Ysyr and the Dragon Blooded

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/21/2017
Originally posted by Piff View Post
Real empires who were that distant from each other didn't really have those kind of relationships until the modern era. Silk Road trade and mysterious legends are totally fine, but direct military conflict and power struggles? Very difficult to suspend disbelief given difficulty in both communication, and transportation. The logistics alone...
As you note, real empires that distant from each other in the real world had lots of inhospitable terrain between them. Offhand, I can't think of two ancient empires connected by a sufficiently long stretch of populous, mostly linear coastline to draw a viable comparison. Meanwhile, Alexander the Great led his troops almost 4,000 miles from Macedonia to northern India — a far more difficult transit, performed without the peculiar benefits accessible to Creation's heroes and warlords. More applicably, Rome and Persia warred intermittently for close to seven centuries, with capitals close to 2,000 miles apart as the crow flies, or close to 3,000 miles apart in terms of actual travel distance.

(Speaking of Alexander, the Indo-Greek Kingdom is good cultural inspiration for Prasad's divergence from the Realm.)

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/22/2017
Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
Prasad/Ysyr really reminds me of Paragon and Gem back in 1st edition and 2nd edition. In fact, the distance between Ysyr and Parasad's capital are about the same as the distance between Gem and Paragon. Back during 2nd edition it was generally agreed that Gem and Paragon were too far apart to realistically engage in a trade war with one another, let alone an actual military conflict. Admittedly the harsh desert environment was an important factor, but just the sheer distance alone between the nations played a big role in making people wonder how these two states would end up at odds with one another.

While it is absolutely possible to imagine Paragon (or Prasad) gathering up an army to march on Gem/Ysyr (or vice versa) such an event should probably be presented as a monumental and exceptional undertaking, even in the Exalted setting, comparable to Alexander's march across the world (there's a reason we're still talking about his accomplishment 1700 years later). It feel's a little odd to have it just tossed out there as a matter of course, similar to how the Gem/Paragon conflict felt odd for being tossed out there.
Prasad and Ysyr are imperial powers. Though they are of course far smaller and weaker than the Realm itself, they are, to my understanding, significantly richer, more populous, and more militarily powerful than any published Threshold state under Realm dominion. In matters of scale and realpolitik, they are more akin to the Realm than they are to city-states like Gem and Paragon.

This goes against how the Threshold has long been depicted, but that's a large part of the narrative role of the Dreaming Sea — to provide an arena for imperial play at sufficient remove from the Blessed Isle that it takes place outside the shadow of the Realm, while still fitting into Creation proper.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/22/2017
Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
So like, does Prasad actually stretch all the way to the Dreaming Sea? If it does, it would be larger than the entire Scavenger Lands and around 2/3rds as large as the Realm is. In fact, it would be staggeringly large compared to virtually all of the other named states in Exalted. Granted if it were that big it would make sense it could be in some kind of conflict with Ysyr, but from the write up and the map I definitely never got the feeling that Prasad was intended to be that massive.

The capital of Prasad is about as far from the Dreaming Sea as Gem is from the Inland Sea. If Prasad is supposed to be that massive, an empire second only in size to the Realm, then it seems like a shame that that didn't come through in it's writeup at all.
The original writeup for Champoor indicated that it was a Prasadi client state. While it's possible that the devs cut this for setting reasons, I am under the impression that it was merely cut for space.

Note that "2/3 as large as the Realm" presumes that the Realm's area is limited to the Blessed Isle, which is not the case. In any event, establishing two points on the map is insufficient to determine land area; Kamthahar could be at the center of a vast sprawl of Prasadi territory extending out in all directions, or it could at the western edge of Prasadi territory, with much of that territory existing in a narrow band along the banks of a river connecting it to the Dreaming Sea. The truth is doubtless somewhere in between.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/22/2017
I'm pleased to hear that folks are finding these posts to be useful. It's unfortunate that so much of the corebook's Threshold writeups got cut, but on the plus side, this offers a lot of slack to whoever gets assigned to flesh out the material in some future supplement.

While writing up Kamthahar, I'd intended for it to be well to the north, somewhere around the Dreaming Sea's northwest terminus and the accompanying cluster of giant lakes (or, perhaps, small seas). I suspect that the preponderance of the empire's populace and wealth is to be found in that area, with Kamthahar itself an outlier and the steppes in between proving to be lightly populated. Kamthahar itself may not be the empire's original capital. But all that remains up in the air until a relevant supplement is outlined and written.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/22/2017
Originally posted by Jetstream View Post

*takes notes*

Kamthahar... in... wrong... place...

...

Don't mind me, this is much more useful than my original thread's premise. I'mma just keep an eye on this 'cuz it's super helpful
... It would never have occurred to me to invoke Neighborhood Relocation Scheme in this context.

