Let's Read GURPS Celtic Myth

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
To give myself a bit of variation on the Alpha Centauri Let's Read and because of the day it is, I thought that I'd start off this Let's Read.

cover_lg.jpg

Published in 2000 by Steve Jackson Games the book gives an overview of the worlds of Irish and Welsh myth as informed by historical research for use in a GURPS campaign, but outside of a few isolated sections is system neutral enough to be easily used outside of that. Authors are Ken and Jo Walton. Ken being a long time RPG author for White Dwarf and WFRP and Jo being a Classics and Ancient history graduate.

The basic breakdown of the book's chapters is:
  1. Intro and Glossary (These are at the start and end respectively, but they're linked so I'll treat them together)

  2. The Celtic World. This the daily life, society and metaphysical concepts of a Celt

  3. The Tales. Summaries of the major mythological cycles and how to use them in games

  4. Characters. Char Gen with Skills, Gear, etc

  5. The Sidhe. The otherworld and all the supernatural stuff that goes with it

  6. Magic. Devoted to the particulars of Celtic Magic and mechanics for same

  7. Campaign. Different ways of approaching a Celtic campaign, some adventure seeds and using Celtic material in other campaigns.
I've dual run a game of it for the purpose of the this let's read. My ever patient group and I tested both the base setting and the cross genre stuff by doing a Welsh game that went from historical to cyberpunk Mythic Wales. I won't bore you with the details of our phenomenal game, but just as a way of saying I've used the product.

To set it out clearly from the start:
The basic aim of this book is to let you play in the world of Celtic legends. Irish and Welsh myth borrow liberally from each other and characters from one mythos often appear in the other. Merlin appears in Irish myth and Ler in Welsh stories, so the book goes for this shared mythical setting. It then uses historical knowledge to flesh out the daily life not mentioned much in the stories themselves. Although the myths take place in the mythic past, it's clear when daily life is mentioned it's not actual Pagan-era life but contemporary to the authors. Cú Chulainn is depicted as living a 8th century AD life despite the stories saying he lives in the 200s or so BC. So the GURPS book does similar and sketches life in the Dark Ages period.

I'll be going through the book describing and commenting or expanding on the material and giving recommendations for further resources. Off to Intro and Glossary next!

 
Last edited:

David Johansen

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,879
Reaction score
2,457
It's an interesting book and quite a departure from the historical GURPS books of the day.
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
Introduction and Glossary
This is a brief little bit about the scope of the book and how to handle speech, names and language.

Laying out terms:
So the book begins with a fairly clear definition of what it intends to cover:
GURPS Celtic Myth said:
The lives of the pagan Celts as remembered in their stories and rediscovered by archaeology...some liberties have been taken with the evidence to provide a world suitable
for roleplaying
Thus we are not dealing here with either the actual Pagan era or a historically accurate treatment of the Medieval Celtic nations. Rather the Pagan era as remembered in Medieval Epic literature filled out a bit with archaeological findings and filling in the gaps to give a playable world. An example of such a gap is given with the druids, where both the stories and the archaeology are lacking so they authors use a bit of creativity. Looking ahead I think overall this is done as well as one could ask, but more on that when we get there.

Specifically excluded is later folklore from the Celtic nations such as the many pixies and sprites of Early Modern to Modern Ireland and Wales, e.g. the Leprechaun and Coblynau, as well as the many ghost and demon stories.

Language:
The Intro and Glossary together provide a small discussion of the languages for the purpose of gaming, covering two areas spelling and the treatments of language in game.

Welsh spelling is left as it is since the spelling and sounds are in very close 1-1 correspondence once one knows a few of the rules. And in the glossary the authors provide these rules in a very compact form taking up only a paragraph. An example being "dd" being the sound in English "these".

Irish spelling is not given. What can I say. When my aunt spells the word for "advise" as "cóirliú" and my grandmother spelt it "comhairliughadh" but they both pronounced it the same, I'm not going to blame the authors for just hitting the eject button on that one. Instead what the glossary gives is the name that has entered the English language from Victorian story collections such as those of Lady Augusta Gregory. If such a name is missing the authors have created one in the same style.

The major characters of Celtic myth are then given. I think it might have been useful to mark some with (W) or similar to indicate they are Welsh and so to use the phonetic rules they have given.

Use of language and Style:
The glossary then points out two things. The first is quite important.

