war-of-conquest

Starfinder: The Races

Space: It’s Not Just For Elves Anymore!

In Starfinder, the world of Golarion has vanished under mysterious circumstances; its peoples having long since been relocated to the futuristic Absalom Station, or the far flung corners of the Galaxy. The various races of Pathfinder (Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Half-Orcs, etc) still exist, but lack the same dominance on the galactic scale that they enjoyed on Golarion. Instead, the demographics of the Pact Worlds have taken on a new form; one featuring a few familiar faces (especially for people who have played the Iron Gods adventure path), and some newcomers to the galactic scene.

Humans

Navasi, the Iconic Envoy.

Homeworld: Golarion (Former), Absalom Station

Patron Deity: Aroden (Long Deceased God of Humanity. Modern Humans tend to worship an array of other deities, including Abadar, Iomedae, Desna, Shelyn, Zon-Kuthon, Besmara… They’re too multifarious to be pinned down to one patron, see?)

Humans, with their relatively short lives and boundless adaptability, have taken to the shock of the Gap better than most of the other Golarion races. (The Elves are not taking it well, for the record). As such, they’ve managed to secure a major position on the galactic stage. No matter where you look, there they are. 

Curiously, there are Humans that aren’t from Golarion, having evolved independently on other worlds.There are also rumors that the ancient civilization of Azlant had (at one point) managed to build their own interstellar civilization. However, as Azlant was ancient history when _Golarion_ was young, the veracity of this remains to be seen… though the Starfinder Society would certainly be interested.

Androids

Iseph, the Iconic Operative

Homeworld: Androffa (Former), Golarion (Former), Absalom Station

Patron Deity: Triune (Tri-Aspected Deity of Artifical Intelligence, Computers, and The Drift)

Androids are a type of biosynthetic lifeform designed to resemble a human being. Thanks to their inherent nanite-based systems, androids are almost indistinguishable from humans in many ways, save for the glowing circuitry on their skin and their limited emotional capacity.

Androids were invented on the ancient world of Androffa; a highly advanced civilization which eschewed magic in favor of science and technology. The Androids were one of their most brilliant creations; unlike normal constructs, Androids are ‘alive’ enough to possess a soul and true consciousness. As a result, Androids enjoy the same benefits (and vulnerabilities) as a purely biological creature. It’s even possible to see undead androids in places with a heavy necromancer population.

Androids first arrived on Golarion when the Androffan ship Divinity crashed into the country of Numeria, bringing advanced technology with it. Though the strange science of Androffa remained isolated to Numeria for many years, at some point during the Gap the process for mass producing Androids was reverse engineered and perfected. As a result, Androids have long been an underclass in galactic society, having only recently been recognized as an independent species.

Androids tend to reject many of the trappings of human society, electing to forge their own path. Some Androids (like Iseph, above) choose to reject the concept of gender, claiming that any such traits were artificially imposed by humans. Others reject the customs favored by humanity, embracing their machine-nature or seeking to create their own culture. All Androids are cognizant of their former nature as slaves, and some are fearful that unscrupulous corporations seek to restore the former status quo. 

Androids are built to be very fast and intelligent, but their status as former slaves and artificial nature make it difficult for them to engage in more interpersonal pursuits. They make excellent Technomancers, Mechanics, and Operatives. Some Androids, seeking to improve the standing of their peers, have also worked to overcome their limited emotional capacity and become Envoys. 

An interesting fact about Androids is that, while their bodies are technically immortal, their souls are not. An Android lives approximately 100 years (with their body aging appropriately), at which point their soul departs to the afterlife and their body enters a period of nano-rejuvenation. When the body reaches peak health (and possibly a new appearance) once more, a new soul is ‘born’ into the body with little more than their basic programming. This is the closest thing Androids have to reproduction, and some Android bodies have been active since the days of Ancient Golarion.

Ysoki

Quig, the Iconic Mechanic. (With his Drone, Scout).

Homeworld: Akiton (though some can trace their origins to Golarion)

Patron Deity: La Shu Po (Goddess of Night, Rats, and Thieves)

Also known as “Ratfolk”, Ysoki are a rodentine species native to the red planet of Akiton. Ysoki have been traveling between their native planet, Golarion, and Castrovel for generations, thanks to the magical portal systems that linked the worlds. With Golarion gone and the advent of The Drift, many Ysoki have turned to conventional space travel, but their reputation of traders and travellers hasn’t changed. Ysoki are incredibly skilled with technology and tend to favor unique and intriguing items over credits. It’s not uncommon for a young Ysoki mechanic to get their start by repairing an old machine they rescued from the junkpile. They make excellent Operatives, Technomancers, and Mechanics. Many also become Soldiers, collecting an arsenal of interesting equipment and tailoring it to their precise needs. 

One of the most iconic traits of the Ysoki is their communal nature; one rivaled only by the insectoid Shirren. The Ratfolk are deeply protective of their kin (or those they perceive as kin) and will go any length to help them. Never harm a Ysoki unless you’re prepared to deal with all of their friends and family; they’re not ones to leave such insults unavenged. 

Vesk

Obozaya, the Iconic Soldier.

Homeworld: Vesk Prime (and the other worlds in the Veskarium)

Patron Deity: Damoritosh (God of War, Duty, and Conquest)

The Vesk were, for centuries, the sworn enemies of the Pact Worlds. Fiercely militant, with a culture revolving around honor and conquest, the interstellar empire of the Veskarium conquered much of their corner of the galaxy, and their attempted conquest of the Golarion System is the reason why they became the Pact Worlds in the first place. It wasn’t until the arrival of the Swarm (a brutal insectoid hivemind that threatened to consume both sides in the war) that the Veskarium and the Pact Worlds set aside their interests in favor of mutual survival. The truce born from this incident has lasted to the present day, if only just. 

