Thursday, December 17, 2015

Clan Members

For those not following along, I'm writing a series of posts about clan members in a low tech culture, one where agriculture and even herding hasn't been developed.  This describes certain parts of my D&D world that are extraordinarily backward, on the fringes of civilization (see this map for areas colored in green).

In recent posts I've described some skills that the clan members would possess, enabling their survival and serving as a framework for sorting out duties for each.  I posited a clan of 30 persons, women and men, plus 4 unspecified children.  Below, I'll describe who each of these are (with as little doubling up in skills/roles as possible):
  • Chief, the leader and the one who knows best what path to take from place to place; in most ways he would be the best forager and hunter.  He would also be the best pathfinder and best at finding shelter.
  • Sub-chief, a quality warrior and leader of the hunting party or alternatively the member that would remain behind when the chief was gone for days on a hunt.
  • Shaman, described here.  I'll assume that this is a moderately unusual clan and that it is lucky enough to have the tribal shaman travelling along with it.
  • Standard bearer, a young and relatively ineffective warrior with combat experience and enough resolve to stand up if fighting starts.  Serves as a forager when the clan is not on the move.
  • Mushroom hunter, the best judge of whether or not a mushroom is safe to eat and where mushrooms may be found; not a desert skill, so let's assume a clan in a boreal forest.
  • Keepers of the flint (x2), two warriors who keep the flint & steel necessary to start fires.  One of these two may be able to make fire without tools.  One of these would join the hunting party.
  • Old Dog (x2), old warriors (older than 50) best able to lead others back to the clan if they get lost, particularly if going out of sight of land due to weather when boat fishing (sea dog).  There could be three or four of these, but we'll say two.  One of them would likely join the hunting party.
  • Watcher, a warrior, the most wary of the clan, the best able to avoid encounters with danger; this member would be solitary, keeping his attention (and ears) on potential threats to the clan.
  • Clan drummer, a skilled worker, the most skilled with the drum, there to pass messages between different parts of the clan.
This leaves 19 unaccounted for.  Be sure that as I'm writing this I'm making every effort not to impose any classification where men may be better for a particular job than women.  We know this is usually the case in primitive cultures but I have no wish to perpetrate a requirement there - who says that hobgoblin women can't be more warlike and aggressive than hobgoblin men?  In any case, I leave this problem up to the reader.

4 persons of the 19 would be caretakers for the children, not limited to strictly babysitting but limited to practices like foraging or making things.  We can presume that these four - and the children - would always be within thirty yards of the camp or in the midst of the clan when on the move.

A little over half the remainder - 8 persons - would be primarily foragers or hunters.  We've already counted three persons in the above as members of the hunting party, so we might round out the hunters by granting them 1-3 warriors from the 8 described above.  The remaining foragers would be skilled workers, no more - where practical, most would probably be fishers.

Of the 7 persons left, probably 1 or 2 of them would be old or infirmed and unable to perform work.  They would be just active enough to take care of themselves, walk when the clan moves and find a little food on their own to add to the scant leavings they'd be able to get from the foragers (the rest of the clan would get first pick of the food that was found and the infirm would probably be the last to eat from the supply).  The infirm would likely live from successful hunt to successful hunt, creating its own health problems (too much meat) which their older or infirm systems may not digest well.  Let's say that our clan has 2 such individuals.

The 5 remaining members would be workers.  These would shape and repair tools and hammers, make clothes, tents, drums and nets, hammer together boats, carve fetish objects and generally improve the campsite area by digging out wells, gathering wood, building shelters, grinding down stones and performing most of the daily work-chores like cooking, cleaning and preserving food, creating paints, searching for lost children and so on.  Some of these things I haven't spoken about at all but I'll get to them.

This accounts for everyone.  If the party ran across this clan at a given time of the day, chances are that they would either:
  • Be heard by the watcher and walk past the clan without seeing anyone, unless they stumbled across the actual campsite.
  • Encounter the foragers, perhaps while fishing, with the chief or sub-chief in the vicinity, along with one keeper of the flint and an old dog.
  • Encounter the hunting party, all warriors.
  • Stumble into the mushroom hunter, an infirmed or the shaman, moving alone through the area.
  • Find the campsite with only the caretakers and children present
  • Find the campsite with caretakers, workers and children present.
  • Find the campsite with caretakers, foragers, workers and children present.
  • Find the campsite with everyone present.
The clan drummer or the watcher could be found in any of the above situations, alone or acting with others, most likely as foragers or hunters.

This list, at least, is useful for the campaign.  That's something.

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