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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:58 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:31 pm
Posts: 69
Location: U.S.A. Ohio
So much could be written in reply to these wonderful topics and ideas. All I can say though is..

What do you mean I cant empathy check a Valinor? I DISTINCTLY recall many a player in Arcanis 3.5 days, using sense motive on a rock. Because lets be honest, it was trying to kill you, us, me.

Seriously though, I would reply to this thread, but pretty much everything I could ask has already been asked and said. Very interesting read, ty!

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Lo Gorie- Dark-Kin Barbarian 1 & Fighter 3. FL: Legio Anguis Reptatus.
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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:54 pm 
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Diglossia and Culture among humanity:

Hey look, Cody's talking about languages again (ducks from the thrown produce).

A slightly different angle for this one, but I recently listened to a lecture on the concept of diglossia and as usual I figured I'd put it into perspective by writing an essay on the subject. Like in our world, I can see Arcanis-equivalents of much of what was discussed in the lecture applying to the human nations of Arcanis (probably also the non-human ones, but those are more difficult to apply human notions to) and figured it would be a good vessel of discussion.

For those not familiar with the term diglossia, it is the sociolinguistic term of people effectively speaking two different languages in their everyday lives. These are often termed the "high" language, which is the formal language of the society, and the "low" language, which is common everyday speech. As an example, in the United States of America right now pretty much every school child is taught 'standard' English, which is a fairly highly structured version of the language based off the Americanization of the London dialect of English, which became the official 'high' dialect of English in England as that was where the King/Queen resided. Proficiency in this official version of English is demanded to various levels for people in professions, and being able to communicate well using it is essential in most jobs. This language is generally fairly standard throughout the United States, and even to an extent in other nations such as Canada.

Conversely, the 'low' dialect is the 'street' languages or dialects. These are your 'urbanics' or 'Black English' or what people would consider to be an accent. These are the tongues that you speak at home with your family that you learned on your parent's knee. This is the language you speak at the bar with friends while watching the game. This is the version of the language which often gets you hit by a ruler in school for being 'wrong', and you almost never see literature written in this language. People tend to be shamed publicly for speaking in the 'low' dialect of their society, or often viewed as being uncultured, so most people do what they can to hide their proficiency in the 'low' dialect when they can.

As an example: I watch a web series made by a gentleman from Boston. Most of the time, he speaks with a lovely, flat accent and uses 'normal' speech. However, he has on occasion (often when he is sick, tired, or trying to make a point) switched back to his accented voice, with all the changes associated with that accent (further example: "going to" vs. "gunna") coming through. Now, this youtuber has said he does this for various reasons: it is easier to edit sound with the 'flat' accent he puts on, it tends to be easier to understand, etc. However, it should be pointed out that he has said (and I have heard it elsewhere) that this is a skill he picked up early in life. There was a reference in the film "the Departed" as I recall where they called out one of the characters about saying he had two faces and two languages that he spoke in, and this is that.

Another example of this is "Yankee" English vs. "Southern" English in the United States. As a non-American, I can tell you that their is a massive difference in accent and lexicon between Minnesota (the state closest to where I was born and raised) and Texas where my cousins live, and even between Texas and Alabama (where one of my uncles is from). Among my home area, and from what I understand most of America north of the old Mason-Dixon Line, the Southern accent/dialect is viewed as uncouth, even "hillbilly-like". Even the cultured, Scarlet O'Hara "I do declare!" accent has various negative connotations. Because of this, many people I know from the American south also try to 'hide' their accents, especially if they came from a more rural upbringing.

Now, this relationship doesn't just have to be between 'common' and 'official' versions of the same language. In ancient Rome, Latin was the 'high' language according to the culture, with all the languages of the subject peoples being the 'low' language. If you were in North Africa, you would expect Roman citizens to speak Latin (it would be drilled into your head if you were in the legions), but the 'low' language would be Berber (or the version of that tongue that existed 2000 years ago) or Ancient Egyptian. In India, typically Hindi or English are viewed as the 'high' languages that people are taught in school, but languages like Punjabi or Malayalam or Tamil are spoken conversationally to kin, so those would be the 'low' languages. Alternatively, there are nations like the islands in the Caribean like Jamaica or Haiti that officially speak one language (English and French, per those examples), but when speaking among themselves would speak a Creole language (such as Jamaican Patois) which incorporates aspects of the official language with African slave languages, Spanish, etc. These languages are often barely mutually intelligable to the listener, which I have found personally with both Jamaicans as well as with Haitians speaking to me in French (which I admit I'm only partially proficient in).

Now, how does this relate to Arcanis?

Well, we know in Arcanis that there are two languages that exist in a literal (named) high vs. low relationship, these being Khitani and Coryani. In the case of Coryani, High Coryani represents the language spoken in Coryan-the-City when the Empire was founded, and became the official tongue of the Empire, court, records, and the Church by grace of the fact that it was the language of the city that became the capital of the Empire. We do not know how hard Coryan tried to impose this language on the rest of the Empire in the following 1075 years, but if they did they met with almost total failure from what we've seen in universe as literally every mod has Heroes speaking to the common folk (and even the nobility) in Low Coryani.

Low Coryani has often been stated as being a trade language of the Empire, and is something of an amalgum language of the various languages that became subject to the Alabaster Throne. We do not know how many of these other languages exist(ed), but following the 2nd Coryani-Khitani War we know that distinct Milandisian, Cancerese, and Altharin languages were still in use by the nations which secceded from the Empire, and Myrantian remained in use to the modern day. Presumably there was also an "Annonican" and a "Valentian" and a "Cafelan" tongue as well (or many such tongues), but these have not been widely espounded upon in fiction.

The exact nature of Low Coryani has not been widely discussed within the universe, beyond it being the 'low' tongue of the Empire. Most likely it started out as a pidgin language between the various desperate provinces of the Empire following the formation (remember: Milandisia, Canceri, Cafela, Illonia, and probably Balantica all entered the Empire willingly as part of the First Emperor's First Crusade of Light). While people officially had to learn High Coryani (derived from Tridueaian, the tongue of Coryan-the-City), learning new languages is hard for adults so they would instead learn a mixed version of their own tongue (say, Ancient Milandisian) and this new one. What is known, however, is that over the intervening centuries that whatever this langauge started as, by now it has become a full language in its own right. Pidgins tend to take words and grammar from one component language, add words from another one, and cut as much out to get the rough message across. However, we know that Low Coryani isn't an awkward but functional pidgin language, but a full, living tongue that has incorporated grammar and vocabulary from many different language.

