Nidal is effed up


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Liberty's Edge

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I've never had an easy time getting a grip on Nidal. The concept is funky and there's not much there to give an impression of what life is like in that nation. How the common person lives or what society is like.
But something else always bugged me about that, which I never realized until today.

The people of Nidal turned to Zon-Kuthon following the 1000 years of darkness caused by Earthfall.
Earthfall was –5293. The current year is 4715. Let's say Nidal made their pact as far after Earthfall as possible. That's still -4294.

The people of Nidal have been under the sway of the Umbral Court for over 9 thousand years.
In comparison, the oldest cities on Earth date to the 5300s BCE in Mesopotamia. That's 7000 years ago.

Nidal has been under the rule of the Midnight Lord for a hair under two millennium longer than all of recorded human history.
9000 years with no art or music under the rule the theocratic rule of a sadist god's clergy...

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

If you want to get a (slightly) better grip on life in Nidal, check out Nightglass, by Liane Merciel.

Other than that, yes. Nine thousand years of darkness.


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Ha. You just zeroed in on two of my least favorite things about Golarion: The apparent lack of technological advancement in a world over thousands of years and Nidal.

Liberty's Edge

Shaun wrote:
Ha. You just zeroed in on two of my least favorite things about Golarion: The apparent lack of technological advancement in a world over thousands of years and Nidal.

Well, tech was zeroed after Earthfall. So they've been civilized for maybe a thousand years longer than us. Plus they have magic slowing the need for progress.

So it's not *that* bad.


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Yeah, I don't agree that magic would slow technological advancement down as much as it has on Golarion, but I understand the argument.

Nidal on the other hand... The Sinobites needed a country, I guess? Totally ridiculous. It's one thing that I think should've been left out of the kitchen sink.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Ok. Consider that humanity was last reset around the end of the last ice age (or the start of our current interglacial period), when we lost an average of 100-200 miles of land off of every coastline in the world. This was about 12000 years ago. So this means.We actually have about a 2000 year advantage over them, putting them well ahead of us technologically and socially at that point in our history (approx. 0 AD/CE).


For me, it's not that Golarion isn't caught up with us, but rather that it seems internally chronologically truncated.

Let's take Cayden Cailean for example. He ascended to godhood just under 2000 years ago. Close enough so that a good chronological comparison to us is Antiquity. Yet, when Cayden is depicted in art, he looks basically like he's from modern Golarion. Iomedae is the same. She looks like a modern Golarionite in her depictions but ascended 1000 years ago. The equivalent to us of the Dark Ages.

Could you make the argument that the art represents them just wearing modern clothes for some reason? I guess you could but I don't know why you would. We don't depict historical characters in modern clothing generally. I wouldn't expect to see George Washington depicted dressed like Barack Obama unless it was a joke.

I take game world art to be actual "photographic" representations of how the character actually appears; not as artistic representations that someone in Golarion would actually look at, if that makes sense.


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

who says there is no art or music? It's just art and music dedicated to Zon-Kuthon. Also remember that ZK is also a source of nearly unlimited cosmic power!!! It makes staying in power a bit easier.


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Think "Clive Barker writes North Korea"

Liberty's Edge

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LazGrizzle wrote:
Think "Clive Barker writes North Korea"

This is today's winning quote. Get your internet points at the front of the store!

Liberty's Edge

j b 200 wrote:
who says there is no art or music? It's just art and music dedicated to Zon-Kuthon. Also remember that ZK is also a source of nearly unlimited cosmic power!!! It makes staying in power a bit easier.

I believe the campaign setting said it was banned. But I may be misquoting.


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Shaun wrote:


Could you make the argument that the art represents them just wearing modern clothes for some reason? I guess you could but I don't know why you would. We don't depict historical characters in modern clothing generally. I wouldn't expect to see George Washington depicted dressed like Barack Obama unless it was a joke.

Look at a lot of old religious art. In many cases the characters (like Jesus or Solomon) will be wearing mediaeval or renaissance clothing because that's what people expected.

But in any case, fashion is based partly on technology, so if the tech changes, why should the fashion? It's not as though there's only one style of clothing in PF art.


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Mudfoot wrote:


Shaun wrote:


Could you make the argument that the art represents them just wearing modern clothes for some reason? I guess you could but I don't know why you would. We don't depict historical characters in modern clothing generally. I wouldn't expect to see George Washington depicted dressed like Barack Obama unless it was a joke.

