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Bootravsky
Acolyte

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2023 :  06:04:51  Show Profile Send Bootravsky a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Since the start of the Realms, non-Realms areas have been ported in to... basically sell products. This has resulted in three (four! but we'll ignore Al Qadim for the time being) separate areas of the Realms with significant middle east influence: Calimshan/Calimport, Anauroch, and the Raurin Desert (owing to the Desert of Desolation). Each of the areas ends up with a "Lawrence of Arabia" vibe, whether intentional or not, and doesn't make them feel like unique areas within the realms. So: let's get the ideas flowing for how the different areas can be differentiated!

Calimshan: Let's leave this one be. Realizing that the Realms were never intended to have real world analogues, Calimshan moves beyond the "Thousand and One Arabian Nights" to be more Realmsian. Lets let it be the Realms Arab analogue. So be it! Sabbans and Drudachs aren't a real world thing, as far as I know, so the area has a unique fantasy character. And the background of warring genies also provides a cultural perspective on why the commoner classes may accept slavery (which gives context, if not making it acceptable and making the economy worth destroying).

Anauroch: FR13 (and the Parched Sea) introduced the Bedine and D'Tarig, which are explicit analogues to people from extremely disparate areas of the Earth (Bedouin in the Arabian peninsula and Tuareg in western Africa). So, let's dive into Realmslore. Anauroch is the former lowlands of Netheril, destroyed by a combination of Karsus' journey to overthrow and claim Mystryl's throne, and the Lifedeath conducted by the Phaerimm ("Thornybacks"). I'm fine with the the D'Tarig having a similar name, perhaps D'Tary, translating to the "Folk who left the Tar," a contraction of Tethyamar resulting from linguistic drift. They are mostly dwarvish folk who inhabit rock piles throughout the desert. As for the Bedine... let's leave aside the name (I don't know what to do about that). But their culture is infused with magic and also deeply in fear of it. Their wise folk wear ancient cloaks, passed down or found in the ruins, turned inside out to hide the runes. Because all know: magic brings the Thornybacks, and where they go is ruin. The people of this land are blessed with great magical ability that they cannot exhibit except in the most dire circumstances. They look upon the Zhentarim with disgust for their wanton use of devastating magic: the Bedine know that this will bring the Zhent's doom, but also realize that if they contest their use too hard, their own doom may come from those selfsame magelings. The Bedine wear beards to reflect their magelord forebears, whose images can be found throughout the ruins. But there are also tales told of the lost clans of the Sword, folk who battled the Thornybacks and won! These people learned to steal the skin of the horrific creatures, creating armor that drew life from the very desolation around them in small increments. And these folk learned to call forth creatures that would never be damaged by a small loss of life: the Purple Worms. [If the Realms has stolen from the real world, why don't we also steal from Dune, eh?]


Raurin the Dust Desert: Okay. Here's where I go totally anathema. Port Dark Sun into the Desert of Desolation in its entirety. The Ancient Imaskari forsook the gods and gained immortality, of a sort, but were cast down and bound within the lands their own magics were seeking to kill off. These God Kings remain throughout the lands in City States of varying quality. Geographically, it kind of works. Tyr and Urik could contest the Plains of Purple Dust, separated by Mulhorand by the Dragonsward Mountains. Which works for the beast that wanders the desert! The Dragonsward becomes inhabited by halflings, and the areas to the east and south infested by Thri-Kreen - which makes sense, since it is the eastern Shaar. The eastern area could remain the Sea of Silt before coming to Ras Khati. The Purple Dragon becomes a force of insatiable hunger throughout the area, his spirit dominated by the force of Ambuchar Devayamm.

What are your thoughts?

Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
7981 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2023 :  06:38:29  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Realms - and fantasy-genre settings in general - have never really been about recreating historical, ethnic, and geographical accuracy.

The Realms has nomadic desert peoples, Arabic cultures, Indian cultures, Asian cultures, African cultures, Egyptian cultures, Vikings, Mongols, Eskimos, ninjas, samurai. More accurately, it has Western imaginings of these things.

You mention yourself that these extensions to the Realms were largely created with the purpose of selling new products. But, looking more closely at that aspect, these extensions were contributions by design teams and authors who wanted their own characters, narratives, and events to be placed somewhere just "off the edge of the map". This gave them more creative control and made it easier for them to avoid overwriting somebody else's work. "The Realms" is a collective, collaborative work by many people. And, like any other group of people, some were better than others at producing work based on "real" facts.

