Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stealing From Real Life Is Just Better

So, I have been asked a couple times why I don't use real-world things as inspiration more often, and the truth is I do, really. I just tend to be subtle about it (combining names of places and gods, nobody notices), or I am incredibly unsubtle, like when I decided goblins in my setting were demon-worshippers and hipsters (they worship pretty obscure demon lords you've probably never heard of).

I do tend to not take as much inspiration from the real world as I could, though, mostly because I am certain that if I did I would end up with my nose buried in a book of Vietnamese mythology for five hours or on some kind of week-long Wikipedia binge.

However, because I thought it would be fun, I decided to pick an Earth country and sketch out a decidedly more Dungeons & Dragons-y version of it.

See if you can guess which one it is!


Situated on one side of a peninsula (or an island, I'm not sure) at the closer end of the Far Lands, Sanggyeong (full name Democratic United Republic of the People of Sanggyeong) is situated somewhere between the distant human lands of Kaldoria and Aldanath (main human lands in this setting) and Taishiria, the even more distant oriental lands.

Though it was once part of neighbouring country Kaesong, frequent invasions by Taishiria resulted in Sanggyeong's secession. Sanggyeong (or, at least, its leadership) is convinced that the reason Taishiria invaded was not because Kaesong is even better placed for trade than Taishiria's port city of Gaijinkyo, but because they are just an incredibly desirable and handsome people.


Sanggyeong is a communist state attempting to become a self-sufficient centrally-planned economy while catering to the whims of its leader and staging ridiculously elaborate performances to show the world how awesome they are.

It could be going better.

Aside from iron ore and coal, Sanggyeong has little resources, and most of its money goes into building up its military and erecting suitably grandoise monuments and temples. Its agricultural industry has upgraded itself from "laughable" to "passable", partly because enough people have starved to death to reduce the demand to very nearly almost definitely manageable levels.

These days every citizen gets free rations, housing, healthcare and education, as long as they do not mind that all of these things are basically terrible.

International trade is heavily restricted except in the small port of Janmadangdong, where limited amounts are allowed; in other towns, goods can easily be found in all-scale private markets, which the country has given up on stopping.

Sanggyeong's tourism industry is ludicrously terrible, ranked somewhere behind the mountainous necrocracy of Lichenstein and the 528th layer of the Abyss. It has a tourist resort, the town of Kamgetsum where very large and dangerous monsters are released in the belief that this would attract adventurers to hunt them, but so far there have been no takers. The native population of Kamgetsum is currently 2.

Very nearly half of the nation is in the military.

Government and Politics

The nation is controlled by the State Peace and Progressive Development Council, which really means it is a dictatorship controlled by Jung Oneriver, Grand Wizard (official title and name are decreed by law to go in that order). Technically, Oneriver, Grand Wizard is second-in-command, as the permanent ruler is Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy, but as Twohappy is dead and therefore unable to dictate government policy, Oneriver, Grand Wizard is in charge.

The offical story goes that Oneriver, Grand Wizard was born just before Twohappy ascended to godhood, and his birth coincided with the appearance of six rainbows and the creation of a fantastic new species of dragon. He has also completely mastered every creative craft, from theatre to weaponsmithing, and invented all manner of wondrous things from carriages to horses. Obviously, most of these aren't true, though in his defense Oneriver, Grand Wizard is really really good at theatre and weaponsmithing.

The rest of the government is divided between people who are fanatically loyal to Oneriver, Grand Wizard, people who are very good at pretending to be fanatically loyal to Oneriver, Grand Wizard, and people in prison camps.

Power Groups

The Grand Guild of Extremely Accomplished Mages: Sanggyeong claims to have the best wizards in the world, and of course Oneriver, Grand Wizard is so powerful he can summon dragons and control the weather, but strangely almost every single arcane caster in Sanggyeong disappears immediately after becoming powerful enough to learn, say, teleport.

