Saturday, March 28, 2015

[Cold Frontier] Locations of the East - Shrouded Tree Village

Let's take a look at the first of the villages in the eastern regions - Shrouded Tree Village. The player characters already visited it once during the last session, on their way to the Forest Witch. I have already established that the villagers all live in actual tree houses (to protect themselves from the various predators prowling the forest), and that about 300 people live here. Beyond that, the player characters haven't spent much time here, since they had rather urgent business elsewhere.

So what about the namesake "Shrouded Tree"? I originally picked the name because of the tree-dwelling association and because it sounded cool. But what if there is an actual "Shrouded Tree" at the spiritual heart of the village? A tree within its own pocket dimension that is only accessible to the initiated? Let's keep that in mind.

I turn once again to the Random Nations Generator at the Arcana Wiki to flesh out the village. For the form of government we get Plutocracy - where wealth translates into political power - which is an interesting concept for the barter economies of the coastal tribes. Perhaps the Shrouded Tree demands gifts in exchange for the blessings it bestows to the villagers, and those who are able to bestow it with the best gifts (i.e. the most "wealth") will get the best blessings, and thus are better able to lead the village. In Pathfinder terms, such gifts would likely represent various temporarily-bestowed templates. But what might a tree want? Rare soils? Animal skins from the furthest reaches of the forest? I'll have to think about this.

Moving on to the organizations, we get Drug Cartel. An obvious source of a drug is the Shrouded Tree itself - perhaps its sap has useful properties like toughening the skin, restoring fatigue, restoring damage and so forth. However, regular use will lead to addiction, and not using it will lead to withdrawal. This will not be a problem for the villagers, since they have a ready source - but it would be very easy to set up a devastating drug ring with this substance. As an additional organization we get Private Military Company - so maybe some of the hunters of the village are interested in hiring themselves out as mercenaries as long as they get more gifts for the Shrouded Tree.

Moving on to the "Major Personalities", one of the entries is Flagellant. Which sounds like the Shrouded Tree would value the blood of people, freely given. Maybe one of the shamans has the title "Tree Speaker", and in times of need he whips himself inside the Tree's sanctum until his blood waters the tree, granting him visions or power.

Another personality is Théodore Géricault, a French artist who, among other things, is famous for his paintings of disasters and insane people. This might represent another shaman - let's call her Cloud Walker - who carves wood into fairly disturbing statues, such as our old friend the Mothman. Others might relate to the activities of the PCs, past, present, or future. The other villages avoid her, but she insists that the statues are important.

We also get Julia Bulette among the Personalities. While prostitutes and brothels are not the best cultural fit for the Coastal Tribes, the ability to "charm men" puts me in mind of dryads - so let's say a dryad (named Shrouded Flower) has bonded with the Shrouded Tree and is its highly respected caretaker and guardian. Furthermore, the Tree Speaker of the village is chosen based on his or her ability to charm Shrouded Flower.

Among the Major Political Issues, we get "Superfund money to clean 'mouth of the beast'", an article about cleaning up the most polluted site in California (deriving from the runoff of a mine). While there are no mines in the area, I already had the notion of having a "bright heart" of the forest and a "dark heart" of the forest - the latter is a site of spiritual corruption, and one warrior - Angry Wasp - is agitating for cleaning it up. This is why he is also willing to hire himself and some like-minded warriors out as mercenaries - he hopes to get sufficient gifts for the tree to make himself powerful enough to cleanse the Dark Heart.

A further political issue is Feuding Families - perhaps some descendants of Yellow Seal Village are still feuding with the Silver Bird Tribe to the north because of their ancestral war. Finally, we get "Man petitions to marry comic book character" - while someone falling in love with one of Cloud Walker's statues is one option, let's say that a junior shaman - Sleeping Fire - is secretly obsessed with Shrouded Flower and seeks to replace the Tree Speaker.

Next we get to Major Projects, and one of them is the Trans-Global Highway. Maybe the Shrouded Tree wants to propagate, which is why it currently needs lots of "fertilizer" of all kind - exotic plant matter, feces from all sorts of animal, even blood (maybe the villagers will make a "Blood for Sap" drive?). Creating new Shrouded Trees is not a trivial matter, as it requires lots of spiritual energy, but when they do, the Shrouded Tree pocket dimensions will connect to each other, making travel between different locations possible.

A further project is "Rescuing A Potential Nuke From The Chile Quake". Perhaps the followers of Angry Wasp know or suspect that there is some kind of artifact creating the corruption in the Dark Heart, and their ultimate goal is to find it and destroy or cleanse it. But even getting there is difficult indeed...

Looking at the Economy section, we get Truffles as an export, which makes sense given their forested location. Among the forms of worship, we get Fertility Rite - presumably, those couples who wish to have children visit the Shrouded Tree and sleep with each other among its roots (with the Tree Speaker having his own "rites" with Shrouded Flower). We also get Bacchanalia, which hints at doing these rites in groups - presumably, there is lots of tree sap involved. Another is Animal Sacrifice, which ties in with what the Tree wants as gifts.

I could go on with the other sections, but this should provide me plenty of material to start with.

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