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 Post subject: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:50 pm 
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With the release of the promised Kio Sourcebook to backers of the original Blessed Lands Kickstarter, what are people's impressions of the book so far?

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 Post subject: Re: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:42 pm 
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Wow! I think it's great.

I haven't read everything yet, but the history and Kio background material sure has some impact to it.

The val'Sungha (and the three houses within the val'Sungha) are interesting (and presumably playable).

It takes the Kio from, 'who are these weird tall pale people', to 'ok, so that's who they are'. Makes me want to create a Kio character. Perhaps we can see some scenarios involving the Kio.

And the book is not just all about Kio. There is some very interesting Undir background and background for the League of Princes that has changed the way that I look at that area.

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 Post subject: Re: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:52 am 
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On balance, highly favorable.

There is a lot of great stuff in the Kio book. The history and description of the different Kio houses is as excellent as you'd expect in an Arcanis sourcebook. The way Capharra, Pajharo and Biharn interlock is finally explained in a way that makes sense too me with a logic I can follow. The artwork is terrific. The whole deal with Kio swords are elaborated in a way that is interesting. And explains why ever "second son" of the Kio isn't busy mastering sword smithing to make a new blade. There is a nice map! There is new crunch...almost all of it interesting.

Some of it leads to provocative questions: Why do the val'Sungha (IMO strangely) use elder magic when everyone else (including other "standard" Kio) uses eldritch? Do the progenitor "True" Kio use elder? If so why hasn't it been passed on to regular Kio and only the odd True Kio/Val hybrids. Does elder and psionic have something in common beyond their overlapping of the Control and Transmutation traditions.

A few things I find oddly humorous: A very long time ago at the dawn of the original campaign I once described the Kio to someone even newer than me as "foreign half elves with a samurai ethos." I moved away from that description, but now it seems vaguely prescient. The Tolkienian archetype of the elf is: "beautiful, ancient and wise, graceful while strong ... and of course removing themselves from day to day affairs of the world." Tell me that doesn't fit the True Kio to a T. (They like mountains, not forests). I believe for Tolkien his elves represented the slower more Edwardian age Tolkien loved, being replaced my a faster paced world with radio, television & the dawnings of pop culture. For all their light and music, his elves had something a backwards looking view as they remembered their great kingdom when they ruled the world and struggled against a fallen Arch Angel. Ultimately in vain. The True Kio look backward too as they pine for the lost glory of Yhriwhon.

Also...poor Kavaris. Transmutation specialist? That's now a val'Sungha who double dips in that tradition through both the Psionic and Elder arcanum!

Okay. It's good and if you don't have it you should buy it. I give the book an A-.
That said here is where I have 5 nits to pick:

Where is House N'sai? There's been ONE Kio family that has repeatedly appeared in the modules set in Metra and the League, but there's not a peep of them anywhere. IMHO N'sai deserved a paragraph under the Houses.

Where are the fallen Kio Wraith lords? After the BI at Seremas I feel like we should have something on them.

Here's a good one: We get *multiple* references to the importance of Kio swords in their culture. We are reminded again that Kio will go to almost any lengths to retrieve heirloom swords. We get a new swordless flaw that's kinda cool. We get some beautiful art of their swords...but we then learn that there are 9 *Legendary* swords handed to to the val'Sungha from the True Kio at the founding of the League of Princes. And that 2 have since been lost. But ... we don't learn their names, or how they were lost?!?. Barring something extraordinary, I bet those two stories get retold over and over (and over) again like the Greeks told the Illiad and the Oddessy over and over again. I am sure the court of Caphara risks going nuts every time a decent rumor surfaces of their current fate. I wish WE had something of those stories.

Trade and the flow of goods bothers me. Why the Shadow Towns are so wealthy doesn't really make sense to me. I think I've become more sensitive to this issue since the Blessed Lands book which also didn't make sense to me. I think the Shadow Towns got short thrift. Who rules them? What do they trade? In the real world, as I understand it, the most important and lucrative trade routes involved (1) silk (aka the Silk Road), (2) incense (up from the East Coast of Africa to middle East and beyond), (3) Salt (not as sexy, but called white gold for a reason), (4) Spices & (5) precious goods (gold, ivory, gems). In Arcanis we can also add Blast Powder. None of those fit with what is written in the Kio book? Finished goods? Are they better than dwarven or Altharian manufacture? Agricultural goods? Tastier than what's grown in Balantica? As written I don't know what the Shadow towns have that everybody wants. And it also doesn't seem like they are the middlemen between some kind of trade circuit between Seremas and Coryan. That might also have made sense.

