What would be the standard phial result for harrowing an infant or whatever age aether concentration is at its maximum? Are the results of harrowing this consistent between people or is this an approximation? Do the Hegemony’s theurges have any explanation for significant variance between people if there is any? How many people are required for a full harrower tank?
If you go for an Aveche-centric realm – whether city-state, “greather Aveche” in the north and east, or “greater greater Aveche” that includes the whole Aveche Sea down to Aegre and Sescia – you will indeed have a bunch of significant advantages in trying to set up a high-capacity state with democratic institutions that can feed itself through non-lethal blood extraction:
- relatively high urbanization – which meaningfully eases the logistics of the blood tax
- relatively high existing literacy rates
- extensive economic and trade opportunities
- access to all vital resources
Those advantages, along with its militarily strategic location, are exactly why Aveche will be one of the most contested places on the continent – and the hard, hard fight you’d have to take it from [redacted] in particular will take up a lot of the resources you want to be spending on consolidating the institutions that will make your nation rich, free, and wonderful.
The Rim or Rim-plus-Southriding realm-builder won’t have all the same advantages as Aveche… but they will have the advantage that way, way fewer other factions will be trying to invade you, distracting you from trying to make great progressive leaps in social and governance institutions.
78k to 79k. Playing that out in math terms, though I’m cringing hard at the grimdarkness just writing it, it would take less than 50,000 sacrificed newborns to magick up enough grain for those 50m hungry people Hegemony-wide post-collapse. Whatever you choose, there will be factions in G5 that choose to take that approach… but without the social institutions that have evolved in Halassur that make the sacrifice largely voluntary and limited to just the firstborn.
It’s an approximation and an average. There’s natural variation, but not to a major degree or one that seems to beg an explanation; people’s brains aren’t that different within a given age bracket. The amount of aether in a brain “reaches a lasting, lower equilibrium,” in Cerlota’s words, from around age 16-19 onwards and doesn’t deteriorate until the brain itself starts breaking down in extreme old age.
10 people getting Harrowed will send about 4 liters of high-aether slurry to an alchemical fixing urn. Traveling Harrowers are usually built with the capacity for four 30-liter urns. They don’t always stay out on the road until they’re at full capacity (i.e. until the Theurges have killed 300 people) but they need that capacity when they’re on a run through rich lowland Shayard farm country where all the major aristoi estates may have 600-800 helots.
Rim Gang stays winning. I may be a cosmopolitan, but home is home. Maybe we can have some friends over
Is there any correlation between aether capacity and neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s or Alzheimer’s (obviously without those names) that has been observed, even in otherwise healthy and relatively young victims? I’m curious how developed the science of what makes a “good candidate” for Harrowing is, versus just a consensus of “juice the slaves for the good stuff”.
Except that it lacks resources for industrialization, even if you get a good part of lowland Wiendrj, you could have hydro-power but still none of the essential minerals since the rim hills and Wiendish mountains seem to be worthless for mineral extraction purposes with the current level of science and technology.
It still seems to me to be a recipe for pastoral backwardness dominated by a slave-holding planter caste. In other words the dream of the American confederates during your civil war but hardly a place for democracy or even just the abolition of slavery.
What industry you could muster would depend entirely on an extremely fragile trade route with either the Xaos lands and Sojourn and/or the Abhumans or both and it is doubtful either of them would be willing or indeed able to provide enough of those mineral resources for your industries to become great power tier.
In short this would only work if prospecting in the Wiendish mountains or a tech breakthrough in mining changes the game here and allows you to get enough resources from your own hills and mountains to at least meet basic industrial needs. You can take a German approach and probably ersatz some stuff but not everything. Only in such a case would it compare favourably or indeed at all to the region around Avezia and could Wiendish hydro-power potential and less covetous neighbours offset the other disadvantages of less population density, lower literacy rates and less developed infrastructure that you’d start out with.
For a state that is Rim plus parts of the South plus a significant part Wiendrj those advantages are almost completely flipped, the only things it really has going for it is that it would sit on some of the best farmland in the continent but farmland alone is far from enough to make a strong state instead of the kind of the kind of nightmare slave state that was the dream of the American confederate leadership.
The way I see it the situation would be thus:
- mixed urbanisation. If you include Grand Shayard it has the second or third greatest city in the Hegemony but that city is also a souther nobility and therefore likely Laconnier stronghold. The other cities of note would probably be those of lowland Wiendrj, unfortunately they are entirely worthless even with their hydro-power potential since we’d lack the minerals to feed the kind of industry to make them economically viable.
