Mammoth Lords need some love

Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Been wondering about this corner of the map for a while now, so I finally did some digging... and there's not much there. The novelty of what can generously be called "caveman land" where the main draw is Big Animals feels like a shallow niche to be in, especially compared to some of the surrounding lands. A place for the most bog standard human barbarians imaginable feels like a major disappointment. Especially noteworthy is the LOWG description of the region, which essentially says "things have gotten much better here, the notable threats are almost all gone, and the one that remains (giants) aren't active, as they're literally trying to wait out the local Kellid clans."

How do we make this place interesting, deeper than just a place for your "me no like your civilized ways" human barbarians and druids to hail from? Is there any way to make a land drawing on the stone age when there's laser gun robot land and prestigious universities not at that far away?

I think it's supposed to appeal to Conan-inspired barbarians and pre-historic animals, while providing space in the mountains for old-school D&D-style modules.

I think it does that job okay, but it's not a niche everyone will like. Similar to how I'd imagine many people would prefer Numeria didn't exist, etc. The trick with the kitchen sink is that I'm not sure everyone will always like all bits.

That probably doesn't help YOU personally make something of the RotML you like, but it's probably important to frame what it currently does, and why, so that you know what to change to your preference.

Dark Archive

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Its kinda weird how there are supposed to be multiple kellid ethnicities, but they barely get mentioned outside of sarkorians :p

But yeah, Lands of Mammoth Lord is coolest Inner Sea location that never got campaign setting book to it in 1e and that is really a shame

(also just a reminder, saying "Well its boring location so of course it never got a book" doesn't work out when you realize Druma was thought as "that boring place with rich money religion merchants" before Druma book actually made it really interesting place :P)

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I'm just throwing darts here but off the top of my head...

I think one angle might be to play up the Shamanism aspects, and the idea that the megafauna there are both hunted and honored. The Zoic Fetish angle could be tweaked so that at a young age, a kellid youth of these lands might be expected to seek out a particular animal spirit by collecting the needed things to make the fetish.

If some young kellid woman sees a white eagle flying through the cold heights, she's might decide that's it, that's the power she wants to emulate and invite into herself.
So she looks for dropped feathers, finds where it's ayrie is and climbs up there to take a single prize strand from its nest. She mixes it with twigs, grass, the bone of an enemy (or the animal depending on her tribe) and goes through a ritual or spirit walk where she asks the great mother of all White Eagles to bless the fetish, and accept her.

Should it happen, she returns to her tribe with great honor, and seen more as an adult, akin to the first blooding of a hunt.

This also gives the GM opportunities for strange dreams as story hooks, signs of good or badluck , or even advice... like witch's patrons but more honest ;)

For that matter, maybe these spirits are borderline gods, laying low so not to attract the attention of the more powerful deities?

There's a mention of 'rumors' of dinosaurs and warm green patches hidden in the land. That could be worthy of a goal, or, you could expand it.

What with the changes in the setting, it's always possible something set off a volcano and it just happened to de-ice a large valley and even thaw out dinosaurs that were some how suspended until now.

Green land is rich land but which tribe or even Following is strong enough to claim it when you have raptors and T-rexes awake and hungry after a few centuries?

Meanwhile, the World Wound has had it's change, leaving a lot of crusaders trying to decide what to do. Go help fight against Treerazor? Maybe save lastwall refugees?

NAH, let's go convert those savages who ride on mammoths next door ;)

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I think there's definitely good potential to make it an interesting region. It just needs a bit more development.

It would be good if they could flesh out the identities of the various tribes, and how they differ from each other. Also, what sort of threats exist there, either between the clans or from other non-human forces.

One thing I would wish for both the Realms of the Mammoth Lords and the Linnorm Kingdom is that they would get proper names. These are really more titles than names. It make sense for outsiders from distant lands to name them as such, but it doesn't really make sense for the locals to keep calling it that. They don't need a term that tries to explain what their own homeland is, they know their own land; to them their way of life is what's normal. It would be like Cheliax not having any other name than the "Infernal Empire". It just doesn't sound right.

Shadow Lodge

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Deserk wrote:
One thing I would wish for both the Realms of the Mammoth Lords and the Linnorm Kingdom is that they would get proper names.

The thing about these areas is that they are not unified. Each individual Linnorm Kingdom is a state (except perhaps Grungir Forest) and accordingly has its own name (Thanelands, Icemark, Southmoor, Hagreach, etc.). The Linnorm Kingdoms don't have a single endonym because they are not united and the people living there don't need a word to describe the area as a whole, either as a geographic expression or as a union of crowns. If Ulfen nationalism takes off, which it probably will at some point if the goblins have caught it, it might get a single endonym as part of a unifying project, but the mythology tells us that the place isn't supposed to be unified until a high king kills Fafhnir, so perhaps not.

As for the Tusk Mountains and their foothills, they don't have a state organization at all and are home to many separate peoples. The area's frontiers, to the extent that they exist at all, are the frontiers of surrounding, encroaching states. Many of the adjoining areas (the Sarkoris Scar, for instance) aren't states either, and there should be no clear dividing lines between them no matter what the map says. The area shouldn't have a single endonym. Who would invent one, and for what purpose? What it should have are a bunch of overlapping smaller endonyms, a la the names applied by the Shoanti quahs for their lands.

