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Thoughts about Platea, summary 1

compiled by LoZompatore

Very impressive! Nearly 40 replies within 48 hours from the start of this thread!

I suppose it's already time for a first summary of this fledgling setting
In the following there is mostly a "copy and paste" work of mine on all your posts, with a few edits on my side. I tried to isolate and order all the sentences of yours which helped define Platea, its features and its inhabitants. In the following list you will probably recognize many contributions of yours, now merged in a single document. I tried to include any single bit of info (please tell me if something important is missing!).

I hope this list would speed up searching info and help future developments.

After the list there are a few comments of mine and a couple of ideas on how to handle all this material as a single, coherent corpus.

 
General features / geographic descriptions:
- There's a pronounced fault scarp resulting the mountains rising rather abruptly from the lowlands. This could result in fairly regular earthquakes in the area.
- Most of those forests should actually be forested hills, the vegetation growing there due to an increase in moisture generated by orographic weather patterns. This could make the lowlands near the river rather arid with only the resulting surface water providing water for the vegetation holding the desert back.
- There is some sort of older tectonic setting where the hills are limited to a smallish strip of just the west parts of the forest (or north and west). This might even involve some sort of massive "benches" and/or scarps.
- It's magic/Immortal created/etc.
- Trees so old that they are 20 feet diameter and a hundred feet high.
- Davanian theme of (giant-)mammals. It could be used in an overall feeling of "little folks in a big world" to the setting. This could be combined with the massive tree idea.
- Davania/Platea should have an overall Africa/South America feel.
- A place were nature itself has turned against standard sentients - e.g. instead of treants your get gakkaraks.
- Hinmeet (from GAZF series) corresponds (at least in part) to the bottom left of the map (they are the Hidden Woods in Platea general map).
- The desert is going to be seen as the halfling notion of 'hell', because of both the environment and its inhabitants.

 
Settlements:
- Territory to be wild during the present Gaz-era, not populated by any real nation-states.
- A tribal structure or city-state type setup for this region, and for the halflings we could use this as the basis for clans and shires.
- Nation states might be too advanced, but certainly semi-stable communities, and perhaps even kingdoms might apply.
- The "civilised" region of Platea would naturally be sandwiched between the mountains and the river
- 2-3 "kingdoms/realms" nestled in the mountains or forested hills, extracting minerals and/or timber for export to the nations of the plains, which would be the local breadbasket.
- There would probably be some river trade, so there should be a few sizable towns on the river, and definitely a city in the hex where the waters meet. This city could be a city-state (surviving off of trade, and possibly renting its soldiers out as mercenaries whenever a war bubbles up), or it would be the capital of one of the more powerful states.
- 4-5 "kingdoms" in the plains area, for a total of 6-8 nations. You can reduce this by having one of the states be a petty empire, which would probably take up 1/4 to 1/3 of the territory.
- An hypotetical huge empire would logically expand to the Adakkian Sound, build a navy, and possibly become known to the larger world.
- Architectual influences on Buildings of some who settle in the region near to the abandoned Blackmoor steamtrain are long narrow dwellings (like a train carriage). Building Windows and Skylights are Circular Portholes.
- Lots of ancient ruins from bygone eras, situated at the crux of many forboding areas (the lizardmen/Carnifex-lite area of the NW, the desert lands of the Aryptian Desert, the nagpa and N'djatwa of the distant east, etc.).
- Ilsundal's Gate: From a distance it looks like a city, but in truth it is a huge power station combining technology with magic. It is guarded by 1000 feet high, 500 feet thick, steel walls which block access to the Great Fissure where the Dyr elves live. Further info available here [link no longer working].

 