- relatively low literacy rates, again except for the region around Grand Shayard maybe, but again that means a lot of the literate population would harbour Laconnier sympathies.
- poor trade opportunities, Sea trade even if you have Grand Shayard and its port would need to go via the southern ocean only, which is a corsair haunt and trade would be at their mercy. Land trade is even worse as that needs to be routed through the Abhuman Federation or Sojourn, which means that too would happen at their leisure, not our needs.
- lack of vital mineral resources. Lowland Wiendrj and its cities have great hydro power potential but no actual resources to put that power to use in actual manufacturing, save whatever tiny trickle you can get from the Abhumans and from Sojourn/the Xaos lands. At best that would produce a relatively weak industry that would struggle to just meet domestic needs during good times and can be strangled by either of the neighbours at any time for any reason.
The lack of mineral resources remains the Achilles heel of such a state and an enormous hindrance to modernization unless and until it can find a way to secure a steady, stable and ample supply of them, Which means either prospecting and hope you strike gold, proverbial and maybe real in the Wiendish mountains this time or outright annexing Sojourn and expanding significantly into the Xaos lands as they seem to be much more mineral rich. Or putting a disproportionate amount into the navy and hoping voyages of exploration are going to yield something in time either in colonies or distant new friends who are willing to trade such things in meaningful quantities, while at the same time putting the fear of whatever into the corsairs.
Wow… We’ll I can see why the Hegemony is having so much trouble with Hallasur now. I expect the aether diminishes quadratically with age, which explains the Hegemonic agents actions in the Rim Square Harrowing and Revolt much more explicable light. I think I’m still taken with the information warfare strategy of spreading the secrets of theurgy and aether production as widely as possible, but it definitely isn’t as asymmetric as I originally imagined.
Hopefully nobody takes that out of context.
I have a few questions.
How many resources does it take to acquire and maintain greater greater Aveche?
If you establish a nation in greater greater Aveche, what will be the specific numbers for that nation’s literacy rate, economic power, military power, and area?
To what extent can social and governance institutions advance in this game world?
Considering flat-earther influencers can apparently make a comfortable living peddling that nonsense in our present day colour me skeptical, particularly if it gets wrapped up in the cloak of sacred state-sponsored faith doctrine that is punishable by slow harrowing for ordinary people to even question.
But you’re right in that I don’t see any real benefit for the Hegemony to propagate it officially except maybe to discourage private exploration ventures but since the current elites hardly seem interested in that stuff it probably isn’t necessary in the first place.
Will there be opportunities for high INT/CHA (and hybrid) MCs to try to sneak in a double standard narrative of “suspicion of elites?”
(e.g. “these are the reasons why you can totally trust us old guard aristos, but can’t trust the greedy bourgeoisie/capitalists,” and vice versa)
The first idea that comes to mind is how heteronormative Halassur can obviously be undermined by MC’s spread of LGBT-friendly ideas to the Halassur NPCs (Erjan, Dilek, and others).
On another note, how stubbornly entrenched is the worship of the Nagyeh and the Halassurq Trinity Pantheon? (or in other words, how resistant are the Seracca and Halassur to facing internal rebellions from citizens who were swayed by the gospel of high-CHA Devout Xthonist MC?)
Hello, future Shayardene protectorates/buffer states!
(or might these peripherals instead be more likely to eagerly curry favor with imperial/hypothetical winner Shayard by outright asking to be annexed)
So much for my aristo MC’s (and aristo-sympathetic helot MC’s) argument to K that ‘aristos are more valuable alive than dead.’ (when the priests and merchants are such tempting alternatives to turn to)
I don’t see Yludud on the map. Could someone give me a highlighted version for my quick understanding?
Could you go into detail about what sort of logistical pros and cons we could imagine for a bigger, “Archonty Shayard+Archonty Wiendrj only”-sized state?
You speak of this as if it were a warning. Thanks for the manual (for us arrogant aristos)!
One of my MCs (inspired by Boba Fett) is more around the lines of “I’d like to become filthy rich from being paid by allied factions to track down and kill Thuerges” bounty hunting.
(rather than necessarily hating all uses of theurgy on principle)
Napoleon’s takeover of France is a good cautionary tale here to learn from.
