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Old 03-14-2006, 03:40 AM   #21
Mercator
 
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Fionn The Otaku
Some ideas and questions.
Since in many city sates like Athens being a king was ceremonial religious position at this point the return of the gods could very well cause the rise of theocratic governments.
Yes, and I can easily see a non-democratic warrior culture like Sparta develop some kind of twisted dark cult of Ares and/or Hades, a fatalistic worship of war and death, perhaps like the Norse vision. The kings would be the high priests of this cult. Or perhaps, given Spartan conservatism, this is not the official Spartan religion, but a schism of some kind, and the city is in danger of a religious civil war. It would fit the image I have of Sparta.

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Originally Posted by Fionn The Otaku
Also [...] the returning of Greek lands to there Bronze age condition and the appearance of fantastic/mythic beings in civilized lands should have effects on Persia and Carthage. Most likely the Olympians return will cause a lot of religious turmoil among non-Greeks.
It will definitely be quite a shock. After the spectacular Greek victory at the Thermopylae, I can see the neighbors of Greece getting quite worried about Greek expansionism (remember the Pan-Hellenic World Empire I mentioned before) and perhaps the immediate effect would be that the Persians would expand their military and reinforce their western border with as many soldiers and citadels as they can (not that it would me much good, but still...). I can imagine the religious turmoil in Persia would be considerable, with mass conversions to the Greek religion, unrest, rebellions in the provinces with "the will of Zeus" as a pretext... quite a setting.


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Where are the Centaurs, Satyrs, Nymphs and other fantastic creaturs coming from? Are they being created out of nothing or are humans and animals being transformed? How true to the Greek myths will these creatures be? Are there female centaurs or are they all male?
This is one of the major design choices for the setting. Where do they come from: Immaterial creatures like nymphs, can just materialize out of nothing, the same way the Gods did. One day you go to the river for water, as you always had, and there is is a Naiad dwelling in it. So you pay her your respects for her to allow you to keep taking water form her river.
For material creatures, I want them to be realistic species. I want them to resemble the legends, but not to be literally as described. For instance, I want to have Stymphalian birds, but they will not have wings of bronze; they will just be big, mean birds with razor-sharp claws and a *very* scary beak. Centaurs will exist, but their society will resemble that of a Stone Age mountain tribe and they will not be assaulting organized settlements as they mention in the Iliad, because the humans will massacre them (perhaps a cattle raid from time to time). Things like that. It follows that there *will* be female centaurs, and they will reproduce naturally as mammals.
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Old 03-14-2006, 04:07 AM   #22
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Asta Kask
They would certainly be as fickle as the Olympian gods, but might have various mental nuisance effects as well - Paranoia, Delusions, Sadism, Uncontrollable Appetite - the possibilities are endless. I don't know if you have Magic but the rules there for black magic would be a possibility.
It just struck me: what if the Titans are not fickle? What if the upside of dealing with Titans is that their favors are much more reliable (and thus more tempting) than the Olympians'? They have been imprisoned in Tartarus for ages; they certainly know patience. And they are not wasting time seducing mortals and playing war; they are fixated in escaping Tartarus and overthrowing Zeus. Add the only reliable magical powers in the world with some kind of limited "Invisibility from the Gods" gift (which the Titans will have to grant anyway if they expect their worshippers to survive), and you get a very, very tempting package...

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Again, think of the possibilities with a Poseidon who is hostile to the Athenians. To keep their trading empire, they have to make a deal with Nereus or Thetis...which leads to bad mojo.
Sir, you are my kind of evil. Consider this idea incorporated to the setting right away.
Perhaps each of the two sides has geographical spheres of influence; at the borders, where both powers collide, you could have the natural and magical laws twisted and full with even more bizarre phenomena, mutated mythological creatures even more bizarre and terrible than the magical ones, etc. (note: perhaps this is how the fearsome giant monsters like Scylla or the Hydra come into being, some kind of "magical mutants"). The Aegean is going to be a funny place indeed...

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What about Ouranos? Will the most ancient of gods come back as well? As for the Titans devolving technology - perhaps a Pact must be made not to use iron weapons?
I plan to keep the primordial gods like Ouranos, Nyx, etc out of action for the time being. They will certainly be real, and they will surely play a role in the meta-plot, i.e. in explaining why all this is happening in the world. For the time being, I'd rather not have them influence the world directly as the "lesser" Olympians do. They play in a different league ;-).

As an unrelated side note, the idea of starting this setting came from reading Dan Simmons' excellent books ILIUM and OLYMPOS. Great story and very inspired (and inspiring) descriptions of Greek heroes and gods.
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Last edited by Mercator; 03-14-2006 at 04:12 AM. Reason: Added URLs to books ILIUM and OLYMPOS
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:47 AM   #23
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

If you have gods come back in other realms, I would suggest keeping a Greek/Hellenic focus through the means the classical Greeks actually used to explain the gods of other peoples - syncretism. Whatever gods, say, the Egyptians or the Germans (when Rome encountered them) had were equated to the closest Greek gods. Thoth was Hermes, Amon-Ra was Zeus, Odin was also Hermes, Thor was Zeus, etc., etc. Any differences in character or in the relative ranking of members of the pantheon can be explained in terms Olympians shapeshifting, tailoring their personas to garner the greatest amount of worship from various barbarian peoples, and varying amounts of influence and presence in different countries. After all, the worship of the Greek gods and heroes varied greatly from city to city, with tales told of Theseus in Athens told of the local heroes in other cities for example.

