Tales of a Thousand Seas

Episode 3
Contemplation on economies and conflicts.

Finally on to Episode 3 ! It has been a while and I plan on trying to do these more often. I hope this will be an interesting show that will produce some good content.

1. The goal is to get enough details about the world’s economy from this activity that you can start writing with some authority about your world, and get started with the actual story, rather than over-developing every last detail.

Lets get started then.

2. Picture a character in your world with all of his or her weapons and tools, sitting down to eat a meal in the obligatory tavern, restaurant or food establishment, and needing to repair a minor wound with medicine. Then describe this person in detail.

The man is dressed in blue cotton twill jacket, with wool breeches. Under his jacket is a flowing white pina silk shirt. Hanging from a broad leather belt at his hip is a short crescent blade in a leather sheath accented with precious metals and gemstones. Hanging from a shoulder is a large beaten metal canteen. Leaning against the table is a long thin sword in a bandoleer sheath, the straps of the bandoleer tooled and dangling on the floor, but in an easily accessible way. He wears a silk bandanna under a large wide brimmed leather hat. He is eating a spicy flavored rice with grilled fish using a carved wooden fork, and washing it down with a watered down fermented sorghum brew. Spread next to his meal is a roll of cotton gauze bandage, a bit of silken cloth, and a small vial of a green tar substance with a tiny trowel to apply it.

3. Answer the following questions, and you will have a deep enough sense of your world: Where did all of the parts that make up the tools come from? The parts that make up the weapons? Trace these parts back to the natural resource they came from (metals, lumber, hides), then explain how each was made, mined, grown or manufactured at each stage of assembly.

Blue Cotton Twill Jacket – The blue dye is from a handful of Independent Island nations that specialize in producing the dye from insects and plants native to the islands. The cotton is produced by a plantation on an Imperial Protectorate with slave labor. It is then shipped, taxed (export or tribute tax depending) and sold to either Dwarven or Imperial weavers who turn it into twill fabrics. Then tailored by someone in the current Imperial style.
Wool Breeches – From sheep or alpaca from an Independent Island Nation with little ability to produce grains or other plant products. Tailored by any number of potential groups.
white pina silk shirt – Pina fibers grown by islanders are imported (and taxed) to dwarven weavers who combine it with dwarven silk. It is then tailed in the dwarven iconoclast style.
Broad Leather belt – Leather produced by any number of Independent Nations. Either of cow or boar.
short crescent blade in a leather sheath accented with precious metals and gemstones The metals were from the Sultan’s mines, smelted and forged in the style of the Sultanate. The leather is also from the Sultanate or one of it’s colony islands. The gems and precious metals are plunder from the Sultan’s armies, gathered in their conquests of nearby islands.
large beaten metal canteen – Of imperial design, the metal from their copper, tin, and/or zinc mines. Mass produced by cheap labor for the Imperial Navy.
long thin sword in a bandoleer sheath – Steel from independent and dwarven. Smelted by dwarven hands, exported to Imperial smiths (through multiple parties, repeatedly taxed) and forged in the imperial fencing style.
silk bandanna – Cultivated by dwarven iconoclasts and weavers.
wide brimmed leather hat – Leather from any of the Independent States and tailored in the iconoclast foppish style.
spicy flavored rice – Grown on any of the Independent Nations, imported to port town.
grilled fish – Fished locally
carved wooden fork – Carved by a local craftsman.
fermented sorghum brew – Imported from Independent Nation and taxed heavily.
cotton gauze bandage – Standard imperial issue, grown in any of the Imperial plantations, Protectorate or otherwise.
silken cloth – Cultivated and woven by dwarven Iconoclasts
green tar substance – An antiseptic compound with curative properties sold by a local herbalist.

4. How difficult was it to acquire each piece, and what is the relative availability and value of each piece? Create a price ration (1 being the cost of one common food item in the world–in our world a car is about 20000 times what a unit of food like bread might cost). Who grew, raised, manufactured or assembled each piece? 5. Answer the same sets of questions for the character’s clothes, and the food he or she is eating.