[/Ayrik]
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Bootravsky
Acolyte

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2023 :  06:55:12  Show Profile Send Bootravsky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay, but the problem is that they ended up using the same - or extremely similar - tropes to create the "canon" such as it was through roughly 1999 (I can't claim not to be a 2nd Ed. hardliner). In some of those cases - like the Desert of Desolation - I'm prettty certain it was labeled "Forgotten Realms" simply so it would sell products. This also happened with the Bloodstone Lands, but they weren't so explicitly a pastiche of a place and time as the various desert locales.
And yes, I acknowledge: it's a collaborative work by many people. But: WE are people! Let's riff up ideas for making it fun and exciting within the broader themes of each area: e.g. Imaskar being explicitly anti-God, Netheril being an area where magic is actively dangerous to use, and Calimshan being... fantasy Arabia. One of each is fine!
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
7981 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2023 :  09:01:27  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Desert" is a trope. As are people and cultures who dwell in the desert.

I'm sure anyone who's seen a variety of deserts - perhaps travelled through them, visited people there - would be aware of distinct differences between deserts.

But I think most people don't have that knowledge. The deserts I've seen in California are no doubt different from the ones in Egypt or Iran or Australia ... but I know less about them than I know about generic Lawrence-of-Arabia from books and movies and games. I think it's not unreasonable to expect most FR authors have a similar lack of firsthand knowledge (along with plenty of tropes and misinformation) about deserts. I suspect many of them will be inclined to work within (and help perpetuate) the generic, sandy, Lawrence-of-Arabia desert, it's a fixture which spans genres and it's easily recognized by audiences.

That's my explanation for why things are what they are in the Realms. That's why the deserts (and the products which describe them) are what they are and where they are. If you adhere to published "canon".

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 11 Mar 2023 09:06:17
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Azar
Master of Realmslore

1307 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2023 :  09:42:17  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Does anyone push back against the multitude of "fantasy" nations borrowing chunks of Europe (Western Europe, in particular)? No? If that is the case, what's wrong with having two or three vaguely ME-inspired lands?

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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Karthak
Seeker

63 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2023 :  12:32:15  Show Profile Send Karthak a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd thought about using Dark Sun with the imaskari quite a while ago, having them take slaves from d&d worlds including Athas instead of kidnapping Egyptians and Babylonians as I'm not a fan of straight up copies/imports of real world cultures and deities in the forgotten realms such as Kara-Tur or Unther/Mulhorand.

So my idea was to break up the Imaskari Empire sometime after the plague and demon rampage that broke it in half, having three states form, one ruled by a Netherese faction in the north, the Imaskari in the south west portion and a collection of free cities in the area that becomes the Raurin Desert ruled over by various Athasian mages and a former slave turned rampaging Dragon-King force the Imaskari and Netherese to keep to their own lands as well as having the Netherese and Imaskari decide to limit their aggression towards each other to minor espionage carried out by "rogue agents" under the guise of a non-aggression agreement for as long as the Dragon-King and Athasians are still a threat.
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Werthead
Learned Scribe

United Kingdom
181 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2023 :  19:04:52  Show Profile  Visit Werthead's Homepage Send Werthead a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think Empires of the Shining Sea moved Calimshan away from the overt Arabic influences - apart from things they couldn't really change, like the djinn/efreet wars - and more towards an Ottoman influence, but relatively lightly done.
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zyzzyva
Acolyte

USA
21 Posts

Posted - 11 Mar 2023 :  20:44:02  Show Profile Send zyzzyva a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Regarding the Bedine, isn't one version of their origin a direct link to Zakhara?

As for real-world influences, I'd consider that even among what we might consider the 'desert' trope there's a pretty wide geographical and historical spectrum of sources to draw on. For instance I might draw on different sorts of historical sources as differentiating these regions as such (and this is speaking as someone whose knowledge of this area of history is pretty limited):
Zakhara: Arabia and Baghdad around the Islamic Golden Age
Calimshan: Al-Andalus, Morocco, possibly the Ottoman Empire
Raurin: Ruins of pre-Islamic cultures within North Africa and the Middle East, esp. given its proximity to Mulhorand and Unther; for instance, Persia, Carthage, Kush, etc.

There's also various Central Asian empires to consider, though I suppose they'd more likely be useful re: Murghôm, Semphar, and the Hordelands. For instance, Yaïmmunahar corresponds nicely with the Timurids or possibly the Uyghur Khaganate.
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Demzer
Senior Scribe

873 Posts

Posted - 12 Mar 2023 :  13:42:36  Show Profile Send Demzer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Azar

Does anyone push back against the multitude of "fantasy" nations borrowing chunks of Europe (Western Europe, in particular)? No? If that is the case, what's wrong with having two or three vaguely ME-inspired lands?



