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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:44 pm  
    cultures of Greyhawk

    is there a site, source, compendium, file done on what real world cultures some of the lands in greyhawk are based on? i admit knowing the thillonrian peninsula is rw scandinavia, furyondy is most likely medieval france, perrenland is medieval switzerland, the lands past ket are arabic in nature, shieldlanders are either teutonic or templar in nature, the rovers sound like apaches and the nomad tribes are close to the mongols. I believe the yoemanry is akin to saxon england. but are there goth states? lands of picts? alans, avars, rus, scythians, vandals, outremer, tartars, woad, scots, celtic etc? if not what does everyone think applies to certain lands? thanks in advance.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:55 am  

    You'll find this site is rife with discussions of which cultures are represented in the Flanaess - including more than a few 'debates' about who's right or wrong on the subject. I suspect the consensus - if you can call it that - is that no Earth culture is truly represented anywhere on Oerth, even though Earth cultures do inspire various aspects of Oerth cultures. In other words, while Furyondy might be inspired by medieval France, there are lots of ways in which it does not resemble that country. Likewise for Oerth's various other cultures. This is especially true for the Flan, as there are strong opinions as to whether they resemble Native Americans, Celts, some combination of the two, or something else entirely.

    Personally, I think the Flan should be modelled after stereotypical 1950s-style California surfers - but that's just me. Cool
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    Sun Oct 24, 2010 11:19 am  

    Yay bubbagump, I can just picture it an Ur-flan summons up some demon or contacts other plane and says "whoa dude". Shocked

    Sry couldnt resist.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:32 pm  

    Bissel to me always struck me as Balkan in flavor, as they were at the gateway to Europe/the Flannaess. Ket, liekwise struck me as more Turkish than Arab, while the Bakluni states were somewhere in the Persian/Arab spehere.
    The Great Kingdom definetly had echoes of a decaying Holy Roman Empire (something for which there was not a precedent in the Middle Ages, that would have to wait for a short Corsican). Nyrond might be seen as a version of that Empire in its Prime. Tenh always struck me as somewhat like Wales, while the Pale as Spain during the Inquisition or England under Cromwell. Greyhawk and the other free cities reminded me of the Italian City States, focused on trade, and jockying for position.

    As to the Sheldomar Valley, I found the Gran March to be along th elines of the Teutonic Knights. The Ulek States where more fantastic, so they are hard to categorize, while The Geoff and Sterrich could easily be any Alpine state (Czechoslovakia, Romania). Keoland is probably the hardest to figure. It is very inward looking, which reminds me of 18th century Spain or even pre-revolutionary China. As for the Sea Princes, they kind of reflect the idealized "pirate havens" of Madagascar in the 17th/18th century.

    Again, these are just how these felt to me.
    GreySage

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:57 am  

    tarelton wrote:
    Ket, likewise struck me as more Turkish than Arab, while the Bakluni states were somewhere in the Persian/Arab sphere.


    All interesting takes, to be sure. I've never given quite that much thought to categorizing each of the Flanaess states individually, it seems that I'll have to start doing so. Evil Grin

    Its true that the Arabs and Turks are much influenced by their common predecessor, the Persians. But the Arabs are no more Persian than the Turks. Both came from the same source, but developed along slightly different paths. I've always thought of the Baklunish states as more Persian than anything else, but perhaps a slight differentiation between the "modern" states is necessary; One as Persian, one as Arab, another is Turkish, etc.

    I need to examine each one in a little more detail, then post my thoughts here. Wink
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    GreySage

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:12 am  

    Nothing fits exactly, but here are some quick ideas:

    Furyondy = Burgundy (France)
    Veluna = Genoa (Italy)
    Keoland = England
    Geoff = Wales
    Sterich = Scotland
    Onnwal = Cornwall
    Perrenland = Switzerland
    Rovers of the Barrens = Cossacks
    Tiger Barbarians = Mongols
    Wolf Barbarians = Mongols
    Ket = Turkey
    Zeif = Iran
    Ekbir = Iraq
    Ull = Afghanistan
    Plains of the Paynims = Arabia
    GreySage

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:57 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    Nothing fits exactly, but here are some quick ideas:


    I like your overall take here, but in truth Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are all modern nations and are all shaped by Islamic influences. Confused

    I like going just a little further back. After all:

    Iraq was Babylon/Babylonia.

