Author Topic: Developers' Notes: Terebinthia  (Read 1650 times)


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Developers' Notes: Terebinthia
« on: September 27, 2017, 04:29:55 PM »

Developer's Notes

The island of Terebinthia lies out to sea from Narnia, and has maintained its independence for many years. Its unusual feature of an elective monarchy is a strength and weakness, but if nothing else nobody would doubt the incredible devotion of the Terebinthian rulers to serving their little island kingdom. Without great resources or mighty armies, Terebinthia relies on its ingenuity as a primary source of strength. Its expertly trained archers and marines, as well as light and maneuverable siege weapons, allow its armies a flexibility rarely found elsewhere in the world. It has the potential for real naval power as well, particularly if other major ports in the vicinity can be captured.

It is unlikely Terebinthia's fragile peace will last forever, but it has both intelligence and devotion in great measure. Whether that will be enough will be decided on the battlefields of land and sea...

Terebinthia, the small island kingdom off the coast of Narnia, is only really mentioned in passing in the books: Caspian sails past it in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, not landing because. It is certainly an independent crown, and seems to be the only inhabited island where it isn't hinted that Caspian restores direct Narnian sovereignty (unless one counts the special cases of the Dufflepud isle and Ramandu's home). That's about all we get, bar the hint contained in the name itself - Terebinthia is the "land of the Terebinths", a type of tree (two species) of the genus Pistacia also known as the turpentine tree. It's been an interesting process working out how it should fit into Narnia: Total War, and so I thought I'd write some notes on it in case anyone was interested.

I wanted to give Terebinthia a distinct feel, to make playing them a rewarding experience rather than just a minor "generic human units" feel. I had two main strands of thought/inspirations that I took forward. One was late Greek Syracuse and the work of Archimedes: the vaguely Grecian theme of Narnia seemed to point to something similar in Terebinthia, and the idea of a small shoreline town that could do with ingenuity what it lacked in land and manpower seemed to fit neatly. From this I developed the idea of Terebinthia as a shooting-heavy nation on the battlefield, using light but powerful scorpion-type weapons (including some mounted on carts), and with their really elite unit being the sharpshooters, some of the game's best archers. The second strand, also linking to a Grecian theme but with more mythology involved, was to get a pseudo-Atlantean feel to them. This latter part I've pursued much more heavily in the 1.0 version, and was comparatively absent from the beta. Their island nature opened up the idea of close relations with the mer-folk, who they can get as naval units and as the "Seakin", people with both human and merfolk heritage who wield tridents and act as shock infantry.

Terebinthian troops. The Seakin are visible near the front, with archers, spearmen, and a scorpion cart also visible.

In battle against some marauders from the northern wastes.

The culture that emerges from all this is one that I'm quite pleased with. From the idea of "ingenuity" being Terebinthia's theme came the principle of elective kingship, with a vaguely Platonic philosopher-kingship idea floating behind it. Terebinthia focussing on invention and innovation contrasts them with the Archenlanders' idealised legalistic-feudalism and the more absolutist, backward-looking nature of Narnia; on the other hand, they are still explicitly of the Narnian world in a way that the Telmarines are not, as evidenced by their close links to the sea which the Telmarine Narnians generally shun. The dark blue colour scheme for the Terebinthian armies seemed a fitting choice for a sea-driven people; the choice of the alchemical antimony symbol as their banner was rather more random, though in the end, given antimony's use in Roman-era medical treatises, it actually fits nicely with the recent confirmation (whilst making the 1.0 version) of the Greek healing god Asklepios being one of their three deities (along with the Sea-Queen and Aslan).

The Terebinthian map pieces on their homeland: the general, ordinary, army, and navy.

In the earliest versions of the mod I had Galma and Terebinthia as a single province, but this was rapidly abandoned, with Galma coming under the sway of the Telmarines. For a long time, and in the beta version, the Terebinthians started with only their own island. This, however, proved a problem: Terebinthia was too close to the Spur of Calor province/peninsula to its south, with the result being that the Terebinthian AI almost always started by landing there. This in turn would not have been an issue were it not for the fact that the same peninsula was the landing point for the Lone Islanders too, meaning that the two factions just tended to end up squabbling with the Calormenes over that peninsula for the whole game. I was happy with the Lone Islanders taking the Spur, so they could be a piratical thorn in the side of the Calormenes - but I decided I wanted Terebinthia to face northwards more. From this emerged the decision to give Terebinthia the Seven Islands as a separate starting province. This means that their usual landfall point is now the Giant Coast, north of the Shribble Marshes, which works fairly well - they're not immediately in the hair of the Narnians but have a stake more in the world of Narnia than that of Calormen and the south. The Seven Islands being temporarily Terebinthian makes a good deal of sense: we know that the Telmarines disliked the sea (though they appear to have been on good terms with the Galmians), so the Seven Isles would probably not have been under their influence at the time the mod is set (start of Prince Caspian). Terebinthia thus seems as conceivable a place for them to have gotten governors from as any.

I decided on wine and textiles as Terebinthia's trade goods - more processed than the products of some of the northern areas, and one can imagine an island with the right climate for terebinths also having a decent climate for grapes. The seven isles to the north meanwhile produce amber and tin, giving hints of Britain or perhaps even the Baltic.

Terebinthia in the bight of Calormen, with Cair Galma and Cair Paravel also visible.

So there you have it - the story of Terebinthia, or perhaps of how the story of Terebinthia came to be. Questions as always very welcome, and do let me know if you decide to play as the Terebinthians where you take their story next! :)
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...