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Constructing the West in 3e

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  • #31
    Something I included in my west game was an "island" based on the Channelwood age from Myst. It was a patch of freshwater situated in the middle of the ocean with many huge trees growing out of it and a wooden city built high up in the branches. They sold lumber, mainly tall trees for masts, because importing the same trees from the East was much more expensive.

    If you include it, you should probably add on a powerful spirit who prevents overharvesting of the trees, otherwise the Guild would have impressed the locals into slavery and clear cut the forest by now.

    For reference: http://www.mystwiki.com/wiki/Channelwood


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    • #32
      Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
      Why do people keep assuming 1400s-1500s sailing tech for people in Creation when nearly every* source material covers a time period hundreds, if not thousands of years earlier?
      We "assume" nothing. We base this upon previous setting materiel, which supersedes inspirational source materiel in every way. Savage Seas explicitly gives us blue-water sailing ships between fifty and two hundred feet long with advanced rig types, multiple decks, and generous cargo holds. Making the real-world "Ming Dynasty" parallel isn't out of line here.

      They aren't European Age of Sail style ships, they're not galleons or caravels or carracks. But they would not be out of place in any of the Treasure Fleets of Zheng He.

      Now, sure. That's 1e. As setting materiel supersedes source materiel, new editions supersede prior editions.

      But while 2e and 3e didn't give us another sailing book, they both, as far as I know, still posit that trade with the West is a large-scale endeavor that isn't unacceptably risky, and they also posit large ships that can make the voyage reliably and carry large amounts of cargo.

      This requires sailing technology more advanced than was produced in the ancient world. Oh sure; you could cross wide, wide swathes of ocean with what we'd regard as fairly primitive technology if you knew what you were doing. The Polynesians did it, as did the Vikings. But even those guys did not usually jump across one or two thousand miles of open ocean in a single go, and their ships cargo capacities can charitably be described as "lacking." But if you want to trade many tons of cargo across thousands of miles open ocean with a reasonable degree of safety, you require stuff more advanced than that.

      However: this doesn't mean you requires sailing technology more advanced than what the ancient world was capable of producing. The Roman Empire by and large did not NEED blue-water sailing technology; the Mediterranean is a placid lake compared to the Atlantic. But they could have easily developed it had they needed it; the learning and technological base was absolutely there. Similarly, China, India, and Japan didn't really have a huge pressing need for it, so they developed it more slowly than they could have developed it as well.

      There are multiple decently-advanced civilizations and organizations (the Guild) that have an immense impetus to cross the trackless depths of the Great Western Ocean to trade for or plunder the great riches found in the island nations there. And the Realm is, you know, technically an island nation itself; it relies on crossing oceans to keep the tribute flowing. One imagines that they take their naval infrastructure really, really dang seriously.

      So I don't think I'm out of line in assuming "the Realm, the Guild, and other advanced sea-going organizations that want to ship tons of goods to the west and receive tons of goods back are fielding big merchant ships with multiple decks that are between one and two hundred feet long with deep drafts and advanced rigging. Because the aesthetics of this setting are for the most part very eastern, these ships and that rigging will probably be junks and have capabilities similar to real-world junks, which in turn can usually be compared well with their European counterparts; the European Voyages of Discovery could easily have been carried out by their eastern equivalents."

      We can quibble on exact dates, but I don't think anywhere from between the 10th-15th century China as a real-world analogue is out of line here.

      I am somewhat curious as to why you think this, tho. What's wrong with ships not only being advanced enough to both make the commercial underpinnings of the setting make logical sense, but also to give us additional options? For them to have large crews full of colorful characters? For them to have the cargo capacity for you to fill a big hold with booty or to undertake a long voyage out of sight of land? For there to be Merchant Princes who command hundreds of ships with thousands of tons of cargo in their bellies? For it to be safe enough to take ship to or from the West without everyone regarding you as a giant idiot who is going to die?

      Like, what's the actual downside here?


      "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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      • #33
        Murcushio, I’ll find it when I get home and can do a proper control F for it, but I believe the devs in the Ask dev thread said explicitly that the vast majority of Realm ships were biremes and triremes, which would seem to me to belay a idea of Age Of Sail it even the treasure fleets of Zheng hi. I could be totally be wrong but that I think is where thecountalucard is coming from.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Saipjas View Post
          Murcushio, I’ll find it when I get home and can do a proper control F for it, but I believe the devs in the Ask dev thread said explicitly that the vast majority of Realm ships were biremes and triremes, which would seem to me to belay a idea of Age Of Sail it even the treasure fleets of Zheng hi. I could be totally be wrong but that I think is where thecountalucard is coming from.
          I recall numbers like that from previous editions as well; Grabowski got into numbers with GUTB back in the day.

