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Author Topic: Vryne - Tyrian province help?  (Read 1377 times)

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Offline krome

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Vryne - Tyrian province help?
« on: July 29, 2006, 03:09:57 AM »
Hi guys.  Long time no see.

I haven't posted on here in a while, so let me re-state: I'm working on a fantasy novel, not a rpg world, but it's close to the same thing anyway, and requires the same amount of specifics.  Thanks to you guys and two years of work, I just finished a major part of the book, but I now I'm on to the next section and there are terrible, gaping holes. 

This post is about one of the provinces in my world.  The province is called "Vryne" (not to be confused with the "Vrynenwood" post - that forest's name has been changed to the "Riddenwood".), and I'd really appreciate some ideas on just about every aspect of society from small cultural peculiarities to large-scale organization of society.  More specific questions at end of post.

The following is everything that I know about it so far.  I'll try to keep the stuff that doesn't directly relate to Vryne short.

GEOGRAPHY OF VRYNE:

Vryne is a penninsula of volcanic rock connected by a very narrow isthsmus to the south-eastern tip of the Tyrian continent.  It used to be a volcano/island set slightly off the coast, but a historic eruption connected it to the mainland.  It is mostly blacklands and ash, the city built among the stalagmite spires formed after the eruption.  It is also home a large network of underground tunnels formed by air pockets as the lava settled and hardened.  The chemical reaction that the terrific heat from the explosion wrought on Vryne's subterranean minerals resulted in a metal that to outsiders seems useless.  But the lords of Vryne know its secret.

HISTORY OF VRYNE:

The current inhabitents of Vryne are the descendants of Elven refugees that left the northern woods before the war against magic began.  The Elves of the northern forest beleived that the deities they saw were the keepers of magic and protectors of the wood and world, and so worshipped them.  One evil year, strange sorcerers arrived among them preaching a new magical philosophy.  The sorcerers said that their deities were not gods after all, but manifestations of the Spectris, the life-force that unites all.  They said that to become a powerful user of magic, one does not supplicate to the dieties, but learns to control the Spectris. They also insisted that an apocolyptic event was nearing.

Some, the Queen included, believed them, because their magic was indeed much stronger than any they had seen.  Some, the King included, wanted them banished, and said that if there was any apocolypse, it would be caused by their blasphemy.  The king and queen had no love for each other, and tensions grew among their guardsmen.  Then began a period of confusion and witch-hunting.  The queen's guard and king's guard fought skirmishes against each other; believers in the new science of magic were dragged into the street and tortured; still others believed that neither party was in the right, that the elves and their opulence were not deserving of magic, that they were not deserving of their land.

One calling himself a "prophet" preached the latter idea, insisting that he would lead whoever wanted to follow to a land of hardship and toil where they would become worthy of their land and magic.  When they were worthy they would be led back to glory and peace.

The migrations began.  Those who believed the sorcerers followed them across the mountains to finally settle in the northern aspen forests.  These scientist-settlers would become the founders of Aaren Laar.  Others, taking the pilgrims for cowards, stayed to fight for their land.  And the rest followed the "prophet" south to a dark, uninhabited land that they named "Vryne".

The prophet, proclaiming himself and his descendants "forgiven", became the first dynast of Vryne.

THE TYRIAN ALLIANCE COUNCIL (1790 years later):

Defying the conquistadorial urges of his forfathers and tired of incessant inter-provincial warfare, King Korvan historically unites the major provinces under one oath, the Tyrian Alliance Treaty.  One point of the treaty demands that no slaves shall be held under any province.  Another prohibits espionage.

THE PRESENT SITUATION (1870 years later):

The Tyrian Alliance Council recieves word that Vryne, a seclusionist province, is breaking the treaty by using/selling slaves in/for their mines.  The current dynast of Vryne declares it a lie, and refuses to allow an investigatory delegation across his borders.  He insists the "false" information was gained by espionage, which is prohibited in the treaty.  The Alliance Council responds by sanctioning the province and posting patrolls along the border.  They are in stalemate.

In the book, several Alliance Council soldiers will get captured and taken into Vryne, where they will be the first enemy outsiders in a couple of centuries to see what's going on there.  I want the situation to be dire. 

Not only are they using slaves, but they have made the discovery that their special metal conducts magical energy.  They are feeding the metal powder to the slaves in their food, and thus making walking, talking spell-conductors.  The problem is that the metal does not leave the body (think aluminum).  It stays in the cells and begins manifesting as a degenerative disease whose effects are much like Parkinson's.

Vryne justifies this slavery to themselves and each other by saying that the more "toil and hardship" the people are put through, the sooner they will all be "forgiven". 

Points about Vryne:

- Only the mages are nobility
- Vryne is home to the biggest black marketplace in the world, and the most unsavory of things pass through there.
- Perhaps the dynast's greatest secret is that he cannot do magic, and so has created some kind of rule by which no one can watch the dynast's spells. 
- No casting is allowed underground where the metal is exposed - any spell cast in such close proximity to that much of the metal may have disastrous effects.

Some questions:

Where would the slaves be kept?
Can you think of any special places, landmarks, etc. a city like this might have?
What kind of culture/society would result from people who believe in the concept of "toil"?  What social rituals?
Anything else at all would be great.

Thanks!

Offline Ria Hawk

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Re: Vryne - Tyrian province help?
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2006, 05:15:29 AM »
Slaves would probably have quarters in the mines themselves.  Built in shelter, as long as they allow for flooding, limited ways out.  Plus, less distance to cover to go to work.  Since they believe that hardship is necessary for 'forgiveness', slaves probably wouldn't be allowed to have fires, which cuts the possibility of suffocation.

