[Neverwood] brainstorm with me: implications of setting details

I decided a while ago that I wanted to make a game with a heavy, detailed Setting. The working title is Neverwood. The Setting is called Neverwood Territory, and it's approximately the same size as the Lousiana Purchase. The vibe is basically (American Frontier) + (Weird Fantasy) + (Old Testament). To give you a post t'hitch to, just think Stephen King's The Dark Tower I: the Gunslinger and you'll be pretty much on-target.

So, I've got standards about Setting. I figure that if the PCs can't interact with it, it doesn't actually matter, and therefore doesn't enter play, and therefore isn't Setting (the capital S indicating that I am talking about one of the five components of Exploration, which exists only in play) -- meaning that it was a waste of time for you to read it, and a waste of time for me to write it. That's how I feel.

So here's what I'm doing: I'm taking individual details of the setting and trying to figure out the implications of them: what they mean to people's lives, what structures they create in communities, and how they can be used to create Situation (or, better yet, create Situation by themselves just by being around). And I'd like to enlist your help in this.

Here's how this'll go: I'll post some details, with implications that I've thought of for them so far, and we'll discuss. At some point we'll move on to another set of details. Sound like fun? It does to me!

#1: PAPER IS RARE IN MOST PARTS
Although the heart of Neverwood Territory is a huge forest called the Neverwood, most of the Territory is desert, and paper is therefore rare, as all the available lumber is used for construction and firewood, rather than being pulped to make paper:

IMPLICATIONS

1.) Paper is valuable in most parts.
1a.) People re-use paper as much as possible.
1b.) Things like written invitations are extravagances.

2.) Parchment is also used, but unfortunately also expensive, as the demand for leather and other products made from animal hide means that not much parchment gets made.
2a.) Palimpsests.

3.) Due to the dearth of books, most folks are illiterate.

4.) News gets around by word of mouth, and thus travels slowly between communities.
4a.) Town criers?

#2: CANAAN USED TO BELONG TO GIANTS
The one highly fertile region in the Territory is a river delta called Canaan. It once belonged to giants, who were mostly exterminated, although some were merely driven out. The giants cultivated land and raised cattle, but they made their homes & cities underground.

IMPLICATIONS

1.) Disenfranchised giants in the wilderness, angry at the little folk who stole their land.

2.) Giant-size ruins underground, bricked up.
2a.) Some giants still underground?

#3: ALL GUNS ARE HAND-MADE BY GUNSMITHS
Pretty self-explanatory: no guns are mass-produced; no assembly lines or anything.

IMPLICATIONS

1.) The quality of guns varies widely depending on the skill of who made it.

2.) All guns are unique.
2a.) Calibers often don't match up with guns from other regions where, for whatever reason, other dimensions were used and became traditional.

3.) Talented gunsmiths are sought-after and probably well-to-do.
3a.) Their techniques are carefully guarded secrets, in order to maintain their status

Discuss.
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Comments

  • #1 - No paper but surrounded by sand?

    What about etched or painted glass for important documents? Also, a person's important life-documents can be tattooed on them. Also, tanned skins can be used for writing. Sand can be colored and affixed to various backings in lieu of paper and ink. None of this is very easy to mass-produce or spread. Tin-typing and similar efforts are also possible.

    By and large, illiteracy is only really an issue if there is something to read. It is not a meaningful disadvantage in a culture that write or records almost nothing unless it is oral histories. If you want to focus on the secrets of the those thing important enough to be penned, then this is a more meaningful limitation.

    #3 - Without standardized guns, you will have to make your own ammunition and the cartridge pistol and rifle are likely far away from development. You will be more concerned with making your own bullets (usually using equipment that you purchased with the gun) and getting appropriate powder.