          But raw numbers tell us very little. Just because most ships aren't sailing ships designed for blue-water travel isn't necessarily dispositive that sailing ships designed for blue-water travel exist, yes? The vast majority of the Realm's use-cases are going to involve coastal work around the Blessed Isle or quick jaunts across the Inland Sea for more coastal and/or river work. For that, the galley is ideal.

          (Also, context matters. "The Realm" as in "the govenrment of the Realm" is mostly gonna own warships. Of course warships are gonna be galleys, they're SUPERB for that in a world without cannonballs.)

          But there are other use-cases, and presumably the Realm designs and builds ships around those use-cases, as do others. Because... you would not want to take an ancient-era galley out onto anything like the Great Western Ocean. You would not. They aren't designed for that. You could take more modern galley designs out there; the galley had a long and illustrious career well into the 16th century. But oh oh, the 16th century! Now we're into Age of Sail technology again, which is apparently verboten.

          Galleys also aren't very good cargo ships comparatively. They were certainly used for that, but all those rowers and all the supplies they required really cut down on cargo space. They're not suitable for very long voyages without stopping, either; the lack of cargo space hampers your supplies.

          More to the point... what's wrong with wanting to set sail into the West on a sailing ship that sails, and have it not be an immensely stupid risk? What's the actual downside there, either in-universe or out-of-universe? What actual problems does Eagle's Launch having a whole bunch of one or two hundred foot junk-rigged sailing ships that either just got in from the west or are about to head back out there cause?


          "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Saipjas View Post
            Murcushio, I’ll find it when I get home and can do a proper control F for it, but I believe the devs in the Ask dev thread said explicitly that the vast majority of Realm ships were biremes and triremes, which would seem to me to belay a idea of Age Of Sail it even the treasure fleets of Zheng hi. I could be totally be wrong but that I think is where thecountalucard is coming from.
            The vast majority of the Realm's ships are galleys, because the vast majority of the Realm's maritime traffic remains within the confines of the relatively placid Inland Sea. The Realm also maintains blue-water sailing vessels for traversing the more tempestuous White Sea and Great Western Ocean.


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            • #36
              Murcushio, all I was trying to provide a rational, not placing a value judgement one way or the other (didn’t think I had a dog in the fight. As to why the people take issue with the age of sail and golden age of piracy it might be because they see the setting more in the vein of sand and sandal style of galleys than the age of sail and all the baggage it brings with it. (Speculating). (And yes I know that galeon style transports were in vogue through much of the Middle Ages and junk style craft before then in Asia). I get you can be frustrated (atleast how it comes out through the text) but I think Eric Minton settles the matter just fine imo.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Eric Minton View Post

                Whelk the Younger and Shigira Mizue were both in the original draft for the Antagonists chapter, but were cut for space. The Blue Shadow appears in Hundred Devils Night Parade. The other NPCs named above appear in the 3e core book. (Well, except for Okita.)
                Thanks a bunch Eric. Also is there any petty-king/aristocrat/vizier QC in the works. I would guess it mimght certainly be tweakable for Okita among others.

                As an aside, one of the first major antagonists i remember meeting in a 3e game was basically Blue Shadow with a ancestor-cult/guerrilla group to add further trouble in the archipelago the game was set into.
                Last edited by Baaldam; 11-14-2017, 05:53 PM.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
                  We base this upon previous setting materiel, which supersedes inspirational source materiel in every way. Savage Seas explicitly gives us blue-water sailing ships between fifty and two hundred feet long with advanced rig types, multiple decks, and generous cargo holds.
                  "Multiple decks and generous cargo holds" was not something that took until the fifteenth century to puzzle out; indeed, the Chinese "castle ships" were built almost a thousand years before the birth of Christ.

                  Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
                  They aren't European Age of Sail style ships, they're not galleons or caravels or carracks. But they would not be out of place in any of the Treasure Fleets of Zheng He.
                  The advances that had come about by the time of Zheng He would probably mean his ships were rather sturdier than the ones you see in-setting.