I also, constitutionally, have nits to pick with retcons. I don't like the changes to LlylifelI. (A) I don't like retcons in general. (B) In part because I had a back up character that was a Llylifellen Kio bard in the original campaign (Glynnwheir or Glynn to friends) ... he followed the ideas of elemental spirits and was proud of his homeland's great Cathedral on the Plains of Blood that was build on the orders of (the presumably Kio) King Malikar. That's now apparently erased. Although the new stuff has cool parts, I'm not 100% comfortable with that. (C) Elements of the "new LlyllifelI don't make sense. Since they have almost zero ability to project power outside their borders (as per the revisions), it doesn't make sense that the Shadow Towns pay tribute to them. Why would they? What do they get in return? Given that Llylifel enjoys trade with Entaris and gets tribute from the Shadow Towns, why is it described as poor? It seems like there should be a lot of cash moving around.

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. . . 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: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:05 pm 
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To address your "how are the Shadow Towns rich" comment, I ask you to look at the history of places like Samarkand in our world. For the most part, the cities of Central Asia produced nothing of consequence, being in arid areas and on the Steppes. However, they were almost always the richest cities of their eras. Why is this?

Ultimately, the wealth of a community typically has less to do--historically--with what they make, but what they do with it. The Shadow Towns are the major trading centers of the Western Lands, with only Metra (hostile) and Liveh (friendly) competing. That means some 5/7 of all trade leaving the Western Lands (simplified) goes through those ports. All those ports have to do is charge fairly basic port fees for the use of those ports and import/export taxes, and they earn a massive amount of money. The city doesn't have to buy these products, only tax the right to use their docks.

If the cities weren't powerful, they wouldn't be able to do this. After all, a more powerful nation would come and exert sovereignty over them. . . Which they did. The Coryani dominate them navally, and the League by ground forces and legal force. However, neither care to exert direct control and choose to rule it as a dependency (likely to avoid the costs to avoid rebellion, upkeep, full defence in the face of the kio or Coryan, etc). As such, the Shadow towns straddle the boundary between Coryan and The League, with the Speculator princes earning a profit.

Remember, though, the Shadow Towns do have export products, usually high value finished goods like glass or lace. These are lightweight and more easily transported than raw materials, and fetch a higher price. Also, the speculator princes likely own fleets of merchant ships, relying on the Coryani to stop pirates so they can focus on making money and not on building warships.

To rule that is. . . Complicated. Day to day it is probably the Speculator Princes in Council, making decisions that earn them the most money. The kio enforce Archons on them, and they are nominally dependents of Llhyllifel, but aside from a few bandit hunting missions and tribute (maybe a tax break on trade) they likely leave the towns alone to rule themselves. The Coryani also enforce tribute, and keep the waters clear of pirates, but are fine raking in the tributes and filling their own coffers than officially controlling them. The Princes seem to care little about politics and have no interest beyond their own cities and trading ventures, so they see no need to extend their power or try to overthrow these more imperial forces. After all, that costs more money and they care about making money.

Addendum (several hours later):

Now that I'm on an actual computer. . .

To the profits of import/export, you seem to be thinking that trade networks like the Silk Road only earned money either for China (Silk) or Rome (wine), when in fact those nations actually saw (comparatively) little profit from the total trade. These products are not carried by the same traders from Chang'an to Antioch, but only for a few dozen or hundred miles. At each stop, the items would be bartered for, those traders would get paid, then they would head home. As such, the same bolt of silk would pass through dozens of middle men before they got to their final destination.

At each point (oasis town, port, etc), these items would be taxed in some way. In the case of many Central Asian cities like Samarkand, this include things like Inns, paying tribute to the local groups for the right to sell in the market, or even "protection money" so that the various Turkic/Mongolian/Scythian tribes didn't just attack you. As such, even though these cities didn't have anything to export besides slave and horses for the most part, they served as stopping points and common market areas so the gold and silver flowed into them despite their importance. In the case of Samarkand, you have people coming from Rome, Parthia, the Mauryans, China, as well as the tribal peoples of what is now Russia to the north. Additionally, there was sea-going trade going into the South Asian ports like modern Karachi which then got funneled up, adding groups like the Srivijayans and East Africa into the mix.

