I’ve long had an idea in the back of my mind that the Suel might just have played a role in Oerth similar to that which the Aryan tribes played in Indian history. Inspired by this article in The Hindu and this opposing one at Swarajaya, I thought it might be a good opportunity to flesh out the idea a little more.
For those who aren’t aware, the Aryan Incursion Theory (aka Aryan Invasion Theory, Aryan Migration Theory, etc.) basically postulates that around 1,600 BCE the Indo-European peoples, originating from the area north of the Black and Caspian Seas, exploded in a migration in all directions, explaining the similarities in various Indo-European languages across Eurasia. Part of this migration moved southeastward into India, impacting language and possibly other things as well (some even go so far as to attribute the lighter skin of upper castes to Aryan genetic influence).
I’m most definitely not going to get into the merits of the theory here (or lack thereof), but suffice to say the question is one that is centuries old, and rife with controversy, inflamed passions, and political / religious / social implications. I’m just using it as inspiration. (Note that this means discussion of the theory itself will not be permitted in the comments; keep it to Oerth, if you please.)
Now, based on the geography of where the Suel Imperium used to be (now the Sea of Dust), and where Zindia is, relative thereto, I thought it might be interesting to apply the same idea to Oerth. Look at Zindia on the map from Dragon Annual 1 (south of what is labeled as the Suel Empire):
Here’s a detailed look at the area, taken from my Beyond the Flanaess maps from a few years ago. I basically cropped together the three different maps from that series that cover Zindia. All we know about the area in terms of canon and Gygaxian near-canon* are a few names, which I took and ran with, dividing the large area collectively known as “Zindia” into eight different realms:
|It’s not perfect — there are some irregularities where the maps meet — but you
get the idea. I’m pretty happy with it, all things considered.
(You can also see Behow in the upper-left corner, one of the breakaway kingdoms on the periphery of the Celestial Imperium of Suhfang.)
Now, my great idea is that at the time the Suloise Imperium was destroyed by the Rain of Colorless Fire, it scattered the Suel peoples much like the Indo-European peoples were scattered. They fled not just across the Hellfurnaces into the Flanaess, but also southward across the relatively narrow mountains into Zindia.
In practical terms this means we can expect to see Suel deities in Zindia in much the same capacity as we see them in the Flanaess; mixed in with other, indigenous deities and religions brought in by other invading or neighboring peoples. (I’m thinking there might be some influence from both the Celestial Imperium to the west and Wujio/Nippon to the south, and possibly vice versa with a Buddhism analogue, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.)
So that gives us a caste system on a Zindia-wide scale somewhat similar to that seen in the Scarlet Brotherhood (for obvious reasons; they both originated with the Suel), some familiar deities for players to deal with, and a definitive link with the published work. Plus (in my mind, anyway) it rhymes with a prominent if controversial historical theory, but doesn’t emulate it in any specific form, which I sort of like.
If my game ever makes it to the steamy climes of Zindia, this is definitely going to be a thing.
* The Gord the Rogue books, specifically; there are a few Zindian lands named in Sea of Death, I believe.