As far as I understand, the problem is not just with things being "vaguely inspired by" non-Western cultures but that the inspiration comes from stereotypes, tropes and fictional/caricatural versions of such cultures and risk not being respectful (whether by accident or ignorance of the true historical material).
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deserk
Learned Scribe

Norway
237 Posts

Posted - 12 Mar 2023 :  14:01:26  Show Profile Send deserk a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm guessing the Bedine of the Anauroch in Ed's home campaign are probably referred to as Anaurians (the demonym of the inhabitants of the fallen kingdom of Anauria). The name Bedine is far too similar to Bedouin (nomadic Arabs) to be a coincidence, and so much of their culture seems to be drawn from them given how they were depicted in 2E products. And I have to agree, I quite dislike the strong Arabic influence inserted here where it makes no geographic sense, when you already have this going in Calimshan (which has many different themes going on as well), where it is much better suited.

I don't think RW influences are necessarily bad, but it is usually not great when it is extremely explicit and a direct analogue of a specific country, rather than it being a combination of different influences and themes, which is more fitting to a fantasy setting.

Edited by - deserk on 12 Mar 2023 14:05:21
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Azar
Master of Realmslore

1307 Posts

Posted - 12 Mar 2023 :  23:06:43  Show Profile Send Azar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Demzer

quote:
Originally posted by Azar

Does anyone push back against the multitude of "fantasy" nations borrowing chunks of Europe (Western Europe, in particular)? No? If that is the case, what's wrong with having two or three vaguely ME-inspired lands?



As far as I understand, the problem is not just with things being "vaguely inspired by" non-Western cultures but that the inspiration comes from stereotypes, tropes and fictional/caricatural versions of such cultures and risk not being respectful (whether by accident or ignorance of the true historical material).



Zakhara is chiefly inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, so...no; at least, not any more than a Norwegian would take offense at a land clearly copying Norse-era Scandinavia (with every supernatural element in the mix, naturally) or an Englishman would become incensed at a region that's basically Arthurian England, aquatic ladies and all.

quote:
Originally posted by deserk

I quite dislike the strong Arabic influence inserted here where it makes no geographic sense, when you already have this going in Calimshan (which has many different themes going on as well), where it is much better suited.


The whole point of Anauroch is that its existence defies expectations; it isn't supposed to make geographic sense and so a bunch of (displaced?) desert nomads having taken up residence in this wizard-wrought wasteland barely registers on my "Weird-O-Meter".

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Earth names in the Realms are more common than you may think.
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TBeholder
Great Reader

2401 Posts

Posted - 13 Mar 2023 :  02:34:32  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bootravsky


Anauroch: [. . .] As for the Bedine... let's leave aside the name (I don't know what to do about that). But their culture is infused with magic and also deeply in fear of it. Their wise folk wear ancient cloaks, passed down or found in the ruins, turned inside out to hide the runes. Because all know: magic brings the Thornybacks, and where they go is ruin. The people of this land are blessed with great magical ability that they cannot exhibit except in the most dire circumstances. [...] The Bedine wear beards to reflect their magelord forebears, whose images can be found throughout the ruins.
I find this much less consistent (never mind straightforward) than the original "Netheril bad - magic is anathema - exile witches" attitude.
quote:
And these folk learned to call forth creatures that would never be damaged by a small loss of life: the Purple Worms. [If the Realms has stolen from the real world, why don't we also steal from Dune, eh?]

Mostly because this just shows off inability to think things through as much as Herbert (or Greenwood).
For one, since the Phaerimm are the only ones free to use magic there, they would locate and dominate any such creatures to use for their own purpose first.
Most likely, they would not bother to implant secure controls like the drow do, but instead track and attack any "cattle rustling" interlopers.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch

Edited by - TBeholder on 13 Mar 2023 02:41:39
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DoveArrow
Seeker

97 Posts

Posted - 15 Mar 2023 :  08:00:52  Show Profile Send DoveArrow a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't necessarily grant the premise of the post. Absolutely, Calimshan has an Arabian theme. The Raurin Desert, however, has more Egyptian and Babylonian influences. As for the Anauroch Desert, the descriptions of the phaerimm and the floating cities of the Netheril Empire don't really have a real world analogue. They are very much Faerunian.

