Hey /tg/ I need some advice for an empire in a game I'm making. So far what I've got is that the setting is going to be something akin to the golden age of piracy with fantasy mixed in. The setting itself is going to be a large archipelago, so tons and tons of island, and the PC's are going to be a group of pirates going around doing pirate/PC things.
What I need help with is the empire that's going to be the dominant power in the area and one of the groups of enemies the PC's will encounter. I wanted to try something new so I decided to base most of the empires characteristics off ancient Greece. So polytheistic, philosophic, large artistic culture, and also triremes. The problem is I want to mix them with another ancient culture but I can't think of anything really interesting. My original idea was to go with a mix of part golden age Spain and part Spanish inquisition, but than my friend suggested that I give them some kind of advantage that makes them or their ships better than everyone else. He also suggested that this be shrouded in mysticism, and to maybe try a far east culture. I don't really know much about far east cultures except the generic weeabo stereotypes, so I was wondering if you guys could give me some help on fleshing this empire out.
>but than my friend suggested that I give them some kind of advantage that makes them or their ships better than everyone else.
You could look into Greek fire if you haven't already, hell of a substance.
If you want it to be related to mysticism or magic in someway you could look into incorporating the polytheistic religions of maybe Japan or India into the traditional Greek stock,
>>34799253 is an excellent suggestion.
Actually thinking about it, given the island society of Japan they could be a very interesting society to draw from. Looking over their religion we get, "This belief system that imbued every mountain, every stream, and even impressive trees with a spirit. These deities, known as kami, were considered cheerful and friendly to humans. If kept satisfied, they would watch over human affairs and refrain from causing natural disasters."
What if each ship crew considered their ship to be their personal kami and protector deity? There would be a very interesting dynamic of a crew respecting their ship and their ships being supernaturally awesome.
>polytheistic, philosophic, large artistic culture
>better ships than everyone else
>shrouded in mysticism, and to maybe try a far east culture
Look up "Zheng He"
The parts on Greek and Buddhist religion mixing seems really interesting thanks for the link.
You bring up a lot of interesting points. The ship spirit sounds like it could be an interesting angle. What if the crew had some kind of device, like a scrying glass or something, that the ship's spirit would communicate to them with? The spirit wouldn't speak directly to them but it would give them subtle hints or portents about what events would befall the ship.
Oh god yes, now I see why people play Mantis Clan in L5R
I think I'm starting to gravitate towards a mix of Indian and Buddhist monk. I like the Indian caste system, but the religion is a little to crazy for me. I also found what >>34799253 linked to to be very interesting. The idea of Greek religion mixed with Buddhism seems oddly interesting to me.
On the Japan thing, that's basically just animism. Its more unique that it managed to become orthodox across Japan. That is, that people from a different area of Japan accepted the names, personality, and history of the local Kami, as well as their adoption of polytheistic higher gods.
If you're basing this empire off Greece to some extent, look at Athens and the Delian League. Where it wasn't so much of an empire as a prominent city-state leading the others around.
That might make for some interesting internal political dealings.
Unlucky for you (and pretty much everyone else) GURPS never released a single book about Age of Sail and possibilities of it.
You want to give them advantage on sea? Give them steamers. It's not THAT implausable
>GURPS never released a single book about Age of Sail and possibilities of it
I swear there have been at least two, one with a big pirate crew list and one about piracy from around 14-1800
if I recall, gurps swashbucklers is one of the ones I'm thinking of, and it covers a nice amount of material. Pretty much all of the countries that 7th sea appropriates and their role in piracy for a few centuries
I'm gonna go ahead and echo some people' suggestion for Greek Fire as the substance of choice for navel warfare advantage. The Byzantines used it to keep the much larger and more powerful Ottomans at bay for hundreds of years before they got too run down due to losing on land and sheer stagnation society-wise.
Have you lookd up some nice ships for them to use? You mention trirems, which are cool, and if you want to go in that direction check out galleys and Xebecs, both ships from the age of sail (1500s-1700s) based on earlier designs like the trirem and updated to carry cannon, more cargo etc.
A way to use magic for an advantage would be magical or undead slaves. If ships in this world are generally oar powered having a large supply of never tiring oarsmen in the form of skeletons or zombies would give your Empire a great advantage. They wouldn't have to be downright evil to make use of undead (a person could sign a contract in life to be used for galley labour after his dead, or they might consider it a kind of civic duty/punishment for dead enemies) but they might be perceived as such.
For culture: have you ever read the Earthsea books by Ursula Leguin? The world is much like what you describe, a number of islands, an evil empire, pirates, and their technology is bronze age/early iron age in style. They have a kind of pseudo-greek (city states, bronze, schools for mages) and native american mix thats actually pretty interesting.
The Majapahit Empire of south-eastern asia would be a nice fit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majapahit
It was a civilization much like the one you describe, a thalassocracy spread out along a massive archipelago.And one of the more important aspects of the culture was its diverse and fragmented political climate, case in point; the promulgation of city-states along a diverse archipelago. This mirrors the political culture of Majapahit and many other thlassocracies; and incredible diversity of cultures as you go from island to island which necessitates a more decentralized society. Majapahit, like Venice and the Pelopenessian League, focused more on economic domination of it's constituencies rather than trying to assume direct control of far flung polities, I feel that this would befit an Ancient Greek-esque setting. After all, who the hell is going to tell the Spartans what to do as an alternative to monopolizing trade in the area given the chance?
The backward technology of Majapahit would also blend slightly easier with the Ancient Greeks and while Greco-buddhism would be interesting to explore in a campaign, Majapahit's syncretic confession of Hindu-buddhism mixed with Javan folk belief is just that much more rich. Hindu myth is deep and esoteric enough to drown in, but if you're dedicated you come back up with something like The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind.
Huh, I expected this thread to die over night. Neat.
I was definitely going to borrow elements of delian league and especially Athens. It just fits what I need so well. My idea was to have 3 major cities on the largest islands in the area, and have each of them split into various functions (i.e. ones more militaristic, ones more political/administrative, ones more arcane/learned/artistic). And then some minor colonies.
Again I've already got the system picked out. [Spoiler]its pathfinder mixed with spelljammer.[spoiler/]
I do like the greek fire idea aswell as the alternate ship ideas. As far as the slave thing goes I want them to seem like oppressive dicks and less blatantly evil. I think the zombie slaves or magically thralled criminals could be a good answer to a question I haven't really thought of yet. Thanks for that.
Neat. I'll look into that but class is about to start so I'll get back to you about it.
Take a look at Polynesian and Indonesian designs as well, as far as unique asiatic influence goes
What if magic was utilized in more creative ways in order to simulate gunpowder? Say, wands of force bolt are mass-produced and bundled in stacks in order to create batteries capable of tossing cannonballs of stone (or lead or bronze, if you want something destroyed NOW) across high velocities, with small nubs of wand part of the manufacturing process of cartridges stuck into what are functionally arquebuses and pistols. Factions without (as such weapons are as expensive as they are deadly) have to settle for mechanical devices such as the crossbow or balista, but get especially creative with their concoctions and use in order to offset this.
The ram remains a fixture for most warships worth their salt, and in some cases is enchanted as well: Small, swift boats might have their rams enchanted to cleave through wood at the efficiency of a ship thrice their size, for instance.
Whatever the use, magic would be a rather important consideration for how ships are designed and utilized, though you likely know this as you're using Spelljammer as a base.
Any society capable of making bronze would understand economics enough to know that would be a stupid idea. This isn't like "Understanding the american tax code" complicated, this is a simple issue of rarity vs population.