As inspired by another thread, I propose we try our hand at making a setting inspired by Australian Aboriginal mythology. For greater variety of possible cultures, let's have at least some city- and nation-states. Also might be interesting to introduce maori viking-style raiders, Torres Straits and Tasmanians.
Idea for Magic
>Aboriginal magic has a very cool belief about how power left over from the dreamtime has been "locked" into certain objects or places, often things that look unnatural or out of place. An old gnarled tree in the middle of a desert plain, for example.
>Anyway, each of these objects or places held a particular power, and there was a particular "key" to tap into it. So, say you found the tree. It doesn't do you any good unless you know to say these words, and touch the tree between a particular split in the branches. Then you can unlock the power, temporarily, for your own use.
>And like I said, the power in questioned differed from one object to another. The tree might grant you the power to cause rainfall. Some weird rock formation might grant you the ability to make a sandstorm, or talk to birds.
>After some time has passed, or after you've used enough of the power, it goes back into the tree/rock/whatever and is "locked" again.
I would say that Not!New Guinea and Not!Tasmania are definitely in, but if we were to include the Maori, what boundary is there to our inclusion of Polynesia?
Pic related is an idea for possible national divisions in Not!Australia. It seems that there would be plain dwellers in the west, possibly with highly stratified and not very warlike societies, due to their separation from other tribes on the continent and raiders by a huge desert and ocean.
Along the southeast coast, there could be a people who live in the swampy lands of the Australian river valleys. Possibly a large society built on cities on solid ground in the middle of swamps- reachable only by boat and surviving off of fish. These people would likely be the least healthy because of inbreeding and a narrow diet, but their society and stable food source would likely make them the most populous.
The east coast, I think, would probably be populated by naval nomads. Its aridity compared to the other regions nearby would mean permanent settlement would be difficult. Possibly this region holds Not!Maori colonies?
The northeast, largely dominated by tropical rainforest, would harbor a more barbaric people, as we have another rainforest culture already. Make note also that the aborigines of Northern Australia are of a different language family from the south, and as such are likely to be viewed as strange and foreign. These people may ride birds of prey, as the Cassowary is native to northern Australia.
The North Coast is merely plains, with a normal wet and dry season, however, I suggest that it contains a civilization of its own, so as to create a tripolar political state on the continent.
Meanwhile, remember that due to very low tech levels, all of these countries do not have a very high concentration of population, and the vast majority of the continent's inhabitants live in the central desert as hunter-gatherers, with distinct customs and ideals in every tribe.
For Not!New Guinea, I recommend a treatment similar to how they were handled in real life, except instead of having cargo brought to them by Europeans, they have it brought to them by the slightly-more-advanced-than-in-our-world Not!Australians. This means that instead of seeing him wearing a cassette player in a piercing, you might see the tribal chief wearing an hourglass on his necklace.
Meanwhile, the cosmopolitan peoples of the Not!Torres Strait could make a luxurious living transporting this cargo. Possibly they could be involved in a slave trade?
Tasmanians are less likely to get the Cargo treatment, because they were viewed as an inferior race by the aborigines who could reach them in our world. Possibly they are a recently-discovered virgin land being colonized by the swamp people, who think it might be an opportunity to make a quick buck? It would mirror the actual treatment of Tasmanians without necessitating the introduction of whites.
Raiders to the East at most. There's legends of great trade empires that span long island chains beyond them, but the waters are too dangerous for anyone to go out there themselves.
A useful link: http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.php/timelines/lands_of_red_and_gold
This isn't really what you're looking for, but I think you'd be able to cannibalize a fair number of details from it. Lands of Red and Gold is a project over at alternatehistory.com that explores the idea of how Australian cultures and civilizations could develop if they had agriculture and could therefore support large settlements. There's some neat stuff in there. At the very least its ideas on what crops native Australians could farm would make for interesting background.
Based off of some mythology surrounding Uluru, I suggest five seasons.