Landmarks... well, I'm sure they'd have something comemorating their arrival.  Their Plymouth Rock.   Uh... the marketplace itself.  Probably warehouses for the mine's output.  Probably the 'noble district', which given that this seems to be a kind of feudalistic state, most likely centered around the dynast's palace.

Their furniture, clothes, and architechture is probably utilitarian, ugly, and most likely uncomfortable.  Daily life would probably be "wake up, work, eat enough to keep from collapsing, more work, sleep, rinse, repeat".  Everything they do should probably relate back to work of some sort, since it is literally their religion.  Probably a "survival of the fittest"/"if you don't work, you don't eat" society.  They probably won't have any patience for the weak, old, and infirm.  It may even be a tradition to work yourself literally to death.

If no one's allowed to watch the dynast's spells, I assume he's got some sort of personal mage to do it for him.  Is this a trusted advisor, a personal slave, mind controlled...  Or does he just fake it with sleight of hand and lies?  Also, is this a genetic fluke, or is there some deeper reason?  If magic is genetic, what happens if a commoner is born with it?  If it's learned, is it self-perpetuating, in that only nobles are taught it?  With sufficient training, could anyone use magic, and what would be the consequences?  What happens to the inevitable illegitimate children of nobles?  How corrupt is the nobility?  Do they honestly believe in the "hardship and toil" and work just as hard as commoners?  Do they see themselves as already forgiven?  Or do they just use the myth to control the populace?

Brain dead.  Possibly more later.
Sometimes angels fall from grace, and sometimes heroes die.

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Offline Ria Hawk

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Re: Vryne - Tyrian province help?
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2006, 05:18:27 AM »
Also, while I'm thinking about it: is the dynast really the one running the whole show, or is he just a figurehead, the mouthpiece of either the nobility or some power behind the throne?  Is it possible he became dynast because he had no magic, and was thus easier to control?
Sometimes angels fall from grace, and sometimes heroes die.

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Offline Pariah

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Re: Vryne - Tyrian province help?
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2006, 09:40:03 AM »
All righ, I'm getting a puritan-esue vibe off of this.  SOooo.

What kind of culture/society would result from people who believe in the concept of "toil"?  What social rituals?


A central tenet of their life is the Dynast's supreme authority over the people, and the nobles are viewed as his hands in accomplishing this.  This view leads them to seek both individual and corporate conformance with the teachings of the Prophet, and a constant pursuit of purity down to the smallest detail.

And, that's all I'm getting right now...  Ria covered a good chunk.
They were immediately and absolutely recognizable as adventurers... They were hardy and dangerous, lawless, stripped of allegiance or morality, living off their wits, stealing and killing, hiring themselves out to whoever and whatever came. They were inspired by dubious virtues.  China Mieville - Perdido Street Station

Offline krome

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Re: Vryne - Tyrian province help?
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2006, 10:58:56 PM »
Thanks guys, these are great.

Oooh, yeah, I like that.  Some kind of landmark to memorialize their arrival, and then perhaps another empty plinth next to it that is where the statue will be built when they leave.  The landmark is a statue of the prophet, and the not-built-yet statue will be of the ruling Dynast at the time of their return exodus. 

Ria: Yes.  His wife, a dark-elf, does all the magic for him secretly.  Not because she loves him, but because of he has given her asylum from her own people (women are simply kept and used as baby-making machines in the mountains of the dying dark-elven race).  She doesn't have anywhere else to run to, but she is not without political clout, as she is in a position to reveal the secret.

I haven't really hammered the rest out yet - magic is *not* genetic, and it can be learned.  The problem is that most people never make it past the first stage of the training (which lasts 7 years on average).  Why?  Because the first stage is about finding your personal "frequency", your shoddryn.  No one can do magic until they find it.  If a trainee is successful, he will first feel a tingling in the scalp and extremities, progressing to... wait... let me quote what I've written...:

            'She mused on this a while.  “How did you find your shoddryn?”
   “Well, the finding of it was a laborious process.  I spent my first years in the academy around countless kinds of magic, sitting in on countless rituals and spell castings.  They do harmless magic upon you.  They teach you to listen for and gauge the resonance in your soul as you absorb a spell.  Perhaps you feel nothing watching a spell that draws its power from minerals, but you feel a pulsing surge when you are party to a spell that draws its energy from water’s current.  You would then only participate in spells that drew from similar shoddryn.  If you are fortunate, as I was, one day you feel a terrible prickling in your scalp, in your toes.  You will run, tearing down the columned halls of the academy, to your master who will lead you a circular tower of identical cells.  You will be ushered to one and locked inside, ecstatic, as the tingle works its way up your legs and turns your face to numbness.  It will, over the course of hours or days, work into your chest, your fingertips and elbows, and your ecstasy is replaced with a terrible fear as your control over your own body and its functions disappears.  You will collapse as your every thought runs amok, the ground heaves beneath your flaccid feet, and every twitch of your fingers sends sparks showering around you.
   “It reaches its peak this way and then slowly subsides, leaving you shuddering and dry, yet unspeakably heightened.  And then, having paid the price of your diligence and of this ordeal, you emerge with an incredible gift, and it is everything and nothing like you have imagined.  Your studies after that focus on testing the boundaries of your shoddyn’s range, honing your power, and learning to produce the same result in reality as you have seen in your mind’s eye.”'


In my world, magic is like a frequency spectrum (called the 'Spectris').  So the dynast never found his, and so cannot do magic. 

No, the mages do not see themselves as "forgiven".  Most of them scorn the story in private, and they do not work.  It is, as you said, used as a method of control.  They now plan to use the story of the prophet and the return exodus to justify a war of conquest later.