Look at a lot of old religious art. In many cases the characters (like Jesus or Solomon) will be wearing mediaeval or renaissance clothing because that's what people expected.

But in any case, fashion is based partly on technology, so if the tech changes, why should the fashion? It's not as though there's only one style of clothing in PF art.

Hell, you can look at art coming out of Korean churches and see Jesus and his followers represented as Asian people. Not to mention the most popular modern image of Jesus is as a fair-skinned fellow with blue eyes and light brown hair.

Tangentially, I imagine it takes a certain amount of artistic skill to churn out interesting-looking decorative torture devices.

Dark Archive

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Jester David wrote:
9000 years with no art or music under the rule the theocratic rule of a sadist god's clergy...

Graphic descriptions of nastiness.

Spoiler:
Art is the blemishes, scars, burn marks and bruises on the skins of the flayed sacrifices.

Or the performances given by the spasms and death throes of the victims of slow, week-long, ritual mutilations.

Music is the screams of the tortured, with properly timed punctures to the lungs and throath to obtain some nasty, otherworly sounds.

It's not YOUR art, but kuthonites like it. Sometimes a bit too much.
And they had close to ten thousand years to develop it, refine it, create styles and trends.

Stay away, or you may become art.

Grand Lodge

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Shaun wrote:

Ha. You just zeroed in on two of my least favorite things about Golarion: The apparent lack of technological advancement in a world over thousands of years and Nidal.

Do you understand that that was EXACTLY the case for most of Earth's history? In perhaps thirty five thousand years of human existence, many civilisations had innovations that died with them, because the things you take for granted, such as mass education, mass communication, cheap printing, the vectors which enabled technology to take off like a rocket in the 19th and later centuries DID NOT EXIST. About ninety percent of total technological and scientific progress was made in the lifetimes of you and your parents.

Prior to then technology and scientific progress was a mix of fitful isolated starts with frequent reverses... like the Dark Ages, and the burning of the Library of Alexandria, the collapse of civilisation on Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

The thing is Nidal isn't just a cult flourishing isolated in a jungle, it is a land that exists the way it does because of a compact made with a diety....whose influence and power are real.

It's the price that's the flipside of abundant magic, it's a lot easier to suppress and eliminate changes which would upset the applecart.


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Handaxe Beak wrote:
Hell, you can look at art coming out of Korean churches and see Jesus and his followers represented as Asian people. Not to mention the most popular modern image of Jesus is as a fair-skinned fellow with blue eyes and light brown hair.

In fact, back during the Renaissance nobles used to commission portraits of themselves as Jesus.

The one that caught on? The one whose face is still Jesus today all over the Western World?

Cesare Borgia.

The Exchange

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golem101 wrote:
Jester David wrote:
9000 years with no art or music under the rule the theocratic rule of a sadist god's clergy...

Graphic descriptions of nastiness.

** spoiler omitted **

It's not YOUR art, but kuthonites like it. Sometimes a bit too much.
And they had close to ten thousand years to develop it, refine it, create styles and trends.

Stay away, or you may become art.

Just had this thought: some of Kafka's work would fit right in in Nidal: "A Hunger Artist," "In the Penal Colony." Heck, a Kuthonite could have written "In the Penal Colony"!

Spoiler:
Knowing something about Kafka's background and predilections, he'd probably be writing Nidal fanfic if he were around today.


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Wakes up one morning and casts Baleful Polymorph.

Liberty's Edge

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LazarX wrote:

Do you understand that that was EXACTLY the case for most of Earth's history? In perhaps thirty five thousand years of human existence, many civilizations had innovations that died with them, because the things you take for granted, such as mass education, mass communication, cheap printing, the vectors which enabled technology to take off like a rocket in the 19th and later centuries DID NOT EXIST. About ninety percent of total technological and scientific progress was made in the lifetimes of you and your parents.

Prior to then technology and scientific progress was a mix of fitful isolated starts with frequent reverses... like the Dark Ages, and the burning of the Library of Alexandria, the collapse of civilization on Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Not really...

First, 35,000 is a long time for humans. We really didn't even start farming until 12,000 years ago. Prior to that there was still potentially other human subspecies running around. Heck, 35,000ya there was still Neandertal man.

