View Full Version : So ... swamp willage

2013-03-20, 05:13 AM
I am working on a new short campaign for my team and am a bit lost on how to "flesh out" a willage in a swamp (technically and culturally), where our tale will begin.

So far i have:

- all ground is difficult terrain (water), so I guess mobility is made via boats

- I dont know what could be main resources for the willage to prosper. I came up with some exotic plants in the deep swamp that can be sold for big bucks (rip off of Black lotus) but that would be a good loot for high-level rangers, not tribesmen

- this village is predominantly LE. There is a code of conduct, but it is rather racist and pretty all other -isms you can imagine. What sort of cultural practices could I present in order to make this willage more "different". Caste system is one cool approach, I think.

So ... I'd be happy with just about any radical idea you can give me about this village. or just something that will make it look a bit more "realistic".


2013-03-20, 05:18 AM
A particular dialect. Maybe everyone pronounces Vs as Ws? :smallwink:

Gnomish Wanderer
2013-03-20, 05:27 AM
Ooo, I've done something like this. The village acted as sort of a crossroads by helping with goods that would otherwise have to be transported around the swamp. Much of their income was from trading back and forth.

As for cool ideas, I placed some 'voodoo'-like intelligent monsters in the swamp that the townsfolk knew how to appease, like having to play a violin for what looks like an old woman in the fog of the swamp but was in reality closer to... an angler fish. Or a creepy boatsman that asked you to share a drink with him that you had to refuse without looking in his eyes or he'd attempt to drown you with his weirdly long arms. And on nights with a blue moon you had to light a fire outside your door or else be kidnapped by shadowmen to be made into one of them. It made for some really interesting random encounters.

2013-03-20, 05:32 AM
Darn english that can't be happy with a single v, but "needs" W.

Anyway, first task may be tracking down and killing a tribe member who left her abusive husband and run away. (of course PCs may or may not do this or do something completely different, but I like the idea)

I want for these guys to be "different" beyond "looking all mean".

2013-03-20, 05:35 AM
Proximity to an easy trade route? The swamp is on a river delta? The river leads to prosperous inland territories, the ocean provides access to better markets. The swamp village is basically the last port of call before hitting the high seas.

One thing to differentiate, particularly if you have another village in a similar locale later on, is how they deal with the swamp.

You have basically two ideals. One is to try to combat the swamp. You are draining as best as possible, trying to make the swamp "habitable". Or you cope with the swamp as is. Which seems to be the direction you're going. Waterborne travel, shacks on the few bits of dry land, etc.

One thing to keep in mind, is that we typically tend to swamps as these places mired in rot, disease, and unpleasantness. But you can also have a rich, loamy swamp which is full of life and quite fertile.

Exotic animals, in particular, are very much a "Swamp" thing so you might want to think less rare plants, and more rare animals. E.G.: This is the one place you run into an abundance of gators, and alligator hides/teeth/bones, etc are something that they can sell off. This seems a bit easier for most people to swallow than the "rare plant". Plus a bit easier to explain why this rare, valuable item is limited to the Swamp Village. Plants can be cultured and grown elsewhere. Animals tend to be harder to do that with.

2013-03-20, 05:37 AM
Addendum: Swamp is full of other hostile tribes and villages. So constant skirmishes, poisoning, assassination attempts.

2013-03-20, 07:03 AM
-The village will have some walkways. There will be at least some raised platforms around houses. Its possible some more complicated connections between homes and businesses exist.

-Swamp villages are unlikely to be prosperous. People live there because that's their home. Fishing should be good. Its possible the village may be part of a trade route. If the swamp exists because of a river and the village is somewhere nearby then it will see boats going up and down. A dock, and inn, and a trading post would represent a modest income.

-Somehow I imagine a town of stepford smilers. Theres a dark secret. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TownWithADarkSecret
However the townsfolk are nice enough to travelers and merchants. That's the town livelihood after all. Can't have too many of them disappearing.

Jay R
2013-03-20, 08:05 AM
I would pattern it on Louisiana bayous. The inhabitants moved here centuries ago across the ocean away, and maintain a (very much altered) vestige of old world culture. They are suspicious of all outsiders, and their accent is so distinctive that nobody can hide being an outsider. The byways in the swamp are known to locals, but to anyone else, they're just a maze of twisty little water passages, all alike. The cuisine is very spicy, but quite distinctive. There would be a local voodoo-like form of magic.

And alligators would be a common monster. Also water moccasins.

2013-03-20, 10:50 AM
Yeah, but there is swamp and then there is swamp. New Orleans was built in the swamp - they drained it to fill in later, but it was originally on the patches of high ground. It's main reason to exist was "Because it's at the end of the Mississipi River", which made it one of THE most important cities in the WORLD for quite awhile while shipping was done mainly by barge and ocean liner. Good ocean ships are poor river ships and vice versa, so you have to transfer cargo from one to the other.

If you had a river of moderate importance to towns and cities upstream with a swampy delts, then you could have a sea port with people loading and unloading cargo onto barges for other cities. It'd be vitally important to the economy, so it would have a decent population and be rather prosperous, but the town itself might not be the kind of place you would want to go otherwise. You'd probably have a lot of the low entertainment that sailors want to have after being cooped up for awhile, and you might have a lot of an interplay of corruption and anti-corruption zealots as a result - having your local culture shaped by a loud dialogue between the local thieves guilds and a bunch of angry zealots lashing out at the worst excesses of the pickpockets and brothels economy (but not being able to actually be TOO effective at that because, y'know, that's how people pay to eat) would definitely make the place become LE in flavor if that's what you wanted.

