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#1 -JR-

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 05:24 PM

So what's the deal with Dynaheir? Her skin looks purple in her picture.. Full body tattoo, paint, or just purple lighting? Minsc also has a purple tattoo, so that might add some validity to that theory.

Her paper doll has dark brown skin, which seems much more likely a human skin tone, but looking at Minsc's doll's white hair, that takes some credit away from that dolls. Also, brown does not seem the natural pigment of the Russian-like Rashemi. She would have to have been adopted into the society or born to immigrants if that was her appearance.

Any thoughts?
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#2 Domi

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 01:01 PM

Rashemi are not entirely Russians. They trace their origins to one of the two Ancient Empires, one of which was destoryed, and second - greatly diminshed. Their neighbors, Thavians have strong Persian influences (it seems). They are indeed described as short, stocky and dark of both skin and hair. Consider it an FR twist to throw a veil on the "OMG, we borrowed real stuff!" NWN2 presents Rashemen as more of a tribal shamanistic society closer to North American native cultures rather than old Slavonic Vyatiches, Kriviches, Radimiches etc.

Edited by Domi, 05 August 2009 - 01:03 PM.

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#3 -JR-

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 05:07 PM

True. So your personal opinion on the character is natural browned skin? I think there would be a lot of comments in-game is she was purple.
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#4 Randall Good

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 04:22 PM

I had always assumed the skin on her avatar was the intended color in the portrait, even if it may look purple to some. Still, I'm still confused for how this is explained. Domi, are you saying that Minsc and Dynaheir are descended from two different ancient empires of two different races, both native to Rashemen? If so, are the gender-based differences between the the male berserkers and the female Wychlaran also race-based?

#5 Miloch

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 05:51 PM

I had always assumed the skin on her avatar was the intended color in the portrait, even if it may look purple to some.

Yes, Dynaheir and Minsc should both be dark-skinned according to canon materials (both 2e and 3e+). Whoever said they were "Russian"?

Most Rashemi average about five and a half feet in height, with stout and muscular builds. Most are dusky of skin and dark of eye, with thick black hair. Rashemi males are unusually hirsute [hairy] and often sport bushy black beards. Although handsome, many seem almost ursine [bearlike] in nature. Baldness is almost unknown among Rashemi males, although inhabitants of Thay are known to shave all body hair in imitation of the ruling Mulan. (from Races of Faerun)

A bald Minsc, therefore, is an abomination, unless there's some sort of in-character reason for it (which there isn't as far as I know). See my retooled portraits here for a more accurate version :).
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#6 Randall Good

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 06:24 PM

A bald Minsc, therefore, is an abomination, unless there's some sort of in-character reason for it (which there isn't as far as I know). See my retooled portraits here for a more accurate version :).


My assumption regarding Minsc's baldness was a conscious decision to shave his head in order to better display his tattoo, which, I assume (I assume a lot), was made in some sort of bizarre memorial of his head wound. Still, you are right that his portrait certainly doesn't seem to fit the description you've provided. And excellent job on your cleric portraits, by the way. It adds another level of character depth to be reminded that clerics vary and are more than interchangeable healers.

#7 -JR-

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 12:44 AM

I had always assumed the skin on her avatar was the intended color in the portrait, even if it may look purple to some.

Aye, perhaps a purple lighting, or just a poor character/portrait match? Miloch's portrait of her is much how I pictured her before my mind started rattling the tattoo/paint possibilities around in there.

Hm.. as far as Minsc goes, I think a beardless, bald Rashemi is as much of an oddity as an idiot ranger, or a peaceful animal-lover who feasts in battle-halls after slaughtering foes on the battlefield, or a berserker who wears full plate armor. Above all, he's a badass warrior who talks to a rodent; as much as I love and respect the guy, I've never taken much account of him when looking to make a judgement of any group. :)

Yes, Dynaheir and Minsc should both be dark-skinned according to canon materials (both 2e and 3e+). Whoever said they were "Russian"?

If I correctly recall, the Rashemi are at least partly descended from the Rus, a tribe of scandinavian earth people that later became the Russians, hence much of their shamanistic and berserker culture. I guess I've always just assumed they looked like Russians, but as Domi pointed out, they also have ties to ancient Faerunian empires, and seem to have Native American influences as well in their culture.

From previous experiences with the term you quoted from the manual, dusky in reference to a skin color is usually a way of saying innately mildly browned, but not dark. I'm thinking Arabic as opposed to African. So probably both pale Minsc and the suggested brown Dynaheir are oddities when it comes to their people. It wouldn't be that far of a stretch.

