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Old 03-15-2006, 12:14 AM   #31
Anders
 
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Lord Carnifex
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...
If you read the Iliad it seems that about 90% of the warriors were descended from some god or another. And it was common in classical Greece as well. Plato's family were supposedly descended from Poseidon, for instance.

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Originally Posted by Lord Carnifex
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 ...snip... only to be smitten down for accidentally comparing himself to the 'deathless Gods'.
Nah, they'd be more likely to turn him into an immortal cricket or something. Where's the fun in just killing him.

The Titans...I can't see them doing much if they're holed up in Tarterus - they almost have to escape. Perhaps that's what started the whole "return of the gods" things. They can flee north of Greece proper, to Thrace or Macedon, which would fit nicely with the idea that Macedon begins to move - they adopt the Titans as their own and use them to fight the Greek gods.

That's another take on the Macedon - Greece conflict, although that belongs to a later part of history, really.
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Old 03-15-2006, 03:17 AM   #32
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

A few random ideas, in no particular order:

Zeus is the perfect example of the "favorites on both sides" dilemma. He was so promiscuous that he had several bastard children on either side of the Trojan War. He had divided loyalties at both the mortal level (feuding demigod children) and the divine (conflicts between his favorites among the gods). When he did get directly involved in the war from time to time, it was either to save one of his favorite heroes from certain death, or because a god had persuaded or tricked him into granting a boon. (In the latter case, fear of Nemesis forced him to follow through on his oaths.)

A few Titans fought on the Olympians' side in the Titanomachia, so were not imprisoned in Tarterus. Helios was one of these, or maybe a neutral party (I forget which), so had several descendants scattered through the known world during the "heroic age": Circe; the royal family of Colchis; the founders of Rhodes; etc. These could be recognized by their "flashing eyes," and some (Medea, Circe) were powerful magicians. He was also the patron god of Rhodes and Colchis, because of these ties. (The famous Colossus was an image of Helios.)

For the most part, Hades seems supremely indifferent to mortal politics. He's obsessed with properly doing his assigned job (keeping dead souls and imprisoned Titans where they belong), which makes him a notable exception among his siblings. However, if the Titans are actively working to get free, Hades will look for the means to prevent that (possibly working on his own, since he likely has a poor opinion of his brothers' reliability).

I'm puttering with my own ideas for a fantasy campaign set in Greece and Egypt. I'll be using multiple pantheons, so those interactions are one of the puzzles I'm still working out. In some cases, certain gods will be worshipped by different names by different cultures; in others, they will be separate gods entirely. Some gods will be rather alien in their "real" forms. (I'm really tempted to merge JHVH, Aten, and Azathoth, for example--too much conspiracy and Cthulhu Mythos reading, I guess.) These cosmic truths are a mystery to the players, who may or may not figure any of them out. My game will be contemporary with the Trojan War, when the Greek "pantheon" is far from unified yet--some Olympians are native to Greece (the Achaeans' patrons: Hera, Athena, Poseidon), while others appear to be imports from Asia Minor or further afield (the Trojans' patrons: Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite). Part of Zeus's agenda is integrating his two "families" into a cohesive whole--which is supremely difficult when they're at war!
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Old 03-15-2006, 03:29 AM   #33
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

I've been thinking among similar lines, but a few hundred years later. Simply put, the Dorian invasion prompts the Greek Pantheon to evacuate to another world and take their most noted followers with them. So there are some similarities with Yrth in that the humans are from this world originally.
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Old 03-15-2006, 05:13 AM   #34
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Carnifex
Herakles: I hadn't thought about him, but he'd be dreadfully important![...]
Herakles is a problem. As a god, he would certainly be back, and he would want to take part in the Peloponnesian War. The problem is that he is so much more powerful than any mortal, that the city he fought for would win quickly, unless the patron gods of each city also came down to fight, and I'd rather not show the gods directly except in pretty high-powered campaigns. I can easily imagine him on the day of the Return, fighting the Persians on the Thermopylae along with Ares and Athena, and Zeus towering overhead and launching thunderbolts. After that, however, I'd rather he stayed in the background as a source of inspiration and arete for the characters.

There is a compromise solution for a medium-powered campaign, halfway between gritty-low-power and epic-fights-along-with-the-gods: Herakles enjoys war in itself, not viciously like Ares (who just wants to sow death and destruction), but as an incarnation of the Greek ideal of fight and adventure as worthwhile activities, pursuing arete, etc. Thus, Herakles could just side with the weaker side in the war for a while, and once his side became stronger, he would lose interest and abandon it to pursue some other challenge (like joining the opposite side for yet another while!). I don't mean treachery or defection, but just pursuing challenges for their own sake, in a rather positive mood.