                  Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
                  But while 2e and 3e didn't give us another sailing book, they both, as far as I know, still posit that trade with the West is a large-scale endeavor that isn't unacceptably risky, and they also posit large ships that can make the voyage reliably and carry large amounts of cargo.
                  I can't tell for sure if you understand the gist of my argument, because it looks like you think I somehow am disputing the presence of big ships, as opposed to advanced ones.

                  Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
                  This requires sailing technology more advanced than was produced in the ancient world.
                  Again, the Chinese had pretty sizable ships nearly three thousand years ago.

                  Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
                  However: this doesn't mean you requires sailing technology more advanced than what the ancient world was capable of producing.
                  So why bother with throwing in references to the 1400s where they don't belong?

                  Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
                  I am somewhat curious as to why you think this, tho. What's wrong with ships not only being advanced enough to both make the commercial underpinnings of the setting make logical sense, but also to give us additional options?
                  I am somewhat curious as to why you want to put words in my mouth. Why try and act like I'm against options, diverse characters, or the existence of merchant princes, when history itself proves that ships were advanced enough to "make the commercial underpinnings of the setting make logical sense" more than a thousand years before the dates you provided, and what's wrong with wanting to stick with that?
                  Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 11-14-2017, 09:14 PM.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Saipjas View Post
                    Murcushio, all I was trying to provide a rational, not placing a value judgement one way or the other (didn’t think I had a dog in the fight. As to why the people take issue with the age of sail and golden age of piracy it might be because they see the setting more in the vein of sand and sandal style of galleys than the age of sail and all the baggage it brings with it. (Speculating). (And yes I know that galeon style transports were in vogue through much of the Middle Ages and junk style craft before then in Asia). I get you can be frustrated (atleast how it comes out through the text) but I think Eric Minton settles the matter just fine imo.
                    Speaking as someone who does take emphatic issue with introducing the age of sail, you've pretty much hit the nail on the head. Having an Indiaman or frigate's rigging looming over the Arabian-Nights docks of Chiarascuro is like having somebody show up at a reenactment in Nikes, or a cell phone going off in the middle of a symphony - not only is it grating and obviously wrong, it's wrong in a way that rubs your nose in the fact that whoever was responsible didn't respect you, or respect the game, enough to care. It's shoddy workmanship, as worldbuilding goes, and Exalted is better than that.


                    Iä! Iä! Moe fthagn!

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                    • #40
                      All I know for sure about the West in my games is that somewhere in the new stretches of sea, there's a small archipelago where the natives live protected from outside threats, by their Guardian. Nobody's sure where he came from. If he is a God that illegally took the position of island guardian and Heaven has bigger problems than one God. Perhaps he was simply once a normal crab that grew fat and strong from the prayers and offerings of the natives, and built himself a shell from the treasure of countless sunken vessels.

                      Legend says he hasn't always been so glam. That he was a drab little crab, once. But nowadays he's as happy as a clam, because he's beautiful, baby.
                      Last edited by Kyman201; 11-14-2017, 11:15 PM.


                      Disclaimer: I'll huff, grump, and defend my position, but if you're having fun I'll never say you're doing it wrong.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                        "Multiple decks and generous cargo holds" was not something that took until the fifteenth century to puzzle out; indeed, the Chinese "castle ships" were built almost a thousand years before the birth of Christ.
                        And they were, as far as I know, not reliably capable of crossing two to three thousand miles of open ocean.

                        I can't tell for sure if you understand the gist of my argument, because it looks like you think I somehow am disputing the presence of big ships, as opposed to advanced ones.
                        Because we're not just talking "large" here. We're talking "large, sail-based, capable of reliable extended blue-water sailing." Those three things together require a fair amount of advanced shipbuilding. The rigging necessary to make extended blue-water voyaging on a large ship safe and reliable over the long haul (one and a half to two months) is fairly advanced, as is the hull technology.

                        So why bother with throwing in references to the 1400s where they don't belong?
                        This is a lack of clarity on my part. When I say "the ancient world was capable of producing this level of sailing technology" what I mean was "they had sufficiently smart people and the technological base already in-place to have brought it all together if things had fallen out that way; they just didn't." There are plenty of modern and near-modern technological innovations you could knock together in the ancient world in a couple months with the appropriate plans and a bunch of educated craftsman of the era using only what they had available.

                        As opposed to something, like, say, building a modern container ship. The ancient world was not capable of building something like that, period, without actually re-making their entire infrastructure from the ground up in a massive societal engineering project, I don't think.