In the case of the Shadow Towns, they are five of the largest ports in the area, and servicing the Sea of Coryan trade. They are closer to Plexus than Metra and Liveh which makes them attractive for Plexan merchants, and because they are not officially controlled by the kio are less (outwardly) antagonisitic to Coryani merchants. Even though the Shadow Towns may resent their overlordship by both the Coryani and the League, they are able to cut lucrative deals with both groups, and probably can undercut even cities like Liveh and Metra as attractive markets. After all, both of those cities have undir rebels that pose terroristic threats and act as pirates which you would want to avoid. With the Shadow Towns, they have no nationalistic interest (like Eppion and Bhiharn do) so they can trade 'freely'.

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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


Last edited by Nierite on Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:31 pm 
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Due to writing on phone, more point form notes:

To Llyhllifel being poor, they probably both are and are not. They are probably rich in agricultural products, but are not overly civilized (by that meaning few towns and cities) with an agrarian economy. As such, they produce raw goods (typically bulky and lower value than finished products) without the industry of the more civilized Capharra or Shadow Towns. This means that their exports garner less currency than if they sold other products.

Additionally, while they enjoy trade with Entaris, Capharra, and the Shadow Towns, they are not highly populated and have few major towns which means that there are few markets for them to trade in. Traders would likely pass through Lhyllifel on their way to more lucrative markets.

Also, some in Lhyllifel are probably fabulously wealthy, but most are peasant farmers out in the sticks. Low population and lower individual buying power on a per capita basis makes them poor.

To Lhyllifel being the de facto "rulers" of Shadow Towns, that was a political decision made by the kio and not the King of Lhyllifel conquering the region. Nominal political power does not mean real power, with Lhyllifel being mostly dependent on Entaris and Capharra to back up it's own authority.

Also, we know the Kio have powerful guild houses, which may or may not affect the Lhyllifel economy. Monopolies exclude competition, pushing down outside efforts to dig into their markets.

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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


Last edited by Nierite on Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:56 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:08 am
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Hello Eric,

Glad you (mostly) liked it.

val Holryn wrote:
That said here is where I have 5 nits to pick:


Quote:
Where is House N'sai? There's been ONE Kio family that has repeatedly appeared in the modules set in Metra and the League, but there's not a peep of them anywhere. IMHO N'sai deserved a paragraph under the Houses.


I honestly forgot about them. Looking at the layout, I don't have the space to fit them in without cutting another House.

Quote:
Where are the fallen Kio Wraith lords? After the BI at Seremas I feel like we should have something on them.


The Kio Wraith Lords were recently revealed, as you noted. I try to write the source material up to, but not including the events occurring in the new campaign. While I would have loved to write about them, I was blocked due to that (self-imposed) restriction.

Quote:
Here's a good one: We get *multiple* references to the importance of Kio swords in their culture. We are reminded again that Kio will go to almost any lengths to retrieve heirloom swords. We get a new swordless flaw that's kinda cool. We get some beautiful art of their swords...but we then learn that there are 9 *Legendary* swords handed to to the val'Sungha from the True Kio at the founding of the League of Princes. And that 2 have since been lost. But ... we don't learn their names, or how they were lost?!?. Barring something extraordinary, I bet those two stories get retold over and over (and over) again like the Greeks told the Illiad and the Oddessy over and over again. I am sure the court of Caphara risks going nuts every time a decent rumor surfaces of their current fate. I wish WE had something of those stories.


To be frank, it was a matter of space. The book was promised as a 32 page book and budgeted as such, and then it ballooned to 66 pages and with it, the accompanying increase in costs. I also wanted to add a 'Who's Who' section, but couldn't afford to do so.

Quote:
Trade and the flow of goods bothers me. Why the Shadow Towns are so wealthy doesn't really make sense to me. I think I've become more sensitive to this issue since the Blessed Lands book which also didn't make sense to me. I think the Shadow Towns got short thrift. Who rules them? What do they trade? In the real world, as I understand it, the most important and lucrative trade routes involved (1) silk (aka the Silk Road), (2) incense (up from the East Coast of Africa to middle East and beyond), (3) Salt (not as sexy, but called white gold for a reason), (4) Spices & (5) precious goods (gold, ivory, gems). In Arcanis we can also add Blast Powder. None of those fit with what is written in the Kio book? Finished goods? Are they better than dwarven or Altharian manufacture? Agricultural goods? Tastier than what's grown in Balantica? As written I don't know what the Shadow towns have that everybody wants. And it also doesn't seem like they are the middlemen between some kind of trade circuit between Seremas and Coryan. That might also have made sense.


