Saturday, October 24, 2015


Yesterday TheRPGPundit reviewed Sertorius (HERE). There are things he likes about the game and things he isn't so fond of. Some of his critiques, I agree with. In particular I think he could have done a better job giving a quick overview of the major cultures in the setting early on. We also could have provided a more handy crib sheet explaining what real world cultures were sources of inspiration for each group. With that in mind, I've decided to offer up a breakdown of some of the important Gamandrian cultures. I will start with languages then Races and move to places. 
Sertorius cover art by Michael Prescott

Gamandrian Languages
Agarian: This is a human language. It has no real world equivalent though it takes bits and pieces from existing languages. Spoken mainly by humans living in the north. 

Gruskel: This is a made up language loosely inspired by dead English words. It is also vaguely Germanic. It is spoken by Humans living in our Viking and Dark Age Europe regions. Also spoken by Gru. 

Khubsi: This is a hodgepodge of semitic languages like Arabic, Hebrew and Phoenician. Most of the cultures that speak Khusbi (with a few exceptions due to the specific history of the world) are inspired by Middle Eastern societies from the ancient world. Khubsi is mainly spoken by Halflings, Dwarves, Hasri and a substantial number of human groups. 

Klerskel: This is the Gru Language. It is again vaguely Germanic and spoken almost exclusively by the Gru. 

Latar: Latar is Latin and mainly spoken by Orcs. 

Ronian: This is Greek. Ronian is primarily a language spoken by Humans. 

Singh: This is basically Thai and is the language of the Elves and Ogres. 

While the races are not entirely monocultural they can be generalized. Because each race has an origin point, this means most of them do share common cultures. However there are exceptions. The orcs of Caelum are like Romans but the Orcs of Atroxis (which is to the North) are more like the peoples living on the periphery of Rome with a dash of viking thrown in. 

Dwarves: Dwarves are pretty much anything biblical ranging from the Kingdom of Judah to the early Christians. 

Elves: Elves are divided into three basic groups but the most important are the Mandaru who are pretty much a hodgepodge of Eurasian Steppe nomad cultures (ranging from Scythians to the Mongols). What sets the elves apart from the other races is their immortality, they simply don't die from old age, and in their ancient history they were created as slaves for the Ogres. So there is some carry over from the Thai-inspired Ogre culture too. The elves in the south are very much Thai, with a bit of Indian and Chinese culture here and there. 

Gru: These are pretty much a race of Neanderthals who are modeled on different northern European groups like the Vikings. There is also a Klingon influence with the Gru. The are almost implausibly warlike and arrogant, considering it an honor for other races to die at their hand.  

Halflings: Halflings are mainly Phoenician, with a bit of focus on Carthaginian culture. Shahr (their coastal empire) is based on Carthage. 

Hasri: They are a bit all over the map but their main region, Asharun, is a fusion of the Ottoman Empire and Imperial China. They still have more of an Ancient flavor but a lot of their institutions are modeled directly on these influences. 

Humans: Humans have some amount of diversity, but are primarily taken from Mediterranean cultures and the Middle East. The Humans of Ronia are Greek (specifically Byzantine). The Humans in our Dark Age Europe area are a blend of Latin, Greek and Arabic. I'll explain that in the Vaaran kingdoms section below. Most other human groups are middle eastern. 

Kobolds: Kobolds are a bit odd. They are sort of like Greek slaves within Orc society, but that is a product of their time with the orcs. Their original homeland is more meant to be Etruscan in nature or any of the different tribes in Italy before Rome. 

Ogres: The Ogres are Thai. They are also where the originally idea for the setting comes from. Really this was inspired from when I worked at a Thai restaurant and noticed a bunch of rubbings on the wall of scenes from the Ramakien (the Thai version of Ramayana). In the Thai version, Ravana is called Thotsakan and he was described to me as an "Ogre" (I think he is really a Rakshasa, though I am unclear if the Thai version differs here as I usually find it translated as Ogre or Demon in the Thai version). In the rubbings Thotsakan pretty much resembles the ogres as they are depicted in the Sertorius rulebook. However the Ogres in Gamandria are a displaced people, so they tend to live everywhere in pockets of other cultures. 