Remember when doing equivalencies that you don't have to stick to the Big Twelve - that exact formulation of who the top 12 Olympians were was a rather late invention, anyway. As the Argosy shows, some countries might worship lesser gods such as Helios or Hecate almost exclusively. Egyptian religion could be regarded as more focused on the Cthonic deities, possibly including Osiris as an aspect of Dionysos or Adonis/Tammuz focused more on his dismemberment and resurrection than anything else.

Given that you want this to be a horror background, you can play around with the idea that even for the current Olympians, none of the human-like faces they show are anything like their true selves - they're all shapeshifters, after all.

Another issue to consider, since you're placing the campaign two generations after the return, is whether the gods have returned to their old habits of mortal laisons, producing demigod byblows scattered around the world...
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Old 03-14-2006, 12:50 PM   #24
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

Chello!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitruvian
Another issue to consider, since you're placing the campaign two generations after the return, is whether the gods have returned to their old habits of mortal laisons, producing demigod byblows scattered around the world...
That would be a good source for PCs....

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Old 03-14-2006, 01:11 PM   #25
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by vitruvian
If you have gods come back in other realms, I would suggest keeping a Greek/Hellenic focus through the means the classical Greeks actually used to explain the gods of other peoples - syncretism.[...]
That's a very interesting idea, and consistent with the real Greek culture of the time. If the time comes to "wake up" pantheons form other cultures, I will certainly consider it.

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Originally Posted by vitruvian
Given that you want this to be a horror background, you can play around with the idea that even for the current Olympians, none of the human-like faces they show are anything like their true selves - they're all shapeshifters, after all.
That's also a good idea for a high-powered campaign, where one can expect to meet the gods in person more or less often. Initially, I want the PCs to have around 100-150 CPs; quite competent, but non incredibly so. My reference would be the Companion character class from Ars Magica.

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Another issue to consider, since you're placing the campaign two generations after the return, is whether the gods have returned to their old habits of mortal laisons, producing demigod byblows scattered around the world...
The more I think of it, the more it seems that God-spawned humans have to exist. As I said in post #19, my take for the Iron Age low-powered "heroes" is that they are just people with weird innate powers which can give them a clear edge over normal people (as the example from that same post, the guy who just could not die and didn't know why), not demigods like Heracles or Achilles (this is sounding more and more like a perfect niche for PCs). When I become better with GURPS, I could opt for the high-powered approach and allow high-powered one-man armies to appear.
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Old 03-14-2006, 01:33 PM   #26
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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The more I think of it, the more it seems that God-spawned humans have to exist. As I said in post #19, my take for the Iron Age low-powered "heroes" is that they are just people with weird innate powers which can give them a clear edge over normal people (as the example from that same post, the guy who just could not die and didn't know why), not demigods like Heracles or Achilles (this is sounding more and more like a perfect niche for PCs). When I become better with GURPS, I could opt for the high-powered approach and allow high-powered one-man armies to appear.
Just remember - not all demigods, or at any rate not all byblows of the Olympians, even Zeus, are quite as impressive as Herakles or Akilleos. Theseus is pretty strong, and may or may not be able to survive underwater, but not notably superhuman beyond that; Perseus doesn't seem to be all that until gifted with special weapons by Athene and Hermes. If you go with 150 pt characters, 'Divine Birth' could just be a 10 point or so Unusual Background justifying one or two special abilities, or even just a good HT and somewhat higher Reputation or Status among those who know of your parentage. It can also justify Enemies of all kinds; maybe your stepdad didn't like being cuckolded and resents you for it, maybe your real dad's divine spouse is ****** at you, maybe another god sends challenges and monsters after you because they're rivals with your parent, etc. Destinies and Weirdness Magnet also fit - you always seem to run into the strangest monsters spawned, since it's your fate to be a hero.

You could also take a page from Judeo-Christian 'mythology' and have it that some of the monsters popping up are the result of the less successful matings between gods and humans (or gods and other things - who's to say what they get up to when in animal shape?). Perhaps the nomads of Canaan, inland from Tyre, call these aberrations Nephilim...
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Old 03-14-2006, 02:30 PM   #27
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitruvian
If you have gods come back in other realms, I would suggest keeping a Greek/Hellenic focus through the means the classical Greeks actually used to explain the gods of other peoples - syncretism.[...]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercator
That's a very interesting idea, and consistent with the real Greek culture of the time. If the time comes to "wake up" pantheons form other cultures, I will certainly consider it.
Another possibility, which I'll be using for my Fantasy Europe, is one that is probably pretty common but really made me think hard about it when I saw it in a recent issue of The Order of the Stick.

