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Your opinion on basing fantasy countries on real world ones


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Blue Orange

Adventurer
I wonder what a fantasy version of New Jersey would be like?

I could make a rival adventuring party based of The Jersey Shore cast!

It's a neat thought--I always thought NJ didn't get enough love. It'd have to be a part of a larger whole--one of the key things about NJ is it's between two larger cities, one fairly large, one very large. Perhaps a country located between two larger kingdoms? NJ is very diverse, which makes a good excuse for having party members come from many different ancestries. You replace the New Jersey Turnpike with the Great Road. Contrary to stereotypes, NJ's actually quite affluent, so it's actually not that great for adventuring unless you want to have urban adventures, though you could easily put a few dungeons in whatever the equivalent of the Pine Barrens is.
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
It's about respect and relative power. You can't exploit the USA, even if you want to; that's the most dominant culture on the planet. Following that is probably most Western European cultures, and so on.

I wonder how this going to change as China rises? We've already seen people apologize for calling Taiwan a country, for instance...
 

It's about respect and relative power. You can't exploit the USA, even if you want to; that's the most dominant culture on the planet. Following that is probably most Western European cultures, and so on.

That is sort of the problem for someone on the outside looking at the US, as there are really anywhere from 5-10, or more, distinct cultures within the US, depending on how specific you want to get.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That is sort of the problem for someone on the outside looking at the US, as there are really anywhere from 5-10, or more, distinct cultures within the US, depending on how specific you want to get.
Of course. No culture is a monolith or a caricature. That‘s the problem. You’ve just described it perfectly. If you can see it in your own, then you can see it in others. An excellent summary. :)
 


Blue Orange

Adventurer
That is sort of the problem for someone on the outside looking at the US, as there are really anywhere from 5-10, or more, distinct cultures within the US, depending on how specific you want to get.

One of the other reasons you don't see not-USes as much is it doesn't have any existence (as the nation we know) in the preindustrial era fantasy RPGs are usually drawn from. There was Andoran in Golarion, though I noticed they tidied up our great national shame by not only removing slavery, but banning it in the kingdom...
 

aco175

Legend
I do not have a problem with it. I find that the most basic of things have been based on real-life ideas all along. Terms like druid and cleric, or kings and queens leading nations all have real-world ideas tied to them. To make a nation with vikings and tie in some other ideas around it like barrows and thanes and sailing warriors gives the nations a culture. It kind of makes more sense than to take the idea of a viking kingdom and then change it to be led by mages and they ride hippos just because I want to be different. This would throw off the players who take some of what they think about the kingdom from real-world ideas of how things are/were.

I have learned a lot about our Earth history from D&D. A dungeon based on Stonehenge or the Pyramids has caused me to research further into these sites and learn more about the people and culture that created them. Something on the History channel caused me to create fantasy elements on it. Some of this reminds me of the book writing thing about there is no more original ideas.

I find that if you copy and steal elements from history, you should try and be careful about offending people. I would not deliberately try and offend, but I also cannot research all elements from all angles to make certain I do not offend. I can live with a good-faith effort.
 

Mallus

Legend

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One of the other reasons you don't see not-USes as much is it doesn't have any existence (as the nation we know) in the preindustrial era fantasy RPGs are usually drawn from. There was Andoran in Golarion, though I noticed they tidied up our great national shame by not only removing slavery, but banning it in the kingdom...

Well, most fantasy versions of European countries do not have slavery either, even though those were the countries that imported it to the American colonies. The British Empire did not ban slavery throughout the Empire until 1834 and France did not do the same until 1847, yet you never hear about any of that. All that is taught is that the US had slavery, when it was actually a worldwide sin.
 



So what is your opinion on this?
Given that I've run several historical fantasy games (Pendragon, Ars Magica, RQ3's Fantasy Earth, Castle Falkenstein, Space: 1889), clearly I don't have a huge inherent issue with using them as a basis.

Likewise, I love TOR 1E and L5R, and have happily run D&D's Mystara, and MLP... all of which have cultures based upon real ones.

I think the liberal-progressive movement's emphasis on extreme political correctness is going to villainize those doing so in the future; I suspect that Kalymba may have suffered from being seen as "cultural appropriation."
 

Well that’s certainly not true, is it?

It is in US schools. It is like the existence of slavery here from 1619-1776 is all the fault of the US government, even though the US, as a country, is only responsible for the existence of slavery from 1776-1865. Virtually nothing is taught about the evils done in the colonies, as related to slavery, by the various European countries, or by the citizens of those countries, here in the Americas. I don't even think I have ever seen anything taught on the differences in slavery in the colonies around the world versus slavery within the European countries, or even if slavery was restricted to just the colonies and not used with the borders of the home countries.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
Not going into the depth of the slavery issue, but it touches upon a problem you have when you base countries on history. When you do that the expectation is obviously a "when in doubt, refer to the real world". This gets problematic when different people have a different knowledge about history, especially that thanks to movies and other entertainment options with, lets say questionable historical accuracy, many people often have a completely wrong idea about certain historic eras and events.
 




Crusadius

Explorer
I think its ok to do it. The important thing is to treat the subject with respect and not degenerate into caricature and stereotyping. Some games have even had experts go over the writing to ensure this was done.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Well, most fantasy versions of European countries do not have slavery either, even though those were the countries that imported it to the American colonies.

Most settings have faux-Middle Ages. Slavery was nearly non-existant (replaced by impoverished serfdom, which was certainly hardly better, but adventurers rarely ask the question about the socio-economical status of the farm workers when they cross villages in my experience) until it became economically sensible to buy slaves in Africa and put them to work in the colonies. Hence the absence of slaves: the inspiration is an earlier era and the conditions to have a prosperous slave trade aren't generally met in fantasy settings. Edit: actually, they sometimes are, but it's not something that is explored by designers, certainly due to the extreme level of equality usually displayed by fantasy races.
 
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