The thing is, technological advancement never really stopped. There was no time the world went backwards. Bits of information and certain techniques were lost, but technology as a whole only ever progressed.

Things certainly declined in Europe following the collapse of Rome during the early Middle Ages (aka the Dark Ages) but the scientific and technological advancements just shifted to the Middle East and the rising Arabic empire. When that empire began to decline, the Europeans resumed discovery using the texts translated and preserved by the Arabs and various monks.

The best example of a culture decline would be the fall of various Chinese dynasties, as some were incredibly advanced. But their knowledge was seldom lost, just their ability or desire to use the technology.


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Jester David wrote:
The thing is, technological advancement never really stopped. There was no time the world went backwards. Bits of information and certain techniques were lost, but technology as a whole only ever progressed.

Actually: I'd have to disagree with this. Say our output per person as a species increased at an average rate of around 0.1% each year. That still means that our output as a species has increase on scales of 10^15 to ourselves 35000 years ago. Heck, considering our evident increase in the output of each person in the last century, and millenium beyond that - it becomes extremely questionable as to how advancement was not 0, or less at points of history.

Because otherwise, we care left concluding that even when we started farming, our productivity was absolutely negligible.

I'm badly abstracting gdp per capita growing during history in the above.

Shaun wrote:
Let's take Cayden Cailean for example. He ascended to godhood just under 2000 years ago. Close enough so that a good chronological comparison to us is Antiquity. Yet, when Cayden is depicted in art, he looks basically like he's from modern Golarion. Iomedae is the same. She looks like a modern Golarionite in her depictions but ascended 1000 years ago. The equivalent to us of the Dark Ages.

A possible reason is that deities in Golarion continue to have a presence and update fashions with the times. Considering this makes talking to worshippers not frequently involve discussions about the history of fashion, it seems plausible.

Executive Editor

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As Kalindlara mentioned, I think Nightglass does a wonderful job of illustrating what life is like in Nidal. But even then, that's for someone raised to the priesthood—a "normal" person's life in Nidal probably isn't all that different from a normal person's life in Cheliax. Just because your state-sponsored religion is based on pain and evil doesn't mean you don't still have a family, friends, a job, hobbies...

Honestly, North Korea's a little bit *less* believable to me than Nidal. But that's just my opinion. :P

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jester David wrote:
The thing is, technological advancement never really stopped. There was no time the world went backwards. Bits of information and certain techniques were lost, but technology as a whole only ever progressed.

Again... you're mistaking our time for the way the past operates. The "world" as a whole didn't move forward together until very recently in our species history. (and there are still plenty of areas that lag behind even today) Most advances were made in isolation, and died along with the civilizations that created them. We are still trying to rediscover certain ancient techniques, such as the building of ocean crossing reed boats, the construction techniques of Macchu Picchu, and the Pyramids of Egypt. And we're still working out the fine details on how the stones of Stonehenge were transported and erected....

(and no... ancient astronauts are not even in the running, in case you're going to ask)

Grand Lodge

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James Sutter wrote:

As Kalindlara mentioned, I think Nightglass does a wonderful job of illustrating what life is like in Nidal. But even then, that's for someone raised to the priesthood—a "normal" person's life in Nidal probably isn't all that different from a normal person's life in Cheliax. Just because your state-sponsored religion is based on pain and evil doesn't mean you don't still have a family, friends, a job, hobbies...

Honestly, North Korea's a little bit *less* believable to me than Nidal. But that's just my opinion. :P

With all respect, after reading the Nidal novels, life in Nidal sounds very much like how it was in the Pol Pot ruled Kampuchea (Cambodia for the average not up to speed American) illustrated in "The Killing Fields", whch was extremely horriffic for the average person, who lived in constant fear of the enforces showing up and dragging people away never to be seen again.


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Just realized that if Nidal has been like it is now for thousands of years (apart from the brief break in which Cheliax controlled it outright), this would be enough generations for significant biological evolution to occur in the people.

Grand Lodge

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Just realized that if Nidal has been like it is now for thousands of years (apart from the brief break in which Cheliax controlled it outright), this would be enough generations for significant biological evolution to occur in the people.

