fmitchell
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Nations in the Mythic North

Sun 05 Apr 2020, 04:51

The (draft) Mythic North map includes territories that in our 19th century belonged to an independent Denmark (halfway through the century), a semi-independent Norway (which consciously uncoupled from Sweden shortly after century's end), and the Russian Empire (Finland and the present-day Balkan states lost during the Finnish War and Great Northern War, respectively).

Now the Mythic North is explicitly not historical Scandinavia, and as always Your Mythic North Will Differ. But I wonder how other GMs plan to handle issues like:
  • different languages in these areas -- notably Finnish, Russian, and Prussian German -- given that the (alpha) rules as written have no "language" skill?
  • border controls, which may have been looser in previous centuries but I would wager not wholly absent?
  • tensions between nations, notably (checks Wikipedia) the Second Schleswig War between Denmark and Prussia?
Again, one could hand-wave all those differences away and assume a continued Swedish Empire rules the whole region and everyone speaks Swedish, or else a wholly anachronistic Euro-zone, or simply never venture far from Uppsala or Stockholm. Sooner or later, though, players will get curious about all those other places on the map. What would you tell them?
Frank Mitchell

HILDA: This isn't much of a pep talk. Can't you say, 'you can do it!'
ALFUR: Sure! You can do it! (Statement for encouragement purposes only. You may not actually be able to do it.)
-- Hilda ep. 9 (Netflix, 2018)
 
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Daïna
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Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Sun 05 Apr 2020, 12:50

If I remember correctly, the BG on the alpha version states that there are, indeed, tensions between nations, and strangers are viewed with suspicion. 
I'd say you can rule language according to BG (a sailor or a scholar are more prone to know various languages than, say, a local hunter), and you have to show borders, but not prevent the PCs to go in other countries. Just make it clear they're leaving an area for another, and they won't be greeted as they would have been in Sweden. That's what I plan to do. 
 
fmitchell
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Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Mon 06 Apr 2020, 08:21

As I was looking into the history of 19th century Scandinavia, I also followed some historical threads that made the other regions interesting places to visit, e.g. the Northern Crusades against pagans in the Baltic States, and how those crusaders, notably the Teutonic Knights, founded the state of Prussia. (One of Vaesen's running themes -- Christianity and/or modernity vs. pagan spirits and the "old ways" -- has slightly different expressions in the "edge countries".) If I get a Vaesen campaign that runs long enough, maybe the player characters can hunt werewolves in Latvia, or hunt down a holy relic in the Teutonic Knights' former stronghold of Koenigsberg, or find themselves in a multi-way cold war between Finnish nationalists, Russian authorities, and the Finnish equivalents of nisse and vaettir.

Plus international tensions and cultural differences do make mysteries more challenging. Just ask Jonathan Harker.

As to languages, I'd be tempted to hand-wave it unless it made the story more interesting. Sweden conquered most of the area at some point or another, and from what I understand Danish and Norwegian are roughly similar to Swedish, so I'll assume players have little trouble speaking with people on the coasts and in larger towns. (Maybe less so in Prussia.) If I wanted to leave communication wholly to chance, I might give a PC a single "language check", probably either raw Reason or Empathy (whichever is higher) with a possible +1 or more modifier depending on background. Success means the player can at least stumble through the language, with more successes indicating fluency. Failure means they never learned the language, and would have to spend at least a few months of study before they can attempt their next "language check".
Frank Mitchell

HILDA: This isn't much of a pep talk. Can't you say, 'you can do it!'
ALFUR: Sure! You can do it! (Statement for encouragement purposes only. You may not actually be able to do it.)
-- Hilda ep. 9 (Netflix, 2018)
 
Byrax
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Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Mon 06 Apr 2020, 10:50

"I'd be tempted to hand-wave it unless it made the story more interesting." Agree. Languages as specific skills for characters is rarely used (if ever) in my experience to motivate the hassle.
 
fmitchell
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Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Tue 07 Apr 2020, 04:05

Re: languages in RPGs: maybe you could make an argument for listing which languages a character speaks, perhaps rated by fluency. Since a tabletop role-playing game is basically conversation punctuated by die rolls, it's kind of counterproductive to make part of that conversation contingent on a good die roll.

