(C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Post by elemtilas »

Khemehekis wrote: 26 May 2021 07:48 What would a radiate with the ability to float or fly in the air look like?

I already have a radiate called the phelus with helicopter-like wings on Shaleya, but I want a different body plan for my flying radiates on Doyatl.
If it helps, the Denê of Alar use dendrothurgy to make airships from various kinds of fern tree. Air ferns you see. The wood itself is very buoyant and limbs with long feathery leaves act as wings. They locomote something like a sea jelly, a kind of peaceful undulation.

So, imagine a trireme only in stead of oars, there are trees growing up and out from the keels. Tall trees provide powerful lift & unlift while smaller trees provide lateral motion & pitch. Quite the way to travel! Especially when they're all decorated.
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Post by Khemehekis »

elemtilas wrote: 26 May 2021 11:41
Khemehekis wrote: 26 May 2021 07:48 What would a radiate with the ability to float or fly in the air look like?

I already have a radiate called the phelus with helicopter-like wings on Shaleya, but I want a different body plan for my flying radiates on Doyatl.
If it helps, the Denê of Alar use dendrothurgy to make airships from various kinds of fern tree. Air ferns you see. The wood itself is very buoyant and limbs with long feathery leaves act as wings. They locomote something like a sea jelly, a kind of peaceful undulation.

So, imagine a trireme only in stead of oars, there are trees growing up and out from the keels. Tall trees provide powerful lift & unlift while smaller trees provide lateral motion & pitch. Quite the way to travel! Especially when they're all decorated.
Thanks, Elemtilas, that sounds like a great idea! I could have the longer and shorter tentacles reaching upward from the boat-like bodies of these scyphozoans scaphozoans. There would be some other kind of organ like a mast and sail coming out from the center of the radiates' bodies, although what that would evolve out of, I'm not sure.
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by elemtilas »

Khemehekis wrote: 27 May 2021 06:31
elemtilas wrote: 26 May 2021 11:41
Khemehekis wrote: 26 May 2021 07:48 What would a radiate with the ability to float or fly in the air look like?

I already have a radiate called the phelus with helicopter-like wings on Shaleya, but I want a different body plan for my flying radiates on Doyatl.
If it helps, the Denê of Alar use dendrothurgy to make airships from various kinds of fern tree. Air ferns you see. The wood itself is very buoyant and limbs with long feathery leaves act as wings. They locomote something like a sea jelly, a kind of peaceful undulation.

So, imagine a trireme only in stead of oars, there are trees growing up and out from the keels. Tall trees provide powerful lift & unlift while smaller trees provide lateral motion & pitch. Quite the way to travel! Especially when they're all decorated.
Thanks, Elemtilas, that sounds like a great idea! I could have the longer and shorter tentacles reaching upward from the boat-like bodies of these scyphozoans scaphozoans. There would be some other kind of organ like a mast and sail coming out from the center of the radiates' bodies, although what that would evolve out of, I'm not sure.
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Post by k1234567890y »

I kinda wanna add groups of Jewish people and Romani people in my conworlds, what should I notice when I do this? Is it even ok to do this?
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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Post by WeepingElf »

No.

What you can have is some people who are inspired by them, and even then the danger of those being interpreted as anti-Jewish and anti-Roma slurs looms high, but otherwise you will be faced with the question how those Jews and Roma end up in your conworld.
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k1234567890y wrote: 02 Jun 2021 12:20 I kinda wanna add groups of Jewish people and Romani people in my conworlds, what should I notice when I do this? Is it even ok to do this?
I guess we could divide this into two aspects: artistic and moral.

Artistically, the question would be: how did they get there? Did they wander through a portal from earth, or were they plucked up and placed there by a god? Why does the portal/god specifically target Jewish and Romani people? It's hard to think of a plausible answer to that. With Jews, there's an obvious alternative option: the Jews are right, they are the chosen people, and God has chosen them on every planet; every possible universe is designed so that the Jews arise in it to be chosen by God. This would obviously have major ramifications for the rest of your world. And it's harder to argue this for the Romani, since then you'd need to assume a Romani-loving God who doesn't even bother to tell them that they're chosen, but still designs each world to produce Romani people. Which is... weird.