    Your inclusion of a meaningful standard in a region for bullets is a an adequate way of combating this logistical issue. It also allows a decent gunman to gather clues based on the ammunition laying around a fight scene (these were Gardan bullets, cut with "X"s, that is a soldier's trick).
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: JuddG
    Your inclusion of a meaningful standard in a region for bullets is a an adequate way of combating this logistical issue. It also allows a decent gunman to gather clues based on the ammunition laying around a fight scene (these were Gardan bullets, cut with "X"s, that is a soldier's trick).
    Oooh, I REALLY like that.
    Posted By: JuddG#3 - Without standardized guns, you will have to make your own ammunition and the cartridge pistol and rifle are likely far away from development.
    That, however, could be a problem. I wanted the military to have mounted machine guns.
    Of course, their cartridges could be made by special military gunsmiths, couldn't they?
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: Marshall BurnsI wanted the military to have mounted machine guns.
    Of course, their cartridges could be made by special military gunsmiths, couldn't they?
    Yes, The gunsmith will have a local standard (likely the Army one), and will make molds and such to fit that standard. Once the infrastructure is in place, you can pump 'em out, even without an industrial line-based production. Now, if you are a traveler, you will likely want to mint your own, unless gunsmiths hang a shingle that states they also sell "foreign slugs" as well (kind of like standard vs metric tools in working on cars).

    Gunsmiths of a particular skill might even create a kit of barrels and such for a masterpiece weapon to allow it use variant ammo, but this is basically building a series of guns that use the same framework.

    Shotguns would simply need insert rings to allow them to load varied shells to be of wider use. Smiths might also have a considerable list of loads for shotguns that are unique to their houses - flechettes, bean-bags, rock-salt, various weights of shot, etc.
  • God, I'm geeking out already. Man.

    Also on #3: folks with the cash get tailor-made guns, made with just the right weight, just the right stock length, just the right pull on the trigger, etc. to make them like an extension of your body -- meaning that you get a bonus when using your special gun, but for other people it's just a gun. Meanwhile, folks without that kind of cash just get the guns that the gunsmiths made so they'd have something to stock their store with.
  • edited January 2009
    I remember an old Western movie in which a man was melting down his son's lead soldiers to cast bullets. If I remember right, they were expecting to be attacked, and the kid didn't have any hard feelings about his toys being used to make bullets, but, man was that an image. Anybody remember that one? What was it called?

    The point: making your own bullets is cool.
  • Posted By: Marshall Burnsman was that an image. Anybody remember that one?
    I recall the scene, but not the movie. Sounds very spaghetti western, with that subtext.
  • Posted By: Marshall BurnsOf course, their cartridges could be made by special military gunsmiths, couldn't they?
    Paper cartridges?
    PAPER IS RARE IN MOST PARTS
    Do they have banks? If so, how do they keep records?
    News gets around by word of mouth, and thus travels slowly between communities.
    Travelers, especially traveling performers and storytellers, might take on a significant status as bearers of tidings from the outside.
    CANAAN USED TO BELONG TO GIANTS
    If people were afraid of angry Giants out in the forest, it might impact how and where they built their towns. I can imagine high strong walls to keep out invading giants should they ever regain their strength and militias training to repel attacks. Travel and trade through Canaan might be dicey and would definitely require a protective guard.
  • On #1: Dried animal dung is more likely to be used for fuel than fire wood if wood is that rare.

    Also smelting and metalurgy require hot fires. Charcoal was the usual early fuel that could get hot enough for this purpose...charcoal wastes a TON of wood...which means if wood is rare for fire, its also rare for charcoal which means metal working will probably be limited. Limited metalworking means not enough widespread trial and error practice, which means it probably hasn't advanced far enough for sophisticated metal technology like mechanics or firearms.

    Therefor, you probably need to postulate an alternative energy source like coal to make you desired level of metal working practical (it didn't alwasy have to be a desert). Alternatively you could have all of the more advanced metal working artifacts be passed down from a pre-desert time.

    In addition to glass consider clay tablets and slate (i.e. chalk boards) as writing utensils.