This is that there really are distinct pantheons of gods, though possibly fewer than us mortals tend to think. So you use syncretism to merge the pantheons that are most similar to reduce your workload when dealing with inter-deity interactions, but still have a number of different groups of gods, aware of each others existence and maybe playing some extremely high-level version of political chess to expand their own pantheon's influence (as well as their own individual places within their respective pantheons).

In my world, I'll be going with four pantheons: the Germanic/Norse pantheon
for the viking Norse, Anglo-Saxons and Central Europe barbarians, the Celtic pantheon for West Britain and Frankia, the Hellenic pantheon for Greece and Rome, and the Egyptian pantheon for Egypt and Persia. Or maybe I'll leave the egyptian gods just in Egypt, and use a bi-deity chthonic pantheon of Light and Dark for Persia. I haven't really thought that far ahead in any detail, as the specifics of my campaign are still only in one small jarldom of the North Way.
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Old 03-14-2006, 02:53 PM   #28
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by vitruvian
Just remember - not all demigods, or at any rate not all byblows of the Olympians, even Zeus, are quite as impressive as Herakles or Akilleos.[...]
You are right, and I stand corrected. BTW, I found the idea of using Weirdness Magnet for heros amusing. If someone deserves it, it's them!

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You could also take a page from Judeo-Christian 'mythology' and have it that some of the monsters popping up are the result of the less successful matings between gods and humans (or gods and other things - who's to say what they get up to when in animal shape?). Perhaps the nomads of Canaan, inland from Tyre, call these aberrations Nephilim...
I plan to have aberrations. They fit the setting perfectly. I was thinking of they emerging in some kind of "weird magic" zone where two gods' powers clash or some such, but, as you say, who can say what can come out from a mating of a God and, say, a harpy? IIRC, Some of the nastier creatures trapped in Tartarus (like the Hecatoncheires) were created that way.

Wait, it just occurred to me - what if the Titans can magically impregnate mortal women (or other beings)? What would a Titanic Hero be like? Not only he would have a 30-point Secret, he would need pretty powerful magics to keep his nature constantly hidden from the Olympians. If he is to have enough power to balance these disadvantages, he would be a truly formidable creature. I do not know of Titanic Heros in the Greek Mythos, but they would make a good addition.

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Old 03-14-2006, 03:41 PM   #29
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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I do not know of Titanic Heros in the Greek Mythos, but they would make a good addition.
Well, Helios was technically a Titan, and Phaeton was his son (the one who literally ran the family business into the ground).
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Old 03-14-2006, 03:43 PM   #30
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Herakles: I hadn't thought about him, but he'd be dreadfully important! If I were running the Pelopenesian War campaign, I'd hold him as part of the story-arc, leaving it up to the PC's to sway him into joining one side or the other. He'd make a heckuva Patron for a group of Heroic PC's. Or maybe he incarnates and roams Greece, trying to get the cities to pull together and face the threat of the Titans.

Poesidon: Making a deal with Thestis, and bravely sailing into the Aegean - despite the wrath of Poseidon - would be an incredibly Greek thing to do, wouldn't it? Especially if you've got Athena on your side... she's been known to help out in that sort of situation, ala Odysseus.

Mercator: You probably shouldn't feel pressed to respond to us all individually. You might take it as a compliment that you've created a world background that we can all sink our teeth into and run with :-)

I think your scaled-down Heros area perfect idea. Not every Greek Hero was Earth-shattering, many of them just fought monsters, founded cities, and generated conflict. A Hero is defined by what he does, not who he is, and all that... And there are a few non-combat heroic characters lurking in the periphery of the Greek myths: a philosopher who cannot die would be perfect - first he thinks of it as a boon, but soon realizes it's a punishment and a tragic flaw. First he revels in immortality, then collapses in despair, then finds acceptence - only to be smitten down for accidentally comparing himself to the 'deathless Gods'.

IIRC, most of the Titan offspring in the original myths show up as monsters rather than Heros. But semi-human Titan offspring aren't contrary to the feel of those myths, and are going to complement your setting well. I see them as sort of corrupt and monsterous: the Deep Ones, Ogres, and Fomori of your setting. They ought to be full of strange powers and twisted destinies and flaws. Weren't the cyclopses originally Titan offspring?

From what little I know of Spartan religious practices, Ares already had a fairly prominent place. So any sort of dark cult would work as a schism. One potential story idea: after the reforms of Lykergius <sp?> during the Dark Age of Greece, Sparta had two kings at any one time. Maybe one of them is the head of the mainstream Olympian cult, while the other wants to enshrine Ares as the only diety of Sparta? And maybe the Romans (who were always big on Mars anyway) are devoted practioners of this dark and twisted Ares worship, and get to be the invading Orcs of the setting. (Little do they know that Romulus being nursed by the she-wolf is a metaphor for his Titan heritage and gifts. He's still alive and secretly guiding the cult of Mars and the Roman expansion in Italy, and Greece).

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