Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Fate of Istus criticisms

 From: Noel Graham <>


Date: Tue, Aug 18, 1998 8:58 PM

Subject: Re: [GREYTALK] Fate of lstus

Haile and Fair Greetings All,

Terry Harrison writes:

>It has some very good descriptions of some cities of the Flanness and some good adventures.

Actually, it's these descriptions which are the source of some of the most fundamental problems with _Fate of lstus_, not the storyline, which as GHers we are well versed in cannibalizing. Most briefly:

Rookroost does not show internal defenses (or even crumbling, unrequired, former fortifications) otherwise expected of a city-state traditionally at conflict with its neighbor states. The map itself was cropped on the right to boot, though it's general layout is good. Posthumous kudos to Nigel Findley.

I posted a dissertation to GT some time ago concerning the problems with Rel Mord, which boil down to its questionable defenses given it historical paranoia concerning Aerdy. The city is far and away underpopulated for its requirements as a nation capital, as well, though this is a marginal complaint.

The same goes for Wintershiven, given its suggested government of Byzantine complexity. In this case, it's well acceptable that the city would have outgrown its walls without building new ones (given the city's internal location and certain poposities amongst its rulers/defenders). However, external structures seem oddly ancillary. One might be able to overlook a temple to an (unnamed) evil deity immediately adjacent to the seat of a zealous theocracy if access and egress weren't so obvious, given the structure itself is in disuse. Numerous options exist to rectify the situation: bring agrarian interests hard upon the city walls (leaving open fields of view in all directions), increase the number of outstructures (particularly in clusters of symbiotic businesses: outlander inns, etc.), or provide for subordinate townships in the immediate vicintiy (if "cleanliness" is an issue of the Prelate), requiring only names and arrows on the map, for starters.

Of course, this latter idea might well suit the Church-Militant, leaving as it does the city proper to government and attendant functions alone. Regulating visitors and peoples' reasons for being in the capital would therefor be possible.... Such a role would pair well with adjacent cultivated fields ... though I digress.

Leukish doesn't include the residence of Duke Karll, though this could have rationale (that just isn't substantiated). The city treasury is strangely apart from the provided stronghold of the city, which also has a governor (not too troubling) whose offices and residence are similarly situated. Overall, not much of a "capital", though I stress again these notes are merely representative, not definitive.

Chendl's biggest shortcoming, as presented, is the issue of its canals extending beyond the city the city walls. After that, theres the question of its water source (for the canals), evaporation replenishment, and sanitation (people just _are_ going to dump stuff in the canals). Interesting notion, thugh, that access into the city is restricted to watercourses. However, since so much city traffic does center on the waterborne, the moat-like canals encompassing the palace complex become dubious. In that, it's curious the same canals which penetrate the inner city walls also allow direct navigation to the walls of the palace complex -- not an overall good idea (particularly on the SE side).

Verbobonc.... Verbobonc insults the intelligence, given the ascribed history. Forgive me for not delving it here again. 

Now, all these cities are redeemable with different degrees of retrofitting. Some, like Verbobonc, require a great deal where others simply need to reexamine their approach and build accordingly. It's true enough that at the time some effort was given to add much-sought city detail to an under-developed Flanaess. Fair points for good intentions (what was that about the road to hell?). Unfortunately the project seemed poorly executed for its grand potential. It became an example of what was wrong with GH, rather than a band-aid on a gaping wound.

This, of course, precludes noone from finding the material contain therein as useful or helpful. Simply, the concept of _Fate of lstus_ being problematic doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Soft Winter and Sweet Flowers,


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