Ironically, the warrior code of the Veskarium is actually helping things along in that regard. Only those who have proven themselves in combat are capable of holding political power in the Veskarium. However, the Veskarium doesn’t particularly care what sort of combat you’re involved in, or who the target actually is. As a result, the Pact Worlds are flush with glory-seeking Vesk, whose law-abiding and honorable natures make them ideal mercenaries, bodyguards, and security personnel. Though, don’t think that them being law-abiding means you can walk all over them; Vesk culture has a lot of provisions for honor duels and blood debts.

That’s also not to say that all Vesk are Soldiers. Many are merchants and craftsmen, while a growing number have embraced the academic pursuits of the Pact Worlds in order to become scientists, or even Technomancers. Other Vesk are fond of the more philosophical pursuits of the Solarian (whose focus on melee combat meshes well with Vesk tradition) and the Mystic. 

One thing that many non-Vesk have trouble with is identifying the gender of their reptilian companions. Vesk have very limited sexual dimorphism, and their warrior focused culture doesn’t make much of a distinction between genders to begin with. The easiest way to distinguish a Male Vesk from a Female is to look at their skin coloration; females (like Obozaya, above) have brighter colored scales with shades of blue and yellow, while men have duller, earth-colored tones. 

Lashunta

Raia, the Iconic Technomancer 

Homeworld: Castrovel

Patron Deity: Yaraesa (Goddess of Knowledge, Science, and Scholarship)

Lashunta are a species of telepaths, renowned in the Pact Worlds for their focus on scholarship and mental perfection. Their homeworld, Castrovel, is home to some of the most prominent institutions of higher learning in the Pact Worlds, and some have travelled across the Drift for lightyears in order to get an education there.

The Lashunta are actually two subspecies; Damaya Lashunta (like Raia, above) are taller, and known for their beauty and force of personality. Korasha Lashunta are much shorter than Damaya, but far more muscular. Lashunta mature into one of the two subspecies at puberty based on environmental stimuli; those born into more communal and civilized environments become Damaya, while those in harsher environments tend to become Korasha. 

In the past, the Lashunta’s strictly matriarchal society meant that these two subspecies were almost exclusively the domain of a single gender; female for Damaya, and male for Korasha. As men were expected to serve as soldiers while women were placed in charge of the cities, it was extremely rare for a young Lashunta to mature into the “opposite” sub-species, and early scholars who encountered the Lashunta through magical portals mistook this evolutionary adaptation for a form of extreme sexual dimorphism. Shifting cultural norms (and improvements in hormone therapy and medical technology) mean that modern Lashunta are free to choose what sub-species they become at puberty. 

Regardless of their sub-species, all Lashunta are intellectuals at heart, and favor classes that allow them to pursue mental perfection; many choose to become Technomancers or Mechanics, while others enjoy the more esoteric intellectual pursuits offered by Mystics or Solarians. Damaya Lashunta on Castrovel tend to become Envoys, while Korasha often become Soldiers.

Kasatha

Altronis, the Iconic Solarian.

Homeworld: Kasath (Former), The Idari

Patron Deity: Talavet (Goddess of Storytelling, Community, and Self-Reliance)

Four-Armed humanoids from the distant desert world of Kasath, no Kasatha living in the Pact Worlds remembers their native planet, because all Kasatha travelled to the Pact Worlds on a massive generation ship known as the Idari centuries ago, when their homeworld’s sun was about to go nova. Unable to colonize Akiton as they had originally planned, the Kasatha have instead converted the ship which had long served as their home into a massive space-station.

Kasatha society is heavily structured around tradition. Scholar-Priests known as adata preserve thin-slices of the brains of the deceased in order to preserve their memories and knowledge for future generations. Other Kasatha draw their lineage from various noble houses on the Idari, who have traditionally served as navigators, pilots, and ship officers. With the transition from being a Generation Ship to a Space Station, many of these noble houses are struggling to find a new purpose, leading many of their scions to seek out other pursuits.

The Kasatha are the ones who introduced the Solarian philosophy (known as the Cycle) to the Pact Worlds. Their introspective, philosophical nature also makes them excellent Mystics, while those more martially inclined Kasatha who aren’t disciples of the Cycle may elect to become Soldiers. The natural agility and speed of Kasatha also make them excellent Operatives, though the Operative’s tendency to operate on the fringes of society runs counter to the traditions of the Idari (not much of a Fringe on a generation ship, after all). Not that that hasn’t stopped some particularly brash Kasatha from pursuing such professions.

Shirren

Keskodai, the Iconic Mystic.

Homeworld: Unknown

Patron Deity: Hylax (Goddess of Diplomacy, First Contact, Friendship, and Peace).

One of the most terrifying forces in the galaxy is The Swarm; a race of Locust like creatures that travelled from world to world, consuming all they encountered before moving on. Most members of the Swarm are simply part of a hivemind, having abandoned individuality long ago. At some point, however, a sub-colony of the Swarm underwent a mutation, regaining their sense of self and rejecting the mindless consumption of their kin. This subcolony would eventually become the Shirren,and came to settle peacefully in the Pact Worlds.

Shirren are an insectoid species with a chitnous exoskeleton, compound eyes, and large antennae which aid in telepathy. They possess six limbs; two arms, two legs, and two weak “mating arms” used for reproductive and ceremonial purposes. The Shirren species has three genders (male, female, and host), and their children spend two years as larva. Many Shirren use specially designed transparent containers to house their larval children, allowing them to safely observe the world while communicating with their parent telepathically. It’s not uncommon for Shirren to take their larva with them on long expeditions or adventures; in the hopes of granting them a variety of experiences.

The Shirren’s former nature as members of a hivemind has made them deeply communal; they are excellent collaborators, though their past connection with the Swarm makes other races slow to trust them. Their desire to understand and form connections with others make them ideal Mystics, though it’s not unheard of for them to pursue the path of the Solarion. Some, eager to atone for the harm caused by their mindless kin, elect to become Soldiers; their hardy nature makes these more martially oriented professions a sound choice the Shirren emphasis on diplomacy and friendship draws many of them to the path of the Envoy, though it takes a lot of dedication to excel at this path. 