Please stop killing the catgirls.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Just realized that if Nidal has been like it is now for thousands of years (apart from the brief break in which Cheliax controlled it outright), this would be enough generations for significant biological evolution to occur in the people.

That would only work if you assume that there's no significant amount of population shift and outbreeding. Nidal isn't closed to other nations.


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^I would not expect much population exchange, since Nidal isn't going to let people other than Umbral Agents out willingly (otherwise they would become rather short on population), and nobody in their right mind would want to go into Nidal.


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LazGrizzle wrote:
Think "Clive Barker writes North Korea"

At least the scary bits are.

But I don't think the Umbral Court has a need for so much overt villainy. Zon Kuthon is upheld as the savior of the people. But its not like the shadows are walking in the sun. It's not like there's mass rallies for Zon Kuthon - maybe the oddly timed celebration in reverence of some cryptic astrological phenomenon, maybe there are some rather... violent ceremonies. But it's not an occultic terrordome of EVILZ (at least not openly). Zon Kuthon and his church is more weird than evil, imho.

I think Nidal is more the place where people just... disappear. There's nothing overtly menacing about most of the country, most of the time. But you know. Farmers gotta farm, sailors gotta sail, masons gotta lay bricks. People live ordinary lives. But they know. It's probably a fairly normal place most of the time, indistinguishable from rustic Taldor or Andoran. But... you know.

==

Heck, in Giantslayer, the players can travel to shadowy Pangolais for supplies and refits. It's not like even the heart of darkness is unwelcoming.

I haven't read the novel, but that's just my take on things from the Campaign Setting. Nidal is evil, but its masters have no need to be obtuse about it. They use scalpels, not cleavers.

The Exchange

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<sings>
Do you know the way to Pangolais?
I've been away so long, I may go wrong and lose my way.
Do you know the way to Pangolais?
I'm going back to lose my mind in Pangolais.
</sings>


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As others have mentioned, Nightglass does a fantastic job at this.

On the ground, it doesn't seem really that much different than living in any other dictatorship. The secret police are a little bit creepier, I guess.

But, on Earth, two things that often breaks dictatorships is a changing of the guard or the dictator becoming visibly weaker. Zon-Kuthon hasn't lost interest and, even if he declined in power, that likely wouldn't be visible to the citizens.

Even as outsiders, we can say Zon-Kuthon and the Umbral Court would be far harder to depose than any Earthly dictator. If some heroic adventurers took out the Umbral Court, the shadowcasters, the shadow giants, and a lot of kytons... they might have a chance.

So if you disagree with the guy that's been in power for ten thousand years, what do you do? Keep your head down, dream of leaving, and settle for petty rebellions.

Cheers!
Landon


When you have a kitchen sink setting like Golarion, everyone is going to have bits that they don't like. For some it's Nidal. Personally, I dislike Numeria and Thuvia. To each their own.


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Landon Winkler wrote:

As others have mentioned, Nightglass does a fantastic job at this.

On the ground, it doesn't seem really that much different than living in any other dictatorship. The secret police are a little bit creepier, I guess.

But, on Earth, two things that often breaks dictatorships is a changing of the guard or the dictator becoming visibly weaker. Zon-Kuthon hasn't lost interest and, even if he declined in power, that likely wouldn't be visible to the citizens.

Even as outsiders, we can say Zon-Kuthon and the Umbral Court would be far harder to depose than any Earthly dictator. If some heroic adventurers took out the Umbral Court, the shadowcasters, the shadow giants, and a lot of kytons... they might have a chance.

So if you disagree with the guy that's been in power for ten thousand years, what do you do? Keep your head down, dream of leaving, and settle for petty rebellions.

Cheers!
Landon

I agree, nothing sort of a crusade can clean up Nidal, even the aftermath of said crusade would be very difficult to deal with since even the nature of Nidal has been wrapped by Zon Kuthon's power.


The passage of time doesn't necessarily guarantee technological progress. Look at the technological disparity between the Europeans and the Native Americans when the two cultures met.

In other fictional worlds, such as Middle-earth and Westeros, technology seems to have stalled at the medieval era for thousands of years. No one minds.

And it may be that our technological leaps are the anomaly, perhaps due to outliers like Newton and Einstein.


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Ylem wrote:

The passage of time doesn't necessarily guarantee technological progress. Look at the technological disparity between the Europeans and the Native Americans when the two cultures met.