    Iran and Afghanistan were Persia.

    Modern day Turkey derived from the Assyrians, the Hittites, ancient Troy and the Romans, to name a few. The Ottoman Empire maintained a Persian type flavor about it, but was very strongly influenced by Islam.

    I prefer to "think" in those terms, rather than associate the nations of the Flannaess with any modern day counterparts here in our real world. I just like to "look" a little bit further back in time for my influences.

    Are any of the "modern" Flannaess nations of Baklunish origin militant enough to compare to Islam? Eschewing all other gods, even of their own pantheon?
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:43 am  

    Interesting take Rasgon, I think that you would have to add a date to the European/Asian nations in order to clarify.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:38 am  

    Far be it from me to argue; rasgon Wink

    I have always considered the Rovers of the Barrens Native American influenced similar to the great plains tribes like the sioux, cheyenne with some apache stealth thrown in the mix rather then cossack.
    GreySage

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:57 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    I like your overall take here, but in truth Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are all modern nations and are all shaped by Islamic influences.


    Why, yes. And you'll note that all the European nations I referenced were shaped by Christian influences (I said France, not Gaul, for example). It'd be very strange if it were okay to take inspiration from medieval Europe in building Greyhawk, but taboo to take inspiration from western Asia in the same era. Gary Gygax was pretty obviously influenced by Islam when designing the countries in question. That's why Beygraf Zoltan of Ket was named "shield of the True Faith" - the intent is something like monotheistic zealotry despite the polytheistic trappings of the society, rather than the different relationship between, say, Babylon and its patron Marduk, in which Marduk was held up as the greatest of the gods but the faith wasn't substantially different from that of most of its neighbors, who worshiped similar gods in similar ways.

    The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer made the Muslim influence much more explicit, describing Ekbir as the historical seat of a caliphate founded by Al'Akbar, and Zeif is the larger, older empire that once included it.

    I'm aware that Iran and Iraq are modern nations derived from the British division of the Ottoman Empire, but the names are convenient to describe the regions I mean. Iraq is where Baghdad is, the seat of the Muslim caliphate which Fred Weining was specifically mimicking in the LGG.

    But then, it was Gary Gygax that decided Ekbir was a caliphate. Caliph is, of course, a specifically Muslim title referring to the successors of Mohammad. Fred made the parallels more explicit (making Al'Akbar basically a Mohammad stand-in), but he was very much following Gygax's lead.

    I'm not sure if "Sultan" was ever used by Persian rulers, however. While Persia under, say, the Ayyubid dynasty is what what I was thinking of for Zeif, Gary Gygax might actually have been thinking of something more like Egypt under the reign of the Sultan Saladin.

    The leader of the Rovers is an ataman, which is a Cossack title. Of course there's some Plains Indians inspiration too, especially post-Gygax.

    I'll make a correction to the above, though. The leader of the Wolf Nomads is the "Tarkhan," which probably points toward the Khazars.
    GreySage

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:56 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    And you'll note that all the European nations I referenced were shaped by Christian influences (I said France, not Gaul, for example). It'd be very strange if it were okay to take inspiration from medieval Europe in building Greyhawk, but taboo to take inspiration from western Asia in the same era . . . While Persia under, say, the Ayyubid dynasty is what what I was thinking of for Zeif


    Duly noted. However, I was not thinking along those lines -- i.e. "Christian influences." I have no objections to including all cultures in Greyhawk.

    I wasn't thinking "Christianity" for the simple reason that Christianity is monotheistic, and most especially during the medieval time period being referenced here. The nations of the Flannaess are not by any means monotheistic.

    You will undoubtedly recall the Inquisition, which took place everywhere, not just in Spain -- though it was probably worse there than anywhere else. Other religions were actively wiped out and by governmental authority -- which was "in bed" with the Church.

    I think only The Pale can be compared to that. So I think that the Flannaess might be influenced by medieval Europe's overall lifestyle, but not its religion.