In the case of the (modern) Coryani Empire, most likely High Coryani is the 'high' language for most of the population (being the language of official documents, the bureaucracy, and the Church), while Low Coryani is the 'low' version which people use to buy cabbages on the street and talk to their children and (likely) slaves. It is highly unlikely to me that one would see High Coryani spoken outside of Illonia (and likely, even not there casually), and would be viewed as a marker of social distinction. When patricians speak in front of their slaves and don't want to be heard (or, very possibly, want the slave to know that they are no longer considered to exist in the same room), they would likely switch to High Coryani, and would use Low Coryani when directly addressing their 'lessers.' [As an aside, this happens to me literally every day at work. I work with a lot of Germans, and when they are speaking publicly about work stuff they speak English. However, if they are gossiping, they switch to German, at which time they pointedly are excluding non-German's from the conversation.] Similarly, the scribes in the Bureaucracy would do all their documents in High Coryani, even if between themselves they spoke Low Coryani. When the Emperor releases decrees, they would officially be written in High Coryani, though it likely would be co-released in Low Coryani. This last example is seen on the Rosetta stone in our world, with the same decree written in Greek (the official language of the Ptolemaic dynasty), and in two forms of Egyptian (the "High" Egyptian in hieroglyphics, and the "Low" Egyptian known as Demotic).

Of these two languages, Low Coryani would probably be easier (subjective) to learn for newcomers to the Empire as it bears at least some resemblance to their own tongue (in the Known Lands), so they can pick up bits of grammar more easily. Because of this, it would be the 'common' tongue of slaves within the Empire that slave-owners would force their slaves to speak if they did not already know a Coryani language. For example, as an English speaker, I can pick up French easier than I can Russian because there is so much loaned French words/grammar in English, while there is almost no loaning of words and grammar from Russian. It is also possible that High Coryani and Low Coryani are mutually intelligible in the same way that "Black English" and "Standard English" are mutually intelligible in our world, as likely (but not stated outright because why go into that much detail) Low Coryani uses the framework of High Coryani with a bunch of the vocabulary changed to reflect foreign influence. Similarly, slaves would often be the ones doing business, buying food, etc. for the household, so they would have to know how to talk to the traders and merchants.

Khitani is somewhat different. The little bit we know of the language is that High Khitani is the language of "Educated/Scholarly people of the Khitani Empire" (ARPG pg. 155) while Low Khitani is the language of the "Common people of the Khitani Empire." Now, we don't have enough information to state outright whether or not the two Khitani languages have the same relationship as the Coryani languages, but I feel I can make a few assumptions. For one: as far as we are aware the Khitani Empire was a much more culturally unified nation than the Coryani Empire was. The Khitani Empire was (officially) founded by a Valinor of Larissa who led its "pure" people (the Uls) off to the far northern provinces of the Imperium to escape the Sword of the Heavens. Since then, aside from the two wars with Coryan over the Blessed Lands, we don't have any information about the Khitani getting involved in the politics of other nations except defensively, and in one case trying to absorb the 'lost' province of Haina.

Because of this, we don't have any real evidence that the Khitani ever sought to bring other cultures into their own, and that when their language developed it was insular. If this supposition is correct, then the difference between High and Low Khitani would probably be that they are two separate languages (possibly related, but separate) which are not mutually intelligible, but one is spoken by the ruling caste (the Uls, the bureaucrats, eunichs, etc) while the Low Khitani language is that of the original population of the region which never died out. The titles "High" and "Low" could be an artificial naming scheme meant to suggest a unity of the two languages, even if they are actually not the same language.

To give a real-world example of this, look at "Chinese." I have worked with many, many different Chinese people (both native born Chinese and Canadian-Chinese people), and talking to them about their language(s), I have learned something interesting: China, the nation, lies about the existence of the Chinese language. Almost every native-born Chinese person I have spoken to will say that there is only a single Chinese language, and then there are various different dialects like Cantonese and Xiang. However, every NON-native of China that I have talked to will say that this is a flat-out lie meant to perpetuate that China is a unified whole rather than a nation made up of distinct cultural groups (no matter how similar they may be).

Having myself heard people speaking Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese, I definitely side with the second view because these sound LESS similar to my ear than Spanish and French do (which are related, if distinct, languages). In this case, Mandarin is the slightly dumbed-down version (it is a simpler language in terms of grammar, tones, and such compared to other Chinese languages) of Chinese which has become the official language of the nation, acting as the "High" tongue for people to learn in school, while learning Cantonese, Hakka, and Ping at home. What allows the Chinese government to claim that there is only one Chinese language is that all versions of Chinese use the same writing system. Because Chinese writing is not (or, not fully) phonic but more symbolic, as long as the languages using it structure their sentences in the same way, it doesn't matter if one symbol is said as "Ping" in one language and "Big" in the other, as long as that word means the same thing, the written sentence still makes sense.

Now, if Khitan (which is heavily modeled on China) follows the same logic, then in this case High Khitani could be the language spoken by the Uls and other nobles, and Low Khitani could be nothing more than a variation of Altharin which the commoners in that province spoke. Because of the story associated with the Uls and them leaving, and how the Uls look down upon the Vals and those in the rest of the former Imperium territories, I would not be suprised if they started speaking their own 'special' language to separate themselves from others, in the same way that a cult will start to alter their language to differentiate themselves from those not in that cult.

Alas, in terms of Khitan I can only make suppositions, but it is an intriguing idea to me.

Moving to other nations, and you can see the same high/low relationships between languages in those nations. When it was part of the Empire, Milandisian would have been relegated to the position of a 'low' language to the 'high' language of High Coryani. After independence, the relation between these two languages appears to have shifted somewhat, as Milandisian has seen something of a resurgence. Many times after a nation is 'liberated,' the people of that nation will push their local vernacular as the dominant language regardless of if it is spoken by the common person. For example, after the foundation of the Republic of Ireland, Irish (Gaelic) became the official language of Ireland. However, having met several Irish people, not a single one of them can utter more than a few scattered phrases in Irish. Another example in our world is Hebrew in Isreal. Here the people who now populate that nation came from many desperate locations, and have decided to revive the then-dead language of Hebrew as their common language. Unlike (to a great degree) Irish, however, Hebrew seems to have had much more success in becoming a commonly spoken language in Isreal, likely due to the fact that most Jews had a passing understanding of the tongue as a liturgical language, while Irish was almost extinct when it was legislated into being the official language of that nation.

Unfortunately, I cannot 100% say if Milandisian is the 'high' or 'low' language of Milandir. In almost every mod the common folk of Milandir all speak Low Coryani, and as the former 'high' tongue of the land there are surely lots of people (especially the "Noble Vals") of the nation who would speak High Coryani as their High Tongue. It is possible that Milandir is a nation that is triglossic, meaning that there are three different languages, each used in different social contexts. When speaking among each other, they speak Milandisian. When speaking to a superior in an official sense, they speak High Coryani. When speaking to foreigners or those that they are not close to, they speak Low Coryani. While we have reams of material on Milandir in Arcanis, this is a topic that has never been fully explored.

Canceri, on the other hand, is a nation where we can see the vernacular-becomes-high-language. From what I have read on the subject, the people of Canceri enthusiastically re-embraced Cancerese as the official 'high' language of the nation after their indepence. In fact, in the Canceri Sourcebook in the 3.5 days there was a discussion of the three primary dialects of Cancerese and the social pressures at work there. In Nier's Spine, the insular Nierites reject the 'impure' loanwords from Coryani, while the more open Nishanpur's dialect has more loans, for example. However, from my reading Cancerese is simply used from the top down as the official language of the nation, and only some people would speak Low Coryani. As an oppressive slave-owning population, they would do their best to have their slaves and commoners speak as little foreign tongues as possible as a means of population control, and because much of the nation is xenophobic there would be little opportunity for these people to learn anything but what their master commands them to learn.