In other fictional worlds, such as Middle-earth and Westeros, technology seems to have stalled at the medieval era for thousands of years. No one minds.

And it many be that our technological leaps are the anomaly, perhaps due to outliers like Newton and Einstein.

Everywhere on Earth, at every point in history, humans have advanced as far as possible given the resources available. The Americas came up short on things like domesticable animals and plants, and Australia was even worse; being able to import everything from already-built-up areas just trumped the local developments.

In a world where magic both divine and arcane is a resource, I'd expect patterns to go a bit differently.

Project Manager

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My take on it, after reading Nightglass, was that if you're a fairly wealthy/powerful/important visitor, Pangolais is going to be odd and unsettling and probably not for the squeamish, but it's probably not going to be dangerous to you. It's civilized. It's just the dark side of civilization.

If you're a resident, though, it's oppressive and draining and fear-filled. It's lawful, but if you get on the wrong side of the law, even for something minor, you're going to be tortured to death, and people are going to enjoy watching that happen.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ylem wrote:

The passage of time doesn't necessarily guarantee technological progress. Look at the technological disparity between the Europeans and the Native Americans when the two cultures met.

In other fictional worlds, such as Middle-earth and Westeros, technology seems to have stalled at the medieval era for thousands of years. No one minds.

And it may be that our technological leaps are the anomaly, perhaps due to outliers like Newton and Einstein.

well... in Middle Earth, there's just no time for coal. ;-)

Golarion (and possibly Westeros as well) has no such excuses, but it's pretty easy to hand wave away Middle Earth's technological problems.

Grand Lodge

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Jessica Price wrote:
My take on it, after reading Nightglass, was that if you're a fairly wealthy/powerful/important visitor, Pangolais is going to be odd and unsettling and probably not for the squeamish, but it's probably not going to be dangerous to you.

Like if you're an important Chelaxian envoy? :)

Liberty's Edge

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Jester David wrote:
LazarX wrote:

Do you understand that that was EXACTLY the case for most of Earth's history? In perhaps thirty five thousand years of human existence, many civilizations had innovations that died with them, because the things you take for granted, such as mass education, mass communication, cheap printing, the vectors which enabled technology to take off like a rocket in the 19th and later centuries DID NOT EXIST. About ninety percent of total technological and scientific progress was made in the lifetimes of you and your parents.

Prior to then technology and scientific progress was a mix of fitful isolated starts with frequent reverses... like the Dark Ages, and the burning of the Library of Alexandria, the collapse of civilization on Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Not really...

First, 35,000 is a long time for humans. We really didn't even start farming until 12,000 years ago. Prior to that there was still potentially other human subspecies running around. Heck, 35,000ya there was still Neandertal man.

The thing is, technological advancement never really stopped. There was no time the world went backwards. Bits of information and certain techniques were lost, but technology as a whole only ever progressed.

Things certainly declined in Europe following the collapse of Rome during the early Middle Ages (aka the Dark Ages) but the scientific and technological advancements just shifted to the Middle East and the rising Arabic empire. When that empire began to decline, the Europeans resumed discovery using the texts translated and preserved by the Arabs and various monks.

The best example of a culture decline would be the fall of various Chinese dynasties, as some were incredibly advanced. But their knowledge was seldom lost, just their ability or desire to use the technology.

@JesterDavid:

In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte "Ability is nothing without opportunity."

Geniuses and potential innovators may indeed pop up in the quasi-Medieval societies of Golarion, but that does not mean that they will have the opportunity to develop their discoveries, or, indeed, discover anything at all. What good is it if you are potentially the most brilliant scientific or mathematical mind of your generation when you are, say, living in the serfdom caste and cannot leave your farm without your lord's permission? What good is it if you may be the greatest musical composer of all time when you have just been forced to join a levy and will be butchered as cannon fodder against the Orcish Hordes of Belkzen?

Going further, technological and scientific invention, innovation and progress is by no means an inevitability, nor is it evenly distributed when it occurs, as Human history certainly demonstrates. For example, Europe achieved incredible scientific and technological advances during the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods and up through the modern age. However, many other countries did not. Imperial China for example most advanced places on earth in terms of its riches, scholastic achievements and technology, especially when compared to medieval Europe. However, it basically stagnated, and was left behind. The farming techniques and systems of governance remained largely the same for millennia. The same goes for Japan under the various Shogunates. These two societies were essentially ossified and remained in a relatively stable state with only minor technological advances, only modernizing with the advent of foreign intrusion.

