Class Discussion – Thyleans

on August 7, 2011 in MU Blog

Hey, folks! We’re coming up on the next visit to Fenwick Hall and Aaron Hart’s team-taught discussion class, where the subject will be the Thyleans. As before, you have a chance to influence the discussion by throwing your questions out there as comments on this post.

Now, unlike some topics, the Thyleans have only really been mentioned in passing so you might feel like you don’t even know what there is to ask about them and that’s fine… I have enough background on them that if there aren’t a lot of questions I won’t be stuck writing an hour and a half of awkward silence. To give you a little background: Thyleans are basically a mix of real-world Scandinavians, the Germanic tribes who pestered the Celts and the Romans, and the fantasy “barbarian” archetype. They are “the men of the north”… or “northpersons”, as one of Mackenzie’s textbooks put it. Think Beowulf, Alaric, Hamlet, Siegfried, and Thor.

In addition to questions about Thyleans, this post is also where you can nominate topics for the next history/lore bull session.

As a final note, I’ve put up an expanded version of Hart’s dry erase board map from last class, along with some notes on the geopolitical entities depicted… though the notes skew more towards the current than the class discussion would.


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49 Responses to “Class Discussion – Thyleans”

  1. Potatohead says:

    Howabout their religious practices, who or what they worshipped? We’ve had the gods of various non-human races touched on from time to time, but I can’t remember discussion of any human deities other than Khersis and Mother Khaele.

    Current score: 0
    • sliversith says:

      Well, to be fair, those are the main two of import to the story. Offhand I remember Arkhsis(sp? Arkhanites?) and… um… the goddess of peace- Mackenzie met one of her clerics in the Labyrinth.

      Current score: 0
    • Dave. says:

      I’d like to second the question about their religious beliefs.

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    • Iain of Rockhold, Salushen says:

      Further to that, I’d like to know how much of their spiritual beliefs and practices influenced or were folded into the dominant / other cultures of the time.

      Current score: 0
  2. Eala says:

    What about the Thylean views of women? If they are “men of the north”, are there also huntresses? Or are women the home-makers and child-rearers, with little power? Do they have wise-women, or are those kind of duties fulfilled by a male shaman?

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    • Zergonapal says:

      Or perhaps the homemakers where the real power and sent the men folk out to do the dirty work while they stayed behind in the comfort of their homes.

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  3. erianaiel says:

    And can we please have a passing mention of them getting angry at the suggestion that they put horns on their helmet? (Horns are for drinking, not for making fashionstatements …)

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    • Stonefoot says:

      There could be people, say bards or priests, who could travel freely even during times of war, their non-combatant status symbolized by the wearing of highly noticeable (and highly impractical) horned helmets. 😀

      Current score: 0
  4. Antongarou says:

    Is berserking a religious tradition or just a tactic/personality trait?

    How did they get along with the orks, as both cultures seem to espouse the “warrior” ethos?

    Is the enshrinement of strength something that they actually did to an extreme measure or is most of it misconception/propaganda?

    Current score: 0
  5. Voyuer says:

    How do they choose their leadership?

    What do they consider currency?

    Are there magi as well as warriors, warrior mages?

    What are their courtship rituals?

    Is social status split into ‘warrior’ and ‘other’?

    Current score: 0
  6. Stonefoot says:

    Thinking about the Thylean religion, it occurred to me that if they, or some of them, follow a religion similar to what we know as Norse mythology, there would be real live Valkyries. Which could be interesting. But then my mind took an oblique jump, which required roaming off to several different web sites for research, and when I got back I had this bizarre hypothesis in my head:

    “Long ago, near the dawn of the ToMU universe, there was one god whose name did not contain the holy “KH”, but its voiced equivalent, the almost-holy “gh”. This god was mocked and ridiculed by many of the entities which existed then who claimed it was not a true god… and laughed. Then one time, while roaring drunk, this god determined to create a new plane of existence which the other gods could not enter or affect. This was accomplished by creating a plane of existence ruled not by magic but by science. That world is, of course, ours, and the god which created it has watched us, fascinated by what we have done with (and to) logic and science, ever since. You have no doubt guessed by now that this god is the Flying SpaGHetti Monster.”

    Current score: 1
    • Kaila says:

      You loony 😛

      Current score: 0
    • Kalistri says:

      This theory makes about as much sense as the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the first place, so you don’t seem that crazy to me. It is however something of a non-sequitur.

