A few months ago, very few people knew about the Terah Project outside of family, friends, and few freelance artists and writers. That’s slowly changing. In addition to things that will be mentioned on the Paizo boards (search for Terah Project there to find it easily) this blog will serve as means to give out additional sneak peaks and even some information that might not be available anywhere else until much after launch.
When I began this project, I thought there would be certain big questions that’d I’d see often. I’m surprised by what those questions have been. I expected to have people comment on the name and ask where it came from (I’m always interested in hearing name stories). That’s an easy question to answer. Terah is an anagram of Earth, both literally, and metaphorically. It’s designed to make creators and players alike question things about ourselves.
I expected there would be questions about the history. These could only be answered in depth by reading the material when it comes out. In the way of a teaser, the history of Terah is actually the history of two worlds. Two races of elves entered into a long conflict over which would be superior: magic or technology. They destroyed their own world (now only remembered to them as “the other world) and fled to Terah. The survivors, forced into a world where magic worked slightly differently and where there was no infrastructure to develop existing technology, learned to mesh what they did know with the indigenous population of dwarves and humans.
And that leads me to the big question I keep getting that I didn’t expect. What’s with the gnomes? They’re in that brief overview of history, but its hard to see them. The elves were of two varieties: high elves and dark elves (not drow Driz… er darnit.) The high elves had enslaved the gnomes. The dark elves had been slowly freeing gnomes and transporting them to Terah.
The dark elves thought the high elves had enslaved the gnomes because high elves had no moral code. Afterall they used technology and how can you trust that? The dwarves, whom the gnomes were sent to live with in Terah after they’d been freed, stumbled on the real reason soon enough. While slavery isn’t good, it might just happen to be a few rungs up the moral ladder from genocide.
Gnomes are not inherently good. Its not that they’re inherently evil either, but they have an odd grasp of what is right and wrong. And this is what seems to spark the most curiousity in people. My original thought about what people would do with that bit of information was pretty old school. I figured they’d do like I always do and just kind of wing it when it came up.
That’s not a good answer anymore apparently. So I have a couple of suggestions on how to play that out. The first still falls back a lot on the whole winging it thing, but it still works. Take the character you want to have other people see. Round that out just like all the good role-players teach you to do. Now take a single (just one. Five is right out) social boundary and eliminate it. This is something that the gnome cannot perceive as being wrong. It could be something as simple as standing inside event the most lenient of person’s personal space. It could be that they talk too loudly. It could be that they have no sense of personal property. But whatever you eliminate, you have to eliminate it completely. If killing is ok, then trying to kill him is ok too. If there’s no such thing as personal property, then he doesn’t give a care for his own. If he talks too loudly, then no one can possibly talk too loudly to him or be too much in his personal space or whatever.
There’s one other trait with gnomes that’s universal and this is the one that people find the most disturbing: small amounts of pain being inflicted on other creatures is very funny to them. Want to know where that limit is? Well their society actually defines it. “It can’t cause anymore pain or anymore blood than a number 4 needle.” The problem comes in one what size a number 4 needle really is (no one knows) and how much force can be used behind it.
Feel free to submit comments and future questions to the blog. I’ll be posting at least once a week for now, possibly more often if there’s interest. There’s also a wiki coming in the future, and maybe forums. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org