So with Nidal, I guess you could treat it like Tokugawa Japan: to an outside observer an incredibly insular, isolated society that accepts trade from other countries but has extremely strange, some might even say cruel and barbaric traditions. However, the people of Nidal do not see it as cruel, but the harsh necessities of surviving in a world of monsters, demons, and a gigantic world-destroying God trapped in the center of the world trying to escape and kill everyone and everything in creation.


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Shaun wrote:
Yeah, I don't agree that magic would slow technological advancement down as much as it has on Golarion, but I understand the argument.

I figure, when anyone smart enough can easily become a wizard or alchemist, there's probably a real deficiency in qualified "scientists". All the smart people just go and start reworking reality with their brains, and only the people dumb enough to not recognize a more practical medium for their intellect are left to try their hand at "science". :P


Jester David wrote:

I've never had an easy time getting a grip on Nidal. The concept is funky and there's not much there to give an impression of what life is like in that nation. How the common person lives or what society is like.

But something else always bugged me about that, which I never realized until today.

The people of Nidal turned to Zon-Kuthon following the 1000 years of darkness caused by Earthfall.
Earthfall was –5293. The current year is 4715. Let's say Nidal made their pact as far after Earthfall as possible. That's still -4294.

The people of Nidal have been under the sway of the Umbral Court for over 9 thousand years.
In comparison, the oldest cities on Earth date to the 5300s BCE in Mesopotamia. That's 7000 years ago.

Nidal has been under the rule of the Midnight Lord for a hair under two millennium longer than all of recorded human history.
9000 years with no art or music under the rule the theocratic rule of a sadist god's clergy...

i understand sort of nidal, reading Forlorn from ravenloft, it is like a semi version of it.


In some ways it's like the world of Night Raid.
The government is at the top of the food chain.
The middle class is expected to work hard and pay a lot of lip service to the government.
If you don't seem useful you get sacrificed.
If you are working in the jet mines, you get worked to death.
They are always recruiting enforcers to kill anyone or thing that might be part of a revolt.


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Goth Guru wrote:

In some ways it's like the world of Night Raid.

The government is at the top of the food chain.
The middle class is expected to work hard and pay a lot of lip service to the government.
If you don't seem useful you get sacrificed.
If you are working in the jet mines, you get worked to death.
They are always recruiting enforcers to kill anyone or thing that might be part of a revolt.

yeah, I don't see it that way.

I haven't read the novels, but just from going from the Inner Sea Campaign Setting, it doesn't seem that awful.

It's awful, and evil, for sure, but I don't see that evil being overtly malign to most Nidalese most of the time. IN canon, Zon Kuthon's people have been in charge for a long, long, long time. The capital is shady Pangolais, far from the population centers on the coast. In Giantslayer, characters are directed to go there as an option for re-supply. If it was really Pinhead all the time everywhere, it wouldn't look like that. It wouldn't be an acceptable partner for effete Cheliax - heck, it wouldn't have been tolerated when Cheliax was the sovereign and dominated by Aroden's church.

I think that Nidal's evil is much more subtle. Pinpricks, not cleavers. Suggestions, not orders. Rumor, not proclamation.

For most people in Nidal, everyday life probably isn't much different from the common folk in Cheliax or Taldor. BUT... it's in the background. Always. A shadowy haze on the fringes of one's peripheral vision. Andy, who disappeared from the village a few years ago and who someone saw in the mindless procession of the fatuous during the (apparently randomly named) Celebration of the Unknowable Eclipse last week. But... people pay their taxes, do their corvee to the Bleak Church of the Glorious Zon Kuthon, and get on with the business of life. Decent people try not to think about such things.

People disappear sometimes. Sometimes they come back. Sometimes they don't. But that's just a fact of life. Most people don't worry about it too much - the Salvation of Zon Kuthon comes to everyone, and the blessed see his Impaled Glory in this life.


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Yakman wrote:

*snip*

If it was really Pinhead all the time everywhere, ...
*snip*

I am so blinded by laughter I can barely write.