Despite their communal nature, Shirren are also literally addicted to individualism; making choices floods them with endorphins, and some Shirren become “option junkies”, constantly making trivial choices in order to achieve a blissful high.  

Everything Else Under The Stars

Of course, just because these are the most common races doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones. All of the races of Golarion still exist (either on Absalom Station, or elsewhere in the Galaxy), and the core rulebook is set to come with conversions for all of the Core Pathfinder Races. Wanna be a Space Elf? No problem!

Conversions of other classic Pathfinder races will be released in future books. Don’t wanna wait? No problem! The Core Rulebook also has guidelines for converting any existing Pathfinder race to their Starfinder equivalent, and Rogue Genius Games is already planning to release a book (The Starfarer’s Companion) filled with Paizo-Approved conversions (not to mention a few new options). 

If that’s not enough, many of the alien races you’ll encounter during your exploration of the Pact Worlds and beyond are also playable! Wanna be a Space Goblin? How about a floating brain? Or a space pirate that glides through the vacuum of space? The Alien Archive is set to be filled with dozens of new alien species, many of them available as options for Player Characters. 

And don’t worry if you’re playing Starfinder Society; members of the Wayfinder faction can unlock all sorts of alien races for play by completing storylines. Make first contact in one season, and you can play as that species in the next! 

Starfinder is set up to have one of the most interesting racial makeups in tabletop gaming in years. What are you gonna play? 

6

Widely known as a tyrant, Harren Hoare or Harren the Black was King of the Riverlands and the Iron Isles during the War of Conquest. When Aegon invaded Westeros, the Riverlands were the first to be scorched by dragon fire. Harren saw the completion of Harrenhal, the greatest of the strongholds of Westeros, for which Weirwood trees were felled in order to be built. Confident in the strength of its walls, Harren was undeterred by the small Targaryen army and refused to bend the knee. Aegon destroyed Harrenhal with his dragon, burning Harren and his entire house within its walls. Aegon awarded the Iron Islands to House Greyjoy and the Riverlands to House Tully, and both swore fealty to the Iron Throne.

(with Simon Woods as Aegon Targaryen.)

4

The Non-German defenders of the Atlantic Wall,

In 1942 Germany began construction of the Atlantic Wall in order to defends its World War II territorial conquests from a possible Allied amphibious invasion.  The wall consisted of various fortifications, mines, tank barriers, mortars, artillery pieces, machine gun nests, pillboxes, and bunkers, and was designed to fend off any beach landing. On June 6th, 1944 Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy and quickly overran these defenses.  Thousands of German soldiers were captured, but surprisingly still many of those capture were not German at all.

At the very beginning of the war Germany upheld its Nazi belief in pure Arianism. However as the war dragged, that sentiment quickly gave way as casualties grew and manpower shortages worsened. Both the Wehrmacht and the SS began to accept foreign volunteers.  Many of these foreign troops were sent to man the defenses of the Atlantic Wall.  These soldiers came from all over Europe, and even the Middle East and Asia.  One notable extreme was the Indian Legion, also known as the Azad Regiment, which consisted of volunteers from India who believed that a German victory would secure India’s independence from the British Empire. 

The reasons for volunteering were varied, some political, many as a necessity for survival.  By far the most numerous foreign volunteers were those from the Soviet Union. Some volunteered because they were disgruntled with Soviet rule, for example the Russian Liberation Army, which joined the Wehrmacht to oppose communism in Russia. However most volunteered as an alternative to spending the rest of the war as a POW.  Soviet POW’s were treated terribly during the war, with 3.3 to 3.5 million dying of starvation, disease, exhaustion, and overall maltreatment. For many Soviet POW’s, service with the German Army was the only way to avoid such a horrible fate. Typically, these troops were often not very reliable in combat. Understandably, they were not very motivated to sacrifice life and limb for their conquerors. In some cases they proved to by a grave liability, such as the case of a battalion of soldiers from Georgia which manned the Atlantic Wall defenses on the Dutch island of Texel, who in 1945 openly rebelled against the Germans.

As well as many thousand foreign volunteers, there were also many thousand foreign conscripts who were forcibly made to serve in the German Army. By far the most interesting extreme in this instance were a group of Koreans who were captured by American forces during the D-Day invasion. For three decades Japan had occupied Korea, and the men were forcibly conscripted into the Japanese Imperial Army. In 1939 Japan attempted to invade the Soviet Union through Mongolia, but were badly beaten at the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. The Koreans were captured and sent to the gulags, but with the German invasion of the Soviet Union, were then forced to join the Red Army and fight on the Eastern Front.  They were then captured by the Germans, conscripted into the German Army, and forced to man the defenses of the Atlantic Wall at Normandy.

By far the most numerous conscripts were Polish.  Before World War I many parts of Poland had been a part of Prussia, and later the German Empire. When Germany re-conquered these territories they considered many of the people living there to be ethnic Germans.  As such, they were considered full citizens of the Reich and thus were subject to German draft laws.  Many still believed themselves to be German and thus were willing to fight for the German cause, however many spoke Polish, had adopted Polish customs, and believed themselves to be Poles. Regardless, refusing to obey the draft laws could result in serious consequences, not only for the individual but his family as well. Some 500,000 Poles were conscripted into the Wehrmacht, with many serving on the Atlantic Wall. Like the Soviets, the Polish also were not the best soldiers as they were often unwilling to fight for their taskmasters. Around 85,000 would defect to the Free Polish Forces in France. In addition to Polish Troops, a number of Czechs considered ethnic Germans would be conscripted as well.

