Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Remembering History

A key ability of a referee is to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the NPCs and look at the world from their point of view. One day while working on the one of the histories of the Majestic Wilderlands I wondered what do they know about their own history?

See in our history much has been preserved and much has been lost. We know that the roman emperor Claudius wrote a history of Rome up to his reign. But so far no copies have been found. It was mentioned and quoted in other works that have been preserved, so we know it exists.

The central drama of the history of Majestic Wilderlands is the rise, and fall of the Ghinorians. They noted for believing that they are the chosen people of the goddess of justice and honor, Mitra.

Their history in brief involves escape from slavery at the hand of Set Worshippers, the estabilshment of the seven tribal principalites, the Kingdom of Ghinor, it's fall, the estabilshment of the Ghinorian Empire under the Imperial Prince, the estabilshed of several colonies throughout the wilderlands, the fall of the Empire, and finally the histories of the individual successor states. Whew! Over four thousand years compressed there.

My inspiration for the Ghinorians is a mash up of Old Testament Hebrews and Rome. So when I was thinking of the Ghinorians it natural to think they have holy books chronicling their early history.

These books are Beginnings, Exodus, Judges, Kingdom, and Chronicle. Detailing the history of the Ghinorian People from Creation to the foundation of the Empire. Like the Bible it not what we consider a straight historical account but rather the story of the Ghinorians relationship of Mitra throughout the centuries. Like the Hebrews of the Bible, when they are adhere to Mitra's principles they prosper, when they don't bad things happen.

Along with the Five Books, there is also the Commentaries of Loris. Loris was the second Patriarch of Mitra. The commentaris function as a catcheism, outlining the beliefs and rituals of the Church of Mitra. Unlike the Five Books the Commentaries can and have been updated. Although never excised. Older entries are noted as being no longer in force.

The Five Books and the Commentaries were first written after the foundation of the Empire. It is believed the first Imperial Prince, Palanon, was instrumental in collecting the oral traditions and scattered writing into their final form.

There are probably over 200 books that have been preserved from the days of the Empire. Four dozen of them are considered the classics are found in nearly all the Ghinorian Successor states. The rest are scattered in different libraries. The collections are those of Lenap-Tlan, and of Modron-Nome-(City-State)-Nomar-Tarantis. The Ghinor Homeland has a smaller collection as much was lost during the invasion of the Ionian Barbarian and the Great Harrowing of the Church of Mitra. The Karian Isle have a fourth collection but much of it has been altered to conform with the belief that the Imperial Prince of the Karian Isles is the divine son of Mitra.

The Elves preserved their history through oral traditions. They have honed the art of memory to a science. The various ballads, and poems have been honed through the age to maximize both accuracy and ease of memorization.

To aid this Elves craft pattern stones. The pattern stones don't preserve the actual words but rather the rhyme or meter of the associated poem. Much like the opening theme of Star Wars or Indiana Jones brings up the stories that the movies tell so does the inscriptions on the pattern stones.

The Elves apply this to much of their record keeping using physical objects as mnemonics to bring up the memory of the desired information. This includes spell casting.

Occasionally an Elf will create inscriptions or a scribe a scroll as a gift to one of the mortal races.

Like the Elves the Dwarves use a oral tradition to preserve their history. In their holds they have memory halls were the poems, epics, and ballads are inscribed for apprentices to learn off of. Minor works typically only have the first line of each part inscription and only the greatest works are inscribed in full.

The loss of the Majestic Fastness was a particular tragedy for the Dwarves of Thunderhold. There was no time to record the memory hall of the Majestic Fastness. Due to the many death in Ancelgorn's wake of destruction only half was able to be recovered through the memories of the survivors.

The Gnomes use sound as memory aids. They construct different wind instruments that are unique in their notes. When played they allow the Gnomes to recall the the poem.

That pretty much all I got for now on this topic.


Timothy S. Brannan said...

I like this. A lot.

I am going to use this in my own world building for elves and gnomes.
Dwarves I see as using writing more, but that is just me.

Rock solid stuff. If I expand on it in one of my own blog posts I will link back here and give you due credit.


Al said...

Cool post! REH always kept a short history of his world close at hand, as did JRRT.

Speaking of lost history, I still tear up a bit when I think of the lost library of Alexandria. Does that make me a big enough history nerd?

Mark Thomas said...

Nice thoughts. I've often worked out how much is known about the past, but never really thought much on how that knowledge was preserved. Good food for thought!