Right, I pretty much agree with Yakman on all accounts.
Nidal is a weird place and sometimes horrible/beautiful things happen to people, but the country is stable. It has existed for nine thousand years. Osirion, Shory, Jistka, Tekritanin, Taldan, Cheliax? Gone or failing. Nidal carries on. We are safe from outside threats because of Midnight Lord. Aroden, Cayden Cailean, Iomedae, Norgorber, Urgathoa, Nethys, Razmir? Upstarts and charlatans. Aroden shone like the sun, but now his light is out. The rest of those pretenders won't last. In Midnight Lord we trust. His darkness endures. Zonny-boy may not be a cuddly god, but anyone who tries to mess with His chosen people gets what is deserved (and more, since Zon-Kuthon is generous with His blessings). There is a sense of continuity and security in that.

Technology:

When I think about technology and Nidal, I get a mental image of a bunch of black-clad baldies looking disapprovingly at a chainsaw.
Baldy 1: "It is unholy. The Midnight Lord would never approve of such hastiness and lack of artistry."
Baldy 2: "Maybe it is not meant to cause pain?" is taken to the dungeons for heresy-correcting procedures.
Baldy 3: "I heard it is good at felling trees." is taken to Uskwood for heresy-correcting procedures.
Baldy 4: looks at the two vacant chairs. Yeppers. Unsanctioned it is, then.

Similar procedure for other inventions.
"But is it hurtful in a church-approved manner?"


The church is powerful, but it is not all-powerful. Otherwise there wouldn't be problems with Shelynites and Desnans. Unless the church believes that in order for Darkness to have meaning there needs to be an occasional glimmer of light... swiftly snuffed out.

Does Urgathoa have any foothold in Nidal? There are plenty of vampires and probably other undead horrors in there, but I get the feeling they are all Kuthites.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well,

ZK is all about the pain, right?

Pain begets sensation begets knowledge that one exists?

So in a manner similar to the Princess Bride... 'Life IS Pain. Anyone trying to tell you otherwise is not only trying to sell you something, they may also be a candidate for demonstrating it next holy day. Choose wisely'.


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In regards to the lack of tech advancement...

What's the use of, for example, finding out precise gravity acceleration, in a world where you can ignore it through magic, with no need to know anything technical about gravity itself and what physical laws you can counter it with? Or why should one strive to build an uber complex device that needs extremely careful maintenance to take a very long journey to another planet, when you can travel there more quickly, safely, easily and probably cheaply with magic?

Of course there will always be some curious mind doing scientific research (where by scientific here I mean real world scientific disciplines, but in the game world, magic is a science in its own right: something that can be verified and replicated). But it's only natural that those minds will always be in comparatively insignificant numbers, when you can manipulate the environment by knowing a different set of rules than the ones we attribute to technology, thus slowing tech progress down by a huge lot.

Also, four other things:
1) Reality+. There is a fundamental thing about fantasy settings: they (are supposed to) have all the laws and inner workings of our reality, plus the addition of magic and similar forces, which expand the total horizon of possible knowledge by ten times at the very minimum.
This means there are both a million more topics and less specialists dedicated to each single topic. For example, in our world, now in 2015, what do we know about all the planets of our solar system? A great deal of stuff, from a certain point of view, but from a pragmatic one, we know really little to nothing. In Golarion, instead, there is much more to know about them (since many of them are teeming with life and have active cultures), and a great deal of that is actually known. You see, maybe in Golarion not a single person has a remote grasp of quantum physics (actually, some do, but take the example for its purpose), but there are plenty of books filled with knowledge about other planets.

2) Gods+. In Golarion, in Middle-Earth, and in many other fantasy settings, the Divine is not only real, but overtly proven. This brings up so many issues that I wouldn't know where to begin, but I'll make an example regrding a tiny fraction of all that.
Galileo Galilei made observations that threw from the window everything the Church belived and wanted people to believe. That sparked a change that led to tech improvement. But that's because before that, no one knew the truth (well, let's not go into egyptian astronomy and other such things, here... fact is that those were left behind by western history and became sadly irrelevant). But in Golarion (and Middle-Earth) it is known already how the solar system works, that the Gods actually built it (unless they lie or have been deceived themselves, but that's another matter entirely), and so on. Because the Gods already revealed that. So, usually, there is no curiosity and no need to do certain kinds of research about it and (adding magic too, as written above) to develop certain techs.