    I have an arid setting I've been working on. For money in that setting (where precious metal was rare) I used gemstones. Since the value of a gem requires some expertise to appraise, professional appraisers would appraise the value of gems in "marks" (the original tally mark meaning of value from which the Mark as currency evolved) and seal the gems inside a clay ball marked with the value and their personal seal and then sealed in a glass glaze. These clay balls would then be passed around as currency because people had faith that the value of the gems within was authentic.
  • Posted By: Marshall Burns4.) News gets around by word of mouth, and thus travels slowly between communities.
    I am not clear how the second part of this sentence follows from the first. It seems to me that news travels as fast as the person bearing it -- whether or not it is written down or spoken aloud or transmitted through elaborate dance. None of the communication technologies I can think of depend on paper except I suppose mail delivery, but that just suggests to me that there is less private, inter-personal communication -- public news would travel just as fast. Or were you thinking of newspapers or something?
  • #3 I like the Dark Tower implications. Where only a few chosen ones owned a really well made revolver. Make guns unique and rare. Also implies a handful of legendary guns that are said to have magical properties.
  • Posted By: Ice Cream EmperorPosted By: Marshall Burns4.) News gets around by word of mouth, and thus travels slowly between communities.
    I am not clear how the second part of this sentence follows from the first. It seems to me that news travels as fast as the person bearing it -- whether or not it is written down or spoken aloud or transmitted through elaborate dance. None of the communication technologies I can think of depend on paper except I suppose mail delivery, but that just suggests to me that there is less private, inter-personal communication -- public news would travel just as fast. Or were you thinking of newspapers or something?

    It probably means that ''general'' news travel slow. If a city has been destroyed by a fire, how will the news spread to the next 10 cities? Slowly, by way of travelers passing through and mentioning it. There's no organized news agency.
  • Posted By: Marshall Burns4.) News gets around by word of mouth, and thus travels slowly between communities.
    Consider heliographs.
  • Posted By: northerainIt probably means that ''general'' news travel slow. If a city has been destroyed by a fire, how will the news spread to the next 10 cities? Slowly, by way of travelers passing through and mentioning it. There's no organized news agency.
    Well sure, I just don't understand how this relates to the rarity of paper.
  • Uh, paper can also be made from rags, cotton, wheat, rice, hemp, bamboo, jute and sugarcane. Wood is generally preferred because we have a lot of trees and most of the other things you can make it from have other uses. So a lack of wood won't make paper so much as rare as expensive. But in any environment where all paper is hand made it's going to be expensive, anyway.

    I have some doubts about machine guns without standardized cartridges -- early versions jammed often enough as it was. Some sort of volley gun like a Mitrailleuse might be more reasonable under the circumstances.
  • Maybe the problem should be that they ''forgot'' how to make paper or some such. They lack the technology or maybe it's tightly controlled. So paper is used by the goverment and the clergy for the most part.
  • edited January 2009
    Okay, so when I said "most of the Territory is desert," I meant, like, 40%. And not so much sandy-duney desert as the Oklahoma Panhandle style desert made mostly of sandstone, dried clay, and dust. Other than that, you've got about 15% mountains, 25% chapparal, 10% old-growth forest, and 10% plains.

    So, it's not that lumber is nowhere to be found -- it's just rare enough that nobody would pulp it there. Banks and other places where there's lots of records kept are closer to the Territory capital city Neverwood, which is right on the Neverwood Forest, so they've got all the paper they want.
    Posted By: Ice Cream EmperorOr were you thinking of newspapers or something?
    Yep. Paper is rare enough that nobody would use it to print something that would be blowing down the street the next day. And newspapers would be the only fast way to spread news, given that there ain't gonna be much travelers heading out to Gehenna out in the desert, so the best way to get news from Gilead would be a load of newspapers from the train (from which it's doubtful that anyone will be disembarking, less'n it's the Federal Marshals, and they're always bad news), but Gilead needs wood just as bad as you do, so they don't have any newspapers.
    Posted By: Peter AronsonUh, paper can also be made from rags, cotton, wheat, rice, hemp, bamboo, jute and sugarcane.
    Dude, I know, but all of that stuff would either be more necessary for other things (like lumber), or unavailable. I know you can't grow wheat or rice in the desert, and everything aside from hemp seems doubtful.

    I have some doubts about machine guns without standardized cartridges -- early versions jammed often enough as it was.
    But they would be standardized, wouldn't they? By the Army, who could train special gunsmiths to work exclusively for the Army.
    Posted By: ValamirTherefor, you probably need to postulate an alternative energy source like coal to make you desired level of metal working practical (it didn't alwasy have to be a desert).
    I'm thinking lots and lots of oil out in the desert. There's some oil product that can be used for sufficient heat for that, right?
  • #2: Giants = Square-Cube Law doesn't exist. Physics breaks. Party at my house!