Humans:
- Humans are minor players in the area.
- The human stock would likely be at least of partial Varellyan descent, at the very least some Neathar stock.
- Varellyan or any other Lhomarrian descendants.
- At least some of the humans in the area have some kind of Oltec blood in them simply, but there's room for others as well.
- Humans as an Oltec-Neathar mix (or have both of these separate and frequently skirmishing against each other, and perhaps with the halflings as well).
- Scattered and independent human tribes of Oltec and of Neathar which are perpetually threatened by skirmish attacks. This isn't all out war, or constant violence, but there always lies the threat of attack by surrounding tribes and there is nearly always some warfare occurring somewhere among the hundreds of tribes (usually consisting of only a single village).
- Oltecs from various migrations subsequent to those on the HW map: a likely candidate would be an offshoot of the Oltecs placed in Nieuw Bergdhoven/Cap Saimpt Renard.
- Some Neathar develop Carts as early as 2000 BC allowing movement of larger volumes of goods during migrations.
- Writing: Early Vulcanian Elven letters are adapted as post Neathar Pictograms in a form of writing (although it is still unrelated to elven).
remnants of the Milennians, Heldannic Knight explorers etc etc.
- Elves of the Dyr clan over-run by the Neathar Migration and forced out of the region. Some elves are taken hostage as slaves to Neathar warriors causing part elven bloodlines and the rise of a cast system where humans of 'Dyr Lineage' must live outside the city gates.
- Lhomarrians are possible, but any stock introduced to the region would have come long after the fall of their empire - i.e., refugees from the collapse.
- Varellyans: according to this timeline they expanded inland as far as the source of the Adakkian Sound, so they would have had at least some influence in the region. Varellyans were the chief reason for the halfling exodus to the north, but a large portion of demihumans stayed behind to protect their homeland.
- Other Humans: although the Milenian Empire was further north, explorers and settliers could have come this far and founded a few short-lived colonies, which would not likely have long survived the collapse of the empire.
- Humans are merely "exotic visitors" rather than having a significant presence. Leaving the north (of Davania) as the human-dominant area opens up the south for the more exotic Mystaran races (cats dogs and turtles plus, halfling, gnomes and elves).

 
Elves:
- Elves are minor players in the area.
- There may be a branch of elves living on the margins - descendants of some who decided to abandon the migration.
- Elves adopting the mountains behind the halfling's woodlands as their home. They could be a mountain-dwelling culture of elves.
- 2600BC: Ilsundal's Elves Migrate north from the old Hin Territories where they have spent the last two hundred years. Stragglers having caught up after the Desert Crossing.
- Ilsundal's elves migrating north abandon Blackmoor technology progressivly.
- Ilsundal's elves spend the time (200 years) divesting themselves of the last vestiges of Blackmoorish technology. Some of the elves decide that they have sacrificed enough of civilization to this fool's venture and that Ilsundal is an anti technology zealot (and the Dyl Clan not much better). The Dyr Clan decide to settle in and re-establish some degree of civilization.
- The Dyr Clan, abandons Ilsundal's migration and settles in to establish a farming community. They are later over-run by the Neathar Migration and forced out of the region. Some are taken hostage as slaves to neathar warriors causing part elven bloodlines and the rise of a cast system where humans of 'Dyr Lineage' must live outside the city gates.
- Elven stragglers (left over from either Ilsundal's migration of BC 2800 or the second migration of BC 2500) live there, although these folks would not have had many conflicts with the local halflings.

 

Halflings:
- The main and dominant race of the area are halflings.
- The area that has been boxed off for this project is definitely the area identified as halfling territory.
- As it is the original source of the halfling race there should be multiple halfling kingdoms.
- Old stock halflings - descendants of those who never left the homeland. These folk would speak a form of Lalor, and have their own unique culture.
- There should be some base common-ground from which both groups of halflings (Brunian & Davanian) developed. What influences drove these developments?
- Black/dark-skinned halflings, and being more of a tribal sort of culture than the mainland halflings of the Shires. Their history is tied to the Carnifex and/or Serpentines; such halflings were the possessors of lore handed down from generations of fighting against such creatures, and they were sort of the guardians against their reincursion into Mystara. Though they were more tribal, they weren't necessarily more primitive; in fact, their shamanic/mystical heritage would be much greater than the mainland halflings.
- Davanian halflings (or at least those near the desert) having contended with lizard/serpentine creatures with connections to the Carnifex.
- A tribal structure or city-state type setup for this region, and for the halflings we could use this as the basis for clans and shires.
- Nomadic groups of halflings that lived on and around the desert region there. There's a really gigantic area to play with, so there are probably multiple sorts of groups in the region.
- If they were to be pastoralist halflings, they could domesticate small antelopes or camels or something similar to these, rather than goats.
- Halflings riding gargantuan creatures (it has already been done in Eberron, nevertheless)
- The halflings thrive in a 'big' world without having to 'command' it. Let's give them adversity against which they have learned to survive by hiding at the right moment, attacking at the right moment, and negotiating at the right moment.
- Gargantuan Wooly Rhinos as domesticated anumals. On the back of them - a halfling clan's equipment and supplies, perhaps even a family hut.
- In the Five Shires there are some clans whose names seem less "modern" and possibly more "Lalor" in their word formation and sound, they could be used as the basis of the original clan names. Offhand, names like Zursannatch, Nixnoddle, Quaeromore, Xebel, Quizzinglas, Elintel, Lamintar, Ilingall, Upplemiir, and probably a couple of others sounded less like the "descriptive craft or cultural" type of clan names, and more like other languages.
- The word "Lalor" could just as well be the name of the halfling clan that flees north. ("Lalor" is canonically etymologically "Lal + Or" = "Old Speech").
- Lalor would be the Original Clan name. After 3600 years such a word would be the language the Old Folks spoke. More importantly It would have evolved or changed in the three and a half milennia of isolation.
- Halflings in the south (where giants are) have a Shaman (Master) who can use the Giantform spells (3rd Ed., 3.5 Ed., Pathfinder) at various ranks, so to wrestle/tame gargantuan wooly rhinos while in giant form. Hin Masters might create Bracers of Giant Form for their mightiest hin warriors.