3) Danger+. In our world, apart from random natural disasters, the only danger we have (or, for most of us, had) to face is wild beasts with little intelligence. Even when we had no better tools than a bone spear, a minimum of intellect allowed us to best wolves, lions and any other threat. That allowed us to build relatively safe roads (the biggest threat on them was Humans themselves), which then evolved to railroads and further. In Golarion and such, between two cities you tipically have the territory of at least one other species intelligent enough to cause many troubles, if they don't like you. For example, we could even assume that various techs for building trains have been discovered, but they just aren't applicable from a pragmatic point of view. It would be a huge waste of resources to build railroads, when Orcs/Goblins/Lizardfolk/[insert another thousand races, or any other fantasy horror] block them at some point and make all of your trains crash, even if surviving guards stop them from plundering the goods.

4) Out-of-the-box+. Apart from the fact that the sets of laws introduced by magic add a staggering amount of possibilities for thinking out of the box, even if we were discussing of non-magic alternate realities we should take away a fundamental flaw: the idea that our historical progression is more or less the only possible and natural one.
Go back in time several million years and move a rock one inch to the right. Maybe when you get back to the present, you'll have evolved intelligent grasshoppers driving flying cars.
Or, to be less hyperbolic, maybe if an ancestor of Newton died at young age rather than surviving to reproduce, today the world would be much different.
This to say that, as a small thing now can cause a big thing later, a whole set of different conditions can make for extremely more dramatic differences. By what kind of imaginary insight can we assume and give for granted that it is natural that a few millennia of history will absolutely lead to the same situation we have in our world? In some cases it may lead to far greater advancement, in others to far less. And if you add all the fantasy stuff to the equation, the result can be unbelievably wilder. Other than inherent effects due to the mere presence of the added variables, what do you know what kind of thinking people in such a setting might develop? They may be totally alien for one who lives in a non-magic world, leading to a totally different historical development.

So, in the end, no; the lack of tech advancement beyond a certain point over the course of extended periods of time doesn't bother me at all. It wouldn't for a non-fantasy alternate Earth, surely it won't for a fantasy world.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Astral Wanderer wrote:

In regards to the lack of tech advancement...

What's the use of, for example, finding out precise gravity acceleration, in a world where you can ignore it through magic, with no need to know anything technical about gravity itself and what physical laws you can counter it with? Or why should one strive to build an uber complex device that needs extremely careful maintenance to take a very long journey to another planet, when you can travel there more quickly, safely, easily and probably cheaply with magic?

Of course there will always be some curious mind doing scientific research (where by scientific here I mean real world scientific disciplines, but in the game world, magic is a science in its own right: something that can be verified and replicated). But it's only natural that those minds will always be in comparatively insignificant numbers, when you can manipulate the environment by knowing a different set of rules than the ones we attribute to technology, thus slowing tech progress down by a huge lot.

Also, four other things:
1) Reality+. There is a fundamental thing about fantasy settings: they (are supposed to) have all the laws and inner workings of our reality, plus the addition of magic and similar forces, which expand the total horizon of possible knowledge by ten times at the very minimum.
This means there are both a million more topics and less specialists dedicated to each single topic. For example, in our world, now in 2015, what do we know about all the planets of our solar system? A great deal of stuff, from a certain point of view, but from a pragmatic one, we know really little to nothing. In Golarion, instead, there is much more to know about them (since many of them are teeming with life and have active cultures), and a great deal of that is actually known. You see, maybe in Golarion not a single person has a remote grasp of quantum physics (actually, some do, but take the example for its purpose), but there are plenty of books filled with knowledge about other planets....

here's the easy out on tech advancement: WIZARDS, ELVES, TARRASQUES!

disbelief is already suspended. moving on.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I feel like the appropriate response to this thread would just be "Yep."


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Do you think they offer discounts to Kuthites who show their barbed chains at the door?!

The Exchange

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Gregor Samsa wrote:
Do you think they offer discounts to Kuthites who show their barbed chains at the door?!

Silly Gregor, the Kuthites probably WROTE that, and let others take credit for it. In Pain, Truth.


Nidal needs a book to justify why it exists when we have the Darklands and Nex and Geb. Personally, I think it could be very interesting, but it's got to do something none of those other places do.

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