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Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture
History ideas
history, hierophant, Numa

So now that we've gotten are first look at 2E Theah, I have some ideas about the history and tweaks to the present I want to share.  One major change is that rather than "no Hierophant" in the present, which is a bit too similar to the lack of an Eisen Imperator plot for my own purposes, I went with moving the "Avignon Captivity"/"Western Schism" to the 17th Century...

  • Modern Iksander was the Ancient City of Parth.  Numa fought three great “Parthic Wars”.  The first was a naval battle for control of the Widow Sea that Numa won.  The second was a land invasion of Theah by Parth, up through the mountains of Ussura using mammoths.  After a Thermapoly-style standoff, Numa successfully repelled the invasion of the Vodacce mainland.  The third was Numa’s siege of Parth itself (Trojan War based).  Caius Phillipus Mercer was the victorious general, who returned to Numa on the shield of his forces, lifted up as Imperator.  The Senators strike the Bargain in response (creating the Porte and Sorte bloodlines at very least).  The monarch of Ussura today is called the Caius after the vanquisher of the Parthic Empire, and the Imperator who reigned at odds with the Senators the First Prophet spoke against.
  • Imperator Constance of the Western Empire combines the roles of Charlemagne and Constantine.  He accepted the Second Prophet, calling a great Council of the Church to justify the teachings of the First and Second Prophets together.  He also launched the First Crusade against what became the Crescent Empire in response to the death of the Second Prophet.  The royal families of western Theah all claim some degree of descent from him.
  • Jacob Heilgrund de Aldana replaces "Reifenstahl" in the setting as Imperator Jacob V of the Holy Republic, and King Jacobo II of Castille.  He assumed the title of King-Consort of Avalon through marriage to Queen Margaret (Elaine’s elder, devoutly Vaticine, half-sister).  He waged the 30 Years War, during which an Objectionist rebellion forced him and Margaret to flee Avalon, resulting in a fanatically-Objectionist Protectorate on the island.  They spent the next 10 years in Castille building an armada capable of reclaiming Avalon.  Before it could be used however (though not before a failed Castillian-backed bomb plot against the Protectorate), Margaret passed away from natural causes.  When she did, Elaine reappeared in Avalon with the Graal – at the same time that the Lord Protector was leading Objectionist forces to colonize Inismore.  Elaine and the returning Sidhe threw their support behind Mad Jack O’Bannon, who beat the Lord Protector to death in man-to-man combat.  Shortly there-after, O’Bannon and King James MacDuff recognized Elaine as first among equals for their triple-monarchy, while hardline Objectionists began fleeing west over the sea.  Rebuffing marriage proposals from Montaigne and the united Castille/Holy Republic, Elaine unleashed the Sea Dogs as protectors of the Glamour Isles.  In response, Jacob unleashed the Armada.  Their defeat would be marked as the final turning of the tide in the 30 Years War outside of Eisen.

    (part of the advantage of the above is it makes Elaine's reign a "Restoration" after the fashion of the Stewart Restoration from which the era derives its names and courtly/artistic themes, while also leaving her Queen Elizabeth and King Arthur)

    With Montaigne backing the Objectionists (out of then-King Leon Alexandre du Montaigne’s rivalry with Jacob and House Heilgrund), rising border skirmishes resulted in the Hieophant traveling to Montaigne to try and negotiate a peaceful settlement.  She was quickly made a “guest” of the Sun Court, and coronated Leon “l’Empereur” .  The naked hostage taking of the Hierophant  horrified Vaticine Theah and escalated conflict as the nobility of Montaigne became free to practice sorcery without fear of excommunication.

    Finally the 30 Years War came to a close with the suicide of Imperator Jacob V.  Without a free Hierophant to coronated a successor Imperator, the Holy Republic remains disjointed kingdoms licking their wounds.  The Crown of Castille passed to Jacobo’s maternal nephew Sandoval de Aldana, only 11 at the time.