I would be remiss to not mention Altheria in this regard, but like Milandir I'm not 100% certain of how things work. Like everywhere else, it seems everyone in Altheria speaks Low Coryani fluently, and never has Altharin been shown as spoken casually in spite of it being the language of that nation. However, Henry has stated that the Altherians have kept the otherwise-dead Altharin language in use as a form of worship of Althares (who gifted it to Mankind). My theory (and with only some evidence), is that the Republic of Altheria operates much the same as Ireland in our world, with Altharin taught in schools and is officially the proper language, but in casual conversation everyone (even the 'nobles') speak Low Coryani. It is possible that High Coryani lingers there as well, but due to the less-stratified nature of Altheria, I personally find it more likely that the vernacular Low Coryani would be far more prominent, and that the role of High Coryani would be replaced fully by Altharin. Because of the influx of foreigners into the nation as part of the Shining Patrol, I cannot see how Altharin could be (in real life) anything but an enforced language on people, kept alive only as a cultural memory than anything that would normally come up.

As I have said in so many previous essays, I think languages are both facinating and very informative about culture. Though it is not well-explored in Arcanis fiction, Henry and PCI have laid a lot of groundwork in the universe which allows rather deep analysis into the culture at work here. Unlike most fantasy universes which just have "Common" or "Undercommon", the inclusion of many different tongues is essential to the universe of Arcanis, even if by default for a living campaign we have to have everyone speaking Low Coryani so the mods can actually be played.

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Cody Bergman
Legends of Arcanis Campaign Staff
Initial Author Contact/Adventure Vetting

Haakon Marcus val'Virdan, Divine Holy Judge of Nier
Ruma val'Vasik, Martial Crusader and Master of the Spear
Jorma Osterman, Arcane Coryani Battlemage


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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:26 am 
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Our favorite Nierite is musing on Language. Again. :P

No need to fear rotting vegetables. I will proceed produce free. If only In the hopes of also dodging questionable cabbages next time I follow my whimseys out onto some esoteric limb.

I have to confess that languages is not an area where I go looking for lots of verisimilitude in RPGs. I want a rule of thumb and some touchstones and references (this language is pseudo Lithuanian...) But have never been interested in learning a conglang (constructed language) like Klingon or Dothraki. Some people do. But I took three years in high school to work my way through Spanish 2. So this has obviously never been my strength.

I really just want enough to know which of three boxes I'm roleplaying in. (A) Do we share proficiency in a common language & have the ability to have a detailed conversation? This is usually the default choice and the primary vehicle is low Coryani. (B) Can we get by? I don't really speak Spanish irl. But i remember some and can ask where the bathroom is, order fish tacos from a mexican food truck even if they don't have have much (or any) English and say please and thank you in the right places. This level of interaction doesn't happen much in RPGs as a rule but makes sense when people have "close languages" where there are common roots or just shared words. Finally there is (C) charades! For those times when you don't even know what language they are using. In RPGs sometimes you don't even know what "they" are. If I know which box I'm in then I'm generally happy. Or at least pretending I know what I'm doing. If NPCs speak another language at home over diner...doesn't effect my PC or my role-playing.

At this level, Arcanis languages have worked great! Though I note that Dalish is supposed to be the "common tongue" of the Far West. Dalish tmk is not part of the "Altheria tree" so I wonder if PCs will have to go there and if there will be big problems communicating. Or if it will somehow be hand waved or worked around.

Though the versimilitude of Arcanis is otherwise high, I don't think it's languages otherwise make a great deal of sense. The language of Altherian is a direct gift from Altheres, and is used exclusively in the Cants of the Mother Church. And i believe is the language of the Mother Churches Liturgy. (One area I disagree with Cody's post). But I freely confess that I don't think that Chinese flavored Khitani and Roman flavored Latin can logically both stem from the same language. Is that sword a Spatha or a Dao? Tetsubo? Great club? Maybe this should trouble me, but it doesn't. To the extent I think about it I suspect that there are a lot of cultural words that linger from before Altheres taught everyone the same language (in a reverse Tower of Babel fable\history).

Interestingly, I've sometimes wondered when Khitani was created (or diverged). At the end of the First Imperium the proto Uls should all have been speaking Imperial\Altherian. Did the Dream of Larissa pull off a baby Altheria and give them a new language derived from Altherian? Or Re we to believe the Khitani dialect was already kicking around? Or like Erdukeen, did it just slowly drift away from the ancient norm?

Anyway...

One element of Cody's post that does speak to me is that virtually no culture or family ever fully acculturated into another in Arcanis. I think of this as a subset of "no ancient grievance goes unprosecuted" theme of the campaign world. Not the Val Emman and Val Virdan. Not the Milandesians in 700 years of being in the Coryani Empire. Definitely not the Abessian\Myrantians. And having a separate language is surely a major part of it.

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Eric Gorman

AKA Ambassador Tukufu, man of letters, tomb raider and Master Sword Sage
. . . and Sir Szymon val'Holryn, Order of the Phoenix
Formerly Sir Jaeger val'Holryn. Weilder of the Holy Avenger: Thonanos. Gave his soul to help free King Noen


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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:58 am 
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Location: Central Alberta
My one critique of your analysis, Eric, is equating Khitani and Chinese saying "Chinese has nothing to do with Latin." (simplified for brevity) I am the first to admit that it was a poor choice on the part of the PCI team to equate Khitani (the language) with Chinese. Take massive trappings of their culture and society, yes, but chose a language like Sanskrit or Persian if it is a related language. However, Arcanis uses our real world languages as stand-ins for these ones, and while they have been very good to keep the majority of the languages as things which could concieavably coexist, there are other blips. For example: Why are Valentians Finnish and Eastmarchers Hungarian, when both are Uralic languages and completely unrelated to Indo-European tongues? Why do the Yhing Hir alterantively speak Turkic or Mongolian while still being labelled as a "Khitani Language" when Altaic languages are similarly unrelated to Sino-Tibetan Languages? How was Hainese show to be effectively Japanese when Japananese is often considered a language isolate and generally unrelated to ALL of these languages (they MIGHT be a very far removed Altaic, but the connection is distant)?

Now, you can chalk a lot of this up to ignorance on the subject. As mixed English/Spanish/Dutch/French speakers in PCI (I don't think they speak any others in the core PCI. . . ) they by nature have a very Euro-centric view of languages, and as such have the greatest ability to distinguish between European tongues, and by extension the Indo-European family generally. Why were Uralic languages included? Possibly because in 2001 it was difficult to google the difference between Finnish and Swedish if you are not a speaker, so you assume they are related and plop it down on the map. Why equate Yhing Hir with Khitani? Maybe you see "Mongolian and the Chinese languages are close on the map, so they are probably related" even though they are almost literal opposites in linguistic terms. Why add Japanese? Well, that one was more an IK thing and probably because a lot of the culture of Haina seemed equated to Japan, so it was an obvious fit despite how unrelated Japanese and Mandarin are.