 
Relationship between halflings and elves:
- Ilsundal shows up and tells the halflings the old world is coming to an end and they should embrace a new natural way of life before it is too late... all the while waving swords and spears. The Zealots attacking anything even slightly technological: "Yours is the false faith! Embrace Nature!"
- The arrival of Ilsundal's Elves in the south (having crossed the Great Desert) causes the Hin peoples a thousand miles north to flee north west. They have no intention fighting this coming horde of strangers.
- The elves are a thousand miles south (having just emerged from the Desert) when the halflings pack up and flee... They might be fleeing a rumor, or something real. If the halflings are nomads and primitives, the elves are hi-techs looking to divest themselves of that influence. That kind of zealotry can take many forms.
- The elves arrive in the region 2800BC in the south, and the halflings flee the arrival of the elves - not some other foe. The elves stick around and only depart the halfling lands in 200 years later.
- Either directly, or by pushing other more hostile peoples ahead of them into the Halfling Lands, Ilsundals Elves force the Halflings from their lands.
- We could describe the exodus as the entire group of clans picking up and moving to the north to escape the (real or imagined) ravening hordes of southern elves
- At present there is still a very viable "core" of halflings in that region, who remained all throughout this period. The elves' departure in 2600 BC was not because they were driven out (or had driven out the halflings) but simply because the elves themselves were still restless and wanting to find a land of their own, rather than encroach upon the lands of the halflings.
- Elven stragglers (left over from either Ilsundal's migration of BC 2800 or the second migration of BC 2500) live there as well, although these folks would not have had many conflicts with the local halflings.

 

Halfling migration:
- Some kind of threat would have shaped the lifestyle, mindset and possibly other characteristics of the local Halflings, and may as well be a major enemy or problem in the setting. How did it come to its end (if it ended)? There should be heroes involved, who would have taken a place in the local culture.
- A creature known as the Tall Mouther was described in Forgotten Realms setting. They are defined as being the "natural enemies" of the halflings of Faerun. Perhaps a huge population of these creatures were decimating the halfling populations and they had to flee.
- A gigantic version of the Tall Mouther woke from thousands of years of hibernation and was actually the source of an exodus. It's only gone now because it fell back into hibernation...
- Platea could have a connection to the Vulture Peninsula as a sort of analogy to the movie Dark Crystal (evil vulture-like creatures ruling the land, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Crystal), perhaps with some nagpa with umber hulk slaves terrorizing the halflings.
- Nagpas themselves aren't always evil, and aren't really devoted to Chaos as an ethos, either.
- Reasons for halfling seaborne migration could be fear of Ilsundal elves' foreigners, avoiding conflict with monster races being pushed ahead of the elves, or simply because they heeded Ilsundal's Call and departed on their own Journey north.
- It may be that elves drove the halflings out of their lands, forcing their seaborne migration, but in light of the elves' and halflings traditionally friendly ways (and given the way the halflings embrace the elves they find in the Shires later), it seems unlikely.
- The halfling migration northwards takes a considerably longer time than the elvish one (elves leaving the region in 2600 BC and arriving in Brun by 2200 BC; halflings leaving c.2800 and not arriving until 1500 BC). That can be interpreted many ways, but it seems like halflings were more leisurely about it, not feeling the pressure of needing to find somewhere new to live in the way the elves did.
- Not the entirety of the halfling nation that was moving, but rather just an isolated group of folks exploring and eventually finding its way to the Shires. - Varellyans were the chief reason for the halfling exodus to the north, but a large portion of demihumans stayed behind to protect their homeland. These halflings retreated to secluded valleys in the mountains while the Varellyans were there, and returned to the plains once the human empire began to fall apart. Any halflings living in the region today should be descended from these people.