    Now three separate voices claim leadership of the Vaticine Church.  The “guest of l’Empereur” continues to issue pro-Montaigne bulls claiming leadership of the Church; the College of Cardinals in Castille recognizes her as the living Hierophant, but do not recognize the authority of her proclamations from her current position (this is the faction that includes Verdugo under which the Inquisition operates with impunity); and a break away minority of Cardinals who have elected a new Hierophant to fill the power vacuum, who has been forced to leave Castille for Vodacce to avoid Verdugo’s wrath.  This third faction opposes Montaigne’s sorcery and invasion of Castille, but also would reign in Verdugo and Inquisition (and is favored by the Invisible College).

    - Verdugo was allowed during the 30 Years War to hunt down heresy within Castille with unprecedented authority, targeting Objectionists and the Crescent faith.  Since the death of King Jacobo II and the captivity of the Hierophant, he has gone further off the rails.  He has proclaimed all scholarship by non-Vaticine faithful to be heretical (as only those with faith in Theus can unravel His mysteries), and burnings of Crescent scholarship in Castille (which the majority of alchemical texts are) have been catastrophic.  Furthermore  possession of such texts and basing research on them is heretical.  He also draws strict delineation between the “natural world” that is to be studied to unravel Theus’ riddle, and the “unnatural” that is blasphemy to study.  Any empirical research into sorcery or magical entities is blasphemy of the highest order.  [this is a slight change because "all research is evil" strains my suspension of disbelief.  This creates a clearer agenda in Verdugo's persecution of the sciences]

    - While the reality is that Vodacce is governed by its Merchant Princes, the territory is officially divided between different royal Theahn powers.  Vestini, Mondavi, Caligari, and Falisci are all Prince Electors of the Holy Republic.   Even when there is an Imperator though, their Vodacce “konigreiche” are effectively self-governing.  Similarly Lucain and Villanova are sworn to the Crown of Castille, but even when there’s a King in his majority, they enjoy relatively little interference (though Verdugo is interested in changing that).  During the lifetime of Imperator Jacob V/King Jacobo II, Vodacce was the most politically united it’d been on a map since the glory days of Numa.  Finally the island citystate of Bartoulis is a sovereign pseudo-republic, but where voting rights are proportional to land ownership, making the Bernoulli family unchallenged in their dominance of it.
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Salamanca's picture
Never been a fan of the historic church controlled empires so this is not something I am liking for game use (personal opinion is all). But I LOVE the detail and effort you put into this. You did a great job merging all that, building a very workable setting AND you tied it back to the established start point of the setting. Nicely done.
Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

Well except for Castille, because Sandoval isn't in his majority yet, and his circle of closest "advisors" are Cadinals (as in canon), the Church doesn't control any of the empires/kingdoms I've mentioned.  But religion does shape their politics.  The "Holy Republic" I've referred to is just Eisen.  It's 1st Edition's counterpart term for "the Holy Roman Empire" (hence me feeling it was appropriate to extend into northern Vodacce).  The union of the Holy Republic and Castille under the same Imperator/King is based on Charles V (with King Phillip II of Spain, husband of Queen Mary of England, thrown in for good measure).  The southern Vodacce Princes being nominally sworn to the Crown of Castille is similarly based on the era's Spanish claim to Naples and Sicily.  And then the Bernoullis get to be Venice.

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture

Some ideas on the Jewish cultural tradition, quoting Guy Reisman (from the 7th Sea Kickstarter comments section)

I've played with the idea of including an equivalent for the Jewish people in the 1st edition, since, as you've mentioned, the idea is close to my heart. I also admit to have had some fun with their language, since I both speak Hebrew as my native tongue and have studied it to more depth than the average speaker. When creating terms for their language, for example, I've always made sure to use "reasonable equivalents" of Hebrew terms which would be grammatically correct and have the right meanings, while still being different enough to keep the illusion that "these are not the Jews, but they a lot like them".