In the stories everybody speaks the same language. So when Merlin shows up in Irish stories he doesn't speak Welsh, need a translator or even have a Welsh accent. He just speaks Irish even though he says he is from Wales. This despite Irish and Welsh not being mutually comprehensible. Same with Irish characters in Welsh myth where they sometimes use local slang. So the approach is far closer to modern loose fantasy where everybody just speaks Common of some kind. Good to point out as I think otherwise people would suppose Welsh characters should invest in Language[Irish] or something if they plan on popping over. Good example of the author's actually knowing their genre.

The second thing they mention is how to capture the highfalutin style of the Bards. Also used at formal occasions, when heroes meet each other or just to sound fancy. I have to say they did this very well. Pointing out the key features of:
  1. Massive exaggeration
  2. Lots of simile and simile on top of simile
  3. Very descriptive
  4. Use it as a way of avoiding questions by underneath it all saying little or just a tautology.
An example they give is instead of having an NPC deliver "she said nothing" they instead say:
And never a word did she speak, no, she was as silent as a babe in arms asleep who listens to her mother’s heartbeat and does not wake; as silent as the grass on a windless day, a day of calm before the great winds that shake the trees and lift the roofs of duns and poor men’s huts alike. No, she spoke not a word, and we know nothing of the matter.
Obviously this will test player patience, but it is a trope and would still be a stalling technique in Celtic speaking areas so nice to see it called out.

So next onto the game proper with daily Celtic Life! But first some pics.

Cú Chulainn trains with his master Scathach. Then she hits him in the balls. Later she blocks a spear he throws.
20200319_234806.jpg
20200319_234828.jpg

Intro to the story of Math Fab Mathonwy. The Welsh king who needed to rest his feet on the lap of a virgin.
20200319_234727.jpg
 
Last edited:

Edgewise

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2017
Messages
4,173
Reaction score
7,476
When my aunt spells the word for "advise" as "cóirliú" and my grandmother spelt it "comhairliughadh" but they both pronounced it the same, I'm not going to blame the authors for just hitting the eject button on that one.
That's so hard to imagine! How would you, err, transliterate that word into modern English pronunciations?
An example they give is instead of having an NPC deliver "she said nothing" they instead say:
I would have too much fun with this as a GM. "'So you're saying it's dangerous?' my irritated PC's would be known to say."
But first some pics.
Very helpful and (especially the last one) pretty.

By the way, I noticed before that this was done by Jo Walton (and her husband). I'm guessing you're familiar with her works and planning to get into that at some point.
 

Moonglum

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Messages
570
Reaction score
981
Great thread! I love this book. I used it for my historical GURPS campaign years ago, and continue to dip into it (and other 3E GURPS historical modules) for my Fantasy Trip campaigns. I love how this one 'pairs' with GURPS Rome.
 

Doc Sammy

Old-School Otaku
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
1,546
Reaction score
1,791
I may be a Roman citizen myself, but I'll definitely subscribe to this thread!

Time to crack open that bottle of Jameson I bought yesterday and celebrate.

And this should be the theme of the thread....

 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
That's so hard to imagine! How would you, err, transliterate that word into modern English pronunciations?
Core-lieu. Core as in "The Earth's core" and lieu as in "in lieu of". I actually spell it a third way "Comhairliú" which is sort of midway between them. So it gets pretty silly!

I would have too much fun with this as a GM. "'So you're saying it's dangerous?' my irritated PC's would be known to say."
Brian Ó Nualláin, known in English as Brian O'Nolan for his novel "The Third Policeman" used to call them "hyperbolic tautologies". Daniel Owen the Welsh writer had a similar phrase.

By the way, I noticed before that this was done by Jo Walton (and her husband). I'm guessing you're familiar with her works and planning to get into that at some point.
Yeah, I was thinking around the saga sections. She's the only modern author I know whose works feel like the shared setting we see in Medieval texts. Pretty cool lady!
 
Last edited:

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
So the first chapter is all about the Celtic World view and daily life. I'll try to supplement what the book says with examples and more detail.
Chapter1.jpg

Time:
There's a little sidebar on the oddness of time in Celtic Myth. Basically for people who stay in their home area time progresses linearly. For anybody who travels or moves about it's very weird and narrative focused.

