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Acceptable Anomalies?

 
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:07 pm    Post subject: Acceptable Anomalies? Reply with quote

What kind of modern "anomalies" do you accept in your version of Greyhawk? By anomalies, I mean things that didn't necessarily exist in the real-life Middle Ages and were created more recently, but that fit comfortably into your setting. My examples include:

-Modern card games: Poker was a 19th-century invention, but I see no reason why games similar to it couldn't exist in the Flanaess. Localized versions such as "Sterich Hold'em" could even exist!

-Cree- and Cherokee-inspired syllabics for the Flan language: These real syllabics were created in the 19th century, but the Flan have had at least 2000 years to come up with their own writing system (and they did have one, given that the need for spellbooks would spur the development of a normal writing system, even if the books were as often made of buffalo hide as parchment). I can also see modern Flan as including hieroglyphs similar to those used by the real-life Mikmaq, as a result of different Flan groups all bringing their contributions.

-Secular government: The separation of church and state is very prominent in much of the Flanaess, and only a few states are explicitly tied to a specific church. Even those countries that favor certain churches still extend religious tolerance to most others. Meanwhile, in feudal Europe (and indeed in many parts of the Middle and Far East!) rulers often justified their power by claiming some divine endorsement or mandate.

-Musical instruments:: Instruments such as the piano or the tuba were probably unknown to medieval composers, but why should Flanaess musicians have to suffer? I can see many wealthy patrons competing to support the greatest bards and musicians, much as the likes of Beethoven and Bach sought out patrons. Musical notation and clefs could have easily advanced to.
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One anachronistic aspect of some nations in my campaign is the idea of freedom based on equality. In nations like the Yeomanry and the Ulek states, people are treated as equals and slavery is considered one of the greatest possible evils. In the real Medieval Europe, and elsewhere, equality was rare and slavery was accepted by some societies that were the most egalitarian (eg. Greece and Rome).

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Vulcan
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course, the world of Oerth does not exist in a vacuum. It is connected to countless other worlds, including our own. I expect Oerth would have a lot of anachronisms in comparison to our own history.

For example, we know Murlynd either came from or spent a fair amount of time in a world closely corresponding to the American Old West...

It's actually rather surprising, in that context, that such inventions as the printing press haven't seen greater use in the Flanaess.
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Mystic-Scholar
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greyhawk is a -- supposedly -- medieval world, but one created with 20th Century sensibilities. And newer editions of the game are even more influenced by 21st Century sensibilities.

In other words: "Medieval" Greyhawk has nothing in common with real world historical realities. So . . . do whatever you feel like.
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tarelton
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mystic-Scholar wrote:
Greyhawk is a -- supposedly -- medieval world, but one created with 20th Century sensibilities. And newer editions of the game are even more influenced by 21st Century sensibilities.

In other words: "Medieval" Greyhawk has nothing in common with real world historical realities. So . . . do whatever you feel like.


I try to keep my vision more medieval... Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth is a good source for what 12th and 13th century England would have been like... not particularly nice. Of course, with a far more polytheistic society, and actual divine miracles and other magic, Mystic Scholar is right... it can be whatever you want.
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Mystic-Scholar
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tarelton wrote:
I try to keep my vision more medieval...


Eyeglasses -- believed to have been invented in 1285
Potato -- discovered circa 1492
Tomato -- discovered circa 1492
Tobacco -- discovered circa 1492
Chocolate -- discovered circa 1492

When Columbus sailed the ocean blue. (Incidentally, the "medieval period" is considered to have ended about the year 1400. Long before Columbus sailed.)

Richard the Lionheart knew none of these things. Never heard of them. Never saw them.

Richard, William the Conqueror, Julius Caesar; how far back do you wish to go?

All of the above mentioned items exist in the game. They did not "exist" in the medieval times of our world.

Lions and Tigers? Two different continents. Emus and Ostriches? Two different continents. The list goes on.

Greyhawk, Faerun, et al, are really quite cosmopolitan for "medieval" worlds, and not synonymous with our real world medieval period at all.
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vestcoat
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I err on the side of limiting anomalies: no field or full-plate armor (per Ivid the Undying and pre-Unearthed Arcana Greyhawk); no dungeon-punk accessories, black-studded armor, or ridiculous mauls from 3e-4e; no billiard tables, indoor plumbing, or urban druids from Yggsburgh; Spelljamming is rare and mysterious; and countries with any canon religious disposition are much more faith-based and intolerant of rivals IMC. Even on the open road, adventures caught with something as simple as steel arrowheads are libel to be arrested by a passing patrol as brigands unless they can demonstrate a sellsword license, adventuring charter, knighthood, or lawful temple affiliation.