I write these essays and attempt to use the real world to explain things, but the system ultimately breaks down. It is entirely possible that Henry has a plan with the Finnish-speaking Valentians (they don't actually speak Finnish, but their names are listed as being Finland-derived) that has yet to come up and I am (as always) overthinking this, but it could also be chalked up to the difficulty in researching relatively obscure topics back 16 years ago. After all, Google only started in 1998 and Wikipedia in 2001, so it was right at the start of the information age.

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Cody Bergman
Legends of Arcanis Campaign Staff
Initial Author Contact/Adventure Vetting

Haakon Marcus val'Virdan, Divine Holy Judge of Nier
Ruma val'Vasik, Martial Crusader and Master of the Spear
Jorma Osterman, Arcane Coryani Battlemage


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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:52 pm 
On the topic of "the moral life" I have this: Material Good.

Food, clothes, medicine, protection, education, hope.

Provide these, intend good things for their recipients, and you will sleep well at night.

This perspective largely sidesteps the trap of moral relativism and you'll know your enemies by how they seek to prevent or divert the delivery of the Material Good. It's not hard to oppose the villainy of someone who argues that someone else should starve because he wishes it be so.

This philosophy will inevitably empower some enemy of yours. Let it be. You will not lack for reliable, earnest allies and can crush the foe secure in the knowledge that they repaid your generosity with betrayal. That kind of dishonor is always repaid in destruction. Tis never a question of if, merely when.

Lastly the name is not a pun. It's the crucially plain statement of what you provide: nothing nebulous or ethereal or whimsical. You meet direct, immediate, real needs. You are not required to forgive or forget. You take prisoners when it's reasonable and kill when you have to.

When someone takes up the sword to harm someone else rather than accept or seek charity that's tragic.

When they become a blood-drenched highwayman the tragedy is ended.

There is a line there, and it's expression is how they regard the lives of others. That's why thieves are less the evil of murderers. Better to lose the temporary than the eternal.

Your conscience is your guide, and that's how it must be.

This guided me through the original campaign when all else was fog and lies. Protect the weak, mend the hurt, feed the starving. It really is that simple.

And remember: Belisarda loves you*.

*But she also will love the maggots that will hatch in your throat when you die so don't think you're above the rest of the world. With great love comes great responsibility, and She loved what was before you just like She'll love what comes afterwards.


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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:34 pm 
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Location: Central Alberta
::Sound of a door cracking open. A cloud of dust puffs up. Coughing is heard::

(man, I need to clean up in here more often. . . )

I felt the need to write something here that was neither editing, scientific, or political to our world. As such, something I am sure is fascinating to everyone!

International Trade in Arcanis

I was recently reviewing old mods for reasons, and I came to the adventure known as "Judgement", an A1: Crusade! mod set in Censure. In this mod, the ethnically Khitani House Zhuan makes an appearance and it got me thinking: why would there be such a large body of foreigners so far from their homeland? Now, there have been many discussions of this over the ages, ranging from a northern sea route that skirts the Unsealed Lands, as the most recent map shows it stretches to what must be the arctic of Onara, to captured Khitani in an early war that just set up shop there. In this little essay I intend to discuss how trade worked in the ancient days, and what is for me an entirely reasonable theory on how such a large number of Khitani ended up on the other side of the world.

First, a primer on how trade worked in the ancient world.

Based on what archeological records we have, there has been evidence of long distance (hundreds of miles at least) trade in our world that long predates written language and records. In fact, it is from the few records that we have on this trade that we believe modern writing as we know it evolved. In the ancient days (before about 3300 BCE) trade goods were often accompanied by little tags or tokens which had pictograms and scratches to indicate what was in it. These were done as many of these trade goods were in jars sealed with clay or similar material to prevent theft. As such, you had the tags to tell the recipient what was in it, and how many, and if there wasn’t that much they know they would have been cheated. For example, if you had a jar with 10 pears in it, you’d have a clay or wooden tag with crudely drawn lemon and 10 slashes. Eventually that symbol of a lemon begins to be used as that sound ‘pear/pair/etc’ and the symbols become more abstract and BOOM, writing as we know it is born.

To go back to international trade, we begin to see how trade started in the day. Even before writing, people were ordering material and getting others to bring it to them. A person in Town A sends agents or hires nomads to travel to Town B and pick up an order of obsidian or tin or wood. That group of agents then goes, picks up the order (possibly bringing trade goods in exchange if they are not already paid for), and then brings them back to Town A. The tags show what the order was when picked up in Town B to prove that the agents (or anyone else) didn’t try to cheat person in Town A, and there you go you have international trade.

There is, however, an upper limit to how far trade can realistically go. The average person can walk no more than about 20 miles per day on an average day. To travel even 100 miles takes 5 days of these kind of days, which puts an upper limit on a ‘on foot’ or ‘with a donkey or camel’ to maybe trips of 200 miles (10 days travel) for specific goods. This of course changes over time with the advent of better roads, sea travel, river networks, the domestication of horses vs. other pack animals, and so on, but ultimately it still makes individual trips relatively short distance by our standards. To remedy this, you build trade networks.

In this context, a trade network is a series of short hops for trade goods to travel, with agents/nomads/etc only travelling relatively short distances to bring trade to these hub cities, and from there they hop from one city or trading post to the next until they reach their final destination. You see great examples of this in our history in the form of the Silk Road cities like Samarkand, Kashgar, Turfan, and so on. In this network, products from thousands of miles away can make it to market, brought between cities by dedicated caravans, tribes, and nomads, then bought by merchants in that city, and then reexported to the next city along the line by another group. At each point, the price of the product goes up as merchants buy and sell at a profit, so the further away the item comes from, the more expensive it is, but it allows for long distance trade. Examples of this is silk from China becoming popular in the Mediterranean world, despite there being so much territory between China and the Levant.

But Bergie, you say, wouldn’t this raise the price to the point it would become prohibitive? Yes. However, our ancestors were just as smart as we are now, so they came up with many ways of dealing with this. There were many instances of ‘trade houses’ or even whole ethnic groups which pop up around all of these trading networks throughout our world, throughout history. These groups send representatives of their group (family, culture, religion) to these trading cities, and act as the intermediates. In this case, Merchant A sells an item to a caravan run by his own group. This caravan goes from Town A to Town B, and ‘resells’ the item to Merchant B of the same group essentially at cost (or only with a slight mark-up). This means that these trading groups are able to undercut the price of items that aren’t carried by their own group, decreasing price, and allowing them to gain immence profits as they essentially undercut the competition. It is from here that groups like Jews and Arameans along the Silk Road, and Assyrians before them in the Near Eastern Trade networks, grew to prominence.

