[Challenge] Culture Sketch - revised! with details!

edited July 2007 in Story Games
CHALLENGE! Describe a real-world culture/civilization/whatchamacallit in 1,000 words or less, for the purposes of a role-playing game.

Completed sketches may be posted in this thread. Criticisms of fact or tone of a piece may be posted in this thread as well. Questions about the challenge should be sent as whispers; I promise to respond to questions within a couple of days. (I don't have access to S-G at my internship, so please be patient.)

1. You don't have to be a member of the culture/civilization/whatever, but that should be clear in your entry.
1A. Use of fiction strictly forbidden. Relevant autobiography, however, is allowed.

2. You damn sure better not promote racism, stereotypes, or engage in all that post-imperial bullshit.

3. You also better not cater to fanboy stereotypes, to the extent it can be avoided.

4. Your facts, to the extent you include facts, should be accurate, though I'm fine with some fuzziness.

5. The "size" of the subject matter is up to you. Where possible, however, I would prefer the description to cover as many people as applicable. If you end up describing the people on a particular island in Micronesia, for example, odds are pretty good it might cover many other Micronesian cultures if you squint real hard. I would prefer to stay away from ridiculously narrow subgroups ("bisexual dyslexics on Lexington Avenue in Midtown"), because it defeats the challenge of using 1000 words for a really difficult topic.

5B. The absurdity of the project is assumed; you don't have to apologize or defend your sketch.

6. You can pick a historical period, though, including Modern Day ___________.

7. Due date is Labor Day, 2007.

8. System-specific material (Shadow of Yesterday keys, Sorcerer demons, Primetime Adventure series bibles, OGL prestige classes, etc.) should not be avoided, but you can offer a 200 word sidebar if you're really psyched about something.

REVISION (7/14/07) - If this ends up in a physical form, or warehoused somewhere on the Net, information submitted will be under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license, permitting others to modify the material so long as they include a similar license on their work. If people would like to discuss the merits of various licensing schemes, I am all ears. (It may end up that we get a license which protects your IP more than this.)

REVISION (7/14/07) - If the product is sold as a book or PDF, we will sell ads. Advertisers can "pay" for the product with a receipt of donation to the UNESCO World Heritage Organization (or, in case we change our minds, an organization with a similar mandate). The product will then be sold at/near cost.

Sound good? What am I forgetting?


  • edited July 2007

    Art - music, sculpture, painting, plays, story-games
    Gender Roles
    Marriage Customs
    Social Hierarchy
    Laws/Dispute Resolution
    Relations with other groups
    Dissident Voices/Disenfranchised/Counter-Cultures
    Adapting to the Twenty-First Century (when appropriate)

    umm - many other things too, I suppose.
  • Once upon a time, I really liked this - Gygax's treatment of "Daily Life in Kara-Tur" - which apparently clocks in at 7,000 words and thus is way too big for this project. Still, something like this, geared for a less diverse group than "Asia", might be one way to go about this.


    Using Gygax's text isn't necessarily an endorsement of his views or scholarship (real or putative, I don't know) - whether you wish to use it as a positive or negative role model for your own entries is entirely up to you. (I'd love to see something almost exactly the opposite of this, in fact.) I only include it because this text was far more helpful for gaming purposes than the 300 page "Kara-Tur Campaign Setting" published about five years later.
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