      Current score: 0
  7. Month says:

    Are they, as were the Vikings, reavers? Meaning, do they attack settlements in order to add to their provisions, being more of a secondary occupation (if you can call it that), or is it their main way of gathering resources?

    Edit: Also, your map is kind of…. only the upper part. The rest is nowhere to be seen.

    Current score: 0
    • Erianaiel says:

      If they are anything similar to the people living around the North Sea and Northern Atlantic they were ‘traders’ who set out with an empty ship, raided the first town they came to, sold what they stole a few villages down or up the coast and repeated.
      There is a long string of peoples who had been doing that all the way from the coast of Normandy (I think that the area around Dunkirke was settled by Dutch pirates that lasted well into 1600s) to halfway the cost of Norway (e.g. the Frisians who plagued the Roman galleons, the Danish and the Vikingr), and while the Brits were not so much of a seafaring people until after they watched the art, and profit, from the Dutch they had their share of ‘opportunistic’ traders.
      The vikings were just the last, most succesful and the most famous.
      Perfect fit for the Thyleans 🙂

      Current score: 0
    • Try clearing your cache and reloading… it sounds like it didn’t load all the way.

      Current score: 0
      • Lunaroki says:

        I had the same issue. The top quarter of the map was about all that loaded on the first try. I pulled up the map by itself and reloaded it a couple of times until the entire thing showed, then went back to the page with the thumbnail of the map and reloaded that. I’m not sure why the map doesn’t like to load all the way on the first try but it wasn’t a big deal to convince it to try harder. 🙂

        Current score: 0
        • It’s probably because I hosted it on Livejournal… they have been doing some interesting things with their servers to try to circumvent DDoS attacks from taking them down all the way.

          Current score: 0
  8. Krey says:

    What was their weaponry like? Basic sword and battleaxe? Did they use anything unique, or how did their design of the common weapons differ from other cultures? Please include vessels such as warships, etc.
    Also, what sort of animals have they domesticated? What is their food like?

    Current score: 0
    • Gregdov says:

      I think it would be really great if this could role into something about legendary weapons. I don’t know if it would be possible but maybe this could get Mackenzie thinking about the pitchfork.

      Current score: 0
  9. Prospero says:

    I seem to recall when they were mentioned before something about them being atavistic berserkers like bear shamans and the like but somehow not being true druids. It would be interesting to hear more about them and how exactly their atavism differs from standard druidic practice.

    Current score: 0
  10. readaholic says:

    What are Valkyries? Do they sing and wear horned helmets and ride winged horses?
    What about the stories about their gods fighting with giants? Are these giants storm giants? Is the giant-blood on campus from there?

    Current score: 0
    • Cowrie says:

      The term ‘horse of the valkyries’ actually means wolf. They were supposed to ride wolves down from asgard into battle to choose members of the slain worthy of valhalla, where they’re also the cupbearers of the gods. As far as I know, they don’t have squat to do with singing, and definately no horned helmets. What they wore was full battle armor. In addition to wolves, they were also associated with ravens.

      Current score: 0
    • erianaiel says:

      Is it true that they have a band called Ride of the Valkyries?

      Current score: 0
  11. Hatamoto says:

    Any of ’em named Eric, and like chasing gap-toothed half-fae chicks into the woods and boinking the night away?

    If so, then… visuals accomplished.

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  12. Christie Ward says:

    No horns on their helmets! http://www.vikinganswerlady.com

    Current score: 0
  13. Kevin Brown says:

    I always saw a horned helmet as a berserker’s (spellcheck refuses to recognize that word) best friend, after all it does insure a more damaging headbutt. However, it appears that I am in the minority so I am left with only one question to ask… Why does the fantasy counterpart culture to vikings have to be historically accurate?

    Current score: 0
    • pedestrian says:

      The correct word is “berserkersgang” bear_sack_fury
      bear_sack is another word for a tunic/cloak made of fur

      Current score: 0
  14. tavi says:

    Did they do a lot of conquering and do you see similar genitic traits in people nowanddays

    Current score: 0
  15. Wg says:

    Little known fact about berserkers is that the root word is “sark”, or shirt. In a fantasy analogue, it’d be interesting if some were in fact shape-shifters (as opposed to were-bears).

    I’d personally really like to hear about how their culture affected others; Norse storytelling has had a huge impact on every aspect of modern fiction, it’s really fascinating.

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    • Bolongo says:

      I thought it was common knowledge that “berserk” means “bear-shirt” – as in, they wore a bear pelt to show how tough they were. Like the Ulfhednar, who did the same except they wore wolf skins.