Will it be possible for Plektast-specializing high-INT MCs to have their pet Plektoi hound grow two extra heads? (Thus making their own version of Cerberus, the iconic three headed hound of Greek mythology)
Heck, why not go for a full-blown Manticore as well?
To this day, I still vaguely remember how my very first XoR playthrough ended up as a compassionate high-anarchy playthrough. Pairing together softie MC with K is going to be an interesting dynamic going forward, I suppose
How’s this for another non-empire building role for MC: spymaster (or “Director of National Clandestine Services”) who trains the above civilians/entertainers into becoming his faction’s post-Hegemony generation of Kryptasts?
Is Breden really that much of a narcissist, or is this just poking fun at all the critics who dislike Breden?
That part of the G2 demo (where Sojourn’s inhabitants can be swayed by MC’s rhetoric of Shayardene nationalism) really gives me huge hopes of one day officially annexing Sojourn as a proper Shayardene province.
Will it be possible for MC to preemptively abscond with Phaedra (Helen of Troy style) to safety in Grand Shayard (and then the both of us munch popcorn and watch the Battle of Aekos with binoculars on the sidelines while our respective faction’s armies/generals work together to depose Kleitos)? Or is Phaedra’s role/presence at the Battle of Aekos totally mandatory?
What’s likely to make Harza happier: MC executes the Ennearch who mutilated Harza, or high-INT MC restores Harza’s face to its orginal/non-deformed shape?
I’m more interested in using the conquered Halassurq territory to gain concessions at the negotiating table (for both Erezza and my MC’s Shayard).
“Carles even dared a mention of the long-forbidden royal standard, the Gryphon and Great-Eel.”
Is the Great-Eel a mutual cultural symbol of pride that Shayardenes, Erretsins, and Neres can agree upon? (if deciding upon a symbol for a post-Hegemonic regime that they’re part of)
What does the architecture of the various regions inside the Hegemony look like?
I mean, autonomy is kinda the idea. That’s how federations are supposed to work.
Keep Xaos storm tech secret and the sole possession of my movement, unleash them on Hallasur troop concentrations and then make offers of negotiations for a “permanent” settlement. Which won’t be permanent but will hopefully last long enough to settle things at home.
I want to give them a good hard punch that will bring them to the table rather than a prolonged war right now.
If such a thing ends up being possible.
I’ll do my best to explore the options to destabilize them and hopefully have them tie down resources internally since it seems they’re a jailer of nations like Karagon is.
I think the sheer size of the Halassur Empire makes it impossible for them to not be filled with many diverse ethnicities and peoples. I dunno if we have any info from Havenstone about it tho
Hopefully a devastating loss against the Hegemony, or more precisely its successor state, will be enough to cause enough unrest in their empire so they can fuck off and let my MC deal with the massive famine and starvation in relative peace.
But the idea of a crusade against them sounds interesting. Probably have a saved MC or two who’d probably be all for it. Especially when they meet “intellectual and high-minded” Erjan, the baby-murder apologist.
At least those babies never truly lived, let alone were dehumanized for years and forced to live as cattle as part of a massive slave caste. While my mc keeps that thought private, for now, the particular horror Halassur has chosen seems to be the lesser one compared to the Hegemony (and will seems more so once my mc understands the efficiency gap better), it is the anti gay bullshit and the inequality between men and women there that vex him but I do hope we get the chance to talk to one of those female mages of theirs later on.
What’s your MC’s main stat?
Aether capacity is reduced by any physical deterioration of brain matter, but since that’s hard for any Theurge to spot amid the firework show that even a compromised brain comprises in telos-vision, brain damage doesn’t play much of a role in Harrowing selection – besides being one more reason that virtually no helots are allowed to live long enough to be at risk of dementia.
It’s true that for a Theurgy-driven industrial revolution, quicksilver (and thus cinnabar) is the essential industrial material. The Hegemony needs to process around 350 tons of it annually for its blood-supply needs, and over 70% of current production comes from Erezza. Still, I think “worthless” is a little too strong as a descriptor of mercury-poor areas from an industrial mineral perspective.
The Wiendish mountains, mostly composed of upthrust sedimentary rock from the collision of the Braurach Plate with the Karagond Plate, are full of iron – with better quality ores and easier access to them than almost anywhere else on the continent. Lowland Wiendrj is the main source of the iron and steel that armor the Phalangites, reinforce the canal gates and aqueducts of the Hegemony (and a growing number of large urban buildings), and enrich the Syntechnia through export to the Seracca. The Rim has plenty of good iron, too, though much of it is underexploited because of easier river transport access around the major Wiendish mines. Erezziano iron ores, by contrast, are generally lower quality; a future independent Erezza or Avezchene state would probably want to import Wiendish iron, as the early-industrial Brits did from the Swedes in our world, until the invention of better smelting techniques.
