Saturday, May 19, 2018

Adding People

If you've not been following along with this series, you'll want to start with this index post, with a list of the foregoing content relative to what's written below.

I can hear what you're thinking.  We've created a map that is substantially no different from any other urban map we might find online.  That's not right.  All that writing and thinking and explaining, and what the hell is this?

Thankfully, this is not the end.  For this post, I wanted to start with base outlay of the town, to help explain how we're going to add depth to it.  The reader will remember that we divided the town into three groups: the fisher folk, the hunters and those who found themselves in the orbit of the shaman.  In this series, I haven't explained shamanism; for the present, I'll leave it to the wiki.

In reality, the division of labor is simple, but not so simple as that.  I had also said there was leather to be tanned, primitive weapons and other tools to be made, raw materials to be gathered (firewood, sapling wands for fencing, peat, fresh water, reeds and more), enclosures to be maintained and boats to be repaired or built.  We know the fisherfolk are near the water; and that the hunters are settled in the outside circle of the village, against the forest, but what can we do to make sense of this ... mess?  How does this become an adventure?

Okay, let's step back.  There is one matter I have not brought up, which would seem pertinent to the map above.  Who lives in Stavanger.  Each rural enclave that we explored was dominated by a single clan; where is the single clan that occupies Stavanger?

I'd argue, there isn't one.  In the mere 20 years of this Stavanger's existence, members of the other clans have walked or paddled their way into Stavanger.  They came as warriors, as marriage partners, as petitioners, as impoverished, as people looking for a better life, as slaves and tribute, or just to see what was there.  And stayed.  So the answer to the question is all of the clans are represented in Stavanger.

But not to the same amount!  Some clans-people came in small numbers; some dominate the town.  The clans from the sea make up the fisher folk that are here; the hunters come from the south and from Haugaland.  The chief himself is a member of the clan of Sauga.  Let's look at the map again ... and this time, I'll add the clan names, with the size of the name denoting their importance in Stavanger:

Let me stress that the handicrafts and occupations on the map are not trade references; these are subsistence
pursuits, needed to keep the residents alive and well.  References refer only to things produced in enough
abundance for trade.

This gives us a lot to work with.  The four principle clans, Harald, Sauda, Osthus and Orre, represent the four parts of Rogaland: west, north, south and center.  The Osthus are fishers and boatmakers, but they live on the lake (Breiavatnet) and not the sea (called Vagen, or "bay").  The Orre are toolmakers and hunters.  The Harald are fisher folk, and dominate the long house.  And finally the Sauda are hunters and the chief clan.

The Verda and Randa clans are hunters, and somewhat important; the Sand, who are tanners, also have some sway.  Erfjord is hardly represented here; they are toolmakers; perhaps weaponmakers and perhaps also boat makers.  The Vormed, too, are unimportant. They are hunters and tanners.  The Skudea are fishers, but on the wrong side of the mud flats ... but still, it is only a few hundred yards from their boats.  Finally, the Loda are fishers, too.

Now compare the groups with each other.  Orre and Verda, remember, are adjacent clans in the south; here, they settle far away from each other.  Perhaps they are relatively unfriendly?  And the Skudea, despite being from the coastal grouping of the Loda, the Harald and the Osthus, are utterly isolated. The Sand stand apart from the Sauda, though they are adjacent clans in Haugaland; and the Sand support the Vormed, and to some degree the Erfjord.  Perhaps this helps explain the politics of Haugaland?

Or is it that Haugaland clans have settled in a way that enables them to control both sides of the village?

This helps a lot.  For one thing, we can set ourselves to giving personalities to whole clans, rather than struggle with five hundred individuals.  Not that everyone in a clan is the same, but we can use some generalizations to help establish the base personality of a group of inhabitants. Which parts of the village are friendly?  Which clan is most likely to approach a stranger with a greeting or with a weapon?  Which is the most diplomatic, or energetic, or indomitable?

Is there a pecking order?  Who pays tribute to whom?  Do the clans intermarry?  And if so, who has the chieftain married?  Who has married the chieftain's sister?  We have plenty of opportunity for making a mistake and stepping on the wrong toes, if we're not careful.

This does not, however, actually create an adventure.  And we have all these blocks to define: not just those containing houses, either.  The hex 0204 could, if we want, be a potential block.  Who knows what's out there in the bushes, just a hundred yards away?

This is something we can take up with our next post.

Post Script

Been a lot of crickets out there this week; and hey, I don't mind, I'm certainly challenging a lot of stereotypes and bringing mounds of ideas and information into the conversation. It would be hard to address that without already having been part of the conversation.

I will remind the reader, however, of when I asked if you could please spread what you're reading and liking to other people.  Post this series on reddit.  Mention it, with as little fanfare as you like, on a bulletin board.  Wave it, hash tag it, write it to a game writer on twitter.  Help a new person see it.


Jorunkun said...

Sorry, have nothing of substance to say except thanks, good work. In fact, some of your best so far, afaic. I think the "block" model has a lot of potential.

Vlad Malkav said...

Same as Jorunkun here. Nothing to add, except "woah".
Definitely one of your greatest series !