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Old 08-25-2014, 04:41 PM   #11
sir_pudding
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

Some observations of Al Anbar:
People just dump trash in an empty lot or all over the place. Occasionally someone burns it.

Groups of 2-3 men will stand around talking by the road all day long, all over the place (rather than say, in the shade of a building 3 meters off the road.

Most physical labor (farming, road crews) seems to be done by women, older men or boys. Men 16-50 or so seem to either be in the IPs, the Army, a profession or just stand around all the time looking suspicious.

Obviously men are more physically affectionate than Americans are comfortable with. Young hip men dress in a disco kind of way, which also seems odd and effeminate to young American men.

Nobody seems to be aware that MGs and Assault Rifles are dangerous but they are terrified of pistols (probably a relic of the Hussain regime and summary executions; Americans being more likely to kill you with a rifle round hasn't really been noticed).

While the IPs are a bunch of unemployable idiots, and the IA is a bunch of thuggish gear-queers, the tribal shieks clearly keep their best guys back on the ranch. Also the private security guys employed by mayors and other officials are generally well equipped pros (usually from Saudi Arabia or the UAE).
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:54 PM   #12
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

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I'm guessing Iraqi food has a lot of similarities to Syrian food, the fast food version of which I eat often. Are there important differences to keep in mind?
I don't know about this specific case, but in many cases, immigrants to Europe adapt their native dishes to suit local tastes. That's happened with some (if not most) Indian dishes, and Chinese food too. Middle Eastern food could well have been similarly adapted.

Although it might be convenient for you to ignore that, and just pretend that Iraqi food in Iraq is exactly similar to the kind of Syrian food you get on Iceland, but perhaps with less meat in it (I imagine meat is scarce in a war zone, and when usd may be mystery meat rather than what one might prefer). It's the kind of abstraction that I can't see as doing any damage to anything in an RPG.

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*Less convincingly the further whomever he is asked to pass as diverges from his actual background, of course. He's had some training in various Islamic theologies and Middle Eastern cultures as part of his Delta training, but he's not a scholar of Islamic theology and his grasp of Mandean or Jazidi religion and culture is very weak.
If he's been given even just Dabbler-level education in Theology (Mandean) and Theology (Jazidi) then Delta Force are some very thorough guys indeed!

I hadn't even heard of the Jazidi, ever, until a couple of weeks ago, and the only reason I know what the Mandeans are is because I've looked a bit into the issue of (comparative) religion (I use is routinely as an example of "Abrahamic religion doesn't just refer to the Big Three - almost, but not entirely").
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:03 PM   #13
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

In western Iraq you have "falafel" sold by street vendors which is very different from what falafel means here. There it is some kind of meat (Lamb, Chicken or Goat mostly) cut into small pieces and mixed with tomatoes and cucumbers served in a pita with mint chutney.

There also drink black tea served black but very sweet with honey a lot, which they call "chai" but it is wholly unlike chai tea in the US. If you go anywhere (even Army headquarters; even if you are standing guard) you will be offered some. It is impolite to refuse .

Last edited by sir_pudding; 08-26-2014 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:04 PM   #14
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
I don't know about this specific case, but in many cases, immigrants to Europe adapt their native dishes to suit local tastes. That's happened with some (if not most) Indian dishes, and Chinese food too. Middle Eastern food could well have been similarly adapted.

Although it might be convenient for you to ignore that, and just pretend that Iraqi food in Iraq is exactly similar to the kind of Syrian food you get on Iceland, but perhaps with less meat in it (I imagine meat is scarce in a war zone, and when usd may be mystery meat rather than what one might prefer). It's the kind of abstraction that I can't see as doing any damage to anything in an RPG.
They'll surely adapt dishes, yes. On the other hand, any knowledge I have about local cuisine and can present in-game can serve to add local flavour...

Dear gods, I've punned.

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
If he's been given even just Dabbler-level education in Theology (Mandean) and Theology (Jazidi) then Delta Force are some very thorough guys indeed!

I hadn't even heard of the Jazidi, ever, until a couple of weeks ago, and the only reason I know what the Mandeans are is because I've looked a bit into the issue of (comparative) religion (I use is routinely as an example of "Abrahamic religion doesn't just refer to the Big Three - almost, but not entirely").
He doesn't have Theology for either, but he has skill -12 in an Expert Skill allowing him to answer questions about anything related to the various majority and minority cultures of modern Iraq.

He spent two semesters doing intensive language and culture immersion with a variety of Iraqi expats in Qatar*, before doing 1st SFOD-D training. Since he looks Iraqi, they wanted him to be able to pass for a local convincingly and he grew up in Detroit, in a non-religious household.

*He was there on detached service as a Special Forces trainer, but rules were bent enough to allow him to live as an Arab among a community of expats and observe Islamic traditions.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:06 PM   #15
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

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They'll surely adapt dishes, yes. On the other hand, any knowledge I have about local cuisine and can present in-game can serve to add local flavour...

Dear gods, I've punned.


He doesn't have Theology for either, but he has skill -12 in an Expert Skill allowing him to answer questions about anything related to the various majority and minority cultures of modern Iraq.

He spent two semesters doing intensive language and culture immersion with a variety of Iraqi expats in Qatar, before doing 1st SFOD-D training. Since he looks Iraqi, they wanted him to be able to pass for a local convincingly and he grew up in Detroit, in a non-religious household.


I knew more about the minority religions of Iraq than any Iraqi I spoke to about them.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:09 PM   #16
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

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I knew more about the minority religions of Iraq than any Iraqi I spoke to about them.
Including members of said religions?

I was looking for a way to have the PC able to pass as a Sunni without any roll, but which posed problems if he had to pretend to be Shi'ia and if* the PCs ever have to infiltrate a community of Mandeans or Yazidis with supernatural powers, he'll have to rely on Fast-Talk.

*When.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:11 PM   #17
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

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Including members of said religions?
Most/all of the Iraqis I dealt with were Muslims (or secular) even the Kurdish peshmerga.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:22 PM   #18
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

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Most/all of the Iraqis I dealt with were Muslims (or secular) even the Kurdish peshmerga.
A specific peculiarity of the way the supernatural works in the setting is that while popular belief influences the kind of supernatural stuff that occurs, widely spoken languages or commonly known rituals appear to dilute the magical effects of spells and rituals.

The best way to get working magic is therefore to speak an ancient and little known language and work magic in a tradition that a lot of people have heard of and may fear, but don't necessarily have a good understanding of or specific knowledge about the rituals involved.

Aramaic-speaking Mandeans or Kurdish-speaking Yazidi have a lot better chance of having working magic than any member of the mainstream culture.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:47 PM   #19
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I knew more about the minority religions of Iraq than any Iraqi I spoke to about them.
That makes sense. A certain approach to religion holds the belief that if you know anything about "enemy" religions then that knowledge pollutes your spiritual purity.

There's also the unrelated phenomenon of many fervently religious people not having actually read much of their own scripture. Many who aren't so much religious as they are deeply cultural conservative (i.e. neophobes - irrationally afraid of that which is new or different) and want to preserve local tradition. "We've always done that around here, and we've never tolerated these particular kinds of behaviour, and we kinda sorta think there's a scriptural basis to support our position."
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Old 08-25-2014, 09:34 PM   #20
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Default Re: Roleplaying flavour and guide to Iraq in 2011

http://www.amazon.com/Delights-Garde.../dp/1845534573

I own this book. It's good stuff, and I was able to make food that very much resembled food I ate in Iraq by following the recipes.
My wife likes it, too.
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