    And I do use "western Asia" as I've eluded to, just not the same time period that others here do.

    Interestingly, the Gauls adopted much of Roman culture and technology, while keeping their individual identity. So I think I might prefer them to a more modern "France," though I heartily agree that Furyondy has more of a "Three Musketeers" feel, than it does a Gaelic one. Laughing Laughing

    But I really do like the way you think, Rasgon. Keep feeding me those ideas. I'm flexibly! Happy
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    GreySage

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:03 pm  

    I actually see the Suel religions as more similar to Roman Empire polytheism, the Flan religions as more similar to Celtic druidic faiths, and the Oeridian religions as being more broadly Christian in tone, in a Crystal Dragon Jesus sort of way. Not just the Pale by any means. The default paladin and cleric classes, for example, are clearly based on Christian tropes (the perfect Christian knight and the militant crusader priest who uses a mace to avoid shedding blood, respectively). The Canon of Veluna and Holy Censor of Medegia strike me as, more or less, popes. Several of the big Oeridian-inspired churches in the Flanaess seem to be Catholic parallels in the way they have hierarchies of bishops and so on.

    And similarly, I think Zoroastrianism is a good model for some aspects of Baklunish religions, and even Buddhism, not just Islam. I don't really see any good opportunities for Babylonian, Sumerian, or ancient Egyptian parallels in those countries, though.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:28 pm  

    Mystic Scholar Wrote:
    Quote:
    Its true that the Arabs and Turks are much influenced by their common predecessor, the Persians.


    I'd be careful claiming that the turks and arabs had a common predecessor... sounds like a good way to start a fight with either group. As I understand, the turks were originally from central Asia, whereas the Arabs have been in the near East since one can remember.

    Overall though, I find this an exciting conversation.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:47 am  

    This is an interesting post. Thanks guys for the insights!

    I also think of the Suel as based on the Romans, in terms of their decadence and lust for power as well as their religion. They too are a bygone power.

    Very interesting read, thanks again!
    GreySage

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    Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:31 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    Not just the Pale by any means.


    When I made the comparison with The Pale, I was referring to its fanaticism.

    rasgon wrote:
    The default paladin and cleric classes . . . The Canon of Veluna and Holy Censor of Medegia strike me as, more or less, popes. Several of the big Oeridian-inspired churches in the Flanaess seem to be Catholic parallels in the way they have hierarchies of bishops and so on.


    There are certainly parallels of Roman Catholic Christianity to be found throughout the religions of the Flannaess, as well as Greek Orthodoxy. But the Canon of Veluna doesn't try to physically suppress the other faiths of his pantheon. Or does he?

    I'm not that "up" on the Censor of Medegia, so I can't comment. But I'm happy to take your word for it.

    Babylon and Egypt might well be represented outside of the Flannaess however; Kingdom of Erypt maybe? Shocked Laughing

    Well . . . maybe. Wink

    Tarelton wrote:

    Quote:
    I'd be careful claiming that the turks and arabs had a common predecessor... sounds like a good way to start a fight with either group.


    I'm not trying to start any fights here, they do that well enough on their own. They're both Muslim nations. And the Shia and the Sunni have been killing each other for centuries and for no other reason than an argument over who's supposed to be Mohammad's heir.

    I was referring to their "lifestyles," architecture, et al; Ali Babba and the Forty Thieves, Sinbad, etc. The Persians overthrew Babylon and ruled for a longer period, thus having a greater influence on the conquered peoples. I won't mention the Eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople, a.k.a. Istanbul. But that's all I meant. Cool

    Warlock wrote:

    Quote:
    This is an interesting post. Thanks guys for the insights!


    Happy to entertain! Happy Laughing Laughing Laughing
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    GreySage

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    Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:38 am  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:

    There are certainly parallels of Roman Catholic Christianity to be found throughout the religions of the Flannaess, as well as Greek Orthodoxy. But the Canon of Veluna doesn't try to physically suppress the other faiths of his pantheon. Or does he?


    I don't think so. Hopefully there's more to Catholicism than that.
    GreySage

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    Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:56 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    Hopefully there's more to Catholicism than that.