 
Other races:
- The eastern desert should be filled with all manner of nasty critters to keep any single nation from becoming a huge empire.
- Dwarves should be essentially non-existent in this area.
- Platea could be a good place for tortles, rakasta, and lupins.
- A couple of rakasta "sub-races" live in Davania, probably in/near this area- are the sherkasta and simbasta.
- Rakastas as inhabitants of the region, or at least the outskirts: Rakastas of several breeds live in the Aryptian Savannah and the Brasol Range.
- The sis'thik in the desert would have been among the primary opponents of the halflings both historically (prompting the migration) and currently.
- The main antagonists of the halflings could be some kind of carnifex-spawn (the sis'thik could serve the role)
- Lizard men: there is the city of Klath-T'zarth at the southernmost point of the Sound. Geographically this is very close to Platea. This city was taken from its Carnifex masters by a large band of lizard men who lost their own homeland to the southwest around AC 400. The city was cleansed from old Carnifex cults, but hidden abominations could always resurface.
- Carnifex spawn, given the proximity of Yhog.
- Gnomes could be present, or at least regular visitors to the region.
- A creature known as the Tall Mouther was described in Forgotten Realms setting. They are defined as being the "natural enemies" of the halflings of Faerun. Perhaps a huge population of these creatures were decimating the halfling populations and they had to flee.
- A gigantic version of the Tall Mouther woke from thousands of years of hibernation and was actually the source of an exodus. It's only gone now because it fell back into hibernation...
- Gelflings = halfling + elf hybrids.
- Instead of treants your get gakkaraks.
- Giants are in the south of Platea.
- An entirely new race of wise, ancient mystics who oppose the nagpas and other groups when they seek to cause harm (loosely inspired to the urRu race of the Dark Crystal movie, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Crystal). Such a people could be a small, dwindling race of intelligent sand leviathans in the deserts of Platea, acting as mentors to the desert halflings and perhaps others, schooling them in mysticism (which might include the Mystic character class, but would be broader than just that) and other esoteric pursuits. As artificial creations of Thanatos, they either can't reproduce or they reproduce very slowly, requiring perhaps some alchemy that over the course of some centuries-long pupation transforms other races into beings like themselves. Calling them good might be an oversimplification. Its members might have a radical view of the afterlife that allows them to kill with impunity and in good conscience, but they're not aggressive or expansionist, and their powerful, patient presence has a stabilizing and ultimately benign effect over the region. They could be druids, perhaps, like the desert druids of Ylaruam. Some or all may be ultimately seeking Immortality via the Path of the Paragon, transforming the desert into something green and fertile or, alternately, trying to transform the green and fertile regions into clean, tranquil desert (which, after all, isn't devoid of life, and may be viewed by them as less chaotic and more peaceful than other environments). Maybe they're entirely responsible for the creation of the local desert. They have mental powers (not necessarily psionic) and servants and allies of other races who seek to reduce conflict throughout Platea, opposing nagpas and whatever other groups in the region that seek power for themselves at the expense of peace. They might particularly be useful as foes of the lizard races and incursions from the Dimension of Nightmares.

 

Other features:
- A few Artefacts of a Technological Nature in Platea, mostly discarded by Vulcanian elves migrating with Ilsundal.
- A steamtrain designed to cross the desert without rail-tracks is abandoned just north of the desert in the south east of Platea (2800BC).
- Timber, metal, and glass working technologies are quickly developed in centuries followinf the Great Rain of Fire, mostly due to elvish and halfling cultural influx.