Wanitjunkupai - The Cool Season
Wari – The Frost Season
Piriyakutu – The Growth Season
Mai Wiyaringkupai – The Drought Season
Itjanu– The Storm Season
One big feature is talking or otherwise intelligent animals, though rarely anthropomorphised.
Journeys are a very important part of their mythology, especially during the Dreamtime, as it was these journeys that shaped the landscape. Perhaps great roads beat into the ground by the feet of ancient giants?
I'd have to agree. Give enough charges that it could be used for a long while (or few enough that each spell actually counts or whatever) and it would be cool.
so whats the physical combat like eh?
That's yet to be decided. Do you have any ideas? I expect it would be pretty simple, but you would have to account for a lot of airborne weaponry.
Man, those guys really loved their spears.
Eh, I dunno. Personally when I think of them, my limited and possibily racist ideas are kinda:
1) trippin' mythology where you actually walk into
2) fucked up sense of time and space
3) a the same time, insularity in the clan
Which more or less spell "game about cultural modification/how to run a tribe", not fighting and shit.
I might be on this idea because I have an idea for a game in which you have a community and the "point" is steering it, but oh well.
40,000 years ago people arrived in Australia. Farming had already been invented, but the wealth of resources that the stone age people found meant that they could gather all the food they would need for a day in only an hour or two.
The reason Aborigines are so skilled at art is that they have the free time to create it. Of course their gods are personifications of the land, because Australia was an untapped land of plenty.
Some tribes hold the beliefs that they are caretakers of the land (such as the Gagadju) and their rituals include causing brushfires earlier in the hot season so that the wild fires are not as devastating.
Rock formations and cliffs all have tales about them. They may be a crocodile god, or a bird god. One creator god is believed to have created the land out of the ocean, and now slumbers in the form of a large boulder protruding out of a lake.
Unfortunately the Europeans seriously fucked everything up with the Aborigines, and many tribes are dwindling.
>Tteerimalurana, the Echoing City
Of all the constructions of the Dream, none are as famed as Tteerimalurana, the Echoing City, the City of North-South. The most populous of all the cities in the Land, Tteerimalurana was built from earth and rock by the caste-witchet, a domain of great winding tunnels and huge chambers that can barely be seen from one side to the other.
Whilst the upper levels are booming with life, with hundreds, nay, thousands, of people living within its various side chambers and dwelling tunnels, as one goes further down below the ground the less people one finds. Only the poor, desperate and daring break the taboo of truly subterranean life, and down there they are far from the light, far from the mushroom gardens, far from the hustle and bustle and closer to the things that scurry in the dirt and the dark, closer to the raw Dream when the world was malleable and the passage of time was winding and twisted. Strange things dwell in the dark, forgotten gods and rock-spirits exiled by their mischievous cousins.
Because of the simplistic nature of fighting, I think that a game focusing on intrigue would also probably be best.
Maybe a fighting system would not be best, but instead a hunting system with supplementary rules for fighting? That might be cool. It wouldn't be so irritating to keep track of health.
>Megalania (Megalania prisca or Varanus priscus) is an extinct species of very large goannas or monitor lizards. They were part of a megafaunal assemblage that inhabited southern Australia during the Pleistocene. They seem to have disappeared between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago. The first aboriginal settlers of Australia might have encountered living megalanias.
>Along with other varanid lizards, such as the Komodo dragon and the lace monitor, megalania belongs to the proposed clade Toxicofera, which contains all known reptile clades possessing toxin-secreting oral glands, as well as their close, non-venomous relatives, including Iguania, Anguimorpha, and Serpentes. Being a member of Anguimorpha, megalania may have been venomous and if so, would be the largest venomous vertebrate known.
maybe because the Aborigines of Australia never built any cities, the only real large structures should exist in the shared dimension of the Dreamtime.
While in the Dreamtime, the the spellcasters of Not!Australia can communicate and travel with ease. With their lucid dream magic, they can build impossible structures to house their dream gatherings.