Amber Michelle (myaru) wrote,
Amber Michelle

Tellius notes, mostly on cultural headcanon.

During the course of my FE obsession, I ended up spending quite a bit of time thinking about world details for Tellius, as that's what I wrote most often. FE games are sparse on story as it is, and details about the world - things you can see in an RPG just by running around in towns and looting civilian treasure chests - are non-existent. Daein Keep has different BG illustrations than Crimea's royal palace or the Mainal cathedral, but when you visit houses during battles? Recycled BGs. This is especially bad in the older games (especially FE8, rar), but since this is about Tellius, I'll let that go and not rant. For now.

So anyway, because I wrote about a hundred and sixty stories based in Tellius, and one really big one that demanded scads more detail than the game ever gave me, I ended up with a lot of random regional and cultural notes left over from panicked sessions of "oh god what kind of exports would Begnion specialize in IT ACTUALLY MATTERS THIS CHAPTER DAMN YOU NAESALA" and stuff like that. :D;

May as well braindump them, right? This'll be my only reference, as I've been doing this by memory and probably mixing things up. What was it Hetzel sold off in a panic? Oh yeah: olive groves.

Most of the games seem to have some grounding in ancient Greece, and this is especially apparent in Archanea and Tellius. That's usually where I start, but I have to disclaim: that doesn't mean my choices have any grounding in history or reality whatsoever. If I decide that Begnion shall have tomatoes, even though historically that's a New World crop and wouldn't be around for either Plato or Diocletian, by god I will give Begnion tomatoes! Also to be kept in mind: unlike other FE continents (Archanea, Elibe), Tellius has only been isolated the last thousand years. Before that you can speculate all you want, and my speculation says there was cultural exchange going on between the continents before the goddess went nuts, at least to a limited extent. Therefore, Kilvas and Hatari might have a few crops in common for no apparent reason. :D

The list will be in the order I developed the countries, which means Begnion is at the top, and Gallia isn't here at all. Sorry, Gallia. I don't love you anymore. In fact, I never loved you. It was an act.


The problem with Begnion is that you get the impression of a huge, bloated, corrupt government, but see almost none of it. I tend to lean toward Byzantine examples because the religion around Ashera seems to fit better with that model, but the divinity of the Apostle (according to the timeline, which is perhaps mistranslated?) causes some problems, as that seems more like an ancient world thing: worship the emperor as god, etc. Also, the Byzantine senate was somewhat lacking in power, so the Apostle-Senate power dynamic probably maps better to the old Roman Empire.

Actually, it seems more like a reflection of Japanese history, which probably did exert some influence - for example, the power dynamic between the emperor and the rest of the government (but notably his regent) during the Heian period, or the very probable lack of power at all during the medieval period. BUT ANYWAY. I'm sure if we wanted to we could find historical analogues in several cultures. And in fact, if I wrote a story about an earlier Apostle, I'd probably draw on the example of cloistered rule - older rulers retiring (often becoming monks), but keeping power and supervising their younger successors. Otherwise, each generation of Apostle would've been around an awfully long time, and questions would've been asked.

I used to know a lot about Roman government structure, and unfortunately that part of my history know-how has atrophied something awful. This is especially bad when I'm supposed to be writing a story primarily about Begnion politics. I know, I'm a GENIUS. It goes like this:

Ceremonial power and power of edict (i.e. she can declare something law or demand changes if it falls under specific criteria... maybe).

Senior Senate
In theory oversees the empire at provincial level (as they all appear to lead the areas they're named after) and oversee the lower senate as a sort of limiter on their power.

Lower senate
Hahaha did I say power. What power? Lower-ranking nobles come here if they aspire to being some senior senator's slave.

See, this is not based on much in the way of reality. When I started the Chronicle, it was supposed to be four chapters, and there wasn't going to be any senate interaction. I didn't bother thinking about it until too late, and now I'm just feeling lazy. :/ Also, using English titles CONFUSES THE ISSUE.

I guess I could've been barking up the wrong tree by focusing on Roman structure, and should've just ripped off England. I can still change!


Each province has something it's famous for, and something it does for money. I do not claim logic. I came up with all of this on the fly, because that's how I roll with fan fiction.

- olive groves (the finest olive oil on Tellius comes from these trees)

- cotton and linen
- honey (five varieties)
- grapes (muscadines - translates to wine, various sweets)
- other (pomegranates, nuts, dates, lemons)

- olives and olive oil
- lemons, oranges
- tea
- things that probably did not originate in Tanas, but he sells them anyway (woo smuggling rings!)