All of this makes it more fun to break the rules on rare occasions. PC's went from Tenh, where chain mail isn't sold and the Flan rigidly persist in wearing their traditional scale and bronze plate mail, to the Corusks and discovered that the isolationist mountain dwarves have steam engines.

Other anomalies I've used are: the Machine of Lum the Mad, timekeeping priests, greek fire, gnomish leather armor, gnome flying machines, and various technologies being slowly disseminated from Blackmoor.
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Mystic-Scholar
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vestcoat wrote:
I err on the side of limiting anomalies: no field or full-plate armor . . . PC's went from Tenh . . . to the Corusks and discovered that the isolationist mountain dwarves have steam engines.

Other anomalies . . . gnome flying machines, and various technologies being slowly disseminated from Blackmoor.


Those seem like odd choices. Interesting, but slightly odd.

Our real world medieval period is considered to be approximately 1000 years long; from the year 400 to the year 1400.

What we term "full plate armor" didn't exist until about the last 100 years of the medieval period. However, steam engines didn't come about until the year 1712, some 400 years after the advent of "full plate" armor.

I just find it odd that one "nation" would have steam engines without anyone having "invented" full plate armor.

Mail -- or "chain mail" -- existed for centuries, but, in all that time, I cannot see someone not "inventing" what we call in the game "partial plate."

"Hey, if I put this (5000 year old) breast plate over/under my chain mail . . ."

Might never have been a "big thing," but I can see it happening.
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Amesang
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

See, this is why I've grown more comfortable looking at Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms as more "early Renaissance" than "medieval." Makes some of the anachronisms a lot less jarring. You know… like widespread literacy and education.

Vulcan wrote:
It's actually rather surprising, in that context, that such inventions as the printing press haven't seen greater use in the Flanaess.

There's always the "Greyhawk Grumbler":
http://dnd.schadenfreudestudios.com/books/greyhawk/the%20greyhawk%20grumbler%20-%20598cy%2003%20coldeven.pdf
http://dnd.schadenfreudestudios.com/books/greyhawk/the%20greyhawk%20grumbler%20-%20598cy%2006%20wealsun.pdf
http://dnd.schadenfreudestudios.com/books/greyhawk/the%20greyhawk%20grumbler%20-%20598cy%2008%20goodmonth.pdf
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mystic-Scholar wrote:
tarelton wrote:
I try to keep my vision more medieval...


Eyeglasses -- believed to have been invented in 1285
Potato -- discovered circa 1492
Tomato -- discovered circa 1492
Tobacco -- discovered circa 1492
Chocolate -- discovered circa 1492

When Columbus sailed the ocean blue. (Incidentally, the "medieval period" is considered to have ended about the year 1400. Long before Columbus sailed.)

Richard the Lionheart knew none of these things. Never heard of them. Never saw them.

Richard, William the Conqueror, Julius Caesar; how far back do you wish to go?

All of the above mentioned items exist in the game. They did not "exist" in the medieval times of our world.

Lions and Tigers? Two different continents. Emus and Ostriches? Two different continents. The list goes on.

Greyhawk, Faerun, et al, are really quite cosmopolitan for "medieval" worlds, and not synonymous with our real world medieval period at all.


Part of the fun is in trying to explain many of these anomalies, though. The objections to the presence of potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco in a "medieval" setting can be addressed if you consider the Flanaess to be Greyhawk North America rather than Greyhawk Europe like I do. So it makes sense that these things would exist in the Flanaess-as the fantasy equivalent of the First Nations, the Flan were using them before the Sueloise or the Oeridians ever colonized the continent.

Same thing with the Native American-inspired Flan having a written language in "medieval" times. If writing symbols are necessary to relearn magical spells after they've been cast, then eventually people might find other uses for those symbols, even if they're not magical in nature.

As for other anomalies, they can be explained by emphasizing the ways in which Oerth differs from the real world. Some chemical and physical principles are slightly different. This is why steam engines explode in a burst of scalding hot water and razor-edged shrapnel rather than actually propelling anything, or why oil can burn trolls but won't function in an engine. While electricity can be used to make a crude booby trap the way it does in the Slave Lords modules, it won't do anything when applied to a motor.
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tarelton
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, there are asiatic lions...

While I do like using the original concepts of the human races (Oeridians = germanic tribes, Suel = Babylonians/Romans/Byzantines, Flan = Celts/Native Americans) I look at these as starting points. The real challenge with the anomalies is do they begin to changes the nature of the story the DM wants to tell. Mass literacy, printing presses, and the rest are not wrong, but naturally lead to something different than a medieval/Howard/Tolkienesque fantasy world. For instance rare books would be less rare and more broadly distributed... so much for journeying to the Great Library when the local city has a printed copy as well.