Blue Cotton Twill Jacket – 80 units
Wool Breeches – 20 units
white pina silk shirt – 50 units
Broad Leather belt – 15 units
short crescent blade in a leather sheath accented with precious metals and gemstones – 1000 units for blade, 1000 units for sheath
large beaten metal canteen – 5 units
long thin sword in a bandoleer sheath – 10,000 units
silk bandanna – 10 units
wide brimmed leather hat – 40 units
spicy flavored rice – 1/2 unit
grilled fish – 1/2 unit
carved wooden fork – 1/10 unit
fermented sorghum brew – 1/2 unit
cotton gauze bandage – 1/2 unit
silken cloth – 1/2 unit
green tar substance – 10 units

6. What taxes were incurred as the character bought the tools or weapons or food from the tavern? Who mandates the taxes, who collects the taxes, and who enforces penalties if these taxes aren’t paid?

Imperial Navy mandates tariffs on goods entering and leaving Imperial Protectorates as a means of funding the Navy. This comes down heaviest on weapons or other military material. Other then the aforementioned items Navy tariffs tend to be low. Within the borders their protectorates the Navy has the ability to fine, confiscate goods, or imprison those avoiding taxes.

Imperial Protectorates may apply their own port duties and taxes on goods entering and leaving their ports. As well as on goods produced within their own spheres of influence. Each individual port may tax traffic at their discretion. Protectorates can fine, or confiscate within their own ports. Beyond that they need to petition the Navy to pursue the offender.

Dwarven Iconoclasts tend not to tax imports or exports. When taxes are avoided it is up to the port authority to prevent the offender from leaving, or hiring a ship to track them down. If an official vessel comes into play the commander often is more interested in a large bribe than enforcement.

Dwarven Colonies are strict enforcers of their taxation and restrictions. Violators are lucky to get away with only seizure and impounding of their vessel. Oftentimes confiscation, imprisonment, and in cases of repeat offense, public execution. If your ship is listed on an official wanted list and you encounter a Colonial Warship an opportunity to surrender is given. Anything but immediate submission will result in attack from the warship.

Sultanate ports vary wildly depending on the governing Emir. The Sultan dictates tariffs and it is the responsibility of all Emirs to enforce them, but not all enforce as stringently as they should. Depending on the severity of abuse punishment may range from fines, imprisonment, and even permanent injury (removal of boy part). They can ask Grand Navy commanders to send ships in pursuit of offenders, but rarely do outside of cases of contraband runners.

7. What is the medicine and where did it come from? A herbal balm that incorporates local herbs combined with oils and antiseptic tars imported from other islands.

8. Note: if the world has collapsed or regressed, and the character is scavenging or has scavenged items, trace the source of the items from the origins in the previous world. While the world has not collapsed there are things that are imported from another world. These tend to be luxury items available only in the Imperial Protectorates.

BONUS QUESTIONS These are questions I came up with after listening to the show and didn’t see them covered in the worksheet.

B1. What are the common staple foods of the setting?

Rice, no white varieties but longer grain or yellow rices. Amerath , grown on the larger, more volcanic of islands.
Sorghum , grown primarily for alcohol and sugar production.
Fish, virtually all cultures include fish as a dietary staple, since virtually all are Island nations. Pig and foul are second with bovine, goat, and other multipurpose livestock trailing.

Episode 2
Worldbuilding Ep. 002: Power of Tone and Emotional Effects on the Story World

Here we begin. I found Episode 2 quite fun. While the topic was a bit more on the fluffy side it did provoke some interesting thought.

1. What are the musical themes of this world and its characters? What would the soundtrack contain? What instruments would best illustrate the tone of the world? Create a soundtrack that inspires the emotions of the Story World.

The soundtrack would draw heavily from the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, big sweeping adventure themes of brave sould boldly plying the sea lanes. As well as some Yoko Kano, especially the stuff from Cowboy Bebop with the Indian and Arabian feels. Some of the market songs from Firefly, give that close in, crowded, multicultural feel.

2. What is the core feeling or emotion of the setting?

The intersection of freedom and fanaticism

3. What is the worldview presented by the game master?

4. What is the ideal attitude of the players in response to the setting?

5. What kinds of major conflicts will the characters face? How difficult are the levels of major conflict? Are the conflicts beatable (as in high fantasy) or impossibly dire (as in Lovecraftian horror)?