    Laughing Laughing Laughing

    Undoubtedly! Happy

    I was just wondering -- in speaking of Islam and Catholicism in regards to Oerth -- if there were any faiths/nations in the Flannaess that manifested such monotheistic fanaticism? Confused

    Though I see similarities of these faiths throughout, I don't see this aspect anywhere except in The Pale. And, of course, in The Pale other faiths are merely suppressed, as Pholtus is seen as the most important member of the pantheon, not the only god of it.

    Or am I reading that wrong? Confused
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    Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:01 pm  

    Greetings one and All
    I am a long time Greyhawk fan, so having read this site many times, I thought I might contribute to this discussion.

    Being a keen wargamer as well as roleplayer, my group has tried to allocate certain cultures to the Greyhawk World and this is what we have come up with (using FoG miniture army lists/rules):-

    Barbarians
    Frost - Post Viking Scandinavian (ties with Ratik)
    Snow & Ice - Viking

    Stonefist - Medieval Irish
    Ratik - Later Medieval Swedish
    Bone March - Monsters
    Knurl - Late Medieval Danish
    Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy - French Ordonnance
    United Kingdoms of Ahlissa - Santa Hermandad Nueva Castillian
    Idee - Medieval Castillian

    City of Rel Atra - Medieval Aragon
    Sea Barons - Later Sicilian

    Sunndi - Medieval Portugese
    Irongate - Dwarvish
    Onwal - Navarrese

    Nyrond - War of Roses English
    Urnst County - Burgundian Ordonnance
    Urnst Duchy - Medieval Burgundian (less well developed than County)
    Pale - 100 yrs War English
    Tehn - Later Polish (Winged Hussars)

    Furyondy - LAter Medieval German
    Shield Lands - Later Teutonic Knights
    Veluna - Later Medieval Feudal German
    Verbonoc - Medieval German City League
    Perrenland - Swiss
    Celene - Elvish
    Highfolk - Elvish
    Greyhawk - Medieval German City League (Hamburg, Port City)
    Pomarj - Orcs
    Iuz - Monsters

    Keoland - Condotta Italian
    Bissel - Medieval Cypriot
    Geoff - Medieval Welsh
    Gran MArch - Early Teutonic Order
    Ulek - Condotta Italian (close links to Keo)
    Sterich - Communal Italian
    Yeomanry - Later Low Countries
    Sea Princes - Latin Greece

    Zeif - Later Ottoman Turks
    Ekbir - Later Byzantine
    Tusmit - Early Ottoman Turks
    Ket - Post Latin Conquest Byzantine (a mixing pot of cultures)
    Ull - Seljuk Turks
    Wold & Tiger Nomads - Tartar
    Rovers - A problem, we have still not decided

    Enjoy

    Avalon AB
    GreySage

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    Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:12 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:

    I was just wondering -- in speaking of Islam and Catholicism in regards to Oerth -- if there were any faiths/nations in the Flannaess that manifested such monotheistic fanaticism?


    The people of the Pale are monolatrous; they don't deny other deities exist, but the worship of gods other than Pholtus are suppressed.

    This isn't entirely unique in the Flanaess. Iuz does the same thing. The worship of Hextor in the old Great Kingdom was in a similar vein, although they also made room for the false god of wealth, Baalzy (actually the pit fiend Baalzephon).

    And of course you don't have to be monotheistic or monolatrous to be a fanatic. The Scarlet Brotherhood is polytheistic, but it views its own gods as superior just as much as the ruling Palites view Pholtus as the only god fit to worship.