(An aside, "Varisia" isn't an endonym either, nor does it host any predominantly Varisian states; there is a predominantly Varisian state, though, and that is Ustalav, far to the east of "Varisia" and separated by orcs and zombies the way the Czechs and Croats are separated by the Magyars and Germans. Ustalav is named after its founding king, and not after the Varisian people.).

Just because they aren't a unified state doesn't mean they wouldn't have a concise all-encompassing name for the region. Undoubtedly there is a shared identity and cultural bond between all of the petty Linnorm kingdoms as well as between the Followings of the Mammoth Lord Kellids.

After all, an endless array of countries today were known as geographical and cultural concepts long before they were properly unified into a single state. England, Italy, Norway, Spain, Germany, Greece, Russia, just to name a few.

In the case of the Linnorm kingdoms, there was even a High King Olaf who managed to unite most of the kingdoms at one point.

I doubt that the Kellids from the Realm of Mammoth Lords consider themselves to be of a different nationality than Kellids from surrounding lands. Rather, they could distinguish themsleves by their independence and call themselves the Free Tribes, or something like that. Any name they would use for the all areas where they can live freely would probably refer to that freedom.

Shadow Lodge

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Deserk wrote:
Undoubtedly there is a shared identity and cultural bond between all of the petty Linnorm kingdoms as well as between the Followings of the Mammoth Lord Kellids.

This is assuming the conclusion. Going by your list of examples show just how badly it is assuming the conclusion.

England: first attested in Bede, writing in the Ninth Century, a good four centuries after the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon migrations into Britain. First used as a political title beginning in the tenth century, only shortly afterword. Prior to the unification of England, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were named very prosaically, with name's we'd recognize as "South Saxony," "West Saxony," "East Saxony," "East England," "Coast," "Midlands," and "North of the Humber."

Italy: a Roman province. This implies two things. As a Roman province, it was in its time a fairly artificial administrative division, but after the fall of the Western Empire it became a signifier of a glorious past to harken back to.

Norway: this one really gives the game away, because the pan-national expression you actually want is "Scandinavia," a union of the three crowns of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. There was a pan-nationalistic unification movement of these crowns in the nineteenth century as there was in Germany and Italy, but it never got off the ground and Scandinavia remained a geographic and cultural expression. Whatever pan-nationalistic feelings there were on the ground, however, were somewhat dwarfed by Danish and Swedish dynastic and popular antipathy leading to scores of wars between the two powers over the years. Norway after the Kalmar Union and before its independence from Sweden was a colony traded back and forth between them. Scandianvia is also the direct inspiration for the Lands of the Linnorm Kings - "Scandinavia" is also not an endonym, being a garbled Latinization of a German description of the area.

Spain: a Roman province, "Hispania." See "Italy." Its political unity was forged in centuries of aggressive war against Muslim powers, and by dynastic politics.

Germany: The Kingdom of the Germans was a fairly empty title held by the Holy Roman Empire, and German nationalism was derived in a straight line from the experience of conquest by and resistance to Napoleon. Prior to Leipzig there was little to no sense of national community among the many German states.

Greece: The fiercely independent city-states were only ever unified by force or the threat of force: by Persia (and then only temporarily), by Athens (and then only incompletely), and then by Macedon. Part of Herodotus's project was to cultivate national feeling in Greece, but what really did it was the conquest and Hellenization of the Persian Empire.

Russia: unified by the experience of Mongol conquest and subjugation as tributary states.

The people of the Linnorm Kingdoms do think of "Linnorm King" as an Ulfen title, as attested in the LOWG where they're taken aback at a Varki claiming it. So there is some incipient Ulfen nationalism. But you can't simply assume there is national feeling simply because of the presence of lines on the map. That is a colonial mistake. If anything, the lines on the map should be changed to show only state frontiers instead of showing, as they do now, variously, state frontiers, geographical expressions, and loose groups of states with no frontiers where there should be.

Doing this would erase the borders between the Realm of the Mammoth Lords and the Sarkoris Scar, and between the Realm of the Mammoth Lords and the Hold of Belkzen. It would likely erase the border between the Hold of Belkzen and the Gravelands as well, depending on whether you think either 1) the Gravelands are a state in their own right or 2) the beachhead around Vellumis is enough to consider Lastwall not to have been destroyed; if not, it's claimed frontier is still worth mapping. The Lands of the Linnorm Kings and the River Kingdoms would get broken up into small states, though the latter are unified, if loosely, by membership in the Outlaw Council. Magnimar and Varisia would have their territories mapped, as would the smaller city-states in Varisia (Kaer Maga, Urglin, Riddleport). There's precedence for this last with the splitting off of New Thassilon from Varisia the moment it became a state. "Varisia," "the Hold of Belkzen," and "the Realm of the Mammoth Lords" could stay as descriptions by outsiders of these areas, but the names of their peoples (Shoanti quahs, orc and Kellid tribes, etc.) should be sprinkled about the maps to show where their territories are.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:

This is masterful.

Thank you.

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