There’s a major copper deposit in the Norther Rim, exploited by lots of small mines like the one you can raid for mules in Game 1; that’s also a source of chalcanthum, one of the secondary mineral components of aetherial blood. The Rim also has quite a bit of coal, which won’t be an industrial material in the MC’s lifetime but with our metaknowledge might shape how we as readers imagine the Rim’s long-range viability as an industrial power.
Nitron is another component of aetherial blood, and the desert of the Southriding has the biggest nitre mine in the Hegemony. The rest of the Hegemony’s nitre is mostly extracted from guano, i.e. from sparsely populated stretches of coast with lots of seabirds (the Martier-Leurs coast of the Southriding, the east coast of the Sescia peninsula, several other stretches of Erezza and Nyryal).
The Erezziano central range (mostly hills, rising in a few places to heights which they but not the Wiends would call “mountains”) was formed by the Yanzir Plate subducting under the Halassurq Plate. As a result it has a lot more of the mineral deposits more commonly associated with volcanic and hydrothermal activity, including silver, copper, and gold as well as cinnabar. Aveche, Cocenza, and Soretto each have access to multiple major cinnabar deposits.
A post-Hegemonic state of any significant scale will be able to find enough iron and chalcanthum to keep it going; those are widespread enough. Any with a remote coast or desert will be able to get nitron. Not all will have enough quicksilver for their needs; and that depends not just on geography, but on the scale and nature of their blood economy. It’s more quicksilver-efficient to fix a high-aether volume of brain slurry than a significantly larger volume of blood alone.
To take a concrete applied example, let’s say you were trying to produce enough food Theurgically to feed all 50m starving people Hegemony-wide from the nightmare scenario above. (As an aside, this is also assuming your realm has enough arable land to manage that with just a single bonus Theu-harvest per year, rather than the much more expensive 3rd-5th harvests per annum. So we’re assuming an empire that controls at least 42.5m hectares, i.e. all of the arable land in Karagon and Nyryal combined, or 54% of the farmland in the Westriding, or Rim plus Southriding plus 5% of Westriding.)
If you did that using nonlethally donated blood, as mentioned above, you’d need to efficiently tax 52m people. It would take 94 tons of quicksilver annually to process all those donations into aetherial blood. By contrast, a Harrower-state would need to kill 460,000 people, but would only need 6 tons of quicksilver to turn their aether-rich tissue into “blood.”
If Sojourn survives and keeps forging good relationships with nomad tribes, I think you might ultimately be able to set up a trade network that yields 40-50 tons of quicksilver a year from the pools found around the Xaos-lands. Even a blood-tax state rather than a Harrower-state would be able to generate a comfortable ag surplus from that amount of mercury… but only a Harrower-state could potentially feed the Hegemony.
These are the kinds of tradeoffs and decisions that I see making up a good chunk of G4 and especially G5.
Though that may no longer be the case by G5…
The Parathalassic Oligarchy will give you stiff competition if you try.
Yes. With that said, there are few things people value more than their children. It’s hard to sacrifice the firstborn institutionally and keep up a high rate of return for centuries, even when you’re being relentlessly invaded by a genocidal colonialist power and you have longstanding cultural traditions that can support the institution of sacrifice. We don’t know for sure what rate of child sacrifice actually prevailed in Carthage, but taking a range of estimates I turned up on a search of the sources, Halassur has a rate 17-30 times higher than anyone thinks the Carthaginians had. (Which I’d say is within the range consistent with the huge added incentive magic creates in the gameworld.)
On my current estimates, Halassur is managing to sacrifice around 308,000 children per year (another number that barely anyone in the gameworld has the capacity to estimate). Around 70% of them come from the western third of its territory, i.e. the areas most directly devastated by the Hegemony, where fewer parents find ways (official or unofficial) to exempt themselves from the institution.
I’m afraid that we’re a long way from the point where I can give specific numbers around Aveche.
This is a hard question to answer – it depends very much on what you think constitutes “advance,” and at what scale you’re satisfied to advance. As I’ve said, you should be able to sustainably pioneer advances in a small realm that will fall apart quickly if you try to expand them to imperial scale in the chaos of an imperial collapse. But because of the way I write my games, with the major outcomes depending on a complex host of contributing factors, I can’t tell you until Game 5 how far it’ll be possible to get. That’s not scripted, it’s emergent.