I didn't go into the Shadow Towns because this is a kio-centric book. I had to touch on the undir, the val'Bausicz, and others because of their impact on the kio, but this book was never designed to be a travelogue of the Western Lands.

Quote:
I also, constitutionally, have nits to pick with retcons. I don't like the changes to LlylifelI. (A) I don't like retcons in general. (B) In part because I had a back up character that was a Llylifellen Kio bard in the original campaign (Glynnwheir or Glynn to friends) ... he followed the ideas of elemental spirits and was proud of his homeland's great Cathedral on the Plains of Blood that was build on the orders of (the presumably Kio) King Malikar. That's now apparently erased. Although the new stuff has cool parts, I'm not 100% comfortable with that. (C) Elements of the "new LlyllifelI don't make sense. Since they have almost zero ability to project power outside their borders (as per the revisions), it doesn't make sense that the Shadow Towns pay tribute to them. Why would they? What do they get in return? Given that Llylifel enjoys trade with Entaris and gets tribute from the Shadow Towns, why is it described as poor? It seems like there should be a lot of cash moving around.


Retcons. I'm not a fan of it either, but in this case, I didn't have much of a choice based on what I wrote about the undir. Let's be honest, the undir were bland and boring. Humans with webbed fingers and with a greater lung capacity. Not terribly exciting. So, I came up with this cultural schism and voodoo-vibe that, IMO, makes them much more interesting.

Having done that, the whole elemental worship thing didn't jive, so that had to be changed. In exchange, players gained a different take on them, plus that crazy King Crow Warped One stuff that you just know will be rearing its ugly head.

Anyway, that's why I did what I did.

Thank you for reading the book and giving feedback. Good, bad, or indifferent, it's always useful and appreciated!

Best,

Henry

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 Post subject: Re: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:47 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:37 pm
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PCIHenry wrote:
Having done that, the whole elemental worship thing didn't jive, so that had to be changed. In exchange, players gained a different take on them, plus that crazy King Crow Warped One stuff that you just know will be rearing its ugly head.


That King Crow stuff was Warped Ones? I thought we had had the presence of Owlbears as a creature explained to us! And I liked it!

The whole removal of King Crow thing was a little confusing to me, as they expunged him like they were trying to remove a religion and its cants (which we know need to be taught by someone, presumably a church, rather than be self learnable). But shamanism explicitly says that the spirits often teach the shaman, so it seems like any incipient shaman could be contacted by King crow, taught by him, and boom - he's back baby! Not sure if it immediately obvious who your sponsors are to other shaman, or if other spirits would refuse to deal with you if King crow was your sponsor. While it is clear that the people turned their backs on him, it is unclear if the entire Ulumai did.

Also, are you saying that the absence of any text about there being a ancient style pantheonistic church in blackwand (pg 61 of the codex arcanis) in the kio book is a retcon that there isn't one, or is there one and it just wasn't mentioned in this publication because it isn't relevant to the kio?

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 Post subject: Re: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:56 pm 
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Remember: this is a Kio book, not a Western Lands book. Details not related to that ethnicity and race may not be included.

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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: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:18 pm 
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Hi Henry,

I more than mostly like the Kio book. I think it’s a great addition to the Arcanis Library. 3 of my nits essentially boil down to “I wish we had more info about...”

Looking back at my post I can see that I spent more ink on my bits than on the parts that were fascinating so let me add here that the Val Sungha are now one of the most interesting Val families. If I easn’t Already wedded to having s Phoenix Knight as my back up character, i’d be making a Kio/Val Sungha. And what ever name you call it, the Kio sky wizard path is pretty cool! Players with Kio characters are going to love the new options.

I don’t like the retcons to Llylifell but I do agree that the Undir are more interesting in the current incarnation. Not sure I’m all that eager to meet up with an Undir version of warped one though.... :P

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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: Children of the Sky Sourcebook impressions
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:59 pm 

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Hello Eric,

I glad you liked it.

As far as having a val'Sungha character, the book will eventually be converted to 5E. You can always make one for any 5E campaigns that may pop up.

Thank you for your thoughtful responses.

Henry

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