What are your hopes for a Tian Xia revisit / rewrite?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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There’s also a Tien-Min community in the Shackles, founded by self-exiled renegade samurai.


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I specifically hope that the nations of Tian Xia are grouped up into thematically/geographically cohesive metaregions a'la the Inner Sea.

There's 25-something nations/regions in there (though the precise number might change in 2e), which while not AS many as in the Inner Sea, would still be a lot to try and take in.

I don't know enough about Tian Xia or what Paizo plans to do with all those nations how they might be broken up, but it definitely feels like there's room for 5-7 regions, and hopefully enough nuance and variety to each.

I also hope that the introductory book to that region is called "Lost Omens Dragon Empires" or something along those lines, because LODE is a very aesthetically pleasing initialism.


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RiverMesa wrote:

I specifically hope that the nations of Tian Xia are grouped up into thematically/geographically cohesive metaregions a'la the Inner Sea.

There's 25-something nations/regions in there (though the precise number might change in 2e), which while not AS many as in the Inner Sea, would still be a lot to try and take in.

I don't know enough about Tian Xia or what Paizo plans to do with all those nations how they might be broken up, but it definitely feels like there's room for 5-7 regions, and hopefully enough nuance and variety to each.

I also hope that the introductory book to that region is called "Lost Omens Dragon Empires" or something along those lines, because LODE is a very aesthetically pleasing initialism.

Yeah, I adore the Meta-Regions concept, and want to se it exported. Seeing an “Old Razatlan” in Arcadia would make me giddy.

Shadow Lodge

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I cordially dislike the meta-region concept, and believe it obscures and ellides more than it illuminates.


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Paizo themselves declined to defend meta-regions as valid beyond ad hoc book organizing concept.
They specifically said they could be ignored for other purposes, that it was just book layout choice.
The given Inner-Sea meta-regions just aren't thematically or socio-historically coherent:

Belzen Orc culture extends into NE Varisia, and Belkzen itself is ancient Runelord desmesne.
Mammoth Lords hardly partake of high magic "Saga-dom" and end up isolated from Kellid kin in Broken Lands.
Broken Lands itself is bisected by Kellid (Numeria, Sarkoris) and non-Kellid lands (Brevoy, River Kingdoms).
Brevoy and River Kingdoms in fact would make more sense grouped with Galt which shares cultural and political ties,
(despite "ignorable" claim, they tied Aldori sword Commonality to all Broken Lands despite probably fitting Galt more than Numeria/Sarkoris)
Kellid lands being grouped together would be ideal forum for shared culture (and even highlighting usurpation of Mendev).
As mentioned, Galt really belongs with River Kingdoms, not "Shining Kingdoms" whatever sense that makes.
Kyonin and 5 Kings hardly have much to do with Taldor, Kyonin should either be with River Kingdoms or Encarthan group,
5 Kings with Druma in Encarthan group along with Greater Molthune and Ustalav (Razmiran either Encarthan or River Kingdoms)
ETC

They could try to use it for Tian-Xia, and maybe there is some cases where it works well, but that ignores plenty of cases where it doesn't work well. Why would Nagajor being grouped with anybody else be helpful? Why would Minata or Xa Hoi being grouped with anybody else be helpful? Zi Ha? etc. There is some that can work, but that doesn't mean it makes sense to impose ubiquitiously. Again, it was used as book organizing principle by which I understand it serves consisent page layout function, but that comes with expectation they have rougly similar number of "member" countries etc which just isn't thematically appropriate. I don't have problem with "country groups" being established but it should be on case-by-case basis in order to be thematically relevant.


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Quandary wrote:

Hmmm....

Besides Caldaru in/near Mwangi Expanse, Strix in SW Cheliax are also from Arcadia. (the Syrinx associated with them in Arcadia do pique my interest)
[EDIT: Ninja'd]

And considering the pretty overt "native american" vibe of Shoanti, it doesn't seem out of possibilities that Paizo could further ground their history as long ago coming from Arcadia... Similarly how other Thassilonian servitor caste (Varisians) were clearly suggested to derive from Vudra. I mean, they and their unique language have to come from somewhere, and it's not like their language/culture has been described as variant evolution of Azlanti AFAIK, so they had to come from non-Azlantis. If Runelords could gather Varisians from Vudra, why not Shoanti from Arcadia? They seem to also have contacted Tian Xia albeit with no specific ethnicity resulting from that.

I always saw the Shoanti as similar to whatever Native American groups they're inspired by because of similar conditions and not as much a connection to Arcadia. I do think that is an interesting thought though, it's not impossible.


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I honestly just hope MORE gets written about it, that's all.

Tian Xia is actually a lot more interesting than many East Asia inspired fantasy settings since its nations aren't just based on China and Japan (and maybe Korea). You can see mythological inspirations anywhere from Mongolia to Southeast Asia, and just like Avistani nations they aren't just obvious cultural expies. So if anything I'd like to see the purely fantastical elements of Tia Xia expanded in pretty much every region, including how they influence the local cultures. The Dragon Emperors of Xa Hoi is one of the coolest things I've seen in any fantasy setting.