Overall, one in six defenders of the Atlantic Wall were not German. Nothing demonstrates the diversity of these defenders more than the photo below of a group Wehrmacht soldiers captured during D-Day

Front Row (from left to right):  a Yugoslav; an Italian; a Turk; a Pole

Back Row (from left to right): a German; a Czech; a Russian who was forced into the army when the Nazis occupied his town; and a Mongolian.

6

Mariya Martell, the Princess of Dorne, was an old woman during the War of Conquest–called "The Yellow Toad of Dorne" by Argilac Durrendon, the Storm King. When Aegon Targaryen came with his dragons, Mariya promised the might of Dorne if she would be delivered the fall of the House of Durrendon–sword and steed, bearing the sun and spear of her house–yet she refused to bend the knee. She offered only her allegiance, and no more. The Targaryens wanted absolute surrender. Rhaenys, Aegon’s sister-queen, led the invasion of Dorne. Masters of their land, the Dornishmen retaliated with petty skirmishes that plagued the Targaryen army, only to retreat, hide, and attack anew when they found the opportunity. Their enemies elusive, Rhaenys finally flew to Sunspear on her dragon Meraxes, and there demanded the princess’ surrender. She refused. Rhaenys promised to return, to destroy them with fire and blood. Unbowed, unbent, unbroken, said the princess, and since then Dorne had remained free and independent of the Iron Throne.

(with Lea Seydoux as Rhaenys Targaryen)

2

Fancast Meme: Five Canon Historical Figures (3-4/5):

Eva Green as Argella Durrandon 
Liam McIntyre as Orys Baratheon

During the War of Conquest, Orys Baratheon, Aegon I’s bastard half-brother, was charged with taking Storm’s End.  He slew the Storm King, Argilac Durrandon in open combat.  In response, Argilac’s daughter Argella declared herself Storm Queen and refused to yield.  Not wanting to share the same fate as Harrenhal, her people turned on her.  They delivered her naked in chains to Orys.  He gave her his cloak and treated her with kindness.  When Aegon named him the Lord of Storm’s End, Orys married Argella, and adopted the family sigil, colors, and words, “Ours is the fury.”  Together they founded House Baratheon. 

6

Mern XI Gardener was the King of the Reach and the Lord of Highgarden during the War of Conquest. He defied Aegon the Conqueror, and allied himself with Loren Lannister, the King of the Rock, to face the invaders in open battle. The combined might of the Reach and the Rock defeated the Targaryen army, until Aegon and his sisters Rhaenys and Visenya unleashed their dragons in what has since been called the Field of Fire. Defeated, Loren Lannister bent the knee. Mern Gardener died, and his house died with him.

(with Simon Woods as Aegon Targaryen.)

anonymous asked:

I was wondering how you thought different nations would raise children or view family life. The Water Tribe and Air Nation are the most distinctive (as I remember) but I can't really differentiate between the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation?

I’ve somewhat answered the question in this post, but I didn’t delve into how children are trained and educated in the Four Nations, which I think is worth examining.

Water

Education for boys and girls is sex-segregated, and begins at home. We know that Gran-Gran taught Katara about delivering babies, so presumably the girls would be taught about assisting with childbirth, healing, and medical care, as well as the traditional tasks of sewing and cleaning.

Katara: Sokka, Calm down. I helped Gran-Gran deliver lots of babies back home. 
Sokka: This isn’t the same as delivering an arctic seal! This is a real… human…. thing!
Katara: It’s called a baby, and I helped to deliver plenty of those too. 

At 16, they are legal adults, so they would also have learned about marriage and all that it entailed. As far as bending goes, they start training very early, around the age of 4-6, judging by the beginner’s healing class in the North.

The male heads of household teach their sons about hunting, fishing, and fighting. At the age of 14, they undergo a rite of passage where they have to steer a ship through ice-infested waters without adult supervision. Both they and their crewmates earn marks based on their position in the crew. We don’t see a beginner’s class for male waterbenders, but we do know that the Water Tribe is not afraid of tough teaching methods.

One skill that is common to both boys and girls is sailing. Katara and Sokka both know how to steer a boat on their own at the very beginning of the show. Hardly a surprise, given their environment.

Earth

Education in the Earth Kingdom varies depending on your social status. We don’t see any schools for poor children in the Earth Kingdom. For the children of rich parents, they are educated through private tutors, such as Toph’s tutor, Master Yu:

Yu:  I’m keeping her at the beginner’s level. Basic forms and breathing exercises only.

For less wealthy children, there are classes with other students:

Yu: So, are you ready to commit to more lessons?  If you pay for the whole year in advance, I’ll bump you up to the next belt.

However, as we just saw, advancement can depend on how much money you have here, too.

It is noteworthy that the children in the rough-and-tumble earthbending classes are both male and female, although we do see more boys than girls. By contrast, we see an all-girls poetry class in Ba Sing Se:

This might be due to their relative wealth–it could be a select school for girls like the Fire Nation has. At any rate, the difference in education for girls and boys, while present, is not quite as rigid as the Water Tribe.

Fire

This is the nation with the most widespread education model. While there are select schools for the wealthy and nobility:

Azula: Tell me, what is the daughter of a nobleman doing here? Certainly our parents didn’t send us to the Royal Fire Academy for Girls to end up in… places like this.

There are academies for regular Fire Nation children, with a strict curriculum and rigid standards of behavior.

Ms. Kwan: Your etiquette is terrible. In the homeland, we bow to our elders. Like so. 

Music Teacher: No, child. That hullabaloo going on with your feet. Is that a nervous disorder? 

School Headmaster:  That’s what any mother would say, ma'am. Nonetheless, you’re forewarned. If he acts up one more time, I’ll have him sent to reform school… by which I mean the coal mines. Are we clear? 

