Did Savage Empire Borrow From (Or Inspire) The Hollow World?
There’s an interesting discussion going on over at The Piazza, which is (I assume) a forum dedicated to the Hollow World Campaign Set for Dungeons & Dragons…which was written by none other than Aaron Allston. Published in 1990, it shares a release year with another project that Allston worked on: Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (commonly known as just Savage Empire).
The setting of the Hollow World Campaign is known as Mystara, and as one Piazza poster notes, there are a number of thematic and conceptual overlaps between the setting and the world of Savage Empire, Eodon.
I found this great resource website for the video game. It is convincing me more and more that since Allson must have been working on both Savage Empire and the Hollow World boxed set at the same time, he must have been using similar ideas into both game products. Let us have a look at the tribes of the Valley of Eodon:
THE KURAK TRIBE
From the manual: The Kurak were one of the more interesting cultures of the lost valley. Evidently descended from certain South American Indian tribes (or so their dialect attests), they appear to have profited more from interaction with other tribes than their fellows. Their legends make it clear that they have frequently accepted exiles into their ranks, particularly exiled warriors and runaways from other tribes. This has certainly profited their gene pool and given them a reputation as the valley’s “melting pot” tribe.
A tribe of deep jungles, the Kuraks revere the jaguars, and some of the tribesmen actually appear to develop emotional bonds with the wild felines.
The Kuraks are famed in the valley as stealthy warriors, as very accurate spearmen and bowmen. Though they have a history of warfare with the Yolaru, they are much like that tribe in many ways.
These tribesmen seem similar to the Oltecs of the Hollow World
THE YOLARU TRIBE
From the manual: The Yolaru are a black tribe dwelling in some of the deepest jungles of the valley of Eodon. Their antecedents are definitely African, but I have been unable to pin down even an approximation of the era they left their homeland and came to the Valley of Eodon.
I had the fortunate opportunity to live among the Yolaru for a time, and found them to be among the most civilized of the human tribes of the valley – civilized not in terms of technological advancement, but in the sophistication of their tribal laws and the tolerance in which they hold the beliefs of other tribes.
Their dialect of the common valley language contains elements of what I believe to be Bantu dialects. Their choices of weapons include the to – be – expected spear and knife, but the Yolaru warriors also had a certain affection for large wooden club – like maces featuring wicked – looking obsidian spikes.
This seems like the equivalent of a Tanagoro Tribe.
THE NAHUATLA TRIBE
From the manual: There is no double in my mind that the Nahuatla people are related to the outer-world Aztec culture. Indeed, it is my belief that the Nahuatla and the Aztecs both descended from a single culture, and that members of that culture were transported to the Valley of Eodon at a time in the ancient past. The very word “Nahuatl,” in fact, refers to the language spoken by the Aztecs.
The Nahuatl, like their outer-world counterparts, build massive pyramids, temple buildings, and homes in stone. They work gold. They have a certain reverence for the sun, but they do not anthropomorphize it, or directly worship it: Like the other valley natives, and unlike the Aztecs, they withhold their special reverence for the valley’s nature – spirits. However, Nahuatla legend and the behavior of a recent Nahuatla leader make me believe that ancient customs of human sacrifice were once part of the Nahuatla culture.
They are somewhat more technologically advanced than the other tribes, working copper and bronze for ornamentation … although tradition has apparently kept them to the obsidian standard for their weaponry. And they are distinctly more agrarian than the other tribes, growing and harvesting much of their food, hunting and gathering the rest.
These are obviously Azcans.
Since Allston was working on both projects at the same time, it’s not unreasonable to assume that he borrowed from one when crafting the other. The question, I suppose, is: in which direction did that inspiration flow?