Commonly characters leaving home on an adventure will return centuries later to find their home in ruins and long abandoned. They can even spend a year on a journey and return home with their loved ones saying they just left such as in the Welsh story of Bran feasting at Harddlech. Even stranger: journeying to a famous location will see the PCs sucked into the story tied to that place. Go to the site of a battle that happened 500 years ago and you will be caught up in the fight, speak to the famous generals of the time, maybe change the course of the battle. Anybody who has played Runequest will see some familiarity with PCs entering the GodTime in Glorantha where you take part in myth.

Actual examples of this are St. Patrick meeting gods when he goes to their old mounds and he seems to actually be in their time as they are unaware of references he makes to current events. In Welsh myth many magical objects such as royal seats or spears can time or space shift the hero.

Weird mixing of space and time is often connected to the Otherworld, so much more when we get there.

Chapter in general:
After that the book deals with various aspects of Celtic Life. This isn't exactly how the book divides it, but I would say the main themes are:

View of the world and man's place in it
Personal Honour
Women in Society
Entertainment
Kingship
War
The Legal system
Religion

I'll split these in groups across posts because I think it looks better than one massive post and also for ease of skipping to a topic if you're interested in it.

If there is one flaw this section has it is one echoed in the rest of the book. The examples and details are mostly Irish, with little of the Welsh details gone into. I think this is down to Welsh material being less readily available in English.

Also one thing to say in advance, Celtic culture has strong parallels with Japanese culture. To a decent approximation Celtic culture could be said to be like Japanese culture in most senses, but with more Eastern (specifically Persian) notion of what a King was and with a much more "low brow" or visceral aesthetic. Also this is a mechanics free chapter mostly.

Welsh hero Einion ap Gwalchmai the bard off on a journey where he meets the goat woman who tries to seduce him.

20200404_010444.jpg
 
Last edited:

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
The Celtic Worldview.
So here we are given a quick summary of the core of the Celtic conception of the universe and themselves within it.

The Celts were very focused on nature and the immediate visceral experiences of daily life, e.g. food, sex, drink, but tinged with sadness. The focus on nature lead to a deep knowledge of plant and animal life.

Nature:
Nature itself had a mystical overlay. This is usually concentrated in specific beautiful areas. If you are familiar with Japanese myth and aesthetics this is very similar to how areas of great natural beauty are meant to have a Kami. Where Japanese myth gives striking locations a small god, Celtic myth gives it the power to enhance natural life. An effect the book nicely summarises as "Wonders", the native terms in Irish and Welsh being very varied and hard to translate. A wonder is some mythical life, most often an animal, which is spawned at a place of great natural beauty. These were still reported and understood to be real well into the Christian period with the Christian god called "The King of Wonders".

In Welsh myth it is more common that the wonder is a mythical creature like a dragon or unicorn. In Irish myth it is more likely to be an enhanced regular animal, an oddly intelligent cat, a knowing raven. In both cases the wonder is implicitly lethal though this rarely manifests and fully or semi-sapient. The manner of death will be quite brutal, even to the extent of evoking sexual violence.

However they come with great power or knowledge provided one is willing to follow them or kill and possibly eat them. It's not uncommon for the wonders to present themselves for the kill.

The GURPS supplement suggests just letting them be spectacles, i.e. don't give the players cool magic items from them. And have them be spawned on criticals in suitably ethereal locations. To some extent I would say this goes against the original stories where they do grant powers. However these powers are often not ones that can be easily used in an RPG campaign. Examples being a woman consuming the blood of a strange black stallion she finds in meadow. She then gives birth to an incredible warrior months later. Or finding a raven with scintillating red eyes in a forest. Upon killing it, reading its entrails foretells the site of a coming great battle.

This all links in with the distortions of time and space above. Often the locations with the wonders can never be found again, or bear the details (e.g. intact Pagan monoliths) of other times. The book does use this to point out something very important. In Celtic Myths monsters do not lurk in woods or in rivers etc. Unless the place is giving off a mystic vibe with plenty of warning in advance that "Hey this is a wierd place" there won't be mythical creatures. The darkest forest at night just has owls and foxes and a hero won't find a wonder unless he travels far from home. No matter where his home is.