On a total side note, I was really disappointed that they chose to get rid of the Shadovar in 4E. They were such a fantastic edition to the Realms and I was really disappointed to see their demise.
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sleyvas
Skilled Spell Strategist

USA
11744 Posts

Posted - 15 Mar 2023 :  17:24:12  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just to point out, there are some additional deserts (not in Faerun mind you) worth mentioning.

The second largest desert in the world (the largest would be the Haunted Lands in Zakhara) is the Sands of Itzcala over in Anchorome/Northern Maztica. There are numerous cultural stories of humans "coming from the tunnels to the surface", so presumably some great apocalypse happened to devastate the surface. The first thoughts that came to my mind were planetary strikes, but that may be overdone. Having a culture here that somehow caused the equivalent of a nuclear holocaust might fit the bill better, with EITHER their descendants being the humans OR the humans just being people that travelled here from either other worlds via the underdark, or via underdark tunnels under the ocean. The aearee were in this region, and between Seethyr and myself we also put a spellweaver colony as homebrew. It could also be something like devastation created by dragons during say the first dracorage that never quite healed.... but I think that would heal a lot faster. It could even be something like a large number of Netherese-like colonies crashing to the earth when Mystryl died and having their mythallar go nuclear (not saying Netherese mind you... but it COULD be Netherese that left to explore this continent).

Another fairly large desert is the House of Tezca (fire god of Maztica) which sits above the jungles known as "Lopango, Land of Fire". I would presume to put some involvement of fire to this creation.

Then there's the Haunted Lands, which some other sages had done some delving of histories and noted a lot of references to falling stars.... so perhaps a story revolving around meteor strikes / tearfalls works here. Notedly, the region also lacks dragons BUT has a decent number of different giants that don't have ties to Annam. Many of these giants seems to have been cursed in some form or another.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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DoveArrow
Seeker

97 Posts

Posted - 16 Mar 2023 :  00:24:48  Show Profile Send DoveArrow a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just to point out, there are some additional deserts (not in Faerun mind you) worth mentioning.

The second largest desert in the world (the largest would be the Haunted Lands in Zakhara) is the Sands of Itzcala over in Anchorome/Northern Maztica. There are numerous cultural stories of humans "coming from the tunnels to the surface", so presumably some great apocalypse happened to devastate the surface. The first thoughts that came to my mind were planetary strikes, but that may be overdone. Having a culture here that somehow caused the equivalent of a nuclear holocaust might fit the bill better, with EITHER their descendants being the humans OR the humans just being people that travelled here from either other worlds via the underdark, or via underdark tunnels under the ocean. The aearee were in this region, and between Seethyr and myself we also put a spellweaver colony as homebrew. It could also be something like devastation created by dragons during say the first dracorage that never quite healed.... but I think that would heal a lot faster. It could even be something like a large number of Netherese-like colonies crashing to the earth when Mystryl died and having their mythallar go nuclear (not saying Netherese mind you... but it COULD be Netherese that left to explore this continent).

Another fairly large desert is the House of Tezca (fire god of Maztica) which sits above the jungles known as "Lopango, Land of Fire". I would presume to put some involvement of fire to this creation.

Then there's the Haunted Lands, which some other sages had done some delving of histories and noted a lot of references to falling stars.... so perhaps a story revolving around meteor strikes / tearfalls works here. Notedly, the region also lacks dragons BUT has a decent number of different giants that don't have ties to Annam. Many of these giants seems to have been cursed in some form or another.




Interesting. It didn't make me think of a cataclysm (at least not the way you described it), but of Native American stories about how man came from caves deep in the Earth. Usually, there's a culture bringer character who drags them out by some means or another. I should go back and look at the Maztica book. It's been... geez it's been probably 20 years.
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Werthead
Learned Scribe

United Kingdom
181 Posts

Posted - 16 Mar 2023 :  21:35:03  Show Profile  Visit Werthead's Homepage Send Werthead a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas "satellite view" of Toril has an absolutely massive desert filling the centre of the continent later called Osse, which given the Australian influence on Osse, makes a fair amount of sense (though the desert is flanked by extensive forest both to the north and south, unlike Australia). I believe the satellite map was created for flavour and is certainly not canon, but I think given the later (if minimal) development of Osse as an Australia-analogue makes a desert there pretty believable.

In terms of other deserts, there's also the Quoya Desert in the east of Taan, along the Dragonwall of Shou Lung. It's fairly substantial in size, looking not far off Anauroch in size.
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sleyvas
Skilled Spell Strategist

USA
11744 Posts

Posted - 20 Mar 2023 :  22:19:43  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DoveArrow

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just to point out, there are some additional deserts (not in Faerun mind you) worth mentioning.

