Selan- A SE Asian campaign (Critical rebuilding)





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  1. #1
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    Selan- A SE Asian campaign (Critical rebuilding)

    Hi Everyone,

    I originally posted this thread to gain information and resources to create a campaign based on the mythology of South-East asian countries. The thread has since grown a lot, thanks to many helpful suggestions from the folk here at ENWorld.

    Presently I am trying to rebuild everything from my written notes (of which there are few), my memory and everything I've posted up. Everything else has been lost due to my hard drive crash two weeks ago.

    Still requesting NPC ideas for the City of Kalpesh, the baroque merchant city, both locals and foreign.

    I'd also like some suggestions for interesting spirits my PCs can encounter.


    Suggestions are welcome, as always.

    thanks in advance!

    Original Text
    I'm looking at beginning a new campaign in the near future. I want there to be a gritty, survivalist feel to the campaign, with low amount of magic, but not to eliminate magic entirely.

    Firstly, I'm looking for some ideas on that, but the main focus is on the culture and legends of the area. I'm looking for resources on South-East Asian Mythology (Cambodia, Thailand, etc... I'll consider using some Indian Mythology too) as a backdrop. Does anyone know of any good resources for this?

    What kind of Monsters (and PCs? I'm considering human only...) should I include. I'm thinking Yuan-ti with a culture similar to the Amnion in Stephen Donaldson's Gap series.

    Anyway, thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Sound of Azure; Sunday, 5th November, 2006 at 02:20 AM.

 

  • #2
    Keep in mind, that south east asia is quite a melting pot. Malaysia for example consists of people with Indian (tamil nadu), Dayak, Chinese (mostly southern), Bugis and Malayan heritage. Three or more major religions live next to each other (Hindu, Islam, Bhuddist). Myths harken back to their originator religions.
    Look at Dayak, Orang Asli and Bugis Myths, though. They were animistic up until modern times.

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    Cambodia and like setting? So you are striving for a setting with ancient ruins in the jungle? Anyway, Yuan-Ti are a must there, but Rakshasas should fit very well too. You could also have weretigers in this setting, and turn bugbears into a kind of evolved evil apes living in the jungle. Long ago, on WotC website (now maybe in an old archive) there was a free web supplement about an Indian-like fantasy setting (web enhancement for Oriental Adventures). Try to find it, it may give you some ideas.
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    Settembrini

    A melting pot...that's a very good point I did not consider. It could be very fascinating to have a lot of cultural diversity in the absence of actual distinct races, as opposed to cultural "races".
    I hope my players can get their heads around animism, though...

    Turanil-

    You mean Mahasarpa? Yeah, I like the ideas presented in that little gem, and may yoink the caste system from that.

    Yes, a jungle/peninsular type setting. Which is why I don't want it to be too easy for PCs to get around things like food and water and such. Also, I want the environment itself to be a character of its own. Not sure if that makes sense.

    Thank you both for your suggestions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sound of Azure
    Firstly, I'm looking for some ideas on that, but the main focus is on the culture and legends of the area. I'm looking for resources on South-East Asian Mythology (Cambodia, Thailand, etc... I'll consider using some Indian Mythology too) as a backdrop. Does anyone know of any good resources for this?
    No. I'll be watching this thread like a hawk, though, because I would sure appreciate finding some.

    The region has dealt with Muslim, Chinese and Hindu imperialism so I know the local religion is buried under/expressed through the belief systems of its various overlords. I imagine French Catholicism and Maoism are just the latest iterations of this.
    A Fusangite

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    one must depart from the province of Lean-tong, north of Peking and that after travelling 12,000 li, the traveller would reach Japan, and thence to the north, after a journey of 7000 li, arrive at the country of Wen-Schin (the painted people). Five thousand li from this country towards the east is Tahan, which is 20,000 li from Fusang.

    -- A 6th century account of Fusang, the country across the Pacific from China.

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    Hey, a campaign i can relate to...

    It's interesting to see that there's someone out here interested in running a south-east asian flavored setting...

    Well, from the top of my head and as a south east asian myself, i would say that first of all you may want to identify which particular region of south east asia you're referring. On the north including Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos are mostly Buddist influenced countries. Thailand especially has its own variation of Buddishm.

    On the south which almost practically means Malaysia, Indonesia (with of course Singapore in the picture but they are an exception) and Brunei is where the Muslims are and remember even in Indonesia it's really huge, each island may differ completely in lifestyles.

    Other countries to keep in mind is the Phillipines (sp?) is again divided between north and south. On the north island (Luzon/Lazon, oppsss...forgetting my geography) it's mostly Chatholics and on the south (Mindanao) it's Muslims.

    Singapore is one of the metropolitan heart of south east asia. It has become a developed nation but it has roots tied with Malaysia back in ancient history (not that it has any big influence to what it is today, mind you. I'm not offending any singaporeans here )

    So there you go, religion in south-east asia is pretty 'intergrated'. Perhaps running a campaign based on religious factions could come to mind ?