All schools are state-run and contain a huge dose of Fire Nation propaganda:

Ms. Kwan: Question one: What year did Fire Lord Sozin battle the Air Nation Army?  Kuzon? 
Aang:  Is that a trick question? The Air Nomads didn't have a formal military. Sozin defeated them by ambush. 
Ms. Kwan:  Well, I don’t know how you could possibly know more than our national history book. Unless you were there a hundred years ago. 

On a positive note, while there are all-girl (and presumably all-boy) finishing schools in the higher echelons of society, we see a very egalitarian mix of gender in the regular Fire Nation academies.

There are no sex-segregated areas of education, including in the military. Azula was trained from an early age, just like Zuko, to excel in firebending.

Speaking of which, because the Fire Nation justifies its war of conquest on the merits of its bending, firebending is the most important part of education for those who possess the ability. While there are high-level nonbenders, such as Azula’s instructors Lo and Li, having weak—or even weaker bending—can prevent you from gaining power. Zuko, despite being two years older, is by no means certain to take the throne, partly based on his relative incompetence and his sister’s prodigious achievement.

Air

Due to every citizen being an airbender, each Air Nomad child received bending training from an early age. At the very least, children would have to be taught enough bending not to fall from the Air Temple balconies! Unlike the other three nations, an airbender’s master was his or her surrogate parent as well.

Gyatso: Aang, I’m not going to let them take you away from me.

Fun was emphasized as a learning technique:

And respect for one’s elders was … optional.

Finally, the Air Nomads were all trained in animal care, as they adopted sky bison as children which would stay with them throughout their lives:

Air Nomad Woman: Choose well. A sky bison is a companion for life.

A:TLA glosses over one aspect of education fairly heavily, which is: considering the level of technological and social development of the Four Nations, it’s highly unlikely that everyone would be able to read and write. We never encounter a situation where someone can’t make out an inscription, or has trouble reading a sign or “Wanted” poster. Even the dirt-poor Lee in that Earth Kingdom village could read the inscription on Zuko’s dagger! Considering the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation’s desire to keep knowledge contained, as well as the Water Tribe’s lack of cheap paper-making materials, it would have made sense for the GAang to encounter more people who rely on memorization than people who rely on reading.

corlys  asked:

What do you think was GRRM’s intention by making Daenerys unable to escape her ancestors’ legacy? Her ancestors literally are forcing her to “wake the dragons”. Then she proceeds by conquering cities. But there is more to her and in Meereen she tries to turn her narrative and become the benevolent ruler. But no matter how hard she tries, by the end her “blood of the dragon” and violent nature comes to the surface, and she is once again forced back on track for the quest for Westeros and IT.

What was GRRM’s intention with giving Dany these contradictory urges between (difficult) benevolence and (easy) violence? It’s, y’know, one of the major themes of the books.

Learning is not inherently an interesting thing to write about. It’s not an easy thing to write about. […] In real life, you don’t get to montage. You have to go through it day by day.

And that has been interesting, you know. Jon Snow as Lord Commander. Dany as Queen, struggling with rule. So many books don’t do that. There is a sense when you’re writing something in high fantasy, you’re in a dialogue with all the other high fantasy writers that have written. And there is always this presumption that if you are a good man, you will be a good king. [Like] Tolkien — in Return of the King, Aragorn comes back and becomes king, and then [we read that] “he ruled wisely for three hundred years.” Okay, fine. It is easy to write that sentence, “He ruled wisely”.

What does that mean, he ruled wisely? What were his tax policies? What did he do when two lords were making war on each other? Or barbarians were coming in from the North? What was his immigration policy? What about equal rights for Orcs? I mean did he just pursue a genocidal policy, “Let’s kill all these fucking Orcs who are still left over”? Or did he try to redeem them? You never actually see the nitty-gritty of ruling.

I guess there is an element of fantasy readers that don’t want to see that. I find that fascinating. Seeing someone like Dany actually trying to deal with the vestments of being a queen and getting factions and guilds and [managing the] economy. They burnt all the fields [in Meereen]. They’ve got nothing to import any more. They’re not getting any money. I find this stuff interesting. And fortunately, enough of my readers who love the books do as well.

source

Also, there’s sometimes a fine line between madness and greatness. Daeron I, the boy king who led a war of conquest, and even the saintly Baelor I could also be considered “mad,” if seen in a different light. ((And I must confess, I love grey characters, and those who can be interperted in many different ways. Both as a reader and a writer, I want complexity and subtlety in my fiction)) –source

I’ve always been attracted to grey characters.  I’ve always taken it as a code William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech from the early ‘50’s, where he said that the human heart in conflict with [itself] was the only thing worth writing about.  And I think that’s true.

The battle between good and evil is a theme of much of fantasy.  But I think the battle between good and evil is [f]ought largely within the individual human heart, by the decisions that we make.

source

What is bad? Bad is a label. We are human beings with heroism and self-interest and avarice in us and any human is capable of great good or great wrong. In Poland a couple of weeks ago I was reading about the history of Auschwitz – there were startling interviews with the people there. The guards had done unthinkable atrocities, but these were ordinary people. What allowed them to do this kind of evil? Then you read accounts of acts of outrageous heroism, yet the people are criminals or swindlers, one crime or another, but when forced to make a choice they make a heroic choice. This is what fascinated me about the human animal. A lot of fantasy turns on good and evil – but my take on it is that it’s fought within the human heart every day, and that’s the more interesting take. I don’t think life is that simple. –source

I think the struggle between good and evil is central to fantasy and, indeed, in some ways, central to most fiction. It’s certainly a worthy subject for fiction. But I regard the struggle between good and evil as being waged within the individual human heart. It’s not waged as fantasy would have it, where a character called the Dark Lord gathers all the evil people together and puts them in black clothing and you know they’re evil ’cause they’re really ugly and all the good people are handsome and they wear white and they meet on a big battlefield. In the real world … very few people get up in the morning and say, “Oh, I’m evil. What evil can I do today? I’m gonna cover the world with darkness, and my legions of evil will rule all.” That’s silly. You know, the greatest monsters of history, as we look back on them, thought they were the heroes of the story. You know, the villain is the hero of the other side, as sometimes said. That doesn’t mean that it’s all morally relative. That doesn’t mean that all things are equally good and evil.

