Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Flannae Chronology

From: Gary R Welsh <grwst6+@PITT.EDU>


Date: Fri, Aug 21, 1998 12:36 AM

Subject: Re: [GREYTALK] Flannae Chronology

On Thu, 20 Aug 1998, Tai Meta wrote:

> Has anyone worked out a timeline for the Flan more interesting than "so-and-so invaded Flan lands"?

I'm interested in doing so, but I haven't got around to it yet. So far, it is true that much of Flan history is defined by the invasions. My take on it has always been that the Flan led mostly peaceful, uneventful and illiterate lives prior to the invasions. Thus, their history has been recorded primarily by their conquerers, who have not been generous on details. But this doesn't have to be the whole story.

If you haven't read it yet, in the OJ1 timeline Steve ("Tamerlain") Wilson fleshed out some pre-invasion Flan history, involving a subset of the Flan he called the Ur-Flannae. In this, Steve linked Vecna to the Ur-Flannae and the Isles of Woe.

I've also seen speculation (I think from Gary Holian) that Acererak must have been Flan as well, since he ruled a kingdom in the Vast Swamp area that evidently predated the invasions. Perhaps this was another realm of the Ur-Flannae.

What I find most interesting about all of this is that it gives an added dimension to Flan culture and history. It makes the Flan out to be more than just nature-worshipping psuedo-Amerindians. Obviously, the Ur-Flannae produced some powerful sorcerers and nation-states. These eventually fell or were overthrown, and that may help to explain why the Flan may have developed a distaste for civilization and political centralization. If you add in Keith Horsfield's idea that there were no humanoids living in the Flanaess prior to the invasions from the west, then that forms a fairly decent model for how the Flan were able to live such rustic, idyllic, uneventful lives ("It's just us Flan, demihumans and some tasty potatoes -- life is good").

Going with the Amerindian analogy, the Flan could very well be related (racially speaking) to the Olman and the Almeks of the southern regions(the way North American Indians are related to Central and South American Indians). The Olman/Almeks seem to have migrated from Hepmonaland across various islands in the Azure Sea to the Amedio Jungle (see C1). Those people evidently were city builders. The Olman/Almeks religion and culture was very distinct from the Flan of the north, but we might assume that in the very distant past, they were both of a common ancestry (Talk to Erik Mona about the Olman/Almeks gods, as he's done some work in that area, as I recall).

Another thing to speculate on is the Yuan-Ti, who live in the jungles of Hepmonaland (see 11). Have they always been there? Did they exist in greater numbers in the past? What if they were "made" from an offshoot of the Olman/Almeks people, who in a fit of blasphemy turned to demonic, serpentine gods? Or perhaps, simply, the Yuan-Ti snakemen were a prehuman civilization that the Olmans, Almeks, and/or Ur-Flannae came upon, some of whom worshipped these elder things as gods ... or learned demon worship from [Yes, I'm thinking of R.E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft -- both valid GH influences].

I've also wondered about the human-animal hybrid "slaves" illustrated in the entrance to the Tomb of Horrors (see T1, area 3): pig men, apemen and dog men are depicted there (perhaps the beastmen of GH Adventures are a variation of these things). If these were slaves of Acererak's kingdom, then they may also figure into ancient Flan history. There are also jackal-headed humanoids illustrated in bas-relief (area 4), and "rotted" people depicted in the evil chapel (area 14) -- people that are partly dead? Early necromantic guinea pigs? Who knows.

Y'know, just leafing through the illustrations of the "decor" in the Tomb of Horrors can give you all kinds of ideas about ancient "Acererak Era" Flan history. There are some enigmatic hooded, beaked figures, one of whom is lowering a humanoid into an aquatic monster's mouth (ILLUSTRATION #3). There are snakemen, birdmen, and what appears to be Tiamat (#10) -- that whole illustration strikes me as having a mixture of Babylonian, Egyptian, and Aztec styles. The mummy-lich sort of reinforces the Egyptian atmosphere (#18), as does the mummy preparation room (# 19). The elephant-shaped juggernaut also fits in to a Babylonian or African motif (#23) -- so do the hooded cobra armrests on the throne at #25D. And: do the pillars (in #25) have "mind flayer" heads? (Observe the black eyes and the squiggly lines that could be tentacles hanging beneath). The iron statues and sarcophagus at #30 look vaguely oriental.

One more bone to throw on this pile of minutiae and speculation: technology. I'm thinking about the the City of the Gods. How old is that? Does it predate the Oeridian and Suel invasions? I would think so. If it does, then perhaps it is another component of ancient Flan history. Possibly, in the very distant past, there was a Flan culture that had advanced technology ... and maybe it didn't work out so well [Shades of Jack Vance's DYING EARTH, as well as many other fantasy novels].

Well, Tal, that's not a Flan chronology -- just a pile of ideas you could use to build one. And quite a digression.


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