That being said, certain cultural expies do come across a bit too on the nose by virtue of their glaring anachronism. Bachuan's political situation is pretty much modern day North Korea, especially considering their main conflict is with with their peaceful southern neighbor, the obviously Korea-inspired Hwanggot. That conflict feels especially jarring given that Hwanggot seems to take most of its inspiration from Buddhist Goryeo, which had its heyday in the 11th-13th century (correct me if I'm wrong here). Now I know that the Golarion setting had always been anachronistic and reference a lot of real life ideologies, but the anachronistic ideas are usually kept in check through fantastical naming conventions. For example, many aspects of Chelish nationalism is reminiscent of real life fascism, but that word is never used in any writing. Compared to how Bachuan is EXPLICITLY described as a communist state...

Shadow Lodge

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Frogliacci wrote:
For example, many aspects of Chelish nationalism is reminiscent of real life fascism, but that word is never used in any writing. Compared to how Bachuan is EXPLICITLY described as a communist state...

Communisms of various kinds long predate the modern-day Communist movement, and show up all over the world. Nor is Bachuan the only site of class struggle in the world, though the current staff likes to downplay it. Take this passage, from the wiki page on the history of Korvosa, describing the opening events of Curse of the Crimson Throne:

Quote:
The actual unrest and rioting in the street was caused by a basic breakdown of the social and economic relationships that keep a city going. Basic and skilled laborers, distraught by the thought of being ruled by a woman who obviously hated the lower classes, refused to work. With no one to unload cargo from ships and merchants caravans, Korvosa began to suffer food and supply shortages, leading to soaring prices for basic commodities, which only increased the anger among the city's poor. The most frightening thing, was that all of this happened within less than a day of the King's death.

If that doesn't describe a political mass strike, I don't know what would.

Nicolas Logue needs to be given more work.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Frogliacci wrote:
For example, many aspects of Chelish nationalism is reminiscent of real life fascism, but that word is never used in any writing. Compared to how Bachuan is EXPLICITLY described as a communist state...

Communisms of various kinds long predate the modern-day Communist movement, and show up all over the world. Nor is Bachuan the only site of class struggle in the world, though the current staff likes to downplay it. Take this passage, from the wiki page on the history of Korvosa, describing the opening events of Curse of the Crimson Throne:

Quote:
The actual unrest and rioting in the street was caused by a basic breakdown of the social and economic relationships that keep a city going. Basic and skilled laborers, distraught by the thought of being ruled by a woman who obviously hated the lower classes, refused to work. With no one to unload cargo from ships and merchants caravans, Korvosa began to suffer food and supply shortages, leading to soaring prices for basic commodities, which only increased the anger among the city's poor. The most frightening thing, was that all of this happened within less than a day of the King's death.

If that doesn't describe a political mass strike, I don't know what would.

Nicolas Logue needs to be given more work.

Communism itself isn't modern, but the highly authoritarian, nationalist, and secular communist state is. And my issue isn't that Bachuan is communist; it's that as written, we have a country based on modern communist North Korea being in conflict with a traditional, medieval fantasy version of Korea subbing in for South Korea. That's what's jarring about it.

I don't mind modernizing fantasy, and a great job was done in describing Korvosa as having early industrial era conflicts. I just don't like it when modern and medieval concepts are put right next to each other in a way that doesn't seem fully justified by lore.

Again, there needs to be more information actually written about Bachuan, Hwanggot, and Tian Xia as a whole for the knee-jerk reaction of "modern North Korea in 1200s Asia" to subside.

Liberty's Edge

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Not just in number of casters. Their most advanced practicioners of arcane magic are about ten thousand years out of date, and their most advanced institutions of learning do little more than scrape at the crumbs left behind by those figures' contemporaries. The Magaambya, Nex, and Geb are literally (not figuratively) Ages ahead of them.

They're really not. Geb, personally, is in a league of his own, Inner Sea area-wise, but even there Baba Yaga almost certainly equals him (she's just not so much in the Inner Sea), and it's not like he's best known for sharing his magic.

The rest are probably better on average than the Arcane casters of Avistan, on average, but the difference isn't nearly as large as you're implying. One Pathfinder Tales story has a Magaambyan (or, at least, a Mwangi mage who clearly studied in that area of the world) attend the Academae in Korvosa. He certainly doesn't experience difficulties academically (culturally is another matter), but he's not miles ahead of all his classmates either. Or the Golemworks in Magnimar (not exactly a sign of being magically backward), or the Technomancers of Numeria (many of whom are extremely potent spellcasters as well as having resources conventional magic can't touch).

And then, of course, there are the Jadwiga. Who aren't nice by any means, but are every bit the profound arcane power that Nex is (and likely have even more casters per capita). Or the resurgent New Thassilon, who in Sorshen have the second most powerful arcane caster in the Inner Sea region and a long and impressive (if bloodsoaked) magical tradition...I mean, yes it's 10,000 years old, but it's not outdated, it's ancient lost knowledge much of which was never rediscovered outside Thassilon.

But really, all that's secondary because I wasn't talking about arcane casters at all for the important bit, which is that arcane magic aside they have a number of extremely skilled and impressive people, as well as probably greater natural resources than Northern Garund (for certain values of 'natural', anyway). Garund certainly doesn't come up short in comparisons in terms of technology and competence, but neither does Avistan.


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Actually, thanks for reminding me about one thing I'd love for a Tian-Xia revisit, that being pretending Bachuan never existed.

Hyperbole aside, I also find the anachronism to be jarring and not particularly interesting. And it seems like whoever was writing it just took every stereotype and misconception about communism under the sun, added some aspects of modern North Korea, and called it a day (the PathfinderWiki article reads like every "why communism never worked" argument I've ever seen). Between that and Andoran's portrayal as an overly-idealized fantasy USA (another out of place analogue), I sometimes wonder if some Cold War era propagandist has brainwashed the writers...

