Sunday, 1 July 2018

Why are there humans in Yoon-Suin?

The weekend is the witching hour for blogs. If posts only get a third of the number of page views on a Saturday or Sunday that they would get normally on a weekday, they only get a tenth of the number of comments.

This is the time for the silly, the experimental, the strange, the ill-advised, and the willfully obscure to sneak out of the window, climb down the drainpipe, and scamper out into the dark rain-damp streets to have their nefarious fun.

Today, I was thinking about the origin of Yoon-Suin and its place in the multiverse. Why are there humans there? I suppose the most sensible and natural explanation is that they have always been there, in the manner of fantasy races. Nobody asks where the elves came from in Mystara, or the dwarves in the Forgotten Realms. They're there because they are (or a god made them and put them there, etc.).

The second most sensible explanation is that humans came to Yoon-Suin from elsewhere. They were explorers, or would-be colonists, or refugees, or simply migrants. They came to Yoon-Suin, stayed, and proliferated. Now nobody even remembers that they're not actually native to the continent - except, perhaps, for some obscure monastic order somewhere in the Mountains of the Moon, and slug-man students of historical anthropology who have read the correct obscure tomes in the correct forgotten archives.

A third explanation: there is a rift somewhere in the fabric of reality that leads - or lead once - from Yoon-Suin to our world. In the ancient Australian outback, the deserts of Namibia, the Cheddar Gorge or the Lascaux Cave. Through it, slug-men once ventured and brought back slaves and captives for work, experimentation, pleasure, or perhaps merely to observe - and these slaves or captives, just like kudzu, Japanese knotweed, rabbits or the cane toad, found their new home much to their liking and spread with such rapidity it was as if they had always been there. As far as the slugmen are concerned, they really have: the introduction of humans happened so may eons ago that whatever forgotten archives may have documented it are long collapsed into dust and waste.

The latter two explanations raise further interesting questions: what was living in the Hundred Kingdoms, Sughd, the Mountains of the Moon, etc., before the humans came along and replaced them?

20 comments:

  1. Intriguing. What's the humanoid equivalent of the red squirrel? In a traditional fantasy setting, the obvious answer would be elves. But what then would be the equivalent of pine martens - larger, more ferocious humanoids, whose return will go ill for the grey invaders?

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    1. Actually the non-facetious answer might be treants/ents.

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  2. In my version of Yoon-Suin, humans predate the slugmen. I was in fact, a lot more curious as to where the *slugmen* came from.

    I decided that slugmen are a "created" race, where the egg of a large slug is treated with special rituals and alchemical processes involving tea, it hatches as a slugmen. The human archmage who created them wanted servants to help him in his fight against the Krakens. As the end of his life drew near, he revealed to the slugmen the secrets of their creation. Today few slugmen know the truth of their origins, but each house has a Teamaster, who is in charge of ensuring the continuation of the slugman race.

    Breeding in slugman society is not free - it's a privilege granted to those who have mastered magic (either clerical or arcane). Those who can't cast spells (in my game a portion of slugmen can't, so they can chose any class, it's 5e) are of a lesser standing within their house, and one of the penalties is that they can't have offspring. (slugmen warlocks are desperate types who were willing to do deals with strange powers to gain magic and thus gain status).

    Teamasters are always tinkering with the recipes, trying to produce a "better" slugman for the improvement of their house. The "default" recipe creates a slugman that can wield magic, but also tends to be quite lazy. The goal is to create a slugman that still can use magic, but is more energetic and determined (ie, not some kind of mega-slugman), but this proves elusive. Slugmen of note (house leadership, adventurers etc) often were produced at the right time (the stars are right) and perhaps with special ingredients (a slugman dragon-blooded sorcerer resulted from a Teamaster experimenting with powdered dragon scale, for example).