I think there is good and there is evil in the world. But you know, it’s sometimes a struggle to tell one from the other and to make the right choices. And all of us, I’ve always been attracted to great characters, maybe because that’s what I see when I look around the real world, whether I read about it in history books or the news or just people I meet.

I mean, all of us have it within ourselves to be heroes. All of us have it within ourselves to be villains. We’ve all done good things in our lives, and most of us have also done selfish things, cowardly things, things that we’re ashamed of in later years. And to my mind, that’s, I don’t know, the glory of the human race. We’re such wonderfully contradictory, mixed-up creatures that we’re endlessly fascinating to write about and read about.

source

(see also this, and this too.)

Roman Goddesses: Bellona

Salvete mihi domo est. journalisticRoman, and today I would like to talk about one of my favorite Roman goddesses: Bellona. Bellona is the Roman goddess of War, Destruction, Conquest, Blood-lust, edgy teens, etc. and who ever told you that Mars is the god of war: DOSENTFUCKINGKNOWWHATHEISTALKINGABOUTANDWILLGOTOTARTEROUSFORLYING.

gather around kiddos because I’m about to explain why this chick is fucking boss. First off her choices of weapons, she would switch between a Sword, Spear, Shield, whip, or torch. In fact in most deceptions of her by Romans the only piece of armor she would wear would be a Officers helmet. No joke. Her method of transportation would be a four horse chariot

Tbh she’s more tough than friggen Wonder Woman!

So moving unto her holiday. If you didn’t think that she wasn’t metal enough she has a special holiday called dies sanguinis (The Day of Blood (wait what)) On this holiday, special priests called Bellonarii would cut themselves and sacrifice their blood to her.

So stone cold. I love her!

Well thats all I have on the wonderful mistress Bellona until next time Valete et habere bomun die!

(P.S. Holy crud everyone took me on surprise with the last one. I think im going to start doing this regularly, until I get bored. Thank you!!!!)

The Rise and Fall of the Wassoulou (Mandinka) Empire, West Africa

The Wassoulou Empire was an African Empire that existed between 1294 and 1315 AH (1878-1898 CE) in modern Mali, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

The story of the rise and fall of the Wassoulou state is also the story of the rise and fall of its first and only ruler, a remarkable man named Samori Touré. Born to a Dyula Mandé family in the town of Mayambaladugu, in the year 1245 AH (1830 CE), he was the son of a fairly well-to-do merchant. Touré grew up in an African world that had long been aware of the European presence. Slave trading on the coasts had been going on for generations, though Europeans were yet to penetrate too far inland, and many still relied on their protectorates for extracting the wealth of Africa. Touré’s father probably had significant relationships with a variety of Europeans, both officials and civilians, as a merchant, and as a result, Touré had a familiarity with their ways of life, and particularly, their ways of bureaucracy, organization, and martial tradition, since many of the outposts and expeditions in the area would have been armed and defended by troops brought in from overseas.

In 1264 AH (1848 CE), an event happened that would change his life forever. At the time, Mayambaladugu and most of the surrounding Mandé and Fulani groups had just been subjugated by the authority of the Tocouleur Empire, often as client chiefdoms or states, and these vassal entities continued to fight intermittent wars with one another, often for loot, including slaves, and access to natural resources that could buy guns and equipment from Europeans, or influence at the new Tocouleur court. When he was eighteen, a man and probably taking some responsibility in his family’s mercantile business, his mother was seized in one of these raids by the powerful Cissé, another Mandé group. Determined to get her back, Samori Touré traveled deep into Cissé territory, to confront a man tradition names Séré-Burlay. In return for his mother’s safety, he struck an agreement with his mother’s captor: he would serve the Cissé as a warrior, so long as she remained safe. It is unkown how long Touré served in this capacity, though some traditions say for more than seven years, but however long he did, he was most likely an experienced veteran by the time he ended his service to the Cissé by escaping with his mother.

Seeking safety from the roused and potentially vengeful Cissé, Touré traveled to the towns of the Bérété Mandé, a group who had been longtime rivals of his former masters. There, again, he became a warrior, though now he began to rise through the ranks, charismatic and brave as he was, and with an extensive knowledge of his enemies and years of combat experience under his belt. By 1280 AH (1864 CE), he had a significant amount of men under his command, and was fighting for the Bérété somewhere along one of the Niger’s tributaries, probably the Milo River.

A final note on Touré’s early life, before the founding of the Wassoulou Empire is discussed: Touré was not born a Muslim, but converted sometime as a young man, possibly during his time with the Cissé, but it is impossible to be sure. Even African sources disagree on the exact dates, or how/why he converted. Regardless, by 1280 AH (1864 CE), he was a devout Sunni Muslim, and possibly a member of a Sufi brotherhood.

In 1280 AH (1864 CE), the Tocouleur Empire, which had conquered and subsumed the Mandé and Fulani states of Touré’s youth the year his mother had been kidnapped, collapsed. El Hadj Omar Tal, the Fulani founder and only ruler of the Tocouleur state, died, and though his heirs managed to hold onto some of the territory, their subjects proved entirely too powerful and eager for the potential spoils left by the great man’s death for their control. Dozens of factions broke off, and the region dissolved into chaos. As mentioned above, Touré was on what was probably the Milo River, and, as the Empire disintegrated around him, Touré took advantage of the situation to accomplish two things. The first was the testing of his warriors in serious battle. Trained with his own version of European military standards, adapted from the experiences and memories of his youth, and armed with firearms and the skill to use them, Touré was eager to see if his own theories about war would hold up in a conflict so much larger and more intense than the small-scale strife of his youth. The second goal was the creation of a new Sunni Muslim state, with Touré as the ruler.

