.

This is true but all the different aspects combined create a certain feel. Personally I find it easier just viewing the setting (or at least large parts of it) as early C19th minus guns and trains. When you want to get a grasp of a setting its useful having some real-world era in mind as a rough, approximate foundation on top of which all the fantasy stuff is added.


Excepting that some people have guns. I am just saying that there are a wide variation of things. It really seems that culturally you get a lot more "Lankhmar" than anything. Take Ustalav you go from Gothic horror to just one country over you have people seriously using plate armor of a distinctly Gothic variety, and one more country over from that you have barbarians that look a lot like the Goths.


David Neilson wrote:
Excepting that some people have guns. I am just saying that there are a wide variation of things. It really seems that culturally you get a lot more "Lankhmar" than anything. Take Ustalav you go from Gothic horror to just one country over you have people seriously using plate armor of a distinctly Gothic variety, and one more country over from that you have barbarians that look a lot like the Goths.

Guns are (still) very much on the fringes as Alkenstar is tucked away in a remote corner of the African-equivalent continent. So, just as C19th Europe was vaguely aware of the kingdom of Ethiopia, they didn't interact with it in any meaningful way.

Of course without guns, you have antique metalic armors and weapons overlaid on top of the C19th stuff.

Molthune/Lastwall/Ustalav/Numeria-Sarkoris/Mendev is a bit confusing as it feels like C19th-nation-state/medieval-crusaders/C19th-nation-state/ancient-Rome-era-b arbarians/medieval-crusaders hop and skip.
Though I suppose the sophisticated Chinese empire was bordered by the barbarian hordes of Mongolia, so such radical shifts are possible because of factors like terrain, culture and history. Even if Avistan is a bit too crowded eye-to-eye for that to really make sense. I really like Golarion but I wish it flowed a bit smoother from one country to the next.


Jeven wrote:
David Neilson wrote:
Also it should be pointed out that several things pointed out as '19th Century' did not spring up complete at that time. There were Ballerinas before 1800, as well as Violins, and to the untrained eye it can be hard to differentiate a 16th from a 19th Century ship.
This is true but all the different aspects combined create a certain feel. Personally I find it easier just viewing the setting (or at least large parts of it) as early C19th minus guns and trains. When you want to get a grasp of a setting its useful having some real-world era in mind as a rough, approximate foundation on top of which all the fantasy stuff is added.

You're certainly within your rights to interpret the intent of the setting's creators however you like.

I personally believe the inclusion of these various technologies has more to do with the needs of dozens of disparate writers and hundreds of disparate modules. Sometimes a need arises for one of them to maybe include something thematic that might be anachronistic (whatever that means in a fantasy context).

Because of this, the setting technology will gradually drift forward in time, as more and more "anachronisms" are introduced.

Some have noted upthread that there's a tendency to see technological development as linear. In reality, there are many branches and cul de sacs. Even on modern earth it is possible to live your entire life in a region where the industrial revolution hasn't really changed daily life. We're all writing this on the internet, so we're a bit biased to see technology as a sum of progress, rather than a continuum upon one end of which we reside.

You can go ahead an label it as 19th century if you like, and perhaps that will be of some benefit, but you can't extrapolate anything about Pathfinder from knowledge of the 19th century. Some things they have, some things they don't. The only sure bet is that objects and themes from ANY period of history that are deemed "cool" by various freelance game writers are probably accounted for.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

With Occult Adventures and/or various similarly contemporary themed third party setting books coming out, it would certainly seem you could run Golarion as a 19th century setting. Darkmoon Vale makes for a good transplant to such a setting, for example.


Well either 19th Century or Thulsa Doom. So it can split either way there, making any of Occult classes seem ancient is just a swap of clothing and a bit of body paint.


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Golarion is a kitchen sink setting. It was designed that way from the start, so that the writers of adventures could write swords and sorcery, gothic horror, steampunk, sci-fi/fantasy blend, game of thrones, pirates, jungle exploration, arabian nights, egyptological tomb-raiding, wuxia samurai romance, epic plane-hopping demon-lord fighting, and urban intrigue with the same assumptions of religions, races, classes, equipment, organizations, etc.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David Neilson wrote:
Well either 19th Century or Thulsa Doom. So it can split either way there, making any of Occult classes seem ancient is just a swap of clothing and a bit of body paint.

Thulsa Doom beats Jane Austen any day of the week.

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