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    Canonfire :: View topic - Suel Arcane Mastery - A Matter of Breeding?
    Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion
    Suel Arcane Mastery - A Matter of Breeding?
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Feb 13, 2020
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    From: Emigre from Mystara

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    Sun Jun 30, 2024 3:46 am  
    Suel Arcane Mastery - A Matter of Breeding?

    The Suel are well known for their mastery of their arcane arts, and inherent abilities. The Suel Imperium was famed for its arcane casters, and it numbered amongst its members the Mages of Power that surpass any mage now alive (with all but Slerotin perishing in the Rain of Colorless Fire). Its mages were said to have developed spells beyond the ninth level of mastery which is now the limit of arcane casters in the Flanaess (and Oerik).
    But how did the Suel Imperium come to have such mastery? The Baklunish Empire was known for its mage-priests, and its casters for the ability to control the elements and beings such as djinn and efreet. However, it appears they were still surpassed by the Suel Imperium in the arcane arts. What was special about the Imperium?
    The Imperium is known for having created the derro, magical cross breeds of dwarf and human slaves. The derro inherited magical prowess from their Suloise ancestors.
    The Scarlet Brotherhood, pale imitators of the Imperium, have attempted to repeat such magical breeding with their bredthrall program. They also engage in a breeding program of subjects to try to keep the bloodlines of the Suel “pure”, including importing prime candidates from the Suel Barbarians of Rhizia.
    It is not too difficult to see the Imperium engaging in such a breeding program itself to produce the best arcane abilities in its own subjects. That the Mages of Power were the result of generations or centuries (maybe millennia) of identifying and breeding the best candidates with arcane powers.
    Perhaps its ability to develop and use 9th level spells was because its mages had such highly developed (genetically bred) powers that no others could match them?
    Maybe the priests of Wee Jas played a part in that program? Maybe it offended them and their goddess turned their face from the Imperium, allowing the Rain of Colorless Fire.
    Maybe the program became an end in itself? The chosen and houses in the end inbreeding, causing madness and indolence and the Suel to fall into internal warring and scheming as occurred in their last years.
    And with the destruction of the Imperium and the death of the Mages of Power all that came to an abrupt end.
    Such a program would doubtless interest the Scarlet Brotherhood, to find records of its methods and how to identify indicators of arcane power. Perhaps repositories of such lore sit buried under the Sea of Dust, or in tomes carried away into the Flanaess. What happened to Slerotin? Or the descendants of other mages bred by the program? Might it rise again, or its end result rise again to haunt the Flanaess a millenia later …?
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Sun Jun 30, 2024 9:32 am  

    I dislike the idea of genetic superiority with respect to one race/culture of humanity over any other, even in a fantasy setting.

    In the real world, we can see that advances in knowledge are not just based on the advancement of culture, but on the sharing of ideas across cultures. Many ancient cultures discovered advances in science (the real-world equivalent of magic) that were lost to future generations for hundreds, or even thousands, or years. For example, the Roman roads and aqueducts, Greek Fire, Chinese fireworks/gun powder, Egyptian and Mesoamerican pyramids and other megaliths all over the world.

    I believe it would be far better to argue that the ancient Suel culture had simply advanced to a place where their wizards had learned to harness such powerful magic and that with the death of those mages of power and the destruction of the records by the Rain of Colorless fire, such knowledge was lost until such time as a new culture advances - with the blessing of a god of magic - to the point that it may re-learn such things.

    SirXaris
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    From: Emigre from Mystara

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    Sun Jun 30, 2024 2:33 pm  

    It’s an idea. If you don’t like it you can ignore it. The idea came out of a discussion on Greychat about a dune and the Bene Gesserit, and their breeding program being used to manipulate humanity. It occurred to me what if the Imperium did something similar to gain arcane superiority. So I noted it down in case anyone else antes to use it.
    It’s like the Slave Lords or Scarlet Brotherhood. They do bad things. Because they are the baddies. The heroes fight them.
    After all the Imperium was losing the war and nuked the Bakluni first. The hats pretty bad. So I doubled down on how “bad” the Suel might be.
    I quite like the Suel and the Imperium. But the fun of fantasy games is you can play around with concepts.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 30, 2024 3:08 pm  

    I can see the Scarlet Brotherhood believing 'breeding' having something to do with it.

    That the wizards of the Baklunish Empire managed to retaliate to the Invoked Devastation as effectively as they did says they were almost certainly of the same power level as the Suel of the time. And if I'm not mistaken, Vecna was of Flan descent...
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
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    Sun Jun 30, 2024 6:20 pm  

    They're interesting and provocative ideas, which risk misuse or misunderstanding, imo.

    Nijineko mentioned the Life Shaping Handbook, which I have yet to read (but just downloaded), and Pathfinder continued 3.5e's exploration of aboleth flesh-shaping (can't quickly find a good reference).

    My campaign has yet to introduce the Scarlet Brotherhood "bredthralls" although an has NPC mentioned them once. For campaign background, I like the idea that the Brotherhood believes that it is replicating the ancient "magical breeding" program of the Suel Imperium as part of its general eugenicism / racism but would probably not "fix" whether that was an ancient program of the Imperium, and if so, whether it was successful.