    #1 and #3 imply that people in your world are stupid and like to work too hard for too little benefit. Portable written records are extraordinarily convenient and the amount of raw materials needed are trivial when compared to pretty much every other application of timber. Standardizing and mass producing firearms to the very limits of technology is going to be a popular pursuit unless everybody is dumb.
  • Posted By: Jason Morningstar#2: Giants = Square-Cube Law doesn't exist. Physics breaks. Party at my house!
    Whoops. I forgot to translate from "language in Marshall's brain" to "what everyone else means when they say things." By "giants," I mean about 9, 10 feet tall (~3m), 12 feet at the MAX (little under 4m). This being a certain theory regarding the giants in Canaan mentioned in the Old Testament, a theory to which I was exposed at an impressionable age.
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarStandardizing and mass producing firearms to the very limits of technology is going to be a popular pursuit unless everybody is dumb.
    Technology chases money, and there ain't much of it in the Territory. It's all back east.

    Also: isolated communities, very little infrastructure. Sure, there's trains, but most of them just drive through your town without stopping, unless you live somewhere important like Neverwood or Gilead.
  • Oh, I get it. So all the money and technological innovation is back east, just like in the US in the 19th century, which is why there were no standardized, mass produced firearms west of the Mississippi.

    Stronger sauce required!
  • edited January 2009
    Back east, things are similar to the US 19th century, but in the Territory, it's more like the 18th or even 17th. Imagine if the land west of the Mississippi was acquired and pioneered a hundred or so years earlier, and settlers moved out there, and were promptly forgotten about, with the exception of a few important settlements (e.g. in this setting, Gilead, which produces a balm with restorative powers).
  • edited January 2009
    Other influences:

    The Black Rider by Tom Waits
    To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck
    Dreams to Dust: a Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush by Sheldon Russell
    Old Nathan by David Drake

    More as they come to mind.
  • Posted By: Marshall BurnsImagine if the land west of the Mississippi was acquired and pioneered a hundred or so years earlier, and settlers moved out there, and were promptly forgotten about
    Forgot for a reason?
  • Posted By: Josh Roby
    Forgot for a reason?
    Presumably, although I don't know what that reason is yet. Perhaps a war with England (or a fictional England surrogate). Hell, maybe it was the Revolutionary War, and nobody cared about it in the Territory.
  • Posted By: Jason Morningstar#2: Giants = Square-Cube Law doesn't exist. Physics breaks. Party at my house!
    Waitaminnit -- what part of "Weird Fantasy" didn't you understand, anyways?
  • Yeah, you lost me. I thought you were asking for logical implications of your choices.
  • Well, yeah, but logic is not some universal phenomenon, it's far more local. There's difference between, f'rinstance, the logic of a mathematical theorem and the logic of a Robert E. Howard story. But they're both logic.
  • I remember an old Western movie in which a man was melting down his son's lead soldiers to cast bullets. If I remember right, they were expecting to be attacked, and the kid didn't have any hard feelings about his toys being used to make bullets, but, man was that an image. Anybody remember that one? What was it called?

    The point: making your own bullets is cool.

    I don't know about any old westerns...but that scene was used in Patriot with Mel Gibson set during the Revolution. IIRC the kid was dead and his toy soldiers were making the bullets of vengeance.
  • I'm thinking lots and lots of oil out in the desert. There's some oil product that can be used for sufficient heat for that, right?

    Don't know for sure, but I think oil needs a fairly hefty amount of refining to burn hot, and the hotter it burns the faster it's burned up. I'm not sure what sort of oil based fuel would be needed for the sort of long steady hot heat needed to forge high quality steel (and any sort of machine gun is going to require some pretty high quality steel, there's a reason why early attempts at rapid fire weapons used multiple barrels).

    Plus I think oil refineries have more of a Road Warrior vibe than an Old West vibe...merging the two will probably feel more steam punk than Gunslinger.
  • Hm. Well, y'know, since there is lumber, just in limited qualities, it's quite reasonable that what isn't used for construction and tools is used for charcoal, and that's why nobody's making paper in the desert: all the wood is used for to make shelter, axes, and guns.