20200404_011714.jpg

Visceral life
I think the book could have served to have slightly stronger examples to drive this home. What it says is:
GURPS said:
The Celts loved life, and lived it with the immediacy and vividness of those who know that they could die at any minute. Theirs was not a sanitized world-view: Deirdre discovered the image of her true love in a raven tearing at a bloody carcass in the snow (see p. 34). They found nothing in the natural world disgusting, or shameful. The only shameful things were human behaviors – attacking a guest, refusing a fair fight, telling lies (as opposed to speaking less than the whole truth), et cetera. There were many joys to be found, but
even the greatest joys were touched with sadness. While a story might be thigh slappingly funny in the middle, it often ended on a down-note; the hero could be struck down in his prime, or live to melancholy old age to tell the stories of great days gone by to the next generation.
This ever potential sadness is essentially a permanent slight melancholy over the transience of things. Very similar to Mono no Aware of Japan. Often summarised in the phrase used by Celtic monks "There is nothing in this world but mist", a phrase used in this nice little cartoon song:

It's the "nothing was shameful" of "not sanitized" I think could use examples. Queen Méibh forming a massive churning cauldron of toxic menstrul blood in one discharged magical blast would be an example. Or the Sidhe queen with the magic vagina from the ancient story of Eisirt. Despite being a dwarf she has the magic ability to "consume the cock of a giant". There are multiple examples of ripping out organs and force feeding them back to victim and other equal gruesome stuff. I think something more was needed to drive this "unsantized" point home.

Magic:
Magic in Celtic myth is not even remotely systemitsed. Something could work one day and not the next for no real reason. The world was expected to be unpredictable and unknowable. Only a druid had some understanding of these things.

The book does give systems later for Druid and Non-Druidic magic, which we'll get to. As most will know from fantasy in general all magic in the Celtic/Druidic view comes from nature and requires a detailed knowledge of the natural world to enact.
 
Last edited:

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
Personal Honour:
Celts were very concerned with saving face to the extent that it formed a large part of the economy with singers, entertainers and Bards ensuring the praise of their patrons and counteracting the satire of others. The book lists the three main virtues:
Hospitality, Generosity and Bravery. Vengence is given as the fourth less important virtue.

Like an Arthurian Knight or a samurai on the path of a Ronin, a common trope involves using the hero's honour against them. Trapping them in an impossible situation from which they have no escape.

The book mentions the "Geasa" a sort of mystical extension of personal conduct codes. I think anybody interested in Fantasy is aware of the concept so I'll skip to the main points.

First the authors thankfully use Gesa and not Geas/Geis which means something socially inappropriate like banging your aunt.

Secondly I think it would have be nice to add here the Irish/Welsh distinctions. The Irish gesa tends to be based around honour directly, e.g. "First to offer food during a fight". The Welsh Tynged tends to be more whimsical like the famous example of Math ap Mathonwy needing to rest his feet on the lap of a virgin. Or Lleu Llaw Gyffes who could only be given weapons by his mother. In Welsh myth they are more often externally imposed restrictions, in the Irish case magically reinforced honour.

Thirdly it makes the point that the more heroic and powerful you are the more Geasa you have and the more likely that they are unknown to you. An unconcious habit you naturally have, but if broken will lead to doom. Many stories revolve around heroes trying to find out their Gesas.

Women in Society:
Here the author begins with "Women in Celtic society were the nominal equals of men".

Actual Medieval Celtic cultures were unusual for the time in that an eldest daughter, if she proved component from the community's perspective, was permitted the same legal rights as a son. This did mean there were female Bards, female Historians, female lawyers, warriors, traders, etc. The GURPS book does mention that women were uncommon in these professions, but I think it gets across the point that nobody thought it unusual. My reading of the period was that a woman in these jobs was as odd as a youngest son being in them. In some cases less so. We know that a daughter running an estate wasn't seen as even slightly unusual.

The book goes on to give the two major women of Celtic myth. Rhiannon of Dyfed and Méibh of Connacht. Both most likely originally godesses.

Rhiannon at court:
20200404_013323.jpg

Somethings to add to the book concerns sexuality. Celtic aesthetics often considers men to be the more beautiful gender and they are described often from a woman's point of view. Typical features mentioned are pale skin, red lips, raven hair (Kit Harrington looks basically), a massive dick (Whether that applies to Kit Harrington I can't say), a serene expression when sleeping. (I won't say the aesthetic qualities women were expected to have unless somebody asks, they're a bit crude!). Male beauty is often a focus of many stories. I've added elements of this to games to good success so I just thought I'd mention it.
Woman are often considered more focused on just sex as contrasted with the romantic nature of men. I think this is important to add in when considering romance in game. An old phrase translates to "The cold love women have".