 

History:
10000 BC: End of the Carnifex-Immortal War. The guardian races, giants, dragons and actaeons, inherited certain domains on Brun and central Davania.
5000 BC: A schism develops in Burrower society, with a small minority (perhaps inspired by other Immortals like Ixion or Pacuun, or perhaps they came to this conclusion on their own) electing to work with the Brute-Men and other primitive humanoids rather than against them, to uplift them to what they considered to be their own enlightened state rather than to merely control them. And this minority of Burrowers left the rest of their people and ended up in the deserts of what is now the Platea region of Davania, spared from the fate of their kin by their nonhostile philosophy.
4600 BC: Elves of the Pass travelled north beyond the Great Forest and ecountered halflings. The jointly settled region was called Hinmeet (or Elfmeet).
4300 BC: A continued exodus drew more elves from the Great Forest. These Wanderer Clans, as they became known, slowly moved north along the eastern Davanian Coast, occasionally establishing settlements during their journeys. Many Hin accompanied the Wanderers.
3000 BC: The Great Rain of Fire.
2800 BC: Elves of Ilundal's migration reach Platea, they settle there for 200 years. Halflings start migrating in the Addakian Sound.
2600 BC: The migration of Ilsundal leaves Platea and surroundings and moves north. Halflings groups may follow.
2500 BC: A second separatist wave of elves leaves the dying settlements of Vulcania and moves north.
1300 BC: Halfling migration from the Addakian Sound area reaches Faerdinel (the present-time Five Shires) and settles there. In truth, the HW entry about this migration states that: "The halflings from the southern continent, long abandoned by their friends the elves, and increasingly endangered by the ever-growing human population, make a mass naval migration to the northern continent." This entry is later contradicted by Champions of Mystara: Explorer's Manual entry abouth Yavdlom history, where it is stated that the halfling migration was already in Thanegia Island as of BC 1500. As the starting point of this migration is not stated in HW entry, we could say that the sentence about the "halfling of the southern continent" is referring to halfling living anywhere in Davania, not necessarily at the Kenaron river region (where they started their migration in BC2800).

 
Comments:

 
Let's figure out how slow is actually the halfling migration: they took 1500 years to move from central Davania (let's say at 30S) to the Five Shires (let's say at 30N) their path being approx. half a circle.
As 1= 54 miles on the global maps of Mystara, the halfling crossed about 5100 miles (about 8100 km) in total.

This means that the average speed of such a migration is 3.4 miles/year (about 5.5 km/year). You can easily cover such a distance with a stroll of an hour.

Such a slow pace necessarily implies that halflings actually made very long stops (decades or centuries long) in a lot of places along the route, building bases, towns (countries?) and trading with other communities and with the motherland. Stragglers would have had plenty of time to catch up with the vanguards, while groups who abandoned the motherland in a later time could easily merge with those who moved earlier.
In my opinion - more than a migration - it seems to me the halflings embarked on a prolonged colonization effort along the Addakian Sound and the western coast of Davania. Fort this reason I don't think that there should be a single leading cause to their migration. Instead, it could be that isolated halfling groups decided to move west when things got worse in their original territories (external enemies, monsters, famine, exile dictated by another faction, etc.)
We could assume that all the causes mentioned by the community actually happened during the 1500 years of halfling migration(s). So we would have halfling groups leaving due to Ilsundal zealots in BC2800; other groups moved with Ilsundal answering to his Call in BC 2600; then we could have human invaders from Varellya, a surge of Tall Mouthers led by a gargantuan specimen, further Varellyan invaders (nagpas with umber hulks, this time) and periodical skirmishes with the sis'thiks of the desert and other Carnifex spawns. And so on...

Incidentally, I think that such an approach would also be useful to fill Platea's history during the 2800-1300 BC era.
Talking about history, even if now there is no large empire or unified governement, such a country (or more than one) could have existed in the past and then it fell, decayed or fragmented into smaller units.

 
Another important note about map size. As many already noticed, the depicted region is very big, some 130 hexes of 72 mile/hex size, for a total area of about 600'000 square miles (same size of Mongolia, 1/6 of the USA or about six times the UK), so I suppose there is room enough to include all the
races/cultures/settlements listed above in the setting.
More specifically:

- The map shows a mountain chain which is about 650 miles long: I suppose we could include all the mentioned geographical features (maybe scaled down a bit): there could be an area of rolling wooded hills who slowly narrows into a thin strip close to the mountains until the hills abruptly disappear sustituted by a deep fault scarp which separates the mountains and the plain/forest.

- Humans might be for sure a minority in the region. Moreover, they could be restricted to small areas in the map (namely, the easternmost belt and the southeastern corner) while most of the land would be populated only with demihumans and humanoid races (human enclaves in such areas would be made of traders, adventurers, war prisoners/slaves and mercenaries). Given the sheer size of the map, even human populated areas can be as large as a fiefdom or a as city state with its surroundings.