Morally, the question is: are you Jewish? Romani? If not, why do you feel the need to make big statements about these ethnic groups that you're not part of? Do you really have something insightful and important to say about these groups that hasn't already been said better by someone else? And is it so important to say it that you're willing to seriously offend and upset members of persecuted minorities? I guess that if you're, say, a learned professor of Jewish history and you want to make a world that illustrates something commonly overlooked about a particular time period in Jewish history, that might be morally understandable? But if it's just going to be 'hey, cool persecuted minority that I know nothing about, I will fetishistically incorporate their persecution into my game!', then yeah, no, take a long look at yourself.
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Post by LinguistCat »

I read a book series (which I would name but it is an erotica when it's not being historical fantasy) that had mostly Western history/religion/etc but "a little to the left". So, of course there were also analogues to Jews and Roma in the world because there was no reason to not include them. I think the intentions of the author, in as much as intent counts for anything, were good and in line with the rest of her worldbuilding. I am not a Jew, nor Roma, so I cannot speak to her writing of these characters, but I felt that they were treated as people instead of stereotypes and where there might have been changes or simplifications, again they were in line with other changes in her world's history and mythos.

She also had a viewpoint character who was friends with and sympathetic to people in these groups, and didn't write from the viewpoint of one of these characters as if she knew what it was like to be from one of those groups. The viewpoint character didn't act as a "white savior" but helped the characters she was friends with when they requested. I'm very certain the author spoke with people from these groups to get an idea of what they would want to see and has generally been very careful in how she presents non-Western cultural analogues.

That's all to say I think the important thing, if op does decide to include analogues to Jews and Roma, is to research whatever you can. Get some people who are themselves Jewish or Roma to look over what you include (preferably multiple people from each group since they are likely to vary in their opinions), and don't write about BEING these cultures if you aren't a part of them.

Also if this is personal writing/conworlding that you don't really intend to share in any large space, no one can really stop you from doing whatever you want, and if they don't like it they don't have to interact with you or consume your work. But I would still suggest being compassionate when presenting cultures or cultural analogues that have historically been misrepresented and looked down on or worse.
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I plan for one of my concultures (Bólks) to have a permanent military regime at some point. Now I was wondering, how is succession of leaders supposed to work under a military regime, apart from Klingon promotion?
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Creyeditor wrote: 11 Jun 2021 23:24 I plan for one of my concultures (Bólks) to have a permanent military regime at some point. Now I was wondering, how is succession of leaders supposed to work under a military regime, apart from Klingon promotion?
Well, bear in mind that European cultures had more or less permanent military regimes from circa 400 to... maybe 1500? 1600? And on many occasions before that (much of Roman history) and after that (a lot of modern history).

Succession of people who own swords happens the same way as any other sort of succession: there's a shortlist of candidates, and the powerbrokers select the one they prefer. This can involve meritocracy, popularity, the stated preference of the preceding leader, or obedience to a fixed consensus rule (such as primogeniture). Succession can happen at the death of the old leader, at the predetermined retirement of the leader, or when the leader spontaneously chooses to resign, or when the leader loses the approval of the powerbrokers; in the case of succession through retirement, the retired leader may continue to hold considerable power. Leaders may also choose (or be forced) to give considerably power to their likely successor ahead of time. Obviously, as in any such system, succession is easier when the institutions are more institutionalised, so that candidates can be sorted into clearly-defined statuses and roles before the time of the succession.

It can also, of course, work very badly in some instances, which is a big part of why societies have generally attempted to evolve beyond military rule. The problem with military rule is that most of the candidates to succeed will have military power, which means that disgruntled failed candidates may have the resources to seriously contest the succession post facto, causing a civil war. The most famous example of this was the 'barracks emperors' era of Rome, when emperors tended to die quickly and every succession was accompanied by a civil war. The saving grace of mediaeval Europe, in this regard, was the the countries were so weak, and the armies so small and hard to raise, that failed candidates often didn't really have much military capital to attempt a recount with; nonetheless, a great many of these conflicts did break out nonetheless, such as the approximately one century of civil war triggered by the death of Edward III. The strongest tool for minimising civil war is strong institutionalisation - particularly to limit the number of viable candidates. But there's really no good way.
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Post by Creyeditor »

That's an intetesting perpective. I've never thought about powerbrokers that way, though I was suspecting that the regime is in some way independent of the timing of succession. I think I like the idea of "stated preference of the preceding leader" but I will couple it with a meritocracy-like system for the short-list were only high-ranking native members of the military are eligible.
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Post by Salmoneus »

Creyeditor wrote: 12 Jun 2021 10:56 I was suspecting that the regime is in some way independent of the timing of succession.
Not sure what you mean, there?
I think I like the idea of "stated preference of the preceding leader"
This is what leaders throughout history have attempted to establish - not only does it greatly increase stability, it also greatly enhances the power of the leader, since everyone has to suck up to them if they want a promotion.