They might have slaves - lizardmen or something of the sort that would work well in a watery, swampy environment might be your primary monsterish humanoid race. Lizardmen are rarely fleshed out very well, so you can put all sorts of interesting culture into them. Some of which probably seeped out into the human population.

2013-03-20, 11:16 AM
Years ago, a nearby Duke sent a caravan containing several well-stocked chests for a wedding gift. The caravan leader refused to hire any local guides, and thus never arrived at his destination. His ghost has joined the standard will'o'wisps; fish and gators have a chance to have a few coins and jewelry in their belly; some of that jewelry is magical; the nearby lizardfolk shaman have noticed this magic; a witch doctor is sending voodoo zombies trudging through the muck to find the original wagons; etc.

To be more "realistic," ignore everything but the animals with gold in their guts. I don't know how magical your setting is.

Also inspired by a real-life story I heard from a missionary...have the tribe place some kind of importance on hats. Sickness is caused by "evil spirits," and hats will ward off (or seal in!) those spirits. Or, mosquitos are attracted to good/evil people (rather than people with more aromatic sweat), so how much clothing/net masks/etc is assumed to match your (lack of?) some quality.

2013-03-21, 09:29 PM
Maybe include a reason why they hate outsiders, other then "grr, we hate outsiders"?

Something like:
30 Years ago, after finally having his first son(many failed attempts from "not conceiving, to still borns), the king of the nearby lands can rest easy knowing there is an heir to the throne. However, Royal Prince Insertname became enamored with nature, and wanted to be a great hunter/explorer like he read about or met, against his fathers wishes.
Tragedy struck and the prince was taken by some swamp monster, and never seen again. The king has been oppressing this region, stationing a large number of soldiers in these villages who were very racist toward the tribes-folk and often abuse them or outright steal from them, under corrupt guardsmen.
The tribes are simply used to the idea of someone going out into the swamps unprepared and dying as a result, and have the saying "the swamp doesn't care who you are, if you don't have the grit to survive here, you shouldn't be here" and didn't even know who the prince was. This massive mistreatment from the Royals caused them to partially, for a small time, join with the other tribes and throw off the yoke of tyranny and rebel against the king, earning their freedom.
Their familiarity of the swamp was what gave them the advantage, and they often spread rumors of spirits and ghosts haunting the swamp, and hating outsiders. They hate any outsider, assuming they are unable to survive in the swamp and will bring many people looking for them when they die from their own stupidity, and more or less try to threaten outsiders to leave, not too much though, since they don't want to waste too much energy talking to someone who is probably gonna die in a swamp a day or two from now.
The knowledge of all of this may not be known to everyone, and may take some way of earning someone's respect. Perhaps being able to survive in the swamp enough may be enough to "prove yourself" as an "honorary swamp man/woman" and they at least will talk to you as a friend and trade with you.

or were you looking for something other than this?

2013-03-25, 06:29 AM
Darn english that can't be happy with a single v, but "needs" W.

V and W make different sounds. They're only the same in languages without a "W" sound.

Anyway, first task may be tracking down and killing a tribe member who left her abusive husband and run away. (of course PCs may or may not do this or do something completely different, but I like the idea)

I want for these guys to be "different" beyond "looking all mean".
I think they should worship a troll that lives in the center of the village and appease it with offerings of food.

2013-03-25, 07:44 AM
Swamps, fens and marshes are very defensible. Venies was built in a swamp for just that reason.

Also they are rich in a variety of plant life and water foul.

As for getting around you have coracles.

2013-03-25, 09:24 AM
Rope bridges connecting houses on pylons and/or in the trees themselves would help. As for a sorce of food and/or wealth, fishing and harvesting various crawlies would be one. Maybe the trees have arboreal plants that are considered beautiful and/or produce a rare and valuable spice, like orchids and vanilla? Maybe these people don't have anywhere else to go? Mushrooms and nuts could be another source of food.

2013-03-25, 12:14 PM
Have it as a democracy. Every villager has a vote on all gov't actions from passing a new law to holding a criminal trial. Buying votes and framing the unpopular are common occurrences and can easily target meddlesome outsiders.

2013-03-27, 12:08 PM
a movie I saw recently, Black Death, has a swamp village in it & reading this post reminded me of it. the movie takes place during the outbreak of the black plague, & there are rumors of a far-away village that is untouched by the plague, also rumors of a necromancer are spreading from the area (plot spoilers below) & a group of knights have been summoned by the cardinal to bring back the necromancer for a witch-burning.

Just a thought, perhaps the village is in the swamp because of external dangers & threats, & their LE nature stems from their xenophobia?.

The knights of the cardinal are sent to kill the necromancer, but when they arrive the village appears to be completely "normal". After being welcomed, the knights are poisoned & imprisoned, then they torture each knight one by one in an attempt to get them to renounce their faith. Though there is no necromancer in the movie (she's a witch i guess), the primary enemies are "pagans" against the murderous crusaders of the church.