Lesbianism is mentioned in legal documents, as are rent boys in a law defining the standards of their payment.

A nice little cartoon about the pirate Gráinne Mhaol. The song in the background is about her life, but I think the visuals provide all you need:

Entertainment:
The book covers the major hobbies of hunting, feasting, board games and field sports. The book describes this all very well so I'll summarise what it says.

The field sports are said to be all hockey like and not too far from how ice hockey is for our Canuck friends with frequent brawls and injuries. A hero is almost always marked out early in life by being incredible at sport.

Hunting is typical European fair. Birds -> Deer -> Boar being the order of how cool and prestigious a hunt was.

As for board games, the average Celt loved Hnefatafl as the book correctly says. Advising the use of GURPS Vikings for playing it in game, but this basically just gives a summary of the rules. The book does make one mistake. It identifies Fidchell, the game played by Bards and said to be the test of a powerful mind, as a variant of Hnefatafl. We in fact don't know what Fidchell was, except that it wasn't a Hnefatafl variant. It seems to have been a native game reserved only for the intelligensia and trouncing people at it is again a sign of heroism to come.
 
Last edited:

Stevethulhu

Lose 1d20 San
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
2,722
Reaction score
3,724
If there is one flaw this section has it is one echoed in the rest of the book. The examples and details are mostly Irish, with little of the Welsh details gone into. I think this is down to Welsh material being less readily available in English.
I'd say, speaking as a Welsh person, that it's because the Irish have much better press officers in America.
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
I'd say, speaking as a Welsh person, that it's because the Irish have much better press officers in America.
Well it's actually a bit strange. I was trying to figure it out and learned Jo Walton, one of the authors, is Welsh and natively speaks Welsh*. The other author is English and from his other stuff has a clear grasp of Welsh material. So I'm actually quite confused about it.

Do you mean they thought Irish stuff might sell more in the American market?

I surprised even mundane stuff like festivals and laws are given Irish detail more.

*I knew Wiki says she speaks Welsh, but a Welsh friend confirmed it's at native level.
 
Last edited:

Stevethulhu

Lose 1d20 San
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
2,722
Reaction score
3,724
Well it's actually a bit strange. I was trying to figure it out and learned Jo Walton, one of the authors, is Welsh and natively speaks Welsh*. The other author is English and from his other stuff has a clear grasp of Welsh material. So I'm actually quite confused about it.

Do you mean they thought Irish stuff might sell more in the American market?

I surprised even mundane stuff like festivals and laws are given Irish detail more.

*I knew Wiki says she speaks Welsh, but a Welsh friend confirmed it's at native level.
I've talked to Americans that thought Wales was Scotland. I've got no doubt the thinking was that Irish would sell better and Welsh would be confusing and seen as somehow not Celtic on the American market.

Better press officers, like I said :grin:
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
I was wondering was it that on the topic of let's say Kingship or similar there are accessible enough monographs for the Irish stuff in English, but that to fully understand a Welsh royal court system and the Bards one has to read academic papers in Celtic Studies journals, some of which are only in Welsh.

I know for Irish that material that hasn't appeared in English has no neat summary for the interested amateur. I was wondering if that was the case here, so despite speaking Welsh there was no easy text to learn the stuff from.
 

Stevethulhu

Lose 1d20 San
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
2,722
Reaction score
3,724
I was wondering was it that on the topic of let's say Kingship or similar there are accessible enough monographs for the Irish stuff in English, but that to fully understand a Welsh royal court system and the Bards one has to read academic papers in Celtic Studies journals, some of which are only in Welsh.

I know for Irish that material that hasn't appeared in English has no neat summary for the interested amateur. I was wondering if that was the case here, so despite speaking Welsh there was no easy text to learn the stuff from.
Only there's tons of stuff out there. And the levelnif academia that went into GURPS 3rd ed historical books would encourage getti g hold of thi gs like this-

 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,449
Reaction score
30,791
I was wondering was it that on the topic of let's say Kingship or similar there are accessible enough monographs for the Irish stuff in English, but that to fully understand a Welsh royal court system and the Bards one has to read academic papers in Celtic Studies journals, some of which are only in Welsh.

I know for Irish that material that hasn't appeared in English has no neat summary for the interested amateur. I was wondering if that was the case here, so despite speaking Welsh there was no easy text to learn the stuff from.