I hate to be so negative--Golarion/Lost Omens is easily one of my favorite fantasy RPG settings--but there are some things in it that really don't work for me, and this is one of them.

Shadow Lodge

Darth Game Master wrote:

Actually, thanks for reminding me about one thing I'd love for a Tian-Xia revisit, that being pretending Bachuan never existed.

I hardly think retconning what was a popular socialist revolution (the most advanced thing to come out of the revolutions at the beginning of the Age of Lost Omens), no matter how it ended up, is better.


well how popular was it?
I don't ever recall alot of people on the forum talking about it not that I haunted teh forum here ever

Shadow Lodge

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Steelfiredragon wrote:

well how popular was it?

I don't ever recall alot of people on the forum talking about it not that I haunted teh forum here ever

Popular among the fictional people living in the fictional country, not necessarily among the presumably real people in Paizo's audience.

In fact I suspect the vast majority of Paizo's audience are not impotent far-leftists looking for an outlet for political wish-fulfillment. A far larger percentage are likely impotent far-rightists looking for an outlet for political wish-fulfillment, given the demographics of the hobby as a whole.


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Darth Game Master wrote:

Actually, thanks for reminding me about one thing I'd love for a Tian-Xia revisit, that being pretending Bachuan never existed.

Hyperbole aside, I also find the anachronism to be jarring and not particularly interesting. And it seems like whoever was writing it just took every stereotype and misconception about communism under the sun, added some aspects of modern North Korea, and called it a day (the PathfinderWiki article reads like every "why communism never worked" argument I've ever seen). Between that and Andoran's portrayal as an overly-idealized fantasy USA (another out of place analogue), I sometimes wonder if some Cold War era propagandist has brainwashed the writers...

I hate to be so negative--Golarion/Lost Omens is easily one of my favorite fantasy RPG settings--but there are some things in it that really don't work for me, and this is one of them.

I don't think a full and complete retcon is a good idea. What would be more interesting is if Bachuan is rewritten more sympathetically as an anti-monarchist state struggling to maintain its unconventional style of rulership. Make the Sun Chamber a council of clan leaders from the lower and middle classes of Lung Wa, who have great ideas about equality of status and wealth but neither the infrastructure nor the unity to maintain power for long; make Grandfather Pei religious, as there are plenty of Lawful and/or Good deities in Golarion that would support this philosophy; and make Grandmother Pei an explicit tyrant who just wants to be empress under a different name, hence opposing the will and wish of the nation's own people. That would make Bachuan hugely different from the stereotypical portrayal of modern communism, in line with the high fantasy flavor of Tian Xia, and keep the country's theme of a peasant revolution against oppressive monarchy. Basically, make them a traditionally agrarian and communal culture of rural clans that just want a simple life under self governance independent from nobility (ie. they're still communist, but their communism arises from ancient agrarian traditions rather than the revolution itself). However, even maintaining this way of life is exceedingly difficult, as those with imperialist ambitions threaten them from both within and without.

Finally, there's literally no reason why they should have problems with Hwanggot. Make their worst enemies aquatic demons that crawl out of Shenmen's waters or something.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
In fact I suspect the vast majority of Paizo's audience are not impotent far-leftists looking for an outlet for political wish-fulfillment. A far larger percentage are likely impotent far-rightists looking for an outlet for political wish-fulfillment, given the demographics of the hobby as a whole.

I recommend leaving real life political vitriol out of this discussion to prevent this whole thread from being locked.


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I wasn't serious about actually retconning it, as I said, that was hyperbole. Actually pretending that Bachuan never existed wouldn't make any sense, though a more nuanced depiction of it could perhaps be better. Not necessarily fixing everything, but at least making it more than just a one-dimensional caricature of historical communist nations dropped into a fantasy world. I think your ideas are a great way to do so.


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Darth Game Master wrote:
I wasn't serious about actually retconning it, as I said, that was hyperbole. Actually pretending that Bachuan never existed wouldn't make any sense, though a more nuanced depiction of it could perhaps be better. Not necessarily fixing everything, but at least making it more than just a one-dimensional caricature of historical communist nations dropped into a fantasy world. I think your ideas are a great way to do so.

Thank you! Now let's hope there are developers watching this thread and taking notice.

Part of the reason I wrote it this way is that, browsing through the Dragon Empires Gazetteer, I'm surprised to find out that Tian Xia doesn't actually have a traditionalist agrarian nation with terraced rice paddies with karsts and winding rivers. I mean that kind of geography probably exists here and there, but I'm more thinking of the trope of an idyllic, harmonic, and spiritually-attuned (usually in the form of ancestor worship) people that appears in every East Asian fantasy setting that's written by East Asians. The kind of simple folk that thrive peacefully under good kings, but rise up in arms against bad ones, as dictated by the common ancient Chinese belief in the Mandate of Heaven. Given the history of Bachuan, I can easily see their traditional culture being one of rustic simplicity and content; but years of oppression under late Lung Wa emperors followed by warring bandit lords could make them completely disillusioned in the idea of any monarch being worthy of the Mandate of Heaven.

Besides, a formerly abused peasantry trying to shake off oppression and live up to an idealized vision of their culture while fighting against monsters and wannabe emperors alike is the kind of stuff that attracts both adventurers in universe, and players in real life.