Hm, what of Valygar? In terms of earth-races, he looks to me to be an African-Arabic mix, but his family were nobles of Amn, an Arabic-English sort of area. Does anyone have sources clarifying this, or do we get to use a bit of collective creative license with him as well?

Edited by SentinelBlade77, 11 August 2009 - 12:46 AM.

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#8 Miloch

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 08:37 AM

an idiot ranger, or a peaceful animal-lover who feasts in battle-halls after slaughtering foes on the battlefield, or a berserker who wears full plate armor.

None of those things are odd, though the talking to rodents thing... yeah :).

dusky in reference to a skin color is usually a way of saying innately mildly browned, but not dark. I'm thinking Arabic as opposed to African.

Perhaps, but they're not Amnians, and Arabic types don't have "thick black hair" and "bushy black beards" which suggests more African heritage, at least in Earth terms. Dynaheir's voice sounds more Indian/South Asian than anything else (Shakespearean-looking dialogues aside) but she's not from the (Indian flavoured) Shining South, which is half a continent away from Rasheman.

As for the Rus descent, I'd never heard or read that, but it could be. I think I have read something like that about the Ruathym/Icewind Dale northerners, who are also half a continent away from Rasheman.

Hm, what of Valygar? In terms of earth-races, he looks to me to be an African-Arabic mix, but his family were nobles of Amn, an Arabic-English sort of area. Does anyone have sources clarifying this, or do we get to use a bit of collective creative license with him as well?

If he's Amnian then yes, he should look more Arabic than African. Guess I might need to retool his portrait too, eh?
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#9 Randall Good

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 10:17 AM

If we're going to compare Faerunian races to equivalents on Earth, which I don't think is invalid (so many places in Faerun were clearly meant to have real world parallels), I really don't think Dynaheir fits the Rashemi mold. The word dusky (a very unfortunately vague term) doesn't exude, in my mind, the extent of the darkness of her skin. Simply from her portrait, I have always had the impression that she was meant to look African, but from my knowledge of the realms, the only "African" region that I can think of is Chult. Of course, Chult is in the exact opposite end of Faerun from Rashemen, so that makes portraying the Rashemi as African a little bit of a stretch. I must remind myself, however, that we are talking about the Forgotten Realms here, where Arabesque Calimshan is improbably far away from the Bedouin-like nomads of the Anauroch desert. In the end, Faerun is a dismally inexplicable setting, clearly created without any concern for continuity or plausibility. It becomes more and more clear to me that each nation in Faerun was created without any thought of fitting it in believably to the world it was placed. (The nation, by the way, is a very un-medieval concept but that doesn't stop every region in Faerun from having singular, clearly defined forms of government, all complete with capital cities). I think this explains why the borders of virtually every Faerunian land are predictably defined by orc-infested mountains and why the continent itself looks like an unimaginative block of land with a big lake in the middle.

As an aside, does anyone else find it curious that Chult, presumably Faerun's only "African" region, is a tiny little peninsula while the rest of "European" Faerun is an absolutely gigantic hunk of mass? Compare this with the size of our world's Europe and Africa and it seems disappointingly Eurocentric.

#10 Miloch

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 01:47 PM

the only "African" region that I can think of is Chult. Of course, Chult is in the exact opposite end of Faerun from Rashemen, so that makes portraying the Rashemi as African a little bit of a stretch. I must remind myself, however, that we are talking about the Forgotten Realms here, where Arabesque Calimshan is improbably far away from the Bedouin-like nomads of the Anauroch desert.

Don't forget "Egyptian" Mulhorand, "Sumerian" Unther, etc. They didn't even bother to rename the Mulhorand deities like Anubis, Isis, Set, etc. in 3e, though I think they did or killed them all off in 4e (but who cares :)). And Gilgeam of Unther is but a carbon copy of Gilgamesh.
Posted Image
Civilization 3's Gilgamesh, which I think is pretty true to ancient statues etc.

Given the old pre-Rashemen empire of Raumathar was somewhat close to Mulhorand and Unther and shared some blood, Rashemi could look like either (Arabic/north African types). Gilgamesh certainly has the "thick black hair" and "bushy black beard" heh. But I believe them to be darker, possibly closer even to Nubia, an ancient empire that bordered Egypt, but had significantly darker skin tones. Another possibility is like ancient Akkad, so think Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in "The Scorpion King" ;). (Of course, he's not Akkadian IRL but mixed Samoan/African or something, but I think they got the look pretty close.)