I feel confident that this will not be the canon explanation for Kamthahar's location. But if it works for you in your game, please let me know how your players react when they find out.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/22/2017
Originally posted by Jetstream View Post

I was mostly referring to it being a map error, but hell, I probably need more Sidereal plots.
I don't know if "map error" is strictly accurate. I put together a now-lost rough sketch of the Threshold and passed it on to the developers, who then conveyed information to the cartographer. I can no longer recall whether I accidentally placed Kamthahar on that sketch in an unintended location, or if the devs decided that they specifically wanted it moved, or if the cartographer simply decided it looked better there.

Likewise, I'd also intended for the Haslanti cities to be closer together; ditto for Rubylak and Chanta. In those cases, too, I may well be as responsible for their spread-out placement as anyone.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/22/2017
Originally posted by Totentanz View Post
Nice work on that. This raises a couple questions:
1. What are Volivat's borders like? If I wanted to make things especially tense, I'd say Ydanna is their client state. I searched the core book and the leak and found nothing on it.
I can't go into any detail about Y'danna, but based on its original writeup from the developers, it is not a political player in the Dreaming Sea.

Originally posted by Totentanz View Post
2. Just how many competing minor kingdoms and city-states are between the two of them. I could easily see expanding their borders towards each other, but it might be more fun to throw an extra large Hundred Kingdoms-style region in there.
There are definitely a great number of minor principalities, city-states, peoples and tribes along the shores of the Dreaming Sea. How many are independent of the extant imperial powers, I can't say. But as the region was intended to allow for the addition of lesser powers with imperial ambition, it is best to assume that the borders of the great powers are fragmented and that at any given time there are populations under no one's direct military or political control. This may be due to negotiated neutrality; treaty-based devassalization; ongoing or successful rebellion; or de facto independence due to the withdrawal of overstretched occupying forces.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/23/2017
Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post
On a total tangent triggered in my mind on Levi's post: On the aesthetics and feel of the "great powers", I find Prasad brings to mind India. Volivat I find harder to place.

While Ys brings to mind, well... Ys, the island of legend.. so I guess so at least in part evokes Jack Vance's Lyonesse, and that whole fusion of decadent, doomed Sword and Sorcery sensibilities with Arthurian, Celtic and the European High Middle Ages, somehow sitting along with the more psychadelic feel of the Dreaming Sea. This, is a reference I'm almost certain the authors do not intend to be descriptive- because of the general dynamics of the Southeast in particular, and Creation in general - but, there's that name (which just feels like it surely has to somehow be a reference to the Ys of myth?).
The developers came up with the name "Ysyr," and I am not privy to their thought processes in the matter. But I added the term "Ys" for the corebook writeup, and I definitely had both the mythical Ys and Jack Vance's Lyonesse in mind when I did so. This shouldn't be taken to indicate the presence of medieval Western European cultural markers, though the decadent, doomed Sword & Sorcery sensibilities should be there in spades.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 2/23/2017
Oh, and also the Ys from John Brunner's The Traveller in Black.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 3/3/2017
Originally posted by Jetstream View Post

Say... you might KNOW this...

On the map, Ysyr (and other locales) are in special little circles. Are those circles like... "magnifying glasses," blowing up smaller territory to show us its topography? Or is Ysyr really that huge?
I don't have access to special knowledge about this, but Bluehaven, Gloam, Onyx, and Sunken Luthe all share the same sort of "zoomed-in" circles that suggest that they are not to scale. Ysyr's circle doesn't have that same look, which suggests that the island is to scale.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 3/4/2017
Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
The Skullstone Archipelago seems to be an odd addition to those considering that it's a bunch of islands rather than city, and considering how Wu Jian is drawn, it feels odd to single out one important island group for such and not another.
This may be an error on the part of the cartographer. I can't say.

Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
​As for the cities, are we saying that all of the other ones that don't have circles are to scale? That Gloam is a city the size of a city, i.e. something that would not actually be visible on a map at this scale, but that Nexus and Lookshy and Kirighast are the size of small countries?
I believe the point is that Gloam is located on a relatively small island, one that would normally not be large enough to appear on the map at its current scale. Mind you, I'm not sure that Wu Jian's island should be large enough for that. The map should not generally be treated as a thing possessed of great in-setting precision.

Your suggestion that the map scaling is for cities rather than for land masses is very silly.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 3/4/2017
Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
Ohhh I'm very frustrated now. Part of that is that I've had a terrible week, buuuut...
My apologies; I didn't mean to distress you. I was a bit salty myself.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 3/5/2017
Originally posted by Lioness View Post
and the Bull of the North has got people hunting down and murdering Outcaste children like he's fucking Hitler.
Where was this part? I don't remember writing it, and I can't find anything in a search of my original draft.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 3/5/2017
Originally posted by Jetstream View Post
Your original draft of Manual of Exalted Power: Dragon Blooded? I didn't know you worked on that book.
Ah. I wrote the section on the Bull of the North for Compass of Terrestrial Directions: the North. I blanked out for a moment on the fact that of course the Bull was referenced at earlier points in the second edition line,