I can say this has been a source of continued frustration in my life. As an English speaker with only a spattering of Scots Gaelic I grew up with, my research resources are very limited.
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
Only there's tons of stuff out there. And the levelnif academia that went into GURPS 3rd ed historical books would encourage getti g hold of thi gs like this-

I may be missing something, but to me that's not quite what I mean it's a short essay on a specific topic. I mean a monograph that summarises the subject at a roughly early undergraduate level and covers a broad subject like Kingship/Women/Society. Something like "A History of Wales" by John Davies, but on typical topics in Medieval history. Most of the GURPS history books cite and show evidence of being well written "cliff notes" of such books. However I've never seen books like that for Welsh. If you know them I'd love to expand my Welsh book collection! :grin:

Maybe I'll ask Walton herself, there's a chance you're right about the marketing element.
 
Last edited:

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
I can say this has been a source of continued frustration in my life. As an English speaker with only a spattering of Scots Gaelic I grew up with, my research resources are very limited.
:heart:
Would this be a spattering of Cape Breton Gaelic? I'd love to hear more if you don't mind.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,449
Reaction score
30,791
:heart:
Would this be a spattering of Cape Breton Gaelic? I'd love to hear more if you don't mind.
The family (on my mother's side) was originally from the Knoydart area, near Inverie; it was my great grandparents that settled in Nova Scotia at the beginning of the last century, and my grandmother who would still speak Gaelic quite regularly wen I was growing up, usually either a song or proverbs - sghe acted like speaking the tongue, as she called it, was imparting wisdom. I wish I'd, as a child, had the forebearance or awareness to pay more attention or copy more of it down before she passed, but my interest in culture and history didn't manifest until my adolescence.

All I really have left is some common idioms and phrases (and a few colourful curses).
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
I've talked to Americans that thought Wales was Scotland. I've got no doubt the thinking was that Irish would sell better and Welsh would be confusing and seen as somehow not Celtic on the American market.

Better press officers, like I said :grin:
I've contacted Walton there so let's see. I'd still think the book has a serious enough tone and given the fanbase is one that likes detail that there's something more here than marketing.

Also for balance most Irish people would place Indiana near Alaska and think the Wild West all happened in Texas. I went to a play set in antebellum Georgia here about a year ago and well inaccurate would be a mild way to put it. Georgia seems to have been inhabited by John Wayne clones. :grin:

EDIT: My wife reminded me the set looked like the Sonoran Desert!
 
Last edited:

Atelerix

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
258
Reaction score
469
Oddly, my Scottish homeland in the Borders (ancient Bryneith or Berenecia, Northumbrian Bernaccia) went from speaking Welsh to English quite early, there's a Northumbrian English royal hall from possibly as early as 500AD. Gaelic was never spoken there, although it was further west in Galloway by the Gael-Gaedhil or Norse Gaels (islanders).

Lots of hills with corrie features take the name coomb, from Welsh cwm rather than Gaelic coire, as they do further north. And the Iron Age hillfort above the village I grew up is called Caerlee.

The historian Alistair Moffatt has made a credible case that the Welsh legends of The Old North are referring to continuing contact with the ancient British/Welsh kingdoms of southern Scotland. The Welsh hero Cunedda (modern Kenneth) seems to have his origins in the post-Roman lands of the Gododdin (Votadini) in the Forth Valley, centred on Edinburgh (Dun Edina).

The last Welsh-speaking kingdom in the north was Alt Clut (Strathclyde, centred on Dunbarton near Glasgow). It was invaded and collapsed in the 1070s, so after the Norman Invasion.
 

Nobby-W

Far more clumsy and random than a blaster
Joined
Oct 7, 2018
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
3,850
I've contacted Walton there so let's see. I'd still think the book has a serious enough tone and given the fanbase is one that likes detail that there's something more here than marketing.

Also for balance most Irish people would place Indiana near Alaska and think the Wild West all happened in Texas. I went to a play set in antebellum Georgia here about a year ago and well inaccurate would be a mild way to put it. Georgia seems to have been inhabited by John Wayne clones. :grin:

EDIT: My wife reminded me the set looked like the Sonoran Desert!
I've seen a film featuring scenes set while Merkin troops were staged in Wellington for the Pacific campaign that used it for scenery there. Wildly inaccurate comes to mind. I can't remember what the film was called but it might have actually had John Wayne in it.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,449
Reaction score
30,791
I've talked to Americans that thought Wales was Scotland. I've got no doubt the thinking was that Irish would sell better and Welsh would be confusing and seen as somehow not Celtic on the American market.