For reference, this was also the beginning of banking houses and other similar groups. If you have a group you trust (maybe a son or uncle) in a far away city, you do not need to bring money with you when you go on a trade mission. You go carrying just as much money as you need to get to the far-off place, then when in that place you borrow from those of the same group as you already there. You all are part of the same ‘corporation’, after all. Eventually, people even not from the same group tap into this, bringing receipts from Town A to Town B, saying they cashed in 100 gold in Town A, so they can get 100 gold in Town B, allowing them to travel more lightly.

Okay, real world history done with (I’m probably going to perjure myself later, but oh well), how does this affect Arcanis?

The average merchant on Onara does not have access to the many magical means of transportation such as portals or spells that the rich and powerful do, and even those magical means do not allow for bulk transport of items as they are cost-prohibitive to use. As such, goods and services move as they do in our world: through muscle, wind, or river current.

We know from the Blessed Lands Book that there exist two major Trade Routes in the Blessed Lands which bring goods between the Khitani Lands and the Known Lands (former Coryani imperial territories). The northern route represents a much more direct trade route from the Khitani Lands, starting at the Ququil Lumer Mill (and likely the surrounding towns and villages), skirting the Vastwood forest, and ending at the Pilgrim’s Pass in modern Almeric. The southern route seems to travel primarily to the lands beyond the First City, beginning at the Harbour of the First City and travelling to the same Pilgrim’s Pass along the Corlathian Mountains.

Using what we have learned earlier in this essay, we know that these ‘depots’ like the Habour, First City, and even the Qoquil Lumber Mill must be like our Samarkands and Turfan’s. Goods are brought there over land (the Fervidus Hills for the north, the Sea of Lanterns for the south), bought by local merchant factors, and then shipped further down the line using caravans run by those same factors. Unlike in our world, however, great cities have not sprung up in the Blessed Lands, but these still pass by major landmarks such as the Citadels of Hurrian and Larissa, which themselves must have also built up ‘castle towns’ around them to support those fortifications (think Winterfell in A Song of Ice and Fire series). Additionally, we know there are Andyar villages all throughout the Blessed Lands, as well as semi-nomadic groups like the Maghir who continue to exist in the land between settlements who can also act as waystations and agents to carry goods. This lack of cities, though, can be somewhat countered betcause the trade routes in question are only between 300 and 450 miles long within the Blessed Lands, meaning that they can be travelled in roughly a month. Even in our world, most of these major trading cities were somewhere between 150 to 200 miles apart, and Central Asia is more lush and fertile than much of the Blessed Lands.

So what about the Zhuan and Censure?

Well, there are two major theories on my part on where THEY came from, as Khitani about as far away from Khitan as you can be, and these two options depend on if they arrived prior to the foundation of the Coryani Empire, or after it.

If the Zhuan have existed in the Hinterlands before the foundation of the Coryani Empire, they most likely arrived as merchant factors, similar to the Jews and Arameans in our world, from the lands that are now the Unsealed Lands/Fiendish Expanse. Before the Time of Terror, the entire northern part of Onara was steppeland similar to our own Central Asian Steppes. These lands were inhabited by the people who would now be known as the Axunites, Yhing Hir, and the Riders of Himmetah, and was a direct route between Khitan and what are now the Known Lands. Here, these nomadic horse tribes (taking the same role as the Turkic, Mongolian, Indo-Iranian tribes of our world) would likely act as go-betweens in the trade between Khitan and the areas that are now Canceri, the Hinterlands, and Milandir, but almost certainly the Khitani would send their own representatives along with these routes as described above. When the Godswall Mountains were raised at the end of the Time of Terror, there must have been Khitani left trapped in the Hinterlands, and it is possible that from THIS group, the Zhuan are descended.

The second major theory I have is what if they arrived AFTER the foundation of the Empire and the raising of the Godswall Mountains? In this case, there are two situations that would cause this: the above mentioned sending merchant factors along trade routes method, or another more. . . invasive method: forced relocation. In this second method, it was common in our world for defeated enemy groups to be forcefully relocated deep into your territory, often onto land that was not at that time being worked to bring it under cultivation. Examples of this in our world is the exiling of the Judean ruling class to Babylon following the Babylonian conquest of Judea, or the many Greek communities founded by the Persians in what is now the Middle East following the Greco-Persian War (some as far away as modern Uzbekistan!).

Assuming the second method, we know that the Coryani Empire fought two wars with the Khitani Empire. The First Coryani-Khitani War of 398 I.C., and the Second War which was fought for over 40 years between 764 and 806 I.C. It is possible that the ancestors of the Zhuan were captured in one of these two wars (timeline wise, probably the second one) and resettled in Coryani territory as either POW’s or in a population transfer as outlined above. The fact that they ended up in Censure, which even in the 700’s I.C. was a penal colony of the Empire, suggests to me that they were more POW’s than simply resettled populations, but it could go either way. When Censure became independent in the chaotic years at the end of the Second Coryani-Khitani War as the Empire broke up, the Zhuan were already a powerful and populous group in that city/region, becoming a major trading power.

Either method, the Zhuan ended up being one of the Six (now Five) Great Houses of Censure, and maintain a large and well-populated Khitani population in that city. Also, regardless of when their population came to the region, they seem to have established themselves in the role discussed above as the local representatives of their group (Khitani) in the region, so traders representing Khitani interests almost have to deal with them. They would run the overland exotic trade from the Empire at least as far as the edge of the Hinterlands (if not all the way to the Pilgrim’s Pass), allowing them to undercut non-Khitani, making a profit.

Moving away from the Zhuan, I figured I’d have a few side discussions about trade around Onara in other areas, notably sea trade. Onara generally, and the Known Lands specifically, seem to have a robust but largely coastal sea-based trade not dissimilar to the kind that existed in Europe between the Roman conquest of Gaul and Britain and the Viking Conquests. Because the Coryani do not (as far as we know) trade with far-off nations beyond the sea, and mostly only trade by sea between other Onaran ports like Savona, Censure, Midake, and Plexus, you see sea trade routes very similar to the land-based trade routes described above. For example, since you rarely need to travel out of sight of land when going from Savona to, say, Censure, you would develop ships that sacrifice durability and endurance (like a Galleon) for increased cargo capacity. These ships are designed for short hops between ports through mostly calm seas, carrying the maximum amount of cargo their (relatively) fragile hulls can carry. You wouldn’t see ships travelling directly from Plexus or Metra all the way to Pearlspar in the Hinterlands, instead each ship would travel a relatively short route to a nearby port, offload their cargo, load up with local cargo, and go back to where they came.

Because of this, you are almost never going to see large ocean-going vessels like Tall Ships in our world because there is no need to travel long distance. As far as we know in canon, there are no trade routes which go further south from the Known Lands than the elorii lands of Entaris, and certainly none that round the Southern Continent like an Arcanis Cape of Good Hope. In fact, in a mod from a few years ago, we got a glimpse of a world beyond what we knew while travelling into those Southern Waters that suggest that, while trade with the Known Lands is occurring, it is not very common and few ever make that trip.