But it does have its own weaknesses, particulaly if succession is on the death of the leader. If they're no longer around to enforce their will, their preference may not be respected. It may also not be clear who the preferred successor actually is - a famous example is Edward the Confessor, where both Harold Godwinson (Harold II) and William the Bastard (William I) claimed to be Edward's chosen successor (leading to the Battle of Hastings). It also tends to put a giant bullseye on the back of the chosen successor, since everyone knows that if they kill them quickly, they might be chosen themselves.

One way around this is the custom of executing all candidates other than the chosen one (as the Ottomans did, for example). This, however, creates an even worse potential instability: what if the chosen one dies, or falls out of favour, before succeeding? Even when other candidates survive, this can cause a crisis: if everyone knows who the chosen heir is, nobody else positions themselves to take over, so when there is no longer an heir, chaos can reign. [a famous example: the Wars of the Roses. The core problem was that when the Black Prince died a year before his father, it left his son, a ten-year-old, as heir; but this was exacerbated by the fact that the lack of time between the two deaths led to a lack of certainty over who should act as regent, particularly between the young king's three warrior uncles, Lancaster (who happened to be in the country at the right time), York and Gloucester.]

It can be helpful to give power to the successor in advance, to prevent any complaints later. This, of course, means the successor can try to accelerate the process. For a while, English kings used to nominate their chosen successor as co-ruler (as Romans frequently did), but this didn't last long. Particularly famous was the attempt by Henry II's sons to replace him.

One solution found in some places (most famously Japan) was to clearly demarcate the relative roles of the 'old' and 'young' rulers: in Japan, the old emperor would 'retire' early in their reign, and give administrative power to a successor, while continuing to exercise considerable influence and ritual authority - essentially, a CEO/Chairman relationship.
but I will couple it with a meritocracy-like system for the short-list were only high-ranking native members of the military are eligible.
Limiting the shortlist in this way is common, yes. Historically it was common to have a 'prince of the blood' system, in which only people in specific relations to the previous monarch were eligible to become the next monarch, thus limiting the number of potential candidates, and hence the possibility of war. A non-hereditary example is the Papacy - although theoretically any Christian man can become pope, in practice by long convention the pope is elected from the college of cardinals.
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Salmoneus wrote: 12 Jun 2021 14:17
Creyeditor wrote: 12 Jun 2021 10:56 I was suspecting that the regime is in some way independent of the timing of succession.
Not sure what you mean, there?
I was just pointing out that you confirmed what I thought before, here:
Salmoneus wrote: 12 Jun 2021 02:14 Succession can happen at the death of the old leader, at the predetermined retirement of the leader, or when the leader spontaneously chooses to resign, or when the leader loses the approval of the powerbrokers; in the case of succession through retirement, the retired leader may continue to hold considerable power. Leaders may also choose (or be forced) to give considerably power to their likely successor ahead of time.
Salmoneus wrote: 12 Jun 2021 14:17 A non-hereditary example is the Papacy - although theoretically any Christian man can become pope, in practice by long convention the pope is elected from the college of cardinals.
All of my concountries seem to gravitate towards the Papacy for some reason [:D]
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Post by elemtilas »

Creyeditor wrote: 12 Jun 2021 16:32 All of my concountries seem to gravitate towards the Papacy for some reason [:D]
It's been a stable system, historically. It has survived not only every every war and every empire that has existed since Rome, but it has also survived its own hierarchy. And that's saying something. I'll probably get some eye rolling for saying it, but I don't think such a system would work long term for a purely human institution. We've had some really cringey popes and there's just no way any organisation whose leaders demonstrate the qualities of greed, power madness, pride, personal gain over greater good and the like could last without divine assistance.
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Post by Salmoneus »