Touré quickly won victories. His men were well-disciplined, and, as the war progressed, more and more heavily armed. In addition to captured weapons and a variety of improvised and locally-manufactured equipment, Touré also began to deal with the British in Sierra Leone, where they refused to offer him status as a full protectorate kingdom, but agreed to supply him with weapons in exchange for a promise not to deal with other colonial powers, particularly the French. Though the British did not supply him with heavy weapons or artillery, they did provide breach-loading weapons, and the know-how to repair them, as well as an enormous supply of ammunition. So armed and now with a veteran army at his back, Touré seized the Buré gold mines, on the Malian border, and with the hard currency and extensive territory his victories had won him, proclaimed himself Faama (Emir, roughly), of a new Wassoulou Empire, named after region on the modern Guinea-Mali border. The capitol was moved to the large town of Bissandugu in 1294 AH (1878 CE).

The next chapter of the Wassoulou Empire was marked by wars of conquest against weaker neighbors, rather than the earlier wars for survival in the cutthroat political climate left behind by the Tocouleur collapse. A major success came in 1297 AH (1881 CE), when Kankan, a major Dyula trading post on the Milo River fell, and the Empire reached its geographical zenith. Smaller states, particularly animist/indigenous African states, fell as well in the same period, and though, like many African rulers, Touré allowed many indigenous civil customs to continue unmolested, he began to style himself with Islamic titles, and likely sought out more formal religious training from Sufi’s and Marabouts, local Sunni leaders, during this period. Finally, he managed to secure alliances, with himself as the power-brokering party, with the Fulani states to the North, where Islam was the state religion.

In 1299 AH (1882 CE), Samori Touré launched a new campaign, this time dispatching his troops South, toward Cote d’Ivoire. There, they besieged the city of Keriera, hoping to use it as the launching point for a campaign as far as the coast. However, another major imperial power was operating to the south, and moving northwards from the Ivory Coast: France. In fact, the first contact between the Wassoulou Empire and the French was a brief engagement outside of Keriera, where a French force drove off Touré’s surprised troops, and then effectively replaced them, occupying the city. Touré, concerned but not desperate, renewed relations with the British and sent new emissaries to Liberia, where he hoped to strike another arms deal. He got what he was looking for in 1300 AH (1882-3 CE), purchasing repeating rifles from the British and Liberians, and setting up a corridor on which to move supplies between the coast and his interior centers of power, should the emerging conflict with the French escalate.

They did escalate. Skirmishes and Wassoulou raiding colored the next few years, and French colonial authorities, disturbed by what they perceived as a grave threat to ventures in the area, dispatched a Colonel Combes with an expeditionary force to take Buré, one of the main sources of cash for Touré and his Empire. However, the force was too small, and Combés was unfamiliar with the terrain and his enemy, and they were soundly defeated by the crack African forces, many of the leaders veterans of decades of campaigning. In Shawwal, 1308 AH (1891 CE), another French force was dispatched, this time to Kankan and lead by Louis Archinárd, another French Colonel. Touré, realizing he could not hold the walls against heavy French artillery, abandoned the city, but took his men into the field, hoping to defeat the French in the open. Though Touré managed to drive a few French columns back in 1308 AH (1891 CE), he was unable to significantly halt their advances, especially as more and more French troops were assigned to the region, transferred for the campaigns organized to destroy Touré and his neighbors. Another blow had come with the signing of the Brussels Conference Act of 1890, in which Europeans agreed to stop selling weapons to African rulers or armies, cutting Touré off from a valuable source of weapons.

In 1309 AH (1892 CE), French Colonel Húmbért attacked, seized and occupied Bissandugu and Buré, though Touré and his troops were, again, in the field, and, though defeated, the Faama was able to keep his troops intact, retreating across the Niger. Along the path of his retreat, Touré burned crops and destroyed as much of the infrastructure as he could, hoping to stall the French and possibly allow African disease to have some weakining effect on the advancing columns, though this strategy only bought a few seasons. The clashes with the French, from the first engagement with Colonel Combés to the seizure of Buré and Touré’s capital at Bissandugu, constitute what is now known as the First and Second Mandingo Wars. The third, and the deciding moment for the Wassoulou Empire, loomed, though it was delayed by the French conflicts with rulers in Mali and back along their tenuous zones of control to the coast.

However, by 1315 AH (1898 CE), Babemba Traoré, the ruler of the collapsing Kénédougou Empire to the North in Mali proper, was defeated by the French, who proceeded to incorporate most of Mali into the expanding territory of French West Africa. Touré, cut off from supplies in Liberia and Sierra Leone, now found himself virtually alone against the French, who moved their victorious armies back toward Wassoulou and the border, preparing for a final offensive, across the Niger and into what had once been the far Eastern edge of Touré’s Empire, now its only remaining area. Within a few months of the outbreak of hostilities in the Third Mandingo War, Touré was captured when a French unit attacked his troops, and was imprisoned. The French quickly moved in to the remaining Wassoulou towns, and formally dissolved the Empire in the ensuing months. Touré remained imprisoned by local French troops until the 23rd of Jumada al-Ula, 1317 CE (29 September 1899), when he was moved to exile in Gabon. He died of pneumonia there, at 70, in Safar, 1318 AH (June 1900 CE), and was buried at the Grand Masjid in Conakry, Guinea. Touré’s great-grandson, Ahmed Sékou Touré, would later become Guinea’s first President, when the country became independent of France more than half a century later.