On the subject of ocean-going travel, I should also bring upriver routes into the discussion. In our world, rivers like the Nile, Euphrates, Indus, Mississippi, Rhine, Yellow (Huang He), and Amazon have been major arteries of trade for as long as they have been known to exist. The same is true in the Known Lands and beyond. We know that Khitan is a land of many major rivers, and even the Coryani Empire links much of its civilization on the Corvus River, linking such major centres as Plexus, Panari, Coryan-the-Cities, and even Solanos Mor together. We know that many of these cities—especially Plexus and Old Coryan—have major river ports, with Plexus operating as the major trading hub to move goods from within the Empire to lands like the League of Princes. These river routes tend to be very fast, and because they are reasonably predictable, can move massive amounts of goods (even very perishable ones) very quickly over long distances on large, shallow-bottom barges and boats. As such, you can in theory get fresh fruit from the tropical Western Lands to Grand Coryan rapidly, and possibly even faster than you could get similar fruit from a city like Savona which lacks these river routes!

As a final thought before I log off (as I am already around 3000 words), I should bring up a point that was brought up some years ago in a discussion with val Holryn/Eric about how people could become rich on trade, especially in context of the Shadow Towns of the Western Lands. As stated above, trade routes tend to promote outpost/waypoint hubs where caravans meet after a few hundred miles of travel. In these hubs, goods are bought, sold, and move back and forth. These hubs tend to attract many merchants who aim to buy low and sell high. However, when multiple people are doing this, your profit margins can be very low relatively speaking. After all, if you have multiple trading houses trying to break into the silk market, if they sell too high, their competition will undersell them, taking the business.

One way that merchants get around this is to invest in. . . alternate means of gaining funds in these cities (both land hubs and ports), many of these we would generally consider borderline criminal. For example, most ports even today charge ‘port fees’ to use their facilities. Boats coming in have to pay to dock, merchants have to pay labourers to load and unload, there are warehouse fees, etc. The same is true with a lot of land cities, where to enter the city you have to pay to get in. This means that these local merchants/lords/etc are earning money from people for the RIGHT to trade, and not only on trade goods themselves.

Additionally, many of these people will resort to straight up strong-arm, protection racket tactics, saying that if you don’t pay their ‘fee’, then there is a risk that your caravan/ship will be attacked by raiders of some sort. There were many instances of merchants along the Silk Road in our world who had. . . understandings with local horse tribes to help remove some of their competition or undesirable people who didn’t pay the proper fees. With this, you can squeeze a lot of money without even selling or trading anything, simply being the most convenient stop on a trade route. Of course, if you do this too much, you risk being undercut by competition or by other powers who wreck your little monopoly. A good example of this was the economic destruction of Rhodes by Rome when the Roman Senate decided to make the nearby port of Delos their preferred port of call because the Rhodians were not bowing enough to Roman domination.

Anyway, I could go way more into this, but I should probably get to other more economically for me productive topics. Still, it was nice to have a little foray into a random topic.

_________________
Cody Bergman
Legends of Arcanis Campaign Staff
Initial Author Contact/Adventure Vetting

Haakon Marcus val'Virdan, Divine Holy Judge of Nier
Ruma val'Vasik, Martial Crusader and Master of the Spear
Jorma Osterman, Arcane Coryani Battlemage


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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:43 pm 
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Well, since I’ve posted one thing, why not another? And because I’m listening to an audiobook on the history of the English Language. . .

What is Low Coryani(s)?

As many know in in reading the world, Low Coryani is essentially “Common”, the lingua franca of the world which allows for very racially and culturally diverse people in the story to communicate with each other and not but heads constantly about getting the story across. Let’s face it, which it would be realistic for Heroes to be stumbling around in the back country of Milandir because they don’t speak the local language, it doesn’t make for fun adventures. This is why every gaming universe that I know of has a “common” tongue.

As stated above, that language in the Arcanis setting is Low Coryani, which is the default language of every creature that exists within the story. On occasion you’ll see being that will speak Ss’ressen or Ssethric or Eloran or Milandisian, but if there is a major story point in an adventure it is always presented in Low Coryani to ensure that the players know it. In our world, this language is portrayed as American Standard English, with only slight variations for different groups, like a sailor character speaking in an ‘old timey sailor accent’. This of course has to do with the fact that Henry Lopez is an American, and most of the authors who historically write for Arcanis are American or (like me) write in American English much to our own national chagrin (it’s colour and flavour and centre, dammit!). But what does this mean for how Low Coryani would sound on Onara?

First of all, a small disclaimer: I fully get why the level of granularity that I’m about to go into is not used by PCI. Arcanis already has one of the more complicated linguistic systems I’ve seen in mainstream roleplaying game campaigns, with tables showing origin and descent and evolution that is an order of magnitude more complicated than other universes. As said above, languages are cool, but the point of an RPG is to have fun, and beating your head making out what every NPC is saying is not fun.

Now, a bit of history.

Low Coryani is known as the “Southern Trade Tongue” in more modern adventures, and that is a fairly good description of it. As far as we know, the Low Coryani tongue has only existed in a recognizable form for only the several centuries in universe, a point which is at least partially backed up in canon. It lists its primary origin as the “Old Coryani” tongue, which would be Triduanian. This is the tongue that would have been spoken in the city of Midea Triduana (later renamed to Coryan, and now called Old Coryan) in the time between the fall of the First Imperium of Man and the Time of Terror. Tirduanian was itself a direct descendent of Altharin, which is the common tongue said to have been gifted by Althares Himself to the mankind.

After the fall of the Imperium (and probably before that too), the people of the farflung stretches of the Imperium would have begun creating “Vulgar Altharin” languages in their own regions, possibly related to local slangs or incorporating words and grammar from other, more ancient cultures that existed before. Remember, there were humans on Arcanis before the Pantheon of Man came (i.e. the Pengik), as well as groups like the elorii. During this time, literary Altharin probably remained fairly static—a fact supported by the fact that the Republic of Altheria claims to have maintained the ‘true’ form of Altharin through the millennia—but when the Imperium fell, with no central authority to police the language, these local tongues took off, diversified, and were eventually codified as official languages in their own rights. These languages became tongues that we now know of as Khitani, Yhing Hir, Milandisian, Triduanian, and Cancerse, amongst many others.

Fast forward centuries, and we come to the Time of Terror. By this point, Altharin as it was once known is extinct everywhere except maybe in among the Tenecians (who modern books point as ancestors of the modern Altherians), and even there their spoken Altharin is probably much decayed and changed like modern Hebrew is vs. Biblical Hebrew. Each region probably has their own tongues like Ancient Milandisian or Triduanian, with unique versions found in each province (former or present) of the Coryani Empire. For example, you’d have an Annonican dialect (represented in the universe by Greek), a Savonan dialect (represented in the universe by Medieval Italian like the Florentine dialect), and so on.