- grapes (many more varieties; wine is his primary export)
- saffron
- tea
- cheese

- marble
- inkstone
- silk
- wool

- glasswork
- metalwork
- university (library, printing press)

Every province has a university, but they're all aimed at regional concerns - for example, in Persis they do a lot of studying of drought management and cultivation of hardier plant varieties, and uh, some other stuff. Gaddos doesn't need that, but maybe it has a huge geology department. Sienne is the cultural center of Begnion though, and the university there has everything, but focuses especially on history, fine art, diplomacy, engineering, blah blah.

I didn't bother with Numida or Seliora, which is sad and wrong, I know. I'm generalizing the northern provinces so they're all big in materials - metal, lumber, stone. Crops were never decided because uh... you know, they really should be, since the later part of the Chronicle takes place in the north. *cough* Anyway, this isn't exhaustive or anything. Persis probably mines its own stone, too; it's not like everybody has to go to Gaddos for it.

There's MORE, but I'll spare you regional cuisine, dress, and architecture, all of which were pretty randomly chosen. One day I just decided that Culbert would be famous for octagonal wardrobes that are supposed to go in the middle of your room and be all carved up to look pretty. Yeah. To be fair, I followed that with other details from the same inspiration, but. :/


Much shorter list here, mostly food, and also a little more generalized, because I've only written one and a half fics in this place and haven't thought about it nearly as much. There are wide cultural gulfs between Hatari and Tellius, so I decided to go with details that reflect that. I feel bad that they're vaguely appropriative, although I mainly used the plants/fruit and weather patterns of the areas in question, not cuisine or other cultural elements. I don't know what to do about it. The game doesn't give me anything, but I don't want to run too far. :/ In my fics, Rafiel comments on the following:

- bananas, plantains, and similar fruit
- mango
- coffee
- peppers, both hot and mild (but especially hot - poor Rafiel)
- sweet potato
- ginger
- pomegranate
- ube

Lots and lots of gold. Brilliantly colored dyes, stones, and feathers used in ornaments, decoration (from vividly-colored birds. Rafiel does not approve~).

Also, tropical plants in general (orchids are the only ones I have names for, and the others remain nameless because all I have are pretty pictures on my hard drive). I've mentioned coconut oil once, but coconuts seem kind of cliche. I'm considering things like tamarind, pandan, etc., as well as bamboo wares, which again, seems kind of... not cliche exactly, but. I'll have to do some research on buildings and materials, because previous stories/fragments haven't left the limited area of Nailah's Keep, which is a solid stone palace left over from a culture much older than Hatari, so it wouldn't be representative of the nation. They kept and preserved their ruins in my headcanon, while the Begnion senate destroyed or dismantled what was left on Tellius to protect their power, especially over laguz. History, victors, etc.

I haven't thought much about how Nailah rules, which will have to change.

In spite of this tropical theme, my original inspiration was actually Ancient Egypt, because Nailah's ornaments suggested that to me, although now that I think about it, they could easily be inspired by a Central American source instead. That was back when I thought Hatari was all desert, but I remember looking back at the script and thinking that wasn't necessarily the case. In any case, the buildings and jewelry, and most of the decoration, will probably reflect that.


Since nothing is left of this place except a stone altar and some trees, I have total creative freedom! Except for the part where the herons are blatant rip-offs of Tolkien elves. I love my herons, I really do, but - they are. IS + LOTR = OTP?

I can probably summarize this by saying that the populated areas of Serenes probably look a lot like Lothlorien. In a Rafiel story which has never seen the light of day, I played with the idea that the herons sang the trees into various shapes and configurations for their dwellings, so they could live in them without killing anything, or having to hunt for dead wood. For the rest, I imagine they use stone, and maybe they sing that into submission too. They probably cultivated native fruits - I said cherries, peaches, and every kind of berry imaginable - and traded for things they couldn't, like flour or grain. I bet the forest has plenty of native, edible nuts and leaves. I was contemplating a meal involving day lilies, or squash blossoms.

Oh, and we can't forget the fluttery white silk. And the fine gold and silverwork. And the fauna wandering around and mingling with the herons because they're totally harmless, etc. Oh elves.

I mean, herons.


Extensive headcanon ends there. After that I've got fragments, like Melior having a corner on the chocolate market because of their alliance with Gallia (which grows the plant), and Kilvas and Phoenicis being home to whatever tropical fruits are left on Tellius, which is the real reason it sucks that Tibarn declared war on Begnion, at least from a senator's point of view. I think I've written Daein + food once, and it involved sharp cheese, salame, and dark bread. I do actually have some ideas for Daein culture, but they're only half-formed, and I don't think I'd articulate them very well. As it is, this post isn't very coherent.

When I think about that, though - the culture that might be behind Daein - I almost want to write about it.


I also had an Oscar fic I never started, but which I would've loved writing too much, as it centered around his cooking. Sigh.
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