Note to self: The war would be much, much longer if Herakles took part. Will it be decided by the attrition of one of the sides?

Quote:
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?
Yessss... As I said before, I love that idea.

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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 :-)
Thank you very much. I'm very glad that my ideas were so well received. I'm really enjoying this thread.

Quote:
[...]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'.
[chuckle] I can imagine the look on the player's face if I do that to him...

Quote:
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?
I intend for the Children of the Titans (however they are spawned) to be either a whole race of some minor beings (such as Deep Ones, but harder to fight-I want combat to be tough here); or formidable, one-of-a-kind monsters (powerful aberrations, etc); or a sort of twisted mirror image of the "conventional" Olympian-spawned heros (remember that one of the themes of the setting is "confrontation"). These heros would be quite more powerful and dangerous then the Olympian ones, but laden with tons of psychological and magical disadvantages, and would be exclusively NPCs. Think of a veteran Spartan warrior with the powers and state of mind of an Azathoth worshipper with Sanity in the single digits. They should be able to rally other creatures to their side and lead them in battle; one of them would make an excellent Main Villain (or Patron...who knows...) for a short campaign full of intrigue, diplomacy, exploration/research (find his weaknessess...) and very nasty combat.

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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.
Good. So the internal political situation in Sparta is also very tense as the schismatic faction fights for power behind the scenes, and the kings try to keep the conflict secret to avoid civil war and a helot revolt...

Quote:
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.
The Romans lurking in the background and no one in Greece caring about them (they are too busy warring among themselves to care about barbarians) until the colonies in southern Italy begin to fall? I like it!

Quote:
(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).
This is an excellent idea. It gives the Titans a foothold in the material world, but not in Greece directly (so that few, even the Gods, care until it's late); it gives us a potential high-powered Main Villain with an evil powerful organization for the PCs to fight in a later stage or in a high-powered game; and it gives a very dark and deeply weird twist not only to Greek, but to Roman history as well. This is something worthy of Ken Hite. Added to canon right away.
How can a Titan-son lead an Olympian cult? Maybe his Ares is not Ares, but the equivalent Titan (Iapetus?), and prayers and rituals draw energy from the latter instead of the former. He could have statues of Jupiter in his temples, only it is not the Roman Zeus, but Chronos. The mainstream Roman gods are the romanized version of the Greek ones all right, but there is this charismatic young priest that rose very fast in the Roman religious hierarchy until he was in a position to have some specific statues and rituals slightly changed...
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Last edited by Mercator; 03-15-2006 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 03-15-2006, 08:53 AM   #35
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by thastygliax
Zeus is the perfect example of the "favorites on both sides" dilemma. [...]
Zeus will definitely be neutral. He usually acts like the referee for the other gods' games (and for them the Peloponessian War is just a game, with live tokens), setting the rules and punishing those who break them.

I like Dan Simmons' science-fiction take on Zeus in ILIUM and OLYMPOS: Besides the Fates, he is the only god who knows the full tale of the Iliad and who can predict what will happen next. The other gods have no idea; they are nothing but high-powered characters of a play, of which Zeus is the audience. By all means go and read these books.

What about Hera? I haven't seen her role mentioned. Does anybody know of Hera's possible affinity with either Athens or Sparta? My take is simple: at any given moment she will always be doing a) Whatever undermines Zeus' power most; b) whatever pisses Zeus off most; c) both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thastygliax
A few Titans fought on the Olympians' side in the Titanomachia, so were not imprisoned in Tarterus. Helios was one of these, or maybe a neutral party (I forget which), so had several descendants scattered through the known world [...]
Good point. These would be "loyal Titans" (to Zeus, that is), and thus an uncertain and even more mysterious third player in the Gods' struggle. Who will they side with? They are part of the status quo; it's unlikely that they will fight against the Olympians. I would leave them in the background for the moment. Their offspring has possibilities, but perhaps it's better to leave their role undefined as yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thastygliax
For the most part, Hades seems supremely indifferent to mortal politics. He's obsessed with properly doing his assigned job (keeping dead souls and imprisoned Titans where they belong), which makes him a notable exception among his siblings[...]
Also good observations. Hades would be the most independent and "odd" of the Olympians, and that is saying something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thastygliax
I'm puttering with my own ideas for a fantasy campaign set in Greece and Egypt. I'll be using multiple pantheons, so those interactions are one of the puzzles I'm still working out.[...]
Don't forget to put your work online, or post it on these forums; I'd sure like to take a look at it.