Now, what is not well discussed in the universe is how these areas in the Coryani territories interacted with one another at that time. I believe the old adventure book “Carnival of Swords” mentions that there was rivalry between the local powers and city states, such as Coryan and Panari, but the overall political situation was probably not dissimilar to Italy in the Middle Ages: a bunch of small independent powers which fought often with each other, but also traded constantly. This is probably especially true of the cities of Coryan, Panari, and Plexus as they are all on the same major river. Because of this, there must have existed some form of trade tongue between these regions at this time, and this tongue was likely the origin of what we now know as Low Coryani.

Fast forward to after the Time of Terror, and now you have a political group (the Coryani Empire) which is founded to include two major, geographically and culturally distinct groups: the states of the ancient Milandisian League, at least some of what is now modern Canceri, and the modern regions of Illonia, Balantica, and Cafela (and possibly more). At this time, as the city of Coryan (and it’s val’Assante’ dynasty) were the core of the Empire, their own tongue (Coryani) rapidly became the “high” language of the nation, the tongue in which all formal correspondence, records, and such happened. This is very similar to what happened after the Arab Conquests and the spread of Islam, where Arabic quickly was taken on as the language of science and government, superseding the previous Persian tongue which previously dominated and soon became more of a poetic language.

However, as we see in our world, just because something becomes a High Tongue, it doesn’t mean it becomes the one that is most often used. Even while Latin was becoming a common tongue for much of Europe as Rome conquered the world, existing tongues didn’t go away, and people clung to them hard. This is one reason why in modern English there is not a lot of Latin grammar built into the language (words yes, grammar not so much), but oddly enough there is a fair amount of CELTIC grammar which was accepted into what became English (for example, the ‘meaningless “do”’, like “Do you want me to build it?” while most language would just say “You want me build it”, which is a British Celtic quirk). It was only after the Norman conquest of England a thousand years ago that Romance languages started to influence the language again in any way, despite Rome ruling England for centuries.

As such, what you probably saw was centuries after the foundation of the Empire, and especially as it expanded to include regions like Cormata, Annonica, Toranesta/Abessios, and into the Hinterlands, Blessed Lands, and League of Princes, was that there was a lot of languages spoken. This would especially be true outside of the cities where the farmers and country folk would continue to speak versions of their own mother tongue, much like how England when the Anglo-Saxons (well, likely the Friesians, but that’s not what recorded history says) was still probably overwhelmingly Brythonic Celtic-speaking. Latin was new, and the Romans didn’t much care what their subjects spoke as long as taxes came in on time, which means that you only needed to know enough Latin to get by, vs. when the Germanic-speakers moved to England and wished a more direct rulership.

This is where you enter Low Coryani, as we know it. In canon, the tongue is an overwhelmingly “Coryani” language, but borrows heavily from languages such as Milandisian and presumably other similar languages for vocabulary. Also, like all trade tongues and pidgins, it is most likely learned overwhelmingly by adults, who are well known for never learning new languages as well as younger people. This leads to a simplification of grammar and sounds as arcane rules are hard for the adult mind to pick up compared to children, a fact very clearly demonstrated in thousands of creole languages and pidgins in our world. In fact, in the Canceri sourcebook we see evidence of this insofar as the Lowachian dialect of Canceri pointedly has fewer “Low Coryani” loanwords in it, remaining more true to its Pre-Coryani form of Cancerese compared to the Sohbuken version which has a lot of Milandisian influence due to the close border.

Over time, like (Vulgar) Latin did in Rome, eventually the common languages of the Empire begin taking hold of people and ancestral tongues fall away. This is why modern French don’t speak Gaulic (a Celtic language), but instead speak French (a Germanic-influenced Latin-derived language). In most imperial systems, speaking local tongues is not encouraged as it artificially limits how successful you can be. It is like a person immigrating to the USA from Mexico and only speaking Spanish. Sure, you can get by in much of the USA speaking Spanish, but unless you learn English you won’t have as many opportunities. As such, parents would encourage their children to learn the new High Coryani for official business and records, a Low Coryani for common business. If kept at all, the ancestral tongues would either be incorporated into their Low Coryani (making a new, local Vulgar Low Coryani language) or only be kept for certain ceremonial purposes like Hebrew was for Jews before the creation of Israel.

In the universe, this loss of the traditional languages seems most prominent among the lands of the current Coryani Empire. Much of this region, especially Cafela, Illonia, and Balantica, seem to have been with the Empire since its beginning so it could be expected that their local tongues would have melded together, but others like Cormata an Annonica are said to have entered the Empire later and also seem to have predominantly Low Coryani spoken. This is opposed to Milandir and Canceri which was one of the “original” regions to join the Empire, but fell away only 250 years prior to the current storyline. Now, there are many reasons for why Milandir would have retained its own language and Annonica would have lost theirs, so let’s discuss a couple options.

Option 1: cultural differences
We know that Milandir has a distinct culture from much of the rest of the Coryani Empire. They valued knights and reciprocal oaths of loyalty and nobles and horses and the like. Perhaps that they were so culturally distinct that they were able to maintain much more of their Milandisian League culture than other parts of the Empire.

Option 2: Nationalism
The three main nations which removed themselves from the Coryani Empire all had distinct languages, and in the case of at least Milandir, it’s ‘national’ language of Milandisian had changed enough from its origins 800 years prior that Modern Milandisian is considered a different language than Ancient Milandiisan. It is possible that after it seceded from the Empire, its rulers promoted the Milandisian tongue as the ‘true’ tongue of the nation as a way of distinguishing them from the ‘vile Coryani’ who ruled them for so long.

Whichever (or neither) of these is true, it leads to the same endpoint. So, we know from the cases of Milandir, Canceri, and Altheria (and Toranesta) that ‘not Coryani’ tongues survived 1000 years of the Empire’s history.

So, if we know that there are multiple languages spoken in the Empire, what about multiple Low Coryani’s?


This HAS to be a truth in the universe. Just look at the hundreds of different English’s in our world. How the English of Nova Scotia is inflected with Celtic, Mikmaq, and French, with Australian English having various Aboriginal words peppering their dialect among other things. Even Black English (that being the dialect spoken by many African Americans in the USA) is a distinct dialect of English (it is NOT bad English, but a distinct dialect with its own unique grammar). I would not be surprised to see that each region in the Empire and beyond, as well as separations between Urban and Rural areas, have their own dialects which are broadly intelligible. As such, it would be entirely possible a Low Coryani speaker from the First City would not have a clue what a Low Coryani speaker from Censure or Atria would be saying, as if it were a completely different language.

_________________
Cody Bergman
Legends of Arcanis Campaign Staff
Initial Author Contact/Adventure Vetting

Haakon Marcus val'Virdan, Divine Holy Judge of Nier
Ruma val'Vasik, Martial Crusader and Master of the Spear
Jorma Osterman, Arcane Coryani Battlemage


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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:01 am 
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Always nice to get a post from Nierite...

...Oh. Trade. ::sigh::

Still, nice Nierite wrote something.