Personally, I view the spread of liberal democracy (or polyarchy) as progress, and would like to reach at least the level of the 18th and 19th centuries. What do you need to do to achieve it?
I think one possible game 5 state you have to think about is what does an all of the above state look like. One that is harrowing and using child sacrifice and spreading the knowledge of theurgy as widely as possible. Basically what does a turbo-magocracy look like and what can it accomplish? This basically flips the dilemma on the Hegemony in its bargain that if they weren’t harvesting aether from helots some other actor would in a less orderly or unjust format. The MC basically says “hold my beer.” I suspect the Unquiet Dead are some version of this, right?
Well this does seem to make most of Wiendrj, plus the rim plus parts of the south and west of Shayard a more viable alternative with one critical weakness…to further reduce the need for quicksilver my mc would have to let more of the magic cat out of the bag and rely more on self-sacrifice magic (that needs no quicksilver) than he is comfortable with to the point of including it in the standard (high)school curriculum instead of saving it exclusively for the more advanced parts of the new education system.
That might impact political tutelage, particularly at the local level a little more than he would, strictly speaking, be comfortable with particularly since the most advanced parts of that state would have to deal with an uncomfortable amount of Laconnier sympathy.
Yes, but if mc’s state is in the Wiendish lowlands plus parts of Shayard we’d need some of their quicksilver and I’m unsure how favourable the exchange for that rate would be and of course my mc would, on principle, refuse to deal with slavers and that is a red line.
Well theurge mc could, theoretically live for a long time. If he’d been a theurge Washington could still be alive today…and probably not terribly amused with Trump even if he kept slaves himself.
Which means it is most efficient to go the route of Halassur.
Thus my above observation to make a non-Avezia state viable enough to last long-term without a slave caste it would need to lean into widely disseminating self-sacrifice theurgy, that could possibly be supplemented by a limited number of Halassur style child sacrifices as there are always some children like those born in prison who are wards of the state, which has as its main advantage that it needs no quicksilver but would make political control even more complicated.
A more empowered, literally, populace also means we’d probably need to offer more actual federalism than my mc would be comfortable with and that we’d really need to incorporate Sojourn as a province even if it is in a federal structure.
Quite the tradeoff indeed as it also means no great canal and no access to the northern ocean and that means Osterport (Edit, Sojourn itself, if incorporated, could also become a good port but it would need serious development to get there) would be vitally important as the only major port and the Southern ocean is both a corsair haunt and more hotly contested, which impedes voyages of discovery.
Unless of course we can also claim a sliver of Nyral that is just big enough to give access to the northern ocean which could be important if we truly want to claim to being a continental great power even if without a grand canal it would only be with the invention and deployment of railroads that this could be exploited for all it is worth.
On the plus side, if such a power makes it that far along by then the coal would be a major boon to the next phase of industrialization.
In summary, compared to an Avezia centric realm such a state might have theoretically better odds in the long term but it is a more difficult starting position and has more short term challenges, particularly for someone like my mc who can’t stand the Southern Shayardene slave lords and their Laconnier sympathies made worse by the fact that most of the educated population in such a realm would be Southern Shayardenes.
Doing this undermines the above two things, the more empowered the population the less they will stand for things like being enslaved or having their children butchered for magic, unless of course you are very careful in who you empower. Having a number (though probably in the low thousands at best no way it is gonna match Halassur) of mysterious child disappearances or deaths per year could be managed as it is something even the modern US tolerates so long as it happens to parts of the population or country nobody cares much about in the first place but hiding a caste system and widespread slavery is virtually impossible unless, like the rebels in the US civil war, that is exactly the kind of state you want to promote.
Which is presumably why access to both oceans is gonna be vital, which means that in a non-Avezia state we must control at least a tiny sliver of Nyral even if it is just big enough to give us one decent northern port. Our own Vladivostok you could say.
Ah no this would be more like Tevinter or Thay or fascist country irl. Its a magocracy without the pretense. Might makes right and theurgy makes might. I think the Hegemony’s critical vulnerability is trying to keep theurgy a secret. Without pretense of theocracy or caste it just down to rule by the strongest theurges. When there is such a clear natural distinction between people the meaning of “egalitarian” can be distorted in some horrific ways.