M.

PS: About the role of the Jews and IHVH... I do not think it fits the setting. This is an all-powerful, all-knowing deity, and I can not see what role would it fulfill in the context of the Greek Mythos, at least in the lands within the Aegis. Any ideas?
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Old 03-15-2006, 10:12 AM   #36
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thastygliax
I'm puttering with my own ideas for a fantasy campaign set in Greece and Egypt. I'll be using multiple pantheons, so those interactions are one of the puzzles I'm still working out.[...]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercator
Don't forget to put your work online, or post it on these forums; I'd sure like to take a look at it.
I second that. This is proving to be the most problematic part of a multi-pantheon Fantasy Europe for me, and I'd be really interested in seeing what other people come up with in terms of resolving the interactional issues. Likewise, if I ever have an epiphany about this, I'll be sure to pass it along.
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:29 AM   #37
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercator
What about Hera? I haven't seen her role mentioned. Does anybody know of Hera's possible affinity with either Athens or Sparta? My take is simple: at any given moment she will always be doing a) Whatever undermines Zeus' power most; b) whatever pisses Zeus off most; c) both.

PS: About the role of the Jews and IHVH... I do not think it fits the setting. This is an all-powerful, all-knowing deity, and I can not see what role would it fulfill in the context of the Greek Mythos, at least in the lands within the Aegis. Any ideas?
I placed Hera as neutral, but she might well be against Sparta. 1) She is still ****** off at Aphrodite for the whole Paris thing. 2) The Spartans had some customs when it came to marriages - and Hera might not like these.

As IHVH - well, he is a god who claims he is all-powerful and all-knowing. Not quite the same thing. He is probably omnipotent within the lands he granted the Jews, but as for the rest of the world? Nah.
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Old 03-16-2006, 01:01 AM   #38
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Mercator
Herakles is a problem. As a god, he would certainly be back, and he would want to take part in the Peloponnesian War. The problem is that he is so much more powerful than any mortal, that the city he fought for would win quickly, unless the patron gods of each city also came down to fight, and I'd rather not show the gods directly except in pretty high-powered campaigns. I can easily imagine him on the day of the Return, fighting the Persians on the Thermopylae along with Ares and Athena, and Zeus towering overhead and launching thunderbolts. After that, however, I'd rather he stayed in the background as a source of inspiration and arete for the characters.
Maybe have Zeus bind him to a promise to aid and protect the mortals from the Titans, but not directly interfere? That puts him in a bind, 'cause he'd want to join one side or the other, but can't and has to just work through mortals like the PCs. Shows up as a Deus Ex Machina, offers advice and aid, tries to make sure that Zeus doesn't find out what he's up to when he does interfere? Is Kevin Sorbo still available for the role?
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Old 03-16-2006, 06:38 AM   #39
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Asta Kask
As IHVH - well, he is a god who claims he is all-powerful and all-knowing. Not quite the same thing. He is probably omnipotent within the lands he granted the Jews, but as for the rest of the world? Nah.
Exactly. For much of Hebrew/Jewish history, He could be seen as a fairly powerful local, tribal god. (Much as the Egyptian god Aten was a fairly minor aspect of Ra until the "heretic Pharaoh" Akhenaten elevated the cult.)

In Green Ronin's Testament setting (the Old Testament world, for d20), the authors decided that for reasons of gameability, the Hebrew, Canaanite, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian religions were all equally "true," though characters within the setting would, of course, have their own historically-accurate biases on the subject.
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Old 03-16-2006, 06:47 AM   #40
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Default Re: Homegrown fantasy setting in classical Greece

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Originally Posted by Mercator
Don't forget to put your work online, or post it on these forums; I'd sure like to take a look at it.
I'm still deciding how public I want to go with my ideas. I don't know how soon I'd be able to run this campaign, so don't want potential players to stumble across the big secrets of the game.

(Similarly, I have a pagan gamer friend who obsessively studies Egyptian, Greek, and other religions. I still haven't decided whether to tap her to brainstorm divine politics, or leave her unspoiled to play in the game.)

However, I'm considering writing up bits and pieces of the setting for Pyramid. So you might see some of it there, if I get that far with it and Mr. Marsh likes it enough.
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