Monday, June 29, 2009

RPG Afghanistan

Artwork stolen from the web.
Could not identify artist.

I think there was a d20 book about modern Afghanistan, but I'd rather talk about the cultural heritage of this tribal and war-torn nation.

First off, most Afghani do not consider themselves part of a nation, but rather a tribe. Most don't even call themselves Afghani as this is just a translation of the name of a single tribe, most prominent at the time. Before 1747, the nation did not exist, and the tribal land was merely a road between east and west trade.

It is during this era, the Durrani Empire, that I consider Afghanistan (literally Afghan place) to be the best for fantasy gaming (although it is argueable that Turkish invasions and the Shahi Kings are also noteable time periods to game in). Taking away the technological cortex of the time, the civil unrest and social change that followed the assassination of the Khan and the start of tribal unification, the people of Afghanistan are fascinating to use as a model for human behavior in a fantasy world.

I don't want to get to far into this, because otherwise I'm writing a free sourcebook, but gaming in this environment (or a game world inspired by this environment), is about the various tribes, clans, and regional disputes. Thematically, a campaign set in Afghanistan would cover the typical fantasy tropes (lots of caves after all), with the added bonus of neighboring nations (who don't have to be human) trapsing through the land to conduct trade. Add in tribal hostility and PC agendas, and you've got the ingredients for a tumultuous campaign.

My personal taste is to do Afghani Dwarves at war with one another.

The people of the region predate Mohammed, Buddhism, Zorastrians, and the settling of the Indus Valley. They once possessed high levels of literacy and education. The range of religions, cultures, and teachings was immense. However, once Islam arrives, everything else is thrown out and Afghanistan's diversity begins to wane. Since the Afghani are mostly Sunni (a more conservative interpretation of Islam), they believe anyone can become Iman, which leaves room for PC clerics to advance far in the faith, by displaying a true understanding of the word.

If the Afghani in your game are "Humans," then humans should be broken up into sub-races or tribes, that each have their own subtle, modifications. For instance, one tribe has low-light vision, another has +5 ft. of movement, another can track really well, and another gets +1 Charisma (dealing with travelers and traders a lot). The list is so long, I couldn't possibly cover it all, but I remember a BLACKMOOR book that covered this stuff fairly well. Something about Horseriding and all the tribes.

Afghani as Neighbors
If the Afghani are not the focus of the campaign, they become a neighboring nation with conflicting ties to the PCs. Each tribe would have different trade concessions, cultural standards, and levels of diplomacy.

Afghani as Enemies
Afghani maintain tribal loyalty above all things, are quick to war, and remember blood debts for generations. They are proud, which is another word for stubborn. Their land has always been difficult to take and hold by invaders, because Afghani are tenacious warriors. Surrendering is not part of their vocabulary (it took Alexander five times as long to take the region as it did to take Persia).

Afghani Names
Female: Farishta, Gzifa, Hidi, Khadija, Muna, Uzuri
Male: Ajani, Ahmad, Hafizullah, Sindo, Yasir, Zemar

Racial Stereotypes

I've always wanted to do a book that explores all the great civilizations of the world at their "peak" and discusses how to roleplay these various cultures. The book (if done for a d20 product) would also include game system notes.


As the weeks progress, I'm going to try to post some ideas I have (coherent or otherwise) on every culture I can think of.

If I miss something, or you want to see it explored here, drop me a line.

Game Updates

If you head over to my portfolio (knightimestudios), you can see some of the games I've been doing packaging and development on.

Can't show everything, yet. But this is a nice large update.

Also, has some updates on other games.

Despite the bad placeholder text, the new web design looks great.