Anyway, they never really draw a parallel in the canon materials that I know of, but Races of Faerun has a whole chapter on Rashemi (a little of which I quoted) and also a picture of one, who definitely is dark-skinned, but could be anything from African to Turkic or central Asian from the looks of it.
Posted Image
And there's an "official" Realms character profile who looks pretty sub-Saharan to me, though we can't see the actual skin tone. Not that it matters a whole lot, but it's helpful to know what portraits should look like.

In the end, Faerun is a dismally inexplicable setting, clearly created without any concern for continuity or plausibility. It becomes more and more clear to me that each nation in Faerun was created without any thought of fitting it in believably to the world it was placed.

Most likely. It's a patchwork of different authors' campaign worlds cobbled together as they all went along. Kara-Tur is part of Gygax's old 1e campaign, for Bhaal's sake.

As an aside, does anyone else find it curious that Chult, presumably Faerun's only "African" region, is a tiny little peninsula while the rest of "European" Faerun is an absolutely gigantic hunk of mass? Compare this with the size of our world's Europe and Africa and it seems disappointingly Eurocentric.

Of course it's eurocentric :grin:. But there is supposed to be a "sub-Saharan continent" Katashaka, "where humanity appeared" - south of Anchorome. Not surprisingly, there's no details known about it, not even its boundaries, but it's probably at least as large as Faerun (here's one guess - the "terra incognita" south of Maztica). Obviously, if humanity originated there, they had to emigrate to other regions like Faerun, where pockets of the original ethnic groups might still exist (in theory, if FR relied on anthropology at all).

I should amend my earlier statement - Amn is supposed to be more like medieval Spain whereas Calimshan, as you say, is more Arabic or North African. Though Amn, like medieval Spain, probably has some "Moorish" influence or whatever.

(Someone probably wants to delete two of your triple post above, which I assume is due to forum error.)
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#11 -JR-

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 02:55 PM

Ah! My mind never made the comparison of Amn to pre-current-culture Spain; how did I miss that?

Personally, I think the Eurocentism within the countries themselves was kept to an appropriate level, or even underexaggerated in times, seeing the degree of foreign influence in Amn and Tethyr. Scimitars and katanas and their appropriate combat styles are almost as common as those of their relatively close northern neighbors.

Back on the topic of Rashemi, the description of them as proudly bearded and thick-haired is what brought the black and bristled hair of some ancient eastern europeans to mind rather than the tightly curled hair some people have interperated it as. I pictured them more like Bjorn from The Hobbit: big, angry, bearlike people. And that was before I even read the manual's description of them as "ursine." I think the aforementioned lack of African influence in the Forgotten Realms would have made the writers make it more it much more obvious than a vague description of them being "dusky."

Has anyone else here read the Liriel Baenre books? More canonical than the BG game, more thought out than the BG books, and the descriptions of the Rashemi Fyodor could come into play. They're also the sourse that mentions that they were descended from the Rus, and I believe it might have implied they were alien to the world through overemphasis on how they were a unique wandering and nomadic people.

From wikipedia- "Rus is an ethno-cultural region in Eastern Europe inhabited by Eastern Slavs. Historically, it comprises the northern part of Ukraine, the north-western part of Russia, Belarus and some eastern parts of Poland and Slovakia.

The name comes from Old East Slavic Русь (Rus’), and remains the same in modern Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian."


"Rus’ (Greek: Ρως; Russian: русь, [rusʲ], русины, русы) are the historic population of the medieval Rus' Khaganate and Kievan Rus' whose name survives in the cognates Russians,[1] Rusyns, and Ruthenians, and who are viewed by the modern Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians as the predecessors of their own peoples."
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#12 Randall Good

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 04:25 PM

Personally, I think the Eurocentism within the countries themselves was kept to an appropriate level, or even underexaggerated in times, seeing the degree of foreign influence in Amn and Tethyr.

Well, the foreign influence you see in Amn and Tethyr is based on real world European counterparts, so I don't really think that exempts the realms from claims of Eurocentrism. Though Athkatla was portrayed in BGII with Arabesque architecture, that really only solidifies the fact that it was based on Western Mediterranean cities that borrowed stylistic elements from their primarily Arabic and Turkic neighbors to the south and east. Of course, in Faerun, even the presumed source of this Arab-ism is curiously Caucasian. It may just be me, but I've always found every Calimshani character I've come accross to be surprisingly white in appearance and accent: Khalid, Artemis Entreri (can't vouch for the accent), Tomi Undergallows (Undergallows? Really? They weren't even trying with that one). Also, how come Jaheira and Minsc both have kind-of-Slavic accents but Khalid just stutters?