Aesir

In Old Norse the Aesir are the principle gods of the Norse Pantheon. These Norse gods are understood to dwell in Asgard. There are 22 Aesir:

  • Baldr - god of innocence and beauty
  • Bragi - the bard
  • Forseti - god of justice
  • Frigg - chief goddess
  • Heimdallr - the watchman and guardian
  • Hermóor - a messenger for Odin
  • Hoor - blind god of darkness and winter
  • Idun - goddess of youth, fertility and death
  • Loki - the trickster, foster-brother of Odin
  • Meili - the mile-stepper
  • Mímir - the god of knowledge
  • Nanna - wife of Baldr
  • Odin - chief god, of wisdom and war
  • Sif - gold-haired wife of Thor
  • Thor - god of thunder and battle
  • Tyr - one-handed, self-sacrificing god of law and justice
  • Ullr - the hunter, tracker, and archer
  • Váli - the avenger
  • - brother of Odin, who gave men speech
  • Vidar - god of silence, stealth, and revenge
  • Vili - brother of Odin, who gave men feeling and thought

As Norse deities the Aesir belonged the a complex religious, mythological and cosmological belief system shared belief shared by the Scandinavian and Germanic peoples.

Within this framework, Norse cosmology postulates three separate “clans” of deities: the Aesir, the Vanir, and the Jotun. The distinction between the Aesir and Vanir is relative, for the two are said to have made peace, exchanged hostages, intermarried and reigned together after a prolonged war. In fact, the most significant divergence between the two groups is in their respective areas of influence, with the Aesir representing war and conquest, and the Vanir representing exploration, fertility and wealth. The Jotun, on the other hand, are seen as a generally malefic (though wise) race of giants who represented the primary adversaries of the Aesir and Vanir. the Aesir, though immortal, were somewhat more “perishable” that their Indo-European brethren. Not only was their eternal youth maintained artificially (through the consumption of Idun’s golden apples), they could also be slaim (for instance, many were preordained to perish at the cataclysmic battle of Ragnorok).

The multifarious forms of interaction between the Aesir and the Vanir present an oft-addressed conundrum for scholars of myth and religion. Unlike other polytheistic cultures, where families of gods were typically understood as “elder” or “younger” (as with the Titans and the Olympians of ancient Greece), the Aesir and Vanir were portrayed as contemporary. As described above, the two clans fought battles, concluded treaties, and exchanged hostages. given the difference between their roles/emphases, some scholars speculated that the interactions between the Aesir and the Vanir reflect the types of interaction that were occurring between social classes (or clans) within Norse society at the time. According to another theory, the Vanir (and the fertility cult associated with them) may be more archaic than that of the more warlike Aesir, such that the mythical war may mirror a half-remembered religious conflict.

6

Visenya Targaryen, the elder sister-queen of Aegon the Conqueror. She was a fierce warrior, wielding the Valyrian sword Dark Sister. True to form, her dark, passionate temperament made her the more enigmatic queen. She rode the dragon Vhagar, with whom she fought alongside her siblings and their respective dragons–Aegon and his Balerion, Rhaenys and her Meraxes–at the Field of Fire, where all three unleashed their power to secure Targaryen victory. The Arryns of the Vale surrendered to her; their fleet burned at Gulltown, and their stronghold relinquished bloodlessly. Lords of Cracklaw Point bent the knee. Maegor I, otherwise known as Maegor the Cruel, was her son, the third Targaryen king of Westeros.

Perhaps it’s not destruction that will end the world.

i.

I kissed Conquest’s blood stained knuckles, letting the dried burgundy smear across my lips. ‘Are you surprised.’ He murmurs. Mouth to mouth, screams in his tongue. A face to make angels weep. ‘There’s nothing.’ He whispers, ‘There’s nothing left to win.’

ii.

War’s arms stretch across the globe. She’s steals away to every corner, every street. Mesmerizing. Intoxicating. Insatiable. She isn’t satisfied until both body and mind are torn apart. Mortality is doing it to themselves; fighting, clawing, destroying. She’s a spectator, watching the humans do her work. ‘I didn’t have to do anything,’ she taunts in my ear, ‘nothing at all.’

iii.

Famine keeps a scale in her hand. A measure of need. A measure of desire. A measure of hunger. Justice dished out by how much she can take. It’s not just starvation at her fingertips, it’s a drought; of knowledge, of empathy, of reason. ‘Rob them.’ she tugs at my hair, ‘Rob their hopes and watch the frenzy unfold.’

iv.

Death comes silently and sits with me. He is last, set apart from the others. You make war. You make conquests. You make famines and force droughts. You do not make death. Death is to unmake life; to turn it into nothing. ‘Go.’ I say to Death, ‘Take. Burn. Reap souls as one does wheat.’ He kneels. Eye meets eye. ‘No.’ he says, ‘I will take them gently. My touch will be soft. My presence will be a comfort that they will simply let me into their homes; unaware of their mistake until they realize what they’ve lost.’ His breath dances on my skin. ‘It will not end with us. It will end by fear, and you my dear will be the one to edge it on.’

Perhaps it’s not destruction that will end the world.

- L.H.Z // I prayed for the apocalypse and they made me a horseman 

Battle Axe of Peace

Rarity: Very Rare

This item was once an Orcish battle axe, used in countless wars and conquests throughout the land, passed from battle chief to battle chief.  It is double-bladed, and both blades have suffered extensive wear and rusting, to the point of near-deterioration.  The axe, over time, has become sentient, and has the personality of a war-weary commander, more hopeful for diplomacy than battle.  Holding the weapon, the axe will offer tactical suggestions to avoid as much conflict as possible, and prompts the wielder to take the path of peace. It provides a +5 bonus to diplomacy and persuasion checks.  The wielder of this weapon cannot draw against others, unless drawn against first.

4

Coins are used in the Seven Kingdoms, chiefly Gold Dragons, Silver Stags and Copper Stars. Gold Dragons are used mostly used by rich merchants and noble lords and ladies, while smallfolk tend to exchange copper and silver coins. The current currency was established shortly after the unification of the Seven Kingdoms following the War of Conquest and was used through the whole Targaryen rule and continued after Robert’s Rebellion