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Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters 
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Post Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
I've got a couple of suggestions from the Outremer playtesters I haven't yet acted on. I haven't acted on them yet because I'm not quite sure how to approach them. Both stem from the fact that the Appendix of Naming Tables was very well received - the tables are broken down by linguistic/ethnic group, and really help in naming characters. These are both extensions of that idea, and can be considered together, though they need to be implemented separately.
From my blog:

First off is a set of linguistic phrase tables - basically common things characters can insert into their speech to give local flavor. Basically the problem here is these languages are obscure at best - outside of Arabic and Turkish - that some of them are completely postulated - such as Outremer Frankish and Edessan, and that they all change over time. This will take some serious research into the languages, and will delay the release of Outremer. Should I release it later on, as a supplement? A big decision!

Second is a name generator for villages and small towns. Cities and large towns show on the maps, but the smaller settlements would need creation by the group and/or GM. The problem? Well, first of all languages, and for that see the above, but also naming patterns. The Arabs generally reinstated an Arabicized version of the old Semitic names, except where they didn't know, but the Crusaders used a hodge-podge of techniques - Latin and Greek names unused since classical times, assigning biblical names to places they thought appropriate - and were frequently wrong! - naming places after geographical features in Frankish tongues, assigning fortress or castle names to nearby towns, renaming settlements after saints and warriors, and the like. the Turks sometimes "Turkified" existing place names - Antioch became Antakya, Smyrna became Izmir - but they didn't differentiate between classical names and Semitic names. They also renamed places by translating the meaning into Turkish, or by commemorating ancient heroes. The Armenians? Who the heck knows? Armenian place names are just GONE! Again, a lot of research, no one method, and missing information I would have to flat out make up. Is it worth the time it will take? Should I delay Outremer until this appendix is finished?

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Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:46 pm
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
For me, personally, the phrases should be in english. I'm not likely to want to finish a long sentence in english with 'God's will be done' and to suddenly switch to arabic and say 'ma sha Allah'. I don't actually need to speak arabic in the game to sound like an arab. But I'd like to be able to say things in english to make me sound like an arab.

Regarding the second question - is there a rush to get Outremer out? A village name-maker is a very handy thing, but I can see how trying to get it to be historically accurate would be a pain. Can you use modern maps to make a reasonably close approximation? If not, maybe you can use an armenian on-line dictionary to make up some names, and in those cases you could put a simple caveat before the names list that many of these are not historical because it would be near impossible to provide historically accurate names. I'm sure that having a list of armenian words with meanings like High, Low, Wide, Wall, Fort, Bridge, Valley, Ridge, Lake, River would pass muster in 99.9% of roleplaying groups. It's probably not worth spending a lit of time on.

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Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:17 pm
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
Hi Chris!

Thalaba wrote:
For me, personally, the phrases should be in english. I'm not likely to want to finish a long sentence in english with 'God's will be done' and to suddenly switch to arabic and say 'ma sha Allah'. I don't actually need to speak arabic in the game to sound like an arab. But I'd like to be able to say things in english to make me sound like an arab.


Hmmm... Interesting take. That may be a productive way to approach it. :D

Quote:
Regarding the second question - is there a rush to get Outremer out? A village name-maker is a very handy thing, but I can see how trying to get it to be historically accurate would be a pain. Can you use modern maps to make a reasonably close approximation? If not, maybe you can use an armenian on-line dictionary to make up some names, and in those cases you could put a simple caveat before the names list that many of these are not historical because it would be near impossible to provide historically accurate names. I'm sure that having a list of armenian words with meanings like High, Low, Wide, Wall, Fort, Bridge, Valley, Ridge, Lake, River would pass muster in 99.9% of roleplaying groups. It's probably not worth spending a lit of time on.


OK, I'm pretty anal about research, and while I know that most RPG companies don't care, and most customers don't expect much, I need to please myself first. I would rather not put something out than put out something which falls beneath my own standards. As for the rush, Outremer is virtually complete. I have other projects waiting my attention, and while I commonly work on several projects simultaneously, I never do while in the last stages of clean-up before publishing. OTOH, I can see how very useful such a table would be.

-clash

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Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:07 pm
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
Well, there's always the Outremer Companion to think about.

There will be a companion, right? Le Fils d'Outremer? Non?

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Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:23 pm
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
Thalaba wrote:
Well, there's always the Outremer Companion to think about.

There will be a companion, right? Le Fils d'Outremer? Non?


That is indeed the point. I could leave these things to the Companion, but that would make it mandatory that I indeed do make a Companion. :D

I have always preferred making games to making supplements, but I have done so before. StarCluster 2 had a great many supplements, but most of them were rolled into SC3, and made better. Maybe Outremer II will incorporate the Companion? :D

-clash

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Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
Outremer will be released Friday the first, without these additions. I have committed to an Outremer Companion. The idea is it will be mostly fan generated content, the pdf to be given away free, and the print book to be sold at cost. If this does not work - if I end up writing everything - then I will have to charge for it. If it does work, I will lay plans for follow-up Companions, and possibly move the idea on to other games.

I would vastly prefer the former, BTW!

-clash

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Thu Jun 30, 2011 11:57 am
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
Hmmm - fan generated, huh? I'll have to put my thinking cap on - after I finish reading more Harold Lamb, of course.

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Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:12 pm
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
Thalaba wrote:
Hmmm - fan generated, huh? I'll have to put my thinking cap on - after I finish reading more Harold Lamb, of course.