Fortunately, divine assistance appears to be commonplace. The Roman Empire lasted 1,480 years; the mainline Caliphate lasted 1,292; the Chinese Empire has lasted 3,577 years and counting, depending on definitions (but including around 1,000 years of fairly unambiguous continuity); the Pharaohs were around for around 3,000 years; and so on. [meanwhile, even the Church herself recognises that, while there must theologically have been a Pope at all times, there have been several periods in history in which it is not clear who the 'real' Pope was, given the profusion of warring candidates...]
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Post by elemtilas »

Yes. It's easy to claim divine assistance when you're a civil leader and you've got armies at your command. Your comparison is apples and oranges, though.
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Post by aliensdrinktea »

I'm thinking of making the word for "sun" in my proto-language the name of the (yet-unnamed) solar goddess, since ancient people would have seen the sun and the goddess as one and the same. The problem is, I don't want the deities to still be called things like "Sun" and "Moon*" by modern speakers who know these things to be natural objects and not divine beings. (In modern religious tradition, celestial bodies are still associated with deities but are not considered to be the deities themselves.)
*Actually, there's three moons, but I digress.

I'm not sure how to tackle this. I thought of having deities' names being deemed too sacred for everyday use, so that epithets were preferred, but that still doesn't solve the problem of linguistically separating the sun from the sun goddess.

Also, how resistant (if at all) are the names of gods/goddesses to language change, and does the presence or absence of a written canon make a difference? I'm talking about personal names, not titles/epithets.
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aliensdrinktea wrote: 12 Aug 2021 04:48 I'm thinking of making the word for "sun" in my proto-language the name of the (yet-unnamed) solar goddess, since ancient people would have seen the sun and the goddess as one and the same. The problem is, I don't want the deities to still be called things like "Sun" and "Moon*" by modern speakers who know these things to be natural objects and not divine beings. (In modern religious tradition, celestial bodies are still associated with deities but are not considered to be the deities themselves.)
*Actually, there's three moons, but I digress.
I can't really think of a parallel here. In Europe, we mostly call things by the names of the god still. Germanic languages don't colloquially - perhaps because the sun and the moon were even less important for them - but Sun and Moon are still used as names of gods by neopagans, and Germanic-speaking scientists still prefer the divine names. So we have solar power and the heliopause and lunar landers and so forth. Romance speakers still use the divine names on a daily basis. And even Germanic speakers use the divine names for the planets, and have even repurposed additional divine names for astronomical bodies unknown to the ancients. Would scientists avoid using the divine names if they still believed in the divinities? I doubt it, since neopagans don't avoid them. Likewise, Epicureans, who believed that Helios was a extremely large man who lived a long, long, long way away, still used his name for the sun.

It's worth saying here: there's no really a distinction between "natural objects" and "divine beings". The Greeks didn't believe that the sun was unnatural, or that it wasn't an object. They just believed that it was divine as well. Coming to believe that the sun was divine wouldn't require any changes in physical beliefs about the sun - just different conclusions about how we should act toward it. If a scientists says a prayer before sending off a solar probe, that doesn't require her to think anything different about its results.

We do have a modern parallel, incidentally, in the form of nations. America, France, Britain, Russia, are essentially treated as divine today - albeit rather puny deities by historical standards! - and spoken of in anthropomorphic terms, given attributes and agency. Sometimes they're given alternative names in their divine forms - Uncle Sam, John Bull, etc - but mostly people use the same names as for the geographical terms. Yet people don't get confused when they mix up geographical claims like 'Britain is an island' and anthropomorphic claims like 'Britain voted against the resolution'. Even though often the two terms don't even exactly correlate!

Finally, the other thing to remember is that there will usually be multiple sun gods, moon gods, and so on. The Classical moon was associated with at least six different goddesses: Selene, Artemis, Hecate, Phoebe, Pandia and Theia. [aiui Artemis as Artemis wasn't the moon, but was associated with her; but Artemis was also Cynthia, who was the moon]
I'm not sure how to tackle this. I thought of having deities' names being deemed too sacred for everyday use, so that epithets were preferred, but that still doesn't solve the problem of linguistically separating the sun from the sun goddess.
Why not? Bear in mind, there's no difference linguistically between an epithet and a name. Many, if not most, divine names began as epithets of other gods. Take those moon goddesses again: Selene is the bright one; Phoebe is the bright one; Pandia is the all-bright one; Cynthia is she who was born on Mt Cynthus; Artemis was believed by the Greeks to be 'the butcher' or 'the unviolated one', though its real etymology is unknown (she's probably from Anatolia, not Greece); Hecate's origin is appropriately unclear, but some have suggested she's "the Willful", or "The Far-Reaching"; Theia is simply "The Goddess", although she's also known as Euryphaessa, "The Wide-Shining One".