    As for oil, I think it could jibe with the setting. The state of the refining art wouldn't be so hot, but it'd be around. I think that a.) the oil in The Dark Tower IV: Wizard & Glass was neat, and b.) a There Will Be Blood sort of oil industry would be a great addition to the setting. Especially given that "there will be blood" is a quotation from Exodus 7:19. I've got a King James translation, which says "there may be blood," but it means "will be" (and most others say "will be"), but you can't beat the KJ for overall mythic resonance:
    And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.
    Posted By: ValamirI don't know about any old westerns...but that scene was used in Patriot with Mel Gibson set during the Revolution.
    Huh. I haven't seen The Patriot, so it must be in more than one movie.
  • If metalworking is limited and guns are usually not custom made and unreliable, a lot of people probably still put a lot of stock in a good knife. If you want to go a more fantasy route, people might also put value in a good sword or quality spear. Spears are also nice because they don't require much metal and the metal part - being a rugged bladed spike - won't break very easily. I'd get a kick out of the mixed motifs, but I'm a goon for syncreticism.
  • edited January 2009
    I've thought about bringing in swords and spears, but I wonder if that won't make it too similar to my other game, The Rustbelt, in which such weapons came back into vogue because the guns became unreliable, unwieldy, and dangerous.

    #4: THERE IS A BALM IN GILEAD
    In the settlement of Gilead, there is a particular species of tree, the resinous gum of which can be made into a healing balm of great restorative power. The trees, of which there are few, only grow in Gilead, and will grow nowhere else.

    IMPLICATIONS....?
  • #4: THERE IS A BALM IN GILEAD

    Well, now you have reasons for all sorts of unlikely folks to venture into this territory. Tuberculor gunmen, wealthy industrialists from "back east" and their violent entourages, or simply explorers who want to see this wonder for themselves.

    The people who control the places where the trees grow will have long lives and enormous power.

    Humans being what they are, why haven't people taken to building walls around the trees and selling their resin? Why haven't they taken to farming them in enclosures to improve their control of the supply? Or have they?

    How difficult is the "made into" process? How many people know it? What else is required to make it work?
  • Human nature says those trees would have been destroyed ages ago...cuz someone else is getting wealthy off of them, so therefor...TIMBERRRRR...
  • So, maybe they don't have to cut them down, just tap them, like maples.

    Here's one thing I'm thinking: Gilead is pretty much run by the Church ("The Church" being, in this setting, a rather fractious institution of Evangelicals). And they originally set up there to have, y'know, a charitable healing thing going on. But people will pay money for the balm, and thus corruption gradually set in. No doubt there are fat-cats back East with a few fingers in the pie.
  • Actually, I assumed they just needed to be tapped. My comment was more along the lines of:

    You're getting rich off the money and political influence the trees give you, I want that money and political influence for myself so I'm going to fight you for control of the trees. Eventually, someone is just going to go all scorched earth on the theory that "if I can't control them, better that no one can then let you have them".

    Point being, if they can be destroyed they either have been, or are on the verge of being...because that's human nature. I'd rather blow it all up than let you prosper more than me.


    I'm not real fond of the "back east" bits. The setting seems way more interesting and surreal in that Dark Tower kind of way if it just kind of...is. Introducing "back east" just opens up way more things that aren't nearly as interesting as the vibe you're going for. I'd take your wood and your desert...and that's all there is...
  • The existence of railroads and a more civilized area back east might provide some problems, since a lot of manufactured goods, such as guns, paper and ammunition ship just fine (or raw materials like coal and wood), and rail shipping is pretty cheap. Perhaps there's some geographic feature that keeps the rail network from directly connecting east and west? This is particularly an issue if there is a rail line to Gilead, since as long as you're sending trains to pick up the valuable balm, you might as well send along a load of bulk goods while you're at it. But if everything has to be transshipped to barges or boats as part of the trip, it becomes less attractive.