Orcs: These are basically Roman and hill tribes from various places. It depends on where you encounter them. Some of the orcs in the setting are standard fantasy orcs. Those ones will usually be found in the hills and mountains. The orcs of Caelum are clearly Rome. The Orcs of Atroxis are my heavy metal orcs. The Orcs further north are a plains people. I like to say our orcs are clean and sexy. They have a heightened sense of smell so hygiene is really important to them. Still they are somewhat warlike and aggressive, which is why I chose Rome as their model, because they felt like an imperial race. I think the main source of inspiration here were the Minotaurs of Taladas. This is definitely a shout out to that. 

These are the approximate analogs for some key locations. Keep in mind, a lot of these are tenuously related to the source that inspired them, or they are a blend of multiple places. Also the specific history of the world and its people always had a hand in shaping the culture, which will make it different from its real-world counterpart. 

Asharun: As stated above this is largely inspired by the Ottomans and ancient China. 

Belvar: This is an important Gru region. It is a little hard to pin down because so much of it is a product of the specific setting elements, but basically this is a sort of Viking/Klingon kingdom. 

Caelum: This is Rome on the eve of Augustus. We basically combined the figures of Caesar and Octavian into General Brogustu who is about to take control of the Republic. 

Chambar: This is mostly based on some of the early Thai kingdoms. It has some unique elements that are a product of the elves history in the setting. 

The Eastern Trade Road: This is an important route, obviously inspired by the Silk Road. Cultures here span a lot of near eastern and middle eastern ones, but we also gave ourselves plenty of freedom to just do what we wanted. So places like Donyra or Qam'ua are hard to pin down. 

Khata: This is vaguely Indian, South East Asian with bits of China thrown in. 

Marite Kingdoms, Rashua, and Bukra-Shar: These are a bunch of city states, kingdoms and small empires in the South East. They are loosely inspired by a wide variety of biblical places and early history of the Levant region. 

Matruk: This is kind of a blend of places like Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia. 

The Mandaru Empire: This is an elven region based on Eurasian Steppe nomads, everything from the Scythians to the Mongols. 

Phra Goa: This is very specifically inspired by the Chinese story Madame White Snake. It doesn't feature a snake demon or anything like that, but the monks and their leader are based on Fahai. 

Phu Kao: Vaguely Tibetan area. 

Ronia: This is pretty much the Eastern Roman Empire, or if you prefer, Byzantium. If you look at the map of Rostanba, its capital, you can see it is visibly modeled after Constantinople. 

Sardona: These are pretty much an Abrahamic fanatical group. They believe God promised them the Varian Sea and they are trying to take it from the Ronians and Vaaran Kingdom. They are also a kind of displaced people who spent time in exile. I took bits of Christian, Muslim and Jewish history to make Sardonan history and religion. The language and institutions are primarily Arabic. 

Shahr Republic: This is a Halfling coastal empire modeled after Carthage. 

Tajem: This is a weird blend of Rome and the Middle East. The ruler is inspired by RoboCop, but is an ancient fantasy version of that sort of concept. 

Traya: This is basically Petra. 

The Tribes of Pendeo: Really just fantasy style orc tribes from the North. Vaguely viking at times. 

Vaaran Kingdoms: This is as close as the setting gets to dark age Europe. However it really is a blend of Greek, Latin, Germanic and Arabic cultures. Along the coasts you tend to have more civilized cities, and these will usually speak Khusbsi, Ronian or Latar. The further inland you go, the more you find Gruskel and Klerskel speaking humans and Gru. You can see an example of this with Palus, which I describe in the Blog HERE

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