More generally, if players don't know the language, face uncooperative villagers, are accosted by officials demanding papers, or encounter other impediments to solving their Mystery, it's better that the GM build that into the scenario -- and give the players ample warning -- rather than have players fail randomly because the dice aren't with them. (Which, in the Year Zero Engine, often they aren't.) I guess how strongly those factors come into play will depend on how far characters travel from their home base and how well players handle those challenges when they're closer to home.
Frank Mitchell

HILDA: This isn't much of a pep talk. Can't you say, 'you can do it!'
ALFUR: Sure! You can do it! (Statement for encouragement purposes only. You may not actually be able to do it.)
-- Hilda ep. 9 (Netflix, 2018)
 
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Daïna
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Location: France

Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Tue 07 Apr 2020, 08:11

I fully agree to the "no dice roll for languages" thing. All this can be role-played and handled by the GM. 
 
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Vader
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Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Tue 28 Apr 2020, 00:03

It should be noted that visually, the map clearly isn't a mid-19th century map, but a 17th century map.

One would hardly expect a map that looks that way to depict 19th century nation lines.

Now, why the Society uses a map that is two centuries out of date... I am most eager to find out!
I am quite confident there is a good reason, and that it won't be just "oh, this is actually what the game world's Scandinavia looks like... the resemblance to 17th century cartography is sheer coincidence."
- They're a bit like Facehuggers, aren't they?
- Face ... huggers?
- Yeah, you know. Alien.
- ...?
- The horror movie, Alien.
- There's a horror movie called Alien?? That's really offensive! No wonder everyone keeps invading you.
 
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Vader
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Location: The Frozen North

Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Thu 04 Jun 2020, 11:50

On this topic -- has anyone managed to find (or invent) a rationalisation for why the game's Mythic North map is drawn like a map from 200 years before the game's nominal era?

I assumed the game would provide some exciting reason for this -- such as the map being some magic relic of the Society with special powers, or that it contains some Society-specific information that has never since been updated into a more modern map -- but so far, I haven't found any reference to the map one way or the other anywhere. As far as I can see, we're just handed this 200-year discrepancy with no comment or explanation (meaning we're free to handle it however we like, of course).
- They're a bit like Facehuggers, aren't they?
- Face ... huggers?
- Yeah, you know. Alien.
- ...?
- The horror movie, Alien.
- There's a horror movie called Alien?? That's really offensive! No wonder everyone keeps invading you.
 
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Daïna
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Joined: Thu 28 Nov 2019, 08:45
Location: France

Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Thu 04 Jun 2020, 12:10

Yes, but have thought of this, and I came up with this explanation for my players: the map is an old relic from the remains of the old Society library, that they can find in Gyllencreutz with a bit of digging. It’s important to keep this old map in addition to newer maps because it shows the land as it was before industrial era, therefore it can be used to explain why some Vaesen begin to stir, because their land’s shape is changing all the sudden.
You compare the map to newer maps and that allows you to know what has changed and why Vaesen are disturbed.
 
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Vader
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Re: Nations in the Mythic North

Fri 05 Jun 2020, 09:42

Yes, but have thought of this, and I came up with this explanation for my players: the map is an old relic from the remains of the old Society library, that they can find in Gyllencreutz with a bit of digging. It’s important to keep this old map in addition to newer maps because it shows the land as it was before industrial era, therefore it can be used to explain why some Vaesen begin to stir, because their land’s shape is changing all the sudden.
You compare the map to newer maps and that allows you to know what has changed and why Vaesen are disturbed.
.
That's a brilliant one!
- They're a bit like Facehuggers, aren't they?
- Face ... huggers?
- Yeah, you know. Alien.
- ...?
- The horror movie, Alien.
- There's a horror movie called Alien?? That's really offensive! No wonder everyone keeps invading you.

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