    But mostly, when I say that D&D clerics and religious orders are influenced by Christianity, I don't mean to say that they're monotheistic or monolatrous. I mean that elements of their church structure and iconography are influenced by that of the dominant religion of medieval Europe. There are cathedrals dedicated to Pelor and Rao, St. Cuthbert's star-symbol looks suspiciously like a cross at times, and the various churches have bishops, canons, prelates, and other ranks that historically were the ranks of Christian priests. And saints.
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    Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:11 am  
    cultures of Greyhawk

    This has caused some consternation for me trying to attribute real world cultures to Greyhawk regions. Mostly I am doing this so I can reflect idiosyncrasies amongst the different peoples/regions (manner of dress, social structure etc.). While not 100% complate this is my current line of thought:

    Bissel- Balkan/Germanic mix
    Gran March- Norman
    Geoff- semi-Welsh
    Sterich- Scottish
    Yeomanry- Saxon England
    Keoland- Med. England

    Perrenland- Med. Swiss
    Veluna- Carolingian
    Furyondy- Med. France
    Shield Lands- Teutonic

    Frost- Danish/Rus mix
    Snow- Viking
    Ice- Viking
    Stonehold- Slav/Cossack

    Tiger- Mongol/Hun mix
    Wolf- leaning more towards Khazar/Tartar mix
    Rovers- Plains indians/Avar/Alan mix

    Paymins- arab nomad
    Zeif- mamluk Egypt
    Ekbir- Arab/Syrian
    Tusmit- Persian
    Ket- Turk
    Ull- undecided

    I still want to have a region based on the Goth tribes. I need to dwell on the other regions some more.
    GreySage

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    Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:29 am  
    Re: cultures of Greyhawk

    qwerty1971 wrote:
    This has caused some consternation for me trying to attribute real world cultures to Greyhawk regions. Mostly I am doing this so I can reflect idiosyncrasies amongst the different peoples/regions (manner of dress, social structure etc.)


    Entirely proper, qwerty1971. Happy

    There's not really any "consternation" here, mostly folks are just pointing out that comparisons made with our real world nationalities are not canonical. So, looking for such comparisons in any of the printed material is a waste of time. Sad

    All that can be offered here is opinion. And, as you know, opinions are many and varied, thus the various and multiple opinions and suggestions offered and expressed here. Evil Grin

    We all just hope that what we offer, in our back and forth, can be of use to you in your game. If so, mission accomplished! Cool Happy
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    Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:00 am  
    cultures of Greyhawk

    The discussion amongst the community is exactly what I wanted to spark thought lines and such. My ulterior motive is to write a gazetteer for portions of Oerth/Flaneass not already covered (Ivid, Iuz, Marklands, SB) that interest me and I believe I will start on the Thillonrian Peninsula. This helps me shape relations and flesh out customs.
    GreySage

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    Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:03 am  
    Re: cultures of Greyhawk

    qwerty1971 wrote:
    I believe I will start on the Thillonrian Peninsula.


    Will you start your work and/or history with Slerotin's Tunnel and the Houses of Pursuit? Happy
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    Sat Oct 30, 2010 10:23 am  
    cultures of Greyhawk

    about 15 years ago i came across a version of the flight of the suel due to the conflict with the baklunnish empire that i liked. it started in 5059 SD and talked about 8 clan families passing through crystalmist mountains into the flanaess. the story told of how the 8 families splintered off with one journeying to the amedio jungle, 2 peacefully settling in parts of the eastern flanaess, 2 fighting 3 lesser clans and losing then being banished, one to the thilvanot peninsula and one going far northwest (Blackmoor i presumed). the remaining 3 lesser clans were harried to the thillonrian peninsula where they drew lots for land. that is how the barbarian states were made. what that product did not have was the empire of vatun. I took liberties with the product and made a warrior called Rhiza who lead those 8 tribes east, and a warrior named thillonr who lead the three lesser tribes to the northeast. i will research to see if there is new canon material i can either use/incorporate into what i already have.
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    Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:05 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    But the Canon of Veluna doesn't try to physically suppress the other faiths of his pantheon. Or does he?


    I think Veluna is probably a less religiously-tolerant society than often imagined. Reading through the Dungeon #41 adventure, "Hopeful Dawn," one can find quite a few examples of harsh rhetoric.

    For example, in the Raoan faith, Dark Night is known as the Night of Hopeful Judgment, a night in which “Rao shall cleanse the world” by consigning “the unholy to an eternity of suffering.”

    Also, the Velunese legal system calls for punishments such as facial branding for thievery and imprisonment for blasphemy, and poor farmers who don't pay the required church taxes might end up dying in prison, even if their excuse is that the harvest was bad (again, see "Hopeful Dawn").
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