Turtledove's Agent of Byzantium is a good book that highlights the immediate affects of the sudden introduction of technology into a medieval setting. The basic premise is that the Byzantine Empire is never challenged by Islam, and remains the preeminent Mediterranean state. At the time of the stories, the protagonist witnesses the introduction of a new technology or concept in each story, and must deal with it in such as way as to not destabilize the empire; such concepts and technology include telescopes, vaccination, gunpowder, strong alcohol, and printing.
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pykm
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tarelton wrote:
Actually, there are asiatic lions...


In the medieval period, there were European lions... until the 10th century, when they went extinct.[/i]
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abysslin
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mystic-Scholar wrote:
tarelton wrote:
I try to keep my vision more medieval...


Eyeglasses -- believed to have been invented in 1285
Potato -- discovered circa 1492
Tomato -- discovered circa 1492
Tobacco -- discovered circa 1492
Chocolate -- discovered circa 1492

When Columbus sailed the ocean blue. (Incidentally, the "medieval period" is considered to have ended about the year 1400. Long before Columbus sailed.)

Richard the Lionheart knew none of these things. Never heard of them. Never saw them.

Richard, William the Conqueror, Julius Caesar; how far back do you wish to go?

All of the above mentioned items exist in the game. They did not "exist" in the medieval times of our world.

Lions and Tigers? Two different continents. Emus and Ostriches? Two different continents. The list goes on.

Greyhawk, Faerun, et al, are really quite cosmopolitan for "medieval" worlds, and not synonymous with our real world medieval period at all.


Tomatoes weren't in Italy before 1492??
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

abysslin wrote:
Tomatoes weren't in Italy before 1492??


They're New World plants, so nobody in Europe knew about them before Columbus. But insofar as the Amedio Jungle is based partly on Central America, the Flanaess has probably had them for ages.

The ancient Romans used wine sauces, fish sauces, and of course olives.
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Mystic-Scholar
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
But insofar as the Amedio Jungle is based partly on Central America, the Flanaess has probably had them for ages.


Planet earth had tomatoes for "ages," as did the native (south) Americans. North America did not. And, before the advent of the Panama canal, the two continents were connected by land. Still didn't trade with each other. Europe didn't have them for the same reasons:

Lack of trade.
Lack of knowing a place exist.
Etceterra.

Then consider the fact that the actual plant is poisonous. Only the fruit -- the tomato -- can be eaten. So even after it was discovered, Europeans avoided the plant for a time.

As I said, the World of Greyhawk is far more cosmopolitan than was our own world during the "middle ages."

I play my Greyhawk more inline with the real world situation. I find it more realistic and authentic. But everyone should play it the way they feel it. Individually more enjoyable that way.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Flanaess is much closer to the Amedio than Europe is to Central America, so I'd imagine the Flanaess has been trading with them for much longer. Consider how much trade and conquest there was/is between Europe and Northern Africa.

I assume the Suel, at least, have traded with/invaded the Amedio since well before the Rain of Colorless Fire.
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A-Baneful-Backfire
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In summary, I guess my technique in dealing with anomalies is to rename the object or thing if I can. That way I can fudge, and have the thing not perform just like its real-world counterpart – if I want.

This topic brings to mind a scenario in the Treasures of Greyhawk entitled “Bigby’s Modest Home.” As written, the description utilized the terms of a contemporary suburban house. So I simply used different words – in this sense I had no problem with the concepts, just in how they were described.

Porch became Portico
Dining Room became Refectory
Living Room became Parlor
Study became Solar (conveniently the windows on the map did face south)
Carpets became rugs, loosely laid and not wall-to-wall

Musical Instruments – there was also a grand piano. Well that merely needed to be renamed “Great Hall sized Rel Deven Hammer Clavichord.” And then I don’t have to explain just how it works or sounds.

Some Other Anomalies

Disease – Contagious diseases are not, in any way, biological in my game. They are a foul (or more particularly negative) energy or “humor.” This has helped diseases remain as plot devices.

Poison – Toxic substances are just a material conduit - for negative energy again. If an animal has a venom, then like the traditional symbolism of vipers, they are associated with death. This is why paladins can’t use poisons, even incapacitating ones. (Though in my 3.5/Path/Etc. campaign, sleep poisons - as opposed to unconsciousness inducing poisons - merely redirect the victim to the dreaming state, which is not empowered with negative energy.)

Physics/Chemistry/Etc. - Its really nice explaining away things because there are only four elements – air, earth, fire and water. Heck, throw in Spelljammer gravity rules and things just get awesome!

Education/Literacy/etc. – You don’t need printing presses if a Delleb priest gets his hands on an animated quill. And those same priests just love teaching the kids.

As others have said part of the fun is explaining the anomalies.
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