For example, rather than Yehudim (the Jewish name for their own people), I have considered calling them "Yode'im" (which I've latter turned into Yodii, which rolls off the English speaking tongue better, explaining it to myself as being a Numanization of their own original word for it, same as "Jew" is a distant, latinized evolution of "yehudi").

"Yode'im" comes from the Hebrew grammatical root "yeda", or "knowledge". It literally means "those who know", and ties nicely into what I see as the religious Jewish perception of their own people as well as to the themes of the world of the 7th Sea (it bears mentioning that Vaticine philosophy itself is remarkably similar to Jewish philosophy from own world, which stresses the values of knowledge and logic, and latter in history, science).

Rather than the yarmulke, the talit, and the other elements of "Jewish regalia" I've had the Yodii wear distinctive, red and white capes, which the assimilated sometimes do under their clothes so as to not stand out among the Amim ("The Peoples of the World", the Yodii equivalent for the real world Jewish term "goyim", meaning much the same thing). I'll admit to have been a little bit inspired in that by the Darcsen people, appearing in the video game Valkyria Chronicles, who are also, in many ways, alternate universe stand-ins for the Jews who wear red capes instead of yarmulkes.

I see the Nations of the world of the 7th Sea as being, on the most basic level, dramatic exaggerations of real life peoples as seen through the lens of swashbuckling literature. Obviously, many literary depictions of the Jews are not very flattering, but I do think that certain books do them justice (some of them not even written by the Jews themselves!) and that from those an image can be conjured. Dramatically exaggarated from real life and tuned to the atmosphere of the world of the 7th Sea, I see the Yodii as being a highly secretive, mystical, scholarly people, who see themselves as keepers of distinctive knowledge which Theus has deigned to place in their hands rather than any others. They do not see that as a privilege but as a sacred obligation: the Amim, in their minds, are like children who don't understand how blissful their own lives are, unconcerned as they can afford to be with the depths of spiritual knowledge the Yodii must bear. It is their holy duty to, first and foremost, study the will and intention of Theus, forever, as they are expressed in any of his works. This includes both the holy texts ("Lemidah", the Yodii equivalent of the "Torah" - both are words relating to the grammatical root of "learning"), and the work of science, considered spiritual in accordance with the writings of the historical Rabbbi Maimonides. They lead lives of purity and devotion, following a seemingly infinite number of increasingly arcane rules which they seem to take pleasure in both figuring out and following. Obviously, no Nation is made up solely of stereotypes, and presumably there would've been countless "assimilated" Yodii who considered themselves such even without wearing the cloak or following the rules. Some might lead double lives, having a public face of a member of the Amim, but secretly engaging in Yodii ceremonies at home.

Speaking of the Rabbis, the Yodii equivalent are called Murimim. This is a play on Hebrew words: one is the word "muramim", meaning "elevated ones" (since the word Rabbi itself literally means "greater than I", implying that the Rabbi is in position to offer spiritual guidance because his knowledge is greater than the speakers' - otherwise he would have been Rabbi), and the second is "morim", or "teachers". Even more so than in the case of real life Rabbis, the Murimim are very different from Christian priests: they are not, first and foremost, "spiritual counselors". Since so much of Jewish/Yodii religious "work" revolves around the act of studying and teaching (lemidah, logic and science), the muri must first be a teacher. He is a counselor in the same sense that a doctor is a counselor: not because he's been given the right to be by an establishment (there is no Jewish church), but because he knows better, having himself dedicated his life to learning.