    It appears you can make a form of coke from petroleum, and it is occasionally used for steel making, but I'm not sure how advanced the technology in question is.
  • Posted By: ValamirI'm not real fond of the "back east" bits. The setting seems way more interesting and surreal in that Dark Tower kind of way if it just kind of...is. Introducing "back east" just opens up way more things that aren't nearly as interesting as the vibe you're going for. I'd take your wood and your desert...and that's all there is...
    Or maybe something horrible happened to "back east" -- something so horrible, in fact, that no one wants to think about it.
  • Hm. So there was a balm in Gilead, and now there are only bottles here and there of the stuff, an ever-dwindling supply of this powerful restorative, for which there can never be a replacement... y'know, I like that.


    As for Back East:
    What that's really about is that I want some government that is ostensibly in charge of the Territory, but actually pretty much absent, except for occasional things that are of great interest (e.g. conquering Canaan) to the government, in which case it will bring in the Army (stationed in several forts in the Territory) or Federal Marshals.

    That's the core of it: who's in charge of the Army and the Marshals? I was thinking that the Territory itself was under the jurisdiction of Rangers, who are effective and actually care about the Territory because they live there, but are few and spread thin due to the size of the place, and that the Marshals (whose jurisdiction supersedes that of the Rangers) would represent an outside authority that doesn't know shit about what this place is like, and doesn't give a shit for the people in it. And the Army sits in their forts, spoiling for a fight, and perhaps even raiding nearby towns for provisions.

    But then, I guess this high, absent authority could be present in the Territory itself, just sequestered in some tidy hole.
  • edited January 2009
    I didn't know that Peter, thanks for the link:

    Here's a Wikipedia quote on coke that may be applicable to the setting's pseudo time frame. I didn't realize coke dated back to the 1600s:
    The use of coke as a fuel was pioneered by the Chinese in the 11th century during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD). In Europe, it was innovated during the 17th century in England in response to the ever-growing problem of European deforestation. Wood was becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. Coal's fumes, particularly smoke and sulfur compounds, disqualified it from many applications, including cooking and iron smelting. In 1603, Sir Henry Platt suggested that coal might be charred in a manner analogous to the way charcoal is produced from wood. This process was not put into practice until 1642, when coke was used for roasting malt in Derbyshire. Coal cannot be used in brewing because its sulfurous fumes would impart a foul taste to the beer. In 1709 Abraham Darby established a coke-fired blast furnace to produce cast iron. Coke's superior crushing strength allowed blast furnaces to become taller and larger. The ensuing availability of inexpensive iron was one of the factors leading to the Industrial Revolution.

    In England in the first years of steam railway locomotives, coke was the normal fuel. This resulted from an early piece of environmental legislation; any proposed locomotive had to "consume its own smoke".This was not technically possible to achieve, but burning coke, with its low smoke emissions, was considered to meet the requirement. This rule was quietly dropped, and cheaper coal became the normal fuel, as railways gained acceptance among the general public.

    Smokeless steam trains are kinda cool...
  • Marshall, some focusing questions:

    1) why not the church?
    2) what does having a central army allow you to do in the setting that having a number of independent armies wouldn't
    3) what about the chief difference between the Rangers and the Marshalls being secular vs. religious authority.
  • Posted By: Jason Morningstar#2: Giants = Square-Cube Law doesn't exist. Physics breaks. Party at my house!
    The cube square law would make a 50 foot tall person impossible without some seriously different biological basis. It would not prove to be a huge problem for say a 15 to 20 foot tall person, given some design differences in bone structure or composition.

    Most forms of life that get huge either do so in the sea or by being a fungus or some such (the largest lifeform ever found was fungus that stretched over multiple States in the US, IIRC.), but a mildly large group of people is quite possible, but they would have as much in common with elephants and dinosaurs as they would humans, in terms of bone development and motion.
  • This is really interesting and I'm a big fan of Dark Tower, so you better finish and publish this game. Or else...
  • Personally, I like the idea of playing a "giant." There's something about hugeness - and oldness, and sadness, and the confluence of those three themes - that I find really compelling.
  • Posted By: Marshall Burns#4: THERE IS A BALM IN GILEAD
    In the settlement of Gilead, there is a particular species of tree, the resinous gum of which can be made into a healing balm of great restorative power. The trees, of which there are few, only grow in Gilead, and will grow nowhere else.
    So the Gilead is surrounded by shanty towns full of the sick, injured and dying. Anyone who can't be treated elsewhere will come to Gilead. The rich are put up in special sanatoriums in the center of town where they can actually be treated, while the rest beg borrow and steal on the streets to raise the money for the balm. The center of Gilead is behind a stockade to keep them out.
  • Posted By: ValamirMarshall, some focusing questions:

    1) why not the church?
    Well, I don't really want a unified church. I want something more fractious, where every local parson has a different take on the doxology. Although they're nearly all Evangelicals.