      What’s the opposition, in your mind, between a shape-shifter and a were-creature? That the first is voluntary, perhaps done with some sort of spell?

      Taking Norse sagas at face value, the berserkers were neither, though in their frenzy they showed some attributes that we popularly associate with werewolves, such as immunity to harm.

      Current score: 0
  16. cnic says:

    Professors, is there any connection Thylean and Storm Giant cultures? There seems to be some similarities.

    Current score: 0
  17. Glenn says:

    Why did they come to the continent the Imperial Republic is now on? How long did they stay, and why did they eventually leave? How did they interact with the natives? Did the two different cultures exchange any new magical or technological techniques? Did they have any special difficulties crossing the ocean between the two continents? For example, did the sea creatures like Feejee and Iona try to sink their ships? Since there are immortals in this world, is there anyone at MU who was personally involved in this period of history?

    Current score: 0
  18. Glenn says:

    One subject I’d like to see discussed in a future class is the history and lore of life magic. I think Mack would be interested in this, because life magic is Amaranth’s major. If the Thyleans have magical shape shifters, it could make it easy to segue from a description of Thylean life magic, to life magic in general.

    Current score: 0
  19. Anonamouse says:

    I’d like to know about the differences more than about them because it would also provide information about Magisteria, the Mother Isles and other geopolitical groups which otherwise couldn’t be brought up since it would be common knowledge.

    The differences I’d be most interested in are their physical structure, their environment, their concepts of ethics, morals, honor, relion, and how they adapt to their environment.

    Current score: 0
  20. Lola says:

    Can they really not read, or is that just propaganda?

    Current score: 0
  21. readaholic says:

    @Cowrie and @Christie Ward – I was deliberately trying to ask the silliest questions possible :). Not unlike a certain relative of Puddy’s in Professor Hart’s class :). After all, at least one student has to either ask those questions, either out of genuine ignorance, or just for a laugh.

    Current score: 0
  22. Gruhl says:

    One theory of Berserker immunity to harm was that they wore silk tunics, hence giving them a limited immunity to cutting and piercing weapons, making them only vulnerable to crushing weapons. Wether it is plausible or not, I don’t know, but a good silken tunic could act like a bulletproof vest against primitive weaponry such as arrows, spears and swords.

    Current score: 0
    • Potatohead says:

      Where did they get the silk?

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      • p says:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varangians#Rus.27_and_the_Byzantine_Empire

        They were really prosperous traders, they got to Iceland, Greenland, New Foundland and all over the Mediterranean .
        The civil wars, danelaw, and vikings happened because the very limited agricultural land in denmark and norway couldn’t support the growing population. They had to raid or starve.

        But yeah, the berserker stories are mostly bullshit and medieval urban legends.

        Current score: 0
  23. Em says:

    about their travels to the new world- what name would newfoundland/ vinland have in the MUniverse i wonder?

    Current score: 0
  24. Alico says:

    The most interesting place on the map to me is The Shift. We know the swan people live there, and a couple of the other things that lived there, but what in the history of that area makes it so infamous? What are some of the major threats that have come from there, and how much of the fear of it relates to the unknown rather than facts? I think this is a good place for the dynamic between legends and oral history vs factual evidence and ToMU’s equivalent archaeology to be tested.

    Current score: 0
  25. Kalistri says:

    Could relate it back to the last discussion by asking about dragons in the area of the Thyleans. I’m also wondering about the imperial invasion and if they got involved in anyway. Finally, this is a more current question so I guess it’s not really historical, but where are they now? I don’t really recall any Thylean characters in the story thus far, so does that mean that there aren’t any going to MU?

    Current score: 0
  26. Morten says:

    So if the Thyleans were bad-ass raiders and traders what did they use all their money on? They aren’t know for their huge monuments or cities like so many other civilizations. Did it all go towards drugs and slaves?

    Current score: 0
    • pedestrian says:

      Actually they did create many stone monuments. Though many were reused in constructing christian churches, cathedrals and fortresses.

      Current score: 0
  27. Kinesthe says:

    Where does Valhalla fit in?

    Is it a mythological place, or is there some physical method of getting there?

    What’s the equivalent of Odin like in the MUniverse?

    Current score: 0
  28. Khavren says:

    Cross breeding and effects of thyleans on elven culture. Seems like midlings would work great in a viking world.

    Current score: 0
  29. pedestrian says:

    Perhaps we could pull up a scrying from the ethernet of a “Blood Eagle”?

    Current score: 0