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vagrant-poet wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
NotBothered wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:


Don't put white people on continents other than your Europe analogue, kids, it never, ever ends well.

I think Golarion must be one of the few game worlds I've seen where a US-ish expy is actually in "Europe".

I prefer to think of Andoran as a hypothetical Mazzinist Italy.

That's a cool interpretation. Also because American exceptionalism is a hell of drug, all fantasy republics are seen as the USA and therefore the good guys*. So I like the idea of a alt-Mazzinian Italy as inspiration. Fits a lot better, if nothing else because Andoran is part of the old world, and the nobility and imperial powers are still their neighbours.

*Not just by fans, Paizo writes with some of that. Even if it is a case of freelancers adding tones that weren't intended by Jacobs et al.

This isn't related to the main topic but I thought this was kind of funny since Andoran's politics and relationship to the larger world is extremely American and can essentially be described as "Andoren Exceptionalism". Their entire thing is being the shining beacon of democracy to the rest of the world and spreading their values, by diplomacy if possible or by subterfuge if diplomacy doesn't work the first time. It's quite a bit more justifiable in a region where your most influential authoritarians are a woman who entered a dark pact with the lord of Hell and a lich but the Eagle Knights do smell a bit like the CIA.

As for the main topic... I admit I know very little about Tian Xia and outside of how it relates to western history the history of Asia is an embarrassing gap in my knowledge base. I think a large part of why we get so much Inner Sea-centrism is that many aspects of the Age of Lost Omens are based on the early stages of European imperialism; maybe we could just do... less of that? Establish more legitimate powers in other regions that indulge in the same level of epic fantasy superiority you see out of the main players in the Inner Sea.

Also maybe make it so that the next Tian Xia AP involves you playing characters that are from the region any interest in playing Jade Regent I get out of my friends immediately drops when they find out you start in Varisia


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Arachnofiend wrote:


Also maybe make it so that the next Tian Xia AP involves you playing characters that are from the region any interest in playing Jade Regent I get out of my friends immediately drops when they find out you start in Varisia

I completely agree, Jade Regent takes too long to get to where you want to be. A future Tian Xia AP really needs to start somewhere in the region.


How about a development that sees Bachuan take over Amanander, leading to widespread protests over their loss of autonomy and brutal crackdowns from the Tiger Youth Brigade?

Shadow Lodge

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martinaj wrote:
How about a development that sees Bachuan take over Amanander, leading to widespread protests over their loss of autonomy and brutal crackdowns from the Tiger Youth Brigade?

Topical, but doesn't really work with the geography. About the only country that can play China to Amanandar's Hong Kong is Shokuro.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

The Caldaru from Arcadia have a colony in northern Garund, so it is not just the Avistani going out and colonizing the rest of the world.

Is it a colony if it was so long in the past that you don’t remember where you car from, and have had 0 contact with the homeland for thousands of years?

Yes. The colonial legacy is indelible.

Re: an earlier point, it occurs to me that there is an Arcadian population on Avistan - the strix of Devil's Perch and Ravounel Forest. Though they were probably planted by long-gone (from Avistan) masters and are today an oppressed people under the Chelish Taldans.

And there are fairly substantial Tien communities in the Linnorm Kingdoms down into Varisia, as well as Mendev. Brinewall was originally a colony of Minkaian exiles, though it failed and is today an outpost of New Thassilon.

Where are Tiens in Mendev mentioned?

Shadow Lodge

Ianesta wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

The Caldaru from Arcadia have a colony in northern Garund, so it is not just the Avistani going out and colonizing the rest of the world.

Is it a colony if it was so long in the past that you don’t remember where you car from, and have had 0 contact with the homeland for thousands of years?

Yes. The colonial legacy is indelible.

Re: an earlier point, it occurs to me that there is an Arcadian population on Avistan - the strix of Devil's Perch and Ravounel Forest. Though they were probably planted by long-gone (from Avistan) masters and are today an oppressed people under the Chelish Taldans.

And there are fairly substantial Tien communities in the Linnorm Kingdoms down into Varisia, as well as Mendev. Brinewall was originally a colony of Minkaian exiles, though it failed and is today an outpost of New Thassilon.

Where are Tiens in Mendev mentioned?

The eastern terminus of the Path of Aganhei empties out around there, it stands to reason there are some.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
vagrant-poet wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
NotBothered wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:


Don't put white people on continents other than your Europe analogue, kids, it never, ever ends well.

I think Golarion must be one of the few game worlds I've seen where a US-ish expy is actually in "Europe".

I prefer to think of Andoran as a hypothetical Mazzinist Italy.

That's a cool interpretation. Also because American exceptionalism is a hell of drug, all fantasy republics are seen as the USA and therefore the good guys*. So I like the idea of a alt-Mazzinian Italy as inspiration. Fits a lot better, if nothing else because Andoran is part of the old world, and the nobility and imperial powers are still their neighbours.

*Not just by fans, Paizo writes with some of that. Even if it is a case of freelancers adding tones that weren't intended by Jacobs et al.

This isn't related to the main topic but I thought this was kind of funny since Andoran's politics and relationship to the larger world is extremely American and can essentially be described as "Andoren Exceptionalism". Their entire thing is being the shining beacon of democracy to the rest of the world and spreading their values, by diplomacy if possible or by subterfuge if diplomacy doesn't work the first time. It's quite a bit more justifiable in a region where your most influential authoritarians are a woman who entered a dark pact with the lord of Hell and a lich but the Eagle Knights do smell a bit like the CIA.

