[SotE] A Song of Elfgame and PSU, and stuff about ethnicity

So, time for another blog update, since my main computer’s PSU died and I gotta wait until Wednesday to get a new one. My Ubuntu shitbox allows me to browse the net but I can’t actually write anything on this since for some reason OpenOffice will eat anything you write in it.

The setting material is done. Some bits and pieces might get filled in during the first round of editing, but that’s done. The core rules are done too. Some minor subsystems need to get filled out. Some dry-run playtesting has been going on.

Actually I wanted to talk about the non-humans in the setting, because by now you might have heard about the Change.org petition against Monte Cook Games and their game The Strange. Read the petition yourself because the issue about representing an actual minority in a game is pretty well presented there.

One of the most awkward and shitty things is using the traditional nonhuman races (dwarves, orcs, elves) as a stand-in for actual minorities. Swords of the Eastsea is not doing that. The dwarves, the elves and the orcs are a completely different thing and represent nothing or no one that has existed in the real world. Furthermore, since there’s a few real-life minorities which will be touched upon in the game setting, such as the Saami and the Roma, I’ll be talking with people from those groups to figure things out. I don’t want to write another WoD: Gypsies.

Which is a good segue to another point. Historically, the Early Modern period was a period that was in many ways far more international than the early 20th century. Remember, nationalism as we knew it didn’t exist, so other things counted more than someone’s ethnicity. For instance, in Stockholm, over half the city council was for a long time German. Going from this, the baseline in Swords of the Eastsea is roughly as follows: wherever you go, there’s always going to be a majority group but existing alongside them, there’s significant numbers of people from other places and other ethnicities. One state which the base game will touch on briefly is the Empire of the Maghreb, an important state in North Africa that has wide-reaching commercial interests elsewhere. So people from Maghreb can be found almost anywhere. One of the important commercial products of North Africa is salt, and anyone who wishes to fish and sell their catch needs it, so every major port in the north has some traders from the Maghreb.

Likewise, Somali people have made their way into the north through the river trade routes that run from the Black Sea and are an accepted part of the Karelian communities. Likewise, soldiers from the Ottoman Republic frequently seek service in Novgorod and the Polish-Livlandian Commonwealth.

I like it, and hope you like it too.

Edit: Oh yeah someone totally gave me the idea that the setting should have cat people, like Skyrim. If I have Sumerians in the Baltic, I probably can do cat people too.

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2 Responses to [SotE] A Song of Elfgame and PSU, and stuff about ethnicity

  1. Tordenskjold says:

    I am watching this blog with interest, historical fantasy is right up my personal gaming alley and the 17th century is an underused period of gaming. I am excited to see where this project goes!

    I’m wondering about the inclusion of cat-people and orcs. Dwarves and Elves were both mythic creatures with some basis in real folklore. Orcs and cat-people have less basis in myth, at least as they are depicted in modern media. How do you intend to include them in an allo-historical context of the baltic/scandinavian nations? Seems to me that orcs might be better at home in Britain (Tolkien’s sountry) and cat-folk might be more suited for Egyptian adventures given their cat worship.

    • kemper2011 says:

      There’s a thing in the deep background of the setting, where something like The Lord of the Rings took place, so there was something called The Old Enemy that created orcs, trolls and dragons. The Old Enemy is permanently gone, so all those things now have free will. The orcs exist only in a couple of places that are more or less the the frontier of human civilization. A module will deal with diplomatic missions to orcish lands to open peaceful relationships with them and include playable orcs. Orcs in the base game are more or less raiding parties, sailing down lakes and rivers in not-Finland to raid human farmsteads and villages.

      Cat-folk I have thought less about in general, but there’s a bunch of stuff about regular cats in the game, and the Karelian people worship cats as household protectors.

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