    Ancalagon

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    1. I've given a lot of thought to slugman biology and how it influences their culture... perhaps too much :P

      In general, what I've found is that there are a lot of things in Yoon Suin that make you ask "why". Why is it that most/all slugmen are magic users? Why are there no elves? Why do people reincarnate? The answers to these questions have been fundamental to my campaign :)

      Ancalagon

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    2. as a follow up to that, I think it's good that a setting doesn't have all the answers - because it stimulates the imagination. Maybe you have better answers than I do for all these questions (another one: why is Lahag so freakishly dangerous) but coming up with mine makes my campaign, well, mine :)

      Ancalagon

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  3. Then there is another question? Why no elves?

    A long time ago, the Maker of Machine came from over the mountains. For reason unknown, he decided that the land needed justice, and he built the great Karmic Wheel, that judged every soul and reincarnated it into a worthy form.

    The elves understood what happened, and realized that their souls would not move on to (insert appropriate elf fate here) but that they could be doomed to be reborn as... a dwarf, or human (the horror!) or, even worse, an elven child could be born with a human soul (gasp!). They therefore have left the Yoon Suin area.

    Elven PCs are outsiders from "the west" (generic D&D setting) or sometime "the east" (the mentioned Xian), but never locals. They usually are young elves who don't understand (or believe) the peril their souls are in when in Yoon Suin. They get a lot of attention because elves are near-mythical creatures in Yoon Suin, and also because elven parts are very valuable, especially elven blood, which is used in the creation of powerful runes of warding...

    Ancalagon

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    1. There were elves once upon a time. They were wild, savage and dangerous and lived in the jungles. Eventually I decided they weakened the "differentness" of the setting a bit too much (some people also think I should have cut dwarves out too for the same reasons).

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  4. I dig the humans-as-kudzu angle - no wonder they get the cockroach herding duties!

    Perhaps all those humanoids included in the book -like grasshopper, lamprey, axlotl, yak, and so forth- were the original inhabitants, inundated over generations by the rising human tide?

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    1. Another thought is that the crab-men are the last remnants of some sort of continent-spanning civilization long forgotten. Crayfish men?

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    2. Don't forget my comments on crabmen from the Monstrous Manual thread.

      And thank you for writing this. Already I have an idea that the origins of humans for a specific world- they are imaginary friends of elven children given life by parents annoyed by all the requests. And the reason for human diversity are the various forms of competition between friends and communities.

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    3. That wasn't that long ag... Crap, I am so old.

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  5. Nice post. I love Yoon Suin. Do you keep track of Yoon-Suin-y internet goings on at all? I'd be curious if anyone is doing fun or interesting things with it. You should post a roundup sometime.

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    1. Likewise. I've done a lot of work on it but I haven't published anything... I'm not sure if it would be "ok". I saw how poorly that was received with veins of the earth, there was a bit of a controversy about someone publishing their stuff about that and the author was mad...

      Ancalagon

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    2. the discussion in question: https://coinsandscrolls.blogspot.com/2018/05/osr-diy-d-veinscrawl-and-you.html

      Anc

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    3. There is a G+ community which I monitor and read. I don't want to get too involved in it in case things get too proscriptive. I might do a roundup at some point!

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    4. You can publish what you want, really. The ethos of Yoon-Suin is to do what you like with it. I suppose I would just assert the moral right to credit me as the original author of the setting!

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  6. In my setting (which is made of a patchwork of original content and borrowed, then adapted settings) it is Yoon-Suin itself which is the interloper. The world experienced a huge calamity when many of the planes of reality converged, some say this was caused by the 10,000 year empire of the White Elves others that it was the latent magics of the Serpent Men of the dawn ages, still others say it's a natural phenomena and happens on a cycle which as yet confounds the scholars of the current age. But regardless after this convergence the world was changed and one of the changes was the lands of Yoon-Suin and the yellow city suddenly appeared amongst the already existent landscape its strange customs and peoples already present, though large parts of the city simply didn't cross at all and have since been filled in with new additions. The peoples that fill the land now are a mix of the original city inhabitants and immigrants who came from other places and have been adopted by the culture in one form or another. How many of the world's (and Yoon-Suin's) inhabitants know all of this occurred depends on the era and their level of arcane and planer understanding.

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