                        In a more general sense; the 1400s were when we first started undertaking long blue-water sailing expeditions in large cargo-bearing ships on a large scale in a serious way, and that really took off in the 1500s.

                        So when issues like "how long can you go without re-watering" come up, and you go looking for empirical examples, it isn't going to be out of line to go "well, you had people making this equivalent-distance journey in this year in ships roughly equivalent, at least in terms of speed, and THIS is how long they could get by without water, and THIS is how they warded off scurvy."

                        And you can't pull out an example from the Roman Empire or the Han Dynasty for that. You have to go to the 1400s or so. Doing so doesn't seem out of line.

                        I am somewhat curious as to why you want to put words in my mouth. Why try and act like I'm against options, diverse characters, or the existence of merchant princes, when history itself proves that ships were advanced enough to "make the commercial underpinnings of the setting make logical sense" more than a thousand years before the dates you provided, and what's wrong with wanting to stick with that?
                        I don't think you've made the case that those ships which existed in the real world in the 400s were sufficiently advanced to make the commercial underpinnings of the setting make sense. And even were they, the 400s would be well after the time of the Iliad or the Odyssey, which you explicitly referenced. I am far from an expert in this subject, but I don't think you're one either, and I do know a fair bit. I think you'd at least need to get to the 10th century or so.

                        Now, perhaps I'm wrong about this. But I don't think I am, and if I'm NOT wrong, it means that being against ships that were more advanced than what they had in the ancient world of the Iliad and the Odyssey does in fact mean being against the commercial underpinnings of the setting making sense. That's not putting words in your mouth; that's disputing your basic premises.

                        But having said all that... I ask again, what, precisely is lost, or caused to be problematic, with Ming or Song Dynasty equivalent level ships being something in wide use in Creation? Savage Seas certainly posits ships of that level, and I don't seem to recall this being considered one of the howling failures of 1e. What's the actual thematic, narrative, or in-setting downside here?

                        I mean, the treasure fleets of Zheng He seem like something that is hella Realm and also hella Guild. Savage Seas never really got to this level, although it did kind of nod in that direction, as did other resources that had sailing-related matters in them. The Realm as an empire is the worlds premiere seagoing power. Wanting to put together huge armadas of big-ass awesome ships whose purpose is to carry whole armies and whole nations worth of booty around is something they'd really want to do, and I think they have the infrastructure to pull it off.

                        There's that picture earlier in the thread of an enormous junk toodling along next to a tiny a little caravel. I think ships of that nature, minus the caravel (Arabian equivalents would be okay) would work excellently within the setting. Especially since the setting already has actual-factual produced by mortal hands without magic airships in it and that doesn't seem to have fucked it up, so who are we fooling here, really?

                        So again, what's the downside here? That's not snark, it's a genuine question.
                        Last edited by Murcushio; 11-14-2017, 11:39 PM.


                        "SEX NOVA is the kind of person who, after being chosen as the divine champion of the god of heroes, decided to call himself SEX NOVA."

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Valles View Post
                          Speaking as someone who does take emphatic issue with introducing the age of sail, you've pretty much hit the nail on the head. Having an Indiaman or frigate's rigging looming over the Arabian-Nights docks of Chiarascuro is like having somebody show up at a reenactment in Nikes, or a cell phone going off in the middle of a symphony - not only is it grating and obviously wrong, it's wrong in a way that rubs your nose in the fact that whoever was responsible didn't respect you, or respect the game, enough to care. It's shoddy workmanship, as worldbuilding goes, and Exalted is better than that.

                          Earlier, when I used the term badwrongfun, I was using it in jest. You're straight up accusing people who use Age of Sail aesthetics as 'obviously wrong', not to mention disrespecting the game and yourself! I think that's unreasonable.

                          I think that this argument stems from a mutual misunderstanding. It seems to me that Murcushio wasn't making a reference to sailing technology, but rather sailing culture. Long voyages, like the ones that cross the Great Western Ocean, are more similar in scope to the Atlantic voyages of the 1500s than the Kings of Greece's trip across the Aegean Sea. The technology might be more primitive, without the hyper-complicated multi-layered rigging and banks of cannons (I think little catapults loaded with casks of firedust do the job quite nicely), but the journeys are much longer and required different types of ships.