As for the main topic... I admit I know very little about Tian Xia and outside of how it relates to western history the history of Asia is an embarrassing gap in my knowledge base. I think a large part of why we get so much Inner Sea-centrism is that many aspects of the Age of Lost Omens are based on the early stages of European imperialism; maybe we could just do... less of that? Establish more legitimate powers in other regions that indulge in the same level of epic fantasy...

As a non-American myself, I actually don't mind the way Andoran is written. The only thing it has in common with America is its democratic exceptionalism, which like you said makes a lot of sense in this context. It also helps that being in the Old World effectively makes it difficult to add too many American parallels. The lack of colonial conflicts and sharing a land border with both its founding nation and its conquerors (Taldor and Cheliax respectively) makes it sufficiently different from early modern America for me.

As for the topic of imperialism...I completely agree and find it rather disappointing how many adventure paths see characters from central or western Avistan solve problems in "far off lands" everywhere else. It's not just Jade Regent; we also see that in Serpent's Skull, Mummy's Mask, Reign of Winter, and Ruins of Azlant. While it's kind of impossible to be a local in that last one, the game still makes it very hard to play an explorer from Arcadia rather than Avistan....

Even before Pathfinder, we already have a WHOLE LOT of adventures based on European-analogues exploring and colonizing "exotic foreign lands". In fact, that's pretty much EVERY adventure written that doesn't take place in the Europe-equivalent land itself.

There's plenty of other ways to write exciting and unusual places for PCs to explore and feel out of place. What about the Planes or the Darklands? I can see a lot of fun in the challenge of trying to maintain, say, a mining colony on a floating magic rock in the Astral Plane that happens to have a naturally occuring gate to Golarion. Alternatively, why not play as Darklands natives trying to make it on the surface while preventing a Robvagug-related catastrophe? Aquatic refugees having to blend in on land and save ignorant landlubbers from Aboleths? There are plenty of ways to make world-saving adventurers strangers in a strange land without invoking real life colonial tropes. Players love unconventional characters; just look at how popular non-core races are and the demand for sourcebooks covering lands outside of the Inner Sea.

Like I know you can easily play a Tian character in Wrath of the Righteous and save Avistan from demons, or a Mwangi explorer in Hell's Rebels and liberate a city from oppressors, so it's not impossible to invert the trope. It's more that the assumption of every adventure path period is that all the characters ARE European-fantasy characters, and if you're not of a European-inspired culture you're clearly an immigrant. It gets repetitive.

Shadow Lodge

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Frogliacci wrote:
As a non-American myself, I actually don't mind the way Andoran is written. The only thing it has in common with America is its democratic exceptionalism, which like you said makes a lot of sense in this context. It also helps that being in the Old World effectively makes it difficult to add too many American parallels. The lack of colonial conflicts and sharing a land border with both its founding nation and its conquerors (Taldor and Cheliax respectively) makes it sufficiently different from early modern America for me.

As an American, I don't see very much that actually resembles the early United States in Andoran other than the soldiers' uniforms. And those are generally late-eighteenth century (an aesthetic which is shared by Andoran's Taldan neighbors). Even the eagle motif is not uniquely American; contemporary Germans, Italians, and Slavs all used it.

The early United States was not abolitionist the way Andoran is (the suggestion is laughable and doesn't need to be further addressed), nor was it radically democratic in the way Andoran is. Andoran doesn't pussyfoot around with indirect election or property requirements or grades of representation or federalism, but has a unified national assembly with universal suffrage. It has representation for industrial sectors as well as territories, something the United States never had. Andoran undertook land reform as part of its revolution; the patroon system survived in New York into the 1840s, and the plantation systems in the American South survived until the postwar period. The United States was also extremely skittish about exporting democracy in the face of other powers' opposition in a way Andoran is not (see, for example, its inaction with respect to Hungary in 1848, or with respect to Spanish America where it did nothing until Britain started sponsoring the revolutionaries, and then tailed Britain). Andoran is also ahead of the curve of the United States in claiming overseas colonies, though this is due to being in the "old world" and not having a bunch of cheap, recently-depopulated land to colonize.

It's for all these reasons that I far prefer the comparison to mid-nineteenth-century (1830s - 1860s) European radical democracy, with its proto-nationalism, proto-socialism, and proto-imperialism. It fits what's actually shown much better.

Quote:
Reign of Winter

I actually think this example is inapt. The "far-off lands" on Golarion to which the PCs travel are in Avistan and adjacent to Avistan respectively, and Artrosa is a dungeon in the wilderness where few Iobarians ever go. It's not like the foreigners are stepping in to solve a social problem. And anyone from Golarion would be a foreigner on Triaxus or Earth; there is no functional difference between using these settings and using an outer plane as you suggest for an unproblematic alternative.

I also don't agree with the approach of erasing or retconning imperialism. I'd find it far more interesting to 1) have it portrayed accurately and 2) reckon with it.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
It's for all these reasons that I far prefer the comparison to early-nineteenth-century European radical democracy, with its proto-nationalism, proto-socialism, and proto-imperialism. It fits what's actually shown much better.