    I would contribute more to this thread but that's all i could come up for the moment. Although i would love to provide any answers to any questions that you would have. So feel free to ask anything as long as it is within my knowledge.

    Btw, Final Fantasy X is said to have inspirations based on south-east asian themes so you could try to experience the atmosphere from there too. Although i wouldn't say it is the personification of the south-east asian element.
    Last edited by questing gm; Saturday, 27th May, 2006 at 04:21 PM.
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    Fusangite

    I know what you mean. I was a bit worried it might be too muh of a niche idea, with many "asian" games focusing on Japanese or Chinese style cultures. Not to disparage said cultures, but for me they are Old Hat, gaming-wise. Plus, there'll be something a bit more unknown and mysterious. Also, nobody wanting to be a ninja...

    Of course, I'm only using this as a very loose basis for culture. Trying to do more would most likely step on the toes of my players too much. I'll try to post game information that I come up with and bounce a few ideas off of people here.

    Hey, it's nice not to be lurking for once!

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    Cool, I have to admit, my initial interest in this had much to do with wanting something "different" and unique, and seldom done before. I'm grateful for the insight you've already provided.

    I was primarily looking at mainland cultures of the north in SE Asia (So Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam, primarily), as my last campaign was set in and around various islands based on historic Korea. The players would probbly revolt if I had them on islands again.

    I was wondering when Islam came to the South East? This is out of personal interest to myself... I probably will not include that particular element in my campaign. However, the idea of religious conflict is an excellent idea. I'm glad to say I had no illusions of religious unity in the region!

    My main interest is in legends common to many of the countries (such as the Garuda) and the nature of the spirits and "gods". I was wondering if a correlation could be made to, say, Rashemen in the Forgotten Realms with their place magic, or to the shaman class from the Oriental adventures book.
    I also want encounters that would be appropriate for such a place, preferably based on legend.

    I had heard that about Final Fantasy X... the theme of water could be a valuable idea to use. As for the rest.... no Ronso or Blitzball, I think.

    Thank you for your time

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    It's me again !

    Northern Southeast Asia

    I was primarily looking at mainland cultures of the north in SE Asia
    Well i'll have to admit that since i'm a malaysian and live on the southern side of the region, i am really not entirely familiar with our northern neighbours. So the following are just the things that i know about them and may not be the best reflection of the situation there. In other words, i can't really prove them to be facts and i may be misinformed about certain things so feel free to improvise from them;

    Geography and Demographics : For the most part, one of the aspects that you could implement into your setting is that rice paddy is very essential to the communities there. Since ancient days, the Indochina is mainly consist of agarian kingdoms which means they rely heavily on farms (and that usually means rice). AFAIK, Thailand, blessed with some of the most riches river deltas (the Mekong River which is the longest in the region, spanning from Thailand through Myanmar and almost to west asia being one of them) was known as the 'ricebowl' of the region.

    As for the culture, since a majority of the population are likely to be farmers and lands outside of cities would most likely comprised of farmlands growing paddy, you could base some of your cultures from there. Poverty can be a ever present element here with farmers living in stilt houses and having extended or very large families. Harvest festivals are a cause of celebration and a time to pray for better harvest to come.

    Religion : Other than Vietnam, all the other countries (Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia) share the same form of Buddishm which is a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism, they have reverence to many 'gods', Garuda being one of them. So, i believe that having a distinct pantheon of gods for your setting would be appropriate.

    The worshipping habits are more of prayers for blessings and good fortune rather than an actual relationship between worshipper and god. Religion in that sense means that they do not actually have an inclination to any doctrine or way of life but rather a seeking for a form of protection from the gods against harm.

    The buddhism practiced in Vietnam is more like the ones practiced in China where they are also mainly influenced by (what can you expect from neighbours). The buddishm there would more likely have a doctrine and way of life, abstainence from meat being one of the main practices.

    Races : According to Buddhist mythology, Garudas are the enemies of the nagas, so that could be one monsters you could look into or you could make the nagas, Yuan-Ti. The Garuda is also seen as the southeast asian version of the phoenix, although i wouldn't really use the ones from the MMII to represent that. You could make them Raptorians instead as a playable race, if you like. So, you could have the Garudas as Raptorians and the Yuan-Tis as the nagas, *bang* racial conflicts.

    I'll split my post to address different aspects so it can be of easier reference to you.
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    Imagine Magazine, issue 25, April 1985 had an article on Philippine monsters. It had 1e stats for the Agta, Batibat, Tikbalang, Aswang, Mansalauan, Segben and Mantabungal, and a short section linking other creatures to standard AD&D monsters. Good luck finding it

    As well as the Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic societies mention in the previous posts, if you head north into southern China (Yunnan and Sichuan) you can find remnants of the old Bon religion - essentially shamanism. Bon also underpins Tibetan Buddhism, but that's probably outside of your campaign sphere.

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