The Royal Family: Little is actually known about Oneriver, Grand Wizard as the country is very reclusive and most of the things said about its leader are probably lies. If they are, Oneriver, Grand Wizard is a tyrannical little bastard who enjoys fine wine and ladies daily while half his country starves to death. If they are mostly true, Oneriver, Grand Wizard is the most skilled and charming man in existence, can create miracles with his magic, and is also a dragon. Everyone really hopes it's the first one.

The Church of Tongmu-Jung: The cult of personality surrounding the ruling Jung family is strong - there's a picture of them in every house, a monument in their name on every street corner. So strong, in fact, that they are literally worshipped as gods.


Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy is the official god of Sanggyeong, and Oneriver, Grand Wizard is revered as his son. His body is currently preserved in the capital city, in a temple so ornate the money could have fed a million Sanggyeongans for a year, and some say it is not worthy of his grandeur.

The church of Tongmu-Jung is currently led by Lee Ninelove (human cleric (Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy) 12), chosen partly for her magical strength and fanatical devotion to the Jung family brought about by years of government-run education but mostly for her sexy legs.

Clerics of Sanggyeong's deity mostly receive the Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy and Community domains.

Other churches do not exist in Sanggyeong - foreign deities are allowed, by as the Church of Tongmu-Jun tends to distribute pamphlets explaining how foreign gods are all sidekicks, weaker friends or mistresses of Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy, nobody wants to set up shop there. More local religions, mainly those of Taishiria and Kaesong, are officially frowned upon but thrive in secret.

Sample Characters

Park Fouranger (human fighter 7): Hailing from the military city of Taepodong, Fouranger considers himself a "traditional" Sanggyeongan: He deals with the hard times in his country by declaring that things were much better when Twohappy was in charge, and Oneriver, Grand Wizard is a corporate sellout who is ruining the country via his economic programs (most of which were started by Twohappy). He doesn't say much to avoid being executed, though.

Kim Threeflower (human cleric (Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy) 5): A moderately powerful (by Sanggyeong standards) cleric of Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy, Threeflower was recently promoted from the boring job of supplying food for his village (the farmers were mostly re-assigned and made to attempt making steel) to the much more useful task of becoming a missionary of Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy, spreading the good word of Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy to the unenlightened humans, dwarves and et cetera of the world who have not heard of Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy and converting them to Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy while beseeching foreign countries to provide aid to Sanggyeong, preferably in the form of food, and possibly to recognise Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy as a real religion. He will probably be dead within a year.

Dong Oneluck (human rogue 7): Oneluck runs the Provincial Bureau of Excellent Industry which oversees production and industry within the Anhwa region. Oneluck aims to one day run the Central Planning Command Control Committee, which makes economic plans for and supervises the entire nation; this may actually happen, because while Oneluck has the intelligence and economic skills of a plastic fish, he is really, really good at acting like a massive fan of Jung Oneriver, Grand Wizard.

Chung Sixdew (human bard 1/sorcerer 8): Sixdew is a beautiful actress and singer who is dearly loved by the nation, stars in its many plays (such as Sanggyeong Astonishes The World With Its Handsomeness, Lifetime Republic Member Jung Twohappy Loves His People: The Musical and Jung Oneriver, Grand Wizard Versus The Space Lizards), and is going to mysteriously disappear just after she figures out how to teleport.

So, yeah. Most of that was written out in a couple of hours, and I ran out of place name ideas, and I left out alignments to avoid alignment arguments oh god, and I will probably decide this is all really bad five minutes after posting, but hey! Maybe I will work on it and insert it into my setting for realsies.

Who wouldn't want to adventure have happy government-approved fun times in Sanggyeong?


Patrick said...

The worst(or best, if you're that sort of person) thing about taking inspiration from the Korean peninsula is that you're going to end up with an awful lot of names involving the word "dong."

Unless your players are all eunuchs or over the age of 50, they're going to be giggling more than adventuring.

Tim said...


Disgruntled said...

I chuckled. This is pretty amazing.

Ettin said...

Note to readers:

If you're looking for the post that was at the top of the page earlier, I just realised a post or two I am writing at the moment work better without it.

So, deleted! I'll bring it (or a similar one) back soon.