Scimitars and katanas and their appropriate combat styles are almost as common as those of their relatively close northern neighbors.

I will admit, I certainly prefer the Forgotten Realms' Eurocentrism to its even more troubling Orientalism. I'm not really convinced that dropping a couple foreign weapons and some horrendously unoriginal "Eastern" character classes into largely European settings really cures them of Eurocentrism either. And as far as appropriate combat styles are concerned, Dnd's treatment of the katana has always been atrociously unrepresentative of the ways in which it is typically used. Simply because it *can* be used with one hand doesn't mean that's in any way a common way to wield it. The same can be said for the bastard sword, really.

I know I might sound really angry and getting too worked up over this, but I'm actually not upset. Criticizing the realms is just something I really get into (it's so easy!).

#13 Miloch

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 07:13 PM

Has anyone else here read the Liriel Baenre books? More canonical than the BG game, more thought out than the BG books, and the descriptions of the Rashemi Fyodor could come into play. They're also the sourse that mentions that they were descended from the Rus, and I believe it might have implied they were alien to the world through overemphasis on how they were a unique wandering and nomadic people.

Oh, I know who the Rus were (wrote a paper on them in fact), just wasn't sure where that came from until you mentioned it. No, I haven't read any of Elaine Cunningham's books, so I don't know how good her stuff is. Wouldn't surprise me if they were better than the BG books though heh, would be tough not to be :grin:. But I don't think she's considered "canon" any more than any of the other FR books, including Salvatore, Niles, etc. who came before her. What's considered "canon" usually are the various game books (i.e. manuals) and sometimes other "sponsored" resources (some Dragon magazine articles, which are edited by the same folks etc.). Hence why I quoted supposed "official" (canon) resources. Hey, it's bad enough there's enough inconsistencies just within the published game world itself (see my 2nd quote above for example) without authors taking a few whims of fancy, like early Scandinavians coming to colonise Toril. Though that isn't unprecedented in the "canon" stuff either, just not mentioned in it with respect to Rashemen, as far as I know. She may well be a good writer, but she got the drow quite wrong so it wouldn't surprise me if she got the Rashemi wrong too.

I'm wondering if they take this tack in NWN2, part of which is supposed to be based in Rashemen from what I understand (haven't played it). It wouldn't surprise me if they just have generic "white" people there, like they do in BG2's Calimshan, etc.

Like Randall, I'm not getting worked up about this either (would be too easy if I cared heh) but it's funny to point out the flaws :).
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#14 Mike1072

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 07:52 PM

But I don't think [Elaine Cunningham]'s considered "canon" any more than any of the other FR books, including Salvatore, Niles, etc. who came before her. What's considered "canon" usually are the various game books (i.e. manuals) and sometimes other "sponsored" resources (some Dragon magazine articles, which are edited by the same folks etc.). Hence why I quoted supposed "official" (canon) resources. Hey, it's bad enough there's enough inconsistencies just within the published game world itself (see my 2nd quote above for example) without authors taking a few whims of fancy, like early Scandinavians coming to colonise Toril.

I was under the impression that all of the FR books were considered canon, inconsistencies notwithstanding. I think I read an introduction in The Annotated Elminster compilation where Ed Greenwood talks about the contributions to the setting made by the various authors of the novels, but I can't find it online anywhere.

Edited by Mike1072, 13 August 2009 - 07:57 PM.


#15 Miloch

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 08:31 AM

all of the FR books were considered canon, inconsistencies notwithstanding.

I think not, 'cause it'd be pretty much impossible what with all the different authors out there going off on their own tangents. Part of the idea of "canon" is to have at least some attempt at consistency, which like I said, is tough enough with just the published game manuals even within an edition (2nd, 3rd or whatever).

I think I read an introduction in The Annotated Elminster compilation where Ed Greenwood talks about the contributions to the setting made by the various authors of the novels, but I can't find it online anywhere.

Maybe it's no coincidence you can't find it, but I'll take your word for it :). But saying authors have made contributions to the setting and saying they're part of the accepted standard are two different things, and the former doesn't imply the latter.

Now on the other hand, Doug Niles wrote a bunch of FR books, but he also wrote an FR supplement on Moonshae, so that's a borderline area. But it's the supplement and not the books that's "canon" and I don't know if that can be said for Cunningham or other authors.
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