European radical democracy is how I'm seeing it too. Fits the geopolitics a lot better. And mythologically speaking, Andoran's most common supernatural natives are fey. Loggers and early industrialists dealing with the Fair Folk on their lands is an incredibly European style of folklore as well.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:

I actually think this example is inapt. The "far-off lands" on Golarion to which the PCs travel are in Avistan and adjacent to Avistan respectively, and Artrosa is a dungeon in the wilderness where few Iobarians ever go. It's not like the foreigners are stepping in to solve a social problem. And anyone from Golarion would be a foreigner on Triaxus or Earth; there is no functional difference between using these settings and using an outer plane as you suggest for an unproblematic alternative.

I also don't agree with the approach of erasing or retconning imperialism. I'd find it far more interesting to 1) have it portrayed accurately and 2) deal with it.

I haven't played much of Reign of Winter, but the DM quoting the part in the first book about how it's not appropriate to play an Irriseni in this game is what made me add this example (the story starts in Taldor and then goes to Irrisen). I fully agree about the latter parts where you travel off to other planets though -- that's exactly the type of weird I do want to see more of.

I don't think anyone needs to retcon imperialism. Stories that's already been written can stay in the world. I just mean that going forward, I'd like to see new adventure paths set in foreign lands default to the PCs being natives of that land. A new Mwangi themed adventure paths should encourage PCs to play Muwangi humans, wild elves, and jungle half-orcs, for example, and an adventure path in Arcadia would give campaign backgrounds for actually being Arcadian.

Shadow Lodge

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Frogliacci wrote:
I haven't played much of Reign of Winter, but the DM quoting the part in the first book about how it's not appropriate to play an Irriseni in this game is what made me add this example (the story starts in Taldor and then goes to Irrisen).

I actually think it doesn't make sense for the story of the AP to play an Irriseni, quite apart from the fact that the AP starts in a foreign country. Elvanna's plan in Reign of Winter is to freeze the world - that is to say, to bring the rest of Golarion to the state in which Irrisen already finds itself. Her plan would make little to no material difference to an Irriseni's life, and things would continue on as before - bleakly, but bearable. For almost literally anyone else (with the exceptions basically of people from the Crown of the World), it's a mortal threat.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Frogliacci wrote:
I haven't played much of Reign of Winter, but the DM quoting the part in the first book about how it's not appropriate to play an Irriseni in this game is what made me add this example (the story starts in Taldor and then goes to Irrisen).
I actually think it doesn't make sense for the story of the AP to play an Irriseni, quite apart from the fact that the AP starts in a foreign country. Elvanna's plan in Reign of Winter is to freeze the world - that is to say, to bring the rest of Golarion to the state in which Irrisen already finds itself. Her plan would make little to no material difference to an Irriseni's life, and things would continue on as before - bleakly, but bearable. For almost literally anyone else (with the exceptions basically of people from the Crown of the World), it's a mortal threat.

Irresani, even the Jadwiga, are not genetically loyal to the Queen.

Liberty's Edge

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I actually agree with zimmerwald1915 on this one.

It's not that someone from Irrisen would be loyal, it's just that the threat you're trying to stop is gonna seem a lot less severe to people from Irrisen than it does to everyone else. Now, you also have more reason if anything to hate Elvanna, so that balances it out a bit, so it certainly could make sense under the right circumstances.


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It's about the why someone from Irrisen would be in the middle of nowhere in Taldor that I find tough to explain.

Still, if a player came up with a creative enough answer to that I'd go with it.


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Frogliacci wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
vagrant-poet wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
NotBothered wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:


Don't put white people on continents other than your Europe analogue, kids, it never, ever ends well.

I think Golarion must be one of the few game worlds I've seen where a US-ish expy is actually in "Europe".

I prefer to think of Andoran as a hypothetical Mazzinist Italy.

That's a cool interpretation. Also because American exceptionalism is a hell of drug, all fantasy republics are seen as the USA and therefore the good guys*. So I like the idea of a alt-Mazzinian Italy as inspiration. Fits a lot better, if nothing else because Andoran is part of the old world, and the nobility and imperial powers are still their neighbours.

*Not just by fans, Paizo writes with some of that. Even if it is a case of freelancers adding tones that weren't intended by Jacobs et al.

This isn't related to the main topic but I thought this was kind of funny since Andoran's politics and relationship to the larger world is extremely American and can essentially be described as "Andoren Exceptionalism". Their entire thing is being the shining beacon of democracy to the rest of the world and spreading their values, by diplomacy if possible or by subterfuge if diplomacy doesn't work the first time. It's quite a bit more justifiable in a region where your most influential authoritarians are a woman who entered a dark pact with the lord of Hell and a lich but the Eagle Knights do smell a bit like the CIA.

As for the main topic... I admit I know very little about Tian Xia and outside of how it relates to western history the history of Asia is an embarrassing gap in my knowledge base. I think a large part of why we get so much Inner Sea-centrism is that many aspects of the Age of Lost Omens are based on the early stages of European imperialism; maybe we could just do... less of that? Establish more legitimate powers in other regions that indulge in the same

...

Agreed with all of this. Honestly, it's partially because of the significant differences in situation that I find Andoran's American coding so out of place.

Shadow Lodge

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NotBothered wrote:
It's about the why someone from Irrisen would be in the middle of nowhere in Taldor that I find tough to explain.

Solveig traveled far afield from the Linnorm Kingdoms to Cheliax and thence to Whitethrone. And Heldren contains at least one Waldsby native with relatives in Waldsby. Travel out of Irrisen is not hard to justify, if you want to.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I try to come in from the cold, and cold keeps dragging me back out...