                          I also think it's in bad faith to put words into someone else's mouth. Mercushio made no mention of Indiamans or frigates in their posts, so I don't think that comparison is entirely justified.


                          In the interest of keeping this thread pointed more towards inspiration for constructing the West, I've been building up a big folder of real-world ships that I'd like to post. These ships hail from multiple historical eras, so I doubt they're all perfect fits for Creation, but it's been a lot of fun gathering them up.

                          I've got some biremes and triremes, with all the bells and whistles.





                          Also a monster ship, to round out the upper ends of Realm war-fleets.



                          I have a lot more images, but I don't want to flood the thread just yet. Also, the forum won't let me post more than like, 4 images at once.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by KymmetheSeventh View Post
                            Earlier, when I used the term badwrongfun, I was using it in jest. You're straight up accusing people who use Age of Sail aesthetics as 'obviously wrong', not to mention disrespecting the game and yourself! I think that's unreasonable.
                            Hmm.

                            You're right. As far as the actual, ultimate goal of any game goes - as far as having fun goes - there isn't a wrong way to do it, so long as everyone at the table is on the same page about things. I allowed my passion for worldbuilding and utter disappointment with Savage Seas to drive me to an excessively broad phrasing, which was wrong. I should not assume that the difference between stage paint and the use of real working models for set construction is as obvious and relevant to everyone as it is to me. Mea culpa, I apologize.

                            Originally posted by KymmetheSeventh View Post
                            I think that this argument stems from a mutual misunderstanding. It seems to me that Murcushio wasn't making a reference to sailing technology, but rather sailing culture. Long voyages, like the ones that cross the Great Western Ocean, are more similar in scope to the Atlantic voyages of the 1500s than the Kings of Greece's trip across the Aegean Sea. The technology might be more primitive, without the hyper-complicated multi-layered rigging and banks of cannons (I think little catapults loaded with casks of firedust do the job quite nicely), but the journeys are much longer and required different types of ships.

                            I also think it's in bad faith to put words into someone else's mouth. Mercushio made no mention of Indiamans or frigates in their posts, so I don't think that comparison is entirely justified.
                            I've been only vaguely following the thread up until now; I have little idea what Merc has or hasn't been saying before Saipjas' comment caught my eye as deserving of answer in some detail. 'Indiamen and frigates' was a reference to older conversations where people have argued, in full seriousness, that naval combat and sea travel without cannon broadsides and square rigging were impossible to make interesting and should be replaced with Errol Flynn.

                            The absurdity still sears, like the heartburn of a bad Mexican restaurant.

                            Originally posted by KymmetheSeventh View Post
                            In the interest of keeping this thread pointed more towards inspiration for constructing the West, I've been building up a big folder of real-world ships that I'd like to post. These ships hail from multiple historical eras, so I doubt they're all perfect fits for Creation, but it's been a lot of fun gathering them up.
                            My favored source for long-range Western voyages is Polynesia. Ignoring the irrelevant calendar dates, it's a case study in quite small societies constructing entirely deliberate voyages of trade and colonization far out of sight of land, using tools that were literally neolithic. Using Disney's Moana as reference is a good idea as a serious suggestion, as well as a quick joke.

                            Pull in some Chinese and Malay seafarers and shipbuilding as Realm influences, and you're well started.

                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C5%8Dk%C5%ABle%CA%BBa
                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polynesian_navigation
                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinas_(ship)


                            Iä! Iä! Moe fthagn!

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                            • #44
                              Now for some reason i'm having this funky idea of a trireme where the oars are rowed by some sort of windmill-esque contraption, possibly powered by one air elemental or some other convenient spirit one could get interested into nearly endless movement of some sort.

                              Yes, maybe a little too close to propellers & paddlewheels, but the romans did occasionally use animal-powered ones and is certainly within the reach and realm of reason for the occasional sorcerer. Or a magic compass that synchronizes/attracts a ship towards the path of that one special line of travel/journey, hmmm....
                              Last edited by Baaldam; 11-15-2017, 05:26 AM.

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                              • #45
                                I think that at least Realm does have most of the knowledge and capabilities of the First Age as far as non-artifact ships are concerned. They should be easily capable to build junk ships capable of long journeys.

                                Also Creation has magic: The water does not spoil, because of either sorcerous working or thaumaturgic treatment. Your ship will always catch the wind in the sails from the right direction. You can use demons to row your ship, they don't tire, they don't need to eat, ...

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