The second largest desert in the world (the largest would be the Haunted Lands in Zakhara) is the Sands of Itzcala over in Anchorome/Northern Maztica. There are numerous cultural stories of humans "coming from the tunnels to the surface", so presumably some great apocalypse happened to devastate the surface. The first thoughts that came to my mind were planetary strikes, but that may be overdone. Having a culture here that somehow caused the equivalent of a nuclear holocaust might fit the bill better, with EITHER their descendants being the humans OR the humans just being people that travelled here from either other worlds via the underdark, or via underdark tunnels under the ocean. The aearee were in this region, and between Seethyr and myself we also put a spellweaver colony as homebrew. It could also be something like devastation created by dragons during say the first dracorage that never quite healed.... but I think that would heal a lot faster. It could even be something like a large number of Netherese-like colonies crashing to the earth when Mystryl died and having their mythallar go nuclear (not saying Netherese mind you... but it COULD be Netherese that left to explore this continent).

Another fairly large desert is the House of Tezca (fire god of Maztica) which sits above the jungles known as "Lopango, Land of Fire". I would presume to put some involvement of fire to this creation.

Then there's the Haunted Lands, which some other sages had done some delving of histories and noted a lot of references to falling stars.... so perhaps a story revolving around meteor strikes / tearfalls works here. Notedly, the region also lacks dragons BUT has a decent number of different giants that don't have ties to Annam. Many of these giants seems to have been cursed in some form or another.




Interesting. It didn't make me think of a cataclysm (at least not the way you described it), but of Native American stories about how man came from caves deep in the Earth. Usually, there's a culture bringer character who drags them out by some means or another. I should go back and look at the Maztica book. It's been... geez it's been probably 20 years.



One thing I had thought about, but haven't pursued, was the idea of linking Mystara and Toril via Anchorome. It might not make people happy. But the idea was that some of the people that went into Mystara's Hollow World might have tried to resurface and simply "walked across worlds" so to speak without realizing it down in the underdark. So, when they returned to the surface, it wasn't the surface of Mystara. Correspondingly, the devastation may have reached across worlds as well (i.e. the destruction of blackmoor may have reached into Toril via portals). That was one idea that came to mind, and while I mention it... I'm more in favor of some of the below.

Other ideas that I've thrown out were some of the below, which can be accepted in pieces and parts and need not necessarily be taken as a whole (and may be modified some).

spellweavers caused some kind of explosion and destroyed their ancient society in a time prior to the rise of the Sarrukh over in Anchorome.

Aearee arrived from Coliar after lizard folk came to their world from Sarrukh learning to travel between worlds via portals connecting them. The Sarrukh try to ravage the Aearee, but the Aearee confine the lizard folk of the Sarrukh to certain earth islands. Later, the portals are awakened again by the batrachi who seek to uncover the secrets of the Sarrukh. Fearing they will unleash the primordials which had long ago ravaged Coliar, the Aearee fly some of Coliar's "earth islands" to Toril. They set themselves above what becomes Anchorome and other parts of the world. The aearee come from a world where feathered dragons are common, in addition to other kinds, and there is some linkage between the dragons and the Aearee (and possibly even primordials). The "ice comet" that was plunged into Toril and filled with dragon eggs may have been an Aearee assault (one of its "water islands" transported to Toril, freezing as its crosses wildspace moving farther from its orbit of the sun).

Following the tearfall, the Aearee of Viakoo discover the remains of an ancient civilization that used to be spellweavers in the area that becomes the Pasocada Basin and try to uncover some lore of crystals that involve time manipulation.

Chromatic Dragons and Aeaeree come into conflict, after the creation of wyverns, first in Faerun where they invade the rookeries of Shara but also Viakoo. The flying cities of Viakoo are destroyed and come crashing to earth in western Anchorome.

Elves uncover some lore from the Aearee civilization in researching the dragons. They uncover a link between dragonkind and a comet which some believe is the body of a primordial known as Erek-hus, the king of terror (the "king killer" who slew Asgorath). They create a dracorage mythal that drives dragons mad whenever the body of Erek-hus comes close to Toril.

Elves uncover Aearee lore on time crystals, which is incomplete, based on the studies of spellweaver lore which they had tried to piece together. This forms a basis for the casting that eventually becomes "the elven sundering".

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 20 Mar 2023 22:36:22
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