It really wasn't until the ARP edition (and then 5E) that I thought much about trade in Arcanis. I don't play D&D because I want to think about imports and exports. (I play for complex NPCs who you repeatedly interact with over coherent story arc. And a world with secrets worth exploring.) Unfortunately I can't look away when i see something that doesn't make sense to me. And though I love the setting, I think what Arcanis has printed on trade networks often lacks verisimilitude. Such as House Zhuan in Censure. Or the supposed wealth of the Shadow Towns. Or grain shipments to the First City. Meh.

Cody’s latest has two pieces. An analysis of (ancient) trade practices. And an application of that analysis to areas in Arcanis that seem troubling. I’ll write two posts. One on each point.

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Eric Gorman

AKA Ambassador Tukufu, man of letters, tomb raider and Master Sword Sage
. . . and Sir Szymon val'Holryn, Order of the Phoenix
Formerly Sir Jaeger val'Holryn. Weilder of the Holy Avenger: Thonanos. Gave his soul to help free King Noen


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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 5:51 am 
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Ancient Trade:

I agree with broad portions of Cody's historical analysis, especially the two thirds of his post that represent the land based trade. I agree that a lot of traders generally operate in a relatively small area. I would add that "shorter' range trade often flows from farms, to villages or towns, and to the "city" in their area. No city was agriculturally self-sufficient in the ancient world (and that’s still true today). The need for cities to import and store food was/is as constant as death and taxes. In a world without refrigeration, perishability plays a huge part of these trade networks. If you want fresh scallops for lunch, either you need to live within a few hours travel of the coast or be rich enough to somehow import via "magic." Given that cities are always hungry and a lot of food doesn't travel far, this environment helps set up a lot of local trade networks.

And then cities trade with each other. Historically big overland trade routes are the exception and not the norm. A lot of trade between cities flows as Cody suggests. I would add that trade between cities is often derived from the "demand" of the next city over. Someone from Naeranth buys up a bunch of the famed whiskey from Tralia, and takes it home to answer the demand he or she perceives in Naeranth. Someone who sails up from Yarvek hears they just imported a pile of Whiskey and buys some to take back. As Cody suggests, prices go up as the Whiskey passes through middlemen. Though maybe there is a "family/clan" trade network at play that keeps costs (somewhat) down.

So far so good. But this model leaves a lot out and Cody is underrating ancient mariners. From the Phoenicians forward there were people who sailed wherever they wanted or needed too. Three things stand out to me. (A) Large scale grain export by sea travel does not follow the “limited trade” pattern. (B) Scarce goods that come from limited locations do not always follow this pattern. And (C) Trade Fairs often circumvent this pattern. I’ll tackle them in order…

(A) Unlike shellfish or fresh berries, grain does travel (reasonably) well. That's how Rome fed itself. Well before Augustus and the age of Roman Emperors, grain mostly came from Egypt. Well before tall ships, gigantic ships crossed the Mediterranean to sell their grain to the Roman government. One paper I found online said that 70 tons of cargo was the minimum size to treat directly with the Roman grain authorities and 100 ton cargo ships would have been more common. Through (armchair) underwater archaeology I also know the Mediterranean had no shortage of larger ancient vessels. The class of muriophoria ships which could hold 10,000 amphorae had a cargo capacity of around 500 tones! There were some truly exceptions big ships that would top even this... the Isis from Alexandia was an ancient grain ship recorded at 1,000 tons of capacity! And Caligula had a bespoke vessel for "importing" stone obelisks that might have reached 1,300 tons of cargo capacity(!!!) The Medieval/Renaissance caravel by contrast, while safer in a storm, carried a load of 50-200 tons of cargo. A modern semi truck and trailer that’s really pushing its 500+ horsepower engine might max out around 40 tons.

Importantly there are no middle men in the grain trade. You load up in Alexandria (which absorbed the harvests of Egypt via the Nile) and then you go directly to Rome to sell your cargo. These people were wealthy, connected and politically powerful. Generational fortunes were made, but loss of ships could destroy families. To me it looks like ancient grain “players” were essentially the multinational mega-corporations of their day.

That's grain. (B) Resources that only come from limited locations. In the real world tin was a valuable commodity in the ancient world. Yin was useful by itself but it was even more useful as a necessary ingredient for bronze. Trade in tin did not follow the limited trade model. In early Greek/Roman Europe it’s possible that tin was only mined at trade scale in Cornwall, especially around the area we call Tintagel today. Tin as far as I know, was not traded from Tintagel in short hops by the "limted trade network" model of one city to the next. The rulers of powerful cities like Athens, Rome & Byzantium knew where to get tin from, and they encouraged or sent ships there directly, to get it without the tin passing through multiple hands. During the Dark Ages Tintagel remained connected by sea trade to all the mediterranean cities. Including Byzantium. This may be part of where the legends of King Arthur come from. The people involved in trade of goods like tin are wealthy boat owners and they go wherever they have connections and know a profit can be made. Similarly other forms of mineral wealth were often only acquired in one location. Cinnabar (aka Vermillion) was Rome’s favorite shade of red and comes from Mercury Sulfide. As far as I know, Cinnabar was only mined in one location in Spain during the Roman Empire. And Roman sent traders there directly to get it on well built Roman roads (FYI the slave miners of Cinnabar almost always died of mercury poisoning within 2-4 years of going into the mines. yeesh…. The constant need for fresh bodies is part of what made cinnabar so expensive).

Again this is important because you have items that people (professional long range merchants) cross large distances to get.

Finally we come to (C) Trade Fairs. We do not have a lot of evidence that these exist in Arcanis, but they are worth looking at. The Trade Faire at Troyes (and the Champagne Faires in general) represented a return to long distance trading by land. They again represent a more elite class of merchant with serious financial resources and international operations. It’s hard for me to immediately see these Fares operating in Coryan or Canceri. But Kintango’s Traveling Emporium might be an Altheria example. Its also not hard to imagine a yearly (or semi-yearly) Horse Faire at Censure.

So while I agree in part large part with Cody’s examination of more or less regional, family/clan based trade, I think its badly incomplete. There were also large international actors in Ancient Trade.

That has implications for Arcanis…

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Eric Gorman

AKA Ambassador Tukufu, man of letters, tomb raider and Master Sword Sage
. . . and Sir Szymon val'Holryn, Order of the Phoenix
Formerly Sir Jaeger val'Holryn. Weilder of the Holy Avenger: Thonanos. Gave his soul to help free King Noen


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 Post subject: Re: Musings of a Canadian Nierite. . .
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 11:29 am 
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Posts: 2491
Location: Central Alberta
Alas, I am sorry about the trade discussion vs. something more fluffy. I also apologize for not doing sea travel justice. As I was already at some 3300 words, I figured I'd wrap it up. Also, to sea trade water has never been a major part of the Arcanis story, so I did have less to go on than land-based trade.

I will see what inspires me next.

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Cody Bergman
Legends of Arcanis Campaign Staff
Initial Author Contact/Adventure Vetting

Haakon Marcus val'Virdan, Divine Holy Judge of Nier
Ruma val'Vasik, Martial Crusader and Master of the Spear
Jorma Osterman, Arcane Coryani Battlemage


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