Meta-Regions for Tian Xia?

Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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With the format established by the Inner Sea and seemingly followed by Arcadia, it’s safe to assume any 2e Tian Xia revisit would see the continent likewise divided into thematic/geographic candidates. Any brilliant guesses on how the puzzle might fit together?

I think you could do something along the lines of “The Storm Kingdoms” for Kwanlai, Xidao, and flooded Wanshou, potentially picking up Minata as well to make a sort of Tian counterpart to the Shackles and Sodden Lands. Tengu are always popular, aquatic ancestries get a chance to thrive, people love pirates, and a kraken overlord makes for a great Big Bad.

Dtang Ma, Xa Hoi, and Nagajor make up a broad “Scaled South,” where wyrmkind are often revered and the folk are distinct from the core of old Lung Wa. Valashmai Jungle might end up here as well, if it doesn’t stand alone. You’ve honestly got a lot of room for classic fantasy here; lost jungle ruins, noble dragons kings, weird Darklands threats, sorcerous bloodlines…

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I already took a stab at this a while back, but it probably wouldn't hurt to post it again. From another thread:

I've been vaguely dividing the regions up into five parts.

The Great Wall would include the Wall of Heaven, Shaguang, Hongal, Kaoling, Jinin, and Zi Ha. This region would be thematically geared towards wilderness adventures: lots of mountains, plains, and deserts, and is probably the most peaceful, tranquil region in general — with the Kaoling and Jinin feud being the most pressing conflict at its southeastern edges. Maybe tonally a bit like the Saga Lands.

Northern Empire includes Chu Ye, Wanshou, Kamikobu (I reverted Amanandar back to its former "River Kingdoms-esque" state), Kwanlai, Tianjing, Shenmen, and Shokuro. These are nations that had the smallest cultural connection to Imperial Lung Wa, although were heavily dependent on it for protection. After the empire fell, many of these places broke apart in a similar fashion, and have been trying to make their own way. Thematic connection to the Broken Lands.

Southern Empire includes Goka, Lingshen, Quain, Po Li, Bachuan, Hwanggot, and Dtang Ma. These nations made up the heart of Imperial Lung Wa or had identities heavily impacted by that state, and were irrevocably changed by its influence. Lung Wa's legacy can be felt most strongly here, and people are likely to have thoughts about it. Shining Kingdoms we'll thematically equate this to.

Valashmai region has Nagajor, Xa Hoi, Minata Isles, and Valashmai Jungle. Another nature-heavy region, with a lot of aquatic and arboreal biomes. This part of the continent is so huge it deserves a book giving each of these regions a bigger dive. We'll call it the High Seas book, or maybe Mwangi Expanse, because while there are fewer locations with a distinguishing title for such a huge region, there's endless places to get lost in.

Land of the Dawn region would have Forest of Spirits, Minkai, Xidao, and whatever parts of the Tian Xia Darklands that aren't directly connected to other surface regions for our Japanophile book. Lots of whimsical Ghibli flavor that gets a little more fantastical in general. Thematic equivalent to Impossible Lands, I guess, for being more isolated than other regions and kind of behaving like it lives in its own world.

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This was my proposal from the same thread. I also had the thought to put Dtang Ma, Xa Hoi, and Nagajor in the same meta-region, but I like your "storm kingdoms" idea, didn't think of that.

Minkai’s definitely the toughest one to sort for me. It’s very much its own thing, but not large enough to justify being singular like the Mwangi Expanse - it’s one nation. The Forest of Spirits is obviously drawing on similar Japanese inspirations, but it’s not like Fantasy Japan with two spots is enough for a Meta-Region of its own. Do you steal Xidao from its mainland neighbors? Minata definitely stands apart…

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keftiu wrote:
Minkai’s definitely the toughest one to sort for me. It’s very much its own thing, but not large enough to justify being singular like the Mwangi Expanse - it’s one nation. The Forest of Spirits is obviously drawing on similar Japanese inspirations, but it’s not like Fantasy Japan with two spots is enough for a Meta-Region of its own. Do you steal Xidao from its mainland neighbors? Minata definitely stands apart…

Pretty sure this post is referring to my suggestion, since DGM had the good sense to just make Minata its own metaregion. I asked similar questions myself when first trying to figure out how to sort the continent in an interesting way for my players. Minkai is a little small, but since it represents such a remote polity from everyone else that's got its own fairly unique narrative going on – as well as the fact that it represents most things Japan in pop culture (which is...a juggernaut of a field to tackle), sorted with Xidao and the Darklands I think it's got enough action going on to justify existing as a unique metaregion (in a fashion not dissimilar to Absalom in the Inner Sea). Xidao I included because the nation remains politically pretty isolated from the mainland, where its closest neighbor remains kraken-ruled Wanshou (which is probably hostile to its interests), although its referenced several times to have strong trade ties with Minkai, who prizes its exports of pearls especially. It made the most sense for that state to find more stable ties in the Empire of Dawn's geopolitical corner of the world, more than anyone else's.

