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Grave Tacticus

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Staff member
Jul 26, 2020
224
Utah
This project stalled out before it could get started, but having found great success in my army log here on the site, I decided I should follow that productive trend and get Al Qultu restarted. The concept concerns a group of necromancers with various interests banding together to mount an expedition to the capitol of an ancient civilization where necromancy was previously ascendant, all the while coping with their being a personal affront to their home country's tyrant king. My preferred method of storytelling is interactive, and I'll be using twine to construct the adventure, so you'll be one of those intrepid adventurers if you decide to read it.

To start out, I've got a few things I need to do before I get ahead of myself:

-Read Layard's “Nineveh and its Remains” and “Among the Ruins."
Layard's books detail the expeditions he took part in during the archaeological boom of the 19th century, and like the other authors of his time he likes to talk about all sorts of things and allows for a good understanding of how life was like on the dig during that time. He was also a sketch artist and captured sights and locals that would be impossible to see today.

-Re-familiarize myself with Akkadian.
The Mesopotamians get a bad rap because of the Bible, pagan villains that oppressed the chosen people, but the kingdoms and cultures of that ancient land were full of exciting and dynamic people who happened to believe that the afterlife sucked pretty bad. If any culture wished that necromancy, as we know it in fiction today, was possible, I'm sure they'd jump at the chance. Cribbing from the Mesopotamians will also lend a groundedness to the fictional Al Qultu, like the inscriptions and statuary you'll find, or how they phrase and construct their prayers and curses.

-Research Petra.
What a fantastic place, I've seen some documentaries on it and it's really a shame the Romans mismanaged it. I'd love for Al Qultu to be Petra as we imagine it could have been. Like in Last Crusade, when Indy walks into the Petra royal tomb and the inside is full of grand architecture and traps.

-Read Greek and Roman Necromancy.
The arc of Necromancy in the ancient world is much how I'd like to portray it in this project. The Greeks saw it as a sort of necessary weirdness, where the underworld was taboo, but who's going to deal with these evil spirits? Once Rome became ascendant, necromantic practices were further marginalized and outlawed, and I wanted that sort of social pressure to be the catalyst for a desperate plan to hopefully not die in the desert.

That's the docket for now. Looking forward to the good work.
 
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Raven Torrid

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Staff member
Sep 3, 2011
441
Croatia
-Research Petra.
What a fantastic place, I've seen some documentaries on it and it's really a shame the Romans mismanaged it. I'd love for Al Qultu to be Petra as we imagine it could have been. Like in Last Crusade, when Indy walks into the Petra royal tomb and the inside is full of grand architecture and traps.

A friend of my visited Petra touristically a few years back. I would like to do it as well one day, I'm sure monumental sites like those are even more awe-inspiring in person.
That being said, Last Crusade is one of my favourite movies so when I read you mentioned Petra I instantly thought of the movie. Movies like Indiana Jones, Jewel of the Nile or Allan Quatermain always made me wish that the actual world was a bit more "fantastical" place. I wouldn't be surprised if adventure movies like those played a part in my fascination with fantastical worlds and hobbies related to those.

Seeing the expedition premise of this project and the sources you aim to research, it sure looks like an interesting project, looking forward to it. 🙂
 
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Grave Tacticus

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 26, 2020
224
Utah
From Layard's Nineveh and its Remains:

"To the Chairman and Honorable Court of Directors of the East India Company, through whose enlightened munificence I am mainly enabled to publish my drawings of the bas-reliefs discovered at Nineveh, I must take this opportunity of expressing that gratitude which many, who have been engaged in similar undertakings, have had reason to feel as strongly as myself. In recording a liberality, unfortunately so rare, I become an additional witness to the noble support they have ever rendered to literature and science."

Man, check out that straight faced colonialism. May the sun never set on the British Empire... oops.
 

Grave Tacticus

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 26, 2020
224
Utah
Some interesting word use from Layard:

"A Tatar had that morning brought from Constantinople the welcome news that the Porte, at length alive to the wretched condition of the province..."

This is the first I've encountered this particular use of the word, being not just aware, but alive to something. Fantastic!
 

Grave Tacticus

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 26, 2020
224
Utah
Reading Layard's exhaustive account of the time, I'm feeling compelled to change up the setting for the novel a bit and put the ruins in more of a northern setting. The issue being that of population, the cradle of civilization thrived as it did because of the vast plains which could be reliably irrigated, which gave rise to man power and access to the human resources needed to create giant stone structures. Also, there was a severe lack of local wood, so stone and clay were heavily relied upon. In the north, population centers stayed relatively small, and most structures were primarily wood, as wood was quite abundant, which is why we rarely have movies featuring northern tomb raiding. As you may know, Skyrim heavily featured expansive nordic ruins, so there's some precedent, but I'd like to keep as much of the work grounded in reality as possible.

So, in order for there to be a giant stone complex in the north, we need people, and for that we need surplus food.

Edit: Obviously just do Nordic Petra.
 
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Grave Tacticus

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 26, 2020
224
Utah
I've been working on the opening, and realized I wanted divinities so I came up with an elemental based system called "The Numbers" where Creation was "0" and all other things were ranked in relation to how close they were to it. The base elements are like Titans or Jotunn, entities of primal power, that are mostly appeased by civilized society, and their Intersections or composite elemental "children" more represent human experience and are widely considered the proper gods of mankind. The first deity that I constructed is Hedranos, plutarch of the underworld, Intersection of Death and Earth, and heavily inspired by Hades/Pluto. The journey starts at the foot of his temple, and I see him becoming a bit of a patron for the expedition, as archaeology would definitely be under his purview. Since the band of explorers is primarily Necromancers, I don't plan to spend much time fleshing out the whole pantheon, but I do plan on having a paladin type in the group, so I'm looking forward to the clashing ideologies.

I'm particularly fond of Telenos, the goddess of Death, from the Greek verb Teleo: I complete; inferring that existence is a sentence, or line.
 

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