Better press officers, like I said :grin:

When I was lkiving in the US I met Americans who earnestly asked me if Canada had cities. The awareness of the outside world in that country is astoundingly low.
 

Simlasa

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,530
Reaction score
2,673
When I was lkiving in the US I met Americans who earnestly asked me if Canada had cities. The awareness of the outside world in that country is astoundingly low.
That gives me an idea, that fantasy elves... being stereotypically arrogant and self-satisfied, should be generally ignorant of anything having to do with areas outside of elfland. It's not about elves, so they really don't care... and are prone to ignorant questions and assumptions.
 

Stevethulhu

Lose 1d20 San
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
2,722
Reaction score
3,724
When I was lkiving in the US I met Americans who earnestly asked me if Canada had cities. The awareness of the outside world in that country is astoundingly low.
I'm not joking when I say was asked if we have cars in Wales. I said they only came a few years ago and I didn't have electricity in my county. Which was taken at face value.
 

Stevethulhu

Lose 1d20 San
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
2,722
Reaction score
3,724
I've contacted Walton there so let's see. I'd still think the book has a serious enough tone and given the fanbase is one that likes detail that there's something more here than marketing.

Also for balance most Irish people would place Indiana near Alaska and think the Wild West all happened in Texas. I went to a play set in antebellum Georgia here about a year ago and well inaccurate would be a mild way to put it. Georgia seems to have been inhabited by John Wayne clones. :grin:

EDIT: My wife reminded me the set looked like the Sonoran Desert!
There's enough material for Bangor University to offer a degree course in Celtic Studies.
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658

Tulpa Girl

Not a mod, not your momma.
Joined
Nov 14, 2018
Messages
1,500
Reaction score
4,012
That gives me an idea, that fantasy elves... being stereotypically arrogant and self-satisfied, should be generally ignorant of anything having to do with areas outside of elfland. It's not about elves, so they really don't care... and are prone to ignorant questions and assumptions.
I'm down with pretty much any approach that makes elves look like pompous asses.
 

Stevethulhu

Lose 1d20 San
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
2,722
Reaction score
3,724
There's definitely enough material, I've no doubt about that. What I'm wondering is if there was enough material in English in a form accessible to an autodidact outside of academia. Something John Julius Norwich's Byzantium books or similar.
When was the book written? Its entirely possible that ease of access to materials outside Wales was the issue at the time. Though I still feel the brief for the book would have emphasised Ireland over Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Brittany.
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
That's a good point. It was written in 2000.

If there's good books for the autodidact now I'd love to get them. I've Davies and Venning for the basic overview, but I've found that beyond that there's a chasm with technical academic stuff on the other side.
 

Votan

Active Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2018
Messages
26
Reaction score
40
When I was lkiving in the US I met Americans who earnestly asked me if Canada had cities. The awareness of the outside world in that country is astoundingly low.
I have definitely not encountered quite that level of insularity. And I spent 17 years of my life as a Canadian living in the United States. But I was principally in the South East and West coast, and there may be quite a great deal of regional variation.
 

Stevethulhu

Lose 1d20 San
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
2,722
Reaction score
3,724
That's a good point. It was written in 2000.

If there's good books for the autodidact now I'd love to get them. I've Davies and Venning for the basic overview, but I've found that beyond that there's a chasm with technical academic stuff on the other side.
I would strongly suggest finding an online Welsh book retailer. There used to be one called Siop y Morfa in my town, but I'm fairly sure they closed down a few years ago when the owner passed away. But there will be others.

For RPG purposes, I'd suggest taking a leaf from the Doctor Who legend Terrance Dicks and hitting up the children's department for books to research. They tend to have enough, but not too much, information in kids books. And presented in an accessible way, rather than dry academia.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,449
Reaction score
30,791
I have definitely not encountered quite that level of insularity. And I spent 17 years of my life as a Canadian living in the United States. But I was principally in the South East and West coast, and there may be quite a great deal of regional variation.
This was in Texas
 

Séadna

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,771
Reaction score
5,658
For RPG purposes, I'd suggest taking a leaf from the Doctor Who legend Terrance Dicks and hitting up the children's department for books to research
Never truer words spoken. I actually think books for 10-12 year olds are some of the best explanatory sources out there. A good DK book is an invaluable resource.
 
Top