Damn right you do, Chris! I actually wrote the first article tonight - How to Make a Magic Carpet. :D

-clash

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Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:23 pm
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
In the game of Outremer, I separated Cities and Towns, and did not distinguish Villages. Villages in the Holy Land are extremely important, and extremely ancient. From Aqaba to Edessa, Villages are named with either their ancient Aramaic names, or with some version of them easy to pronounce in the locally important language. These places have been around forever, and may be quite large. Villages are usually the places farmers or fishermen live, and they work the areas nearby. Unlike in the USA, famers do not live in single family houses on the land they farm. In the desert areas, villages are not so much for farming as for trade. Villages grow up around caravanserais or fortifications, most of which are ancient and rebuilt again and again in the same spot, where there is a supply of water. For all the population in the great cities, the bulk of the people live in villages.

Towns and Cities in Outremer are both urbanized, that is they are inhabited by a variety of specialists, and not by a group of farmers or fishermen. They tend to be walled, though many have outgrown their walls since the times of constant danger. Many have several fortifications around them, castles and forts designed to protect them, and large and ornate places of worship. Both Towns and Cities in Outremer have usually existed for millennia in the same spot, though not always under the same name. Conquerors tend to rename Cities, and sometimes Towns, and forget about the villages.

The difference between Towns and Cities is therefore the population, and by extension the variety of services which are supported. Where a Town might support a thriving souk, or market, a City might support a dozen souks. Where a Town might have an imposing cathedral or beautiful mosque, a City might have dozens of each, with many of differing creeds, with synagogues and other places of worship thrown in for good measure. Cities thrive on trade, and on pilgrimage. The economic importance of pilgrimage to the Outremer cannot be overstated!

The roads shown on the maps in the game are all important primary or secondary trade routes. These routes have caravanserai roughly a day apart, or villages with accommodations, or both. The roads may be paved, or they may be dirt, but they are unmistakable as anything but roads. At borders along these routes there are customs shacks for taking fees, and barracks for troops. They are also regularly patrolled to drive away robbers and bandits.

There are also a huge number of tiny tertiary roads. These may be smugglers' routes, or herding paths, or just country lanes. There are no caravanserai, villages are insular and not equipped to take travellers, and no one patrols them or taxes their use. Use the roads appropriate to your purpose. Many of these roads were once more important than they are now, and lead to ruined places and cities, and which are now the haunt of bandits - and much worse. Use the road appropriate for your purpose.

Caravanserais are different in form and function in Cities and Towns from those in Villages. Damascus, for example, has many huge, gorgeous caravanserais, some of them architectural marvels, with shops and souks inside like modern shopping malls. Rural caravanserais are noted more for their utility and protection than their comfort and beauty, but they all are are stoutly built, and provide food and water.

-clash

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Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:40 pm
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Post Re: Outremer - Suggestions from Playtesters
Drilling Down for Sub-Cultural Traits - in Outremer

Cultural Traits in Outremer are set at the national level, but that doesn’t mean there are no cultural groups at a sub-national level. All it means is that taking all people of that state into consideration, those average Traits stand out.
Sub-Cultures
Below the state level are various sub-cultural groups, which can be approached the same way as the national level group. For example the semi-independent Principalities like Galilee are are given Traits separately from the main state’s Traits, but sub-cultures can be much smaller than Principalities. Bedouin tribes, city and townspeople, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, or inhabitants of remote areas are all examples of sub-cultures. Any time a group of people see themselves as different from the mainstream, there’s a sub-culture. In most cases, the so-called mainstream is an artifact made up of dozens of slightly different sub-cultures.
Drilling Down
The process of defining sub-cultures I call ‘drilling Down”. The smaller the sub-culture, the further you drill down, the larger the variation can be from the state culture.
Top-Level Sub-Cultures
Top level sub-cultures are huge cities or large ethnic majorities. These should only vary from the main culture by one or two Trait Points. For example, the Traits of the Emirate of Damascus are Inventive 2, Accepting 2, Cultured 2, Proud 1. The great City of Damascus - which all of Galilee would be swallowed up in - should vary little from this baseline - perhaps something like Inventive 2, Accepting 1, Cultured 3, Proud 1.
Mid-level Sub-Cultures
Mid level sub-cultures are smaller groups of people - a normal city, a prosperous valley, a quarter of a huge city, or a large minority of some type. These have more leeway in how much they can diverge from the main culture, so up to three or four points of difference is fine. For example the Traits of the Duchy of Acre are Brisk 2, Arrogant 2, Tolerant 2, Creative 1, but the Traits of the Lordship of Scandalion might be Brave 2, Arrogant 2, Tolerant 2, Taciturn 1.
Low Level Sub-Cultures
Low level sub-cultures as small groups of people. Examples would be a town or large village, a small ethnic or religious minority, or a large tribe. These groups may have little in common with the overarching state culture, so up to five or six points may differ. For example, the Traits of the nation of Rhodes are Methodical 2, Cultured 3, Arrogant 1, and Patient 1, but the inhabitants of the town of Stampalia might be Suspicious 2, Provincial 2, Generous 1, Polite 1, and Patient 1.
Micro Sub-Cultures
Micro sub-cultures, like small villages or tribes, may be totally unlike the state culture. Any similarities would be coincidence.

-clash

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Designing: Lowell Was Right!
Last Release: IHW: Pigboats, Volant - Kingdoms of Air and Stone
I FLY BY NIGHT Blog: http://iflybynight.blogspot.com/


Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:12 pm
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