Sunday, January 12, 2014

[Urbis] Locations of the Cold Frontier - Ghost Crab Village

Now that the basics of Coastal Tribe culture and society have been established, I should start on developing some of their villages. Let's start with Ghost Crab Village, located to the east of the Trade Outpost. It is the most populous of the villages in the region, with a population of more than 900 villagers. Part of the reason is its great location at the mouth of a minor river, and another its access to exceptionally productive fishing ground. But another reason is that the village accepted the survivors of Green Seal village (where the Trade Outpost is now located). Thus, the primary Lodges of the village are Crab and Seal, with at least a minor Eagle lodge (as with all villages in the region). The Owl Totem is also likely, due to the proximity of Owl Mountain.

But what else might there be of interest here? For that, let us consult our old friend, the Random Nations Generator at the Arcana Wiki.

The actual system of government has already been established, but let's take a look at them anyway. The first to come up is Authoritarianism - perhaps the leader of the Crab Lodge (the Random Native American Name Generator comes up with "Great Running Arrow" for his name) wants to take firmer control of the village than his role of Chieftain encompasses (which is supposed to cover only village defense, after all). Therefore he uses every excuse he can to hang around the local Council of Elders and speak his mind on issues without invitation. Two elders - Ugly Bow and Broken Bear, both retired members of the Crab Lodge - act as his supporters and mouthpieces in this. Opposing this is Silver Leaf, one of the elder village women who thinks that it would be better for all concerned if Walking Sky, the leader of the Seal Lodge, would take over the role of chieftain. Their reaction to the PCs depends on how they think they will fit into these schemes - either side would be happy if the PCs could make the other side look like fools.

A small village doesn't have much room for organizations. But let's see what we have on the list. First is Deep State, which hints that the conspiracy goes deeper than anyone has thought. Perhaps one of the shamans (Name: Sitting Shadow) is planning a secret takeover of the village and is manipulating a confrontation in order to do away with the "Old Guard". But that also means removing the two other senior shamans, "Crooked Fire" and "Laughing Oak", as they might figure out what is going on and stop her. PCs might serve as tools in this goal.

Next up is the False Face Society. The Wikipedia entry says: "During the main part of the ritual, the False Face members, wearing masks, go through houses in the community, driving away sickness, disease and evil spirits." This would obviously be the job of a shaman - but what if the shaman drops dead during the ceremony while the PCs are visiting? Now they have a murder mystery on their hands and must figure out who applied the poison (one of the followers of the plotting shaman who perhaps does not even remember that he has done this).

Among the Major Personalities we get Simon Magus - perhaps our scheming shaman plots to cast himself as the prophet of the Spirits? But if so, who is his Helen? Another personality is Rahab - implying that there is a woman who would be willing to sell her village out to the colonialists for money or favors, assuming that the PCs would actually be interested in that. Next up is Peter Francesco - let's thus make Walking Sky, the leader of the Seal Lodge, into a near-giant. Or giantess - let's make Walking Sky female sex (though again, male gender like all native hunters). If there is any major conflict going on involving Ghost Crab Village, Walking Sky will quickly become one of its legends. Quite possibly Great Running Arrow feels intimidated that the Seal Lodge is lead by such a powerful warrior, which might explain some of his behavior...

"Major exports" lists Truffles, which sounds interesting enough to keep as a village specialty. Another entry is Chocolate, which would be rather unusual for a subarctic region - but maybe the village has a number of large, ancient enchanted "flower pots" which allow the growing of cocoa trees? These hint at ancient trade links to the Far Coast, far to the south... Pre-industrial trade goods exist in the forms of dyes (from local shellfish) and candles (from whale blubber).

Moving on to Dangerous Creatures, we get Shadow People - possibly servants of the power-mad shaman - and the God Bear, implying someone has managed to tame a Dire Bear as the protector of the village.

In the History section we get Potemkin Village. Perhaps some mischievous but none-too-bright fairies once wanted to attack the village, but the local shamans got wind of it - so they told the villagers to build a fake "miniature village" to confuse the fairies. The plan worked, the faeries destroyed the fake village instead, and the village children maintain it to this day. After all, the fairies could return one day, and this keeps the kids out of trouble. A few actual fey creatures might even have chosen to live here.

Another History entry concerns the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, so maybe a trade ship ran aground here - still waiting at the bottom with some precious cargo the PCs could loot. As another entry is the Phoenix Lights, maybe the spirits of the sailors linger on and are visible on clear nights out on the bay.

The Geography section yields us Stone Run (among other, more inappropriate results), so maybe there is a stone field close to the land approach towards the village, which might help against invaders from that direction (since you can see them coming and have a clear line of fire). The Famous Locations section gives us the Badlands Guardian, which certainly feels appropriate - but maybe we can combine it with the Stone Run, so that its many boulders actually look like a face when seen from above. As another entry is Place of Power, maybe that Stone Run boosts certain native rituals, especially those which boost a warrior's prowess. That reminds me - Peter Franceso was found abandoned at the age of five. Perhaps Walking Sky was likewise found at a young age at the center of the Stone Run? That must have made her look like a gift from the Spirits and predestined her for being a great warrior - and further inflamed Great Running Arrow's jealousy...

Well, that should be enough detail on the village to make it memorable for the time being, so let's move on!

Note: A list of all Urbis-related posts can be found here.