Creating geopolitical spheres was mostly my rationale for the Wandering Isles of Minata as well, which could also very easily be their own metaregion. I sort of prefer to bundle at least a few regions together, however, because part of the fun of the whole concept is getting a picture of how outsiders perceive the people within a place, and vice versa. Some level of cultural integration makes sense between Valashmai and Minata, since the two regions geographically kind of intersect in several places, and the latter also has a large population of pirates, which frequently prefer to predate on neighbors – the nearest being Xa Hoi. Minata would also have immense influence over any naval trade routes passing under the southern reaches of Valashmai from Goka and the western continent to Minkai and the east (overland trade routes are probably pretty vulnerable to political shenanigans). Mostly though, it's just because Minata's narratively in similar turf as much of Valashmai: small, survivalist peoples struggling against expansive, perilous, labyrinthine wilderness/archipelago filled with wonder and terror. There seemed to my ears a very compatible rhythm between their melodies.

I'd honestly be fine with Minata Isles being their own thing though. There's enough there, and I'd originally kept them separate myself – only combining everything later because it felt weird making a metaregion with only one region. But I'd insta-buy a book just about Minata. It's, like, got all my favorite things. I super want it.

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My main rationale for having Minata and Valashmai be their own regions--and having smaller numbers of countries per meta-region generally--was mostly Tian Xia just being a lot bigger than the Inner Sea region, geographically, so I feel like even the smaller regions have more to work with. The peninsula containing Minkai and the Forest of Spirits is about a third the size of Avistan based on the world map, for example.

Admittedly though, my arrangement was put together without a huge amount of thought put into it, mostly based on memory and skimming the wiki--for a proper one I'd probably want to look at the book again to see the connections between regions.

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Part of me wonders if you might not stick Lingshen, Po Li, Quain, and Shokuro together as the former imperial core: that gives you the three biggest Successor States, but also an underdog "rebel" nation that we know is a vital breadbasket the others want to control.

Dark Archive

One idea not mentioned here is putting Minkai, Forest of Spirits and Chu Ye in same region. Chu Ye is admittedly more of general antagonist country of continent, but Jade Regent proposes idea of Chu Ye threatening post political upheaval Minkai as an easy target and admitedly Oni in general are really big thematic connection to Minkai and Forest of Spirits because of Jade Regent. Plus Fumeyoshi, Chu Ye's patron deity, is sort of archnemesis of Shizuru and Tsukiyo. (plus out of Chu Ye, Wanshou, Bachuan, Lingshen and Shokuro, Chu ye and Wandshou are closest enough to take advantage of Minkai's situation to invade)

Xidao could be part of same region, but that Kwanlai and Wanshou region makes sense to me as well. Sea Theme is good idea.

Goka, Wall of Heaven and Hongal have thematic connection of being separation and entry way of Tian Xia from west. From inner sea you enter to Tian Xia either from Goka or through path of aganhei at Hongal. Goka and Hongal don't also seem to interact much with other nations besides trading with Kaoling?

AFTER THIS, its becomes much harder to connect nations so I'll put my connection dots into spoiler tag to help readability

Tian Xia connections:
Shaguang is hard one because it doesn't really have centralized government. It could be part of same region as wall yeah, but it honestly most connected with Kaoling as some of the tribes are tradepartners with hobgoblins and its geographically isolated from Hongal.

Kaoling is most connected with Shaguang and Hongal as trade partners and doing raids on Jinin, Lingshen and Zi Ha.

For Zi Ha oddly enough it makes most sense for it to be in same region as Kaoling. Zi Ha is bordered by three hostile nations, but Kaoling is most active threat to them.(and current ruler did almost succeed at military campaign versus them)

Lingshen's most immediate connections are to Kaoling, Po Li and Quain as potential conquest targets. Po Li and Quain are also connected to each other. Lingshen(military might), Po Li (spiritual stronghold) and Quain(thousand heroes) form triangle of "these nations eye each other warily".

Shokuro is, besides Minkai, oddly enough connected to Jinin and Amanandar. (Jinin is also, besides minkai, most strongly connected to Shokuro and Kaoling) These three also kinda share loose theme accidentally. "Western empire in east", "displaced elven nation", "kingdom of exiled samurai")

Bachuan and Hwanggot need to be in same region because Bachuan seems to be gearing for war with Hwanggot.

Tianjing, Shenmen, Dtang ma, Xa Hoi, Nagajor, Valashmai Jungle and Minata don't have obvious connections to each other or rest of nations that would make region grouping obvious ^^; Xa Hoi and Minata have slight connection in that Xa Hoi keeps check on Minatan piracy, but the Zo pirates are only small part of whole Minata.

So uh... Any other suggestions from me? Well we know from inner sea regions that rival countries don't need to be in same region, but I think it makes sense to have multiple smaller regions than trying to put Lung Wa successor states in as big regions as possible. Because again, having lot of countries in region just means if region ever gets lost omen book, the individual countries will get less focus)

With that in mind, besides Hongal/Goka/Wall, Chu Ye/Minkai/Forest of Spirits and Xidaeo/Kwanlai/wanshou regions, (Shokuro, Jinin and Amanadar) region, (Lingshen, Quain and Po Li) region, (Hwanggot & Bachuan) region makes sense to me.

Though this leaves Shaguang, Kaoling, Shenmen, Tianjing, Xa Hoi, Minata, Nagajor and Valashmai jungle as question marks.

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