    2) what does having a central army allow you to do in the setting that having a number of independent armies wouldn't
    That's a good question. I'm not sure what the answer is. I suppose one thing is the level of weapon tech -- a strong, central army would have more money and means to develop things like machineguns.

    3) what about the chief difference between the Rangers and the Marshalls being secular vs. religious authority.
    Now that is kinda interesting. I'm gonna have to think about that.
    Posted By: ElectricPaladinPersonally, I like the idea ofplayinga "giant." There's something about hugeness - and oldness, and sadness, and the confluence of those three themes - that I find really compelling.
    Hey, that's not a bad idea. Especially given that Brawn, Age, and Grief are three of the attributes (you choose 5 from a list of, like, a lot).
  • What if you have the Territorial Authority...which would be like the "State Government" before its officially a state. The Territorial Authority reported Back East and had all of the resources and such provided by them.

    Then you could do the cool "something horrible happened" idea about Back East effectively eliminating it from contact with the territories.

    Then you can have the Territorial Authrority and its Marshalls and its Army trying to exert its central control over the territory as it always have even though its a representative of a government that (as far as anyone knows) no longer exists, allowing other local authorities to question its legitimacy.

    Making for all sorts of fun situations like the Captain, whose men haven't been paid for months because the TA is out of money going "independent" and setting himself up as a local warlord collecting "taxes" with his machine gun armed war wagons...
  • Oh, Ralph, that's fantastic.

    One little wrinkle: Marshals are a Federal thing, while Rangers are a State/Territory thing. This could be an easy fix -- just change the Marshals to the Rangers, and the Rangers to some sort of militia.

    Or upon the "something horrible happening," whatever Marshals were remaining hooked up with the TA for purposes of power, influence, and hegemony, and the Rangers got the boot. Maybe the Rangers are even acting with no authority at all beyond what people are willing to give them because they help out.
  • Well, actually Marshals are whatever you want them to be. Most western Marshals were just people hired by a local town to wear a badge. Their jurisdiction stopped at the edge of town...where the jurisdiction of the county sheriff typically began (although details varied by state). This Town Marshal vs. County Sherriff rivalry was actually a key contributing factor to the shootout at O.K. Corral which pitted the Town Marshall Earps against the out of towner "cowboys" who were generally friendly with the Sheriff and thus untouchable once they left town...which is a pretty neat dynamic you can capitalize on.

    Federal Marshals were just a very unique and specific application, some of them are even flammable.
  • Shows how much I know. I'm probably just confused because my native Oklahoma never had Town Marshals (or if it did, they weren't mentioned in school or in any of the historical fiction I've read about Oklahoma). Of course, it doesn't have Rangers either, but of course Texas (known as "Baja Oklahoma" to all self-respectin' Okies) does.

    But, anyway, I like Marshals working for the TA, Rangers working for the folks. This is for no good reason other than I see sharp uniforms when I say "Marshal" and ragged, travelworn duds when I say "Ranger." "Ranger" looks fouler and feels fairer, as it were.

    #5: PAGAN WITCHES
    That's right, there are pagan witches in the Territory. Who, of course, have built-in conflicts with the church. And their magic works. (So does the church's magic, for that matter, assuming you take the Faith attribute and appropriate Traits).

    IMPLICATIONS
    1. Witch trials.
    1a. False accusations of witchcraft to further agendas, as in The Crucible.

    2. Since their magic works, they can do stuff that other folks can't. This makes them sort of a potential community resource, but one that you don't like to use or think about. So in some places, witches are tolerated, as long as they stay in their shacks outside of town, until someone's baby is being born breach, or the cattle start dying of the pox.
    2a. When such a witch fails to deal with some problem (even one that's clearly impossible to him, but non-witches don't realize it), this is sure to generate the ire of the populace, who think that he did it on purpose.

    and...?
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