Most of the main conflicts will be surmountable. Either by overcoming or avoiding entirely. The seas are vast and have many ports to avoind ones enemies. Some of the conflicts will be based around politics or religion. These can be overcame but will do little to change the overall situation.

6. Are there answers to the mysteries of the story, or are the deeper issues left open, ironic, or unsolveable? Are the heroes able to win, only capable of surviving, or able to win but at a high price or through a great sacrifice?

Many of the mysteries have answers. Most of the characters will be focused on survival, gaining allies, carving out a place in the world where they can live by their own rules.

7. In what camp will the conflicts be based: physical, emotional, political and social threats, psychological threats, spiritual threats? Will the adventure challenge the body, the intellect, or the emotional weaknesses of the character? While physical threats are the baseline source of conflicst I hope more will come from social and political threats, with some emotional treats. I want adventures to test the body, the cunning, and the strength of bonds with other characters.

8. If this adventure was captured in a piece of artwork, what would it look like: color, texture, oils, watercolors, figures, subject…? If this world was captured as a movie, what would the first five minutes look like? Design a series of promotional movie posters that clearly illustrate the tone of the Story World.

the artwork would be drawn of briliant colors, bright and intricate, sweeping vistas. With Dark stark imagery framing it creeping into the scene.

The first five minutes would be sweeping ocean vistas, with tall ships sailing fast. Creeping up on a scene of battle between two ships. The ships are rammed together both show signs of fire damage and people are swarming across the decks locked in combat. One group of the fighters are tall, dressed in colorful clothing of a hundred different styles. They are fighting a wide array of weapons with flourish and flare. The others are shorter, dressed in uniform steel helmets and breastplates. They fight with two types of weapons, polearms and longswords in regimented and cooperative fashion. The camera sweeps on leaving the scene of battle racing low across the water. swimming just beneath he the water are merfolk, dressed in the skins of aquatic predators, bearing weapons made of teeth and coral and shell. The camera dips under water, tracking the merfolk as they slam into a Dragon Turtle. The camera tracks on as it is flung out of the water. Once the merfolk dissapears beneath the surface in a bloody splash the camera sights land in the distance. It speeds towards it, low over the water, between tall ships manuvering into a crowded port. Up through the docks past warehouses and fisheries, into the crowded village with a chaotic and loud population through a market square bustling with commerce , down a main street stopping on an open air cafe with full tables of colorfully dressed townsfolk, sailors, and soldiers. Centering on a single figure carefully eating a meal with two boisterous compatriots.

The first picture would be of a woman in piratical garb with a saber blade held vertically next to her head with the reflection of a ship at sea in the steel. Beneath that two men fencing one with a bottle in his off hand spraying liquid. A squat man in full conquistador armor and helment with a pole arm at attention and in the background two ships in combat.

9. What is the fundamental philosophy of life adopted by the game master/author? What is the overall purpose of the game master/author when it comes to creating an effect? What emotion or series of emotions does the game master/author want to evoke in the audience, players, reader as they experience the world and its conflicts? What literary devices, images, music, sound effects, props, will best serve these emotions?

Freedom to chart your own path comes at a cost maybe. I am trying to evoke excitement, drama, a sense of wonder and triumph in the face of the forces of oppression.

10. Create a chapter of a design bible for the world that contains colors, textures, images, lyrics and collections of written imagery and poetry that capture the emotional content of the Story World. Initial Design Bible

11. Create a piece of artwork that clearly establishes the tone of the game. Compose an instrumental piece of music that establishes the tone. Write the beginning of a short story or novel (up to two pages) whose primary purpose is to establish the tone of the world. Write a diary entry from the point of view of a character inhabiting the world; capture this character’s feelings in response to the world. Short Story page
Diary Entry

12. Use the tone list to come up with a one, two or three word description of the overall tone of the game.*

Celebratory, Intense, with a spice of the whimsical.

Lets begin

Well this is the first step in this grand experiment of world building. I am using Shakespeare and Dragons world building podcast as a guide. As I follow the podcast I will be completing the world building activities here in the Log. Eventually I hope to have a fully fleshed out setting.


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