    For example, maybe The Journal of Kevelli Mauk refers to the practice, and the The Tome of the Scarlet Sign has a chapter on it? Both sources are partial and biased, but the Brotherhood doesn't think if it that way, and the Offices of Purity and Sorcery and the Brotherhood Arcane have conjectured and experimented assiduously over the centuries with a handful of "successes" (i.e., the bredthralls, war-thralls, and monsters and mutants of Lof Bosok that SKR described in The Scarlet Brotherhood).
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 21, 2007
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    Sun Jun 30, 2024 6:20 pm  

    SirXaris wrote:
    I dislike the idea of genetic superiority with respect to one race/culture of humanity over any other, even in a fantasy setting.

    In the real world, we can see that advances in knowledge are not just based on the advancement of culture, but on the sharing of ideas across cultures. Many ancient cultures discovered advances in science (the real-world equivalent of magic) that were lost to future generations for hundreds, or even thousands, or years. For example, the Roman roads and aqueducts, Greek Fire, Chinese fireworks/gun powder, Egyptian and Mesoamerican pyramids and other megaliths all over the world.

    I believe it would be far better to argue that the ancient Suel culture had simply advanced to a place where their wizards had learned to harness such powerful magic and that with the death of those mages of power and the destruction of the records by the Rain of Colorless fire, such knowledge was lost until such time as a new culture advances - with the blessing of a god of magic - to the point that it may re-learn such things.

    SirXaris


    In the real world, eugenics has been practiced for thousands of years. From animal husbandry, to gardening, to noble bloodlines humanity has sought to modify and improve races and species via genetic manipulation.

    Now add magic to the mix. Magic which allows one to easily mutate lifeforms, graft limbs from multiple species, embed spirits into objects, and much much more.

    It is far more likely that humanoids would turn to eugenics over other avenues. Especially when seeking shortcuts to power. After all, it's the tried and true method.
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Jul 01, 2024 9:27 am  

    SirXaris wrote:
    ...I believe it would be far better to argue that the ancient Suel culture had simply advanced to a place where their wizards had learned to harness such powerful magic and that with the death of those mages of power and the destruction of the records by the Rain of Colorless fire, such knowledge was lost until such time as a new culture advances - with the blessing of a god of magic - to the point that it may re-learn such things.


    -If not the only explanation, this would be the predominate explanation. However...

    SirXaris wrote:
    I dislike the idea of genetic superiority with respect to one race/culture of humanity over any other, even in a fantasy setting...


    -Jedi?
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Mon Jul 01, 2024 11:09 pm  

    jamesdglick wrote:

    SirXaris wrote:
    I dislike the idea of genetic superiority with respect to one race/culture of humanity over any other, even in a fantasy setting...


    -Jedi?


    Yeah, though I love Star Wars, I was particularly annoyed at Qui Gon Gin's assertian that Anakin was inherently better than everyone else due to his mitocondria being somehow 'better' than everyone else's. I have never been much impressed with heroes that can't be emulated by normal people. I prefer Captain America to Superman, for that reason.

    I am sorry for taking this off-topic.

    SirXaris
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Jul 02, 2024 3:13 am  

    I remember somebody making the comment that Boccob was a (relatively) recently ascended deity and that Wee Jas was his elder. If you're looking for a reason of why the Suel Imperium was so advanced in magic, her influence makes as much sense as any. A culture of magic combined with a powerful patroness to spread it would explain why the Mages of Power came to be.

    That is also provided you don't take the title "Mages of Power" to be more ceremonial or political in nature. They can be powerful and, when assisted, particular ones, such as Slerotin, can cast spells beyond the limits of normal magic, but that may not hold true for all of them.

    Though I'm going to say that the Scarlet Brotherhood is probably playing with fire if they're trying to reproduce the Mages of Power. Putting such power in the individual, as opposed to the organization, can quickly backfire. I think there's a reason why the mages of the Scarlet Brotherhood have never been mentioned as a powerful faction within the organization.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 11, 2009
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    From: Verbobonc

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    Fri Jul 05, 2024 3:09 pm  

    I have not given much thought to the Suel breeding program, pre-Scarlet Brotherhood, but clearly they had one, and since the Suel rather unambiguously have a Nazi-like element to them, I don't see why it couldn't be part of their past, with the emphasis now shifted towards thieves, assassins, and monks.

    Another or perhaps a linked reason would be the importance of magic to the Suel. I see them as influenced by the Grey Elves of the Crystalmists to put magical knowledge on a pedestal, and over time, magical knowledge became the currency of power in the Imperium. From there, assortive-mating would likely be a factor, as powerful wizards sought out other powerful wizards to mate with as they would both be high-status individuals; think of how nowadays lawyers marry lawyers and doctors marry doctors. I personally think this would have also contributed to class tensions.

    As far as their powerful magics, I've always been inspired by the Forgotten Realms Arcane Age kingdom of Netheril for ideas, though I like the idea of my Suel resembling a pastiche of the Sumerians and Egyptians. So I would likely use the 10th+ level spells, no longer available since the Rain of Colorless FIre and the Invoked Devestation. But that is another story...[/url]
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Fri Jul 05, 2024 9:31 pm  

    I don't recall the source, but it was mentioned that the derro are likely the result of an ancient Suel thrall-breeding program.

    SirXaris
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    Adept Greytalker

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    From: Verbobonc

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    Sat Jul 06, 2024 5:28 am  

    The Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook stated this, thus breeding programs were certainly not beyond the pale for them.
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