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My character for that game is half Jadwiga, half Taldane. Her mother is a minor noble who escaped Irrisen because her own sister wanted to murder her. My character gained a hatred of Irrisen's nobility and Elvanna's reign through her mother.

But anyway that's beside the point. Even if the "foreign savior" trope doesn't apply to Reign of Winter since the villain threatens the whole world and much of the game takes place on other planets, it doesn't mean there aren't other adventure paths that fit the description. Overall, I just feel like exotic locales don't need foreign adventurer heroes from "core" regions to be the default, even without implications of imperialism such as the case of Reign of Winter. Local characters are just as, if not more, easy to integrate into these stories, because players are also far more engaged in defeating threats in a region if they have family, business, or factional ties to that land. As a DM I certainly prefer if players choose Korvosa locals for Curse of the Crimson Throne, or Taldane nobility for War for the Crown, or Chelish nationals for both Hell's Rebels and Hell's Vengence. It just makes the core conflict more relevant for everyone.

Furthermore it allows Paizo to publish new player options for these characters. Who doesn't love player options?


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Frogliacci wrote:

My character for that game is half Jadwiga, half Taldane. Her mother is a minor noble who escaped Irrisen because her own sister wanted to murder her. My character gained a hatred of Irrisen's nobility and Elvanna's reign through her mother.

But anyway that's beside the point. Even if the "foreign savior" trope doesn't apply to Reign of Winter since the villain threatens the whole world and much of the game takes place on other planets, it doesn't mean there aren't other adventure paths that fit the description. Overall, I just feel like exotic locales don't need foreign adventurer heroes from "core" regions to be the default, even without implications of imperialism such as the case of Reign of Winter. Local characters are just as, if not more, easy to integrate into these stories, because players are also far more engaged in defeating threats in a region if they have family, business, or factional ties to that land. As a DM I certainly prefer if players choose Korvosa locals for Curse of the Crimson Throne, or Taldane nobility for War for the Crown, or Chelish nationals for both Hell's Rebels and Hell's Vengence. It just makes the core conflict more relevant for everyone.

Furthermore it allows Paizo to publish new player options for these characters. Who doesn't love player options?

One of many reasons I’m giddy to see Mualijae elves, Song’o halflings, and Mbe’ke and Taralu dwarves in the Character Guide.

(I hope! I know most of those have been confirmed.)


foreign savior has 2 other parts that can ( not always) dictate.
does the adventure path start in say Varisian and end in Tian? or the Khelish empire's eastern side?
and/ or is the threat a planet wide issue that could warrant it?

if it starts and ends in southern Garund and stays in Southern GArund then yeah you could get away with not playing a foreigner( well you still could for RP reasons. How can you tell where my Beastbrood tiefling comes from?) And by that reasoning yeah Southern Garund can deal with it. A trade hub/port City if its the starting point still could find a few foreigners there though


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Well, I don't think anyone is advocating for completely disallowing foreign characters, more just wanting a campaign concerning a region not to start somewhere else and encourage the entire group or most of it to play foreigners.

I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.

Shadow Lodge

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Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.

They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.


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Darth Game Master wrote:

Well, I don't think anyone is advocating for completely disallowing foreign characters, more just wanting a campaign concerning a region not to start somewhere else and encourage the entire group or most of it to play foreigners.

I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.

Pretty much this.

A lot of early D&D that I played included "adventuring heroes" that run around the world solving problems everywhere they go. Some people probably liked the lack of attachment and the illusion of a sandbox from games of that sort, but it never felt enough for me. There's no roleplay reason for my character, who is from Kingdom A, to really care about solving the succession crisis of Kingdom B or defeating the dragon that plagues Kingdom C, besides maybe the money or glory involved in the matter. It doesn't really feel like their story; any other hero with righteous impulses and a love of battle could take their place. I don't think the solution is to make adventurers less relevant in foreign lands and giving NPCs more power (because after all, nobody likes NPCs that takes the glory). But maybe write travel stories differently from "stay in the same place" stories? Pursuing a villain across the world or competing with the villain for treasure can be just as fun as trying to fight a villain that stays in place.

The majority of heroes in mythology and fantasy fiction have personal ties with the issues they solve, even if they may not stay in the same region for the entire adventure. I far prefer that style of narrative in roleplaying games as well, unless the story is explicitly about paid mercenaries (in the style of the Witcher, for instance) whose JOB is to kill monsters in every land they visit.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.
They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.

“The local people” here meaning people from that region as potential player characters.

Shadow Lodge

keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.
They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.
“The local people” here meaning people from that region as potential player characters.

That's no better than tokenism.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.
They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.
“The local people” here meaning people from that region as potential player characters.
That's no better than tokenism.

...what? “The player characters can hail from where the adventure takes place” is comparable to tokenism?

Shadow Lodge

keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.
They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.
“The local people” here meaning people from that region as potential player characters.
That's no better than tokenism.
...what? “The player characters can hail from where the adventure takes place” is comparable to tokenism?

"Some player characters hailing from where the adventure takes place renders the rest of the player characters not so hailing from that place unproblematic" is pure and simple tokenism, yes.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.
They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.
“The local people” here meaning people from that region as potential player characters.
That's no better than tokenism.
...what? “The player characters can hail from where the adventure takes place” is comparable to tokenism?
"Some player characters hailing from where the adventure takes place renders the rest of the player characters not so hailing from that place unproblematic" is pure and simple tokenism, yes.