It is interesting to note that a significant part of real life Rabbinical training involves the techniques of debate. Being a religion of logic and learning, Judaism puts great value on being a good debater. Many Jewish religious texts are in the form of recorded debates. However, unlike many schools of debate, Rabbinical argument does NOT stress oratory or rhetoric. These skills are seen as "cheapening" the subject of debate (a view shared by Plato and Socrates), vulgar and even insulting to consider using in sacred matters. Rabbinical argument emphasizes meticulously constructed arguments and counter arguments, rote memorization of thousands upon thousands of precedents and understanding of their relevance to any situation, and a unique type of intuitive humor which can be both wondrous and mystifying to non-Rabbis, who may appear to be speaking to each other in allegorical riddles when they are in fact engaging in furious academic debate (a highly amusing text from the middle ages depicts three rabbis arguing for several straight days about the nuances of whether a certain type of utensil is kosher. At a certain point, God himself appears to say they're wrong - at which time all three rabbis face Him and tell him to come back when he's got an actual argument. God returns to heaven, laughing, and says "my children have grown!")

As for Sorcery, I referred to it as "Nafshan", envisioning it as a "Secret of Life" which the Yodii see themselves as privy to in line with their belief that they were given knowledge to keep. The word Nafshan could be broken down into its grammatical components such as to mean "One Who Deals With the Breath of Life/One Who Breaths the Soul". Through Nafshan sorcery, Gilumim can be created.

The Hebrew word "golem" means "husk" or "chrysalis". Something which is organic but empty. I wanted to use a word which was both similar sounding and had a relevant meaning. Gilum means "embodiment" or "icon". It is the result of a process of granting form to the formless. Gilumim are created from clay, in a process which is partially mystical surgery, partially alchemical experiment, and partially sacred meditation, at the end of which a "kiss on the mouth" transfers to them the Breath of Life. The size and physical capabilities of the gilum (strength, shape, life-seemingness) are based on Nafshan knacks: they can be small, animal shaped and weak, tiny homonculi, nigh indistinguishable from humans, or gigantic, vaguely humanoid figures. Nafshan Apprentices can only make "preprogrammed" gilumim: they have to receive detailed instructions through the insertion of a bit of parchment covered in sacred calligraphy into their mouths. Nafshan Adepts can make more intelligent gilumim, capable of following orders, but not interpreting them. Masters can endow them with true intelligence, potentially coming very close to creating true human life, though the Yodii consider this a grave sin. Finding out that 7th Sea technically already had golems (Syrneth constructs) didn't deter me: I just figured a "possible scenario" was that the Yodii were originally granted their "secret knowledge" by a Razhdost, and that it really isn't a sorcery so much as sufficiently advanced science. Over the ages, it has gained a more mystical veneer. This would've also explained them originally being hated by everyone...


Of course, all of this may be irrelevant now. The new edition of 7th Sea will have its own Judaism equivalent and I trust John that it would be well thought-out, respectful and interesting. The Yodii may just remain my own idea...

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

That's pretty awesome.  Where/how did JW confirm an Thean equivalent?

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture
The non-Jews were not written by John Wick but rather a suggestion by Guy Reisman, of what he would write if asked to contribute. Still, really good stuff, so I posted it here.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Alfredo Tarancón
Alfredo Tarancón's picture

But Wick has confirmed a couple of times (both in the ks comments and his facebook, i seem to recall) that there will be jews in an upcoming book. I remember mainly the fb post about it because he shared a really funny video clip with it...

Broadway Jews

Ben Woerner
Ben Woerner's picture
He posted the song about Jews from the Monty Python musical. And as one of several writers on the project of Jewish descent (great grandmother) there are going to be Jews, in the Crescent Empire.
Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

I hope they have a presence in Theah as well.  I want a Golem of Frieburg damn it!

Nathan Henderson
Nathan Henderson's picture

Upon some consideration, I'm making a slight adjustment to my plans with the Hierophant.  I'm stilly using the Avignon captivity plotline, but dropping the "Western Schism" element at this point.  The Hierophant is in Montaigne making pro-Montaigne proclamations with a court of Montaigne clergy loyal to l'Empereur.  The Cardinals in Vaticine City are operating without a Hierophant (which allows the Inquisition to operate unchecked).  There is no break away anti-Hierophant YET - but it remains a possibility that can occur.

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