[also bear in mind, there's never really one god and another god in an unambiguous way: whether two gods are considered the same god is generally in flux - gods merge, gods bud off, and often people believe that two gods both are and aren't the same god simultaneously. The Greek sun god Hyperion, for instance, was both the father of the sun god Helios, and simultaneously the same as the sun god Helios. Phoebe was both the ancestor of Artemis and Selene, and also the same as Artemis and Selene (who could be called Pheobe Artemis and Phoebe Selene to disambiguate), even though Artemis and Selene weren't the same (although Artemis was the same as Cynthia, who could be the same as Selene), and so on... so whether something is an epithet or the name of a new god is always ambiguous]

Aside from the use of epithets, you could also just introduce new gods - or new names for them, since this is common enough.
Also, how resistant (if at all) are the names of gods/goddesses to language change, and does the presence or absence of a written canon make a difference? I'm talking about personal names, not titles/epithets.
In general, nothing is resistant to language change. The presence of a written canon won't inherently make a difference - see how in English we refer to /dZi:z@s kraIst/, not /i.E:so:s xristos/. The problem is that a written text can't be used to correct pronounciation, because as pronunciation changes, so does the interpretation of written text - people don't know that they're pronouncing it 'wrong'. However, spelling pronunciations are possible if sound change causes things like deletion or addition of phonemes - providing that the new phonotactics allow it. It's also possible that in some cultures with an intense focus on chanting, sound change may be greatly delayed by the desire to perfectly mimic a chant as a sound, rather than as language, and this can apply to divine names as much as to anything else in the scripture. However, both these routes - chanting and reading - assume a religion in which the small minority of educated priests really dominate the congregation. Notably, despite the power of priests in Catholicism, this did not prevent things like the dropping of the suffix from 'Christ', even though the priests would have known at least the Latin, if not the Greek, and known that the suffix 'should' have been there.
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Post by Pabappa »

so far as I know, the Romans named the planets after their gods, but they didnt believe that the planets were their gods. I dont know if this also applies to the Sun and Moon, or to the Greeks, or the other tribes who did the same sort of thing ... I just know what I know because I looked it up to get better grounding on my own world's mythology. I decided to extend this system all the way .... the angels control the cosmos, and one angel in particular controls the sun, but this means the sun is an object controlled by an angel, not an angel itself.
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Post by Dormouse559 »

aliensdrinktea wrote: 12 Aug 2021 04:48 I'm thinking of making the word for "sun" in my proto-language the name of the (yet-unnamed) solar goddess, since ancient people would have seen the sun and the goddess as one and the same. The problem is, I don't want the deities to still be called things like "Sun" and "Moon*" by modern speakers who know these things to be natural objects and not divine beings. (In modern religious tradition, celestial bodies are still associated with deities but are not considered to be the deities themselves.)
*Actually, there's three moons, but I digress.
It is possible for a god and a celestial body to share a name, and then for semantic shift to change the name of the latter, or for another process, like analogy, to otherwise differentiate the names. Jupiter is a good example of this, but I’m not thinking of the planet. The first element of the name, and the forms in Iov-, comes from Proto-Italic *djous, which meant "sky, day" and "Jupiter". By the time of Classical/Vulgar Latin, the "sky" meaning had been taken over by caelum, and analogy applied to the irregular *djous had split off the "day" meaning as diēs. That left *djous meaning solely "Jupiter". However, unless a language is undergoing some serious turnover in its vocabulary, I wouldn't expect these processes to be consistent enough to affect all the gods' names.

Another thought is that the speakers of your conlang add disambiguating material to the names, either the planet ("planet Mars") or the god ("the god Mars", "holy Mars") or both. Maybe the addition becomes obligatory or fuses with the root.
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Post by aliensdrinktea »

Thanks a TON for the helpful responses! I don't have time to type up much of a reply right now, but I seriously appreciate the help [:)]
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