I think we’re talking past each other a little; I meant the party entirely being locals.

Shadow Lodge

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keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.
They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.
“The local people” here meaning people from that region as potential player characters.
That's no better than tokenism.
...what? “The player characters can hail from where the adventure takes place” is comparable to tokenism?
"Some player characters hailing from where the adventure takes place renders the rest of the player characters not so hailing from that place unproblematic" is pure and simple tokenism, yes.
I think we’re talking past each other a little; I meant the party entirely being locals.

I was originally responding to DGM, though, who thought there were other ways for "local people to have agency" than for local people to comprise the entire party. I agree with you that, in the context of a TTRPG session (as opposed to, say, a novel), no, there really isn't. PCs are the only people with agency. NPCs are window dressing.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.
They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.
“The local people” here meaning people from that region as potential player characters.
That's no better than tokenism.
...what? “The player characters can hail from where the adventure takes place” is comparable to tokenism?
"Some player characters hailing from where the adventure takes place renders the rest of the player characters not so hailing from that place unproblematic" is pure and simple tokenism, yes.
I think we’re talking past each other a little; I meant the party entirely being locals.
I was originally responding to DGM, though, who thought there were other ways for "local people to have agency" than for local people to comprise the entire party. I agree with you that, in the context of a TTRPG session (as opposed to, say, a novel), no, there really isn't. PCs are the only people with agency. NPCs are window dressing.

There isn't any reason for stories that start in one region and conclude in another to require the foreign saviors trope, though. Consider the following:

- The villain is a powerful mage as well as master thief, who stole a powerful artifact from Taldor's royal vaults, hoping to use it in a nefarious ritual. The PCs are crown agents tasked with chasing him down before he could complete this ritual, but he has fled to the east and has minions across Qadira and Casmaron tasked with stopping PCs in his tracks.

- The PCs have each lost a loved one to soul-destroying magic, and the only thing that could bring them back is a certain psychopomp usher. Problem is, Mahathallah has trapped said psychopomp inside an orb, which is lost for centuries. Now the PCs must race a priestess of Mahathallah to this orb, which was rumoured to have last appeared somewhere in an Arcadian ruin.

- PCs are a rag tag bunch of monster hunters from Absalom. After following sightings of unique beasts across northern Garund and gaining much wealth and glory form their exploits, the PCs accidentally slew a roc sacred to Sarenrae. The goddess sends her herald to task the PCs with a quest of atonement: to seek out and destroy a spawn of Rovagug deep in the Darklands, before it could burrow through the ground and strike Absalom itself.

- The PCs are half-siblings from around the world, all children of a particularly promiscuous imperial dragon. Their father recently died and each received a will granting them a huge portion of the dragon's hoard, prompting them to head to Tian Xia and claim their inheritance. Problem is, plenty of greedy imperial dragons knew their father, and disregarding the PCs as puny upstarts, seek to claim his wealth and power.

Overall, the key to avoiding the foreign savior trope or tokenism is to simply make the goals and threats of these stories more relevant to the PCs personally. The foreign locales can provide flavor, but ultimately they serve as background and setpieces rather than the true staging ground of the main conflict. A big thing to avoid is having foreign PCs take part in local wars and influencing local politics. Whenever the PCs pass through a foreign region, they should have gained a lot of personal success as well as victories against the villain or their organization, without being expected by the story to leave a huge impact on the lives of the region's locals.


keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel that a story they starts in one place and travels to another to face a threat can be done without the "foreign savior" trope, it just often isn't. I think the trick is to make sure that the local people have some agency in what's going on and aren't completely complacent and/or helpless.
They're TTRPG NPCs, that is impossible.
“The local people” here meaning people from that region as potential player characters.

Actually, I did mean NPCs in the case of an adventure/campaign that involves lots of traveling (and thus running the risk of having the PCs be "foreign saviors", if that's what we're calling it, if not handled carefully). Unless all the PCs are away from home at the start of the campaign.


Garundi character in Tian would look out of place. an elf in most places anywhere that have never seen an elf would stick out... A Tiefling would look out of place in Tian/ Khelishite empire( and would likely feel uncomfortable too) let alone anywhere in Garund... an avistanian would look out of place in Vudra and so on.

so yes call it foreign savior . or foreign mercenary...


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Steelfiredragon wrote:

Garundi character in Tian would look out of place. an elf in most places anywhere that have never seen an elf would stick out... A Tiefling would look out of place in Tian/ Khelishite empire( and would likely feel uncomfortable too) let alone anywhere in Garund... an avistanian would look out of place in Vudra and so on.

so yes call it foreign savior . or foreign mercenary...

It's not about not allowing PCs that stick out in a given region. Everyone loves playing weird special characters at least once in a while and that's totally alright.

The issue is that an overwhelming number of adventure paths assume the PCs come from the Inner Sea regardless of whether or not the campaign is set predominantly in that region. Golarion is huge, with plenty of continents and tons of ethnic groups on each (and not just for humans), so going forward we'd like the developers to take advantage of that and write adventure paths that are set in different regions AND assume local characters are default.

Since this thread is about how players would like to revisit Tian Xia, there's a lot of desire for the next adventure that takes place in Tian Xia to feature player characters of Tian origin. That means a starting city in Tia Xia with its own detailed gazetteer (Goka would be a good place to start, seeing that it's as large as Absalom) as well as campaign backgrounds for its citizens.

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